The final day. 220kms
A few days behind getting this posted. Sorry bout that. Got up and going early. About 6pm. It was still quite warm out. We rode about 30 kms before stopping for a bite to eat. Shortly after that we crossed the border into Canada. Then the bridge into port moody. We stopped again for lunch before the final push to the ferry. It often looked like it was going to rain but never really did. Made it to horseshoe bay by 5pm. Ferry left at 5:50 and docked at 6:35. We were met at the terminal by a bunch of friends and family eager to ride the final 40k to the finish line. Steve Sleep from the local TV was there, camera in hand and ready to hit me with a few questions. Christine Wood from the local paper, the Coast Reporter, was also there. It was pretty cool to see everybody all of a sudden like that. My son Julian was there. Spotting him, I felt my emotions welling up inside and seeing he was there to ride the final stretch with me ... Well, that was the icing on the cake. So the final ride began. We made our way up the bypass, along the back roads skirting Gibsons and onto the sun coast hwy. Ripped along in the dark. Sometimes talking, sometimes racing. All of us with lights. Some had to peel off and so our group grew smaller as we narrowed the gap. After the highway, onto Redrooffs rd, a group of friends had gathered along the shoulder to cheer us on. Suddenly we were there. My driveway. I bit too steep and gravelly to pedal up so to cross the finish line was literally a push. Dozens more friends were there waiting. My mom who i hadnt seen in over a year. My daughter Nisha along with lots of her friends and finally Jessica, the woman I love with all my heart. Who has helped me in so many ways these past ten years and always encourages me to pursue my passions. The party went on till not sure when. Eventually everyone that wasn't spending the night said their goodbyes and went home. I've never had such a pile of bikes in my yard. Not sure when I finally went to sleep but I didn't stir until after noon saturday. Now, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the real challenge begins. Paying off my visa:-(
Monroe - Sedro Wooley 190k
Second last ride day. I still had to stretch the distance. Couldn't head for the stable directly. Planned what I thought was going to be an easy cupcake day traveling southwest 50k, then northwest 140k. It started out that way too. Light traffic. Smooth, narrow, winding country roads. The promise of 20% chance precipitation. Blackberry bushes growing along side the road:-) Tall fir, maple, pine, and cedar trees crowded the shoulder like spectators at the Tour De France. Hills. Wait a minute... Hills? How did that happen? Where's my cupcake ride? Lots and lots of hills. Started out tame enough. Then both length and grade increased. It was starting to look like I was going to roll into sedro closer to dark than supper time.. I made it to my about face spot and began heading north. My buddy from the sunshine coast was en route to sedro to join me on the final days ride to the finish. He left Gibsons on the 6:30am ferry in a down pour and spent the day riding towards me. My route took me very near the heart of downtown Seattle during rush hour and my going got hectic. I finally got onto state hwy 9 which should've led me all the way to sedro but construction was diverting traffic to an alternate route. More hills were involved. Eventually I returned to no.9 only to find more construction. This time however, a newly paved, stretch of hwy blocked to traffic proved perfect for me to ride along. It got me out past all the madness of bumper to bumper motorists. Just before true darkness fell, I got a flat. Another fricken thorn. Soon I was alone on the road. All the traffic had peeled off. The hwy narrowed. The shoulder disappeared. A warm breeze pushed me along. I was in a very contemplative mode. Fully aware that this was my last alone time, I really took it all in. Eyes wide open as they say. So eager to get home but reluctant to admit that this was the end of the road. It was 12:30am when I woke my buddy up with a knock on the door of room 112 at the three rivers inn. I was elated and exhausted but not too tired to eat the pint of Ben and jerrys and knock back the litre of chocolate moo I bought at the gas station just before waking Ken up. That packed away and some catching up caught up, we called it a night.
Monroe, Washington. 223kms. Day 152. Averaging about 188kpd with about 500 kms to go.
Well, 2 days left.
When I look at the days photos, I sometimes can't believe the first few are from the same day. Today was like that. I'm not even sure when I got going. Around 8:30 I believe. Loaded up with food enough to get me to Wenatchee. Had lunch there. Left for Leavenworth. It was slow going. In Leavenworth I stopped and grabbed some cold weather wear. Grabbed a bit more food and headed towards Stevens Pass. At that point I think I was at 95kms and it was around 5pm. It's not as if I was dragging my butt. I felt good. Happy. Some days are like that. You look down and wonder how the time got away on you when it seems youve been pedaling all day long. I did get into a lot of conversations with people and that really eats up time. The evening came on fast as I climbed towards Stevens pass. By 6pm it was getting quite cold up there. Not so much during the uphill bits of course but every time I found myself picking up downhill speed, I noticed the chill. Traffic fell away as the night came on. I actually couldn't believe how little effort it seemed to take to reach the Pass. I put all my clothing on, feeling strange in so much after getting away with shorts and jersey for so long. After that it was mostly downhill. I past up motels in Gold Bar, and Sulton. Rolling into Monroe after 1am and systematically going motel door to motel door. The first 3 were closed and nobody came to the lobby. The fourth was a best west and I was given a room. So now, after working out tomorrows route and blogging, checking email etc, it's 3:30am. Probably won't be too early a start in the morning. The weather is forecast to deteriorate. Worse in Vancouver area than Seattle. Guess it is whatever it is.
Quincy, Washington 267kms
Hmmm. Let's see now. Where was I this morning? Oh ya. Pendleton. The town at the bottom of that amazing descent. I took advantage of the conti in the morning and pilfered some food for later. Pendleton is a rodeo town. Some 70,000 visitors descend on the town for their September rodeo. The Pendleton Downs looked large enough to accommodate that many and more. It was cold in the morning but calm. Breeze picked up later and though the day topped out around 85 or so...that breeze was cold too. Wasn't until much later in the day that it got really warm. It stayed that way until after 7pm. The sun went down during a drop into an unpolluted valley. I was ever switching highways. North and west, my mantra. Really was a beautiful ride into the night. Made Vantage( but rode right by) around midnight. After that it started getting cold. I had bought a toque, bandana and gloves. Learning from my experience a couple nights ago. So it got quite cold but I was okay. I wanted to make it to Wenatchee. That would've given me my long sought triple century in america. What got me was batteries. My front light eats through 3 triple As in 4 hrs and I'd forgotten to restock. my supply. I cruised into George thinking I'd buy more but by then it was just after midnight and both gas stations were closed. Quincy, the next town wasn't too far away so I made my way with what was left of my fading light. Deciding en route that I'd b-line to a motel. It was 1:30 when I checked in. I think a gas station was actually open in this somewhat larger town but Wenatchee was still 48 kms away. Would've been close to 4 am when I got in if I pushed on. So ended my night. A mere 23 kms from my elusive 300.
Pendleton 150k. 8hrs pedaling, 19kph avg. Headwinds and hills. Some serious climbing today but as the saying goes... What goes up... Eventually gets to go down. What descent epic. To bad it was after dark and I was on the breaks all the way. Bad planning on my part. An hr earlier and man would hate been fun. Could easily have outrun all the big trucks So I'd have been able to rip down the road instead of steer my was through the clutter on the shoulder. Still. It was quite something. Been some time since a drop like that. Very cold after sun went down. Much different climate than I've been used to. Well, completely different than last night even. By 8pm tonight, I was as cold as at 1am last night. Decided not to push on. Grabbed a room in Pendleton. City at bottom of the awesome descent. Hope to make up distance tomorrow. Won't be any major climbs and the wind looks accommodating. Guess we will see.
Baker City OR, 242kms
Woke up to a flat and found multiple thorns In both tires. Tried pulling them but the tips broke off on some. Decided I'd best take them both off the rims and go over them carefully.
Got a late start:-(
Went for breakfast:-)
Met an old timer riding a motorized schwinn.. We talked for way too long.
Bout 11:30 pushed off. Played around in the area going south, then west, then north, then west... Repeat, repeat. I wanted to add extra miles to the day and was quite sure no matter what, I wouldn't make it past Baker.
Eventually, I was running out of play room and B -lined for Caldwell, then the interstate (ever vigilant for thorns).
Entered Oregon late in the day and got into some great hill climbs. Nothing intimidating. Just fun. Sun went down, moon came up.
I said my good nights to folks back home via txts and tweets and rode on.
2am, after a really great ride, coyotes yip yip yipping. In the distance and many many long haul truckers giving me friendly honks, I arrived in Baker.
Had a bit of food on me still so made do and went go sleep.
Meridian, ID. 160kms.
Tough day into the wind. Wore me down. Was on old hwy30 for a while and then the I-84. Went through the town of Mountain Home. Their AFB was having an airshow. I didn't see or hear anything. Mustve been during the stealth fighter show.:-) Took me till 5 to do 100k. At 6 I was at 115k woohoo. Kevin(a guy from Boise who's been following my progress and was at the airshow) spotted me on his way home, pulled over and we gabbed for a bit. Was nice to meet him. He brought good luck with him. After we parted the wind died, the road smoothed out and my energy increased. Suddenly, instead of 15kph, I was doing 30. Sweet. Better late than never. Stayed on the interstate as a wide shoulder was all good. Got a flat. Thorn. Fixed it and rolled on. Getting dark, turned on rear lights, another flat, another thorn!!! Looked to my right and spotted the brightly lit, blue motel6 sign and decided meridian was calling. Grabbed some takeout and back in room saw that nancy from @familyonbikes had tweeted saying since I was in town she was on her way to meet me. I went down to the lobby and waited. We had a great conversation. Was really nice to meet her. If you haven't already check out her site. She, her husband and twin boys (now 13) just completed an epic 4 yr bicycle tour. Said goodbye, finished dinner, patched tube, slept.
Bliss, Idaho. 242kms
Woke up to cold drizzle. Went for breakfast. Got going late. Still raining a wee bit. Slowly improved. iPad keeps crashing tonight. Not sure if it's the iPad or the motels server. Going to keep this short. Maybe add more tomorrow. Was a marvelous ride. Made it to Jackpot just as it really began to pour again. Hid out on the casino porch for 40 mins or so. Got weather report from Tony the weatherman(thanks Tony:-) Crossed the border into Idaho and had just an unbelievably great ride all the way to Bliss. It was after 10pm when I got in. Hwy30 is one every cyclist should ride. In the same direction did. Downhill most of the way. I sense I really missed some scenic views after dark but, well maybe next time.
Wells 225k Nice thing bout casinos is the awesome yet cheap meals you can get in their cafes. Plus they are open 24hrs a day. Not that I strolled in there demanding service oh so early or anything. After a colossal meal and once again too much coffee I put Ely behind me. The next 4 hrs were as if I was having Aussie flashbacks or something. Zipping along on a flat road with a tailwind, no traffic and vast, wide open arid space. I averaged better than 30km/hr for 125kms. Then the fork in the road appeared. I had to take the west road which put me into the wind and became a very rough, narrow road with no shoulder other than rumble strip for the next 60k. My speed and average dropped way down but I still enjoyed being out there. Met a guy who just wanted to say how speedy I was as he was taking every gravel exit in his relatively new, shiny ford F150 looking for empties along the road, then doubling back to proceed up to the next gravel road. He had a holstered hand gun on his passenger seat. Something you don't see every day in my neck of the woods. He offered me a bottle of ice cold water that he procured from his cooler. We talked awhile. He said i should watch for 1700 corralled, wild horses near the hwy up the road a ways. Eventually we went our separate ways. The mtn range to the west had high mtns with snow up top. I never did see any horses and I was keen to. 1700 wild horses isn't something you see every day in my neck of the woods either. The highway resumed it's earlier smoothness for the last 40k into Wells. Motel6 after my ACA discount was $44 Had fajitas and apple pie a la mode for diner at the casino across the street. All in all, a near perfect day.
I cant believe I was actually contemplating what to do this morning. As if I had a choice. Stay or go, ya right. Mustve been the wussie trying to assume control. Well I'm so glad I finally got going. I got up at 6:30. Cafe opened at 7 and I wanted to have a decent meal before taking off. At that time it was cold and pouring out. Pioche is pretty high up in the hills and it was a high up in the hills kinda chill. I didn't go for breaky until 7:30 and it was still pouring. I had turned in the motel room key so no turning back no matter what. I stretched breakfast out about 1.5 hrs before venturing outside again. Deciding to go for it no matter what. To my surprise, it had warmed up considerably and maybe, just maybe tapered off some too. Within 50kms, it quit raining, eventually the sun came out. By 2pm I was back to riding in shorts and T. Well, all I have are shorts. Haven't had pants the entire trip and sent the long johns home while in Europe. I do have shorty leg warmers though and used them today until well after noon. There really wasn't any big steep climbs like yesterday until the very end where I climbed up to 7720ft elevation. Eventually dropping into a spectacular valley in the evening with a small climb to Ely at the end. It was an unbelievable day. Hard to describe the beauty. Mountain ranges on both sides and a sweet road cutting tween them along the valley. So vast, so remote. Hardly any traffic. Just amazing. I'd love to come back, share it with someone. Either by bike or vehicle. I wasn't in Ely 20 minutes when some guy tried to scam me saying he needed 40 buck for gas to get to a sure thing job down the road that wasn't going to be there for him if he wasn't there by morning and his visa had been declined and he lost his bank card. Casino towns...sheesh. 44bucks for a motel6 room for the night though. Gotta love that.
