“What are you going to do?” asked many of our friends. It was the most difficult question to answer as we left our jobs for a ‘sabbatical’ year ahead. For ‘sabbatical’ we really meant early retirement, Clare from teaching and Andy from a large global retailer.
What are we going to do? It’s a tough question. Our kids have grown up and are starting to make their own lives so after 35 years of work we suddenly have the freedom and opportunity to do almost anything we like.
One day we came up with the idea to start with something crazy like a bike ride from Bath in England (where we live) across Europe to Istanbul.
Crazy because we’re not real cyclists. Until we cycled to Barcelona, we’d only ridden our bikes more than 80 kilometres in a day once and that was without panniers. Bath to Istanbul is more than 3000 kilometres!
The idea kept nagging away at the back of our minds. And it worked with our friends too. They became much more interested in the challenges and fun of such an adventure so forgot all about the tricky question.
Then we had to do it!
Well, not quite. Cycling to Istanbul in the Autumn is much too cold and much too far so instead we bicycled from Bath to Barcelona, which was both shorter and warmer. Our route took us through some of the most beautiful parts of France which also proved to be a very friendly country to novice cyclists. Of course the Pyrenees were in the way but we planned to go round them by taking the Mediterranean coastal route … not quite the way it turned out!
We managed to avoid most of the potholes along the way and after 2200 kilometres and 7 weeks in close confinement we’re still together.
We’ve recently followed this up with a shorter tour around the beautiful island of Mallorca.
We’ve caught the notoriously infectious bicycle-touring-bug and are always looking for opportunities to get back in our saddles. One day we might try to cycle from Bath to Istanbul after all.
Clare and Andy