And in the beginning there was a plan, and this I hope will prove to be an excellent one. I've been on lots of cycling trips myself and have some excellent memories. The down side to these trips has always been that I have left Lorena for the most part to hold the fort at home and she has been unfailingly supportive in my endeavours and has put up with all this without a single work of complaint, I've had nothing but encouragement.

This year things are going to be different and we are planning our first European trip on the tandem. I read some time ago about the Rhine Cycle Route which starts at the source of The River Rhine in Andermatt in Switzerland and runs generally north to emerge into the North Sea at the estuary in Rotterdam. The route has many attractions and I reckoned it would make a good first trip, the main point of the trip being to relax and just enjoy the journey.

I have, for ease of logistics and to hopefully enjoy improving weather, decided to ride from north to south and we probably won't bother going right up to Andermatt but will instead turn inland when The Rhine reaches Basel. The plan is to use the excellent North Sea ferry from Newcastle over to Amsterdam which is not expensive for two passengers and one bike and after the overnight crossing to Amsterdam we will ride down to meet up with the Rhine Cycle Route near Arnhem.

As we ride south down The Rhine we will pick up accommodation as we go, nothing will be pre-booked, and just stop as and where we please, an average of around 50 miles a day will be just fine. When we reach Basel we will strike west into France and pick up the "Mediterranean A" route of the European Bike Express at Beaune which will bring us, and the tandem (they carry tandems in the trailer as well as solo bikes) back up to Middlesbrough which is as far north as the bus goes, I've still got to solve the issue of getting home from there!

So, that's the plan, four months to prepare and I think it's going to be great!