Pioche, Nevada. 150kms I had 2 choices today. 150k or 330k Was gunho to try for the latter until I took a close look at the toppo. There was going to be lots of climbing. What cinched it was not getting going early enough. If I was shooting for 330 I had to be on the road by 6at the absolute latest. Didn't happen. So, out of cedar (5600ft)on 56 you drop a little into the valley. Once across it you climb to a 6500ft summit, drop into another valley,climb to 6800ft(crossing the state line into Nevada) then there is a fantastic 2000ft descent in 19kms to Panaca where 56 meets 93. I turned south there and climbed back into the 5000ft range to the town of Pioche. A small ore mining town on the edge of the mtn overlooking a valley. It was near dark and getting chilly when I arrived, grabbed a room, and went for diner. The day was made all the more interesting as a series of afternoon thundershowers swept across the vast, ever-changing landscape. As I crossed the days third valley, I could see 4 separate systems all flashing lightning and rumbling across the sky. Then I spotted the mother of them all reaching out towards me. I thought (from a distance) the road curved away from it at the end of the valley and started climbing but that was an illusion. Hwy 56 turned into the storm. I raced along hoping to slide past it unnoticed but she saw me. With great booming thunder right overhead and lightning that cracked the sky she chased me up the mountain to the border and into Nevada. I reached the summit with slight drops of rain beginning to fall and gusts of wind seeming to come from all directions. But she was too late. The descent was long and fast. By the time I headed north on93, she'd given up and turned her attention elsewhere. So today I was lucky. I arrived the days destination tired and hungry but dry.
Cedar City 210kms
Had to hang round till the bank opened this morning. Didn't have any US cash and nobody would take my Canadian dollars. The fiber optic cable that had been severed was still a problem in town as visa and ATMs were out. Was like suddenly being back what 20, 30 years. They weren't even going to exchange my $100 cdn because computers were down and they couldn't be sure of the rate. Finally loaded up, had a quick bite and by 9:30 was on my way out of town. The next services were 120kms away. I was in the valley but it was a gradual climb all morning. More undulating in the afternoon. It rained off and on. Sometimes heavy enough to have me get off the bike, don my poncho and hide behind the bike using it as a wind break. These were all passing squalls . You could see them all around all day. Many dark clouds booming thunder and flashing lightning. There was a mountain pass to cover before evenings end. 6700ft summit by 7:30. Then pretty much a long roll out all the way to town. It was 10pm when I got in. Beautiful night. Full moon, thunder, lightning. Wide open country, little traffic, cricket and frog sounds trumping one another as I rolled along.
Had a big breaky and hit the road. South on 68 for near 100kms. Most of that had a dedicated bike lane on it. Had a flat early in the morning and while fixing it a group of cyclists rode by. I finished up and tried to catch up. There was a headwind and I thought if I could catch them and tag along, I'd get a free ride for the duration of their ride. They were going fast but slowly I was reeling them in. Mostly because they were hitting street lights red and I was hitting them green more often. Still, it took a long time. 25kms or so. Just as I thought with one good hard push I could maybe tuck in behind them, they slowed, turned around and headed back the way they came.
Oh well. Fun while it lasted.
68 junctioned with 6. I took 6 west and climbed up and over mt tentin(?) I think that's what it was called. By the top (Eureka)it was raining, windy and cold.
After 20kms of descending there was a rest area that had covered picnic tables. I rolled under one and debated my options. None but the obvious. Keep going. The wind was blowing the rain under the covered areas. Tables were soaked. It was really cold just standing there.so I got going. I dropped more elevation and it warmed up some. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun even popped out for maybe an hr before it slipped out of sight for the night. A near full moon appeared.
About 9pm I got into Delta. Some accident with the fiber optic cable had the town scrambling. No wifi, no ATM or credit card approval machines. No hbo, Or cell phone reception. Though that must've been for other reasons.
OMG what a crazy day.
All set to roll out the door this morning and my rear tire was flat.
I had bought 4 new tubes in Regina figuring they would last me beyond the remainder of the trip. They were bontragers. Very thin but that's all they had.
I haven't had to use them until yesterday. Two flats. Both rear. Two tubes left. Didn't patch them last night. Figured two tubes would last.
So right off the bat this morning. One tube left. About 25kms down the road rear goes again. Last tube. It was sunny and hot. I saw an overpass maybe 500m ahead so walked there and delt with the flat. Thing is, I hadn't run over anything that would flat the tube. I took the tire right off and inspected it very carefully. It looked fine. Decided to put new one on anyways. Inspected the rim. It seemed fine too. Decided I better patch some tubes. Inspected the tubes and found the one from yesterday, the first one (a Kenda) had a pinch flat. The second one.. A hole on the underside. The side that faces the rim. Only thing I can think is That the rim tape isn't doing it's job.
Inspected today's flats...same thing. The underside. Okay. Tubes patched, new tire on and pumped up to 115psi. Away I go.
Later in the day the front tire goes flat. Man. Give me a break. I find a thorn puncture. Okay...these things happen. Note to self... I'm in new terrain. Prickly thorn country. Watch were you go. I'm replacing the tube and noticing the weather. Clouds blot out the sun and the headwind picks up a bit.
An amused state trooper pulls up behind me and tells me I have to exit the interstate. So much for that. Was planning to exit soon anyways but it's nice as a backup option. We talk for a while and it starts to rain. Not hard, just steady. The wind increases too.
I exit the interstate, get my bearings and push off. Late the day now but decide I could ride into the evening and get another 60k in.
I'm deciding I like this road much better than the interstate except for the traffic lights but I'm hitting most of them green so it's all good.
6:30pm...pfsssssssssssssssssssss. Rear tire flats. I don't yell or swear or have a tantrum. I laugh. One of those laughs that you laugh when there's nothing else to do but laugh.
I find a spot to pull off and fix it. Now I'm thinking I don't want to do this anymore today. I don't want to risk riding into darkness and have to fix yet one more flat tonight. I'm packing it in. I'm going to linger tomorrow, find a bike shop, get some rim tape, new tubes and a patch kit. maybe new tires too.
Once on the road again I spot macdonalds up ahead. I pull into parking lot and get out my iPad to google motels. Find motel6 close. Then I google bike shops. What...right next door to this exact spot? Cool. I check time. 650. Hmmm. Probably closed but worth a look. It is Saturday after all.
I pull in. Looks closed. Get up close. It is closed. Closed since 6pm. Worse than that, sign says closed Sunday's.
Then I notice two guys loading a bike on their car rack in the parking lot and go over to talk. Turns out they work there.
I plead my case and they have simpathy for me. They open up shop and though they didn't have size 650 tires, had 5 specialized tubes of substance, rim tape and patch kit.
Life is good again.
I reward myself after dinner with a bowl of caramel apple crisp and vanilla ice-cream.
Tremonton Utah, 155kms Late so real quick one. Very late start on the day. Wasnt 100%. don't know why. Spent long time making sure I had the final distances correct and tried my best to squeeze the distance I need out of the area I have left. Spotted Denny's on way out of town and talked myself into breakfast. Met some people there and we got to talking. Practically lunch by time I really got rolling. experienced 2 flats. Both rear. The day was great. Maybe 3 real climbs. The rest was cupcake. The road follows valley tween two mtn ranges and is very scenic. Spotted vehicles carrying race bikes heading south all day. Turned out they were all heading same place I was. Big race tomorrow. Big prob. Full motels. Just happened to be at the last one double checking the truth to the word that they were all full when they got a cancelation. Lucky for me as it was near 9pm.
Chubbuck Idaho, 250kms A day in the life. Alarm went off at 5:30am. I shut it off and went back to sleep. 6:45 I got up, got dressed, checked the weather outside...cold. Checked the days forecast...warm Ate a can of peaches and 2 blueberry pop tarts. Checked my days saved route on google again. Loaded the bike. Quickly went over the bike. Checked for tire wear etc. Pumped 30psi into rear tire wondering if one of the patches was beginning to fail, if a new, small leak had occurred, or if it was just one of those things. Dawned all my warm clothes. One last look around the room. Checked the time..just before 8am. Rode to gas station wishing I had more warm clothes. Bought 2 bananas, 1 ltr chocolate milk, 2ltrs water. Down the road a ways stopped, ate the bananas, drank the milk. Stamped my feet, blew on my hands. Resumed riding. Crossed continental divide at 7072 ft. left Montana (again). Last time briefly for Wyoming, this time for Idaho. By 10am, serious climbing began. By 10:10, started to shed warm clothes. In Island Park stopped at gas station and bought another liter of chocolate milk, can of wieners and beans, and a can of peaches. Enjoyed a long fast descent (about 8k at 6%grade). much much warmer when done. Stopped by river, walked down to river, had a late lunch. Rode my bike. Enjoyed the view. Rode it some more. Worked out some of the worlds problems. And rode some more. Texted Jessica, twitter,Martin from Cycle_Around. Thought about the ride. What was left, what had passed. At 170k, Idaho Falls, got on interstate 15 and continued riding southwest until 9pm (still in shorts and jersey)where, after exiting on 72 to interstate 86, took exit 61 to motel 6 where I finally got to use one of my 3 free night coupons. Killed a cockroach (small one) for squeamish reception girl. Settled into room. Had shower. Washed clothes in sink. Wrung them and hung them to dry Loaded photos on iPad. Checked tomorrows weather. Checked tomorrows route. Went wandering a bit. Bought some food for dinner. Noticed how late it was getting. Called it a day.
West yellowstone. 180k Was 90k along paradise valley to the gateway. By 115k I'd climbed the 500m to the plateau. Rode along good flat road for 25k, met Bart smith( www.walkingdownthedream.com ) a man walking a long ways The last 40k were practically all downhill. Glad I picked the route I did. Saw lots of elk. A few bison, a moose far off. Was dark when I rolled into west yellowstone. A bustling little tourist town on the edge of the park. Was really fun. I encourage all Guinness record pursuers to go this route:-)
Livington, 222. Doesn't get much better than today. What wind there was was tail. Not too hot. Really fun road. Lots of rolling hills. Was fast in the morning, slight uphill mostly in the afternoon and mostly descending all evening. Once again, saw lots of wild life, little traffic and practically no services. People are very friendly here. Lots of waves and honks. I'm pretty much at the gateway to yellowstone. Tomorrow I will be doing a lot of climbing.
Fantastic day. 218kms, 11hrs, 44mins ride time, 14hrs, 44mins real time. Much climbing, but I've been looking foreword to it. Was hoping to have a better average going into this last couple weeks as it's going to be slower but it is what it is. Haven't worked it out in a few days actually. Probably round 187kms/day. Temp was 90 degrees with a breeze. Scenery was amazing. I saw 2 rattle snakes today. One dead, one alive. Tried getting picture of the live one but he turned out to be camera shy. Saw mule dear, another fox, plenty of prairie dogs, had a close encounter with a family of white tails at dusk but was watching for movement from either side of the road and spotted them before they suddenly crossed the road. Saw elk and what I think were maybe antelope but not sure. It was a day without services until just before Roy. 180k. I met a family heading home from a weekend of prospecting with a few gold flakes and small nuggets for their efforts. They made a point of stopping to see if I needed water or anything. Truly an eventful day. Slow though. I had hopes of making hawthorn. That's maybe another 120kms. Not a chance.
Chilly start but warm day. Wind was a constant but warm. Finally done with that cold snap. It was blowing from the east. I was going west. Nice. Then it shifted and started blowing from the south as I shifted south. It slowed me down and wore me down. Got to Malta late in the aft. Lewiston, still 200 kms to the south with nothing in between was going to have to wait. About 20 kms from Malta I crossed paths with three touring cyclists. 2 on honeymoon and a guy they met yesterday going their way a ways. We talked for awhile. The first cyclists I've seen in weeks. Was nice talking with them. Anyway...a super short day that was a huge effort yet fun too. Spotted a fox and some deer on the plains. Crickets everywhere and grasshoppers constantly landing on me or bouncing off the windjammer.
