I think I’m just in time for the party with my Friendly Friday challenge hosted by The Sandy Chronicles and Something to Ponder About. When my friend Michele, who is a blogger herself, told me about this road trip challenge, I just knew I had to take part.
I have written about our plans in the past, but it is the perfect opportunity to share our cycling road trip plans again, especially since we have been joined by new followers recently.
For those who wish to read about the different ‘stages’ in more detail, I will include the links at the end of the post.
Stage 1 – The Nordic Countries
This August, two years and five months since my womb cancer diagnosis, my partner Justin and I will cycle about 5,50o kilometres across Europe from the northern most to the southernmost point. The ride will begin in Nord Cape in Norway and end in Punta de Tarifa in Spain.
The first part takes us through the Nordic countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. We will cycle through the north of Norway and into Finland where we will ride through the whole country from top to bottom. I’m originally from Finland and cycling through the whole country on our road trip, is the perfect opportunity to show Justin the country.
On route we will stop at my parents, in my hometown Raahe and at my sister’s summer cottage in Inkoo. We’ll be
sleeping in a tent for most of the journey, so these will be welcome opportunities to sleep in a proper bed. And to have a sauna, of course. A little interesting fact: there are 3.3 million saunas in Finland compared to the population of 5.3 million.
What can I say? We love a sauna!
From Finland we’ll get the ferry over to Sweden, cycle through the south of the country before crossing into Denmark. We plan to stop in Copenhagen for a couple of nights as we have heard so much about the city and want to explore it.
Stage 2 – Germany and France
After Denmark, we leave the Nordic countries behind and enter Germany. Now, there would be a more direct route than what we are taking, but we really want to stop in Berlin.
Neither of us has been to Berlin and we cannot wait to explore the city. On our must see list are The Berlin Wall, of course, but also Checkpoint Charlie and East Side Gallery. Justin, who grew up attending illegal raves (clearly he’s the more rebellious of us two), is also looking forward to a night out in Berlin.
After Berlin, we head west and towards France. In France, we will have a free bed for a night or two at our friends’ place in Colmar. From there we will most likely head south along the French border. However, doing another detour, this time to visit Paris, has not been outruled. A lot will depend on how we are doing for time by that point of the journey.
Unfortunely, Britain’s exit from EU puts a time limit on how long we can take. I can take as long as I like because I have a Finnish passport, but Justin can only spend 90 days within a 180 day period in EU/ Schengen countries. So whereas before Brexit we could have taken as long as we liked (finances allowing), we now need to complete it withing a 90-day timeframe.
Stage 3 – Spain
The last country on our road trop is Spain. We have debated whether to head to Madrid or Barcelona, but we are in favour of Barcelona and the coastal route.
By this point we have cycled inland for hundreds of miles so we feel it will be refreshing to cycle along the coast for a change. It also means we can stop in Barcelona for a few days. Our last city stop on the road trip.
When we leave Barcelona, it might feel like we’re nearly there and in the grand scheme of things, we are. However, we still another 1,132.8 kilometres ahead us before we reach our goal Punta de Tarifa.
Many experienced cyclists take just over two months to complete the ride. We obviously need to complete it before the 90 days are up.
Why we are riding across Europe?
I mentioned earlier my womb cancer diagnosis. That was in March 2019. By the time I got diagnosed the cancer was at stage 3C. This meant it had spread to nearby lymph nodes. To treat it, I had to have a radical hysterectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Thankfully, the treatments worked and I have been cancer free since October 2019. I had my chemo- and radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital. I couldn’t have asked for better and more dedicated people to look after me.
They were inredible and it is thanks to their knowledge that I am still here. They also carry out reserach into more efficient ways of treating and diagnosing cancer. Vital reserach that benefits people affected by cancer worldwide. With our ride, we want to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the vital work the hospital does.
We also want to raise awareness of womb cancer and Lynch syndrome.
Womb cancer is very treatable when diagnosed at an early stage. At stage one, the survival percentage is 95%. It droppes to around 50% for stage 3. I wasn’t aware of the symptoms and dismissed them as pre-menopausal changes. By the time I got my diagnosis, the cancer had already spread outside the womb.
I want more women – of all ages – to know the symptoms of womb cancer and seek medical advice if there are ANY changes to their periods.
Early diagnosis saves lives!
Lynch syndrome is a genetic mutation that I learnt I have following the womb cancer diagnosis. Carriers of the mutation have a higher risk of developing certain cancers including womb and colorectal cancers. Scientist estimate 1 in 300 people have it, but only 5% know they have it. Knowing if you carry the gene can make a huge difference as carriers get colonoscopies to detect early changes and can opt for a preventative hysterectomy.
With more and more people getting vaccinated and many countries opening their borders, we are keeping everything crossed that our cycling road trip can go ahead as planned. However, we do have a plan B up our sleeve.
Below are the links to the route in more detail.
Germany – The Bike Ride Continues into Germany
The Nordic Countries – Cycling Through The Nordic Countries
Thank you for being here and reading the post.
Until next time!
To help us raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and to spread awareness of Lynch syndrome and womb cancer, you can:
- Like and comment on the post.
- Help spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers on social media.
- Make a donation to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, see our fundraising page.