Eurobike this year was a true success; we elevated indoor training once more by launching the new KICKR and KICKR SNAP trainers, and the all-new KICKR CLIMB gradient simulator. However, exhibitors will agree that Eurobike is a tiring experience; days spent on the booth, back-to-back meetings and industrial socializing can wear heavy on even the most seasoned Eurobike veteran.
With that in mind, Wahooligan Rowley Clifford set out to ride back to the U.K after the show. Timing worked perfectly so that, if haste was made, he would make it back in time to catch the finish of stage 6 of the Tour of Britain. 1000km to cover in 5 days, solo; would he make it home?
Prepping for the Journey
Before the ride, I drew my route with Komoot, taking advantage of their ‘road bike highlights’ feature. This proved invaluable, as it made sure I wouldn’t miss any sights worth seeing along the way by suggesting roads, views, bridges etc. which had been recommended by other Komoot users. I could then incorporate these into my original plan and watch as my route began to really take shape.
“But what happens if your bike falls apart in the middle of nowhere and you can’t fix it? This isn’t like you riding at home, Rowley; you’re out on your own and we can’t just jump in the car and come and get you if we really need to…”
I had told my family about my plan to ride home from Eurobike solo some months before, but they only began to express their concern once I committed to the ride. These were mainly over the distance, dangers on the road and lack of easy contact should anything go wrong. Although a mother is never fully assured of their son’s safety, the ELEMNT Live Track feature helped in such a big way, allowing not only my parents but great numbers of friends, family and other well-wishing Wahooligans to check my progress during the ride.
I spent The first two days exploring Germany. The route took in epic, tree-shrouded climbs in the Black Forest before turning north to dash through France. This was via the rolling fields of the Rhineland before heading back into Germany at the Pfäzerwald National Park. Although Komoot made sure I would visit some of the best roads along the way, these were two of the toughest riding days I’ve ever had. Still, the messages of support I got from my friends and, most importantly, my mum, for when the going got really tough surely helped drag me through. All the while ELEMNT Live Track kept the peace at home, which allowed everyone to track how I was doing.
Middle of the Road
Next, I turned westward towards Luxembourg City to complete my third day. This was a shorter day, and the 430+km ridden and previous nights spent wild camping had really started to take their toll on my knees and back, so a slower, shorter day was welcome respite. I stayed with a friend of a fellow Wahooligan just outside the city, and let their doting nature, piles of pasta and friendly dog restore my spirits before embarking on what I knew would be one my toughest days on the bike the following morning.
On the fourth day, I had awoken to a tree-bending wind that had picked up overnight. Unluckily, it was coming from the north west; exactly the direction I had to head in. Over the next 12 hours, the battle against the elements and never-ending climbs meant progress was painfully slow. I passed through Liège towards Hasselt where I would eventually finish. That evening’s video check-in with home was a tough one; I’d had to leave it all on the road that day and now had less than 24 hours to make it to my ferry back to the UK the following night. Mum was worried I wouldn’t make it.
Setting off on day 5 showed that although the wind failed to relent, thankfully, the terrain was decidedly flatter. With the Belgian leg almost complete, I just had to now press on toward the Netherlands, navigate the network of dijk-top roads and bridges that traverse the Dutch flatlands and board the ferry 191km later. I barely stopped on the last day, and found myself making the last river crossing before reaching Hook of Holland ferry port well ahead of schedule.
On the final leg along the mouth of a river to the ferry port on the North Sea, I took a moment to reflect on how far I’d come. Getting to see five countries in as many days at the speed of a bike really is something so brilliantly European it makes me feel tremendously lucky to live so close to some of the world’s best riding. This is true, even though I only had five days to complete it, so would have to average around 25kph to make sure I didn’t have to ride at night. Naturally, this was an attempt made in order to keep my mum happy!
“So glad to see you’ve got onto the ferry okay. We’re both so proud! I’ve had the LiveTrack window open on my computer all week so knew you were on track to get there this afternoon. We’ll be at Harwich tomorrow at 6am, see you in the morning xx”
My total distance when I got to the ferry was 964km, which meant the following beers, food and slumber on the ferry passed in a total blur. My parents greeted me at the terminal the following morning, and together we drove straight home to catch the end of the Tour of Britain finishing nearby. Traveling home I’d felt as though I’d had a true adventure, albeit in only a few days. Best of all, with LiveTrack my friends, family and loved-ones had been able to come along for the ride.
Want to give it a try for yourself? Download Rowley’s routes here: