Fabian's charity ride blog
This blog has been compiled by Fabian (and his wife Rosy in support) on their journey and will be extended as the ride progresses.
Day One - Leeds to Hull
High Points: a brilliant send off by my good friends at the Ziff centre -thanks to everyone who turned out on such a miserable morning. Thanks also to the Kosherie for the lovely sandwiches which powered me on across Yorkshire. Then another fantastic farewell at the Islamic centre where so many old friends had assembled to cheer me on my way. I was really pleased by how quickly I got to Selby and delighted by the unexpected loveliness of the ridge of the wolds which I crossed just west of Hull. Alan Johnson MP met me at Hull Library for another little morale boost. Once on board the Hull Rotterdam ferry we watched the sunset over the Humber before a great crossing.
Low points: wet wet wet! Eating sandwiches in Selby drizzle.
Stats: Islamic Centre to Hull 63 miles. Six hours - including breaks.
Fabian is greeted by Alan Johnson MP in Hull before boarding the ferry
Fabian on board the Hull to Rotterdam ferry
Day Two: Rotterdam to Leusden
Much tougher as I got used to my sat nav and the vagaries of the Dutch road sign system!
High Points: Gouda just as pretty as the postcards. Cycled through some lovely gentle countryside on safe, separate cycle roads.
Painfully slow disembarkation process at Rotterdam; getting lost in Utrecht, which has a small kernel of charm surrounded by a great big shell of ugliness; really confusing road signs!
Stats: I was disappointed by how long it took to get to Leusden near Amersfoort - six hours to cover 55 miles - and this should have been my shortest day! Should be simpler tomorrow!
Fabian en route in Holland
Day Three: Leusden to Delden, Netherlands.
Today was everything I'd expected from Holland. A really great day's cycling in every way.
High points : lovely countryside, particularly the forests offering dappled shade.
Break for lunch at beautiful Paleis Het Loo - no time to see it. Rosy gets to do the sightseeing!
Enjoyed chatting to an elderly Dutch cyclist as we rode along. He told me I needed a bell and I can see why. There are huge groups of pensioners, families and young people just tootling along the fantastic network of cycle paths. Rosy says the roads are really quiet and I guess that's why: they're all on their bikes! Delden itself is picture book pretty and prosperous - a nice spot to stay.
Low point: getting stopped by the police. The programmed route on my bike sat nav took me onto a road; unless there's a cycle path marked, using the road is forbidden. But in a way, it was a high point, too. The police were really friendly and helpful.
Stats: 67.6 miles. Average speed 12.5mph. Total climb just 585 feet!
Day Four: Delden to Osnabrück
Fantastic weather: the great thing is, you don't get really hot on a bike - until you stop! Getting really bronzed - sets off the greying beard a treat!
High points: crossing into Germany - borders give you a sense of progress! Lovely countryside dotted with fuzzy-felt farms, all immaculate. Beautiful hill country giving fine views and the thrill of the long down hill stretches in compensation for the climbs.
Low points: losing the sat nav course in the morning. The hills got bigger as I got more tired towards the end of the day. Got lost in Osnabrück. Pleasant, cheap hotel looked out over the apparently deserted British Army barracks and the noise of goods trains
Stats: 66.5 miles
Total ascent: 1500 ft.
Burned 2200 cals! (a good excuse for pizza and beer!)
Fabian having just crossed the border into Germany
Day Five: Osnabrück to Bad Nenndorf
Felt a bit daunted by the prospect of a really long ride on those already sore 'sit-bones', but cheered by the sunshine.
High points: landscape! A wicked frozen yogurt and mango ice-cream in a sleepy town ice-cream parlour like something from the sixties. An hour's break on a beach by the river Weser in Minden.
Low points: being literally led up the garden path by my sat nav route. Some paths were really not suitable for road bikes, and were pretty slow, making it a very long day - and some of the routes were just plain wrong. The lowest point: having to get up off the beach at Minden and do another 25 miles at 6pm! Didn't arrive in Bad Nenndorf until 8.30. Excessively German calorie laden dinner - delicious but guilt inducing!
The highway to Berlin for cyclists - according to Fabian's Sat-Nav!
Stats: 70.3 miles
Total ascent: 1583ft
Day Six: Bad Nenndorf to Helmsted.
