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.

Day 5 Levi to Pello sponsored by Kerry’s

From the deserted ski resort of Levi we headed out South in search of some warmth. The day looked promising – No Rain! No Snow! A few legs were sore especially the knees, the warm up has moved from a few miles on day one to 20 miles today. The roads were long, straight and mainly flat. Today was about keeping those pedals turning.

As we left Levi we could see the terrain and forest change with every mile further south. Gone are the desolate Arctic wasteland forests where the trees looked like they had been starved and tortured by the harsh Lapland Winter. It is hard to imagine only 2 weeks earlier the only method of transport was a snow mobile!

The forests at the side of the road were vast – for as far as the eye could see there was the dark evergreen of the Scandinavian Spruce. As we moved further South the sun finally came out. The fresh glossy leaves of the birch trees shimmered brightly in the dense forest, which brightened up what has been a very plain scene.

Further South we started to see further signs of change; houses were more frequent – some even had lawns and flower beds, the sound of silence from the forest had been replaced by lawnmowers and chainsaws where folk were preparing the fuel for the next winter.

The team eventually hit a main road after 50 miles with more examples of civilisation even a burger bar! We just had to – a burger and a beer! The sun was out and blue sky’s above, not the pale Arctic blue at Nordkapp but a clear sky blue. Summer is here. All the riders were now happy, full bellies and a beer inside so we decide to go off route and follow the river road, an extra 9 miles in the end but worth it. The river was wide and wild, several small fishing boats along the way. Salmon was the prize! We managed to witness a happy angler land tea for his family while we were on another beer stop we had managed to find.

The last leg was 30 miles The knees were hurting – it was like having acupuncture with rusty pins. Cramp was setting in! Ibuprofen was the saviour and we pushed on averaging over 20mph for the last 20 miles. The pain and aches were irrelevant now we were nearly at the next stop, Pello. We even managed a sprint finish at the end.

102 miles done as the day ended, tired legs but a good day of cycling.

Back up had already surveyed the town in a very short space of time. Pello has a supermarket, petrol station and motel. It is the largest town in the area and that is about it. It is a bank holiday today – Midsummer festival – so everything is shut, another ghost town. So a Friday night party in the motel is as much excitement as any of us are going to get today.

We do now have a numpty hat for the person who does or says the daftest thing. Lee had it from yesterday and I am just about to announce today’s winner, which is again Lee! He got the most points by first asking if the airfield we passed when we set off was the same one we saw 2 days ago (250 miles further North!). Then at the burger bar he helped himself to a coffee which he thought was included in the price, but not only that he broke the handle and spilt it all over himself.

Tomorrow is a big day – 128 miles out or the Arctic – 22 miles left to go, and into Sweden our final country for this leg. Let’s hope the knees survive!

Sean

P.s Please don’t forget if you haven’t already done so to donate through the website. We really appreciate your support.

 



Day 4 Sponsored by New Lodge Contractors

After the ordeal that yesterday turned out to be, we decided that the best thing to do for both cyclists and back up was to have a lie in! The forecast was due to stop raining between 11 and 12 so the decision was made to leave it until later for today, with the course being 85 miles.

 

Between 9 and 10 everyone started getting ready and filled up on bacon, eggs and muesli, courtesy of Amy and Dan and a round of coffees from Dave ‘Pink Flamingo’ Kent.

 

We reached the start point at 11.45 and set off pretty soon after. The weather seemed to be the same where it left off yesterday which meant it took an extra 10-15 miles to warm up. Various niggles and muscle aches were more prominent today and meant the first hour was the toughest warm up so far.

 

The rain stopped after about an hour and although was still overcast and 5 degrees, it was a 100% improvement on yesterday if only for not having wet kit.

 

The scenery in Finland so far has at best been bleak; long roads, false flats and trees, although the weather has probably not improved our attitude towards the place so far. The road went on for around 30 miles before we reached a cafe for a quick coffee stop. Shortly after the coffee stop the road, which until then had been smooth, turned into a sand track which lasted for the best part of forty miles. A small section of roadworks in the middle claimed the life of one of Paul’s tyres so we had a 10 minute pit stop to replace that. With 25 miles left, the sand track started to take its toll on the riders and was working both upper body as well as our legs.

