Howdy folks … I have finally made it to England! Due to a particularly pleasant detour, I first travelled from Berlin to Switzerland by train, having to change a whopping nine times. Trip time totalled about 16 hrs. Transportation wise, it did not get a whole lot better after that – the airport authority at Geneva did not like the way I had wrapped my bike in cardboard and refused to take it through their x-ray machine because apparently it was a little too big. As a result, I had to haul the box (weighing in at 30 kgs) through most of Terminal 1 to the other large luggage station where I was told they could help me repack the bike. I want to thank the guy at the large baggage desk who gave me hand in opening up the package, disassembling the bike as much as possible and wrapping everything up again in a matter of just minutes … without him I am quite certain I would have missed my flight. The next challenge consisted in crossing the border into the UK. The immigration officer kindly let me know that there was a problem with my ID and after going into some back room for a while told me that apparently I had reported it stolen at some point (which I had totally forgot) and that she had to send it back to Germany. She was kind enough to let me enter her country and to provide me with a photocopy of my documentation so I am positive I will be able to cross the North Sea into the Netherlands in a couple of days.
But it was well worth all the trouble! When I finally stepped out of airport shuttle bus only to see a grinning Ben donning his most fancy cycling cap, I was overtaken by sheer joy as we bromantically shared the task of carrying the bike carton to his place. We spent the next few hours preparing our steeds for the way, having to do some rather extensive tweaking as both our bikes operate at minimum tire clearance. The results are, as always, aesthetically convincing and functionally doubtful. With one little exception… I finally managed to wrap the Nishiki’s handlebar with the brown tape I bought and I am not entirely convinced, to say the least. The shade of brown is way too light and it has a weird leopardskin pattern which adds a 70’s soft porn casting couch look to the bike. Normally I would shellac the hell outta it to make it look nicer but for now I just hope that it will quickly get a lot darker with use.
After weeks of heavy rain, the weather has gotten a little better so hopefully we will not have to use oxygen tanks to breathe in the rain. The last few challenges we are facing before starting our journey include getting decent bike maps for Britain, finding a camera solution and a place to sleep for tonight. Let’s see if we tackle these tasks before departure or on the road.