Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The North Sea Cycle Route?

I've been fidgety. Two years ago I cycle camped Lands End to John o'Groats. I took a month and, though challenging, I did enjoy the experience and found it utterly satisfying. Since then I've wondered about other long distance cycle routes and, some time ago, discovered this and found the idea intriguing:

The Guinness Book of Records has recognised the North Sea Cycle Route (NSCR) as the longest cycle route in the world. I think they mean longest defined or waymarked route. As the name implies it's a circuit of the North Sea and is around 3600 miles, depending on the route, which can vary from place to place.

Here's where I start hedging. I MAY do this next summer. Research so far tells me an old fart like me should allow about 100 days. I don't do rushing. I don't do big daily miles. IF I do it, I think I'd go anticlockwise. As with LEJOG I'd carry all my gear on the bike to allow camping. So, I'd set off from home on my beautiful Thorn Sherpa, heading south-eastish to hit the coast somewhere in Lincolnshire probably. From there it's south on National Cycle Route (NCR) 1 to Harwich and a ferry to the Hook of Holland. Then it'd be north through the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark before a ferry across to Sweden. After this I'd follow the coast of Sweden and Norway to Bergen. From Bergen, the plan is a flight (two per week in the summer) to Lerwick in Shetland. Now riding south I'd cross to Orkney and then mainland Scotland to rejoin NCR1 south before turning south west across my beloved Yorkshire and back home to the Peak District. Phew! See how easily it trips off the typing finger (I still one-finger type). 

There was nothing on LEJOG which totally threw me and I can't see any physical reason why I couldn't cycle for three months. The only nagging doubt? It's a long time. Longer than I've ever been away from home. Alone. Am I mentally capable of this? I don't know. But the time aspect is the only barrier...and over the last 24 hours, since first discussing it with Chrissie, I'm coming round to the idea that yes, I might be able to get over that barrier. Chrissie, bless her, is completely supportive, so that's not an issue.

A Twitter message I put out last night, retweeted by many, got no reply from anyone out there who'd done it. I've since found one person on there who I've DMd today.

Many have done it of course, though not a lot of Brits. It officially opened back in 2002. One lady from the UK wrote a book about, but that's now out of print. There's no guide book and the website you see above is closing at the end of this year.

I'm currently telling myself I could bail out at any point on the route. There's little in the way of commitment. I wouldn't book a flight to Shetland until I was sure of my arrival in Bergen. Ferry tickets for a foot passenger and bike can just be bought without any notice I'd expect. Maybe considering failure is the wrong attitude, but I'm dealing with self doubt right now.

I want to do it. I believe I could do it...I think. It'd be a big achievement I reckon.


Any thoughts are welcome.