Better day today. It was 100 kms to the border. 50 of them into the chilly wind. Then another 100 kms to Glasgow. Crossing the border into Montana went smooth and fast. for a moment, I felt a tugging as I rode away from Canada yet again. It was basically 200kms without services. I had lingered in town this morning until the store opened so I could stock up for the day. A late start gave the day time to warm up a tad. That wind chill was brutal. The landscape was amazing. The road awesome. I could see isolated showers going on around me. Sometimes sweeping over road ahead of me, sometimes behind me in my mirrors. I stayed dry all day. The wind warmed up and died down in the evening. The sun set and I rolled into Glasgow.
Was up at 6am this morning. Shirley had already packed me an awesome lunch and was making bacon and eggs. Coffee was on and juice was on the table. Breakfast went by way too quick. Next thing you know, I'm saying my good byes. It was tough to leave. Dad drove out to the edge of town and when I caught up, took a couple pictures. Then it was just me and my bike again. I was all gun ho to ride to Glasgow MT today. Near 300kms. Mother nature wasn't going to make things easy though. The cold 25km wind came at me all day long. gusts blew me all over the road. I was reduced to inching along at about 15kph and that was an effort. A squall hit me and though I did get my rain gear on, still got pretty wet and really cold. I couldn't warm up from that. Even dropping a couple gears and ramping up the cadence didn't work. At one point, I was cresting a small rise and was slammed by a cross wind that blew me right across the highway and onto the opposite shoulder. It didn't catch me by surprise though and no traffic was around. So.. Assiniboia, a mere 110 kms ends up being my days end at 5pm. I knew of no motels tween Assiniboia and Glasgow and figured at best I'd make Glasgow by 1am if I pushed on. Grabbed a motel, got outa my wet clothes, checked weather and with the forecast calling for rain all night, was glad I didn't push on.
Oh man was it a cold start this morning. I gotta get back down south pronto. Luckily I didn't have to venture out too early. Decided it would be prudent to stock up on tubes and a couple patch kits. Bike shop opened at 9am downtown. From there, on my way outa town I spotted a starbucks.......okay, I googled it and as luck would have it, twas located on my exit route. Really. I used the north wind to propel me south along 6. About 50kms. Then had to turn into the now nor-westerly on 39 for an 80k push into 25-35k winds for the rest of the ride. What fun I tell ya. Got rained on again. That makes 3 of the 4 days in SK. Ah but that one rainless day was marvelous:-) I'm a magnet for locating road construction. A long stretch being worked on today made for a slow, bumpy couple hrs but at least it took my mind off the wind. Cold...did I mention it was cold. Warmed up late in the day. Made moose jaw by 5pm. Met my dad downtown, had a snack. Met him and Shirley later at his place. We went for dinner then over to my aunt and uncles place. I had a really great visit despite arriving 15 minutes too late to see more of the family. Eventually, back at dad and Shirley's, over a beer, we made plans for the morning, gabbed a bit and called it a night.
We all share bodies with a wussie. Well I know I do. He stays quiet most of the time but gets rather boisterous when I'm tired or off guard. Take this morning for example. 6 am I get up, get dressed, and step outside to see how the days shaping up and the wuss says "holly crap, it's cold out here. Cold, foggy, damp and breezy. We need a plan B."
"Huh" I say. " it's probably just morning fog. It'll burn off by the time we're ready to ride."
"I'm not riding 300 and some odd kms in that. We need to rethink our route. Turn on the weather channel and check what's forecast."
"okay, well let me grab my chocolate milk from the fridge first"
He waits patiently while I get my milk and turn on the tele.
"ah, there, you see. Thunder storms, rain. 10 mm this aft and another 10 overnight. Wind from the south most of the day. I refuse to embark on such a crazy idea with you. Plan another route"
"I say we stick with the plan. It's a great spot to finally get a 300plus km day in. Let's go for it"
"he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day" the wussie says.
"huh" I say.
"if you force me to do this, I will make your day most miserable. I will wine and complain the whole way. I will drag my ass every damp, wind blown kilometer."
"okay, well let's take a look at our options"
"there aren't any options. You find the fastest route to Regina and let's go"
This goes on for awhile, the wussie getting more cranky all the time. Finally I relent, we pack up and get going.
I quietly think to myself..." crap, it is cold"
"I heard that" says the wussie. " let's stop and dig out the cold weather clothes"
Again, I relent. It's a cold cloudy morning. The sun makes an appearance late in the morning and I'm preparing to chastise the wussie when it slips behind the clouds and I hear the first rain drop splat against my windjammer. I keep quiet. The rain comes on heavier then and I dig out the wet weather gear. For 40 or 45 kms we put up with the rain. Eventually it let's up and soon the sun seems to burn off a good percentage of the dark clouds. This holds for a bit but looking around I see serious storm clouds stacking up in the distance. I keep quiet.
We get into Regina fairly early, get a room and grab some food. The wussie had been drowned out all day by copious amounts of Gatorade and probably too loud iTunes. It's really blustery outside and the thunder is rumbling in the near distance The wussie speaks up. "thanks" he says.
"thanks for taking my advice"
"no worries mate, we're in this together you know. Good call by the way"
Yorkon, 220kms Having issues with this app. It might be my iPad though. Going to keep this one short. The kitchen I slept in last night was real dark and quiet and I discovered I'd slept till 9:30. So after 10 when finally loaded up at gas station and on my way. Had a fun day for the first 150kms. Then, after Moosemon a couple serious climbs slowed me down some. Then a long stretch of broken pavement, gravelly road, and dust from the many semi trucks got me down some. Eventually that was behind me and, like how things just resume after you've merged from 4 lanes into 2 during rush hour, I was moving along and happy again. After langonburg I took the yellowhead hwy (16) NW to Yorkton. Found a cheap motel, showered, laundered, ate buffet across the street and suddenly it was late again.
Redvers saskachewan, 270kms. Great day. Temp only got up to about 90 then clouded over and cooled down in the aft. Rode 83 to Minot. Had lunch. Rode up to 5, west to 28, and to the border where AT&T dropped me. I had a tailwind the whole day.dark clouds that had been building northwest of me now put on a spectacular lightening show. Soon I was close enough to hear the thunder. Dusk came and with it, so did the rain. I turned on my lights and pushed the final 20k to redvers and it's one motel..... Which turned out to be fully booked. It was a strange place really. I talked to the reception guy over the phone. He had no suggestions for me. Place would've cost me over $100. A rip. Anyway. I decided I'd just spend the night in the hallway. Sleep on the floor. I went out to get my bike then remembered the first door I went to when arriving in the dark. It was unlocked and opened to a storage room of sorts. I went back and explored a bit. That room opened up to an old kitchen that wasn't in use. I brought my bike into the storage room, took the foam from it's seat, and a bag of cloths(for a pillow) and went into the kitchen, cleared a prep table and used it to sleep on. I slept not too bad actually. And saved some cash.
Ha, late start this morning for multiple reasons.
Had a route all figured out and asked the motel owner if he thought it made sense. He concurred. I was reassured by that until just out of town I came to my first road closure. Once again... These things don't apply to me so I just hoisted corsa up onto the new bridge that was being built, (nobody working on Sunday though), made my way across and continued on. Plan was to take 94 west to 25. North to 28. North to 200. Over the river to 83 where I could resume my planned route.
Where 94 met 25 there was a gas station boasting a travel info center. Figured I'd get a second opinion.
Was told 28 was gravel, that I should take 140 off 25 over to 1806. That would take me to the river.
Well that was very bad advice as 1806 turned into gravel long before it got near the bridge.
I decided to just follow 1806 back to mandan, then 94 to Bismark, get on 83 and eat the lost time and distance.
As luck would have it, at that moment, a cyclist named Bob on a giant TCR advanced came pedaling up 1806. I got good news from him that my first plan would work just fine.
That was the best news as I really hadnt gone far out of my way yet.
That whole area is part of the Lewis and Clark trail and was very hilly and scenic but tiring.
Made matters worse...I got another flat in the am, then another early in the aft. Turned out go be the rim tape. A section was not covering one of the spoke access holes and was blowing tubes. Glad I finally figured that out. Was getting annoying. I was out of ready spares and a slight breeze made it hard to tell where the leak was.
As well, It's rare when a flat occurs near a shady spot. So the day just bled away. 6:30 I still had over 80 kms to my planned destination. A sign said "Underwood, food, gas, lodging. I took it. A very small town on a section of the old highway 83.
Mandan, 260kms Geez, so much happened today. Began around 4:30am. I could swear the chambermaid was rolling her cleaning cart up the sidewalk from room to room. I was asleep of course but the noise registered and slowly I woke up. Then I thought she shone a light in my window... WTF! Now I'm fully awake. The cart starts to roll again and that's when I realize... It's thunder. Lightening flashes again and the light patter of rain on the motel roof becomes a timpani. Hmmmmm. I go back to sleep. Alarm went off at 5:30. I acknowledged it and that the rain was still coming down heavy. I went back to sleep. Okay...I got up round 6:30, stepped outside and noticed first, the wind blowing through the trees from the southeast (that's good) and second how chilly said wind was. (that's bad). Anyway...somehow unexplainable by me, 6:30 turns into 8:30 in the blink of an eye. It's not raining when I leave the motel. Rains on me off and on during the morning but nothin serious. By 10am it's warmed up considerably. I'd had a quick snack at the local gas station and loaded up with water etc. So the plan was to ride north on 47, west on 12, north on 271, west on 130, and finally, northwest on 83. Before I even got to 12 I was seeing signs warning me that 83 north was closed and to take detour. The detour wasn't going to work for me as it went east. I usually assume these types of signs don't apply to me so I ignored it. I ignored the next 3 or 4 that crossed my path. Finally I was at the on ramp. I ignored one last sign saying no through traffic. Being Saturday, my rationalizing was that no workers would be present and no traffic using the road and really, how bad could it be. It was hwy 83. A main artery running all the way to Canada. The pavement didn't Peter out until I was well committed to the route. When it did it deteriorated slowly until I was riding in sand, clay and mud. It collected on the tires and got clogged up around the brakes, fender,and frame. I had to clear it out now and then as it would clog up so bad the wheels would stop turning. All this sounds bad but really, the entire length to picking up paved 83 again was only about 30 kms. It took me about 2 hrs. No regrets as I was able to stay on course. There were a couple more sections during the day that were under construction and really rough but for the most part, it was fast roads, slow traffic, and wide shoulders. At km 210, 83 merged with interstate 94 west for the remainder of the day. I rode it to the outskirts of Bismark. My destination. It was about 8:45, I could see the city lights and the golden arches when my rear tire flatted. No biggie. Should only take me 10 minutes. That's when the mosquitoes attacked. Millions of them it seemed. Hearty buggers too. Decided to push/walk/run to macdonalds. It was farther away than it appeared but finally made it. Fixed flat. Used MDs wifi to locate motel6. I have coupons. Motel was next exit so I got back on the interstate and raced to exit 159. Motel6 sold it's last room an hour before I got there. Every other motel was full too. Got info about motel in next town just across the river off exit 155. Made reservation and took off down the interstate again. Around 11pm the police flashed me down and told me I wasn't allowed to ride across the bridge. I pleaded my case and a sympathetic officer gave me an escort safely across to Mandan. Found my motel, grabbed some food from next door, had a shower and listened to the awesome thunder boom outside until I was ready for slumber.
Had such high hopes to crack the elusive triple century today but as soon as I stepped outside I knew that wasn't going to happen. Mother nature had her own plans. And so, I rode into the wind all the live long day. Straight up 47 for 120kms, then a short rest as I rode west for 25kms, then back into the then somewhat diminished headwinds to the small town of Hoven. Got in about 8pm. Had an awesome 3" thick, 10oz sirloin dinner and walked round town a bit before turning in. 160kms, 9hrs.
Ft Thompson, South Dakota, 283kms Awesome day. Lots of flat, lots of rollers, minimal traffic, good roads, was riding north on 45 and came to where it merged with interstate90 west to Kimball. Google maps suggested a route on the other side of the interstate that turned out to be a gravel road. 247th street. Man that's frustrating. Ended up backtracking into the headwind and taking the interstate for 10kms or so. Had a flat around 6pm. Darn bridges at the bottom of fast rollers that don't have smooth transitions. It was all wide open country. Corn, cotton, sunflowers, and hay. Staying at the Lode Star motel for 50 bucks. Casino across the street had steak buffet for 12 bucks.
If only today's winds were yesterday's when I wanted to drop southwest again. Going northwest today was a tough go with the ever present headwind and the rollers that increased with length and incline throughout the morning and afternoon. The evening, say from 3pm on was flatter and I made better time but still only finished off with a 150km day. It was cooler today, maybe as cool as 95F. I didn't check. I couldn't use the wind and drop south today. That option is gone for now or I'll loose my exit window out of the USA into SK. Don't want to do that. Visiting my dad is huge on my list of must dos this trip. Once in Oneil I went shopping. Bought a bunch of fresh fruit, yogurt, juice etc. Had a great feast. Still no cell service.
