Every single custom map we print has a story behind it. Your story. Whether you were fundraising for charity or taking some time out of a hectic life to reconnect with nature; everyone's map journey is memorable and some stories are fascinating.
So let’s start at the beginning. What’s your name and where are you from?
Jamie Kirk from Scotland and my fiancé Claire Lauzanne from France - we both live in Amsterdam together.
How did you get into cycling and how long have you been turning cranks?
I got my first road bike back in 2015 but given the perilous UK road I only got into cycling when I moved to Amsterdam back in 2019. But given the amazing Dutch cycling infrastructure my girlfriend and I quickly got bit by the bike bug and started cycling almost every weekend exploring the Netherlands.
How many bikes have you got and what's your favourite?
My fiancé and I own 3 bikes each (1 city bike, 1 race bike and 1 bike touring bike). My favourite bike is my touring bike whose name is Margret as she got my from Scotland to Greece for our epic cycling adventure in 2021. On that trip I really developed a really close relationship with Margret (don't tell my fiancé!)
Let’s talk about the maps. What’s the story?
Bike used: 2x Koga Touring bikes (Jamie 4 panniers, Claire 2 panniers and tent bag).
Claire and I love to do adventures and in the summer of 2021, we did our biggest adventure yet. After being stuck inside for so long due to Covid we decided to celebrate post-pandemic freedom with an epic cycling 6,000 km odyssey John o’ Groats 🏴 to Athens 🇬🇷 We both took career breaks for 4 months. It was the perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on what we both wanted from life and our lives together.
As we set off from John o’ Groats on our bikes into the unknown and away from the hectic day to the daily rat race, it felt like a fog had lifted, and I could see things more clearly. Going back to nature brought simplicity to our lives. Sleeping under the stars, pedalling over mountains and the beautiful fresh air helped me become more connected with myself. That allowed me to separate what I wanted from the many distractions in my life. As we progressed on our cycling journey, I had the fortune to see all the best qualities of Claire. Her determination, reliance and support when we faced adversity on our travels gave me the strength to keep pedalling even when things got tough. It was clear that Claire was the one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with - we make such a good team. We can achieve anything if we’re pointed (or cycling) in the same direction.
What I experienced on the cycling trip made it very clear that marrying Claire and starting a family with her would be the best decision of my life - so I started to plan what was the best way to propose to her. So I decided the only place I could do it would be at the finish line of our cycling trip in the most Southern point in Greece - Cape Sounion.
We decided to create a new Instagram account to document our journey and post daily updates of how far we managed to cycle. This is a final post from our Instagram profile @velo.yolo of the day I proposed to Claire:
“She said yes 🎉😊 On the final day of the trip, Jamie got down on one knee and proposed to Claire. We’re super excited. It was really an ideal location. We had cycled out to Cape Sounion - the southernmost tip of the Attic peninsula. As the sun was going down and in view of the Temple of Poseidon when Jamie popped the question. It was really the ideal way to end the trip. Now another adventure begins. You only live once. And we decided that we would rather spend this precious life together ❤️ Fortunately we were able to camp right near the spot to fully take in and appreciate the breathtaking scenery, the proposal and the incredible journey we've just been on. Over the last 128 days, we have travelled over 6000km and climbed the equivalent of 6.5 Mount Everests to get to this point. We overcome much adversity along the way both externally (e.g. bad drivers, dogs, harsh weather) and internally (e.g. anxieties, confronting our deepest fears). It felt like an Odyssey. So it's so fitting that Cape Sounion was our final destination as it was first made famous with its inclusion in Homer’s ancient classic The Odyssey and now it’s the finale of our personal odyssey…this trip has given us so much and we would just like to thank everyone who has followed us and given us signs of encouragement along the way. You mean a great deal to us 🙏”
Highlights: Wild camping in Scotland Albania, crossing the Alps by bike, and cycling on the old railway Ciro trail in Bosnia.
Lowlights: Too much car traffic in England, tunnels and the worst of all tons of wild dogs in Eastern Europe that would chase us, getting trapped by 100km wind in Croatia for 2 days.
When the map come through it didn't strike me initial as a standout one.. but it the distance covered and the two little cyclists side by side got me intrigued so I reached out to Jamie to find out what the crack was. I'm glad I did! Its such good idea to do a big road trip with your potential life partner - maybe we should all do it! My wife isn't into cycling one but (the irony) but we grew up together, went to school together, and know found our connection in other ways
I hope you enjoyed Jamie's writeup find some inspiration to get a trip planned for yourself and your partner. If you do, come and create a map of your own here using your Strava or GPX data.