Our favourite intrepid adventurer, Frances, has now had three weeks in the saddle on the way to Mongolia and we feel like it’s high time that we fill you in on how she’s getting on. Having set off from Brussels on Thursday 1st Feb, Frances is making cracking progress and has already reached the Czech Republic. She’s writing her own blog which you can read in full here - we’re all hooked - but we thought we’d also put together a quick summary.
(If you're wondering who on Earth Frances Grier is, check out our interview with her).
Brussels to Frankfurt
30 Jan 2018: Home to Brussels (via Eurostar). Exploring Brussels by bike. 26.2km
31 Jan: Wet day in Brussels. 13.6km
01 Feb: First full day, with Jan. Leaving Brussels, heading east. A bit soggy, very wet overnight. 84.1km
02 Feb: Three countries in a day, still with Jan. Finished in Aachen, Germany. Rained and snowed all day. 74.3km
03 Feb: from Aachen towards Bonn, finishing about 10km before the city. Nice weather for cycling. 74.6km
04 Feb: Bonn, Beethoven’s House and up the Rhine to Koblenz. Rhine flooded in places, increasing snow later on. 91.3km
05 Feb: Koblenz and up the Rhine. Lots and lots of castles. And sunshine! Wanted to get to Mainz but had to take some detours due to flooding and about 10km short. 91.2km
Having been waved off at London’s St Pancras station, Frances hopped on the Eurostar to start her epic quest in the Belgian capital. There Frances met up with fellow cycle tourer, Jan, who would join her for the first few days of cycling. And they were off! Well, they were after a one day rain delay - starting in northern Europe in February has the pitfall of facing its dependably disappointing winter weather but has the benefit of avoiding harsher winters elsewhere.
So, Frances and Jan spent the day loading up on Belgian waffles and chocolates and visiting the Museum of Musical Instruments. And then, they really were off.
The weather was not a vast improvement on the previous day but the pair soldiered on through a wild and windy day and Jan, who had set off in the same direction for a tour to Turkey in the autumn, bestowed all of his touring tips and navigational wisdom on Frances.
After camping on a hill outside of Bonn, Frances headed down into the city to check out Beethoven's birthplace (as well as being an awesome cyclist Frances is also a dab hand with a violin) before cycling onwards.
From Bonn it was onwards up the Rhine, and flooded banks meant wading and slow progress - 20km per hour turned into 1.25km per hour - but Frances and Penelope both made it!
Frankfurt to Nuremberg
Snow! Reaching the Main river brought with it freezing temperatures and things that go bump in the night. After some icy mornings and some worrisome nights with disturbing noises outside of her tent, Frances powered on along a very windy river before deciding to head over a hill and lop a good chunk off.
08 Feb: Frankfurt, wiggling up the Main river south east to just past the first (big) bend at Miltenberg. 106.2km
09 Feb: left Miltenberg and followed the Main to a little beyond Wetheim am Main, then left the river to go due east, arriving in Wurtsburg in the evening. 71km
10 Feb: from Würzburg along the Main to turn south east when it turned north, in the direction of Nuremberg. 90.0km
11 Feb: from 30km NW of Nuremberg to Nuremberg. Cycling into horizontal snow, slowly. Sense of humour failure. Stopped in Nuremberg for the day. 35.9km
12 Feb: sightseeing day in Nuremberg while blizzards pass
Thoroughly soaked and exhausted, Frances and Penelope made it to Nuremberg just in time for Nuremberg's carnival day. Not great for pushing a sodden bike through the streets in search of a warm shower...but perfect for meeting people...and Frances bumped into Ben and Jocelyn! They not only gave Frances a warm shower, bed, and clothes but Ben accompanied Frances for her next few hundred kilometres. Amazing!
Nuremberg to Prague
Heavy snow approaching the Czech border and pedalling through the 1,000km mark. You go, Frances!
13 Feb: from Nuremberg due east, with Ben won I met in Nuremberg. Late lunch in Sulzbach-Rosenberg and overnight in Schaittenbach. 84.9km
14 Feb: from Schaittenbach east to Stribro, still with Ben. Bade farewell to Deutschland and hello to the Czech Republic. Quite a bit of forest tracks and snow covered gravel roads, and 1200m of accent which was a challenge! Long day, finishing after 7pm in darkness. 94.8km
15 Feb: from Stribro to Kařez, about 60km west of Prague, still with Ben from Nuremberg. Broke through the first 1000km! Late start as bike needed quite a bit of attention and because we found a very good bakery for breakfast. Also we got 20m into a field of mud which took 40mins to get back out of and cleaned up and rerouted. 72.6km
16 Feb: left Kařez (a one hotel town) and powered through to Prague for lunchtime. 3in of snow on leaving in the morning, blazing sunshine and a high of +6°C when we arrived in Prague. Traffic ghastly in the city. 58.5km