Friday, 30 June 2006

30 July to 2 August - Frankfort

I spent in Frankfort visiting my friend and her family, fixing up my bicycle and recharging. I replaced my back wheel so that it could support more weight plus I bought two front paniers to distibute the weight that I was carrying better. It was a good place to stop as it allowed me to reassess what I needed and didnt need for the rest of the journey. Plus, it was just nice to relax as I had been hitting the road quite hard and for many kilometers at a time.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

Asten, NL to Dormangen, Germany - 110 k's

Another great day for riding. cool & overcast. rode a long way - 110 k in 11 hours. I had my first flat, but it was solved quickly (ish). I thought that my overall speed would be faster, say 15 to 18 k's an hour, but with all of the breaks (and, yes, getting turned around), it kills my average. the signs are pretty good here, though it does still take some time to make sure that you are going the right
way. i though, somehow, am still on schedule to make it to Frankfort by Sunday or Monday. I have no idea but I guess that it was lucky & a bit of bike sense that I am still on target considering that I lost my first day to circling around Rotterdam and my slow overall pace. now, comes the 'holiday' aspect of this ride for me. for many reasons, I love the Rhein river. again, another high recommendation to anyone who comes to Germany. I lived in Stuttgart, Germany 10 years ago for about a year. I had the great fortune of being able to travel quiet frequently and spend many a
weekend and longer up & down this river. i think that it is beautiful, but I have said that before. so, I plan on spending more time here and staying in more b&bs than camping as there are many small & wonderful villages along the way to Frankfort. I wonder if I spent too little time in NL in order to get here quickly? did I rush a place that I should have spent more time as i am now along the rhein,
where I have spent a lot of time? and because of this, I don't know if I have given the opportunity to speak with people along the way about my ride. so far, it has been pretty lonely and I have not taken much of an opportunity to speak with more people about my ride. I am not just under a week in and have only really had two conversations about this trip. as Bert in Werktendam said that although I am doing it in support of STW, I truly am doing it for myself. I think that this has to be true. i am doing this for myself, to work through my feelings of anger & impotenence about the current crisises around the world. as I have said before, I don't know any
more what else to try. so, I ride. and I hope to meet people along the way who share my views. so far, so good. and even those who I don't speak to about my ride, i have been so very fortunate to meet helpful and wonderful people.
I think that if you put yourself in an exposed position, such as in a bike ride, people will respond and help you out. this has been proven to me from Chelmsford, where I looked sadly pathetic with my broken spokes and dripping in sweat to Bert and his wonderful help with my route. because of my riding, I have met people & seen places that I would have never would have seen if I would have flown. and you know all of this. i guess my point is, whether you cycle or fly, as a traveller,
you have to break out of all of our comfort zones and put ourselves in difficult positions in order to find the best in people. I know that I started out jittery as I always do when beginning a trip such as this but now i am getting more comfortable as a traveller & cyclist. I need to make that gear change and it is rarely, if ever, smooth.
So, what do I do next? how do I engage people when I am travelling on my bicycle? I will slow down and try to break out of my comfort zone and speak to people about my ride. I will put myself in an exposed position and see what happens. but first, the Rhein, the Frankfort then onto the new (for me at least) main river onto which I will turn right and head towards Prague.
I splurge on a b&b (but i DID spend the previous evening in my bivvie bag in the rain) and have a lovely and huge dinner of pizza, salad and a 1/2 of bottle of wine.

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

On my way to Venlo

My hosts sent me off the next day on a wonderful bike route through the villages nearby and on my way to Venlo. It was a perfect day for cycling. It was an easy route in and out of towns. It rained in the morning which was much needed as it cooled everything off and the rest of the day was overcast, which gave much needed releaf to my sunburned body. Yesterday's route was among farmland. Today's among villages, which I so much more prefer. The bike is running great and i am making good time & distance. 121 k's today. Excellent. And i'm not the least bit sore. I could get into Germany tomorrow if I keep up this rate. I am excited to see that I am on the Rhein Route
which must mean that it ends on the most wonderful river in the world, that would be the Rhein.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Ah, what a change a couple of days can make. Yesterday, was another scorcher in the 40's coming out of Rotterdam. But I did what I should have done on Tuesday - cycled into the city and bought a decent map. The best 5 Euros that i have ever spent. I finally got out of the city and made my way South East. I think that i did about 70k's. It was so hot, I was worried about me and the bike. As it was a 'b&b night' after two nights in the woods, I stumbled upon the wonderful, yet somehow'truman-esque' town of Werkendam. I had a great fondue meal and found a lovely penthouse b&b on the top floor of a new block of flats. And after a very cold shower, had a couple
of beers with my hosts. I would highly Recommend this b&b to anyone who stumbles upon this

