Arctic to Africa on a bicycle! What a challenge, four and a half thousand miles cycling from Nordkapp the most northern point in Europe through the continent and into Africa finishing in Casablanca in the summer of 2019. There are five riders, who are completing this challenge in three two-week phases over a period of three years.
As in previous cycling challenges, we are using this opportunity to raise money for a worthy charity Alzheimer Research UK! A charity very close to a lot of the riders hearts.
The plans are in place; the training is well under way; the fundraising has begun and we are ready to set off or the Arctic.
The challenge will begin at Midnight on the 18th of June 2017 from Nordkapp finishing the first stage two weeks later in Gothenburg.

So, day 12 is upon us. The last couple of days have been hard for all – mentally and physically. Early starts, long days, steep climbs, tough descents and scorching heat were just some of the things we have had to deal with. No wonder that moods were black and bodies tired at the end of the days and thus no blog til now.

After spending an enjoyable evening on Thursday with Paul’s Aunty and Uncle as we sat amongst lederhosen clad guys attending a local festival, Friday saw the boys set off after Paul had exhausted his bank of jokes as they departed from beneath Mount Wank.

The day took us to Glorenza Glurns in Italy (which Kayleigh and myself thought should be a character in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) and was also Sean and I’s Wedding Anniversary – not the usual celebratory way to be spending an anniversary but in true style, not the first time (that was during another cycle challenge too)!

The day was tough one for our boys. There was a lot of climbing – Fern Pass and another killer climb and a gravel down hill which no-one enjoyed. As our Tiny aka Paul said via Facebook “To anyone thinking this bike ride looks like a nice holiday, today has been one of the most physically demanding days of my life 😂 87 miles, 8,000ft of climbing, 30+ degrees, four countries and 1 fall. If anyone has thought about sponsoring or having a look at sponsoring and hasn’t then please have a look because we’ve had our arses kicked today 😂haven’t stopped, died or passed out so all is well but yeah we’d appreciate it ”. Enough said!

Saturday dawned very early. Eager and slightly nervous for our boys as this was THE day – Stelvio dawned today. From our camp site you could see the Mountains in The Alps which the boys were to follow, taking in the infamous pass. For those who don’t know of this, it is the second highest mountain pass in Europe at 9,045 ft. Italy, Switzerland and Austria all join up around it. But more than this, contained within the pass are 48 switchbacks to be cycled. See the picture’s below to see what they had to climb. To put into context, no way were the back up team driving it! So the boys set off very early and headed off. David had been waiting over a year to do this and the trip had been arranged around the pass. All 3 cyclists said it was very emotional, the biggest climb done by any of them and they all felt it physically, mentally and emotionally. Paul struck off what he said yesterday on Facebook – forget all that, Stelvio beat all of that and more.

Driving wise, we drove a different way to that which the the boys cycled to avoid the switchbacks- it didn’t work and we didn’t avoid them, although thankfully not as many. It was very scary though and I was extremely glad to get to the end. As we were nearing our end, Kayleigh had been checking up on the boys to see how they were doing. David first, very emotional, paul followed, again emotional. When she read to me that her Dad was there and he’d messaged to say how hard it had been and that “this one’s for Eric” tears flowed.

We are so proud of the boys achievement – If nothing else can encourage people to donate for their achievement, this should! They found it tougher than they ever imagined. Never mind that, they then had 80 miles to go in immense heat!

I know my Dad would be so proud of them, as we are. Wherever he is, he will be telling all and sundry of what “these lads” are doing and will be raising one (or many) Guinness to them for this day alone so the whole achievement… let’s say, heaven will be in full party mode!

Today has been a relatively easy day (in comparison anyway) for all concerned to be fair. Still 70 odd miles and still very, very hot. They cycled and we drove via different parts of Lake Como – simply stunning! An early finish of 3.00pm meant a dip in the swimming pool at the campsite and a well deserved and much needed chill by Lake Maggiore. Again, stunning!

We head tomorrow to Asti to meet up with many friends joining us for the finale in Monaco. Only 3 days to go – woohoo! Let’s hope and pray that they are good days too – please cross anything and everything!

Only 3 days to go now. Tomorrow is 95 miles in extreme heat of over 35 degrees in the shade. Let’s hope the garmin we are using for navigation holds up as it stopped working today. Apparently, once it gets to 45 degrees Celsius it stops working!!!! Great Garmin!!!!

A Big thank you to all of those who have donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK it is much appreciated. Also thanks again to the corporate sponsors.

