Natalie Thomas rode 2,170km on a Me-Mover FIT through Europe for diabetes
Natalie Thomas and her Me-Mover FIT travelled through Europe to raise money for charity
The month of July was an incredibly big and important one for Me-Mover, as Natalie Thomas, an elite triathlete from the UK, embarked on a month-long journey on her Me-Mover FIT for charity. Natalie rode 2,170km through Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland to raise money for the Danish Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK. The aim of this Euro Challenge was not only to raise money, but also to raise awareness about type 2 diabetes and to inspire people to move more in order to prevent diseases like this.
Over the course of 30 days, Natalie Me-Moved over 2,170km, climbed a staggering 1,400 meters of elevation in the Swiss mountains, and spent an astounding 148 hours and 56 minutes on the Me-Mover! This challenge is very near-and-dear to us as it is all about motivating people to get outdoors and exercise more. Here at Me-Mover we are passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle, and we were just so excited to bring this to the world. We partnered up with the Danish Diabetes Association because studies show that regular exercise helps prevent type 2 diabetes, and we wanted to help this great association further their research to be able to help more people. Natalie Thomas being from the United Kingdom brought Diabetes UK on board, which we were thrilled about!
Riding a Me-Mover is an experience like no other, and that is why this epic Me-Mover Euro Challenge seemed so fitting: an extraordinary challenge on an extraordinary product!
Now, a month after this challenge has been completed, Natalie took to her blog to reflect on the Euro Challenge. Here are the highs and lows of each country she visited:
I was hugely impressed by Copenhagen, it’s such a lovely city with so much to see and do that the few days I had before the challenge were really not enough to cram everything in! I really enjoyed finally meeting the Me-Mover team in person, picking up the Me-Mover FIT I was to do the challenge on (later to be named Monty), trying a Danish delicacy of an open-faced sandwich on rye bread (I cannot pronounce this at all but it’s called Smørrebrod). I also visited a bakery I saw on Paul Hollwoods city bakes having the best cinnamon bun and croissant EVER! Taking a walk around the city and seeing the sights was also fun, along with attending the Me-Mover launch event.
The send-off from the city hall square was awesome, I felt like a celebrity with loads of tourists taking photos – although I was also a little overwhelmed by how heavy my bags actually were when all packed up. You can watch the start of my journey HERE. I think my only low points in Denmark were the rain and the very long first day where I was out for 11 hours, got very wet, had lots of uphill and wind. I did begin to question what I was doing and the buses driving past were very tempting!
My favourite part of Germany was the amazing bakeries. Sounds odd being food-based but honestly nothing beats German baked goods, especially a giant Bretzel! I loved the first place I stayed in Grossenbrode: it was such a beautiful area, the hospitality of the hotel was simply the best and a delicious breakfast too… Haha I am obsessed with food! One of my big memories of Germany is stopping along a beautiful river path for lunch and so many cyclists and walkers chatting to me about the Me-Mover and my trip. It was great meeting these people even if I was only managing a mouthful of lunch every 5 minutes. My low points of Germany were Hamburg. Firstly, the hostel I stayed in was really dodgy and I wasn’t happy so I moved, booking into a last minute hotel. I just didn’t enjoy the city as much as other German cities I’ve been to such as Cologne.
On the first day in this country was a lot of cobbled and bumpy brick paths – not my favourite part of the day. However they didn’t last forever and I actually loved being in the Netherlands. The wildlife was amazing, the cycle network was simply the best and ran everywhere I travelled. The countryside was beautiful and the little villages I traveled through with thatched cottages and windmills were simply picturesque! I also had a fantastic time in Amsterdam meeting the Me-Mover Netherlands team who showed me around on a Me-Moving tour, which was great fun (despite the fact on arrival the last thing I wanted to do was ride more, I’m so pleased I did). I also tried a frickendel special which is a fried sausage with mayonnaise, curry sauce and onion. It is not the healthiest food in the world but was rather tasty. I decided against trying the raw herring though, another Netherlands food speciality.
I don’t have many negatives of my time in the Netherlands but the bits I did not enjoy so much were the wind. I didn’t realise it was so windy there, however I guess the windmills should have been a give away! I was heading south west and the wind was always from this direction, giving me a constant headwind with one day being 24mph gusts, this made it pretty tough going. I did also get a little wet here too, wind and rain becoming part of the daily ritual.
Many people ask me what my favourite country was and my answer originally was that I couldn’t decide, however writing this blog I realise that it was in fact The Netherlands.
