Archives for category: vaccinations

Okay France was the second country which I crossed on my journey I arrived on the 18th February with the sole purpose of getting out of Calais and finding somewhere to bed down for the night and found a place which I had used before near the town of Wormhout so put up the bivvy bag and settled down for the first night of many beneath the stars. I have been debating with myself whether to write a blog for France as I was in the country for less than 24 hours however I think it warrants a blog as I had my first inkling of problems and someone may stumble across it who is planning to ride a bicycle out of Calais and this may help!

 

Cycling out of the ferry is always fun, and if you can get organised you can be off before the cars but if like me for this trip it took a bit longer and I ended up waiting for all the cars to leave and was last off, the rain may of made me reluctant to leave but hey I got off eventually. Calais is kind of hard to navigate but with a map and compass and a GPS route I found the road I wanted easily enough and it is very cycle friendly, I would recommend anyone who is cycling out of Calais to head for the Wormhout road. Wormhout is a small town where you can pick up the North Sea Cycle Route if desired, this is the path which I have taken before and leads all the way up to Norway if you desire. It also links with the R1 Cycle route which will take you to Berlin and beyond from Den Haag. A path which I had taken to Berlin in 2009.

 

Waking up in the morning, it was my first morning on the road in the middle of nowhere on the adventure of cycling around the world. The weather had changed and it wasn’t raining I was in luck! I decided to make some breakfast on the stove for the first time, I made tomato pasta and proceeded to burn my tongue, great start! However with fuel in the body I loaded the bicycle up and proceeded to hit the road and aim to get to Belgium which wasn’t too far away!

 

Before I knew it I was on the quiet French country lanes which are great for cycling, I was following the North Sea Cycle Route for a short while but noticed an issue with the front mud guard, it was rubbing against the tyre slightly and as I thought it might be worth checking I had an issue with the back rack as somehow coming down a hill it had become tangled with the rear guard and this proved to be a problem. I was cursing myself for having these minor problems on the first proper day of cycling. I fixed the problems and carried on going. France is a great country for cycling there is no denying this. It was also nice for it being a Sunday and seeing all of the roadies out pounding the roads like they do every Sunday but what isn’t great is the fact that everything is shut on a Sunday so it is near impossible to get supplies, especially if cycling through the little towns.

 

Feeling good though, I was ever approaching the Belgian border and looking forward to another cycle friendly country. This was a simple day mostly and was just about ensuring I was getting into the rhythm of riding. I enjoyed the cycle paths which immediately followed the Belgian border and would soon discover that it is pretty much possible to cross the whole of Belgium following paths.

 

I found myself in Belgium for a few days so will give it it’s own blog where things started to get a little more difficult. I experienced some very frozen weather in Belgium and also more technical problems and the start of the issues with punctures. That is more to come and I hope with the difficulties I can add some humour to the blog, this was more of a if you want to cycle out of Calais it is entirely possible and easy to get on some great routes blog!

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Introduction

Whilst I am still in Bangkok awaiting the new frame before I can get going again. I am assured it is coming soon! I thought it might be fun to do a series of blog posts following my most memorable moments from each country that I have visited thus far. If it isn’t fun I do apologize but it is still good for me to have a record of them so I will do it anyway!

February 18th 2012 – The start of something major.

The day that had been in my mind for over a year arrived, the first mention of such a date to anyone was during a shift of work. I explained the concept and that I fancied being a part of it and before I knew it I realized I had told too many people to back out.

February 18th 2012. The day I leave Greenwich Park in London to cycle around the world, I wish I had a feeling of excitement that morning. I awoke at 5 AM after two hours sleep feeling terrible and extremely lethargic. I had all my visas sorted; I had all my equipment, the only issue was the fact I did not know where my passport was for certain! I had a good idea that it was in a library photocopy where I was taking copies of it the previous day however I was about to go to a start line with nine other riders and a fair few cameras to leave London and yet I was uncertain as to whether I could even leave the country!

Packing the night before the race. Before I realized the missing passport!

 

To add to my misdemeanors, the tunnel from Isle of Dogs to Greenwich under the River Thames was undergoing maintenance so I had to try and sort a different way of crossing the river. I left my friend’s flat at 05:30 and thought I would cycle around it.

I got up to Canary Wharf and cycled around the business area although I was a bit lost. I also regretted the way I had set up the luggage on the bicycle but thought it too late to change anything now. I then came to a tunnel under the river with fast traffic and a sign saying no bicycles. Great!

I didn’t want to risk it and feared not making the start on time so went back to the original tunnel which I knew had a stairway down to the bottom before a stairway up the other side. This was far from ideal but I carried my 45 kg set up down 11 flights of stairs and back up the other side, just what you need the day you are about to set off on a prolonged endurance event. Being on the correct side of the river was my first challenge and I had overcome it, cycling around the world was going to be easy now

The start line was great, lots of people came to see us off and people were taking pictures and showing interest in each rider’s set up which was great. I was still being grumpy in the corner though desperately trying to contact the library which opened at 09:00 about the passport. I managed to get through to them eventually and they had the passport, which was something at least!

