Day 1 & 2 - motorway miles
I’m pleased to say that yesterday I set off my house bound for Arctic Iceland, my latest charity motorbike challenge.
Firstly, apologies I wasn’t able to blog last night . I got to the ferry later than planned and the WiFi wasn’t working onboard so I’ve had to defer to tonight.
I set off from my house just after lunchtime on Saturday afternoon. Unlike my last 2 Arctic Rides, there was no fanfare or big send off. I decided to keep it low key due to the short preparation time I had for the Iceland trip and to make sure I focused on getting packed and not forgetting anyway (I still managed to forget tea bags and a few first aid kit items, but heyho).
My destination on Saturday evening was the port of Harwich in Essex to catch the 2100 ferry to Rotterdam, some 325 miles... not bad for an afternoon.
Before I left however I did have to say bye to my wife and kids. It’s always hard leaving your family but I found this goodbye particularly tough. I’ve never spent this long away for our family unit, and having 2 children who’ve been poorly in their early years, it felt a bit like I was letting them down by going, even though Tiny Lives charity who are benfiting from the ride have helped them both so much.
The ride down the road was uneventful. I’ve ridden most of this route so many times, not only doing my Arctic Rides but visiting my mother-in-law who used to live in the area, plus other trips to France. It was a lovely summers day (maybe a bit too hot) and apart from an accident just south of Leeds and a few roads works on the A1 going south of Darlington, the bike just ate up the miles. I did have some slight discomfort in my shoulder but that’s an ongoing issue.
After a few stops for petrol and food, I arrived at Harwich around 7pm ready to board their ferry. While queing I got chatting to a jolly German man who was asking about the bike. Turns out he was a bike nut like me and was looking for a new bike to ride to work. Before I knew it, it was time to board the ferry. After a helter-skelter to get onto the ship, I got parked up and strapped the bike down and headed to my cabin. It was nicer than I expected with double bunk beds, a hot shower, and tv. I then checked in with my wife Kirsty and did my Facebook live video.
While I was on the ship I bumped into Jon and Ming who are a couple I ‘know’ from Twitter. They are also heading to Iceland on their bikes for a 2 week holiday but won’t be getting as far North as the Arctic. They were kind enough to invite me into their posh, sea-view, cabin and gave me a cup of tea and some chocolate while we chatted about motorbike, music, Icleand and Norway. It’s one of the best things about these bike kind of trips, meeting other travellers along the way. They are on the same ship to Iceland as me too which should help with the boredom of a 2 days sea crossing.
After our chat I unsuccessfully tried to get the WiFi working onboard, so instead I transferred all my media for the from my GoPro and iPhone to my backup drive and then settled down to bed.
Total mileage - 325
Only 5 hours after going to bed there was a wake-up call from the ship. After grabbing a quick shower I headed back down to the car deck ready to depart. I must have chosen the right deck as in no time I was off the ship riding towards passport control. After waiting only 15 minutes, and witnessing some crazy queue-rage (GoPro footage to follow) I was on Dutch soil and heading for Germany. I got a bit lost in Rotterdam but after a quick consult with google maps I was on my way.
Day 2 ride was another fairly standard days riding (I like this... the less near misses, the better). Only my second stop of the day getting petrol just after the Dutch-German border, I bumped into the jolly German man again! He wishes me well on my ‘banana bike’ and thought it was funny we had seen each other again, although he was heading home to Kiel which isn’t far from Flensburg where i ended up after riding 440 miles. There were lots of roadworks either side of Hamburg and some very fast driving (85mph is too slow for the autobahn by my reckoning).
The only other happening of the day was during one of my stops when an Irish gypsy approach me while I was lubing my chain. He claimed he’d been robbed over night and had no money to get home and wanted some cash for him and his family. I said I didn’t carry cash (I genuinely live a cashless life) but he then suggested I accompany him to the next services and buy him a tank of fuel. I was a bit suspicious as he was heading east-bound like me and thus not ‘home to Dover’ as he claimed. I challenged him on this and he told me he’d need to turn around, which I agreed he would to get home. I then declined his offer of paying for his petrol and got back to fixing my bike. I felt bad after the incident, I normally always help folk in need but this chap just didn’t seem genuine at all. At first I though he was coming over to check on me as I was working on the bike, but alas he just wanted some petrol for free.
So I made it to Flensburg (the meeting place of my wife and I) and I set up camp ready to get some sleep. As per night 1, I’m really missing my family. I was able to FaceTime them all before the kids went to bed which was great but part of me wishes I was still at home to tuck them in
Total mileage 765
Thank you to everyone so much for all the support and Facebook and Twitter, and for all the donation s. . It really means a lot! If you haven’t yet, you can donate at www.virginmoneygiving.com/thearcticrider
No photos today I’m afroad as the blogger app is playing up but I’ll do my best to get some posted tomorrow when I get to Denmark