Cycling Across Europe, Day 1
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Cambridge Mon, 23 Sep 2002 08:41:42
Well, everything's packed up and I think I'm ready to go. The weather outside looks fine and sunny, but the temperature's taken a turn for the autumnal. I can cope with that, with the last-minute addition of a pair of long-fingered gloves to my clothes pannier. Also, for the first time since about March, I'm not wearing shorts to ride. What a shame. That means my carefully-acquired cyclist's tan line will start to fade.

This bit is like waiting for an exam to start. My travel plans are in the hands of assorted railway and ferry companies until I get to Calais, from which point everything will be my fault. I hope I've allowed enough time for the connections, and nothing's been replaced by a "special bus service". Especially the channel crossing.

Cambridge Mon, 23 Sep 2002 09:27:01
And we're off! Train from cambridge has left on time and the sun is still shining. Marvellous.
London Bridge Mon, 23 Sep 2002 10:47:01
Well, that was an exciting dash across london to get the Dover train! Loaded with luggage i'm not very nimble in fast traffic!
Dover Mon, 23 Sep 2002 13:13:51
This is all getting rather surreal. I've just cycled through the maze of roadways in the port of dover, normally used only by cars, lorries and buses. My bike feels so small sandwiched in the queue between two coaaches. It's as if I might fall through the cracks and get lost somewhere in the English Channel. The ferry staff are most reassuring, but my fellow passengers look on thoroughly bemused.

We'll be boarding in half an hour or so. I just hope it doesn't start to rain before then. I seem to be the only person here without a motor vehicle to hide in!

Mid-Channel 23/9/2002 14:05
I'm on the ferry now, so the day's risky logistics are over. The rest is up to me. The painted steel car deck turns out to be a treacherously slippery place to cycle, but I managed not to end up under the wheels of the bus in front.

Exchanged pleasantries with a couple of French motorcyclists who thought my luggage looked heavy. I suspect I'll be thinking the same before too long.

Ardres Mon, 23 Sep 2002 17:15:02
Here we are in France in a town called Ardres with the world's least useful tourist office. Onwards, I think.
Tournehem 23/9/02 20:45
I've found a campsite in a place called Tournehem to stop for the night. Even though it was advertised along the side of the N43 road for at least 4km, the local tourist office knew nothing about it. Or at least, it didn't feature in their suspiciously glossy accommodation guide. I suspect some sort of "cash for campers" scandal is behind this, but I won't bother pursuing it through the courts.

The only thing of note in Tournehem is a cacophonous little fair in the central square, with four rides trying to out-eurohit each other. Still, it provided me with a hot dog for dinner. Must remember to stop at a supermarket tomorrow.

The weather is completely random. I've had everything from calm sunshine to horizontal rain to deal with. The landscape round here is distinctly East Anglian, which probably accounts for the vicious north wind which threatens to dump me in the ditch every time a lorry goes past.

Today's mileage: 30, not including the bits on trains and boats.

Click on any photo to see a larger version.
Bike at Cambridge Station
My bike waits patiently for the train on platform 2 to depart. It's still getting used to the weight of the luggage.
Bike on Millenium Bridge
My bike sneaks unlawfully across the Millenium Bridge in the morning sunshine. You can see Tower Bridge in the background.
Departing from Dover
Here we are leaving the White Cliffs behind
Arriving at Calais
And here we are docking at Calais.