Sunday, 25 June 2006


I woke up the next morning to dew and heat. Today was going to be hot. I set off according to my map looking for the right bike path. This proved to be more difficult that i imagine. Now, we all know that bad maps means a bad journey, but unfortunately I didn't really realise that I had a bad map until i was well on my way..... Down the wrong path. After too many kilometres of cycling in circles just below rotterdam in 40 degree weather, my patience was well gone. I once again settled
down for the night in the woods close to Rotterdam. Now for those following on the map, you can see that the Hook of Holland is merely 20 k's from Rotterdam. And this is the distance that i covered that day. I cried and I swore a lot, but did not cover much territory. Maybe it was just because it was my first day in Europe and I was just getting used to the layout or maybe because it was hot or most likely it was because i am stubborn and had a crappy map.... Yup,
that's the reason. I have wasted a day of travelling. Nothing good has come from this day...

Saturday, 24 June 2006

Parliament Square

24 July 06
I got out of London successfully with friends gathered at Parliament Square and a hug & handshake from brian haw to sent me off. No warmer parting words from Bob Craig than 'Hackney is THAT way as I apparently set off in the wrong direction. After a grueling trip to Hackney, a quick pause at the town hall to say my goodbyes to Rebecca & Gita and then i was off flag flailing in the wind behind me and stuck in traffic also getting out of London. It is not a pleasant journey getting out of
London to the North. A lot of traffic and nasty roads. and I was on all of them. Epping Forest was an exception as it was a nice cycle ride. I was making my way fine up and out of London and coping my best with A & B roads when, out of Chelmsford I hit a really busy dual highway which is my only way forward. Even hardened by London traffic, this was a challenge for me; and to top it off, I suddenly hear three small bangs from under my saddle. Any well seasoned cyclist would know that that is the sound of spokes breaking, but it took me a while to figure it out. This is also
where i discovered the problem with a flag pole sticking out of your bike when trying to look at your tyres. so, here I was on this freakin' busy road ( on the SIDE of the freakin' busy road, mom & dad), three busted spokes and a suddenly sorry looking flag pole & peace flag. Oh yea, and it must have been topping 40 degrees in the shade.I slowly make my way to my exit and begin the walk to somewhere. Asking along the way for a bike shop and getting negatives as it was a Sunday so no
joy. About a mile after my breakdown, I met a man with a minivan who says that my best chance is to head back to chelmford to catch a train if necessary plus there were many bike shops there that would be open the next day.
I find a b&b and settle in for the evening. I was about 30 k's away from my intended stayover, though i really didnt want to stay in the b&b, but I figured it would be best so i can focus on getting the bike fixed. After a much needed shower, i went down to the pub for a beer where i began to tell my woeful tale to Richard, a local who frequents this very pub. He and I sat and conversed for well over three hours and had many great conversations especially when I told him why I was doing the
bike ride. At first I was a bit hesitant about speaking about it, but then when he reacted positively to my 'ping' for peace and berated me for not going to the demo on Saturday, i knew that we would become fast friends. which we did.
He spoke of his recent 'conversion' to the anti-war movement after serving in the forces years ago. We spoke of his current struggle with his conscious about the ongoing Conflict in the Middle East. We had a wide ranging conversation from war to the UK/US relationship to religion and all of their interconnections.He said that our conversation is a conversation that doesnt take place that often in
Chelmsford, so he was very happy to be having it with me. There isn't much of a anti-war backlash in town, and he has few if any people to speak about his concerns to. I gave him some of my leaflets for the 23rd Sept demo and he promised to hand them out to his friends to see if he can get any of them to come up to Manchester.
Coming out of london and surrounded by the people with whom i associate, I can't imagine what he was going through as far as being alone in his feelings about the current state of affairs. He was just so happy to have this conversation. And I too was pleased to meet someone like him in this town. In my biased point of view, I never would have thought that I would be having this intense and deep conversation rather I thought that if I did have one it would just be skimming the surface and not
delving too deep to have a 'real' conversation about the war and its fallout.
The next morning, as the gods were looking favourably upon me, I got the bike into the shop by 9.30am and had it fixed by 2pm. I unloaded alot of my 'unnecessary' luggage upon richard who gave me a bivvie bag in exchange for my sleeping bag & tent which was too big now for my ride. I must have gotten rid of a 1/3 of my things in order to lighten my load. So, for many reasons, meeting richard was good for the soul & the pocketbook as I would have had to either give these things up or mail them home, neither a good option. But, as i am sure that he & i will cross paths
again many times, I know my things are in safe hands. As I was close to Harwich, about 40 miles, and I had to make my ferry because of my reservation, I took the safe option of training to the port. I admit that i was also feeling a bit gun-shy about getting back on my bike after the problems with the spokes. So i needed to quickly get over that. The ferry ride began to get me excited again about getting back on the bike. It was a beautiful trip. I arrived at 1am at the port in NL. Em, now What????? I looked for signs to Prague, but found none so I settled on going East. I travelled about 30 minutes in the dark & fog, but decided it would be better to wait for light. So i found a comfortable spot on the bike path and settled in for the night. The bivvie bag was great - a quick and easy alternative to a tent. Within 20 minutes, i was asleep.

