London Calling

(pictures on the photos page)

Hello Everyone!

We’re writing from London, where we arrived yesterday evening after a stormy passage from Dunkirk to Dover; our flight to Nairobi is in a few hours.

It has been a good few days biking to the coast, though really after all the stress and drama of our departure (up to the point of having a meeting to get Dave a Tax-on-web token at 8.30 am on the day we left Brussels) felt somewhat anti-climactic.

For five years we’ve been planning this trip and saving money, for the past year we’ve been getting our gear together and discussing the route, for the past few months we’ve been packing our lives up, for the past ten days we’ve been running around like mad to get everything ready, and then finally, at last (three hours later than expected) we are on…  the Avenue Terveuren….

And we bought lunch at… GB…

Though still we were glad for the experience.  The route we took, through the Flemish Ardennes to Kortrijk and then from there on to Dunkirk, is certainly not typical Flemish cycling, and even if the hills are nothing compared to what awaits (though certainly the wind can’t get much worse), it was good for us to have to work our way a little bit as we got used to our bikes and our loads, figuring out how best to pack our gear, how best to pitch our tents, how best to ask for a place to sleep from small farms along the way.

We had nothing but luck in that area actually.  Our first night’s hosts were skeptic, but they still gave us a place in their garden.  The second night we were lucky enough to stop and ask for a square of grass from a wonderful couple on a small farm just north of Kortrijk.  They let us pitch our tent and then invited us in for a drink later.  Anna spoke for both of us obviously, and Dave just tried to follow what he could.  They were interested in the agricultural aspect of our trip, and had story after story of frustration with the treatment of small farmers in Flanders.

“To make enough money, you have to be big,” they told us.  Their farm, with 120 pigs and 35 beef cows, is not.

This little warmup was also the occasion for Dave’s first flat tire.  Yes, Dave had another flat tire.  If you heard about our bike trip last summer from Vienna to Istanbul, then you probably heard that Dave had 17 flat tires in the span of five weeks and managed to run through two tire treads in the same time.  And if you heard about this trip, you probably heard Dave ramble on about Kevlar tires and about how there was no worry about flats now because the Schwalbe Marathon XR would be there to save the day.

It’s the age old story – the king of the flat tire against the unpuncturable tire in a battle for humanity – who will win…

Well, the unpuncturable tire lasted 92 kilometers before something very staple-like managed to drive its way in through the tread and give a nice little slow-leaking puncture.

Suffice it to say Anna has announced that we have to buy two new tubes and two new treads before we even set foot in Africa.  This is up for debate, but something will be added no doubt when we run around London buying our last things before heading off on our flight.

Always something to do, always an errand to run, it can be hard to take a real rest day at the beginning of a trip.  It’s all a pleasure though, and as we get ready for the end of the familiar, we’ve been keeping in mind the advice a cyclist we met this week gave us – one of two cyclists we met who had just returned from biking in Africa in fact (and neither of whom showed the slightest sign of having been eaten by lions).

Anna had stopped to wait for Dave before a little restaurant-boat along the Ieper/Ijzer canal, and though it was officially closed, someone came out just as she pulled up.  He was on his way somewhere else and so couldn’t talk long, but he asked Anna where we were going and when she told him he said great – he’d done the same thing a few years before.  In fact they’d just finished making a movie about it.  Istanbul to Cape Town, via Iraq.

His advice?

“Just keep pedaling, straight, always straight, just keep going.”

Well, that’s the plan!

We’ll post again from Kenya, probably after we’ve already been biking for a few weeks.  If you want to know when we put something online, feel free to sign up for the Google Group, and we’ll send out an e-mail next time we get somewhere.


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21 Responses to London Calling

  1. Bob Meyer says:

    Good start Dave! It requires real skill to spot those nails and other sharp objects ahead of you in the road and to drive right towards them. Hope the torrential rains in England haven’t caused you trouble. Bon voyage

  2. lise says:

    Excellent !
    Je vous vois d’ici dans 3 ans éclater de rire quand on vous rappellera que Dave avait crevé après seulement 92 km….!
    Continuez comme ca !! C’est très vivant pour nous restés ici :-(
    Gros gros bisous
    et belles découvertes

  3. Tysa says:

    I loved the pictures, Just goes to show there is no such thing as a puncture proof tire…Asante.Tysa

  4. admin says:

    Merci pour tout le support!

    We’re in Nairobi now, about to head up to the Rift Valley, where hopefully we can go a hundred kilometers without a puncture. We’ll pass on photos and updates when we get a chance – in the meantime really, thanks for the support.

