Freewheelin’ around Europe
Over the course of a two-month sabbatical in Europe, LDA Design’s Sam Hammersley covered more than 4,000 kilometres and climbed 31,000 metres – three and a half times the height of Everest. But, not everything went according to plan …
Towards the end of university a friend of mine, Jacob, proposed the idea of cycling across Europe, and I quickly agreed. We planned a route that would take us from Hades Cave in the south of Greece to the northernmost point of Norway.
By the time we set off I had joined LDA Design and was incredibly lucky to be able to take a sabbatical to complete the trip. In April, Jacob and I set off on our adventure. As with all great adventures it didn’t quite go to plan…
Our initial idea to begin at the most southerly point in Greece was hampered by how difficult it was to get there on public transport with bikes. In the end we made our way from Athens to Corinth and set out riding along the gulf. Over the next two and a bit months, we covered over 4,000km and climbed 31,000 metres – three and a half times the height of Everest. A feat made more impressive by the 20 odd kilos of kit we had attached to the bikes. Needless to say there were points where we had to get off and push.
From Greece, we wound our way up through Europe, crossing into Albania and then travelling up through Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina (albeit briefly), Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark.
The trip was eye-opening in many ways, and between the two of us we consumed more pasta than a small Italian province! What struck me most was the attitude of the people we encountered along the way. They were often excited to hear our story (usually once they’d overcome the initial shock of what we were attempting) and help us where they could. We had many locals offer us assistance when we were sat on the side of the road fixing the numerous punctures that plagued us throughout the trip.
By the time we reached Copenhagen, our long days on the bike went by effortlessly. The persistently wet spring weather was our biggest and only problem. At this point Jacob was suffering from an ongoing injury and chose to retire. Optimistically, I decided to alter the route and head to Norway via Stockholm. After two months cycling as a pair, riding solo wasn’t quite as fun and in the end I chose to finish in Sweden and leave Norway for another adventure.
It turns out there is more truth in the phrase ‘adventures are about the journey’ than we expected. We both came home with a wealth of experiences and stories we couldn’t have gained any other way.
Header image: Jacob and Sam after a massive day of climbing up the Vrsic Pass in Slovenia. Freezing despite the sun on the descent, then another big climb towards Austria. Photos by Sam Hammersley