28th August - 66 miles to Canterbury (UK) - Hostel
29th - 61 miles to Sint Jacobs-Kapelle (Belgium) exc ferry Dover to Dunkerque - Camp dorm
30th - 55 miles to Flobecq (Belgium) - Campsite
31st - 79 miles to Mont (Belgium) - Wild Camp
1st Sept - 55 miles to Voix (Belgium) - Wild Camp
2nd - 75 miles to Saarburg (Germany) - Apartment
3rd - Rest Day in Saarburg (Germany)
4th - 81 miles to Enchenburg (France) - Wild Camp
5th - 68 miles to Kehl (Germany) - Campsite
6th - 69 miles to Neuemburg (Germany) - Campsite
7th - 65 miles to Aarau (Switzerland) - B&B
8th - Rest Day in Aarau (Switzerland)
9th - Rest Day in Baden (Switzerland)
10th - 34 miles Return trip to Zurich (Switzerland)
11th - Rest Day in Baden (Switzerland)
12th - Rest Day in Baden (Switzerland)
13th - 50 miles to Weggis (Switzerland) - Campsite
14th - 74 miles to Claro (Switzerland) exc train 19 miles Goschenen to Airolo - Campsite
15th - 72 miles to Casorezzo (Italy) - Wild Camp
16th - 103 miles to Genoa (Italy) - Hotel
17th - Rest Day in Genoa (Italy)
18th - Fly back to the London
Up until we both reached Aarau in northern Switzerland we had cycled 672 miles. I did a further 335 miles to reach the finish line and had we not raised the money, I wouldn’t of carried on by myself so thanks to everone who sponsored us - it gave me the incentive to continue to the end.
Another mountain that seemed to go up and up and up into the clouds but I finally reached the summit about 15 miles outside of Genoa. The next 15 miles was a downhill cruise back to sea level and into the city. I got into the city at about 8pm and was very releived to finally be in Genoa! The next challenge was to try to find an affordable hotel with vacancies which proved a little harder than I anticipated and visited about 5 or 6 hotels and accidentally ended up on a major motorway through the city before settling for one. After cycling 100 miles in one day including a 15 mile climb to 770m at the end of it all, it didn’t exactly end easily. On a more positive note though, the mountains were a nice scenic change to the previous few days of flat industial and agricultural area’s littered with busy roads. And, once I checked into the hotel, they recommended an amazing self serve italian buffet restaurant 5 minutes walk away!
As the day went on, head winds picked up but the terrain was flat most of the day so progress was going well. The one thing that the map did have was elevation spot points, so I knew that I was going to run into some hills eventually. About 30 miles from Genoa a mountain range runs parallel with the coast line. The Swiss probably would of dug a massive tunnel straight through the mountain, but I was in Italy… can’t go through it, can’t go around it, have to go over it.
Picture taken at about 500m ASL.
Set the alarm for 06:30 this morning. I knew I had about 100 miles left until Genoa and needed to get there by midday the following day. Definitely acheivable but didn’t want a repeat of last nights unsuccessful attempt to find any accommodation and started thinking that I would not stop cycling today until I got there.
This was the first sign I saw for Genoa. Looking promising!
Text message to Dave on the evening of Day 19.
I forgot to mention the masses of mosquitoes attacking me as I was trying to put the tent up. Oh, and the ground was too hard to put the tent pegs in. Was starting to wonder to myself “why am I’m doing this and what is the point!!?”
I left Switzerland today and entered Italy just west of Como. Throughout Switzerland, there were cycle signs everywhere along the way and there was no need to use maps. The maps I had for Italy were terrible, wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what roads I was on and trying to follow the route I had intended to take. At about 18:30 I had enough of cycling for the day and, after 2 nights of camping, was hoping to find some accommodation. I passed through a few villages but none of them had any accommodation whatsoever. Looks like I’m in for another night of camping.
Today was the day that I realised that it could actually still be possible for me to get to Genoa. But it would involve having to get a train at some point along the way. So the plan was to Cycle to Erstfeld (at 468 metres) get the train 33 miles over the highest point of the alps to Airolo and then continue on down towards Italy.
I got to Erstfeld before midday and it just didn’t seem that high and I had plenty of time left in the day, so carried on to the next town up with a train station. I ended up carrying on through a few towns until I got to Goschenen (at 1108 metres). It was only 19 miles further to Airolo but the climb was still another 1000 metres so I jumped on a train at this point and was in Airolo in 15 minutes.
The rest of the day was mostly downhill and clocked up 74 miles on Day 18. I had 2 and half days max to get to Genoa.
I got 4 punctures on my first day solo. Aaarrghh!! For the bike buffs out there, the tube was rubbing on the spoke holes in the wheel, so I managed to find a bike shop and bought some lining to stop it rubbing. It became a bit comical by the 3rd puncture (in this photo). I put the lining in, replaced the tube with a punctured tube that I had fixed earlier that day, pumped it back up, loaded all my stuff back on the bike, took 3 steps and the tyre went flat again. Luckily, when I bought the lining, I also bought another spare tube…
So, we got the train to back to Aarau. Dave was still feeling rotten and we faced the fact that he would not have the energy (nor the space on his bike for additional toilet rolls) to be able to continue. He ended up getting the train back to Baden and arranged to fly back to the UK the following day to see a doctor. The UK diagnosis was ‘Viral Gastroenteritis’. Treatment: 5 day liquid diet (soup, soup, soup!)
The hardest bit was coming up and obviously the weight to carry up the alps was a lot more than I initially anticipated but we had raised £1000 for The Back-Up Trust and everyone had sponsored us to ‘cycle’ to Genoa, so I had little choice but to carry on solo. Had we not raised money for this, I honestly would of accepted defeat and jumped on a train for Italy. The thought of cycling up and over the alps through nothern Italy to Genoa by myself was not exactly appealing but in the current circumstances, I was still feeling healthy and full of energy so it was more a matter of just seeing how much further I could go.
The final dinner in Baden. One night it was a Swiss meal - delicious! The next night it was an English meal - jacket potatoes and baked beans, tuna, corn and cheese. Tonight Valentina had left overs of both of the above, I ordered a quattro stagioni pizza, poor Dave got to have some plain rice with a bit of veg.
***if you ever wondered how you could eat as much as you want whenever you want? Cycle… a lot.