High points: lots of contrasts. Some cycle paths led through very rural landscapes, through high, thick forests and across farm tracks for hours at a time, then suddenly into the big city of Hanover with its industries, rail tracks and traffic. I realised today what a great way this is of seeing a country - you get a real sense of its scale. Although the route misses tourist destinations, you get a feel for the life of people in small villages, farms and suburbs. A bit of an urbanite myself, it is interesting to realise how important agriculture still is! Met with Rosy for a picnic in a tiny village churchyard that could have been anywhere in England!
Helmsted is interesting. Doesn't get a look in in the tourist books, but is dominated by an extraordinary 15th/16th C palace now part of the University of Magdeburg. Had a very germanic supper in the pretty (but quiet) town square. Just traces of the old East Germany still about.
Low points: incredibly hot - 35 degrees for much of the day, and very hard to keep properly hydrated over the really big distances. Bike lane shrank to the width of my tire in a forest at one point - I suddenly wondered how anyone would ever find me if I lost a wheel now!
Stats: 62 Miles
Total ascent 1111 feet.
Day Seven: Helmsted to Radewege
The end is coming into sight - just can't quite see it yet! Hard to get going this morning after a slightly disturbed night.
High points - wind turbines! Renewable energy seems to be treated like a cash crop here, with field after field sprouting enormous turbines. They're so big but they don't seem to make a lot of noise, just a pleasant whispering as I ride by. Still, I might not feel so positive if I lived here...
It's great being able to eat what I like when I'm burning up the carbs. As a diabetic, I don't often get to enjoy beer and ice cream (not together), but on this trip I can get away with it. Which is a good thing, as even the smallest village seems to have an eis cafe serving fantastic concoctions.
Had a much needed lunch in a beergarden by the Elbe canal (including beer, even though, the day's ride is not over - it was so hot!)
Some wonderfully long, straight stretches without too many hills. Kept up a pretty good average speed, at times well over 20 miles an hour. The Havel country with its lakes and woods was really lovely.
Low points: Towns round here (the old GDR) still have some pretty rough cobbled streets - not too comfy on the already saddle sore behind! Some quite dismal little places en route. It's interesting to note that not all of Germany looks as if its thriving - some very sad and run down districts, with shabby old brown-brick mills and bahnhofs. Rosy says there are a lot of discount stores - and shops selling diabetic footwear. Maybe I should take that as a warning.
Some nightmare paths today - no fun trying to cycle on sand! Brought down my average speed which was the highest of the whole trip.
Horribly hot and stuffy little guest house smelling of chips and full of insects - but had everything we needed.
Stats: 62 miles covered.
Ascent: 495 feet
Average Speed 13.5 MPH.
Day Eight! Radewege to Berlin
My sense of achievement slightly undermined by the owner of our pension who cheerfully informed me that he often cycled to Norfolk to see his mother in law! Mind you, he was at least twenty years younger than me.
Fabian's moment of achievement - arrival at the famous Brandenburg Gate
High points: arriving at the British Embassy to be met by Simon McDonald, the British Ambassador, and his team. Made it on schedule, at four o'clock, just in time for tea! Rosy, however, got herself lost on the U-bahn, having driven across the country and into the city - and, she wants me to point out, all without a sat nav! Simon's support and encouragement have been brilliant, and he also arranged for me to join the British contingent at an event to mark the opening of the London Olympics. I was invited on to the stage in the old Tempelhof airport to tell the assembled crowd about my trip and about the charities concerned.
Fabian greeted by Stuart McDonald CMG UK ambassador to Germany
Fabian in Berlin with Barbara Harpham Chief Executive of Heart Research UK
Fabian is joined by Richard Helmsley (Chairman) and Barbara Harpham (Chief Executive) of Heart Research UK together with Simon McDonald UK Ambassador
The day ended on a slightly surreal note, watching the Olympic opening ceremony on a huge open air screen as darkness fell over a very hot Berlin. It has been really good to know that everyone has been cheering me on - the tweets, emails and texts which I have had and of course the generous donations have helped to make the whole endeavour feel worthwhile - thanks to all. Special thanks to Rosy for moral support and practical help with a crazy project.
It's a great feeling to have completed my challenge: it is also great to know that I don't have to get back in the saddle tomorrow - and no, I'm not going to cycle home!
Low points: Sat nav directing me into a stable full of horses, then taking me onto the motorway - aaargh!
Stats: 42.5 miles
Average Speed 11.6
Temp: up to 37 degrees!!!