Cologne at last….


I’m now in Köln, or Cologne, having battled to find wifi anywhere and finally found some in a lovely hotel Villahotel Rheinblick, which I am not staying in. Sigh. Every euro I don’t spend on a warm, friendly wifi having hotel is another euro that goes to the dogs in Bulgaria so most of the time it’s an easy decision to make. But sometimes I really, really want to stop and get into clean white sheets. The last week since leaving Ulm has been one of furious peddling and not much rose smelling. Scout runs along when it’s safe for her to do so but I found myself looking at the speedometer and thinking, sorry, girl, that’s not going to cut it – back in the trailer if we’re going to get over 80km today. It’s not fair on her, and it’s not fair on me. I haven’t stopped for Gelato in days. Yesterday and the day before I ate my midmorning pretzel whilst riding. It’s a ridiculous pressure to be putting myself under and although I enjoy pushing myself and achieving things I realised this isn’t a race. I want to be home. I want to start giving Scout some stability and some routine and some training, I want to not worry about keeping things dry or clean or how much I can afford to spend on coffee and wifi access. I want to get home on Sunday so my friends and family can come and celebrate with me. But I spent a night in a valley with absolutely zero phone or internet reception with one other camper – a Dutch cycle tourist who does around 100km a day for four days and then rests and realised I’d been going for 6 days already with double the weight he’d been carting and averaging 85km and before that I hadn’t had a break in 14 days and basically what the heck was I doing and who was I trying to prove it to?

He had a map – everyone has actual maps and, to be honest, it totally makes sense; they don’t run out of batteries or get confused or rely on phone signal – and he showed me routes he’d taken and whether my projected route into Holland and to the ferry was sensible. We decided it would work, a few hills but nothing like the Schwäbische alps outside Ulm and if I rode 90km a day from now, I’d get there for the Saturday night crossing. It was possible, if I wanted to do it. I decided I did. And then, alone in my tent, I decided I didn’t really. I took it easy in the morning and thanked my friend for his help and advice and told him I was going to extend the trip and try to take my time a little more. He thought it was a very good plan and wished me well. I’ve met so many people and not one person has said, ‘yes, go as quickly as possible through Europe and try not to stop too much,’ so why have I been so intent on doing that? I’m a goal oriented person, and summit fever is definitely a real thing but I’ve given myself a good talking to about journeys and not destinations etc. On my way into Köln I listened to an episode of the Tough Girl Podcast with Kathryn Bertine (@KathrynBertine), road cyclist, activist, and author who talked so brilliantly about rest and recovery and performance (among other awesome things) and I’m not so pigheaded that I’ll ignore that kind of specific advice on my 7th consecutive day of cycling long distance with masses of luggage. I’ve just paid for a second night at my campsite for the first time since Budapest and am taking an actual, honest to god rest day…rain is actually quite a help in achieving this – I got up at 12pm.

Accommodating my friends and family into being there in London when we arrive basically means I’ve got another 10 days to do about 450km. I’m going to have to smell a lot of roses, drink a lot of coffee and savour a lot of moments (ice-cream). Yes it’s getting colder but I’ve got two sleeping bags, a warm dog, friends, family and people I’ve never met spurring me on, stoking that little fire inside me that keeps me going. So I won’t be back this weekend, but I’m aiming comfortably for the 16th and collecting all the memories I can – apparently they don’t weigh anything – bonus!

Days in the sun


18 thoughts on “Cologne at last….”

  1. WOW what an amazing woman you are. I look forward to every write up you do with bated breath as to what your latest shenanigans are going to be. Well done keep going the worst is surely out of the way and home is in sight………

  2. Good for you Kate. You need to enjoy this adventure. You’ve put a lot of pressure on yourself, not wanting to let people down I suspect. But we’re all behind you and you’re doing an amazing job. You get home when you get home , it’s what you are doing not how long it takes. Xx

  3. Memories are the jewels of life.
    So precious, and will shine forever.
    You make sure you enjoy this journey.
    I said before you started that is a journey not a race. Glad you see it as such.
    Make memories, look around. You did this partly so you could see Europe.
    Stop and look at it !
    Getting home safe is the only priority here.
    Doesn’t matter when, or how much is raised.

  4. Best not run yourself to ragged and see what all is out there! Whilest in/around Köln ofcourse try a Kölsch, maybe see the Cologne cathedral? And ofcourse in Holland tons of places to take a peak 🙂 Enjoy!

  5. Bravo you are getting it—rest and relax and enjoy all around you–as I once wrote in a poem to myself===”Stop and be still and listen to the sounds the heart speaks to you”. I bet around the campfire you have had some soul searching insights and reflections on your thoughts. You have grown as a person on this trip and you should be very proud of yourself. Everyone will be awaiting for your grand arrival when you get there. Enjoy every last bit of this epic journey or “adventure” as you call it.

  6. You’re doing amazingly well Kate. We’re all routing for you here in Bulgaria, especially the furry ones! 🐕🐕🐕🐕. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of the journey ❤️

  7. I am just amazed daily at your drive and determination. You are such a strong little lamb. Have as much coffee, pretzels. Ice cream , clean warm bedding you need. You are the priority, you and pupper.

  8. What a great decision you’ve made Kate. London, friends and family will still be there but this trip will be gone in a flash in the big scheme of things. You’ve already proved yourself 100 times over. I’m sure roses smell better when you’re not whizzing by at 20kph!

  9. Well Kate, we totally agree with you, had got caught up in the ‘need to push on and meet that deadline’ but you are right, it is about the journey, and enjoying it so relax and enjoy the rest of this totally amazing journey you are on with Scout, agree to, enjoy more icecreams! Lots of love J & D xxx

  10. Hi Kate see you have raised the total you wanted to raise, what an amazing woman you are and puppy Scout is, cannot express how happy we are for you both, may more be donated so all the good work can carry on for longer, well done fandabidozey! Yeah! What an achievement, life is so special when you make memories like these, J & D xxx 😊🙌🐶🐕🐾

  11. Kate you are an inspiration and hero to me. If I could do even a tiny thing like you are doing it would be amazing. You’ve got the heart and courage of a lion and there is no challenge or goal you can’t make a reality. An angel in earth for us humans and the furry angels too. Stay strong.

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