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I spent a lovely week in Barcelona getting know my little niece Emilia. She’s lovely, a little angel, and I had a great week getting to know her in person. She really likes bouncing and swinging in her bouncy swingy thing. She is trying solid foods now, many for the first time, and her reactions to salmon, avocado, cooked pear and white fish, seem to indicate that she has working taste buds.

Then I cycled over the Pyrenees via Puigcerda, camping at about 1700m with temperature dropping below -5 at night. Brrr. Then down towards Toulouse. In Toulouse I thought about just getting a train. There were a few little irritating things wrong with the bike (chain and brakes) and a few things wrong with me (cold and sore knee). And the weather was lousy. But after I'd polished off a croissant and a coffee, and warmed up a tad, I fancied taking a look at the canal path. I followed for the next two days.

With running repairs my bike was in reasonable shape, and my knee and runny nose improved too. I continued up through france. I struck a route taking pretty much straight line. There are loads of quiet roads and at one point I followed a great marked cycle route that I stumbled across. I wild camped all except one night. Mainly in picnic areas, laybys, in woods or in fields.

In Tours I realised I was running out of time. In fact I had somehow forgotten a whole day. So I hopped on a train and nailed it to Caen in time to catch the overnight ferry to Portsmouth. I met up with a group of mates for breakfast and we all cycled up to Hambledon to my Mum's house.

We celebrated with a beer and I took a much overdue shower!


So that's it for this bike ride! A life-long ambition fulfilled. I thought I might write a post linking back to some of the highlights (so stay tuned...) but perhaps this is a good chance to say a few thank you.

I never would have fulfilled a dream if I hadn't of had it in the first place. So firstly I must say THANKS to Mum and Dad who always encouraged me to dream big ideas, to be open-minded, determined and, with all the stories, gave me insatiable wanderlust. When Dad died, one of the reminders was that life is short and you must take your opportunities when you get them. That was maybe the spur that really got the trip under way.

Next, thanks to my sisters Penny and Caroline and Ben, my brother. They were all really supportive and helpful

Ben: Thanks for helping to put Mum at ease when I first broached the idea. And thanks for the camera and all the enthusiasm about getting good photos.

Caroline & Alejandro: Thanks for making me an Uncle and a Guardian, and thanks for all the help along the way, and when I was planning.

Penny: Thanks for opening my letters, sorting out banks, and being "HQ", thankfully I didn't have to turn to you for too much emergency help but it was fantastic peace of mind knowing you were there to help if it all went tits-up.

Many thanks to everyone who cycled with me. Especially...
Russ: Wish you'd been there the whole way, man. Thanks for joining me, being a delivery service, for great conversations, ipod filling, pizzas, and inspiration.

Also, "Rocket Scientist" Mike, "Bullshit" Brett, "Iron" Mike, Monika and Thorsten, "Bird Shit" Chris, M,J&C the "Plastic Sheet" Chileans, Ray "El Chino", "Bus Stop" Frank, and "1000 Mile Stare" Dot.

Also my friends at Sacred Suenos and everyone I met out and about...

All my climbing and hill walking and tour group companions, particularly>>>>> Ashley, Sam, Dave P, Dean, The Hyuana Potosi Gang, the Villaricca Girls, Los Llanos Gang, Maricabo german girls and and guides...

Thank you to the musicians who I recorded along the way, particularly Nick, Carlos and El Camino.

Thanks to the many many people who gave me a place to stay or food. Especially Josmir, Sergio, the Casa de Ciclista people. S&K and the warmshower and couchsurfing people. Flacco, Jordan and other equally generous Colombians.

Thanks to everyone who supported me and kept in touch via email, phone, facebook, etc. Thanks for all the comments on my website and on facebook, especially thanks to my CAAC friends.

Thank you to Chas Roberts for my fantastic bike, stanfords, edinburgh bike coop and crosso for sponsoring me with great quality maps and equipment.

And everyone else I have forgotten, sorry...if you fancy donating a few quid to the Mother's Union please do, I will leave the donation thingamy up there.

What a great trip, eh?!

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