Day 174 – Winchester to London – Final Day!

This is more of a general update than anything else as I’m afraid I’ve been rather busy since returning and I can’t even begin to digest what’s happened; let alone write something worth reading…

I will post something more interesting (hopefully) in the next few days. Briefly though, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has offered support, encouragement, and/or congratulations at any point, it means the world (no pun intended). Also to everyone who came to welcome me home yesterday. It really meant a lot to see so many of you and I apologise if I didn’t get to speak to you.

One other thing – for all those that are congratulating me; at the end of the day, all I’ve done is turn the pedals. The amount of work done by my parents behind the scenes has been phenomenal. This trip would never have been more than an idea without them, and if it had, I wouldn’t have made it past the second day. It’s impossible for me to convey how much they have done in a blog but they deserve as much, if not more, credit than I do.

With regards to yesterday – it was really good, and I can’t think of anything else to say right now. The last 48 hours have been a bit surreal. (I’m currently in Manchester and am (potentially) going to be on BBC tomorrow morning)

Distance: 74.8miles / 120.3km
Riding Time: 4:19:45
Av. Speed: 17.3mph / 27.6kph

Day 172 – Fougères to Cherbourg

A bit of a milestone today really. Ok I haven’t ‘officially’ cycled around the world yet but I’m now leaving France and it feels a bit surreal.

I am now in Poole and the ferry got in rather late, so despite a short day tomorrow, I’m keen to get to bed. (I probably should have written this on the 4 hour crossing but I didn’t because I’m really organised like that).

The ride today was really good, far from flat, but much faster than normal; a good day to finish off France.

A couple of things to mention; firstly, we saw a couple of people taking some ferrets for a walk which was a bit weird. No offence to any ferret owners out there, but you’re probably a bit odd.

Secondly, a woman on the ferry literally pointed and laughed at my sock tan lines. Subtlety clearly not one of her fortes.

Anyway, I’m afraid that’s all I have time for right now. I’m not entirely sure if I will have time to write a blog tomorrow (or the day after) so consider this a heads up. If I am too busy, there will be one on Monday or Tuesday, so this won’t be the final one…

Distance: 102.9miles / 165.5km
Riding Time: 5:59:39
Av. Speed: 17.2mph / 27.5kph

P.S: Thanks to all those who have come to welcome me back to England!

Day 171 – Cholet to Fougères

After almost 7 months, this is my last full night abroad… And I intend to spend as much of it as possible asleep… So yeah, you get the idea.

I haven’t quite got my head around that, maybe it’s because I still have to cycle 100 miles tomorrow, and maybe something will sink in when I get on the ferry, but for now I’m still on the road. And quite frankly I feel like I have finally got used to it! Better late than never I suppose.

The ride today was really nice. Shorter than the last couple but no fewer ups and downs. In general though it felt fairly relaxed. Despite the ‘support vehicle’ having a bit of a tantrum.

The last week has been brilliant with the company I have but I still can’t wait to get home. Whilst it has been easier, the pressure (much of which is self-inflicted) and the stress is still there and I don’t think I have felt completely relaxed for almost a year.

In many ways, you would think that the freedom one has when ‘cycling around the world’ eliminates these problems. But unless you are taking years to do it and don’t mind taking a week off every three days (i.e: you don’t have a set time frame) then I think stress is pretty unavoidable. At least it has been for me… And I think that is what I’m looking forward to getting rid of the most.

That all sounds a bit mature for me but I’m going to leave it as is… Last time I wrote something that required thought I decided to lower the tone by finishing with a joke and ended up upsetting a few people. Hope you don’t mind.

Distance: 105.4miles / 169.6km
Riding Time: 6:52:24
Av. Speed: 15.3mph / 24.6kph

Day 170 – Pons to Cholet

Not an overly straightforward day today; and rubbish service at lunch meant we finished late and has therefore meant that I am also very late now as well.

The ride today was good. Despite a few minor mishaps with the route heading off-road, it was enjoyable. I’m afraid I am beyond tired and my brain has decided that it doesn’t want to work tonight; so this’ll be quick.

I shall however finish on a couple of positive notes:
1 – I have four days to go, which is just ridiculous and something I really cannot get my head around
2 – All of those four days are shorter than today
3 – My knee is feeling much better *fingers crossed*. I have not really felt it at all since Lisbon which is a very welcome surprise. I’m not really sure what has brought this about but the only thing I have changed from America is that I have started taking Pomi-T… placebo effect? Perhaps, but either way, it’s good.
4 – As I mentioned, my brain isn’t functioning very quickly this evening so it’s good that I have company. Since I am struggling, Henry (my cousin) has kindly offered to help come up with something to write… he has said that I should end with ‘‘Henry is a legend’’… so there it is, cheers for the input Henry!

Distance: 125.6miles / 202.0km
Riding Time: 7:39:45
Av. Speed: 16.4mph / 26.2kph

Day 169 – Mimizan to Pons

I had the first rain of Leg 8 today. It wasn’t too bad but it was far from the temperatures I faced a few days ago.

