Elite Search for a Star winner Gurinder Singh isn’t the kind of guy to shy away from a challenge. The kind of bloke that does something because it’s there or because he wants to see if he can. After a quiet few months with things to sort out at home and two painful knees, Gurinder is now embarking on a one-man, unaided tour of Europe. Armed with nothing but his bike and the basics he needs to survive (and a few quid to pay for the odd hostel and some grub) he set off last Friday to make his way to Portsmouth dock. Here’s the story so far (further instalments to follow!).
The UK Leg from 11 May 2018
Day One – started with a gentle 53 miles from Coventry to Oxford. On day two I decided to have a rest day which might seem a bit early but having had problems with my knees over the past few months, I thought I’d take it steady until I know how much pressure I can put my body under.
The stay in Oxford was in a crowded hostel. Over the next two days I’ll be taking it steady again to get to Portsmouth port.
Day Three – I managed to cycle 34 miles and then camped in the wilds of Oxfordshire. Problem is now that my clothes are damp and I need to find some breakfast!
Day Four – I manage to find a place to camp just 20 miles from Portsmouth, however, I’m not afraid to say, all the weird animal noises kept me awake and it got scary! So at 10pm, I chickened out and decided to find a hotel!
However, getting out of a woodland in the dark proved quite difficult and by the time I found the road, I had to climb a 10 meter embankment.Que, the first disaster! All of my luggage fell off my bike which
got damaged when one of the bungee cords got wrapped around the rear gears and I had to use my survival knife to release the bike but thankfully it was still working okay.
The rest of the night was spent sorting my gear and cleaning my bike. I managed to get breakfast at a local hotel and despite having almost no sleep, I Managed to cycle to Portsmouth but had to spend a bit of cash on a few cycle repairs but I made it to the port on time.
Day Six – I’ve finally made it to Spain! I”ll be cycling to Bilboa over the next two days covering 80 miles in total, then it will be time for a rest before starting off to Barcelona.
The ferry arrived late in Santander and it was about 10pm before I arrived in the city. It’s been a mixed reaction from the locals – some are really helpful and give you directions whilst others are not so approachable. I managed to build my camp behind a church last night on a wooden bench in a football stadium! After about 4 hours sleep, I started cycling at 6am to Bilboa and hopefully I will get there today.
Day Seven – Arrived in Bilboa last night and found hostel accomodation. I’ve cycled 62 miles but it feels like 600! The mountain roads are beautiful but are a killer on my poor knees so I plan to rest for two days. I’d like to take in some sights but I need to reduce the weight of my gear on the bike and map my way to Barcelona which all take effort when my body just wants to rest. The locals are lovely!
Day Eight-Having rested for a few days I need to move on – my knees are okay but there is no cheap accomodation for 180 miles so the next few days will be a real physical and mental test for me. I’m alone and covering 45 miles each day with little sleep. Little things mean so much at the moment, be it free food, conversations, being pain free. Medicine is expensive here and costs about 23 euro for over the counter pain killers.
Day Nine – More mountains! Again, beautiful, stunning scenery but my knees do not appreciate it! I found an old farm road and managed to set up camp there and had a great nights sleep despite my sleeping bag getting wet!
By midday right knee was fine but the left felt quite wobbly, normally, I would stop but I was in mid-Spain, quite a different landscape.
Some of the towns were wonderful with food, drink,singing, dancing but others were rather off the map and desolate. Finding food in the outback (yes, there is an outback here!) is difficult. Two days of non-stop cycling have taken their toll. I was going to ride to Zogonza which would take four days but I’m now going to try doing it in three. A lack of sleep plus no food means it will be tough. I’ve set myself three goals:
- Break my best personal tour record of 565 miles
- Reach Barcelona
- I’m keeping this one to myself for now!
The city I’m aiming for now has lots of resources and cheap accomodation, I’m planning to rest there for three days before making the final push to Barcelona, no matter what!
I have some friends who live in Barcelona so I can stay there for a week to fully recover and then think about the rest of the trip.
Tomorrow I”l cycle 75 miles, I’m glad to have the mountains and outback behind me. It’s just a straight road today and a day of painful knees …
That’s all for now but I’ll keep everyone posted on the next few legs of my tour.