As Virgin Atlantic flight VS251 from Shanghai touched down at London Heathrow, we both knew that there was less than a days worth of pedalling to do before our trip would be really over. It was a time of mixed emotions, sad that our trip was very nearly over, happy that we would reunited with friends and family, relieved to be avoiding horrendous weather but nervous about our reintegration back into society.
Our biggest navigational challenge was getting out of Heathrow, it was as though we’d been kidnapped, blindfolded and dumped in the middle of an airport, we knew we were at Heathrow but where in it’s 3000 acres were we? Unfortunately we didn’t have any maps so the only solution was to follow bus #3 which we’d been told went past our overnight hotel. Cycling away from Heathrow sounds like a ridiculous idea but it was actually a pleasant ride. The following day we used a short road section before joining the Grand Union Canal, using the towpath and a cycleway for most of the day, all the way to Redbourn. We even found a pub for a lunchtime Pie & Pint. Eight months is a long time to be away from Cider (Rebecca) and Bitter (Tim), they still tasted just as we remembered. Heaven!
A Barge provides mid-ride nutrition (Sweeties)
As we cycled towards Redbourn we retraced some of our tracks from the first day of our trip, knowing that the last time we passed this field, this tree, that house, we were about to set off on the biggest trip of our lives. And now with every pedal stroke we passed these landmarks once again and rolled closer towards the end of our trip. Arriving at Rebecca’s parents, it was so lovely to see their friendly faces once again, with hugs and kisses it was relief all round to ‘have made it’!
End of trip and still smiling!
After spending many hours in the saddle, imagining what it would be like to be at home, the time had come to be reunited with our families and how wonderful it was! With so much chatter and excitement, the quiet remoteness of the Tibetan Plateau could not have been further away. We spent a week relaxing, acclimatising and visiting friends, then it was a bike-train-bike ride North to our own home village. We were greeted by Tim’s parents with relieved faces (both sides), more hugs and kisses, and it was time for a second homecoming! As the English weather turned to winter, we gazed out of the windows, relieved to be out of the weather but sad that that the adventure was over. Now that the bikes, the gear and ourselves were back where we had started, we really had finished the ride.
We couldn’t have done the trip without the support of our families, so a big thanks to them and also to our friends who assisted us in so many ways; advice, help, European parts deliveries plus moral support on email and via Facebook. We were fortunate to meet many friendly local people along our trip, learn about their cultures and experience their way of life. We also met many other cyclists and will hopefully meet some of them again one day! Some of them are still going, so good luck to those still out there and here are links to some of their blogs:
Baptiste – our riding partner for most of Turkey
Frank- doing a ‘lap’ to start his retirement
Marica – also see her awsome photos on Facebook.
V and J – we bumped into this couple in Turkey
Anina and Paul – on honeymoon to New Zealand
Raz.. now cycling after after walking to Istanbul!
Nuno and Joana – for the Karakoram Highway
Stephane – crazy enthusiastic French dude!
Ollie and Anna – cycling away from New Zealand
Daniel – best beard of the trip!
So that’s us signing off, apart from the final video of our ride across China, which will hopefully get posted as soon as we get round to it (!) Thanks for reading!
Tim and Rebecca xxx