The day improved as it went on really. Around halfway we hit Bordeaux, and whilst there were some very nice bits, it wasn’t quite as pretty as expected.

The final third was a lot more pleasant and once away from the city and amongst the vineyards, it was really nice riding. The sun even made an appearance for the last couple of hours which was nice.

Speaking of the last two hours – they were fast. Probably the fastest I’ve ridden without a tailwind in about six months (on the flat anyway).

We’re now in quite a nice village not very far from Cognac… I wasn’t a big Cognac drinker before I left, and I can confirm that that has not changed over the course of this trip. The others didn’t completely waste the opportunity mind.

I’m tired now so I’m off to bed…

Distance: 125.4miles / 201.8km
Riding Time: 7:28:23
Av. Speed: 16.8mph / 26.8km

P.S. I’m sorry pictures from America still aren’t up , but I haven’t had the time. I shall try my best to get them on here before I finish in London!

Day 168 – Zumaia to Mimizan

Today has been a good day, although not everything went exactly to plan.

The morning was fantastic, riding with someone else pretty much reminded me why cycling is so good. The scenery was, for the most part, very good as well.

Riding through San Sebastián was pretty stunning but unfortunately I managed to fall off my bike… I don’t think I need to be overly elaborate but I can’t really blame anyone else, and it all came about because of wanting to go and look at a cathedral – and I’m usually so good at steering clear of culture!  Long story short – I landed very hard on my head and it’s very lucky I was wearing a helmet (which is now useless, so I’m using a different one). The bike is fine which is good, my wrist and shoulder are a bit jarred, but all in all, I’m fine.

To be perfectly honest, I’m more annoyed than hurt. I’ve ridden so far and through a lot of very sketchy moments without crashing so this just feels a bit stupid (it was all a bit embarrassing and extremely unimpressive).

Admittedly, the next half hour or so were not that great as I was still a bit grumpy but apart from that, the rest of the day was really good. I’ve now finished Spain and am in France – very different temperatures to when I was here six months ago!

This evening has been really good. The difference having some company makes is incredible and despite being a bit sore I’m hoping for a good last few days.

Distance: 114.6miles / 184.7km

Riding Time: 7:55:18

Av. Speed: 16.6mph / 26.4kph

Day 167 – Briviesca to Zumaia

Today has been a really good day. My legs took 80 kilometres to wake up so the morning was bit slow, but after that, it was brilliant.

Spain suddenly became a very nice place to ride and I’m almost sad that I’m leaving it tomorrow… almost.

I have now been joined by my Dad and cousin so that’s made for a much better evening. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the last few days; I’ll be home in a week!

Distance: 104.4miles / 167.9km

Riding Time: 6:46:01

Av. Speed: 15.4mph / 24.8kph

Day 166 – Valladolid to Briviesca

I woke up really tired this morning and it soon became apparent that the legs had not recovered from yesterday either. It’s been quite a while since they’ve been that stiff actually. A pretty rubbish breakfast didn’t help and once riding I instantly discovered that the wind was also doing everything it could to make the situation worse.

All things considered, I didn’t feel too bad. Progress was slow but I didn’t get quite as annoyed as normal with the wind. (It still wasn’t fun though).

The afternoon improved slightly as my body woke up a bit but the headwind stayed all day.

I went through a place called Burgos today; it wasn’t anything special although there was a rather impressive cathedral. Now those of you who have been following my blog for a while (or know me) have probably realised that I’m not massively interested in the whole ‘looking at buildings’ side of tourism. That being said; credit where credit’s due, the Spanish can build some impressive things (at least they used to be able to.. Not sure if their new stuff is any good)

Sorry but that’s all the is to say about today I think. Tomorrow is the last day I’ll be on my own which is good! I am currently desperate for bed though so I’ll have to sign off there

Distance: 117.6miles / 189.2km
Riding Time: 9:04:04
Av. Speed: 13.0mph / 20.8kph

Day 165 – Ciudad Rodrigo to Valladolid

I’m currently having to put in some longer days in order to get back for my planned finish date; so rather than me starting every blog saying: “I’m late again so this will be a short update”, maybe just assume that that’s the case from now on.

Today was long, but nowhere near as hot or hilly as yesterday. The wind kept changing between headwind and tailwind which was frustrating at times but overall didn’t pose too much of a problem.

I went through Salamanca at about half way through today which was very nice. I think that’s somewhere to visit properly at some point in the future. Spain so far has been good; not that there was anything wrong with Portugal, it just wasn’t that interesting.

Only other thing to mention about the ride today is that I went through my second (and final) antipodal point. Not massively significant in terms of progress but it’s a good thing to tick off.

The downside to Spain is how late the people eat. By 8:30 when the restaurants opened this evening I was absolutely starving, and possibly another reason why I’m so late.

Two more full days in Spain, a week until I’m on the ferry crossing the channel.

Distance: 128.1miles / 206.0km
Riding Time: 8:46:27
Av. Speed: 14. 6mph / 23.5kph