Five in Nine

Belgium tick

The expedition timer on the front page of the site now shows nearly 9.5 days from the moment I splashed my way under Tower Bridge on April 1st. Since then I have travelled through four countries and I am now (as of this morning) into my fifth. I’m pretty happy with that for progress.

Time to go home
After the paddling marathon down the Thames and across the Channel to France I swapped Nelson (my kayak)  for Hercules (my bike) and began pedalling my way East. I was trailed by three of my team (Logistics Chief Tim, Camera Chief Justine and my good mate Claire) through France and across Belgium until Friday morning. They used our Saab support vehicle for the most part and took it in turns to pedal with me.

As Friday morning approached I anticipated the farewells with a sense of foreboding – I had enjoyed having the team along, cycling with me, filming me and generally making sure all was going to plan. And so it was with a lump in my throat and slightly heavy heart that I hugged them all, climbed onto my bike and turned away from the car to pedal off on my own. Eastbound, en route to the world.

The open road

I looked back a couple of times before the road bent round to the right, wondering if my friend Claire had succumbed to the tears yet – she was nearly there as we hugged cheerio. They were all there still, watching and waiting for me to go. Justine had a video camera on me and Tim seemed to be clicking with a camera while Claire stood by the car door and stared after me.

Two more corners and I looked behind once more – I couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see me. I had gone and they were now going home too. It was just Hercules and me now: us and the road. Also going home, just by a more round-about route. I had a note from Justine to say that they made it home on Friday night; I hope I don’t get home until 2013.

The kindness of strangers
Meanwhile, I am now in Germany, having pedalled out of cycling mad Belgium and across the beautifully flat and fast Nederlands yesterday, before crossing the border at dawn this morning. I would have come over last night but I was befriended by a lovely Dutch lady, Mieke, who welcomed me home for the night. In my head I had wanted to pedal further and squeeze in a few more miles, but her smiling warmth and motherly kindness meant that I couldn’t refuse. We shared a beer in a little plaza as the sun went down, bikes and cyclists everywhere, before pedalling together back the way I had come from into the woods to her house. From one woman cyclist to another, we shared tales of adventure over the blackberry whiskey that Claire had given me for this very purpose.

Mieke - a kindred spirit

So I needn’t have worried about saying goodbye to my team on Friday – I haven’t been alone since and I don’t think I ever shall be on this journey round the world. Or at least on the land at any rate! I have already had lots of people cycle alongside me – both in person – strangers I have met along the way – and in spirit – all the friends and families and sponsors and well wishers who have joined the journey too.

These have been a happy few days indeed. Thankfully the lack of hills until Germany has eased my legs in fairly gently (though I have put in a couple of 150km days already) and the sunshine which arrived on Day 2 of the cycling leg has made it a joy to be out and about. Having spent so long planning to get L2L off the ground, it is so exciting to be on my way, travelling slowly enough to spot wildlife and meet people without letting the world pass me by.

Here’s to the world ahead.

All best from me and Hercules,

Sx

PS In terms of mileage – I guessed at 65 miles a day before I came away. The first couple of days were much shorter and the last couple have been much longer. The main focus is to head East and stay happy, while making the country borders in good time for my visas.

PPS For those wondering why I have come North to Essen – I came up here to visit one of my sponsors, Ernst & Young – my lead contact is based here, so I came for lunch today.

 

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23 Responses to Five in Nine

  1. Angie Humphreys says:

    Sounds as if all has been going well with good weather too eh! Very well done Sarah and I love to read your reports. Good travelling x Rutland is watching you

  2. paul oliver says:

    what a fantastic inspiration you are. will be following you for the next 2 years wishing you good luck along the way.

  3. Christine Foley says:

    Watching from Wales, Sarah – really good to follow your progress and, yes, I was whooping very loudly on the 1st, but only the sheep and lambs could hear me!! Digging out the Atlas, I see you may have been pedalling near to where we used to live, close to the Dutch border, near Monchengladbach. Have a safe journey and “happy days” to you and Hercules!
    Kind regards – Christine

  4. Godfolks says:

    Sorry things have been a bit quiet our end but we have had a few distractions as you can imagine! She only just made it to your launch and now she has her hands full with a bundle of joy – but then we are bias! Our time with you on 1st was very special and congratulations on a tough crossing of the channel and the good progress you are making now. Keep that engine running and for now love and hugs. x

  5. khyberkim says:

    hi Sarahfollow your blogs everyday,just read the bookin 2 days,keep sending us lots of updates,and pics,try lots of the greman sausages,liver sausage,and theschnitzel,
    Whens the next rest day?
    Regards and best wishes.

