We were ruthless with the packing. One set of clothes only. Anjas wheels were left behind, people got very small presents, anything not of value or to worn out was jettisoned and still we were a little over on the
|Anja, Jenny, Derek, Tom. Hampton Court.|
weight restrictions. Flying Emirates gave us 30kgs each in the hold and 7kgs each hand baggage. We seemed to have gained weight somehow since Australia and we only got away with it because held one end of each bike box up on the check-in scales taking a few kgs off each. Luckily the plane didn’t run out of fuel because of it.
It all went so smoothly. In 36 hours stopping in Sydney, Bangkok and Dubai we flew back over a half a world which we had taken 2 years to traverse, occasionally seeing from above places we knew in detail. We felt a little sad that this wonderful part of our lives was now over. We each had a screen in front of us on the plane and relieved some of the boredom by watching back-to-back movies and drinking free gin and tonics. Who would bother flying first class these days.
Our bags and bikes were some of the first on the carousel, we walked straight through all controls and in no time at all (after I finally figured out the trolleys; Mr. Bean all over again) were being greeted by my good buddy Derek who whisked us back to Cheswick and bought us lunch in a pub by the river.
Derek in a way was responsible for this whole cycling to Sydney caper. It was he, some five years ago now who plied me with drinks one Saturday night and tricked me into agreeing to go out for a cycle-ride with him early the next morning. I remember gasping for breath as I followed him round a 30km circuit on a summer morning, eating everything in the fridge on my return and sleeping most of the rest of the day. We repeated this fiasco a few times a week that summer and slowly I began to actually enjoy it. Since then we have ridden many places together including a 3 week escapade in India and a jaunt around the backroads of S.E. Asia.
|Kennet and Avon Canal|
Being a computer whiz kid Derek set up this blog for his computer illiterate friend. I told him we were thinking of going on an extended cycle-tour and wanted one of those electronic diary things I had heard about. “I have set the thing up for you” he wrote me, “for want of a title I called it By Bike to Sydney, you can change the title easily when you decide where you are cycling to”.
Well, I never did figure out how to change the title and was too embarrassed to tell Derek this; the easiest solution seemed to be to leave things as they were and just pedal to Sydney. And that is what we did. Thanks Derek for everything.
After a few pleasurable though jetlagged days in London, putting together and repairing the bikes, catching up with old friends and being fed and beered by Jenny and Derek, the four of us rode off up the Thames for a picnic in Windsor park overlooking the castle on a sunny spring day. D&J returned by train and we carried on up the river, turned left down the Kennet and Avon canal, then another left just after Bradford on Avon
onto Sustrans cycle-route No.3 which took us the back lanes through Wells, Glastonbury and Taunton all the way to my brothers village in Devon. We were well received there and had only the last 20kms to ride the next morning to Ma’s front door in Bradninch where the whole escapade began 30548 kilometers (a smidge under 19000 miles) and 756 days before. Banners and balloons were tied above the door. We were back!
We met an awful lot of people on this escapade and were received, welcomed and helped by so many. Particular thanks to Manije and family in Tehran for looking after us so well, David and Sophie in the Hunter Valley for a great weekend, Chris and Rita and family in Matcham for such a great reception at the Opera House, and Wendy and co in Auckland for making us so welcome.
|Bradford on Avon|
|Worlds Biggest Breakfast B on A|
|The Last Camp. Outside Wells|
|Back Where We Began|
|The Cake. (Thanks Ma)|