St Paul. 200kms
Didn't have wifi last night and misjudged todays distances. Next hotel after St Paul was near 100miles away. Might've shot for it if it was earlier in the day but it was another hot day and late in the day. Other options would've thrown me way off course. I had fun riding past Nebraska's seemingly endless corn fields. A southwesterly kept me company all day. I spent time adding up distance. Getting harder to focus on that so close to home. I mean when I turn away from home direction in order to add extra miles to my route it just feels wrong:) getting anxious I guess. About 5800kms to go. I'm averaging about 12k per day over the record. Still time to improve on that.
Sweet day. Hot as ever but a tailwind to push me along and a few well placed gas stations to fuel up at kept me cranking out the kms. I lost at&t cell service after just one txt to Jessica and one response back. Never got it back all day. No wifi tonight either. I'm on my own. The picture is of a road google maps walking dude sent me down. He's got quite a sense of humor. Not the first gravel road he has suggested i take either. Made it to sutton. Small town, couple motels. I stayed at the fox hollow motel right on the golf course. Loaded up on dinner, breakfast and lunch stuff. Tried to make it an early night.
For whatever reason, felt pretty bagged this morning and didn't get out the door until 8. Silly not to be getting earlier starts but always feel so unrested in the morning lately. It was another hot day and that doesn't help. Not complaining really. All to soon I'll be wishing for these days. I rushed from one shady rest to the next for much of the day. Taking until 3 to get in 100kms. Then I found some hidden reserve and managed another 110k by 7. It was a real fun afternoon. Zipping along at 35kph plus. Singing out loud to my iPod tunes on the quiet country roads. I'm liking Kansas. People are nice, roads are nice, It even smells nice. That's nearly it though. Tomorrow I'm into Nebraska.
The look on my face in this photo is decidedly one of relief. If you look beyond me at the overcast sky you see why. It started out sunny and hot in Stillwater. I lingered in town until the Cooper Cycle Center opened so I could grab a patch kit. I was right out of good spare tubes. Bought 4 tubes and a patch kit. They gave me a jersey. Sweet. It's a great little shop and very friendly folks running it. Bout 9:30 I got going. Was hoping to make Newton. A town just north of Wichita. I decided (against my better judgement) to let google maps walking dude mode choose my route. It looked good. Lots of country roads that kept stepping west. The iPad doesn't have the bike route mode. I stayed on 177 until ponca city, then took ranch dr. It took me to a 4way stop, 3 directions gravel and the paved road I rode in on. Haha. I eventually aborted the walking dudes route suggestion and made my own. Around that time I came across another recumbent rider. Keith and I talked for a bit then went our separate ways. I decided to go with the wind west along 11 and then, head NW to Wellington city, Kansas. It became overcast late in the morning and remained that way all day. Even sprinkled a bit. A very good thing as it was not a typical day with dozens of gas station stop options. I got settled away in motel and after dark walked a couple blocks to grab a bite to eat. This has been the first night in a long time I can say was pleasant temperature to walk in. Even after dark. About 80degrees.
Stillwater, 192kms, 110F. I don't think much more needs to be said. No doubt this will have been the hottest day of the trip though yesterday seemed hotter. I've broken away from the seriously humid areas. Dry heats a little easier. A good day. Hi mom.
I guess today was a rest day. Only 150k. Wasn't hilly or windy or raining. Just hot. I dragged my butt all day. Left Texas behind for Oklahoma. The evening ride to sulfur was fun. Smooth road (177), cutting through farmland and countryside peacefully void of all but the occasional car or truck. Saw a buffalo on my way in.
Hot hot heat just about had me today. Well did have me for a while. I ignored my 5:30am alarm favoring a 7:30 wake up instead. Still felt like yesterday's heat was radiating from me even with the AC on full blast all night. Looking round the motel room you'd think a non alcoholic party had ensued. I gathered up the milk jug, water bottles, pop and iced tea cans and stacked them all together, then went over to Denny's for breakfast. I lingered. Eventually (say around 9:30) I finally got going giving myself heck for leaving so late. By 10:30 it was once again climbing into the triple digits. It was a tough day for me. I made many gas station stops for fluids usually downing a liter of water right away and packing one along with my 3liter hydro pack full of gatoraid. I stopped at 2 picnic areas along the way. Taking a full hrs rest from the sun at one of them. At 5:00 with only 110kms logged, I rode passed Greenville and it's many cheap motels nearly throwing in the towel for the day. However, the temperature was cooling and I was feeling revived some. Decided to push on to my planned destination of Denison TX. I got in after dark but really enjoyed riding into the evening. I'm not out of the convection oven yet but am now north of Dallas. It will begin to cool as I get into the panhandle. So I finished up with 205kms.
I could tell ya that it was another hot day. That even at 7:30 pm when I rolled into Tyler after 225kms the temp was 106F. But that wouldn't really explain much. It's just a number. I've lost count of how many days over 100 degrees I've logged but I've come to believe that all the previous hot days have all been in preparation for today. The heat today wasn't a temperature so much as a presence. An evil presence. It pressed down on you. Demanded your respect. Was merciless in it's quest to cook everything. Crisp leaves and dust would blow across the road now and again. At 170kms I rolled through Jacksonville(how many darn jacksonvilles are there?). Motels on either side of the road. Swimming pools tempting me to give in, escape the heat. Still had 55k to go though. Pushed on.felt good to resist. The message on my iPad said it had to cool down before I could use it. That's never happened before. Partially due to the nature of the hilly day on hwy 69. Climbing up the backside of the hill, there was a void. No air at all it seemed. Just heat. It took your breath. Felt like my back was on fire and thighs were roasting. Over the top a breeze would hit you but it was not any better. It was hot. You could feel it swirl around your glasses and burn your eyes as the speed picked up downhill. I was constantly looking for shade. Even rode on the shoulder of the south ward bound divided hwy in the afternoon to get as much shade as possible. Not too impressed with Texas roads so far. More crappy than good. Look at the shoulder on the pic if it comes in clear enough. Sure it's wide but basically unrideable. One section...the rumble strip was the smoothest area to ride. Seriously. My recorded ride time was 10:43:24 to ride 225kms. That's a long, slow day. Especially since I'd clocked the first 100k before 11:30. Had high hopes to do a 300k day but no way. I got going before the sun was up. It was actually kinda cool. By 8:30 the sun was makin it's point. A samoyed was up ahead of me watching my approach. I was apprehensive as I'd had many aggressive dogs trying to chase me, barking, growling and generally looking mean. This guy was nothing but friendly. He fell into stride beside me and ran along with me for nearly 2miles. He'd look over and smile once in awhile. Then he must've decided he'd escorted me through his territory. He stopped running, stood and watched me ride away. He was still watching when I lost sight of him in my rearview mirror. I really enjoyed the company. Talked to him most of the way...but don't tell anyone:) should've got his picture. Never even thought to. Saw a bunch of turtles crossing the rd yesterday. Didn't get a shot of that either.
Amazing what changes the landscape can take in a days ride. Left cameron, caught the ferry, rode along the gulf for about 80k, then, after port Arthur, inland another 140k to woodville. Amazing how different one 220k day can be from the next too. Yesterday was so tough with the wind and the crappy roads, the thundershowers etc. Today the roads were much better and the wind...tame. It was hot though. 106F at 5:30pm. Guess I'm in the thick of things here for awhile yet. Heading north though. Should climb up out of this heat in a few days or so. No pool in tonights motel. Sure coulda used it. Doesn't seem to be any wifi either even though I was assured there was. Guess I'll go sit in the lobby for a bit. Maybe it'll work there.
Cameron LA, 220k Should've gotten earlier start. Meant to. Alarm was set for 4:30am actually. Just couldn't get out of bed though. So... After the motel breaky and getting organized I was on my way around 7am. Things were going well for the first 30k or so then I got onto #35. what a mess of a road. Cracked, split, uneven, patched, potholed, littered, shoulderless, crappy road. At rayne I loaded up at gas station and enquired from 3 different people as to the condition of both 35 and 90. my plan had been to shoot down 35 to 82 and follow that all the way to port Arthur tx. Something just shy of 300k. That's what I did. Except I didn't quite make it to pt Arthur. The rest of 35 was he'll as well. So over 100k of bumpy travel put me on smooth 82 and into a hot headwind that resisted me all day. By 3pm it was cooled down and raining heavy off and on. Sounds bad but was a refreshing relief. The wind abated in the late afternoon and I was able to jack up my avg some. It turns out Cameron has a motel. At 7:30, fairly wet and not wanting to ride the remaining 50k to PA in the dark, I grabbed a room.
Opelousas, 182kms. Spent the day riding many secondary roads. Some good, some not so good, some terrible. Got two flats on the terrible bits but really enjoyed the countryside. Very little traffic. A dodgy thunder storm that kept missing me is probably still out there somewhere. Louisiana has been a lot of fun so far.
On the road by 7am. Made my way down to the French quarter. It's a cool time to see the area. The clean up after a crazy night and preparation to do it all over again. I was on my way to the ferry at the bottom of canal St. But spotted a starbucks and, well, you can guess the rest. I did manage to catch the ferry and once in Algiers, get on the levy path and ride. Eventually I dropped down to river road. It is a clean, sparsely traveled, curvy, fast road the winds alongside the Mississippi. I stopped at a gas station for a cold bevy and discovered huge wedges of fresh, seedless watermelon for sale. I was very hot by then and the watermelon sure was a treat. Had a really fun ride, finishing up in port Allen just across the river from baton rouge. Had a swim, had dinner and prepped for tomorrow.
I got onto hwy90 almost right away this morning and stayed on it all day. After Pascagoula, it drops down to the beach and runs through Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian before angling away from the water. It's got to be over 100kms of beach front. Seemed to go on forever. Beautiful bleach white sand. Relaxed road along side it. Hot though. I know, hardly need to mention that. Very little shade. Very bright. Intensely bright actually because of the sand and water. I drank gallons of fluids today. Had to get out of the sun around 2pm. It was just too much today. Saw a shaded picnic table in a park and hid out for a 1/2 hr or so. Would've stayed longer but the flies that bight found me and that was the end of my snooze. Felt better for the rest though. Was getting pretty overheated. There were some fun bridges, fast sections on 90, and shade towards the end of the day. Got to talking to Mike(the general manager) and Caira(the girl at the desk)at motel6 just off interstate 10 and Bullard. Gave them my website address. Mike presented me with 3certificates for 3 individual nights at any motel6. That was very cool. Motel costs have been the biggest expense bar none on this trip. I went for a swim. The pool was awesome after the days heat and efforts. I wish the water in pools back home was as warm. Had dinner just down the road and turned in for the night.
Into a headwind all day go day but no rain. Temp rose into the high 90s. Was feeling the burn from riding yesterday's stronger headwinds but still had a fantastic ride today. This is really an area not to be missed by the touring cyclist. Or anyone for that matter.long stretches of deserted beach and then concentrated areas where you can rent ski jets. Go parasailing etc. All the cool eateries along the waterfront. People everywhere. The water is so warm. Ya, had to investigate. Didn't swim, just dipped. Had to keep moving. On perdido island, florida ends and alabama begins.Just made the ferry from ft Morgan on gulf shores over to dauphin island and rode to bayou de batre as the sun set on a. Beautiful day.
Was raining when I started out. I hung back a bit hoping it would quit but finally just dove in. Shortly afterwards it got worse. Had sunscreen in my eyes and hit a small, sharp rock that flatted my front tire so changed it in the rain. The wind picked up. Rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning. Very exciting really.
Was just going to blow through the town of ft St Joe but as I approached the bridge, a sudden monsoon blocked my path. I ducked under some trees on the side of the road thinking it would pass quickly but it just got worse. Decided to wait it out in mcdonalds. It was lunchtime after all. I spent a good twenty minutes in the can using the hand dryer to dry my cloths so I wouldn't be sitting in the air conditioned restaurant completely soaked and cold.
It let up and I resumed my ride into the headwinds that fought me all the way to Dresden but the sun came out. Much of the ride was along beach front. I fought the urges to go swimming in the ocean. That was tough. Traffic was light there but hectic back up on 98. I got into motel just as weather turned nasty again but went swimming anyways. Feels great to use the upper body for awhile in the pool. And, of course, just being in the water feels pretty nice on it's own. Golden corral for din din. A short, tough day.
Even at 7am it was shaping up to be another hot muggy day. But as it progressed, clouds built up on the horizon and spread out across the sky. By noon it was cooler. Thunder and lightening promised to drop some badly needed rain. By 2 i was very wet, finally cooled off and very happy. I left live oak, dropped down to perry and followed 98 west along the gulf coast for the rest of the day ending up in apalachicola. Crossed a couple long low bridges during the day. Saw some wild life. Really had a good day. I love riding along the ocean.
