8 countries, approximately 8000 kilometres and 101 days. The cycle odyssey is over (for the moment at least). Although I have reached my end goal, it is the series of small victories and challenges won that have brought me to this point. Whether that is the physical burn of groaning muscles as I’ve crunched up a mountain or the sense of being self sufficient and utterly alone as I’ve unpacked my tent in a secret corner for another night of hobo life on the road.
When I consider the overwhelm of getting off the plane in northern Norway with 8000 kilometres of unknown ahead of me, it feels like a different world, a different me. I have entered each country with a sense of trepidation but it is Norway and Spain that have provided the biggest rewards and opposing challenges. Cold versus heat, rain versus sun, mountains versus plains. If they were people, Norway would be the slightly neurotic friend with a good job and a life plan. Spain would be the temperamental friend who doesn’t always turn up but when they do, you know you’re going to have a good time.
My last week of life on the road has been one of mixed emotions. Pride that I’ve got this far, a sense of the surreal and disbelief that it is shortly coming to an end. From Seville I headed over to Cadiz, the oldest Western European city founded by the Phoenicians and an important strategic trading link between the Americas and Europe. With its bustling alleys and shouting down the street, its not difficult to paint a mental image of its previous lives. That is, until you see a group of larger than life, older women in bikinis sitting in a circle playing bingo and cackling.
Spain with its Latin passion, heat, and disorder has stolen my heart. As I wake it is only just going to bed, and as I head to bed with another day on the road my priority, it is getting its party shoes on. It was still able to throw a curve ball my way in my last couple of days. I had been told many times that the Atlantic coast and Tarifa were amongst the windiest places in Europe. The elements were in full throttle and it felt as if they were trying to stop me from getting to my final destination. Winds so strong I was blown from side to side making a crooked swaying path southwards like a zig zagging drunk after a big night out.
My friends Mel, Lou and Katherine were there to welcome me in to the most Southern point in mainland Europe, after 8000 kilometres of road travelled. A wonderful end to an incredible journey full of highs and lows with all expectations of adventure, challenge, exhilaration and wonder of our amazing planet fulfilled. And as I look over the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa the blue grey mystery of a different continent’s mountains whispers like a lover beckoning. But for now, I turn my back and head to the green and pleasant land that I call home.
Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support not just of my cycle odyssey but of the charities I am supporting. I have raised £6,000 so far of my £8,000 goal and if I get to my target, that for me will be one of the biggest achievements.
Youth Adventure Trust – https://www.justgiving.com/cycleodysseyYAT
Re-cycle – bikes for Africa- https://www.justgiving.com/cycleodyssey
Lost – 10 kilos, 1 penknife, 5 tent pegs
Punctures – 0 !!!!
Replaced – 2 new chains, 1 back cassette, 1 gear set