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August 26, 1994

EUROPE LEG - London to Lisbon

July - August, 1994

"For my part I travel not to go anywhere, but to do.
I travel for travel's sake.
The great affair is to move,
To feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly,
To come off down from the feather bed of civilization
and find the globe granite underfoot, strewn with cutting flints." Robert Louis Stevenson

Greetings from the Club Naval de Cascais, near Lisbon, our last organisational base prior to the Atlantic crossing in two weeks time. Tomorrow, Jason and I begin the final leg of the 3,500 Km European cycling stage from here down to Lagos on the Algarve coast. We are seven weeks into the expedition, though several lifetimes seem to have passed since the pre-departure mayhem and emotional farewells at the Greenwich launch. During this period we have enjoyed, for the most part, ideal roads and sunny cycling south through France, Spain and Portugal - comfortably managing 150Km + per day without serious incident or delay and happily adopting the siesta routine onwards from Bordeaux to avoid midday heat.

Carrying all our living essentials in pannier bags, we have ensured an independence from Kenny and Martin in the film/support van, though Kenny has often chosen to ride with us to capture the full spirit of the journey. The experience of camping out each night - in sheltered woods in Northern France; by cool mountain lakes in the Dordogne and high pastures on the Spanish Plateau - has given us some of the best memories of the road. Even the temperament of our exceptionally volatile stove and the prospect of being found and moved on by police serve to heighten our enthusiasm for "open-air living" - the simplicity and purity of life being the keys to this happy condition. We thoroughly recommend a summer cycling tour through the Dordogne, Pays-Basque and particularly the Portuguese border country, where - despite the occasionally alarming deterioration in road surface in places - the purity of its unspoiled communities and varieties of wild fruits to be picked from the roadside would soon restore soul and smile to the most "processed and stressed" of city dwellers.

The expedition has itself spent considerable periods in Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon. In each of these capitals we have held a press conference with the aid of the national commission for UNESCO, and have been amazed by the public interest evident in the level of media attention at these events from the local newspapers to international TV networks. Whilst the opportunity to raise public awareness of our project is welcomed, the efforts made in this respect are primarily focussed upon our urgent need for a sponsor, which so far eludes us. A successful Atlantic crossing would hugely increase our stature and viability. Our schools visits programme - although somewhat impeded so far by every confirmation of UNESCO Paris entering into a joint film production of the project. With their support we will now be able to translate the film into the languages of all the we pass through, ensuring that the ideas and opinions of young people we interview around the world are sown as far and as wide as possible to other young minds in the global forum.

More news of this and other sagas of the high seas in newsletter 2 from Florida. Until then we wish you. . . 'Fair Winds'

Steve Smith

Posted at 4:51 AM