It sure doesn't take long to get away from it all. In no time all the traffic peeled away and I had the roads to myself. Farmland passed by. Big excitable dogs chased me. A bike path appeared on the left of an already well shouldered highway and i rode it just for the hell of it. The terrain lost it's flatness. It was hot. It was humid. It poured down in blinding sheets of water. Then steamed off the road until all was dry again. It was a lazy day of sorts. Begun with a large breakfast at Denny's. A first. Then 185 kms with a couple gas station stops to top up hydration and a 6:30pm finish. A rest day.
From north port to palmetto a great ride along #41. moderate, slow moving traffic, wide road, good shoulder. From palmetto, because of toll bridge St Pete, I had to organize a ride. I met Mark from bacchetta, he treated me to lunch, then went to the bacchetta shop and reloaded with tires, tubes, chain lube, and a pack that hangs off the back of my carbon seat frame. While inside, we could hear thunder booming overhead. I hoped and expected to see rain when finally i got going but it was dry and sunny. Well, dry is a relative expression. It was hot and humid. We said our goodbyes. Marks a cool guy and he has a warehouse full of awesome recumbents. He pointed me towards the Pinellas trail and away I went. It was a rails to trails bike trail that I was able to ride for 50kms or so. Evening finally came and with it a few clouds. The temp dropped and I made good time to Crystal River. Cheap motel, swim, dinner, bed. A good day.
240k today. Started out on nice bike path. Once back on road the heat and humidity began to climb. Had to take a break at picnic table under shade tree on side of road. So hot. 105 plus the humidity. Just saps you. Think I even nodded off for a bit. Got going, storm building to the west. Fingers crossed it hits me. Yes. Big boom, thunder, lightening, and lots of rain. Felt sooo good. Really energizing after all the heat. Made it to punta gorda, turned northwest and rode anoter 40k to north port. Cheap motel, swim in the pool. Life is good. So now, for a day or two, I'm alongside the gulf of Mexico.
Holy crap. Yesterday I thought I was getting used to the heat. Today just beat me down. So hot and humid. I pack it in after 200kms. Just knackered. The first 15k or so out of orange pk was along a shaded path that followed #17. that was nice. However, as soon as I got onto the highway, my speed shot up 5kph.
I had about a hundred kms to go to get to the Ocala national forest. I was thinking it would be well treed and cooler. There were lots of trees, but few that crowded the road. So it was hot.
I stopped at a small lake to cool off and was amazed at how warm the water was. It was well stocked with trout. I saw many.
I made it through and out to the turnpike that crosses #19 just south of Howey-In-The-Hills. That's a towns real name.
For $39, I grabbed a room that included wifi, breakfast, and a pool.
Another fun day. Basically hugged the shoulder of hwy 17 all day. Rode right through Jacksonville and I'm moteling it just south of there. Got to see a lot of the city. It's beautiful. Very bike friendly as well.
That's it for Carolina north and south. It's been fun riding. My favorite state so far. I'd really like to come back here again. A real nice feel. Roads going every which way. Wide open space. Lots of green. Friendly folks. I won't get to see much of Georgia. Not much opportunity to zigzag, stay going west, and not overshoot St. Pete. Florida.
Oops, forgot to post this last night. Now I'm 20 kms from St George. Last nights resting place. Found a cheap motel with a pool. Stayed in the pool till it closed. Good days ride. It was BCday back home. I tried my best to celebrate. Managed 220kms.
Hot muggy day that cooled off as the thunder and lightning and rain swept in. It felt great but by Florence and a slew of cheap motels along the strip, I decided to pack it in for the day.
Just shy of 240 today. Sort of ended up back on the hills a bit. Will remedy that first thing tomorrow. Hot day again. Over 100 degrees. It was 97 at 9am. But it clouded over for a bit in the afternoon and even rained for 5 minutes or so. Felt sooo good.
Sweet day. 220k. Wilson to Southport. Frikin hot though. It was another day of racing to hydrate faster than I was dehydrating. Guess I survived. I rode to fort fisher and took the 7pm ferry over to southport. Within 30k of the shore, I could feel the ocean air. Slightly cooler and very welcome.
Got going a bit earlier today. Trying to get back into that habit. It's been tough as I've been pretty tired. Think maybe I needed some rest. Feeling better now. Today was flatter, faster riding. It was hot again though. In the low 100s. On the tv, the weather network said with the heat index it felt like 110-115 depending where you were in north Carolina. They also said it was going to get hotter over the next few days. Hydration and rest are key. I managed 218 without going in circles today:). I drank copious amounts of everything I got my hands on and I feel pretty good. Finally quenched my thirst. They say Carolina is experiencing extreme drought conditions and air quality 105. Above moderate. Tomorrow I'll be on the coast. That should help.
First 80k of the number one south of mt vernon was like a roller coaster. After that it got easier. It was hot, is hot still at 10pm. Lots of liquids. Found a motel for 35 bucks.
Should've gone farther last night. I counted over a dozen motels within the next 50 kms down the road. Don't know what the cabbie was thinking. Anyway, a fine days ride. Sunny, hot but not too hot. They say another serious heat wave is to be expected by friday. Maybe by then I'll have dropped below it a bit. Saw in the news that new York got slammed with big rain storm and hail in Newark. I got through there just in time. Rear tire flatted. Tiny shard of glass worked it's way through to the tube. Funny, no issues for weeks then 2flats in 2 days. Nice shady spot to deal with it though unlike the other day. Made my way into Washington. Easy to maneuver through but oh so many lights. I rode down to the harbor. Was hoping to stop the clock, get on the Potomac river boat ferry that would get me to the other side and down river but they don't let bikes on so I asked around about which bridges I could cross. There was a trail that followed the waterline that I took. I met a guy who was riding home and happened to be going my direction so I followed him along the trail network to his turn. It was cool riding along with somebody else for a change. He pointed me in the direction of mt Vernon and said goodbye. I continued on this awesome trail that stretched for about 30k through the forest. Lots of people using it. Riding, running, walking. I Rode out to where 235 meets #1 found a motel. By then it was about 9pm.
Haha what a crazy day. I was all geared up to battle getting out of Philly and it turned out to be so easy. A very bike friendly, easy to understand city. However, down the road a ways, somehow I ended up on the interstate. Now, I had a route mapped on google, and I could see where I was supposed to be. I could just stayed on the interstate for 20k and the highway would've intersected with my route. But I decided to take the next exit and make my way over to my route. It was at this time that google maps decided to just show a grey square over a portion of the map and not zoom in with any clarity. I don't have a sim card in my iPad so this happens sometimes when out on the road. Anyway, I got so turned around on so many roads. Wasted tons of time scratching my head trying to figure out why I couldn't figure it out :) then ended up back where I'd been an hour earlier. What an idiot:) finally on my way again, it begins to rain. Feels good actually after all the heat. Then I get a flat. After that bits behind me, I roll into Perryville. I'd been following a roadside designated bike lane most of the day and it terminated in Perryville. A bridge that google said was bike friendly crosses the Chesapeake at this spot and as I get about half way across, an officer pulls me over, tells me no bikes allowed. He is nice enough but stubborn. He agrees that no sign indicates this is illegal and that there is nowhere even remotely close to this spot to cross but refuses to escort me to the other side. Instead...... (I never would've believed this and half thought he was joking when he told me to follow his lead) he reversed all the way back to the beginning of the bridge with lights on forcing vehicles to all merge into the right lane as I pedaled towards his reversing car. I called a taxi to get me across the bridge. It took awhile as I needed not just any taxi but a minivan or the like. When it showed, cabbie couldn't get hatch open. I managed it for him after a bit. On our way across the bridge he warned me that he thought it would be unwise to ride into riverside after dark and that Aberdeen didn't have any motels that he knew of that weren't out of the way. So I decided to call it a day. Only just over 100k, some if which won't count. Still, after the ghetto experience just before the bridge to Philly, I decided to heed his warning. Got a cheap motel in Havre de Grace, had a great broiled haddock dinner. I wanted to try the famous chesapeake bay soft shell crab but it wasn't on the menu. So, don't get the wrong idea. I had a great day.
Zig zagged all over jersey and in the evening, after braving the getto-ish streets of Camden, as the rain pelted down, I crossed the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia. As it was getting dark and I was soaked(but warm) I took the first hotel I found.(holiday inn). Alas, they did not have a channel that allowed me to watch the final stage of the TDF so I started plotting my escape from the big city.
Great day. Rode the jersey shore as much as I could and enjoyed 220kms of flat roads. Well, there may have been a couple hills in there early on. It was another hot day. Not sure how hot. Up in the high 90s I'd guess. Didn't seem quite as hot as yesterday. I drank more though. I moved in and out of well treed, shady areas, to wide open, hot, sunny sections along the beach. Wide smooth, clean shoulders. To narrow, nearly non-existent shoulders littered with gravel. To upscale residential areas. End of the day I wanted to ride over to ocean city and find a hotel on the beach. Maybe go for a swim. But I couldn't get over there. Bridges wouldn't let bikes on. Had no choice but to turn away from the coast. Ended up in Mays Landing as it was getting dark. Two options, both full up. Had to ride out to black horse pike. It was near 10pm when I got there. A crappy motel miles from any beach. But it would do just fine.
The temperature must've climbed up over 100F today. For sure it was 97F as I rode through Greenwich at 10 am. So close to the ocean yet the breeze was hot enough you would think a huge fire was raging. It was something. I drank copious amounts of many fluids. Had great fun getting myself into, through, and out of the Bronx. Even rode through the spray from an open fire hydrant that a kid was playing at. His mother by his side. Over the George Washington bridge and to the edge water marina where I caught a ferry, passing the statue of liberty, and the Cunard cruise line pier. In Belford, New Jersey, a bike path practically from the ferry terminal led me to the small village of Leonardo and the nights accommodations. The forest alive with the sound of what I was told were locusts.
So I'm in Stamford, about 50kms from NY.though I had to put up with lots of traffic all day, I'm pretty happy with this route. Good shoulder, good roads. Easy signage to follow and easy hills. It was hot though. At 4pm it was down go 95F. Tomorrow I'm going to ride to the edge water marina and hop a ferry to Bedford. That will cut out much if the crazy downtown congestion and put me on my way towards Baltimore. I didn't get far today but had a fun day. Found my first starbucks since setting foot back in America and spent too long sipping on a latte but needed the R and R. The photo is just 2 days of road grime from socks, shorts, and jersey washing down the drain. Amazing really.
Spent way too many hours getting 100k behind me today, then decided while having a late lunch(4:30pm) to break away from my route which was WSW for a more SSW direction. Glad I did too. Only problem is it puts me in line with some heavily congested roads tomorrow. I was just bagged though, so many steep little climbs. One called "the dead horse hill climb" which I tackled just after seeing a temp reading of 87*. luckily it was at least partially shaded. A challenging day, fast evening.
Another lazy day. Time out to set my mobile up with ATandT and time out to deal with my cleats. I put new crank bros cleats on my shoes just before beginning my trip. They lasted a long time but started unclipping way too easily about a month ago. I had used spares that I could've swapped but decided to wait until I found some new ones. I found new ones in St Johns NL but by then the ones on my shoes were so warn I couldn't get them off. I put up with them, my shoes swimming around on the pedals, making clicking noises with every stroke, constantly popping off the pedals for quite awhile. Asked for help at a few shops but everyone agreed, they weren't going to be easy to remove.
Well today I spotted the Exiter Cyclery in the town of Exiter. A cool shop with high end bikes. They said they would tackle my shoes but were busy and it would take some time.
In the end, I bought a new pair of shoes. They offered me a sweet discount when I mentioned the challenge so I bought some socks(I've worn two pairs out so far), a specialized rain jacket that turns into a vest, some new brake pads, and spare pair of cleats.
Even better deal when you consider the strength of the Canadian dollar.
I left the coast today to get around the Boston area. Basically following the ACA route. Sort of:) had a good day. Many roads. Lots of checking and rechecking to make sure I was staying on track. Cruised through nice quiet, treed countryside today. Rode until after dark. Had bit of trouble finding motel.
Adios Maine. Ola New Hampshire. Day started out very muggy, then it rained. The rest of the day was cooler. No headwind, no big hills. I just spun along number one all day. Little detour through Portland. Checked out a couple bike shops. Just took it easy today. Number one is very entertaining through this section. One town line ends, the next begins. Loads of local shops, eateries, B+Bs and motels. Lobsta madness.