This was easily my least favourite country of the trip – it did have some good moments but my first impressions were not the best. The drivers were a little crazy, the road surfaces were pretty poor in places and I was travelling through some industrial areas on a cycle path with a lot of railway lines. Many of you who followed my trip will know what happened next…
It all went so quickly but one of these railway lines caused my front wheel to drop in and twist causing the Me Mover to stop dead. I did not stop but continued with some acrobatics through the air before skidding to a halt on the ground, it all happened so fast but what I did know is that I was lucky to get up and walk away! However I had to carry on, with no one stopping to check I was okay and being alone I pulled out the first aid kit, patched up my bleeding knees and hands then turned my attention to the Me-Mover. A completely snapped foot loop and ripped bar tape were the only injuries it had (shows just what a robust piece of equipment it is!), however I couldn’t ride with just one pedal and luckily remembered I had gaffa tape. Perfect tape for fixing things and with just one extra addition of tape it made it to Paris where I picked up a new one 6 days later. I then had a further 13km to ride into Antwerp, where I decided to get my arm checked because it didn’t feel right. I was pleased to hear it was just muscular bruising so I could continue the trip. Turns out on returning home and still getting pain that it was actually fractured!
After a huge rainstorm and deciding to shelter in a cafe with the best hot chocolate ever, there were some bits of Belgium I did like: the buildings, the day I spent in Brussels, as well as my visit to the amazing city of Mons, which was beautiful. The countryside as I got closer to France was also beautiful; there were some hills too which was great as the Netherlands and Belgium are pretty flat countries.
After 3km on a bone rattling cobbled road (not great with a sore arm) I was in France. The difference here was noticeable and I enjoyed the undulating terrain along with the countryside I was travelling through. I was on quiet roads with nice smooth surfaces. I have never said “bonjour” so much in my life and almost said it to someone when back home! I loved every place I stayed in France. It really is a beautiful country and I didn’t have enough time to explore everywhere enough, there was so much history and phenomenal architecture. I even travelled through the Champagne region, which was awesome. I don’t even like champagne but the region was so beautiful with lots of cycle routes, and I enjoyed the challenges of the hillier terrain as I moved closer to Switzerland. Every time I climbed I was rewarded with spectacular views that became better and better the higher the climbs became.
The only negative from France that I seem to have is the heat. Especially the day I travelled into Paris, where the Garmin said it went up to 44 Degrees Celsius (in the sun) and I had a very long 100km day. It seems silly to complain as I moaned about the rain and wanted the sun, then when the sun came it was just too hot (typically British I guess!).
Wow ,things got super tough as I reached the mountains of Switzerland, I only had 3 days travelling through here but the scenery was spectacular, with the views from the top of the climbs being incredible. I’m pretty sure there were some different routes I could have taken with less climbing, but I was following the Garmin and ended up with a climb up to 1227m and 1545m on the same day. That was my penultimate day and it well and truly broke me!
The final day was such a special one, it started with 32km alongside a beautiful lake where I did struggle quite a bit still feeling tired from the previous day’s efforts. I was crying (I am amazed I only had 3 moments where I did cry in the whole trip) and wishing that I was back at home. I did finally make it to a cafe where I met Patrick Ollivier who runs Me-Mover fitness classes in the Echallens area (near Lausanne). I felt so much better after some delicious ice cream in the cafe, and it was great to have Patrick’s company for the rest of the ride.
All of the tiredness and exhaustion mentally and physically were forgotten for a few hours after the most amazing welcome! Coming into a university boating competition I had a finish line, a lovely crowd and even got to spray champagne for the first time ever! After chatting, meeting lots of new people, more spraying of champagne and a lovey meal with the Me-Mover Switzerland team, I finally got to bed after midnight – exhausted yet so happy. You can watch the video of my final day. I had some chance to enjoy Lausanne before travelling home and got to visit the Olympic museum which was awesome, especially the weekend brunch buffet in the cafe (I highly recommend it).
You can watch the video from Natalie’s final day approaching Lausanne below. Make sure you watch until the end for the post-challenge interview!
We want to say a huge thank you to Natalie for being such an amazing sport and completing this impressive challenge. We are very proud of her, and forever grateful that she helped bring this awesome project to life!
Also, a massive thank you to Natalie’s sponsors that helped her throughout the challenge. And of course to the various hostels and hotels for being so welcoming. There were so many players to make the Me-Mover Euro Challenge happen, and we are over the moon with its success. We have raised almost USD 2,000 so far and will keep donations open for the weeks to come. You can donate here.
//The Me-Mover team