We left Kelsale in Suffolk on the 4th May joined by friends and family. A Chinese themed breakfast with a banner and bucks fizz at the Salters is how every big bike journey should commence. Take note. We all rode off like we were in the Goonies and then 50 metres down the road we realised we had forgotten our tent. It was going well. We were joined by more friends and family at a pub in Woodbridge and after one too many drops of beer and the perfect amount of drops of tears, we waved goodbye and hit the road south. Hannah and her sister Lorna couldn’t hide how much they were going to miss eachother, and saying goodbye to nieces and nephews is just brutal.
A mammoth homemade Indian spread was put on by Brother Craig and Sister Tan in Hertford and we enjoyed a wonderful last night together. More friends and family joined us the next day to ride to Mumma’s house for a champagne breakfast. Mum was making it very hard for us to leave. After more tears, and more incredibly hard goodbyes, we hit the road and cycled through London towards Dover. It didn’t really feel any different to a normal days ride around London other than our bikes weighed an absolute ton. Either we were carrying far too much or the last months heavily socialising had taken its toll. Definitely the latter. Probably both.
Brother Craig was joining us on the second part of our two day cycle to the coast and met us in Kent at a pub where we were pitching our tent. To our delight, our 12 year old nephew Ruben was with him and joined us on the cycle. We had plans to take him all the way to China but for whatever irresponsible reasons Craig didn’t allow it. We all camped together in the pub garden. Memories for life were made. It was the first night we had stayed in the tent. It was strange to think it would be our home for the next however many months.
We all cycled together to Dover the following day. It was a lot harder than we expected and we were so proud of Ruben on his longest ever bike ride, and a tough one that ended with us lugging our bikes over the cliffs of Dover (not over the edge, that would be silly). The last goodbye was accompanied by another punch in the throat. We were now on our own.
We boarded the ferry. Shattered. We met a Belgian girl and had a two hour brexit-question-dodging conversation all the way to Dunkirk. We got off the ferry at about 8pm. After two and a half seconds of deliberation we thought it may not be the best idea to commence the wild camping and pitch our tent next to a barbed wire border fence, so we headed to the nearest hotel to get a good nights sleep and contemplated what lay ahead.
After all the planning, researching, bike-building and packing, it was really happening. We were on our way…