Friday, 23 June 2006

'Ping' for Peace - Solo Bicycle Ride Across Western Europe to Stop “The War on Terror”

On the 23rd of July 2006, US born peace activist Matthew Hahn will set out on a three week bicycle ride from London to Prague in protest against George W. Bush & Tony Blair's 'WAR ON TERROR'.
He will set off on the 23rd at 11.30am from Parliament Square in Central London and cycle through Belgium, Germany, and into Czech Republic meeting with other peace organisations along the way to invite them to “'Ping' for Peace” by handing out bicycle bells. He will end his journey in Wenceslas Square in Prague where he will meet up with fellow activists from Hnuti DUHA, a Czech Peace Organisation. He hopes to raise awareness of the growing movement against further aggression by the US and UK and to promote peaceful rather than military options.

“I am cycling to Prague as a protest against this 'War on Terror' madness that is currently being propagated by our leaders. I have tried asking for peace. I have tried petitioning for peace. I have tried of demonstrating for peace,” Matthew says. ‘’I feel our leaders have driven me to this ludicrous position because the sane arguments for peace do not seem to be working.

“Wenceslas Square is my destination because it is the home of the Velvet Revolution. I believe that my country & the UK could use one of those now: a peaceful revolution from the people to end this madness. My “'Ping' for Peace” bicycle ride is ridiculous and I admit it, but what our leaders are doing is repulsive. I have run out of other options. I am matching our governments' lunacy with some lunacy of my own.”

Matthew, a theatre director and lecturer in performing arts in London, has been active in the anti-war movement in the UK since arriving in September 2001 at the start of the 'War on Terror.'

''What our two governments have done in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world hasn't made us any safer -- and it killed too many people without reason. Two more nuclear powers in the world since their 'War on Terror' began? How
is THAT making us safer? Our leaders now want to do more of the same by threatening and posturing towards North Korea and Iran. All of this appalls me.

‘They need to LISTEN to the people's demand for careful diplomacy. Or they need to be ready for a Velvet Revolution.''

Matthew asks for people to join him on the 23rd at Victoria Tower Gardens at 11am with all types of bells & other noise-makers to see him off. He will also be charting his trip though blogs on his theatre company's website,
Matthew's ride is organized in partnership with the Brent Stop the War Coalition. Other supporters include Half-Pipe Cycle Shop, the Park Road Pilot, & theatre503.
For more information, please visit , email Matthew at or call 07968 66 6521.