The Truck is packed, the plans have been finalised. All the training has been done, I hope it is enough!
Tomorrow, team one set off on the 2500 mile journey to Nordkapp deep in the Arctic circle, meeting up with Team 2 in Lillehammer on Friday after their flight to Oslo. It will take us five days to get there, then we start at midnight on Sunday night cycling south!
A huge thank you to our sponsors Oak by Design, Kerry, New Lodge Contractors, The Station Hotel and Logic Fire and Security. and all those who have donated to our charity Alzheimers Research UK.
Look out for daily updates with photos and videos on this website and the Facebook page.
Wish us luck!
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……………..
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.
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!!
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.
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!!
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.
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,
Sent from my iPhone
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.
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.
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!
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!
P.s Please don’t forget if you haven’t already done so to donate through the website. We really appreciate your support.
Day 6 Sponsored by Logic Fire and Security
An early start this morning, ready for a lengthy 130 mile day. It was a slow start with some serious aches and pains. The first 30 miles crossed the Arctic Circle and followed the Tornionjoki river, which also acts as the border between Finland and Sweden.
It felt like a very long 30 miles until our bodies had warmed up. After crossing the border our always faithful back up team were there ready with coffee and cookies!!! This is where I jumped in with the back up team and left the amazing boys to climb up from the river into the treeful Swedish countryside. Their determination is unbelievable, despite being in so much pain (mainly with their knees).
The backup team’s next job was to find a suitable stop for lunch. After 30 miles of nothing we found a fab little cafe. The owner made us feel very welcome. He provided us with coffee and food, showed us photos of a brown bear he had crossed paths with (last month), asked us to sign the guestbook, and even offered to post his food to Africa for when we arrive there!!! We waited here until the boys arrived. After 50 miles their poor bodies were now starting to get going and a beer to wash down lunch was warmly welcomed.
After dinner we made our way to Lulea. We were all excited about arriving in somewhere with a bit of civilisation. The hotel even had a pool, which was obviously our first port of call on arrival!! After a quick swim and sauna we resumed backup duties and headed to the town centre to find somewhere for dinner.
It’s still bank holiday here and the vast majority of pubs and restaurants are closed due to, as the locals say, “the midsummer piss up”. After a phone call from the cyclists to say they have had to change their route I headed off in the truck to pick them up.
The route had initially taken them onto a very busy single carriage way (constrained by Armco barriers) so they decided life was worth living after all and headed inland onto quieter roads. With already doing 121 miles, and with 53 miles still to go, the decision was to finish and be dropped off back at the same point in the morning.
Food and beer is on the agenda tonight. The back up team found an English pub called the Bishops Arms (hand pulled ales and everything), and that is where we currently are…..about to order and chill.
Day 7 Lulea to Skellefteå
Sponsored by Oak by Design
So we thought we were all pretty down previously but today was an all time low for everyone. Despite the team having had a catch up the previous night with our Jonathon in Australia, morale was beneath rock bottom for both back up and cyclists. If it could go wrong this morning it certainly did. The weather didn’t help as it started to rain as the cyclists were setting off to drive back to their starting destination. Thankfully the weather cleared for them and when they eventually set off it was dry.
Back up had a bit of a chill once they had left taking advantage of the pool again. (When we say pool we are stretching the imagination but we were happy). We had a late set off and then began our adventure to find where the cyclists had left the truck James Bond style using various apps to find the location – can you tell we are grasping for excitement!!
Everyone met for lunch and spirits did seem a little better. The amazing pizza helped!! Knees were sore and muscles were aching. Food was eaten and the team were ready for the off and then, yes you’ve guessed it- the heavens opened!! Torrential rain, wind into the faces and wet slippy dangerous roads. If the weather was good, the views would have been amazing but heads were down and it just wasn’t fun. Conditions were bad for both teams. The cyclists tried to persevere but the weather and the fact that all roads lead them to the treacherous E4 which simply couldn’t be travelled on by cyclists meant that they had to radio in to the back up team to rescue them. We had just arrived in Skellefteå but did a quick drop of bags and turned around to head back for them. We found them relatively easily and the dance they did as the truck pulled up showed just how pleased they were. They were soaked to the skin and freezing cold. Heat was whacked up and music turned on loud to warm them through and get spirits up.
After warm showers back at the hotel and a beer with a debrief, it was great to hear the chatter of the team. Spirits might have been low but the resolve was high and all were agreed that “tomorrow is another day”. Another day without rain would just be the icing on the cake!! Our luck has got to change.
Love and thanks for your support as ever.
Day 8 Skelleftea to Umea sponsored by New Lodge Contractors
Previously on Arctic to Africa……
Moral was at an all time low, the weather was atrocious, roads were too dangerous but the team were battling on and now the story continues….
