Beyond the Bike 2015/16 - Bamboo with a View.

Stories from the people, places and personal challenges encountered by riding a bamboo bike through Africa and Asia.
5 minutes reading time (912 words)

Warm up ride II - London to Amsterdam

Or "How many bikes can Claire ride in four days..."

 

Beyond the Bike officially started in Canary Wharf, thus Stuart and I made our way over there on Thandie one grey September morning -  we just managed a few photos before we were politely moved on by some security guards (why, I’m not entirely sure).  Stuart writes more about Canary Wharf and finance in his Economic Cycle blogs. We then cycled to Esher where were were meeting the group for the main ride. I did manage a rather spectacular fall right by Waterloo Station, slamming on the brakes, forgetting they were rather sensitive and going over the top of the handlebars…luckily nothing was broken and so we carried on.

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Thandie, Stuart and I started our journey in Canary Wharf

 

Saturday 7.30am: We met our bunch of intrepid riders at Giro Cafe…we were so pleased to be joined by 16 others including Chris Howarth, founder of United World Schools and to have such amazing support from Jodie and Duncan Collins from Beyond Ourselves. The plan was to make it to The Albion Pub in Ashford (c.145km) in time for the England v Ireland Rugby match…sadly this didn’t quite happen but a great day was had by all; the pub put on a brilliant BBQ and the rain held off. I rode the bamboo bike up to the top of Box Hill and then joined Stu on Thandie the Tandem for the rest of the day. 10 riders then went on to Dover, although I will admit that we did cheat and get the train. (Bike count: 2.  Puncture count:1)

 

Sunday 6.45am:  Bikes out and bags in the van, we headed off to the ferry to Dunkirk…rather a rough crossing made some of us feel rather sick, chat about tuna milkshakes did not help. Stu decided he wanted to have as many different people as possible on the back of the tandem with me changing onto their bikes for each leg (we don’t want to run out of things to talk about before we even leave Europe!) and so Liv rode the first 60km on Thandie, which included several circles around Dunkirk. Circling around cities became a bit of a theme for the trip, but luckily they were very nice cities. Nicki got a pucture and whilst this was being fixed Stu had a very serendipitous  encounter with an Italian tourer on a Thandie-look-a-like! Then It was Pip’s turn for a spin on Thandie which enabled him to push on to meet the van and get his Eurostar back to London. Finally Katie hopped on the back to the beautiful town of Ghent where we arrived in time for massive bowls of moules frites and Belgian beer. (Bike count: 5 Puncture count: 2)

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Stu and Sergio with matching tandems.

 

Monday 9am: A slightly later start and Jon was starting on Thandie as we rode through Belgium and into the Netherlands. This meant I got to try his single speed - all I can say is huge respect to Jon and Nicki for getting through Day 1, up all those Surrey (and Kent) Hills on single speeds.  Jodie then came out of the support van for a leg on Thandie which included going through Antwerp. We found an amazing tunnel under the river but  sadly Stuart failed to find the diamond shop he had promisd me. Nicki then joined Stu for the final leg into Breda - a really fun and beautiful town. The group was all bonding well at this point and soon the ‘personal’ effects of cycling such distances were being discussed with no embarrassment!  (Bike count: 7)

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Going though the tunnel to find the diamond shops...

 

Tuesday 7am: The final push to Amsterdam.  Dan joined Stu for the first leg and I had to suffer the most uncomfortable saddle ever known - it made my 'unworn in' Brooks saddle seem like a sofa. Thanks Dan! I then got back on the bamboo before finally getting back on Thandie for the final leg and had a bit of a rest (sorry Stu)!  This day was mainly spent following various canals, so lots of very flat and straight roads - lovely and quick, although they did get a little dull.  A few well spent hours on packing up the bikes and the van and then out for celebratory dinner and several  drinks. (Final bike count: 8 . Countries: 4. Final puncture count: still 2).

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Riding the very flat roads across northen Europe and celebrating on arrival.

 

Our group riders were all helping us raise money for the charities, to find out more and donate to the group ride go to: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/BTB-Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, Stuart and I visited the Fairphone offices to find our more about their supply chains, conflict minerals and the new Fairphone - a blog will be coming on this very soon... Then the major issue was getting the bikes out of the hotel, into a taxi, onto a plane and off again - amazingly this did go without a hitch.

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How many bikes can you fit into a Dutch taxi?

 

The bamboo bike was named ‘Bambi’ somewhere along the way and she did a good stint in Belgium and in Holland but she will make her proper debut in Uganda where we meet up with Kasoma and ride out of Kampala on Sunday 13th September to start the main adventure.

 

Stage 1: Kampala to Kigali -Taking Khalid Home.
A Journey to the Heart of the EU from London…
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