Catha's Seat

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The big departure!

The day finally arrived!! And what a day it was - 13 cyclists riding in a Peleton out of London with Karoline driving the support vehicle (with a megaphone for encouragement!) and my Dad and Julie meeting us for lunch in the middle of Essex.

The cycle team at 8am!

With only one puncture it was a successful but somewhat chilly morning - I started to worry how cold it might be when I get to the alps. We made it to the Wickham Bishops by 2pm for a nice pub lunch. Dad was late and had no phone signal so in true Keegan style we thought he had been in an accident - actually the day before he had taken his car for an MOT and the mechanic had crashed his car!!

After some tearful goodbyes the Gold Medal team set off for Harwich and made it in by 6pm - finishing off with a nice fish & chips on the Quayside.
Slightly blurry Gold Medal Team enjoying a winning drink
Thank you to everyone who came for making it such a speical day for me - it was the perfect way to launch into this adventure.

More blog posts to come shortly but now I must go out and see Wiesbaden with my host Bastian before it gets too late!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Research & Encouragement - lunch with Dan

On Monday I met up with Dan, who rode to Istanbul and beyond around 7 years ago, before changing his career to being a professional saxophonist. It was a desperately needed confidence boost for me; particularly that he had travelled at a similar time of year (I was getting worried about the impending cold) and he had achieved similar daily milage to my plan. 

I was excited about the number of people he had met and travelled with along the way. I hope a similar fate befalls me!

Many thanks to Dan. 

What's it all for?

Rather selfishly, this trip is for me! To quench my thirst for touring, to build my confidence by travelling alone, to gain perspective by meeting people from different places and to find time to think about the bigger picture.

However, I would like to use the opportunity to raise awareness about the work of Spokes East Kent Cycle Campaign. My mum was a dedicated cycle campaigner. She surveyed the optimum cycle route between Ashford and Canterbury with Sheila Webb around 20 years ago and the remaining links are now finally under construction. More detail here

The cycle route offers a safe alternative to the exceedingly dangerous A28; connecting Ashford, Canterbury and the villages between them. This is expected to promote sustainable transport activity in the area as well as provide a beautiful path for walkers and cyclists.

Although the cycle route itself does not require financial support, as it will be built by the Council, we would like to build a seat along the route with a fantastic view over Chilham, with a plaque in memory of Mum and her work. A similar seat has been installed by Sheila on the stretch between Chartham and Canterbury as shown in the picture below.

As the seats are hand made out of solid green oak they cost around £5,000. It will provide a rest stop and great views for generations to come. 

If you are into cycling, walking, good views, sustainable transport or all of the above I would be exceedingly grateful for any support that you can provide to make this happen. I thought we could do this in the form of a game! Please make a pledge of whatever you can afford by commenting on this post (with your name) or sending me an email. At the same time tell me what you think the total mileage and average speed on the speedometer will be when I arrive in Istanbul. The 2 winners will receive a Turkish speciality from Istanbul! 

No money will be taken when you make the pledge, but when we are ready to place the order on the bench I will get back in touch and ask if you are still able fulfil your pledge. We will keep everyone updated with progress of the project and organise a trip to see it when it has been built. So everyone's donations are recognised I will also float the idea of having donor's names on a plaque as well.

The Route

Below is my planned out route with maps for each day - click the links to see the google maps. If you know anyone along the way that can put me up in exchange for stories or would like a coffee/beer and a chat let me know.