Oak By Design

New Lodge Contractors

The Station Hotel

Vantage Group

Kerrys

Logic Fire and Security

 

Today’s blog sponsored by Logic Fire and Security

Day 8

We have had a dramatic few days hence no update yesterday. Where do we start? Yesterday was our rest day or was supposed to be we only had 78 miles to do after all. The route was along the Saal canal on a rough cycle track which made riding that little bit harder. Anyway, it was a shorter route for both the cyclist and the backup crew, both Kathleen and Kayleigh even managed to get on the bike to cycle into Ingolstadt. That’s where it all went wrong! We got to them at about 4:00 pm and had a couple of beers when I say a couple it was a bit more than a couple! The time had come when we had to get back to the campsite. The girls walked back to the bike and the riders cycled back to the camp. David, it has to say was a bit tipsy and ended up falling off his bike so he won the numpty award or did he? When we got back to the camp we got a call from Kathleen to say she had a puncture and could we come back as Kayleigh was also lost! Luckily we had find my friends on the mobile so I found Kayleigh on the wrong side of the Danube in a forest total lost. I then had to find Kathleen who was heading in the completely wrong direction pushing her bike. I caught up with her and mended the puncture in the dark then got back to Kayleigh who had got lost again in an army barracks!!!! So the numpty award had to go to the back up crew fro getting lost more than once and managing to get a puncture after only 5 miles (please note we have had only one puncture in a total of 9000 miles between us excluding all the training!!!) All was well in the end.

Day 9 was our last really long day about 113 miles and all uphill. Today was tough it was hot and we were tired probably due to a few too many beers the night before as well!! Nothing much to report apart from the fact this was the first day we could see the Alps and what an impressive sight that was. We eventually got to the camp at about 8:00 pm so a long day in the saddle.

Halfway! Just over 2,200 miles completed for the whole challenge, we are now on the countdown!

Today’s blog is sponsored by Vantage Group!

Another 100 miles today, but much more enjoyable. 3 climbs and the first was a big long climb. The scenery is now a lot more interesting which makes the day go past so much quicker. No major incidents today apart from Tiny’s (Paul) stationary fall whilst clipped in which deservedly earnt him the Numpty hat for today.

Next, we will be now heading into Bavaria which will be more interesting and hilly. Tomorrow is only 78 miles, so a nice rest day before we hit the Alps!

A big thank you to Mark Robinson and all from Vantage Group for sponsoring us on this challenge.

 

Don’t forget, if you would like to take part in a cycling challenge yourself, the Great Nidd Bike Ride is on Saturday 15th September, you can sign up here.

Day 6 Still in Germany close to the Czech Border.

Sponsored by The Station Hotel

118 miles today, all uphill, not steep but continuous and into the wind again. A total of 5500ft of climbing.

This morning it was hot, hot, hot. About 31 degrees in the shade! The scenery was still a bit tedious, long straight roads and large dusty fields. It was all about getting our heads down and getting the job done. Then at about half way, we hit the hills and the valley of the Salle river which gave us much-needed shelter from the wind and windy roads, as well as a good view.

We finally got the Numpty hat! Today, once again Dave claims the numpty award for him not following simple directions – for some reason, Dave has two lefts. It seems when we say turn right, he goes left and we have to remind him it is the other left!

Tomorrow we have 100 miles to do and the wind is forecast as a strong crosswind. Hopefully, as we are climbing a lot it shouldn’t affect us too much.

A big thank you to The Station Hotel, Martin Green and all the staff for supporting us on this challenge – it is very much appreciated.

We have a couple of videos from today to view along with a few photos.

Today we have a video blog for you and a “Relive” of today’s actual ride.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank today’s sponsor “Oak by Design” Jamie has supported us all the way and is even coming to Monaco to watch us come in. Thanks goes out to all from Oak By Design for the support and sponsorship.

If you want to join in the fundraising and set your own cycling challenge why not enter the Great Nidd Bike Ride on the 15th of September. It is a great way to get out on your bike, see the beautiful countryside of Nidderdale and challenge yourself up Cote de Lofthouse. There are plenty of Breaks on the way round and Brunch half way. All followed by cakes and a BBQ at the end.

To enter go to www.arctictoafrica.com/greatnidbikeride to register.

Sponsored by New Lodge Contractors

Blog by Sean

107 yesterday then 125 Miles today all the way into a heavy wind about 30 – 40 Mph!!! These were supposed to be the days we got our legs working; long, flat and fast! Far from it, this was more about team work! For those who are not so familiar with cycling as a team in the wind, it’s about positioning yourself as close to the bike in front of you and on the correct side depending on the direction of the wind. Today we each spent a few miles at the front before peeling off and getting tucked in at the back to rest before your time comes round again. The trick is keeping the speed constant. Then there is the concentration of watching the wheel in front of you and trying to keep within 6” of it. One mistake and you are off!

Only one fall today, that was me but I blame it on Dave as he wanted me to turn round on a cobbled street to get a photo. Anyway, it looks like I get the numpty hat today.