 

The 6 mile run to Levi ski resort was pleasant and after a bit of confusion about where our lodge was, we pulled up to our amazing log cabin, including open fire, sauna, fluffy carpets, and macaroni cheese courtesy of our always amazing back up team.

 

Another tough ride but we’re quickly making our way South which means more sun! A few beers and an early night before we set off on our mostly flat 93 mile ride to Pello is in order tonight and we will see what tomorrow brings! Hopefully blue sky and a bit of sun!

Paul

Day 3 Karasjok to Lemmonjoki

Day 3 Sponsored by The Station Hotel Birstwith

 

The cold and tiredness has started to take its toll on both cyclists and the back up team. Everyone was quieter this morning and the usual morning banter took a little longer to appear. Thankfully the snow which had been expected had not appeared – we were all thankful for that one even though it was only 4 degrees.

The riders set off after a hearty breakfast towards the Finnish border – approximately 10 miles. The back up had a little time to wander around the Sapmi park adjacent to the guesthouse we were staying and see some of the traditional homes of the native folk. Reindeers were here too but we are quite blasé about them now.

Despite our earlier delight that the snow hadn’t arrived, as we passed the border into Finland it came – horrible and wet and the poor cyclists had a hill to climb – a nasty one which had several deceptive points where you’d think you’d come to the top only to find as you reached the brow there was more. Now we are thinking of the ride for the cyclists our perception of the area is very different. Back up were ready when they eventually got to the top with warm cars to sit in and hot coffee to warm them through. We were freezing so heaven help the cyclists.

As they set off again, we hit the road too. We travelled on for 10-15 miles along the very desolate, long, never ending road with nothing but trees and sleet! The cyclists were adamant they would be okay and didn’t want us to wait along the route, but we were getting worried for them as there was nowhere to stop then thankfully we saw a cafe sign and a then a few more after that so we began to feel happier knowing that we could carry on.

Nobody realised that Finland is another hour ahead of the UK so that caused us slight confusion. We passed more reindeer and even a solitary cyclist – it wasn’t just our crazy lot out there on the open road in temperatures of now 2.5 degrees!! There was a long stretch of roadworks to get through. No Health and Safety rules here – you just manoeuvre your way through any way you can with machines doing there own thing along the way. The roads are long and bleak with nothing much to see. The temperature kept dropping and as the back up arrived at our nights destination it was 1.5 degrees and persisting it down – a lot!! We made contact with the cyclists who were determined to battle on but we were ready with dry things just waiting for a call.

The team finally arrived dripping wet through, frozen and glum having had a horrendous day with temperatures hitting -1!! We were ready with a sauna organised, warm rooms and coffees followed by well deserved beer and Dan’s home made spaghetti bolognese. We rallied them on with tales of support from The Station in Birstwith who had now changed their flag to that of Finland in honour of the team as they pass through each different country and that they were now featured on the Instagram page of TeamARUK, the national page for all the sporting events in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

It’s been a rubbish day for all today but at least the back up team have had shelter from the elements. The cyclists have been absolute heroes today. I’m so very proud of what they are achieving for Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of Dad. I’m sure that the charity and what they are doing this for has helped them to dig deep to complete the day. I know I’ve sat and thought about it and I also know that my Dad would be the first one there cheering them on. He’d definitely be raising a well-deserved Guinness to them tonight!! Make sure you all do too (and pray for better conditions tomorrow!!)

Lots of love and thanks for your continued support – it really is appreciated.

Kathleen xx

Footnote by Sean

I can safely say on behalf of all the riders that was the most difficult and challenging day of our lives. We did consider at half way if we could or even should continue. We are glad we did it is amazing how far you can push your limits if you believe in something so strongly.

Thanks once again to the back up team you did amazing! Also thank you to all those who put comments on Fb the encouragement got us through the day.

It can only get better.

Today’s ride is sponsored by Oak by Design

Day 2 Olderfjord to Karasjok

-A.K.A Woah, that’s a lotta hills!!
After spending our last night at Repvåg following a night of music from the hosts Peter and Jan we set off towards Olderfjord, our starting point for the day.
After an all you can eat breakfast and a few extra sandwiches that we craftily stashed away for later we were ready to go.