22/09/2012  HARWICH 77.5
23/09/2012   TILBURG 68.7
24/09/2012  HEINSBERG 65.1
25/09/2012  UNKEL 68
26/09/2012  WIESBADEN 85.8
27/09/2012  WIESBADEN 0
28/09/2012  MINFELD 78.1
29/09/2012  FREIBURG 95.2
30/09/2012  ROTHAUS 40.1
01/10/2012  ZURICH 44.2
02/10/2012  ZURICH 0
03/10/2012  BIEL 72.5
04/10/2012  LAUSANNE 60.9
05/10/2012  LONDON 0
06/10/2012  LONDON 0
07/10/2012  LONDON 0
08/10/2012   LONDON 0
09/10/2012  LAUSANNE 0
10/10/2012  VISP 86.9
11/10/2012 DOMODOSSOLA 43.3
12/10/2012  VERGIATE 49.7
13/10/2012  MILAN 38.3
14/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
15/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
16/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
17/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
18/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
19/10/2012 AROUND ITALY 0
20/10/2012  MILAN 0
21/10/2012  MILAN 0
22/10/2012  MILAN 0
23/10/2012  MILAN 0
24/10/2012  DESENZANO DEL GARDA 73.3
25/10/2012  CITTADELLA 74.8
26/10/2012  CODRUPIO 73
27/10/2012  IZOLA 75.7
28/10/2012  RIJEKA 67.6
29/10/2012   JABLANAC 68.1
30/10/2012  SUKOSAN 71.9
31/10/2012  SPLIT 93.1
01/11/2012  PLOCE 71.1
02/11/2012  MOSTAR 45
03/11/2012  MOSTAR 0
04/11/2012  SARAJEVO 70
05/11/2012  SARAJEVO 0
06/11/2012   VISEGRAD 70
07/11/2012  UZICE 45
08/11/2012  UZICE 40
09/11/2012  VRNJACKA BANJA 75.2
10/11/2012  KRUSEVAC 28.4
11/11/2012  KNJAZEVAC 60.5
12/11/2012  PIROT 65.9
13/11/2012  SOFIA 56.4
14/11/2012  SOFIA 0
15/11/2012  KOSTENETS 61
16/11/2012  PLOVDIV 51.9
17/11/2012  HARMANLI 66.9
18/11/2012   EDIRNE 41.6
19/11/2012  PINARHISAR 57.7
20/11/2012  IHSANIYE 60.2
21/11/2012  ISTANBUL 28
22/11/2012  ISTANBUL 0
23/11/2012  ISTANBUL 0
24/11/2012  ISTANBUL 0
25/11/2012  ISTANBUL 0

Getting Technical:

For those that are interested Maps were planned on Google and then exported to .kml files by adding the GMapToGPX at this site to my bookmarks bar on firefox. Clicking the bookmark when looking at the google my maps page gives a pop up to export the .kml file.

I then imported them into track creator. This shows you the hills you will encounter!!

Exporting from gpsies gives you a .gpx route. I have imported these routes into an app called Osmand+ on my android. This satnav type app gives offline access to open street maps so I can hopefully navigate the trip without paper!


Thank you for logging onto my cycle touring blog - my first ever blog!! Scott (my bike) and I are setting off from London, through Europe ending up at the gateway to Asia; Istanbul.

I am a bike enthusiast and a long trip has been my dream for years now. Cycling has been ingrained in me from a young age as my Mum was a campaigner for Sustrans and Spokes ( I ran a small bike business at University, regularly enjoy fixing vintage bikes with my friend Hil Bob at our "Bike Club" and have completed long distance rides; London to Paris with Kit and Sam (see video below) and London along the South East Coast with Hil Bob, Yean and Phin. 

The ride that inspired my love of touring, however, was with Alex ( around the north coast of France in 2005. Even though I had to strap a cushion on to my saddle to achieve the correct height it proved to be a winning trip. 

Never noticed the "Stop" sign before!

Let me introduce you to Scott - 

Scott - just after being valued for the insurers by Fitzrovia Cycles

Although I am not planning on giving you my personal specs, I thought some of the bike geeks may be interested in Scott's vital statistics:

Part Detail
Frame Scott Atacama Trail 22" 
Saddle Charge Spoon
Tyres Gatorskin 700x28
Brakes Shimano Deore LX V-Brakes
Rear Hub Shimano Alfine 11 Disc SGS700
Front Hub Shimano Hub Dynamo DH3N20
Rims Mavic 28" A 319 - 36 Hole
Spokes DT Swiss Champion 2mm x (287 or 283mm)
Nipples DT Swiss 2.0mm x 12mm
Tubes Continental 700 x 28-38mm
Chain Spank Tweet Tweet 102 links 1/2" x 1/8"
Chainring Stronglight 38t BCD 30
Sprocket Shimano 20t Alfine Sprocket
Mudguards SKS Commuter Narrow Bike Mudguard Set
Shifter Alfine 11 Rapidfire Shifter
Speedometer Sigma BC 906
Phone Mount Ultimate Add Ons HTC Desire HD
Grips Ragley H.O.T Lock On Grips - Lime Green
Bot. Bracket Tange 137 x 24t
Crankset Shimano FC-S125, 105 Golden Arrow 170mm
Pedals Shimano Clip in Pedals PD-M520

Below is what Scott will have on his back (as well as me)!!