It has taken me a week to get around to writing to you, because baby Elia and I have been so busy catching up and playing.
This is a last look at the stats after finishing…
55 sunny days of pedalling from morning till night + 2 days of heavy rain when I stopped + 5 days of rest. Grand total 62 days journey over 4180 kms. Top speed 59.8 Kph, at which point the panniers would rise up dangerously, like wings opening for take-off. Average speed 18.5 kph. Oiled chain twice and pumped one tire once. Gratefully shared some riding days with Simon (8 days), Georgio (0.5 day), Birgitta and Hans-George (1 day), Regina and Zoe (2 days), Bruce and Kealena (3 days), Tyrone (4 days).
I slept in 50 different beds which varied from a raw mattress to a bed fit for a queen and everything in between. Showers were always good. My booking app was very useful, and so was the Googley girl app.
Being alone for much of the time, led to the upwelling of seven “me’s” who I labelled: Dizzy blonde, Stupid-bloody-fool, Guru, Panic-pot, Happy, Sneezy, and Dopey.
All my personalities suffered moments of despair and exhilaration. Guru had the most arduous job of all, and only stopped nagging when I arrived in Oslo.
It would yell: “Get up out of that bed immediately and get on your bike” or it would shout: “PAY ATTENTION ! … stop…… go go go GO…. take your blinkers off, wait here, do this, do that blah blah blah.
Listen carefully and trust that voice. Act instantly. It saves your life.
There was also the very much appreciated daily input from Simon, and the imaginary team (the voices of my kids who cheered me on), and my family and friends as the ‘blog-backup support team’ who wrote wonderful messages which kept me going. Thank you everyone for your kind words. I would have been miserable without you. Your good wishes put wind in my tires, and your comments put power in my pedals.
I became a man; no makeup, no hair brush, a ravenous appetite, strong muscles, navigating by the sun, loving my bike, drinking beer, not caring how ugly I looked, and going places where no women dare to go; prohibited factory yards, pubs full of scary men, dark forest paths with wolves, that kind of thing. It was fantastic to be liberated of that fussy feminine stuff.
Europe is a remarkably safe place, despite the TV news. Chances of being led astray are extremely rare for someone my age. People are especially kind and they help you when asked. Just smiling and being pleasant.
Children are particularly interested, many a moment when feeling fatigued a bus full of kids would wave at me going past. Nothing gets you going like a little child looking you in the eye and asking a question. Like the little boy who traced the bike symbol on my pannier with his tiny fingers and asked if the bike was all new. Kids notice a lot of things that adults are too busy to see.
Italians generally love to chat, discuss solutions, and give one really good food. Although cycling is yet to become a really popular thing to do, hence the lack of cycle paths. Everybody I met along the way became my friend and kept in touch.
Austrians are generally well organised and care about cyclists. Everyone is treated with equal respect, smokers and non-smokers alike. There are so many Harley-Davidson groups, cycle groups, and tourists from every part of the world, that they have become really good at hosting all types without getting too involved.
The Swiss work hard to make better food than the Italians and the French put together. Their properties are cultivated, their shops are expensive, and everything is run like a beautiful clock.
Germans are very busy doing everything properly. People are doers, movers and makers. Hotels are good, food is good, beer is good. Everything works. Maintenance and construction is continuous from south to north. The people are friendly, and it’s gemütlich.
The French are naturally confident, and they like to please who they choose. The villages along the Rhine are smartly renovated but everybody goes away at work somewhere. There are no facilities for Eurovelo 7 cycle route users yet, although there were a lot of nice french cyclists going past.
Danes are discreet, everything looks pretty, even the biggest factory is super stylish versatile and safe to be near. There is a certain wealth, but it’s softly tailored with humility. Cyclists everywhere, commuting on the thousands of well controlled cycle roads.
Swedish are similar to Danes, they also have nice wooden cottages at the seaside. Everyone speaks perfect English, and they’re nice to strangers. They have made a spectacular cycle track from Gothenburg.
Norwegians are similar to Swedes, they also have nice cottages at the seaside or in the woods. My children live here so I’m happy that Norwegians are happy people. They care a lot about children too.
Much to my surprise and relief the body managed to survive the journey with no sickness, or delays due to health problems.
The hands grew a bit claw-like and developed pads on the palms, painful at night…. werewolf symptoms?
Some short episodes of vertigo were annoying, it is caused by crystals in the inner ear detaching and moving. This has been an issue for almost three years now, so no fault of the cycling. It only occurs when I lie down or sit, so it did not prevent me from riding. However it is better now.
Allergies were a nuisance for about 2500 kms, dust and pollen blew around in clouds. No allergies since.
Finally, the answer to the most asked question…how is the seat?
The answer…UNCOMFORTABLE! But no damage done.