I immediately regret this decision…

…to cycle to my year abroad….

I knew there might be some problems along the way, but I honestly have to say I didn’t expect them to start while still in Essex. However, once again (as with another cycle trip to the Netherlands a year ago) the most difficult and dangerous part of my journey (touch wood!) proves to be the 20-mile journey from my home in Colchester to the port of Harwich. Last year, a friend and I ended up cycling the last part of the journey on the main road, quivering at the side of what is, essentially, a motorway, as giant freight lorries also bound for the same ferry zoomed past us. Determined to avoid this happening again, I had printed off a map this time, which unfortunately still didn’t stop me getting lost and panicking about missing the boat (again). Here’s where I made the (with hindsight) incredibly stupid decision to walk my bike along the edge of a field next to the main road, hoping to hop back on once I reached the upcoming turnoff to a quieter road in a mile or so…

A few days ago I had posted in the Facebook group for the ELAs (English language assistants) in Germany this coming year, explaining my mad decision to cycle to my placement and asking if anyone else was traveling by more interesting means, or coming to Germany via another country, rather than just going straight from the UK. I was promptly and succinctly met by the comment of ‘LAD’ by one hilarious group member, which I shrugged off at the time as ridiculous, being about as far from your typical ‘lad’ as feasibly possible…. However, while sheltering under a motorway bridge, trying to rip off my back mudguard, which had buckled after dragging my bike (luggage and all) through a ditch between waterlogged fields, stupid vegetarian shoes soaked through and legs scratched all over by brambles, I did feel like quite the idiot young lad who hadn’t really thought this whole thing through….

After lots of cursing and having to competely unload all my gear to take the back wheel off, and the fastest bit of bike repair you ever did see (nothing like a race against time when you haven’t even got the right size spanner on you) I was back on the road, for a very short while on quieter ones, until the fear of missing my ferry led me to rejoin the busy, direct road to Harwich. (You can imagine how much I’m kicking myself, after all that…) Luckily, since I was really racing to make it to check-in this time, by this point not too many freight lorries were still going past, but I couldn’t help feeling that only British politeness and foreign freight drivers not knowing the rules of the road prevented me from being honked at the entire way…

18 hours or so onboard, most of them asleep, the rest people-watching. A very interesting bunch, those still taking ferries these days. Anyway, we arrive in a few hours. No more cycling today, as I’m staying in Esbjerg tonight with a Couchsurfing host- probably for the best, time to inspect the damage inflicted just by leaving Britain…

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