It’s day 3 and I’ve woken up in a nice warm bed, had a nice breakfast and my photo taken by a photographer. How did I end up here when I’m supposed to be sleeping in ditches and cow fields?
Well, before leaving I thought I would be able to cycle to Dover in a day. 8 hours, I said. What could be easier, I said. How wrong I was.
My dad surprised me on the day I left. He came back from work, cycling stuff all ready to go and announced that he would be joining me for the first day. It was a huge relief to be honest as I wasn’t sure of the best route to take out of London and it was also nice not to leave the house alone.
My brother Sam also surprised everyone when he came downstairs with his bags packed and said he was coming along too. We caught a glimpse of a sleeping bag and what looked suspiciously like a passport in amongst his things. Soon (about 4 hours after my intended leaving time) we were off.
The adventure had begun.
Getting out of London I realised two things. First, I realised that this was really happening. After months of preparation, planning, talk and imagining, it was all actually happening. I had left, I was leaving, it’s real. The realisation was very exciting and very scary. I thought as I was waved off by some old colleagues on my road that I wouldn’t be back on this street for some time.
The second thing I realised is that hills are hard. Very hard. I accepted pretty quickly that we weren’t going to make it to Dover in a day. The bike, fully loaded with five panniers and another large bag, is very heavy and my fitness after three months of eating everything I could find and doing no exercise was terrible.
We made it about 41 miles before it started to get dark and dad found a pub. The people in the Old Plantation, in Bearstead, were great. Mum drove out to meet us and we had some lovely food and they offered us a spot in their beer garden to pitch our tent.
After dinner and having pitched our tent, Sam and I said a final farewell to our parents and set down for the night. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Sam, a little cramped and with my snoring to deal with, didn’t have such a peaceful nights sleep.
The next day we set off and cycled together in the rain along the A20 and an old road and gravel path called Pilgrims Way. It was tough and hilly and we managed to get a little lost around Arlington but eventually got to Folkstone where an old friend, Chandon, had offered us a hot dinner and a place to stay with his fiancé’s mother, Lynne Beaumont.
Lynne is involved with lots of charity projects and has lots of connections with the local media. She has managed to get some newspaper and radio stations interested in the trip and have arranged to do some interviews. I’ve just spoken to a reporter from the Folkstone Herald and should be hearing from BBC Radio Kent and the radio station Academy FM soon. Its very exciting.
Time to go. Off to Dover and then to France. Our first country.
Hope for Children is a great charity supporting children across the world. Please support my trip by supporting them. Text ‘JJVW50 £5/£10’ to donate via text or visit my JustGiving page here.