After a quick dash back over to the other side of the river I retraced my steps to Greenwich Park where I rode from the start line at around 10:00 for the destination of Dover. The weather was overcast but didn’t look to be anything to worry about in London so I set off smiling and looking forward to the challenge ahead. I decided not to take the most direct route to Dover and take a route which would keep me on smaller roads for part of the way. I had read many things about the A2 being notoriously cycle unfriendly so I thought it best to avoid this.

The set up was working fine and I was making progress albeit slower than I had hoped. With the delay of the start I thought the best thing was just to get to France that day. It didn’t matter about the total distance just get on a ferry!

I rode down as far as Canterbury feeling quite comfortable but then I started to doubt myself and the rain started. This was unwelcome as it was the moment I was on the dual carriageway that is the A2 all the way to Dover. I carried on riding and the bicycle just seemed to not be moving. I didn’t enjoy this slog at all. I thought that getting to Dover would be a simple task and I would be running on adrenaline and make it there with little problems however it turned out to be a different case.

Drenched! Hurting and tired I pulled into Dover and the desk to buy a ticket to France, the woman behind the desk explained that Simon had already been there and gave us special friends and family rates which was a welcome surprise which perked me up a little! Finally getting out of Britain! I was excited and didn’t know exactly what the plan was when I got to France but knew I would need to clear Calais before going to sleep so I was in for a late night. I eventually cycled 30 miles into France and put up the first bivvy opposite a spot I used a few years back when cycling to Berlin. Overall day 1 was stressful and tense but a good show of what was to come.

As I only spent one day in France that will have to come next, the purpose of these blogs is just to show what I feel was the most interesting day of each country I passed in order, so there will be a blog for each England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, India, Nepal, Thailand.

So, wanting to go away to some exotic land is a nice feeling. You plan the whole thing out, sort out where you are going to go and for how long and the date gets closer and closer. However with these exotic locations come exotic diseases, and if you are a man, like me. You will probably have left your health to the side and realise just in time that you need to have rounds of injections to protect you against all the nasties that we do not get here in the UK or Western world.

 

I plan to talk through the nasty stuff and why it can all add up as well as the timings needed for the jabs and the issues one can face. Firstly from the UK perspective, if you are going away you will need to fill out a form to your GP showing where you are going, when and where you will be staying. If you say rough camping the whole way like I did you are soon in for a shock!

The lovely NHS, free healthcare for all! What a delight, it’s a shame that most of the jabs you will probably need when going away will not be covered by the NHS, shame! However typhoid and a few others are which luckily I had before this big cycle trip so don’t need to worry about. Here is what I was recommended to get;

 

Hepatitis B – Blood disease, transferred through sex or blood transfusions. Three Injections over a month.

Rabies – Nasty, bites or licks on open wounds, feral animals. Fatal. Three Injections over a month.

Japanese Encephalitis – Mosquito transmitted disease, effects your brain. Two Injections over a month.

Tick borne Encephalitis – Tick transmitted disease, effects your brain. Two Injections over a month.

 

With all of these cheery diseases being described to me, I decided to check with mother as to what she thought I should have, obviously I’m a poor student I was willing to wing it in essence but mother told me to be fully covered so I held my breathe and went to get them done. As I was living up in London and my GP was in Dorset I had to go to a travel clinic in London. I went to the London Travel Clinic on Oxford Street and told them what I needed and the cost for the first round of injections was £245. This was only for the first round which hurt me, aswell as the two injections in each arm which made me feel slightly funny getting on the tube.

 

A week later I went back to the clinic where I had the second dose of the rabies and hepatitis B jabs which cost £90. These were okay and despite the running total of £335 thus far. I was far too busy to think much of it, it was just one of those things which I needed to do to keep me safe and I had 100 other things to do.

 

The third round of doses I was going to get back in Dorset so had the prescriptions for them and had to cash them in Dorset. Not a great deal happens in Dorset unfortunately so when I turn up to a local Boots store predictably they do not have the vaccinations and have to order them in. I got the price however and that was £168 so a bit cheaper than the travel clinic up in London. Proves that if you can get them all done by your GP, it is the best way ! I believe that Boots do cheaper vaccinations than other pharmacies but don’t have any evidence to back this up but I was happy with this price. This is the third and final round of injections so I am immune to most things now hoorah. In the words of Boris from Goldeneye, ‘I am invincible!’

 

However, there is always one more thing… malaria. Seems a long way off for me, especially with the cold weather at the minute, carrying malaria tablets through the -20’s of Eastern Europe is going to feel odd but it is another thing which I have had to consider. There are three types of malaria tablet, one which gives you hallucinations and bad dreams, one which is an anti biotic so has the potential to clear you out and give you a bad stomach and the third, newest one which I have opted for which is mallarone which predictably costs the most… Not sure of the total cost yet but will let you know when I have the stuff.

 

So the running total and ten injections later I am £503 out of pocket and they say you can’t put a price on your health. I disagree!