Well it was a hot day today. I loved it but really had to remind myself to drink lots. Best get into the habit of that I guess. I think it added up to 6 liters of fluids. I stayed on the scenic coastal route all day. Sure appreciated the ocean breeze. In Camden I was tempted to cut out for awhile and go swimming. The ocean looked very calm and refreshing. But I pushed on. Town after town whizzed by. All very cool and trendy. Motorcyclists everywhere. Sunday today so everybody was out enjoying the day. The road was not so good between Ellsworth and Bucksport, but after that it really improved. It remained challenging with many rolling hills up until the last 40 kms. Then it flattened out a bit and as it was cooler by then, I was finally able to open it up a little. Got into Brunswick after dark. A really good day. And.. Nobody called me SIR!:)
Now this is more like it. Warm right from 7:30am till I wheeled into the knight Inn in Ellsworth at 8:30pm. The road was a series of rollers all day long and wasn't easy. But it was fun. Very scenic and dotted with funky little villages, rivers, lakes and of course, the ocean. The breeze was ever present but ever changing directions it seemed as well. It was welcome most of the time. Most expensive motel in a while yet the first one without in room wifi. The TDF was on in room though:) As of today... Under 13000kms to go.
Up at 6, had breaky, caught the 8am ferry to St John NB. Started riding about 11:15. Saw the town a bit. Loaded up and got going. A wonderful sunny day with a tailwind. Just stayed on the #1 all day. Got held up at the border for nearly an hour while they tried to determine whether it was safe to let me in or not. Finally sanity prevailed and I was free to go. Just across the border, a town called Calias. 130k 8pm instead of the 7 i thought it was.Time change at the border. Had a nice cheap dinner with loads of veggies. Caught Thors amazing TDF ride.
This morning I headed northwest on #12 into the wind from Chester to kentville. About 80kms. It was cold and rain threatened. It was a roller coaster ride for sure. I stopped at a store and loaded up for the day. 12 bucks got me all the way to Digby. After kentville, I turned southwest and rode along #101 through the annapolis valley with the 20kph winds pushing me all the way. It's been awhile since I was able to ramp it up to 35 or 40 on flat rodes and maintain that for awhile. That was fun. With about 50k to go, the valley ended and the hills began again. Nothing severe but enough to slow me down some. Still, I managed 200k in 8.5hrs ride time. Not too shabby. I'm moteling it at the admirals inn just a 1/4k from the terminal. Had a fine meal as reward for finishing this portion of the ride. Ceasar salad, Digby scallops and a bud light lime. I had lobster in mind as the finale diner but the scallops were on special and I really love scallops. Don't think I ever mentioned having kangaroo for dinner one night in Australia, and a fresh moose burger in Newfoundland.
Looking forward to watching the tour tonight. The climbing begins.
Back on the south shore. Chaster town. 190k day. Fun day.
Ok that's enough into the wind pedaling fir one day. About face... 6:25pm, 55kms to Chester. With the wind
From Truro, I dropped down to Sackville, which is a small town just outside of Bedford which is just outside of Halifax. Just here for lunch then heading up to Windsor. I rode the 102 from Truro and it was fast. Haven't been on a main highway in days. So much smoother, straighter, leveler, and faster but very busy too. A real trade off. From here I'm going to ride the Evangeline trail which is also the #1. a secondary road. Looks like it'll be into the wind.
Woke up to a windy downpour that kept me coming up with reasons not to venture out too early. Looked like it was letting up late in the morning but by then I was deep into plotting slightly different course. Left after lunch. The window closed up on me and I got a bit wet on my way to Truro. Was going to push on but spotted a cheap motel on the outskirts of town. Very short day.
Had a great day Monday. Had to push into the wind for the first 80k but all part of my plan to make it work for me. By the time the winds were really up I turned away from the eastern shore and let the winds push me to the Northumberland shore. I followed that coastline past the ferry to PEI, along the sunrise trail(they call it). In Tatamagouche I found the Train Station Inn around 10:30pm and called it quits. The evening ride was so nice. Warm enough to stay in shorts and jersey. Cool enough to cool down from the days heat. And way less wind. Got in about 240k and rode along both coasts. Cool.
I take back what I said about not getting a break. Today turned out to be an awesome day. It didn't start that way. When I looked out the window first thing this morning, it looked worse than when I checked in yesterday. I couldn't bring myself to head out into that again so I lounged around the motel. Once the weather started looking better, (after 10pm) I got going. Got onto a scenic route called marine drive and really enjoyed myself. Almost zero traffic. Many small historic villages, A short ferry ride, and a ride into the evening after dark getting me into Sherbrooke around 9:30. Just in time to see the last hour of the days tour de France stage. Crazy carnage when a camera vehicle sorta swerved over and took out a couple riders. Sent one guy into a barbed wire fence.
I can't get a break lately, If it ain't winds and hills, it's rain. I made it about 25kms before the rain began and it just got heavier and heavier as the day went on. The road itself was fun. No big challenging climbs, no serious headwinds, good shoulder. So things could've been much worse. It was even fairly warm till the end as my rain gear began to fail. Finished up at 5:30 in Port Hastings with 145kms. Sheesh!
Got into Sydney late as there was a medical emergency on board ferry even before we left Pt Aux Basques. A call went out asking if there was a doctor or nurse on board to please go to reception. Our disembarkation was delayed some 45 minutes.Sometime just after midnight we docked in North Sydney. Coming from the west coast, and living on the Sechelt peninsula, I'm not unfamiliar with ferry crossings. I just want to note a few differences tween the two coasts ferry systems.
Both the ferry and the terminal had fast, strong wireless internet that was free and accessible anywhere. A 6 hr trip and no issues with lost signal at all. The seats were plush and reclining. They had a place to plug in right on the arm rest. I was allowed to ride onto, and off of the ferry. Cost for me and bike was $52.00. Back home, though unfair comparison, a typical crossing is... $12.00 I believe
It was a warm night and the ride to a motel was pleasant. Though it was late, and I tired, I had trouble getting to sleep. I slept in a bit and woke up to an overcast sky. But no rain and no wind:)
Finally made it to Port Aux Basque. A few very tough days due to headwinds but very enjoyable in a completely draining, exhausting kinda way:) I consider myself lucky to have made it without getting wet more than once. There has been rain in the forecast most every day but it has fallen elsewhere or not at all. Today is my official halfway mark as far as distance goes. I'm still holding at about 187kpd. Now I board the ferry for Sidney nova scotia. A 6 hr trip. The seas are calm. Sky blue.
Crazy day. Fairly early start. Lots of climbing and serious headwind all day long. If only I was going east:) Really expected to make port aux basques and the ferry to nova scotia but gave up at 6pm with 110 kms still to go. Toughest day in awhile. Into the wind, I was averaging 16kph. I started out in shorts and short sleeves but by 4pm the wind was picking up and it was getting chilly. Complete contrast from yesterday. Anyway, I saw many cyclists today, all going east. A group of 3 young guys, one of them riding a homemade double decker. Check out photo. About 10 am I came across a guy sleeping on the shoulder of the trans Canada highway. He had some suitcases with him and the police were trying to wake him up to no avail. As I proceeded up the road, an ambulance swung in behind the police car. No idea if he was okay or....? So I'm in midway motel, halfway tween corner brook and port aux basques. No restaurant, no Internet. Nice room though, and cheap!
Corner Brook 240k. First 50k was north on the TCH. Sweet ride with tail. Then I turned into the wind and for the next 100k it was a real push. After that, the winds subsided and the road flattened out some. Could even call it Aussie- ish:) warm breeze, open highway, evening coming on, it was beautiful. Lots a bikers out enjoying the day too. I was sustaining 45plus kph for short bursts on the flats. Felt good. Met a father/ son team on a week long cycling trip( or maybe longer). Took exit #6 into upper CB to discover both motels fully booked. That was around 9pm. Reception phoned downtown and got me the last room at the CB hotel. A fast, long descent into town proper and I was there. Guess that means a slow, long climb in the morning. At least I got a room.
Some days you crush it, some days it crushes you. Just the way it is. Well, guess I'm not crushed.... Compressed a bit maybe. Between the wind, rain, and hills, it took me all day to make this 125 k. It only rained a wee bit. No biggie. Felt good actually. Stayed in a little place in Badger. Had a great meal. Stocked up early departure.
A town called Gander. About 175k today. It started out very foggy and chilly but turned out to be a beauty of a day. The hills and winds much less severe than yesterday. A great road. I saw so many spots that reminded me of home. Lots of friendly folks here. Must've talked to a dozen today. I crossed the road to talk to a cyclist going the other way. He was an older solo rider heading to St johns. A real nice guy. Forecast still calling for rain... Fingers crossed it's wrong.
Started the day out thinking to add some extra distance by taking the Irish Loop. It looked like fun. A coastal road that circumnavigated the Avalon peninsula and added 300k to my route. After 50k I reevaluated that decision. Looking at the map I realized every town on it was on the water, but the distances between towns was in the hills. The hills were steep. Like I said, 50k in and my legs were screaming. I abandoned plan and took the exit that led me to the Trans Canada Highway.
That turned out being very wise. It was tough enough and very scenic. A sunny, breezy day with a lot of elevation gain. Saw a few cyclists. Stopped just before the TCH and talked to Gordon, a high school math teacher out for a Sunday ride. He reassured me that I'd been wise to abort the Irish loop:)
It was after 9pm when I rolled into the Trailside motel parking lot. It gets cold here after sundown. Nearly stopped to put on my toque. Had a shower and a late dinner. The special... Prime rib. Mmm. Even had coconut cream pie for dessert.
So I'm up this morning, haven't left motel yet, looking out the window at a chilly, completely fogged in morning. Can hardly see the vehicles on the highway. Guess I won't pack up the warm cloths.
That's it, cruise is over. What a fantastic way to be introduced to the Big Apple. It was just getting light out as we passed the statue of liberty(which I discovered was actually a gift from France and was created by the same guy who engineered the Eiffel tower). Very spectacular arrival. We docked at berth 2, pier 88. That was cool to watch as the last bit was done by tugs. They nudged the giant into its berth by 7:30. I retrieved my bike, and went through customs at 8am. The bus left for airport by 8:30. Checked bike box by 10am. Then the long wait for my flight to St Johns NL began. At least I had wifi:D. Eager to get the third and final leg of this adventure underway.
Happy Canada day. Made it to St Johns Newfoundland late July first. After clearing customs with my dilapidated bike box, I set about finding some tape so I could carry it out of the airport without everything falling out of it. Funny how it goes. Bikes been boxed since Madrid. It switched planes in Paris, I picked it up in Southampton, handed it off to QM ll baggage guys, they brought it to my cabin, week later, I handed it back to them, then picked it up on the dock after disembarking and loaded it on the bus, then checked it at the airport. Through all that, it was fine. One 4 hr flight later it barely resembles a box. When I found it, stuff from inside the box was sitting on top off the box. The bottom flaps were torn open, a big gash was ripped along the side, and the handle holes were completely destroyed. To my surprise, everything was accounted for, and in tact.
No more planes or bike boxes this trip. Couple ferry rides and a bit of pedaling and the trips over.
Got a hotel near the airport. It was after midnight.
Took the next day off. I know... Just had a week off.. WTF. Took it off anyway. Did a lot of walking.(forgot my camera) got my mobile activated, found a bike shop, got patch kit, new pump(I'd worn out the rubber valve inside my old one and it wouldn't pump up past 90psi anymore). Got new cleats for my shoes. The old crankbros cleats lasted nearly 14000kms but they are so worn out I can't get them off my shoes. Got some more chain lube. Very impressed with the dry wax lube.
Just wandered around. St johns a cool old port town. In the evening I built my bike, had dinner, and txted home a lot. Feeling very homesick at the moment.
That was my day off... Everything ready to go for the morning. Nonstop now till home.
Avast ye maties, greetings from the high seas. Thought maybe I'd share a bit of QM2 trivia with ye. The Queen Mary ll. Flagship of the Cunard Cruise Lines. She was christened in 2004 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll. At the time she was the largest ocean liner ever built (now fifth largest) with a gross tonnage of over 150,000, beam(width) of 131ft, draft(measurement from waterline to keel) of 32ft, and length of 1132ft or just under 2 cable lengths in seaman terms which equates to a tad shy of 200 fathoms.(a fathom measuring 6ft). Bored yet? She has a crew of 1200, and a guest manifest of 2600. And 2 bikes. One upright carbon fiber Raleigh, and a Bacchetta Corsa.
