2017 was a bit of a stagnant year for us. We had heaps of opportunities to take jobs overseas, have adventures and live life differently, but fear just seemed to keep getting in the way.
When we had our son Sam in 2016, we promised ourselves that we would be able to be great parents whilst still having adventures and bringing him along for the ride. We swore that we’d still be exciting, have fun and live life differently. Before we had Sam, we lived in Uganda, climbed the ‘Three Peaks’ (the three highest points in England, Wales and Scotland) to make a music video, cycled on a tandem from London to Berlin to run a marathon, and backpacked around the world – and we were absolutely sure that this would continue.
But, as Sam turned 1 and started nursery, things started to change. We got bogged down in a world of baby classes, play dates and trips to Ikea on a Sunday. Sam loved nursery and we suddenly started feeling like routine was more important than it actually is. Compared to many of our friends, we were still seen as a bit ‘crazy’ and ‘hard to keep up with’ but, measuring against our own values, things had become DULL and life had become small.
Luckily, in December, we managed to break out of this a bit, firstly with a 4 day trip to Morocco. Just a short trip but it felt like we were back ‘in the world’ having adventures, meeting new people, exploring hidden alleyways, visiting local souks and living fully in the moment. Then, a few days after we got back, my friend and I randomly walked from my home near St. Albans all the way to South London in time for our work Christmas party in the snow! It was only an overnight walk but, as we walked the route of my commute in the dark through deserted towns and villages and imagined everyone fast asleep in their beds, the feeling of ‘living life differently to most people right now’ was something I was again becoming a bit addicted to.
So, when I returned from the walk, despite one of my toe nails falling off, I announced to Rob that 2018 had to be a year when we become us again. A year of adventure and of living life differently.
And then the Yes Grant was advertised and we knew this was an opportunity we had to go for to take us out of our comfort zone and get us living. We had vaguely been talking for the past year about the idea of doing a long distance cycle again and once, after a few drinks, Rob had suggested Paris to Amsterdam – and the rest is history! I put in an application and we were completely shocked when Dave and Emma called us in January, under the guise of conducting an interview, to tell us we’d won!
Shocked and then slightly concerned when, two days later, we found out I was pregnant. After a quick google about cycle touring and a mini freak out, we decided ‘screw it’, it would just add to the challenge – and perhaps this would be the newest Yes Tribe member yet!
Due to the unexpected pregnancy, we decided not to hang around and planned the cycle for April, when I’d be 4 months pregnant and hopefully still feeling spritely enough to cycle 420 miles! This meant that we didn’t have a great deal of time to train, particularly due to the snow filled January and February. We focused instead on buying/borrowing equipment, doing a bit of training on an exercise bike, route planning and setting up our blog. We were SLIGHTLY concerned by the limited training but remembered our very own Dave Cornthwaite saying that he could hardly swim before embarking on 1001 miles down the Missouri River and felt entirely reassured!
April rolled along before we knew it and we found ourselves hauling our bikes, panniers and toddler on to the Eurostar to Paris to start our big adventure, slightly nervous but mainly excited about having 12 days out of the office! We’d planned to cover around 40-45 miles each day – something which seemed pretty easy when we considered we’d done 100 miles a day on our London to Berlin tandem trip. However, that completely didn’t take into account the toddler we now had in tow and we actually quickly realised that this was probably our daily limit without tantrums, tears and exhaustion – and that was just from us ;-)
This over-confidence about being able to easily cover 45 miles per day did lead me to convincing Rob to take a teeny weeny 10 mile diversion to see the Eiffel Tower on day one! We thought this would take us around an hour but unbeknownst to us, it was actually the morning of the Paris marathon…. Ooops! This meant we got stuck between two roads full of runners and it took almost 4 hours to navigate our way in and back out of the city. Not a great start and meant the day was half over before we even left Paris.