  6. Kai Ma says:

    Dear One
    SO relieved you’ve managed a couple of comfortable nights (!),may many more follow and am sure you will encounter more Miekes along the way. Any Applestroop for breakfast in Holland?!
    LOL
    Kai Ma

  7. Chris M says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Great to hear your doing well. Keep smilling and enjoy the adventure.

    Chris M

  8. Liz Salt says:

    Dear Sarah
    Having just spent some of the laziest days of my life lounging in Tenerife reading your book I cant believe you are doing it again. Your poor Mum! Amazing, totally crazy and incredible – only problem is Vicky is reading the book now and although ocean rowing isn’t her scene I dread to think what ideas it is giving her. Good luck, we will keep supporting. liz and co

  9. Ferdo says:

    Just a technical comment: If possible,I think you should try resize pictures before posting them, takes forever to download (and I guess upload too) and when reading from RSS feed I need to zoom out like 10x which makes text unreadable.
    Other then that … fingers crossed 🙂

    • Tim Moss says:

      Hi Ferdo, thanks for pointing this out. I’ve re-sized the current images so hopefully they’ll load quicker now.

      I suspect Sarah’s just been uploading them in a hurry whilst she’s snatched some internet time but we’ll get her to shrink them for next time. Besides, when she switches from broadband to satellite internet, it would take all day if she didn’t make them smaller!

  10. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hello Sarah

    Wondreful news that you have made so much progress since that great send off. Its good to hear that you are taking the time on this journey to not let the world go by.

    At least we are back to our morning ritual first things first see how Sarah is getting on. You will meet lots of lovely folks along teh way and you will never be lonley over there nor at home, your followers are increasing all the time.

    Take care and happy pedalling

    Love

    C & K

  11. corriepaw says:

    So far, so good then; you’ve been blessed with the same fine, spring weather that we have had in the Uk.With so much violence and disregard in the human World, it is easy to become despairing. This is why I enjoy reading people’s accounts of their travels. It restores my faith in the basic goodness of folk – from wherever they are. Good luck in Germany with those gradients! Look forward to hearing about it.

    Colin Walford x

  12. Helen Outen says:

    Lookin’ good Sarah, lookin’ good. Happy cycling!!!
    HUGS xxxx Mum

  13. Just had my daily “fix” of Outen Tales – amazed at how far you’re travelling each day. You’ll be able to do the whole Cornish coast in a day when you return!! Good luck. G x

  14. Richard Godman says:

    Hi Sarah

    Great blog looking forward reading more as you head further East. Well done on your progress.Happy cycling keep fit and safe.
    Richard G

  15. Barbara Crellin says:

    Just caught up with you
    Just amazing! School now on holiday but I know lots of the children following you on the website and wishing you well.
    Love and hugs
    Barbara

  16. Tom Evans says:

    Great stuff Sarah – good luck! Keeping one eye on your progress!

  17. James Allard says:

    Happy travels, Sarah! I suspect I’ll be logging onto your blog regularly over the next couple of years, feels like a chance to share in an amazing adventure! Do you still carry a huge plastic tub of sweets on your bike as you did on the Pedal for Pounds ride in Cornwall last year?
    Looking forward to reading more…
    Stay safe and happy.
    James A

  18. Amy Bryant says:

    Whoop whoop Sarah! Glad to hear that you’re speeding through the miles. I hope the chocolate bunny is somewhere with you or your team to give you sustenance! Make sure you try all the local delicacies as you pedal along.
    Cycle safely mate xx

  19. Jo L says:

    After reading your book i will never look at a Mars bar in the same way again.
    Having rowed the Atlantic myself it feels strange to have the shoe on the other foot and be tracking your progress (although around the world is a little more hardcore). I look forward to tracking your progress and admire all that have achieved and are yet to achieve. I find myself checking your site every day on the edge of my seat waiting for the next instalment as you share your great adventure with us all.

  20. Stella Spiegl says:

    As i have just had a hip replacement, I am enjoying your journey through the internet. I am full of admiration and enjoyed your talk in Stamford. Keep up the good work!!!!!
    Stella

  21. Irmgard says:

    Hello Sarah,

    i´ve met you today morning at the fuelstation, it was very nice to speak to you. I am really fascinated. I´ll be watching you during your yourney. Good luck to you an god bless you.

    Greetings Irmgard

  22. Bethania Luz says:

    Hello Sarah

    Im so happy and amazed with the progress you have made!
    L2L Will be an solo adventure but not a lonelly one, with the one´s you will meet in the road and the rest of us following you we are a tone of people.

    A big hug from portugal, GO SARAH!!!!
    We are all pedaling with You:)
    Beth

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