B2L – preparations for the trip

Preparations…

My Berlin to London trip is now just eight days away!

So what has been done in preparation?

Alfie the Trike

The trike has had new tyres, the hub gear has been serviced, a new chain has been fitted and everything generally cleaned/oiled/polished as appropriate.

Helen the cyclist

Since the beginning of this year I have been dieting to avoid lugging around all the extra weight that Christmas provided. I’ve lost 12kg so far, which is the weight of one of my panniers, so that’s not too bad.

I’ve been building up my mileage for the last month or so, trying to do at least 22 miles a day (which I have mostly managed, generally dodging the April showers).

I’ve invested in some Help For Heroes cycling kit, a baseball cap and of course a flag for my trike (can be seen below in the newspaper article).

The Route

I have my Esterbauer Verlag Bikeline book which has lots of information about the German section and into Arnhem. I haven’t pre-booked any accommodation or looked at anything along the route – I shall play it all by ear.

The Holland section is a different matter – I don’t have a handy book to assist me so I will have to rely in Internet searches. I’m planning to overnight in Arnhem, Utrecht and possibly Den Haag (a sailing acquaintance might be able to offer me a room for the night, depending on the date).

I’ve tried to work out a rough daily distance to get me to reasonable sized villages to find somewhere to sleep. You can see my spreadsheet below – it’s very basic, rough-and-ready, and the first column is the distance numbers in the Bikeline book (which goes the other way – from Arnhem to Berlin, and in kilometres). I’ve also put the dates I think I might arrive at these places but of course all that could change if the weather is bad or I pick up an injury or whatever.

Media and publicity

The Colchester Gazette have featured me in their 18 April edition.

And an article appeared in the Essex County Standard newspaper on 20 April.
I was also interviewed a few weeks ago by Liz Mullen of Garrison FM (the army radio station) and the interview was broadcast last week.

Interview on Garrison FM

My cycle ride is featured on the Help For Heroes website: Berlin to London on a recumbent trike

I have printed some flyers which I have been giving out to friends and relatives and which I will take with me on my journey to hand out to anyone who is interested. The flyer is reproduced below.

And the German version:
I have also printed out some A4 landscape information boards (German one side, English the other) which I have laminated and which I will leave on the seat of the bike when I’m not on it. They will hopefully provide me with opportunities to chat to some passers-by.

I had been invited to tour the Colchester Personnel Recovery Centre a month ago and was thrilled to be one of the lucky twelve chosen to visit. Unfortunately I got the wrong date in my diary and was a day late. I was so disappointed – but hopefully will have a chance to visit some other day.

I took part in the Help For Heroes cake sale in March in Lion Walk Shopping Precinct where I waved a collecting tin and chatted to people about what I was doing, as well as hearing about others’ fundraising challenges.

Sponsorship

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people in donating to Help For Heroes as sponsorship for this ride. That includes various cycling acquaintances, some of whom I’ve only met a few times; it includes friends of my family or friends, people from church, people in the local village (the post office in the local pub has a sponsorship form) and so many others.

Several people have said that they will sponsor me once I am underway, which will be a real encouragement to me as I pootle my way through Germany and Holland.

My sponsorship page is on Help For Heroes’ Bmycharity website. Unfortunately I don’t see the email addresses of those who donate so unless I have contact details for you I won’t be able to personally thank you – but I truly am grateful for all the support for this worthy cause.

The finish line?

The finish line is several weeks away but it looks as though several cycling friends may do the stretch from Colchester to Trafalgar Square with me, which should make it more of an event. I may have some photographs taken at the Personnel Recovery Centre on my way past, if it can be arranged.

If you fancy doing this part of the ride with me, my planned route can be downloaded here as a GPX for a bike satnav.

I’m really looking forward to getting underway on this voyage and am anticipating with particular pleasure the wide variety of cakes I will be able to sample!

And around the time I am finishing, a friend is taking on his own challenge for Help For Heroes – paramotoring from Dover to John O’Groats. More information about Colin’s challenge, flight4heroes, here.

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