I’ve had itchy pedals since I got back from the Alps in the summer. After five days of riding across Belgium and France (and a tiny bit of Switzerland) I was ready to move on after as many days in Morzine. I wasn’t ready to come home but I felt the need to get moving again. As soon as I was home, before the bike was unpacked, I was thinking ‘where next?’ After checking how much annual leave I had left and my diary I drafted a plan and booked a week off in October. The idea for the riding to Copenhagen wasn’t completely new, it had been one of the options for after watching the start of the Transcontinental until the offer of the apartment in Morzine came my way. Two friends of mine did something similar a couple of years ago, but London to Copenhagen via Hook of Holland, something to do with Rapha and the Nocturnes. That sowed a seed. (Copenhagen to Nordkapp is also something that has been floating around my head for a while, but that’s for another time. Maybe.) A friend of mine once lived in Copenhagen on Nyhavn. The ferry port nearest to Brighton is Newhaven. Newhaven to Nyhavn had a nice ring to it.
As soon as I had booked the ferry and a flight I got a cold. Then stupidly did a couple of rides, including a 200km audax, before I was fully recovered which resulted in prolonging the cold and a general feeling of lingering fatique. For all of September. The usual ‘what if I can’t do this, what is something breaks, oh well it doesn’t matter, it’ll be fine’ thoughts escalated into ‘I can’t do this, I really can’t do this’. I’ve barely ridden a bike since the Hailsham 600 attempt (relatively speaking, I realise a 200km audax isn’t entirely consistent with “I’ve hardly ridden”) and it’s only been this last week I haven’t felt utterly useless and tired on a bike. It’s been worrying to say the least. I’ve had more than one anxiety dream. I only had one anxiety dream before the Transcontinental, nothing major, just that my socks didn’t match. OK, mismatching socks is pretty high up on the disaster list. However the Transcontinental was a much bigger undertaking and all new. I’ve done this a few times now, I know I can do it. If things don’t go to plan I look for a hotel earlier in the day or a train station. Worse case scenario is I turn round and come home early. It’s not that difficult. The ride down France at Easter was an example of having to reconsider and change plans on the road. In fact all the trips this year – France, Dolomites, Flanders to the Alps, even the Hailsham 600 – have all involved changing and adapting plans on the road.
Deep down I know I can do this but I am panicked by the thought of riding 1300km in six days. It will be fine. It’s not setting off to ride around the world. It’s a week in northern Europe. Across some of the most cycle friendly countries in the world. With shops. And hotels. It’s just riding a bike. I know how to do that. Pedal. Keep pedalling. Still, I am expecting something to go properly wrong. I leave in two days. We’ll see what happens.