For those who enjoy seeing pain and endurance I have penned my diary here for those to read
DAY1 (Friday 22 July 2011): Start 3.30pm Radwinter to Harwich (52 Miles)
Starting from Simon’s house in Radwinter at 3.15pm we met with the other members of the team and had our first chance to meet with Jack Palma (who for the rest of the trip gave us much merriment). The weather was good and with a following wind we made the ferry port by 8.30pm with only two stops totalling approximately 1 hour.
We caught the 11.15pm Ferry to Hook of Holland.
DAY2: Hook of Holland to Arnhem (109 miles – aggregate 161 miles)
Arriving at the Hook we disembarked the ferry at 8.30 am and headed for the Hague to find the start of the Route R1 that starts at Boulogne and ends in St Petersburg. This route passes through the Hague and Berlin and was initially considered to be the best route both in terms of shortest route and the limited number of climbs. The weather was slightly cloudy but we had no rain during the day. However, finding the R1 was more of a challenge than was expected taking until 11.00 am. During the day the temperature fell and stopping became a challenge as getting warm again was more difficult when we started. During the day Jack suffered a calf muscle pull and had to take a bus from Woerden to Utrecht and then a train from Utrecht to Arnhem to meet with us in the evening at the hotel. At this stage we thought that Jack would play no further part in the trip.
DAY3: Arnhem to Munster (98 miles – aggregate 259 miles)
This was by far and away the worst day of the trip. The route was flat until the end but the weather was atrocious. Raining from the moment we started until we finished. The clothes I was wearing to cycle in got wet and I was very cold, so much so that by the end of the day I was wearing three cycling tops all of which were wringing. When we arrived at the Hotel at 9.30pm I could not stop myself shivering and had to shower for 20 minutes just to raise my internal body temperature. Jack remained at Arnhem looking to catch up with us later in the trip.
DAY4: Munster to Hoxter (99 miles – aggregate 358 miles)
Relief! It wasn’t raining and the sun was out. The day was perfect but the route now included some significant climbs which slowed overall progress. Leaving at 9 am we made our way slowly out of Munster finding the R1 after about an hour. Following the R1 became a challenge as the quality of the pathway deteriorated rapidly as we left the city and some debate was had about returning to minor roads to ensure that progress was made and no damage caused to the bikes. Using the minor roads was a good decision and we made good progress during the middle of the day until we reached the Wesser Hills. From a personal perspective the hill descents were one of the major highlights of the trip where those wishing to push themselves achieved in excess of 35 mph with no traffic on the road. However, finding the hotel was a significant challenge as it was not in the city of Hoxter but about 10km before it. Good meal in the evening as the Hotel was contacted and agreed to keep the restaurant open despite us arriving at 10.30 pm.
DAY5: Hoxter to Goslar (88 miles – aggregate 446 miles)
Raining again for most of the day. Climbs and descents galore. The hotels start to blur. Met with Jack in the evening who having tried out a ride on his bike during the day announced that he would be fit for the rest of the trip. At the start whilst pumping up the tyres I noticed that Tom Berry had a broken spoke on his back wheel. We had to get this fixed in Hoxter before proceeding further. Leaving the hotel we made our first and only significant mistake. We took a direct route rather than following the main road. Within half a mile we had a 30% upward incline lasting for 2 kilometres. Everyone had to walk up the hill wasting a large amount of time. We only arrived in Hoxter (10Km) at 11 am..
DAY6: Goslar to Bermburg (85 miles – aggregate 531 miles)
Jack joins us for the trip and the weather is good. We made excellent progress as we passed into the old East Germany. Almost immediately we passed into the old GDR despite a lot of money having been spent Germany is finding it difficult to paper over the cracks. The roads and buildings are of a poorer quality. In fact on one occasion travelling on what in the UK would be a good quality B road on the map we suddenly found ourselves (still travelling on that road on the map) riding on a dirt track between Redisleben and Rheinstedt. Having departed the Harz Hills the riding was easier and faster and we arrived at the Hotel in Bermburg at 8.30 pm. Unfortunately Tom broke 2 spokes on his rear wheel late morning and we had to find a bicycle shop on route to carry out repairs. This delayed us by about an hour.
At the end of the ride Jack felt tired but had no reason to complain about his leg which had withstood the ride – Great News!
DAY7: Bermburg to Wittemberg (50 miles – aggregate 581 miles)
This was the shortest full day of the trip. Leaving late at 9.30 am we arrived in Wittemberg at 4.30pm and had an opportunity to sight see around Wittemberg, where Martin Luther nailed his criticism of the pope to the Church-Schloss door.
DAY8: Wittemberg to Berlin (79 miles – aggregate 660 miles)
Aaargh! It’s raining again!
Made excellent progress in the morning leaving at 7.30 am we had ridden 54 miles by lunch including stops. We stopped at a restaurant in Potsdam and took over the facilities as we dried and changed clothes for the final leg. The staff were extremely helpful both in providing things for us and being calm in the face of this onslaught.
The roads were excellent as you would expect in the run in to a capital city and indeed there was an eight km stretch through the woods where the road/path was about 20 ft wide and no traffic. Speeds increased to mid 20’s mph in the afternoon as the end was in sight.
Eventually we arrived at the Brandenburg Gate (See Photo) at 6.30 pm took some photographs and departed for the hotel. Though not clear from the photo it was still raining and we were drenched (although not as cold as on DAY3). We arrived at the Hotel at 7pm to a nice glass of Gin and Tonic. What a relief!
Brendan arrived in Berlin on Friday at 7pm having started cycling from Radwinter the previous Friday. The total distance cycled was 660 miles at an average of ninety miles a day. It was hoped that by cycling in July bad weather would be avoided. This was not the case. On three days, including the last day, it rained solidly. Despite the weather it was great to finish with very few aches and pains.
He did all of this with a 30lb rucksack on his back and one of Ralph’s muslin nappies to protect his follically challenged head from the sun!
Brendan is still accepting donations to Radwinter Church, in particular the ‘loo’ fund. If you wish to donate please make cheques payable to ‘Radwinter PCC’ and send them to him at our home address: Bank House, Sampford Road, Radwinter, Essex, CB10 2TL.
He hopes to raise £5000 this year.