Up early again for breakfast at another Scandic Hotel (Sweden’s answer to a Best Western). The cereal, cheese, ham and toast were very good as usual.
It wasn’t raining!!! Yey! The cyclists set of with renewed vigour and hope in their hearts. Muscles were aching and joints were hurting. It wasn’t long before the pain was getting serious for some of the team. We all rallied together, the team was working again! Those who felt better took the wind and pulled the others along.
The backup team packed up the kit and loaded the van and then they hit the gym! 15 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes “floor session”, and 15 minutes in the pool and we were about ready to go. Last night we found a great café, which served proper coffee out of a proper machine, so we headed there for a large cappuccino before setting off in the truck. Heaven!
The cyclists moral picked up considerably at the half way point when we came across a cafe – all you can eat for £8; Swedish meatballs, potato wedges and salad, juice and coffee also included. We also managed a beer, result a happy team. As we finished lunch a coach load of Germans came in. I have to say they weren’t the youngest group, in fact if any were a day under 90 I would be surprised. It was a bit disconcerting that some of the ladies took a shine to Dave in his Lycra! After lunch we continued then the heavens opened and we got soaked again! Luckily this was a short shower and then the sun came out. It was glorious, this is what we had been waiting for. Cycling was a pleasure for once and the views were stunning, still trees but trees in the sun!
The backup team arrived in Umea amongst plenty of roadworks only to discover we were staying in a converted prison. A few cellmate & soap jokes followed, then we followed our tour guide Gary to a very funky bar in the centre of this student city. We are currently sat in this bar outside in the sunshine (it got here eventually!), except our table is next to a building site so we’re patiently waiting for the diggers to shut up!
After a nice downhill section to finish the day off, the cyclists met up with the backup team who didn’t disappoint and had beers ready. A good day all round.
Dan & Sean
Day 9 Umeå to Örnsköldsvik sponsored by Kerry’s
The cell doors were opened at 7:30 am and the weary inmates emerged, both cyclists and backup crew alike. The bars and cafes of Umea had been like emeralds amongst the treasures of this very metropolitan city.
So onto day 9, a further 70 mile winding ride to the coastal town of Örnsköldsvik in relatively mild weather conditions.
With no breakfast facilities at the accommodation, the cyclists quickly mobilised and got under way, heading for the first grub spot en route.
Some of the backup crew decided to try and maintain their fitness for momentum and went for a run along the river side.
After, what’s becoming the traditional coffee at Espresso House, they hit the road.
Battling through road works and entertaining arguments with the SatNav we arrived at our destination.
The cyclists had an eventful ride too with Paul having another fall! To be fair, the ride today was far suited to mountain bikes so with the wind it made for interesting times. No injuries though thankfully.
Örnsköldsvik is quite a picturesque harbour town, with a good selection of shops, restaurants and cafes. Our accommodation for this evening couldn’t be more perfect, a bunkhouse situated right on the front of a marina, very clean with good facilities and 5 minute walk into town.
Once settled in, the backup crew headed into the centre to pick up the usual provisions (deep heat, Ibuprofen and ear buds for Paul).
Then on to meet the riders for a quick beer before showers and food. They all showed up with smiles and in high spirits after an amazing lunch of sausages-very large sausages. (The back up team enjoyed ham and cheese baguettes in the ICA supermarket car park- and they think they have it hard lol).
All in all definitely a better day. It’s hard to think the ride is well over half way and this time next week it will be done. The consensus at the moment is that it is definitely a cycle challenge – challenge being the operative word most definitely.
The forecast for tomorrow is good and as its Sean’s birthday tomorrow too, a few beers are on the cards. Roll on another 100 miles.
Gary and David
Day 10 Ornskoldsvik to Gnarp sponsored by The Station Hotel Birstwith
Hey there readers
So the weather has been absolutely spectacular for us all today, the sky stayed blue for the 110 miles! No coats just glorious sunshine. Must have known it’s Sean’s birthday – we knew he’d have the weather organised! After the cyclists set off, some of the back up team started the day with another run – this time around the marina before making the most of the sun and sitting next to the water until we became hungry and enjoyed a fantastic Italian lunch!
Unfortunately for the cyclists the only downside was the gravelly roads. Some of the back roads in Sweden aren’t covered in tarmac, they’re just muddy roads that have been flattened over time and are incredibly slick. Those roads are alright to ride on, however, today we got gravel – not just small gravel, huge stones that don’t particularly bode well with a road bike. Even the downhills were a struggle with the bikes sliding around and unfortunately Paul managed to fall from his bike again, hitting a patch of deep sand on the gravel roads causing us to come to an abrupt stop.