Full out, she can do 28 knots. A knot (nautical mile) equals one sixteenth of a degree of the earths circumference which equals 6080.2 feet. A land mile equals 5280 feet. I don't know how much fuel she consumes to propel herself at 28 knots. Let's just assume it's one heck of a lot. Presently we are about 500 knots from Southampton. Still over the continental shelf and about to slip into deep waters. It's overcast. 15*C with a 25knot southwesterly. The seas are moderate with a 5 foot swell that is indiscernible on board. By tomorrow morning we will have crossed 2 time zones since pushing off. The QM2 is the only vessel still sailing a transatlantic cruise schedule and the only cruise ship with her own planetarium. She has a library with about 10,000 books. She has 5 pools, many restaurants, bars and pubs. A cabaret, ball room, live theatre, DJ night club, casino, Jazz bar, cinema with nightly movies, spa, full gym with over 50 stations, a games room, I mean the list just goes on. It even has a cigar lounge (surprisingly busy) dedicated to Churchill, and the Queen Room serves high tea and biscuits if you please. Pip pip and all that wrought:) My room, (as are all rooms) is not merely a room. Nor is it a cabin. It is a Stateroom located on the 6th deck just forward of midship. Perfectly located really. Laundry is just down the hall and I'm one deck down and just under the Kings Court which serves fantastic breakfast, lunch and dinner, buffet style. The 7th deck also has access to outdoor promenades and the gym as well as an outdoor, round the ship jogging route equaling one third of a mile. There are 14 decks, 13 accessible to the guests. I've explored 2.
Slow boat to the Americas. It's only the first night and I'm feeling restless. Still, looking forward to the whole experience. Bought my first ever suit today. Marks and Spencer hooked me up. Having lost that 30 pounds, have to admit kinda liking the slim fit performance suit:) guess I'll have to learn how to tie a tie:) there are many levels of posh on board. Tonight was merely elegant casual... Meaning jacket, no tie. Great buffet. I just may put a bit of weight back on before we get go the far shore. It's no where near as stuffy and snobbish as I expected. Just folks on a boat. Everyone from kids in strollers to elderly with walkers. Oh and one global cyclist:) though I did see a carbon fiber upright ready to be put aboard. My mission... Find out who owns it. Needle in a haystack.
I got an extra early start today not knowing what to expect. Just a whey protein shake and out the door. Had about 130 kms to knock off? I made excellent time and was at the airport by 12 noon. Very busy airport. I had phoned a few days ago to see if air France had bike boxes. They did. No need to reserve one they said. So I saunter up to air frances counter and ask for a box. They check my flight plans and see that though the flight was booked with air France, air Europa was my flight out of Madrid and so they could not give or sell me a box. So I sauntered over to AEs counter and asked for a bike box. They no got. So I saunter back over to AF and tell em.."they no got no box" They tells me, after checking that they only have 2 boxes and they are reserved. So....... I saunter over to every other airline counter and ask em for a box. They all say same thing..."they no got no box" So..... I'm not sauntering anymore. I go to air Europa check in counter with my bike and ask em what they want me to do. They don't know. Make it compact and wrap it in plastic. Hmmmm... Not really what I want to do considering it has so very far to travel. I don't really want to leave it here and go into town looking for a box either. What are my options.
Thinking......thinking........hmmm.... Worth a try. I saunter over to the air France counter(a different counter) and say.."I reserved a bike box for today. I'm flying air France at 6pm.
They say........... "Okay Mr Gordon, that will be 6€ please". Half an hr later I say goodbye to my bike and realize that I am filthy and starving. On the way to the lavatory I see an all you can eat buffet and forget my desire to clean up just long enough to get a plate full of food in my tummy. Then I again notice how filthy I am, excuse myself for a bit, return and resume my feast. That's my day so far. It's 4:30. Hard to believe I'll be in Southampton tonight. I haven't worked out the exact figure but I'm about halfway. Halfway and 70 countable days. I have nothing to wear:( Seriously. I'm wearing my only jersey and only shorts. I have no spares. I have no shoes other than my trusty specialized cycling shoes with the completely worn out crank bros cleats. Usually, that's all I need. I don't pay it any attention. Except at dinner time. Suddenly I'm bikeless for 8 sleeps with one hell of a farmers tan and preparing to experience the Queen Mary 2 where they have suggested I include a tux in my wardrobe. Lol. Maybe the rent:)
Last night in Spain and I'm at a truck stop on the highway. 29euros. Cheapest room I've found in Europe. No wifi but that's okay. I rode till late and I'm beat. Gonna get up early and finish this. really good day. Great day. Lotsa hills, lotsa castles, lotsa gas stations, lotsa cyclists.
Lleida to Zaragoza.
Had planned to go farther today but the days weather was similar to my ride through Macadonia. A storm started building early in the day. Far off to the south. Nothing whatsoever to do with me. Right. I kept riding it kept building. You could feel the energy in the atmosphere. Another very hot humid day. Many hill climbs, many descents, many plateaus. It kept building. Then the thunder and lightning show began and, as before, I turned towards the storm. Again, the race was on to get into the city and find accommodations before the sht hit the fan.
I did. Now it's only sprinkling a Tiny bit, it's very humid, the thunder and lightning are right overhead. Hopefully it blows over by morning. I had a fun day, wide shoulder on one long highway busy with semi trucks. Lots of friendly honks and waves.
I rode along the coast until Tarragona then cut inland, up over the mountains, down into farming country and finished up in Lleida. A short day km wise but energy sapping, exciting, and hot. First time this entire trip I broke out in goose bumps brought on by heat. That's close to heat stroke maybe, I don't know. I'm fine. Had lots of water on board and was well fed this morning and at lunch so whatever. It's happened on occasion a few times on other rides. I basically had two roads to follow today. The 340, then the N240. Made life simple. Then, at the end, I was on a rise with a 5k roll out into town. I was parked looking at a google map of the town and deciding where to go once within the inner city limits when a mountain biker came along on the dirt path beside the highway, stopped and talked for a bit. He showed me on the map right where to go. That made life even simpler. Found a hotel with wifi for about half what I spent last night on the coast. And a shop that sold canned food etc for cheap too. Life is good. The pic though spacious looking is a very small mirrored elevator to the fifth floor. I love it when I can spend the night with my bike:)
I guess I'm hoteling it in the town of Cunit. A cool place just up from the ocean about 60kms from Barcelona. I would have to say, of all the big cities I've been through,(and I was worried about this one) Barcelona is the most bike organized, bike friendly city I've ever been in. I got off the ferry at 1:30. Asked a guard at the gate if it was ok for me to ride the C31.(it looked like a good choice for me) he said yes and in Spanish gave me directions. I understood most of what he said and his directions were bang on. 2 roundabouts to the right turn left and look for bike path. This will take you to entrance to C31. The bike lane was amazing. Two lanes and stop/go lights that have a bike instead of a pedestrian as the indicator. Very cool. Very efficient. Turned out, right where the C31 on ramp was, was also where the police station was so I went over, parked in front of the windowed front, started grabbing the things I never leave behind on my bike when going somewhere without it, and an officer came out to see what I wanted. He said it was cool for me to ride the C31. Guess I was all set then. Off I went. Just down the road I spotted a BP gas station and as I've mentioned before about BP and roadhouses in OZ, new there'd be something in there for me. Milk. I haven't seen milk for sale in days and days. I like to grab a liter and chug it now and again. It's the best energy drink really. Beats the he'll outa red bull or I also spotted a map of Spain. There was a tough, fun climb out of the area that hugged the edge of the mountain, overlooked the ocean and wound up and over. The descent was curvy and fast. Lotsa fun. I saw many cyclists. Even 2 fellow touring folks. But no recumbents and fewer helmets than in Italy. I quit at 6pm. Could've gone further, felt like it but I knew the C31 ended somewhere just up the road and without wifi and a little research. It could be. Complicated. I'm not sure if I was merely starving or that I just had the best donar and felafel combo in my life. Man it was good.
Ferry sailed at 6pm headed for Barcelona. Dinner was served at 7:30 but there was a snack bar open whenever. Expresso wad served there along with booze and paninis etc. It was an overnight cruise, about 17 hrs or so. I had a choice of just reserving a seat, sharing a cabin with 3 other guys, or having a cabin to myself. I chose the later. Cost was about 100 euros and included a shower. I had a fine meal and got s real good nights sleep. The seas were rough but the majestic handled it with ease. I just lounged around, ate, drank cappuccinos and tried to plot my escape from Barcelona. Hard to do without a map of Spain. No wifi on board. iPads gps was some help but I wasn't sure what roads I was going to be able to ride on. I think I'll go southwest along the coast, drop below the mountains, then head inland and turn northwest towards Madrid. Probably won't get far today, haven't docked as of this time and it's 1pm. If I was lucky I might get another 1000kms by Madrid. Guess that hinges on many things. Mostly, navigation. Europe has been a real challenge and leaves me really looking forward to Canada and the States. After today, 3.5 more ride days. Stranger in a strange land here. Things are expensive, confusing and time consuming. Partially my own fault I admit but frustrating none the less. Maybe Spain will be luckier for me. It's great to see the hotpot of mixing cultures here. Locally, people actually do wear polo style shirts with the collar turned up(would keep the sun off ones neck), sweaters draped over ones shoulders, Jean jackets like I used to love in my teens, man purses, and capris. Even truck drivers wear capris. Then there are women completely covered with only eyes showing. Men in long flowing gowns or robes or whatever they are. Bearded turbaned men, defiantly, as an English speaking whitey, I am a minority. I'm enjoying that and making connections with people is rewarding. I wish I could speak the local languages but most folks, when I ask for help, do their best to help. Some say something angry and walk away. Some wave a hand, shake their head and walk away. Some ignore me completely. Every now and then, someone will completely catch me off guard by walking up to me and asking in English if I'm Canadian. But most say I look german. I'm constantly embarrassed by my one stained shirt. I wash it every night but some of the stains are there for good I think. No big deal during the day while riding but when I get into my hotel, shower and head out, or here on the ferry, I defiantly look like a guy with only one shirt who sleeps outside. That and my fairly unkempt hair that hasnt seen a pair of scissors in about 75 days makes me quite self-conscious. I will have to fork out some dough for new attire on the Queen Mary. That or hide in my cabin the entire time. Anyway....stll haven't docked. We've all been standing in the lobby as asked since 11:30. No doubt getting close. Eager to get going. Having separation anxiety. It's been almost 20hrs since I've seen my bike. Same thing happens if I can't keep it in motel/hotel room with me. Oh ya...bing bong....announcement. Time to go.
Awesome day...everything went smooth and as planned for a change. I had wifi for an hr or so and was able to plan the days adventure. Left the town of Roveleto at 7:30 am with a full tummy, 2 liters of water, and a donut:) something exquisite about the simple sugar dusted donut. For the last few days, I'd been dropping southwest towards the mountains. Yesterday I could see them off in the distance. Today I angled towards them and made for Tortona. That looked like the easiest spot to cross them and end up in Genova. The first 100k went quick. Having researched the towns I'd be passing through I had little trouble staying on course. At Tortona, I turned south, directly into the wind and began the climb. It was not so steep until near the end and then that bit was short followed by a real fun ride down into Genova But the wind was amazing. Buffeting and blowing so fierce it pushed me out onto the road a few times (luckly, no vehicles around at the time), andstopped me dead twice. I had to walk the bike past the spot that was so concentrated. I thought once into the mountains I'd be sheltered from it but just the opposite happened. I will post the video I took when I get a chance. I knew I didn't have far to go and so actually enjoyed it. Saw other cyclists but none going my way. Little traffic except in the towns I passed through and then in Genova. Very busy there. I stopped the clock at 4:30pm as I prepared to board the Majestic bound for Barcelona. Yep, just couldn't figure out a route that looked fast through France from this end so decided to skip it. I expect to arrive sometime around noon tomorrow so I should be able to get some distance in. Hope the weathers better. Was beginning to rain in Genova when the ferry left the dock.
Today was a real mixed bag of emotions. I had a map, had a plan, woke up early thinking to get a real good day in but my stomach wasn't with the program. It had me up a few times in the night so I didn't have breakfast. Just packed my bike and left the city. Carpi is much smaller than Padova and much easier to escape. A beautiful city with a great many things to explore if one had the time. Funny how straightforward a route can look on the map... I was puzzled within the first 25k. Probably spent as much time stopped looking at the map and guessing what to do as I did riding throughout the day. So... I was feeling a bit discouraged all morning and into the afternoon. At one point I just decided to enjoy the scenery and stop looking at the bike pc. After that, everything got better. Defiantly not the most accurate map when it comes to the main, and secondary roads. It doesn't have a copywrite date so no idea how old the info is. You really have to interpret it as you go. Still, felt much better with it than I did for two days without. I found some great back roads today. Ones with very little traffic.
All day tomorrows mountain range grew closer and as the road I was on twisted and turned throughout the day, the mountains reassured me I wasn't going in circles.
So I ended the day just west of Fidenza. Tomorrow I will ride west towards Alessandria, cross the mountains, and drop down to Genova. It's about 170k if taking the autostrade. Will be interesting to see how much longer my route turns out being.
