Author: Chris and Gabs – December 29th, 2018
Cycling for… 200 days
Pedaling over… 4970km
Through… 9 countries
Currently… in Croatia!
Raising so far… £4,239.03
Its been a challenging few months…
Honestly, December has been a very difficult time. The combination of our family leaving, the bad weather and the darkness drawing in so early – we have had a mixture of emotions and doubts. Christmas has been tough. We wondered why we were punishing ourselves, not being able to see our family and living like we have no place to live.
We are very sociable people and have many friends back home. We did lots of outdoor things and made new friends at PBC that we had to say bye to. It been a big change being on the road day after day and only having each other or ourselves to talk to. We cycle all day, camped up at night and rarely have contact with other people. It is difficult to create new friendships as we are not in one place long enough to get to know people. We’ve stayed with some great people and it is always difficult say goodbye. It hits us when we are back on the road, doing what we planned, and back to experiencing all the different challenges of each day.
It is really challenging now because of the weather. Everything in our bags is cold and damp. We are cold and damp. Fires aren’t possible at all camping spots so its next to impossible to dry our clothes out for the next day. The bikes are really heavy, its making each ride really difficult and is putting a big strain on our bikes and also our legs.
When our family left we were a little down and slightly confused with our emotions, so we decided to stay in Pisa for a few days to sort ourselves out – it was time to work out what we needed to do next for our sanity.
The first thing was to try and loose some kg from the bikes as the bikes were holding the weight and we were having to get them repaired in Pisa.
We were then toying with the idea of heading to warmer climates – India or South East Asia and continue the tour from there but that meant getting on a plane. We went to a bike shop and got two very large bike boxes and had to carry them for a mile back to our camp as no taxi could fit them in! We stripped our bikes down with the thought that we would go to Thailand in a couple of days as there were really cheap flight from Pisa. The bike boxes had to weigh 30kg each so we had to abandon a lot of our kit!!
We knew that whatever we ended up doing, or where ever in the world we were, we would not stop flying the flag for PBC. We would never stop trying to raise money for this incredible charity that we feel so passionate towards.
The most challenging part has been…
I decided not to dismantle my bike like Chris as I had a feeling that it wasn’t really what we wanted to do. We get great satisfaction cycling to each country and the feeling of achievement when you arrive is like no other – the wow factor that we cycled all the way from England to this point. Let’s sleep on it I thought… maybe we just needed some time to pull ourselves together.
The next day, after lots and LOTS of talking, we decided we wanted to carry on as planned and not to be too hard on ourselves thinking that we wouldn’t see our family again and all that stuff.
One thing that definitely had to go was Chris’s trailer. We weighed his bike, thinking I would be 100kg or so – it was actually 130kg!! That’s no good for him or the bike so we boxed up and shipped back the trailer and some other items back to the UK.
We are taking on one stage at a time – thinking of the whole world is just to be overwhelming. Feeling happier, lighter and less confused… we were ready to set off and make our way over to Turkey.
Some special highlights this month…
Our friend Sheryl lives in a very small village called Borselli which was over the Consuma Pass. It was a very steap 1000mt climb in the freezing cold to get there but well worth it.
Here we stayed at a very special new hostel – Tosina.
The youth group ‘Gruppo Perche No’, why not in English, have spent many years fund raising and applying for grants so they could restore and save the historical church and monastery, create jobs for themselves and also open up a hostel for travelers like us.
After lots of hard work and determination they had finally opened the hostel just a few weeks before our arrival. We were invited to go with them to receive their award in Florence at the Voluntary Association Awards – the youth group won first prize!
We were very honoured to be part of this day and to meet all the kids involved. We had three great days with Sheryl and her family and experienced an Italian life up in the mountains.
The youth group made us a meal on our first night, we had lunch at the Grandmothers home on Sunday and then pizza night at the village hall with lots of locals. Lots of flyers and wrist bands were handed out that night – everyone in Borselli had a Chris and Gabs World Cycling Tour flyer! We had a lovely time here and met lots of beautiful people.
A huge thank you and big hugs to Sheryl and her family for looking after us.
We will be heading to our second continent (Central Asia). First, we head over to Split from Italy. We then go through Croatia – Bosnia – Montenegro – Albania – Macedonia – Greece – Bulgaria – Turkey.
Once we get to Turkey that’s when we are on a time schedule as we have visas and limited time in each country. We have spent time arranging visas, planning our route and mileage to cross the correct borders in time. We had researched the visa requirements for each country but since we have left the requirements for our next countries have already changed!
The most beautiful area has been…
Something great about cycling the world is that you go through areas you would never see or know about. Umbria was my most beautiful area this month. We really enjoyed our time cycling through this region of Italy. The area comprises of mainly hills, mountains, hallows and plains which extend along the Tibers central basin.
Lake Trasimeno can be found here, central Italy’s largest lake, where we camped for the night.
Everywhere you look there are small medieval villages just perched high up on top of the mountains all with high bell towers and churches – it’s so picturesque.
We stayed a couple of nights in a town called Foligno in the Umbria region of Italy which is a small old medieval town. Wonderful views of the mountains and a great feel and atmosphere. The perfect place to end up after a few wet and cold days. Time to chill out and let the legs recover from the climbs.
The most bizarre experience has been…
We were wild camping by Lago Trasimeno. We got as close to the lake as possible but there was a lot of mud which we noticed had animal footprints in. At first we thought it could be a cow or goat but then we realised we were in the wild boar region. In the night we could hear the wild boars splashing in the lake and snorting around our tent in the night. We stayed very still and quiet but Chris said my snoring kept them away!
Thoughts and feelings?
We know we must stay strong and remember the cold weather will only be for a couple of months. We are excited for Croatia and heading to Turkey as it is a new experience for us. We love what we are doing and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so proud to be cycling for Prevent Breast Cancer and it is wonderful to see all the pioneering research that Prevent Breast Cancer helps to fund.