Back up had set off for our next destination and on-route decided to go find the cyclists as we are now able to track them! Unfortunately when we first met them we accidentally sent them the wrong way, but with a few heavy sighs from everyone, the cyclists were on the right track and Dan had the amazing idea to get the drone flying for when the cyclists passed again, but it seems he might need a few more practises as the drone made a detour for the forest which resulted in Kayleigh scrambling through the bushes to rescue it and ended in Gary rescuing her as she fell out of them. This resulted in Dan winning the numpty hat for the day!
Back-up team then continued along the route but were worried as to whether the cyclists could avoid the dreaded E4 so we arrived at a large retail park where we waited for the cyclists to arrive. This wasn’t the most exciting place but there were shops! Thankfully the cyclists found us .
Through it all the cyclists thought that the weird and wonderful trails aside, the last 30 or so miles of the ride were some of the best views of the trip. Staring out over the valley/river into the (sort of, but not actually setting sun) at a sea of trees was easily in my (Lee’s) top 3 so far, and it was a welcome change to the endless tarmac.
Overall it was a difficult ride and all of us are feeling a little bit rough but all the sweets the back up team supplied helped tremendously.
We are now making our way into Sundsvall to have dinner and celebrate Sean’s birthday with the cyclists still dressed in their cycling gear! Another eventful day.
Happy Birthday Sean!
Until next time,
Kayleigh and Lee
Day 12 – Gavle – Fagersta
Sponsored by Oak by Design
The weather today has been beautiful although breezy. Back up decided to have a lazy morning and do some real holiday stuff – sight seeing (after packing up and loading the truck again obviously which is becoming an art form!).
We found a great little village called Bonan and went in search of the lighthouse there. Gary took it upon himself to speak to the locals who couldn’t speak English. If they couldn’t understand lighthouse they would obviously understand “big torch near rocks with ships” and hand gesturing the flashing light. Surprisingly the men didn’t understand and we were all collapsed in fits of laughter. Unsurprisingly this has earned him the numpty award and he suits the hat! We did eventually find the lighthouse further down the road and had a nice explore around.
It’s amazing how the sunshine changes everything, puts a smile on faces, gives inspiration and makes cycling enjoyable again. Today we had 81 miles to do – “a rest day!!!” A rest day it was, we had a strong wind behind us most of the way and although we didn’t set off that early -10am (everyone was very tired and struggled to get up) – we managed to finish by 4pm.
The roads were smooth, winding through the ever sparse forests. Lupins were in abundance along verges of the road with lilac bushes behind creating a river of a varying array of purples and the sweet smell attracting bees and dragon flies; one of which decided to hitch a lift on my shirt – when I realised after about 5 miles it was still on me I nearly fell off my bike in blind panic!
Once again we hit a problem – the road we were on turned into a dual carriageway which isn’t too much of a problem but they then go to single carriage with barriers on each side giving no room for cars to pass! Unfortunately in our experience they do pass and pass very close at speed. We decided then to turn off and try a track which eventually led to a very big quarry with lots of warning signs and some very funny coloured water. Toxic? Who knows, but we found a way through. Luckily it was a working quarry as I am sure we would have been escorted away.
As Back-up headed to our destination of Fagersta we realised that the cyclists would arrive before us so we messaged them that they must have a beer stop. Hard instructions for them obviously lol.
Only 2 miles from the quarry us cyclists came to a small town with a building that said BAR! 48 miles none stop good effort; we had pizza and a beer. Revitalised we ventured on.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and fast and as it was everyone arrived within 10 minutes and all seemed happy.
All are now clean and chilling in the sunshine with a beer / wine / aperol spritz at the Irish bar conveniently on site – all obviously planned so well – and discussing tan lines! It seems so long since the start of the trip and the horrible conditions we endured – that long that everyone is happily remembering tales of bad accommodation and weather with a lot of laughter. All is good and everyone is in holiday mode now for the next few hours at least until the trusted bikes reappear in the morning ready for the 131 miles tomorrow.
As we are coming towards the end of Phase one our attention is drawing to the “Great Nidd Bike Ride” and the “Great Nidd Bike Ball” on the 23rd of September. This is your chance to challenge yourself. The ride is only 50 miles (easy for me to say). We will also be looking for volunteers to marshal or make flapjack /cakes. Then on the evening it’s time to put on your glad-rags and dance the night away. We all will be! Please keep an eye on the website for details.
Enjoy your evening – we will!!
Kathleen & Sean xx
Day 13 Fagersta to Mariestad Sponsored by New Lodge Contractors
Hello again Readers
So today was the 2nd to last ride before Gothenburg tomorrow.
We waved the cyclists off early this morning. They had a big day ahead of them. Spirits were high, the sun was shining and Paul had put cream on his already sunburnt ears!!
We had a nice breakfast and packed up the truck – again!!! After a bit of googling we decided there wasn’t very much in Fagersta and headed to our next destination Mariastad, a pretty town situated on Lake Vänern.