The initial stages of the ride were pleasant. We kept a steady pace, managed to capture the reindeers ‘like a dog walking in shoes’ run and by some amazing coincidence we stumbled upon some pink flamingos – Dave’s call sign he’d received before the trip began. Even the weather had remained dry and relatively warm – well 8 degrees!! Unfortunately around the 30 mile mark Paul had a small fall but was lucky enough to only come away with a few grazes. Then, shortly after the half way point the hills started… and did not stop. It was a tough long climb but after we made it up the first 170 metres we had a small break believing that the biggest of hills were behind us. However, as Admiral Ackbar once said in Star Wars “IT’S A TRAP!” And indeed it was. As soon as we turned round the corner we were immediately confronted by another steep and long climb.

It wasn’t until the last 5 miles of the 87 in total did the downhill ride appear and it was glorious. As the hills carried us down to Karasjok not even the bitterly cold wind could beat the fact that the end was drawing closer. When we finally arrived in Karasjok we were tired and sore but definitely not too tired to venture out for pizza/burgers and a well deserved couple of beers.

Until next time,
Lee

 

Sent from my iPhone

Day 1 (cycling) Nordkapp to Repvag 53 Miles

Here we are, Europes most Northern point Nordkapp, 550 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

A remote inhospitable place. A place where Winters last 9 months – 2 of which are in darkness 24 hours a day – but in June the sun is above the horizon and weather permitting the sun circles the Horizon never setting.

The time is Midnight, the sun could be seen shining directly North. The sea and the sky blended together on the horizon, the lightest Arctic blue from the polar cap reflection. The sight was mesmerising and would have been pure peacefulness had it not been for the thousands of sightseers from the cruise ship that was docked in Honningsvag!

The five riders were apprehensively ready for the off. After a brief live video to the world and a rousing cheer from the sightseers we were off.

The ride was only 53 miles with a few long hills up and down, but the fatigue from having spent 5 days, 12 hours a day squashed in the car showed on everyone’s faces including the backup team. The first part of the ride was stunning. The sun was shining on us as if a sign of approval for our efforts from above. Every corner we turned, the vista was as dramatic as the sheer size of the area. Reindeer and moose were grazing on any sparse vegetation that could be found in the harsh tundra. They didn’t seem too bothered when a car passed but for some unknown reason when we cycled past they went into a confused frenzy usually running from the fields onto the road in from of us then running down the road tripping over their clown like feet.

Nordkapp is actually an island connected by a tunnel which was half way of today’s ride. We got to the tunnel at about 2:30am. The tunnel was 7km long and went very deep under the ocean. The first part was eerie but fast, 3km down a 9% hill, then 1km of flat which gave you time in the darkness to contemplate what we are doing and why. Then the realisation that it was 3:00am on a Monday morning and we were 212 meters underneath the Arctic Ocean riding a bike! It was cold – bitterly cold – dark and damp and the only way out was the 3km climb. One hundred meters to go, bone-chillingly cold but this time we could see daylight. We had made it but the relief was short lived as the weather had made a turn for the worse. The beautiful sun had been replaced by rain – cold rain! Spirits were dampened, heads were going down, the fatigue of being awake for 22 hours was taking its toll. 25 miles to go, the struggle was on! Hills were coming out of nowhere and we were now soaked through to the skin. The pace had slowed as every hill was now like Everest on a cold day. The turns of the pedals were getting harder and harder. We ploughed through not the pain but the fatigue and cold eventually arriving back at the hotel in Repvag at 5am greeted by our faithful back up team who had waited up all night and had a welcome beer in hand for us. Time for some sleep!

Later that day we had made the decision to do 30 more miles to make the following day shorter.

After getting up we headed by car to Honnisvag for some lunch and we all had reindeer which was fantastic and very welcome. All were happy and warm.

At 6:00pm we set off from Repvag to Olderfjord, 30 miles away. The temperature had dropped even more and now the rain was really coming down but the team were unanimous that we were going to do it. It was a costal road regarded as one of the top ten in the world, but we could not take any consolation from it as there was low cloud, rain and mist. We battled on head down riding in a chain, each taking a turn at the front taking any wind. The back up were there at half way with hot coffee laced with warming whiskey – they were our heroes. We finally finished at 8:00pm and managed an impressive 17.9 mph.

Tomorrow we head to Karasjok riding 85miles – let’s hope for better weather.