Todays Stat: 125 Miles  :3800ft Climbing   : 9600 calories burnt (not sure how much we have to eat to replace that!)

So we are 457 miles in after 4 days – not too bad. Tomorrow we have got 100 miles and we start a bit of climbing. The forecast is getting better the further south we go.

In tomorrow’s blog we will be doing Paul’s profile.

A big thank you to today’s sponsor New Lodge Contractors, Clive without your support we could not have done this.

Until tomorrow,

Sean

Our last day in Sweden for this Arctic to Africa trip, we have had 10 days cycling over the whole trip to date and over 1000 miles in total. Quick summary of Sweden. The north was forest, forest for 800 miles – that’s a big forest! This year as we headed South from Gothenburg the cycle routes were fantastic. We did over 90% on cycle highways. These were purpose made cycle roads well away from all other traffic, they seem to have it right and the number of cyclists about must be reducing traffic congestion. If the Swedish could smile or acknowledge each other occasionally it would be a great place to visit!

Anyway back to this year’s ride and more importantly today’s ride – 84 miles with a bit of a hill in the middle. All was going well, we had a decent speed – not too much wind – and got to Denmark by 12 noon. Once in Denmark we stopped for lunch and a beer – well why not, only 19 miles to go! After lunch it was going to be an easy ride along the coast to the camp site. All was going well when a time trial rider flew past us! Dave being Dave put his foot to the pedal and got in his slip stream, Paul followed! I had no choice but to push my limits and get on the back of them. So there we are, trundling along at just over 25 Mph for over 10 miles!!!! If anything we got to the camp quick, about 2:45 pm which must be a record.

So camp was in an old fort with a moat around it and lots of cannons aimed across the sea presumably to Sweden, maybe they didn’t wave back at some time in the past!!

The afternoon was spent in the sea, great for the legs as it was like an ice bath.

Tomorrow we head South to Germany. The forecast is not good for us cyclists. There is a strong head wind about 30 – 40 mph we have about 130 miles so could be one of the hardest days of the trip! Here’s to tomorrow evening and a well deserved beer again.

Thanks for following us guys – it really means a lot!!

Post by Sean

So today was the first proper day of phase 2, and we all felt more than ready to get stuck into it. We got up and set off at about 8.10am.

It was a pleasant little warm up, along a road that ran right next to the sea-  a very scenic way to wake up and get our legs moving again. The wind wasn’t too much of an issue until we were about 20 miles in and it really started slowing us down a bit.

Whoever was at the front was really having to get their head down and power on for a few miles before a well earned rest at the back. We stopped for a quick coffee and sit down at the 35 mile mark, if anything just to have a break from the wind. Despite the wind, it was still very warm so nothing compared to the conditions last year!

 

We got going again and put in a few hours of hard work, rotating the front rider every few minutes so everybody could have some respite. At 65 miles we found a petrol station to grab some lunch which was a calzone pizza (in a service station!) and bottle of coke. I’d like to add that this is probably the first (and probably last) ride we’ve done where there wasn’t at least one beer consumed on a lunch break. We’ll try resume normal behaviour tomorrow.

 

After the 70 mile mark the wind seemed to die down a bit and although still breezy, was nowhere near as strong as it had been. We got to the campsite, at 3.30, which considering we’d just done 90 miles was nice, giving us the rest of the day to relax and get ready for tomorrow which is a similar length ride.

 

And for anyone wondering just how far south we’ve come on the whole A2A trip so far, we’re just below Aberdeen in Latitude- so a bit left to do. 

Post by Paul Warner

Today was about picking up the rest of the team who flew over to Copenhagen then driving up to Gothenburg. All went to plan and we arrived for the 6:30 live linkup Grand Depart. I was a hot drive up, but when we eventually set off riding it was a nice 7 miles to get the legs warmed up to the camp.

Tonight we head to our Sweden Arctic to Africa correspondent Keven Dat who interviewed Dave earlier.

Dave also born and bred in Harrogate.

So Dave why did you get involved in this mad adventure?

“My mate Sean got me a bit drunk one night and said I have a cunning plan! Like Baldrick off Blackadder when Sean says I have a cunning plan, it involves a lot of pain and even more beer”.

Dave, you look like a cyclist unlike Sean, do you do a lot of cycling?

“In the past, I have done a lot of mountain biking including racing in Portugal. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do as much training this year as I hoped but I am sure I will be ok”.

How long have you known Sean?

“I met Sean and Kathleen 25 years ago at Crimple valley golf club. We played a lot of golf in those days but over the years we got more into the cycling. I knew Kathleen’s Dad Eric through Sean and Kathleen and thought this was not only a great challenge but a great opportunity to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK”.

Which part of the ride are you most looking forward to?