On route we accidentally, without any James Bond stalking, bumped into the cyclists at an ice cream stop about 40 miles into the ride. They were tonking it and were making good time.
The drive was pretty steady other than a fuel stop where Auntie Kathleen set off with her fuel cap open despite telling Dan he needed to close his – this earned her the Numpty award for the day.
Once we arrived we headed down to the marina and enjoyed a nice walk and some beers over looking the Gota canal, dreaming of being millionaires and owning boats 🙂
The ride today has been 138 miles in 26 degrees, all of us are sunburnt even though everyone was completely coated in sunscreen. Despite the sunburn though the spirits are extremely high – we even got a fair bit competitive with the top speeds today. The results are as follows:-
Sean – 1st 47.6mph
David – 1st 47.6mph (he was on my tail getting drag)
Lee – 2nd 45.2mph
Paul – 3rd 43.9mph
We also cycled around an enormous lake, which we stopped off at for a beer in the final few miles. Other than this it was a fairly uneventful ride but definitely a good one!
The boys arrived earlier than expected, as always in good spirits. We are all currently sat listening to live music about to enjoy a nice meal.
Tomorrow is our final day and so the final blog. It’s been lovely that so many people have followed our challenge so eagerly. The support, comments and donations have been amazing and you cannot believe how much they have helped everyone. It seems a long time since we all set off on this adventure but this time tomorrow after a short 100 miles we will definitely be celebrating. Please make sure you look out for the final blog (well for this stage anyway!) and do keep your messages coming too.
Until next time,
Lee, Amy and Kathleen xx
Day 14: Mariestad – Gothenburg
Final day of phase 1, and what a day! 112 miles down to Gothenburg was supposed to be a stroll in the park. Mother Nature had other ideas. From the moment we set off we had gale force wind directly in our faces. Ten miles in and it felt like 30. This was going to be a tough day, a day where we needed to work together as a team. Try we did but the elements were against us not only destroying our energy but also our resolve. We were looking for anything to help – a tractor going in our direction would be a help. Dave managed to tag one for a few miles but most were going in the wrong direction. Battle on we had to do and battle on we did. Eventually at 8:10pm we arrived to meet the back up team who were loudly cheering us in and broadcasting live on Facebook. Phase 1 completed, conquered, The Arctic tamed!!!
This has been an epic adventure from the drive up to Nordkapp with horrendous traffic and a broken windscreen and then the highs of being cheered off by hundreds of tourists wishing us well, completing a long hard days cycling and sinking a well earned beer to the lows of being 215 metres under the Arctic Ocean at 3:00am on a Monday morning riding a bike or cycling for 12 hours in the rain and even snow!
Everyone involved has been fantastic. *All the cyclists for their training, preparation and determination, for never giving up when things got tough, encouraging each other when heads fell and working together to get through the day. This was a massive challenge and remember one of the cyclists Lee only bought a bike and started cycling in March!
*The back up team, who I am sure didn’t think it was an easy holiday but I am equally sure that they didn’t expect how hard back up was going to be! From day 1 they were right behind the cyclists even waiting up until 5:00am on the first day to watch us in. It was supposed to be the cyclists set off in the morning, the back up then had the day to themselves all they had to do was to get to the next hotel. Unfortunately as conditions were that bad they met us after 20 or 30 miles with hot coffee and a warm car. Without the back up crew we could not have done this – true heroes!
*Support from back home! The messages and donations that were sent throughout the whole journey was incredible. A message or donation would pop up on my phone on my bike, many times just at the right time to give us that much needed lift, the inspiration to push the pedals harder or even put a smile on a weary tortured face.
*The Sponsors who provided some of the funds to make this happen. This is not a cheap challenge to put in and would have been very difficult to fund without the very generous donations from the Sponsors – New Lodge Contractors, Kerry Ingredients, Oak by Design, The Station Hotel, Birstwith & Logic Fire and Security.
We don’t know exactly what we have raised for Alzheimer’s so far but we know it is in the region of £4000!!!! It doesn’t end here! Phase one complete, phase 2 next year. Back to Gothenburg we go and set off to Monaco traveling through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Before then we have the Great Nidd Bike Ride and the Great Nidd Bike Ball on the 23rd of September details to enter the Bike ride are on the website the Ball details will be out soon.
I just want to say a huge thank you to all involved – the cyclists who agreed to take on this mad challenge, the back up for their whole hearted support, the sponsors for putting faith in us and of course all of you for supporting and donating.
Only one thing left to say who won the numpty hat award on the last day?
After some discussion about some of Lee’s antics today the decision was unanimous of course it was……………
…………………………Sean!!! For coming up with such an outrageous idea (even I voted for myself)
Thanks for reading
P.s All the rest of the team are putting their own comments or detailing some thoughts below.