Sean

Day 5 – travelling to repvag. Another early start for our last day of big mileage on our adventure to nordkapp. There were a few sore heads this morning and wet clothes as the combination of excitement, whiskey and sleeping by the sea meant we had a few late night swimmers!!! As always spirits were high. The drive has again been beautiful. You really don’t ever get tired of this beautiful scenery. Mountains, snow and today REINDEERS!!! The sunshine has come out at last for the start of our first ride. Midnight tonight we will be at nordkapp setting off on the real adventure!!

Amy


Day 4 – Asen to Sorkil

Into the Arctic! The sun was out for our early start. It never actually got dark last night, we won’t see proper night for the next two weeks now.

Turbo Terri and Mad Maureen ventured into the unknown depths of Northern Europe carrying their crew of nine adventurers. The wastelands of The Arctic was the destination, but wastelands they were not! Following the Norwegian coastline around the stunning fjords was a pleasure to behold. We then headed inland following fast flowing rivers until we eventually got to 66deg 33′ Polarsickelsenterst (Arctic centre to you and I). We were high up in the mountains, snow drifts in excess of 10 feet! The beauty of the barren landscape was breathtaking and cold especially in shorts and flip flops!!!

The next part of our journey was towards the sea and our camp for the night was not a disappointment. Rivers with icebergs turning into the most dramatic white water rapids we have ever seen; words and photos cannot give the views justice. “Veldig vakker” as the Norwegians would say.

Then we came to the Arctic fjords, snow topped mountains, with amazing weather conditions of low scattered cloud and the sun forcing its rays through to make pure heaven on earth!

The camp for the night did not disappoint, we had a large cabin 30 meters from the shores edge, again the view over the fjord was of snow capped mountains. I’d like to say the sunset was beautiful but the sun didn’t set it just circled around us. This didn’t stop Dave having his sunset swim in the sea! Bloody idiot!!!

Tomorrow we head another 500 miles north to Nordkapp when we start the bike ride South heading to Africa.

Watch out for the Facebook live start tomorrow night at 11:00pm UK time, midnight local time here.

Sean

 

Day 3 – Another day on the road making our way from Gothenburg to Gullberget Camping, just north of Trondheim. Team 1 set off by road, team 2 set off by plane with us all meeting at Lillehammer, where we all had a lovely lunch in the pretty mountain town with an Olympic ski jump. The weather has been pants all day but spirits have been high! The landscape has been amazing. We have been through national parks and over mountain passes watching for bears and reindeers…..we did see a moose!! Our photo today is from our evenings accommodation. The time is 22:30 and its not even slightly dark!!! Time for a few beers and then bed. Another long drive tomorrow when we actually get to the arctic circle!!

Amy x

Day 2 – Rotterdam to Gothenburg

Motorways, accidents, roadworks, slow arduous drive!!!

The boat docked half an hour late and we ended been one of the last to get off the ferry due to been at the back. One hour behind schedule before we even started!! Great!!!

424 miles, to Puttgarden where we boarded the ferry from Germany to Denmark. The ferry was booked for 3:00pm! We clearly didn’t make it. Finally boarded the ferry at 6:00pm 3 hours late.

The rest of the journey was nice and clear although we did hit a bird full on the windscreen God bless the little thing. Then a stone chip flew up and cracked the windscreen!!! The fun and games didn’t stop there, then all the warning lights on the dashboard lit up due to a wiring fault for the bike rack lights, no worries we ventured on North.

There was some highlights when we got overtook by a Ferrari we think it was any way it must have been in excess on 200mph!! Poor Turbo Terri just couldn’t catch it.

We eventually landed at the hotel at 11:30pm 14 half hours in the car and 800 miles done since Birstwith. A beer was well received by all.

Sean

 


Four intrepid adventurers from Team 1 of the Arctic to Africa group set off from Birstwith in trusty “Turbo Terri” the pickup truck.

Two riders Sean McPartland aka “Hoptimus Prime” and Amy Holmes aka “Nurse Rider” and Two backup crew Dan Howard aka “Bingo Bongo” and Gary Hayes aka “Lumber Jack” are the crew for this long and arduous trek to Nordkapp 550 miles inside the Arctic Circle. The total journey will be about 2500 miles just to get to the start point.

First stop will be Hull where we will board the ferry that will take us overnight to Rotterdam.

keep tuning in to see story unfold……………..

 

 

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