2009 The Italian Job
From Amsterdam to Venice
The start of a journey from the North Sea to the Meditteranean, Summer 2009
Pinched by the credit crunch, with unemployment rising and in the midst of a global economic crisis, 2009 didn't look like a great time to go travelling. But the idea of sitting at home scrimping, saving and worrying about what we'd do if we lost our jobs wasn't going to make things better. And since we didn't have jobs anyway (at least that's how it feels when you're self employed) we figured we spent enough time each year worrying about that anyway. We know we can live about as cheaply on the road as at home so figured we'd have more fun getting away and trying to stimulate the economy than sitting at home sulking about it. And that's how we came to spend the summer 2009 doing our own version of The Italian Job; our mission simple: –to get to Italy by bike.
We're not exactly Michael Caine, but the spirit's the same!
We started from Newcastle, crossed the North Sea by ferry to begin our ride in a cyclists paradise, Amsterdam. From there it was south all the way, following great European rivers to try and keep things flat!. First the the Rhine, then the Main, Tauber, Lech and Inn, through Holland and Germany towards Austria. It's amazing how far you can go without meeting a hill. But then you hit the Alps. So we set ourselves a goal, to get up, over and into Italy, then to make the journey symmetrical by finishing as we started, in a great European city of canals, Venice.
Our route took us from one city of canals to another
Travelling as a family we let the kids set the pace; we knew they weren't going to be satisfied until they'd had ice cream in Italy. As always we weren't sure whether we could make it, with what we thought was 1600km to cover in six weeks on two tandems, pulling two trailers and with three kids 8 and under. But we planned to just keep going until we got sick of pizza, pasta and pannini or ran out of money.
It turned out to be a lot further than we thought (almost 2000km), the crashing pound made everything expensive but still we had another extraordinary ride. Follow the links below and you can get a virtual taste of this unusual family adventure from the comfort of your computer.
No bikes allowed at the other end. But we made it all the way.
We blogged everyday on the road so if you’d like to join in our virtual journey, why not take a look at our blogs. You can keep up with us these days on Twitter, subscribe to our blog or hook up with us on Facebook.
From this page you can read more about our journey from the blog postings we wrote as we rode across the UK on this pedal powered journey to meet everyday cycle heros.
You can also view our route, look at some pictures from the tour or even buy resources so you can do a similar tour yourself.