Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Getting things together again

By Stuart Lowe on

The plan is still on. My previous post described an idea for a route. Since then I've decided to cross the North Sea from Bergen to Orkney (or Aberdeen) rather than head to Oslo. It keeps me on the Atlantic coast more and I'd not fully appreciated just how long Norway was. With a month to go, I've now started getting everything together.

Clothing

One of my old Howies long-sleeved merino base layers has worn out. It did well as I had it for a few years before cycling across two continents with it. The holes are now just too big. Thankfully I still have one left with smaller holes. They are great as they wick the sweat, take a while to start to smell (thanks to the merino), keep my arms from getting sunburned, and somehow keep me warm or cool whichever is needed. Still, only having one will mean I smell more on this trip.

Camping

I'll be (hopefully) doing more camping than on the last two trips. I hope to keep to under £20/day on this trip and that includes flights and all the ferries. As accommodation is always the largest expense, I'll be doing more wild camping - especially in the wilds of Norway/Scotland - to help keep costs down. I'm still massively impressed by the USD8/day Parry - who I met in Utah - had spent crossing the US.

I still have my camping gear from the previous trips which includes my trusty little DoE-approved 1-2 person tent (you'd have to be quite friendly for two). I've bought a new bike bag for the flight to Kirkenes as that will also double up as the ground sheet for my tent. I like things to have multiple uses if possible. I should probably invest in some new tent pegs as I've slowly lost or bent too many of the ones I had.

Electronics

landscape
Electronic kit

On my first trip the biggest headache was my phone; it needed charging every single day. In 2015 I bought a new phone specifically to improve the battery life for the Liverpool to Istanbul trip. It worked. I can now get 2-7 days of life from my phone if I switch stuff off when I don't need it. Hopefully the EU roaming directive should kick in around 17th June so I should be able to use my UK mobile in Norway without paying crazy amounts. Unless Brexit has scuppered that.

My camera is quite bulky but gives much better photos than my phone. I have two batteries for it and they last ages because they don't need to power a display screen (it is an SLR). I have a tiny USB charger for the batteries.

My Garmin eTrex 20 GPS claims around 25 hours on 2 AA batteries and, in practice, that has meant 3 days of cycling. I have some rechargeable batteries but AA are really easy to buy in many countries.

On the last trip I bought two USB battery packs, on the road, which proved to be really useful and meant I wasn't always searching for a power outlet. I've bought another USB battery pack with a higher capacity to add to those. I've also decided to increase my power generation so, as well as the roll up Bear Grylls solar panel I bought in Nebraska, I have a new RavPower fold-up solar panel. I should be fine for power.

I've purchased a £7 on-the-go SD card reader which will mean I can now transfer photos off my camera onto my phone. Previously I've had to wait until I've found someone kind enough to let me use their computer to do that. I'll be self-sufficient now. I'll also be able to backup my GPS tracks onto my phone.

Bike

I replaced my gears on my bike a few months ago so they should be OK. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres were new on before crossing Europe in 2015 so will hopefully last a good few thousand more miles. As long as they last me to Scotland I'll be happy. They are excellent tyres. I will need to get some new brake pads (and spares for Norway) as well as a couple of spare inner tubes. I'm wondering if I should take some spare spokes this time in case bike shops are even more spaced out than in the American west.

Flights

My flights to Kirkenes are booked. I fly on 16th June. I just need to add my bike on as excess baggage for an extra £30. I am still trying to decide if I should book a flight from Bergen at the moment or wait until I have a better idea how long Norway will take to cycle once I've experienced it.

Getting ready

I really can't afford to pay £1800 rent whilst I'm away so I've given my notice to my landlord. It'll be much cheaper to put everything in storage. It'll mean I have to find somewhere to live again when I return. That is a problem for then.

I still need to sort out specialist travel insurance, sort out travel money, get my mapping sorted, and pack up my home. I'm also signed up to do my first triathlon in three weeks time so the next month will be busy. The nervousness, the excitement, and the anticipation are building. I'm looking forward to it.