It is no exaggeration to say that today has been the best day of my life. I can say that because I haven’t had a wedding (apparently that’s a pretty awesome day) and I haven’t had children (again, apart from the pain, apparently another great day). I have had some pretty incredible days in my life, but I really do think this tops them all.
Story of my life: I didn’t get much sleep last night. But that was mostly to do with the fact that I was so excited (think 5 year old on Christmas Eve) and I had such an overwhelming response from everyone to my earlier blog post. Thank you so much to anyone that read the post, sent me kind words, or donated to my fundraising. You are all amazing.
It wasn’t a super early start, as breakfast wasn’t served until 7am and I’m so glad I went down for it – it was the best breakfast spread I have had all trip! They had cereals, granola, yoghurts, so much bread, cheese, ham, cakes, jams, they even had almond milk! Almond milk, people!!
I helped myself to a mini feast and made a sandwich for lunch – the classic “wrap it in a napkin and sneak it out when no one is watching” trick. I then had the hardest task of the day: getting Bikey down three flights of stairs, fully loaded. I won’t miss that.
We set off around 8am and it was a glorious day – sunshine, 20 degrees and a slight breeze. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
And off we were, for one final time. The final 53 miles. I spent the morning, as usual, cracking out the hits: Whitney, Celine, Elton, Spice Girls – it was just so much fun. And we were motoring, casually holding 16mph on the straight sections of EuroVelo 6.
I’ve had more stops than I usually would; just so I can eek out the ride and enjoy it all. I’ve never known 53 miles to pass so quickly! My final coffee stop of the trip (so sad, I will miss this ritual) was overlooking the river and it was lovely. The guy gave me what he called “an iced coffee”, I called it “ice cream covered in cold coffee” and it was fabulous. I can’t complain.
By now, with only 20 miles to go, my posts on social media were gaining real traction and I was being inundated with incredible messages of support and donations to my JustGiving page. It really made the day that extra special, as it felt like so many people were with me on that final ride. So if that was you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I need to say this now, to get it out the way, but it has become my real pet peeve with the EuroVelo (apart from e-bikes, I think we all know what I think about those by now). My other irritation is cyclists taking up the whole of the path, as two of them spread out and then saunter along at 8mph. The worst of it, is these people usually have wing mirrors (wing mirrors, on a bike?!) and I just think “why have them if you’re not going to use them?!” So my new favourite phrase has been to shout “achtung!” As I approach…usually gives them a good fright…
Five miles outside of the city I stopped to take a photo of a big “Wien” sign and really take it all in that I have just crossed four countries, on my bike. Bikey, Derek and I. We had done it.
It took me a while to navigate around the city – it was so busy and I really didn’t want to mess it up now by getting hit by a car or something. Imagine that. I went straightaway to some impressive looking buildings to get my arrival photo before heading to the hotel.
It was on arrival that I’m so glad I booked a really nice hotel for these nights in Vienna! I explained to the receptionist that I had just cycled 1,600km and this was my end point, and he was so impressed he handed me a glass of champagne and hasn’t stopped since!
After FaceTiming home, showering and sorting Bikey (he’s making friends in the luggage room as we speak) I headed into Vienna to stretch the legs and get my bearings. I don’t want this to sound like it’s a regular occurrence, as it’s really not, but I was stopped again by an Austrian man, who spoke to me in German as I stared at him blankly. Once we had established I couldn’t speak German, he went on to say; “I just needed to say how beautiful you are, and introduce myself”. I know I have previously professed my love for the Dutch, but these Austrians! I love them more.
Tonight I will finish my night with the big Thursday night quiz, as I still have the final piece of the puzzle – the actual run that Kipchoge did last year. Once that is complete, then it really will be mission accomplished.
Today has been incredible. It really has. I’ve cycled a lot of miles over these past four years or so, but today’s ride beats them all hands down. I just loved it. And I’ve loved my whole journey. Yes, we’ve had a couple of wobbly moments (don’t mention the rain or headwind) but overall, I can hand on heart say it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. And tomorrow, we finish it, where Kipchoge started. And I can’t wait.
962 miles complete…0 miles to go! We made it Bikey!