Seniors cycling all over the world

HERE WE GO: Jim Batson and Claire Guy in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul about to depart on their 4000km 11-week cycle trip.
HERE WE GO: Jim Batson and Claire Guy in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul about to depart on their 4000km 11-week cycle trip.

Nelson psychotherapists Jim Batson and Claire Guy are proving age need not stop anyone from chasing their dreams.

Mr Batson and Mrs Guy have celebrated their respective 70th and 60th birthdays by making an 11-week, 4000 kilometre cycling trip across Europe from Istanbul to northern Sweden.

And they said it was far from their first and would certainly not be their last long-distance cycle trip.

‘‘We used to own a tandem and we took our children on trips around the South Island, the North Island and Australia,’’ Mr Batson said.

‘‘Then we did a cycling trip across Europe from Edinburgh to Istanbul with our youngest son, who was 14 at the time, back in 1996.

‘‘We have also cycled along the full length of the Murray River, cycled an inland route from Brisbane to Cairns and did a seven-week trip cycling from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam via Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia.’’

Mrs Guy said she knew of a couple who were in their mid-80s who still did cycle touring which was an inspiration for them to continue with such tours.

Mr Batson said they had used the same bikes for 20 years.

‘‘They were an early version of a mountainbike that Avanti put out in 1992. They have a steel frame and we have still got the same frames although we have replaced nearly everything else over the years.’’

Mrs Guy said, that despite the age of the bikes, they had experienced virtually no mechanical problems.

In their trip across Europe completed earlier this month, they suffered just two punctures, otherwise they had no problems.

Mr Batson and Mrs Guy cycled an average of 80 kilometres a day.

Leaving Istanbul in April, they travelled through western Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia before catching a ferry to Finland.

‘‘We then cycled up the western coast of Finland and up to the north of Sweden,’’ Mr Batson said.

He said the latter stages of the journey were made easier by the fact they were able to join up with the Euro Velo Cycleway.

‘‘We got on to it in Latvia and then followed it along the coast to Estonia and then up the coast in Finland.’’

He said some of the cycleway was on roads and some off-road. However, there was little traffic to contend with on the roads.

‘‘And there was lots of campsites along the way although we met very few other cyclists doing the trip and sometimes we had the campsites all to ourselves,’’ Ms Guy said.

‘‘There was one guy - we dubbed him ‘the electric Finn’ because he rode an electric bike and we met him several times along the way.

‘‘He was huge and built like a Buddha and carrying heaps of stuff so he was going about the same speed as us despite having an electric bike.’’

One of the reasons they made the trip was to visit their son, Robbie, his Swedish wife and their new-born daughter.

They live in the small town of Lulea in Swedish Lapland where they run a cafe.

Mr Batson  and Mrs Guy said the trip was also extremely safe.

‘‘The only hassle we had was with dogs,’’ Mr Batson said.

‘‘They were a low-key menace. They were quite bad in eastern Europe and you never quite knew if they were going to attack you.’’

However, they said they were very impressed with the motorists’ attitude towards cyclists in Europe. ‘‘It was almost embarrassing. They were so thoughtful towards us. In Finland they would anticipate what we were going to do and slow down and give way to us.’’

They said they were also fortunate to have few rainy days.