Bikepacking – London to Athens 2005

Mark Erikson – Grey Lynn Cycle Club Bike Service Centre

Lockdown has got me feeling nostalgic with nothing much to look forward to. I thought I’d share this for those who have an interest in bike-packing and show you how Fiona and I did it back in 2005.

After seven years in London we had come to the end of our time and had planned our six month return journey to New Zealand. The first leg of our return was to be approximately ten weeks cycling from London to Athens. We had spent the previous months kitting out our bikes and preparing for departure, set down for 8th July 2005. The only deadline we had to meet was a return flight from Athens to London in mid September. This date almost threw out whole tour into chaos as 7th July was the date of the London bombings. Fi and I both got caught up in this. Fiona was working for the Camden council at Kings Cross and I was close to Russell square when a bus containing one of the bombs exploded. It was a very scary and confusing time and were not sure if we would be able to catch the train from London to Felixstowe the next day to catch our ferry to the Netherlands

In June we had a trial run in June in the Dartmoor national park this proved to be quite an eye opener as to how tough our tour would be. We didn’t realise how steep Dartmoor was and there was plenty of walking up some nasty hills. Our bikes cost us ~ 250 pounds from Decathlon, the paniers and other associated accessories were significantly more costly than that

Dartmoor National Park

We had planned our route roughly to try and avoid too many hills. We planned to avoid the worst of the alps by heading from Holland to Germany following the Rhine river then head north into the Czech Republic to Prague and then onto Budapest in Hungary by hooking up with the Danube river. I’ve mapped out as best I can remember our route taken – all up a total distance of about 4500Km

https://www.strava.com/routes/2872356397444661430

Our Route

The following are photos are a small photo essay of our trip

Liverpool St station in London catching the train to Felixstow

Liverpool St station

Catching the Ferry to Hoek van Holland

Made it onto mainland Europe – its Holland so naturally it was windy!

This was before the time of smartphones and GPS so we had to rely on paper maps (quite tricky when the map was in Greek or Hunagarian) – Route planning revolved around finding the next green campsite symbol and deciding if you could make it there in a days ride

The flat bike paths of Holland – super easy and a good way to build fitness early on

Getting out of the heat and relaxing in a cafe – we did a lot of this

No Google Maps or Strava routes to work out where to next

River barge on the Rhine river

Dracula castles along the Rhine river

Forest trail in the Black forest. Bavaria, Germany. My bike was 50Kg when fully loaded

Camping in the Black forest

We quickly learned the importance of good hydration!

The people you get to meet – camp ground at Furth im Wald, Germany just near to the Czech boarder….massive hangover the next day!

The surprise ‘Clothing optional’ campground coming into Pilzen, Czech Republic

Kiwi’s never go anywhere without access to a Rugby ball

Our camping kit – we posted home quite a bit of it as we went to save on weight!

Serious tan lines when your in the sun all day for weeks on end – yes it was Hot!!! – especially Hungary and Croatia

But what better way to cool off then a Cafe on the banks of Danube with tables that sit in paddling pools!

We encountered lots of friendly wildlife

Some stats – Average distance per day 90km. Generally we rode two days then had a day off sight seeing, resting etc. Our longest day of riding was 130Km. Normally we would get on the road quite early say 6 / 7am and get breakfast whist riding. We always tried to be at a campsite by about 3pm so we could relax, drink beer and get out of the heat. It also gave us a bit of extra time should we be unable to find a campsite or accommodation – which did happen a few times. Best and most courteous drivers went to the Dutch and Germans (they all love cyclists) – worst drivers seemed to be Italians who were holidaying on the Croatian coast.

To contact me to ask any questions you can on service.glcc@gmail.com

Ngā mihi nui

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By Mark Erikson

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