Distance is nothing – only the first step is difficult, well pedal rotation for this journey – to cycle around the North Sea starting in London heading north to Norwick in Shetland and then on to Bergen and the coast route home via Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
This journey will be the longest extended trip away from home. I estimate 60-80 days according to the detailed plans I had been making over the winter. A few short trips on a new Thorn Sherpa, as yet unnamed, confirmed riding comfort and carrying capacity. To keep costs down, I set out to camp every night and do as much cooking myself.
I booked a flight from Sumburgh airport in Shetland to Bergen and would worry about packing the bike when I got there. The flights departed every Saturday, so I timed my departure three weeks beforehand. I joined the National Cycle Route 1 at Hoddesdon, after cycling along the NSC 6 and 61 from Slough. This route would guide me all the way to Shetland.
After 20 days of cycling mostly into a North Easterly wind, I reached the end of National Cycle Route 1 in Norwick, Unst, Shetland. Then guess what happened? The wind changed direction 😦
I was surprised at the quality of the cycle route. I would estimate that from Hertfordshire, approximately 40% is completely traffic free, another 50% is very quiet country roads, the remainder is normal traffic conditions. Who would believe you could cycle safely the length of Britain, thanks to Sustrans. Apart a wet cinder track leading into Whitby eating a pair of front brake blocks, the Thorn Sherpa has been perfection, carrying me and 25kg of gear without fuss.
The next task is to fly to Bergen in Norway for the 4,000km journey to Dover. I have gone through my panniers and shaved off 3kg of unnecessary gear, not to mention the almost 5kg I have lost in weight! Must eat more. My 20 year old MacPac Microlite tent needs replacement as the inner looks like a pair of grannies apple catchers. Everyone I met said spend the money on a Hilleberg, but which one?
Thank you for the encouragement, support and help from so many on the route. Notably, Berwick Cycles; Velocity in Inverness and Dr. Sprockets in Whitby.