The Route – Portugal to Broadstairs

It’s hard to know exactly when I’ll arrive back in Europe for the last leg of the trip but what’s for certain is that it’ll be over four years since I was last on the continent. If I can keep anywhere near my schedule, and I get through Canada and North America during winter, then I should, at my best guess, arrive in Lisbon, Portugal in the middle of March, 2021.

As I write this, I don’t need any visas for Europe as a British citizen but due to the fact that the UK has voted to withdraw from Europe after our referendum on the issue, I may well need to have a visa for Portugal, Spain, and France by the time I land in 2021. Hopefully not, but until the UK and the European Union decide exactly how we are to leave, I just won’t know. At this stage, I’m writing this on the basis that I don’t need them and I’ll arrive on time in mid-March, 2021.

Once through customs at Lisbon airport, it’s a 450km ride north to the border with Spain, stopping off along the way to visit friends. Allowing for a few days relaxing with them, I should be in Spain at the beginning of April 2021. Once in Spain, I’ll hug the coastline through the regions of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque region before crossing the Pyrenees. There are a few crossings over the mountains and I will be looking for a quiet route away from the main traffic routes, maybe something like the Col de la Pierre San Martin crossing but I’ll decide on the best one once I’m closer. The route through Spain is approximately 1,000km so I should be looking at entering France around the end of April, 2021.

Once in France, it’ll be the last of the countries I cycle through before returning to my own, with a distance of 1,200km to the ferry port at Calais. I’ll make my way up the country, steering clear of the major cities until I reach Tours where I hope to catch up with some friends. From here, it’s almost a straight shot of around 600km to Calais where the ferry awaits to bring me back to the UK. Should I be on schedule, and let’s face it, after 35 countries, 50,000km and four years is pretty unlikely, it means I should be back in the UK and my hometown of Broadstairs where I set off from over four years earlier, around the middle of May 2021.

So is it possible to cycle the world along the route I’ve chosen?
In theory, yes. It all works with the help of a few flights and the odd boat and train but as I said in my blog post about trying to plan a trip like this, there are so many uncertainties and so many obstacles that I really won’t know for sure until I attempt it. As for the schedule, do I expect to stick to it? Not really. It’s based on 50km riding a day, a distance I know I’m comfortable with. This is so I know I have enough time, so long as I am covering 50km a day, to enter and exit each country within the time limit permitted by my visas as well as taking in rest days. It also gives me an idea of what time of year I will be entering each country so I can plan for the weather. No doubt there will be times when I’m ahead of schedule and times when I’m not. 50km is not so far on flat, tarmac roads but in the mountains or on unsealed roads, just doing this distance could prove very hard.

The only way to find out is by giving it a go.

Edited by – Emer Garry


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