Unbelievably it’s been 12 weeks since I took on the Pure Three Peaks challenge, cycling the 450 miles between and then walking up each of the three highest peaks in the UK. It was a good test and loads of fut but am I ready for the biggest challenge yet?
In November 2017 I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End, 950 miles in 9 days – cycling an average of 109 miles a day. In June I completed the Pure Three Peaks, 450 miles in 3 days, cycling on average 150 miles per day. Next week I am going to attempt to cycle between 5 European Cities in 5 days, nearly 1,000 miles and an average of 190 miles a day.
Am I ready for this test and how am I going to attempt to complete it? Well with very little time left to actually worry about that this blog is an attempt to make some order in all of this and plan for what is coming.
What is the 5 Cities Challenge
Well simply put this is an extension of London to Paris, a ride I’d decided I wanted to do after completing London to Brighton. I then got to thinking about how I’d get home and what Capitals I could hit along the way. And the 5 Cities Challenge was born. As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, I like to push my limits so I decided that 200 miles a day would be a tough challenge, something that would put me on the limit. But how am I actually taking the challenge on?
Route and Itinerary
Monday 17 September – from my home on the edge of the Chilterns I’ll head to Trafalgar Square in London, ticking off the first of the 5 Cities. From here I’ll travel south east out of London to Dover, approximately 75 miles, and a ferry crossing to Calais. Once in France I’ll head south along the coast with the aim for getting another 80 – 100 miles within the day, stopping somewhere between Abbeville and Amiens.
The decision to stop on Day 1 will then influence the rest of the week, but in broad terms I am hoping to complete the challenge thus;
Day 2 – Amiens, Paris & the Eiffel Tower (City no. 2) and through the Champagne region to Epernay
Day 3 – Verdun, Luxembourg’s Main Square (City no. 3), Ettelbruck and Bastogne,
Day 4 – Liege, Maastricht, Brussels and the incredible Attomium sculpture (City no.4) and stopping near Tholen,
Day 5 – From Tholen the last leg will pass under Rotterdam to Utrecht and up finally to Amsterdam, where I will finish in Dam Square (City no. 5).
There is so much to see and places of note to pass through, routing became a pleasant hardship. But for me there were a few must see’s – Paris and cycling down the Champs Elysees, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were first on the list. Similarly, as I am crossing through Belgium and its cycling heart – Bastogne – I thought it would be rude not to experience some of the majesty of a part of the World Tour circuit, albeit I’ll be doing only part of the 2018 Liege-Bastogne-Liege route and in reverse. Even so, that’s going to be the biggest elevation to hit my amateur body!
Equipment and Kit
This is slightly longer challenge than the last, 5 days as opposed to 3, and while wild camping creates some freedom of choice about the mileage and adapting on route, it does add some additional luggage…
Bike and Bags
- Grupetto Italia Mergozzo CL
- Restrap handlebar bag – I’ll use this to hold my sleeping kit, so as to keep it within easy reach as and when I need to pitch up.
- Restrap large frame bag – this bag has two sides, so in one I’ll stash everything I need for fast repairs – inner tubes, levers, puncture spots, mutli-tool and a small personal first aid kit. On the other side will be drinks sachets and more snacks.
- Restrap Seatpost bag (8ltr) – this will carry the items I won’t need during the day, so toiletries, overnight clothes, chargers etc as well as some spares which will be on top and easily accessible.
- Alpkit Rig 3.5 tarp, rope and pegs
- Alpkit Hunka XL bivy
- Alplkit Mountain Ghost 200 sleeping bag
- Alpkit Numo sleeping mat
- Cateye lights (2 x front, 1 x rear)
- Wahoo Elemnt
- GoPro Hero5 Session (Chest and stick mounts)
- General toileteries
- Assos chamois cream
- 2 x 750ml water bottles
- Chargering cables and European adapter
- 20,000mAh portable charger
- EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
- Credit Card
- Mobile Phone
Clothes (on bike)
- MYBIKEANDI Custom Miles for Wishes Jersey
- B’twin sleeveless base layer
- DHB Aeron speed bib shorts
- DHB arm warmers
- DHB leg warmers
- Pongo London cycling socks
- Ridge Supply cycling socks
- Bontrager Specter road shoes
- Velotoze tall shoe covers
- Carnac Notus helmet
- Carnac Equipe cycling glasses
- Altura Peloton Night Vision gillet
- DHB Aeron full protection softshell jacket
- GripGrab fingerless gloves
- Sealskinz Chester gloves
Clothes (off bike)
- Merino wool t-shirt
On Bike food
I’ve you’ve read my previous blogs you may have hear about my genius idea of posting food parcels to my stopping points (Hotels and B&B’s) along the routes. This has ensured I have a good supply of energy rich foods for the next day’s cycling as well as recovery drinks and breakfast items. It requires some planning but it really does work.
However, having said all of that I’m not going to be doing that for this challenge, thereby removing the ‘training wheels’ if you will. I will only carry and stock of emergency food and drink powders to get me by should I find myself stuck without a suitable place to refuel.
I’ve planned the route using the excellent ViewRanger desktop application, from which I can download the route and have on my Wahoo Elemnt for turn by turn navigation. You can explore the route in more detail on ViewRanger here bit.ly/5citieschallenge
ViewRanger also means I have a backup should there be any issues but also means I’m able to use the excellent BeaconBuddy feature. This means you can find and follow mean live during the challenge – you just need to visit bit.ly/whereisguy
Why, for Wishes of course!
As ever this challenge is in order to raise money and awareness of Make-A-Wish UK and the incredible work they do to support children, and their families, living with the challenge of a life threatening illnesses.
I’m hoping to raise £5,000 by the end of 2018, money which will all go towards granting magical wishes for children at a time when they need it most. If you’d like to donate and help me support Make-A-Wish then please head over to my JustGiving Page;