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Cycling 4800km across Europe to help fight air pollution

Meet Emma. She's currently bike packing around 3000miles (4,800km) from Norway to London on a mission to help tackle air pollution.

You see, Emma's pretty passionate about making UK cities like London cleaner, healthier places to live.

Cyclist Emma Hookham is bike packing across europe from Bergen in Norway to London via Sweden, Denmary, Germany, The Netherlands, Brussels, France and then London

So she's decided to visit some of Europe's greenest and most bike-friendly cities to find out how they're tackling urban air pollution and what we can learn from them.

Emma's valuable research will then help cycling champions and charities such as Sustrans - where she works - to lobby for change to policy and infrastructure so that all us city folk might one day breathe better quality air. How flippin' cool is that?!

Having started her journey in Bergen at the end of July, Emma has already made her first stop in Oslo - Europe's 2019 Green Capital - and has now made it to Sweden. She'll also visiting Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Brussels and France before finishing in London. 

 She's spending about 8 weeks on the road in total, averaging about 100 miles (ish!) a day between her destinations, and giving herself enough time in each city to meet local officials and experts to help build her research report.

We caught up with Emma after the first 2 weeks of her journey to see how she's getting on...

Hi Emma! Where are you right now?

Hey! I'm currently about 50 miles North of Gothenburg, Sweden. I've just pitched my tent and am winding down for the night. I should reach Gothenburg tomorrow, where I’ll stop for a week and a half to do research and to attend a conference on air pollution.

 How’s it all going?

Great! The variation between the cycling and city breaks is a really good way of breaking things up. When I’m cycling I generally camp which is good fun, as each night I make it my mission to find a beautiful spot. Though after a few days without a shower, I look forward to reaching the city where I’ve got a roof over my head!

And how's the weather been so far?

The weather has been fab actually. It started pretty hot, getting into the high 20s, so the biggest challenge was getting enough water on board. It’s cooled down a lot now, mainly high teens with rain showers, so now I’m searching for hot drinks. When the sun’s out it’s lovely, but when it rains it rains. Today I think was my third rainy day of the trip, but it didn’t last long.

What's been the most challenging bit so far?

The biggest challenge I’ve had is not having a laptop. I’m confirming meetings en route and doing it all/writing up notes on the phone which isn’t ideal. I think going forward, keeping all my electronics like my phone, Wahoo and battery pack topped up could become a challenge. My dynamo hub gave up on me yesterday, I think water got into one of the cables, so it means I need to be more conscious about charging things whenever I stop.

I got caught out today so had to stop my ride earlier than hoped. Another challenge is trying not to spend too much money on food, which is almost impossible in Norway.

And what have been some of the highlights?

The ride from Bergen to Oslo was particularly stunning. Such gorgeous fjords and mountains, definitely a highlight in terms of scenery. Camping and waking up to some beautiful views has been fab.

I was really impressed with drivers in Norway too. They would slow right down and drive carefully past me, which was brilliant.

Your first major point of research was in Oslo, how did that go?

Really interesting actually. I had meetings with transport planners, cycling advocates and environmentalists who are all working to make this city a greener, healthier and more people-friendly one. In fact, Oslo’s well on its way to making their city centre completely car free. I think there’s a lot we can learn. 

Where are you off to next?

I’m in Gothenburg until the 29th August and then I’m continuing South towards Copenhagen, my third city stop. I can't wait!

Brilliant. Well enjoy it, and we hope you manage to fix your dynamo soon!

Ha ha, yeah me too. I think I need to get hold of a new cable for it - it got wet. I’ll figure out a plan of action in Gothenburg, and I can make do if it doesn’t work out - it will just mean more coffee stops along the way, which isn't a bad thing!

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