Epic ride relying on his trusty compass

Cycling adventurer Tom Arnold has returned from a 1200 mile trip across Europe for Shine travelling

Cycling adventurer Tom Arnold has returned from a 1200 mile trip across Europe for Shine travelling from Berlin to Trogir in Croatia. - Credit: Archant

Solo cyclist Tom Arnold has completed his toughest challenge yet after an epic ride across Europe with just two wheels and a tent.

Gadget free and relying solely on his trusty 200-year-old compass the 23-year-old boat builder from Martham travelled 1474 miles in a month from Berlin to Trogir in Croatia.

Along the way he encountered brown bears and wild boar as well as myriad of mechanical set backs, but said help was always nearby and that he was constantly astounded by the kindness of strangers.

On four occasions local folk gave him a bed for a night, others going out of their way to set him on the right road or help with repairs.

He said storms and the battle to keep dry were among his greatest discomforts but that he rarely succumbed to being annoyed or defeated because every disaster seemed to throw up a new opportunity or meeting.

Mr Arnold of Staithe Road, who works at Swallowtail boat yard in Ludham, averaged some 100 miles a day on an unplanned route that saw him lose his way in woods for two days as he passed through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.

It was his fourth and most challenging trip, since he pedalled off, totally ill equipped, to Amsterdam aged 19 in answer to his mates who said it couldn’t be done.

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Taking the whole of August he said it was a good way to see places using basic navigational skills, enjoying the simplicity and freedom of two-wheeled travel.

Although he wasn’t always 100pc sure of where he was gong things generally turned out well, and often better than he had loosely planned.

His worst night was in Pag in Croatia when a storm filled his tent with water and then unpinned the pegs, leading him to search out the only shelter he could find - a shower cubicle on the beach.

Low points included when he was relieved of 200 Euros in a pretty fishing village, although he was quickly reimbursed after winning the same amount in a competition to find who could hang on a bar the longest later that same night.

“I always try to stay positive,” he said. “That way things work out better for you. When you start getting annoyed you start to make stupid mistakes and things go wrong. I have developed quite a thick, resilient skin. I’m always happy to find somewhere dry to sleep, its a blessing to be out of the rain.”

Highlights included jamming with a band, meeting like-minded people, and cooking for those who had helped him. When things go wrong they can turn into the best experiences, he said.

As well as being an adventure and a personal challenge Mr Arnold’s journey has raised around £1000 for children’s charity Shine.

To donate visit www.shine-GY.org.uk and follow their Facebook link.