Day 1 – Norfolk to Harwich and the ferry

So it was an early morning, not only did I have to get the bike sorted out and loaded up I had to finish some work. The plan was to meet up with Paul and Roy at Cambridge Services around 13:00 which meant leaving around 11:00 to 11:15. Once I finished my work, I got the gear together and went to get the bike out the front of the house. This turned into a bit of a nightmare as it became stuck with the front wheel jammed between a slab and a fence!  After much tugging and heaving, which included scraping the exhaust on the brick wall, I managed to get the bike out of the gap with my partner Caroline helping pull from behind. By now I had gone from calm organised Chris to sweaty slightly fed up Chris who was now starting to look like he was going to be late leaving.

I couldn’t put the panniers and luggage on until the bike was out the front, there simply was no way to get the bike through with it on so I had to spend another 15 minutes loading the luggage onto the bike and frantically working out how to fix the tank bag in such a way that it didn’t hang off the side of the tank! Thanks to a couple of bungee cords that was resolved and the bag sat proudly and secure.

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I finished getting my bike gear on, I was sweating like a pig in a sauna by now. The jackets and trousers had thermal lining zipped in as the weather was likely to get pretty chilly over the next week as we rode north. I said goodbye to Caroline, climbed on the bike then I twisted the throttle leaving Heacham behind me.

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As I rode out of the village I felt a whole mix of emotions, this was a big undertaking and something I’d never imagined doing in my life. I felt sad I would not be seeing my girl for a couple of weeks, I felt anxious at what lay ahead, I felt excited at the adventure that after months of preparation was now unfolding and I felt frustrated because I was already running late!

The bike felt heavy but not overly so and certainly the handling seemed to be fine. I hadn’t had a chance to do a test with all the luggage beforehand as I’d only just got the bike in time for the trip. I felt a bit snug, wedged between a rolled up tent and sleeping bag behind me and the tank bag in front but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I headed out, by passing Kings Lynn at the Hardwick and proceeding down the A10 towards Cambridge. As always with Norfolk I ended up stuck behind trucks then tractors but eventually managed to work my way past the traffic to freedom.

I arrived at Cambridge Services just after 13:30, a bit later than planned but luckily Paul and Roy had only just arrived and were chatting to a couple of bikers as I pulled up next to them. The couple were interested in the trip we were doing having just ridden back from Italy I believe and they gave Paul their last 5 euros to donate to the Charity. We also met up with three of the sponsors who had come to wish us a bon voyage. We sat down, had a coffee and chatted for about 15 minutes then took a few photos to record the start of the trip.

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After we’d finished our drinks, taken a quick toilet break and said our goodbyes we mounted up and headed off, next stop Harwich and the Ferry that would take us to Denmark.

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It was a pleasant ride, a bit of traffic but it stayed dry which was a minor miracle.  Finally it felt like it was all real as I rode in formation with Paul and Roy at last. We reached the port and just as we joined the queue for passport control it started raining! We of course got a bit wet but luckily the gear had an 18 hour ferry journey in which to dry off.  Whilst in the queue we met up with a nice guy from Austria called Markus Hambrusch who was heading off to Iceland on his motorcycle.

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The ferry was a pretty basic affair but functional and generally pleasant with a bar, restaurant, coffee bar and shop. A swift beer was had to celebrate the launch and a bit of planning for the next day as Paul pulled out his shiny new Macbook Air and opened up some maps. Markus then turned up and we sat chatting for a while.

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Feeling a bit hungry and not wanting to sell a kidney to pay for some dinner in the main restaurant we headed downstairs to the smaller and cheaper café. We ordered some food, I had a chicken and vegetable dish that was pretty filling and not bad value. Paul headed off to get some sleep, followed by Roy shortly after. I sat and finished my drink, digesting the days events and trying to chat with Caroline on the phone using the ships wifi. Unfortunately the wifi was hopeless with the signal dropping left right and centre. About 11pm they closed the bar and turned off the wifi completely so I headed back and climbed in my bunk above Roy’s bed. I don’t think I’ve been in a bunk bed since I was a kid!

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