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.

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

It doesn’t seem a year ago since we completed the first phase and ended up in this bar in Gothenburg! How time flies? As we are about to embark on the long journey back up to Gothenburg it brings back memories of the arduous trip last year. The Five-day drive to Nordkapp! Setting off at midnight on midsummers day in the midnight sun. A particular memory from that day was at about 2:30 am we were 35 miles into the cycle. Nordkapp is on an island off the top of Norway and is connected by a tunnel under the sea. The four riders descended into the blackness of the rough hand carved tunnel. It was a steep descent of over 200 meters getting colder and colder the deeper we went. For some unknown reason, the four of us managed to somehow get split up. I can remember seeing two dim red lights in the distance in front of me and one white light behind me. Even though we were only a couple of hundred yards apart it felt very lonely and eerie down there. I can remember thinking, It is 2:30 am on a Monday morning, I am 230 meters underneath the Arctic ocean in temperatures bordering on Zero riding a bicycle! I wonder what everyone else is doing? We eventually climbed out of the tunnel still to find it light but the blue skies had been replaced by dark rain clouds, it was then we realised what we had let ourselves in for. The rest of the ride and the following several days were full of rain and snow. The rest is history the team battled through and eventually made it to Gothenburg.

So here we are Phase 2! Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm we set off to Hull once again. This year we have a motorhome as our accommodation, which should mean less packing and unpacking every night. David, Kathleen and Sean will be driving the motorhome across Germany on Monday camping near Rodby. Then on Tuesday morning we board the ferry across to Denmark and head up to Copenhagen where we pick up Paul and Kayleigh from the Airport. It is then a couple of hundred miles up to Gothenburg where we hope to get there for 6:00 pm for a 6:30 live Facebook link and the grand depart. More details will follow.

Alzheimer’s Research UK! After all, this is what we are doing this for. How are we doing with fundraising you might ask? To date, we have just gone over the £13,000 mark which is a fantastic achievement! We all thank you for your kind donations and support. Please keep donating where you can.

Great Nidd Bike Ride. Last year we launched the first GBNR with huge success. Over 70 cyclist tackled the hills of Nidderdale and thoroughly enjoyed the day! We also raised over £4000 that day to the charity. We are repeating the event again this year on the 15th of Septemeber. Please follow this LINK to enter this year’s ride.

The Station Hotel in Birstwith has kindly agreed to continue to support the A2A team.

The Station Hotel is a family-owned country inn located in the beautiful village of Birstwith.

Located on the edge of Nidderdale – an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” –  lucky enough to have stunning scenery and amazing walking routes right on our doorstep. Located just 6.5 miles or a 10-15 minute drive from Harrogate, the “happiest place to live in Britain” and certainly a great place to visit whatever the time of year.

Dine at the Station

The restaurant serves food daily and their experienced chefs take great pride in creating beautifully presented, unfussy yet full flavoured food, letting clever combinations of fresh, seasonal
ingredients really shine through. Vegetarians are well catered for and many of their dishes can be produced gluten-free; with a little warning, dairy-free dishes can be provided too.

The menu changes regularly and whilst they do serve traditional pub classics such as fish & chips and sticky toffee pudding they also serve a la carte dishes to tempt every palate; Their seafood dishes are particularly popular.

Stay at the Station

They have 4 fantastic guest bedrooms located on the first floor of the main pub building and a 2 bedroom family / accessibility suite located on the ground floor in a separate annex to the pub.

All the rooms are furnished with traditional oak furniture, comfortable beds and have lovely en-suite shower or bathrooms.  The rooms also all have tea and coffee making facilities, an alarm clock, free Internet access and flat screen freesat TV.  They offer free on-site parking and a hearty Yorkshire breakfast is included in the price of your stay.

Booking a room can be done via the “Book Online” tab on their accommodation page or better still call them on 01423 770254.

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