    And happy Thanksgiving!


  5. Claire says:

    Voilà donc vos premières aventures…
    Quel plaisir de les lire, j’attends la suite avec impatience.
    Appel du pied pour la Belgique… quelle drôle d’idée de refuser le vélo sur le bateau à Ostende. Je ne doute pas que votre voyage sera aussi l’occasion de soulever quelques inepties de ce genre …
    Bon courage, bises

  6. Roxane says:

    Bon, alors, j’avoue direct… j’suis toujours très émotionnelle pour tout ou n’importe quoi. Et alors je sais que c’est complètement débile, mais mes yeux picotent aujourd’hui en découvrant votre site! J’vous jure! Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous deux, c’est un super beau projet que vous faites là! Voilà, c’est tout! Je m’en tiens à ces quelques lignes de kitsheries et en attendant avec impatience de vos nouvelles, je vous souhaite beaucoup beaucoup de bonheur et de découvertes pendant ce voyage!

  7. Françoise K says:

    bonjour les permacyclistes,
    bravo et je vous souhaite bon courage;
    Annabelle, je vois que tu as le même boudin jaune que moi, je l’aime beaucoup, les 35 tonnes vous voient de loin avec ça.
    J’ai mis un lien sur votre blog sur le mien.
    Je me permets une remarque : pourquoi ne mettez vous pas les photos dans les articles ? Et est ce que vous pourriez mettre quelques dates sur votre itineraire ? Je ferais bien quelques semaines avec vous l’été prochain si vous n’êtes pas trop loin.

  8. Fouassin says:

    Bon courage et BRAVO encore pour votre dynamisme !
    Quant à la petite crevaison de Dave… vous êtes bons, il y a quelques jours avec ds ami(e)s sur le RAVEL de Huccorgne-Hannut, nous avons eu 9 crevaisons sur 15 km !!!
    LA cause, un nouveau revêtement qui contient de fin grain de silex dans le mélange !!! Bonjour les dégâts… vos routes seront sûrement plus sauvages… alors bonne piste et au plaisir de vous lire régulièrement !


  9. Xavier says:

    ca me fait grand plaisir de pouvoir suivre votre voyage en ligne!

    je vous souhaite un bon voyage et pleines de bonnes expériences…

  10. Ilke says:

    What a start with flat tyres and stormy weather! I am glad you found some friendly Belgians hosting you! I love the remark of the experienced biker: what else? Also nice to see your pictures!!!!
    By the way, I added your article and blog in the December Newsletter of Sunbeams! It feels as if you are still around!
    Keep posting and good luck in Africa!
    Take care and have fun! Ilke

  11. Lisa says:

    Happy trails, y’all!

  12. Jen Tyne says:

    Congratulations! You are living your dream. (You must be the kind of people who dream in color!) I look forward to reading more.

  13. Alice says:

    Waaaw… I’m a little envious reading your departure! Maybe the best part of the travel ;-) !!! I wish you all the best! Bon vent!

  14. Alice says:

    Just a thought… for the flat tires,… check your rim, sometimes it is the tape that protects the tire from the rim that cuts it. It is always a good idea to change the original plastic tape to a textile tape.

  15. admin says:

    Yeah, we think that might have been the problem last summer – but here it really seems like bad luck – we’re in Kenya now and Dave has had two more flat tires, and each time we’ve found the thorn or staple that seemed to be responsible! Anna is learning Voodoo to try and put a hex on my tires to keep it safe – we’ll let you know how it works out!

  16. admin says:

    Salut Francoise – on a mis un lien a ton blog aussi – merci pour ca!

    Et pour les photos, on va essayer de faire ca prochainement, c’etait juste un peu complique avec le blog bilangue, et donc on a pas reussi de le faire – Dave est toujours en train d’apprendre sur tout ca!

    A bientot!


  17. admin says:

    Merci Rox – et arret de pleurer! C’est bonne!


  18. Toni says:

    Hey guys,

    not much I could add to the comments above: Best of luck, loads of adventures and thanks for keeping us posted! I’m certainly looking forward to reading more about this marvellous project.


  19. KCM in NYC says:

    We eagerly await more details!
    With lots of love.

  20. Greatings from 2 Belgian people ( Bea and Frans) in Gullegem where you’ve been in a smal tent. They thank you for the post card you send a week ago.

    greatings from the neigbours
    Im the leather of a organisation who try tho work for a better world.. Mieke Houthaeve
    I wish you the best days in Africa, good weather and GOOD LUCK!

  21. Pingback: The end? | permacyclists

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