The End!!!!!!! No seriously Stelvio Pass! I love the challenge of climbing one of the most famous passes and the 2nd highest in Europe. I have seen the pro’s do it so many times on the Giro de Italia.

Thank you, Dave, for your perspective to his great cycle ride.

Swedish Arctic to Africa correspondent Keven Dat

Tomorrow we start the ride in earnest 90 miles down the Swedish coast to Halmstead. The forecast is hot about 30 degrees. A different challenge from last year. Hopefully, we will have some great photos for you.

Hi All Kathleen here,

First day completed of our drive to the start of Arctic to Africa Phase 2. After being rudely awoken numerous times by the wonderful ferry tannoy announcements we headed off in glorious sunshine. The day just got hotter and hotter. We are all now relaxing and enjoying a cold beer. As these first few days are taken up with driving we thought it was the perfect opportunity for you to get to know our 3 cyclists so tonight we head to our Arctic to Africa correspondent in Germany – Nansed Clamtrap who interviewed our very own Sean McPartland.

Sean – Harrogate born and bred and then moved out to Birstwith in 2007. Married to Kathleen for 27 years with two children Jonathon and Kayleigh. This madcap challenge was Sean’s fault apparently.

So we asked Sean what got him into cycling?

“Well it all started about 12 years ago. I was doing a bit of off road cycling with my pal David when we came up with the idea to cycle the coast to coast from Whitehaven to Sunderland. Four of us did the ride, David, Jonathon who was 12 years old at the time, my Uncle Andy and myself. It was a great and eventful trip but that’s another story for around a camp fire”.

That is great, but how did this develop into what you are doing now?

“A couple of years later we moved to Birstwith. After a few months once we met the crazy Birstwith possie and near the end of a boozy Friday night I was chatting to Birstwith’s one and only Amy Holmes about our first Coast to Coast and came up with the idea of doing it again and getting a few of the other villagers to join in. That we did! Mountain bikes were popping up everywhere, there were regular training rides and the group just got bigger and bigger. In the end there was a group of 22 cyclists and about the same back-up who did the trip. Again there was many a tale to be told from that trip! What we also did on this trip is bring in the charity element and in the end we raised over £12,500 for worthy causes including St Michaels hospice and Cancer Research”.

Great causes and a huge amount to raise! These events were on mountain bikes, what made you move into road bikes?

By this time I had the bug. Again after a few beers at the station, I came up with what at the time I thought was going to be the pinnacle of my challenges. Birstwith to Rome! A change of bikes now we were on road bikes. This wasn’t going to be easy and it took some planning. There were four riders, Dave again, Paul (one of Jonathon’s school friends), and Heather with a backup crew of Kathleen, Jonny, Kayleigh and Dan. We completed the 1400 mile ride in 2 weeks and were greeted at the end by a group of friends from Birstwith when we arrived at the Colosseum. That year we raised £13,700 for Yorkshire air ambulance”.

Wow you really raised the bar there. Why then Arctic to Africa?

“It had been 5 years since the Rome trip and we were ready for a new challenge. How could we beat the Rome trip? Cycle round the world??? I wish! We all have jobs, we couldn’t just drop everything and go cycling for a year. We had to come up with something else. Top of Europe to the bottom was an initial thought. Had it been done before? We believe it probably has but we couldn’t see much in the internet about it. Then it came to us Arctic to Africa! From Nordkapp to Casablanca. Yes we don’t think it has been done before”.

Why Casablanca?

“Why not? And there was a film about it so it sounded a great place to complete the ride”.

You are completing it in three phases why not all at once?

“We would have loved to do it in one go, but as I have said earlier we all have jobs and getting the time off would have been unreasonable. Then there is the back up as well. The other reason was down to the fundraising as we thought spreading it over three years would create more exposure and raise more money for the charity”.

Yes, you are doing it for charity again, tell us more about the charity?

“Yes, we wanted to use the opportunity to raise money for charity. We choose Alzheimer’s Research UK following the passing of my father in law Eric who suffered from the disease. To date we have raised over £13,000”.

You are also involved in another ride can you tell us about it?

“The Great Nidd Bike Ride is a mass participation ride around Nidderdale. Starting at The Station Hotel in Birstwith it is a 50 or 68 mile ride through some of the most stunning countryside in Yorkshire. Last year was the inaugural ride where 70 riders joined up and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I am proposing to run it for 10 years building it up every year and hopefully raising plenty of funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK”.

There you have it the story behind the Arctic to Africa challenge from Sean’s perspective. We look forward to seeing how he and the rest of the team get on over the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow we interview Dave and see why he joins in these mad capers.

It seems appropriate that the sponsor assigned to Sean would be The Station Hotel Birstwith!!!

Arctic to Africa correspondent in Germany Nansed Clamtrap

Page 1 of 61234...Last »