Getting out of Padova was like trying to get in.hectic and time consuming. I did find a map though. And I bought one for the city as well.
Padovo 200k At 6 am I was out on the pier watching kayakers, wind surfers, 2 person row boats, and fishermen. The wind was up already but was blowing my way. Decided to take advantage if the breakfast that came with the room even though it wasn't available until 7:30. So was on the road by 8:30. Trieste seems like a great city. Mid week and it appeared everyone was either at the beach or cycling. Ocean to my left and shading mountains to my right all morning. Then I moved inland. Towns came and went. I stopped at nearly every gas station looking for a road map of Italy but had no luck. No wifi last night so was relying on google map images I'd saved previously and the iPad gps. Around 4 (rush hour again) I began my fight through the traffic just before Venice. Shame not to visit. So close. By 5:30 I was beyond all the madness and pushing for Padovo. It was fun right up until I took a wrong turn and ended up on the autostrade. More madness and confusion. It dumped me in the industrial zone of the city and it took some time to find an affordable hotel. At this point, I'm comfy in my hotel room. Full tummy, shower, etc. But I don't have a clue where to go in the morning in order to avoid the main busy roads. Internet isn't working here either. Guess I'll figure it out. Sure wastes time. Still haven't found a map. I saw so many cyclists today. Very cool. Old couples in street cloths, kids, roadies racing round in groups. Guys riding home from work, ladies loaded with shopping bags. They all merged peacefully with the traffic. Lots of vespas and scooters too. And helmets. Many of the serious riders were wearing helmets. Up until today, I have been the only cyclist with one.
Very short day. Embarrassingly short actually. I'm blaming it on the one beer I had last night. I woke up rested but my legs were still sore from yesterday's amazing climb up into the mountains. I knew I had more in store as soon as I got on my bike. This was making it hard to talk myself into getting going. As well, it was raining a bit, totally overcast and chilly. Breaky is offered with the room and it began at 7am. I took full advantage. Something I ate didn't agree with me though and made the first 10k even tougher. Don't know what didn't agree with me...I agreed with everything. The cheese, cold cuts, eggs, fruit, cereal, yogurt, bread pate, olives, milk, juice, coffee, and water. Maybe it was just too much. After an hr on the road I felt much better. But I was still climbing. Finally, the reward that made all the last 2 days climb worth while. A long exciting, scenic 25k drop all the way to Rijeka. The temperature warmed a bit more every 100 meters I dropped. The clouds were left behind and the suns intensity returned. All was as it should be. Except...I was now at sea level and surrounded by mountains. Not a good thing. I had lunch, lingering too long but reluctant to face the music. In the end...I don't know what the big worry was. Once I got going, I had fun. The hills out of Rijeka weren't near as bad. Soon I was at the Slovenian border. I love these border crossings. I just roll up to a booth that doesn't have a lineup (usually), and the process is expitited. I guess because I'm a cyclist. This one was like that. Lineup for cars, one for trucks, and an empty booth where buses are supposed to lineup. I chose that one. The guy in the booth suggested I wait behind the cars but an officer hurried over, took a look atmy passport, handed it back, and said "welcome to Slovenia Bruce" I was on my way before any of the vehicles in either lineup. The Slovenian highway seemed brand new. Rolling hills spread out on either side. Grassy pastures, and a row of ...hmm poplars maybe or something like them lined both sides of the road offering cool shade. An hour and a half later I exited Slovenia on the northwest side. And just like that, I was in Italy. I made it down to the Adriatic sea again and into the city of Trieste. A big city but not so crowded at rush hour as Belgrade was. I road west along the street beside the ocean until I spotted a hotel that looked cool. It was after 7. Restaurant attached served up a tasty pizza with tuna, kalamata olive puree, and sweet peppers. Sounds strange maybe but it was yummy. So...best make an early start in the morning and see if I can make up for today.
Lingered for the free conti breaky in kutina. Went over the route plan again. Loaded up on water etc. and started rolling around 8. The #3 highway was in good shape and I had fun cruising along plus 30 kph for a good part of the day. Couple of laborious bumps in the road hardly slowed me down. At around 4pm and 145k, I left the town of Karlovac and began the slow uphill portion of the days ride. Soon I was surrounded by Forrest and the shade it provides. Lots of bird song. Little traffic. I'd hoped to make it all the way to Rijeka by days end but by the time I got to Delnice, it was after 9pm. Spotted hotel and turned in. Had a quick shower and a great meal. They serve venison and boar and many things hunter style. I even had a strong dark Slovenian beer. That did me in. Made it back to my room and crashed.
Looks like yet another night I won't be able to load a waypoint. I'm in a hotel that has wifi but like the last two, it's so slow nothing loads. Can't even send an email. Very frustrating. I'm in a small town called Kuntina. 208 kms today. Been riding on a road that basically parallels the autobahn. It's in good shape and at least today(being Sunday) there is very little traffic. It is a road with a string of houses dating way back when on either side that just goes on and on. One village merges with the next. Never a private spot to stop and pee:) but very cool to ride along. Some of them are still all shot up from the war. Many are abandoned. Many are repaired. Many are new. Being Sunday, everything is closed except the pubs and there are a lot of em. All with umbrellaed sitting areas out front. So once again I basically had a captive audience most of the day and had to endure the barrage of skeptics hurdling "now I've seen everything" laughter my way. Fairly used to it though. Even back home. The road is the bike route and I saw quite a few cyclists but no real roadies. Just folks out pedaling. Many of them in full length jeans. I also looks like yet another night I won't be able to use google maps to help me determine best route to Madrid. Guess I'm winging it for a while.
I've been ignorng my deadline and basically sticking to the planned route but had to make some hard decisions this morning. Was up late trying to figure it out but no matter how I did the math, there was too little time and too much distance to squeeze in before June 22. that's the day I have to be in Madrid by to make my flight. I woke up in the morning still unsure as to my next move. As much as I was looking forward to the next leg of the ride,(the Danube river bike path) and all of northern Europe, I had to pull the plug on it or reschedule all the connecting, prebooked travel plans I had in place. I'm about a week behind my original plan. So.... I'm in Croatia this evening:) new route. So far so good. Didn't get far as it took me a long time to choose it Iquit the day at 6pm just over the border.
After pushing through moderate headwinds on a 10' wide, perfectly smooth, perfectly clean shoulder for 160k on an overcast day and passing through a toll booth that cost me 11 euros??! WTF. Remember... I mentioned 3 euros buying me a liter of milk, a snickers ice-cream, 1.5ltr water. After that I stood at a crossroad beside my trusty steed contemplating direction. Straight ahead on the ONE would take me right through Belgrade. Exit onto the E75 would bypas the city, reuniting with ONE on the other side. It was the truckers route. I decided on the city. It was just before 5pm... And as in any big city, rush hr was in full swing. A 7% uphill climb appeared before me that looked like it went on forever. Traffic out of city was in gridlock but my side was pretty relaxed. If you can picture it, I had an idle audience watching me labour up the hill for over 2klicks. Pictures were taken. Comments given. People don't know what to make of such a contraption. You can see the puzzled look as I approach. Then, when I'm close enough, and they realize what they are seeing is a bicycle, it's amazing the instant, open surprise. Some positively curious, others closemindedly ridiculing. A carload of teenage guys in the traffic jam on the other side burst out laughing. They failed to see the irony of the situation as they idled there asphyxiating in there own fumes. The recumbent has had that ridicule since it's beginning I believe. Anyway..I reveled in my luck that all traffic was leaving the city until up over and down the other side of the hill when I suddenly realized traffic was exiting the city in all directions. An explosion of tired distracted city workers eager to get home. I saw no other bikes during my fight through to the other side With somewhere around 1.5 million people, it was an exciting adventure. As more and more streets merged with the one I was on and I constantly found myself in the middle instead of on the edge. Crossing narrow bridges and trying to get around busses. Actually enjoying the crush of people. Nobody honked angrily, or yelled at me. Everyone gave me all the room they could and slowed down when they couldn't. I had brief conversations with people who's windows were down during red lights etc. Finally I punched my way out the far side of Belgrade and decided to push on to novi sad some 80 kms away. Making for a total of 260 by 9pm. Novi sad was confusing in the dark but finally I found a hotel and it even had wifi. And came with a 5star continental breakfast.
Kumanovo, Macedonia - Pojate Motel, Serbia. 230k
Well the crazy storm last night hadn't quite given up this morning yet. When I got up, the sun was just climbing above the horizon. It disappeared behind the clouds soon after and all that was left was the rain, the thunder, and the lightning. I wasn't in any hurry to venture out into that so I really took my time getting prepared. I think 9:30 is when I left the motel. By then the rain seemed to have past. The border was only about 20kms away and by the time I got there, I'd caught up with the rain. It was just ahead of me for quite a while. Finally it blew off to the east and the sun returned to my world. Many friendly inquisitive people here and the food is awesome. No problem staying on main rd here either. I pulled over and talked to 2 sets of cops. All friendly. Border crossing and customs quick and easy. 4 times today I saw a pair of black audis with red and blue flashing lights rip by me. Secret police or something:) I spent the day trying to outrun the rain. It was fun staying just ahead of it. Getting a few drops now and then just made me pick up the pace a bit. Around 7pm my road sorta turned into the weather and I got caught in it for a bit. Instead of outrunning it I had to punch through. Thunder and lightning spurring me on. The road was smooth and fast. Few climbs but no worries. Everything is amazingly cheap. My room... 14 euros. Includes breakfast. My room in Athens... 80euros. You can get a ltr of milk, a snickers ice cream bar and 1.5 ltr of water for under 3euros at a gas station. Imagine how cheap at a market?! Macedonia was cheap too.
Left Thessaloniki for the Macedonian boarder at 7:30. I could see rain clouds far of to the west and hoped for the best. 20 kms into the ride I'd left the busy city behind and now traveled through farmland. Small villages came and went as did the kms. It did rain on me but only enough to keep me cool. I was able to ride on the secondary road that paralleled the train tracks and international hwy all the way to boarder but the last 5 kms. Crossing was quick and free. Once in Macadonia I had to stay on international for a while. During that time a police car past me. Down the road a ways I spotted it near a gas station. At this point I could've gotten onto secondary rd but didn't. The one I was on was 2 lanes both directions and a wide, smooth, clean shoulder. Decided to stay on it as it was most direct, and see what happened. Police past me again. Later, I spotted them parked under shade tree hoping to catch speeders. They saw me and flagged me over. They asked me some questions in a friendly, but very professional way, and checked over my bike likewise. Observing lights, reflectors, tires, etc. Took a couple pictures(though would not let me take one of them) and gave me the green light. Woohoo... I could ride the international highway. So I did, all the way to Kumanovo. I didn't know I was at such an elevation until I started descending through the mountains. I think a lot of the rise must've happened during the police escort and subsequent train ride of two days ago. As I drew closer to Kumanovo, the sky grew darker and darker. I could here thunder rumbling and soon afterwards began seeing flashes of lightning. These were striking bolts of fork lightning that lashed the sky. I decided then that I would not push the extra 20kms to the border. My plan was to enter and exit Macedonia on the same day. But I wasn't going to push my luck any further today. I took the exit, rolled the last 5k down into town with the thunder and lightning just behind me. The town was chaos. Eventually I saw a hotel and wheeled in. I couldn't find anything that looked like reception, and not a soul around. I called out. Nothing. I poked my head into a couple rooms and happened on an English class in session(what luck). A lady explained that the hotel was closed and under construction. She tried to give me directions to another one that sounded far away. When I returned to my bike, two kids were checking it out and it was pouring. We were under cover though and stayed there for better than an hour while the skies opened up and the light show increased it's exuberance. Huge chances of hail pinger off of everything, an alarm went off in the building we were seeking refuge in front of. I have never seen anything like this. The boys said same. Water was running down the streets over a foot deep and fast. I will post the videos I took so watch for them. It really was amazing.
My hunt for a motel was still under way but nobody seemed to have an answer for me. How this could be I don't know. Eventually it was one of the boys who came up with one and said he and his friend would walk there with me. By this time it was dark. Still raining but no hail. We talked a lot about a lot as We walked together not through puddles, but as if walking in a creek. The water up to our ankles. We were all soaked by the time we got to the hotel some 3 kms away. They were right in saying I would never find it on my own. It was really out of the way. The owner gave them dry t- shirts called them a taxi, I gave them some cash and asked them to be sure and email me or fb. The room was 25euros and came with breakfast. The owner made me dinner and kept my orange juice topped up while I devoured my meal. Two Serbian engineers were at a table quaffing beers. The owner asked if I'd like one but I declined.(something I found hard to resist). I talked to the engineers for a half hr or so. Then went up to my room and crashed. In the morning, I was up to see the sun rise as the thunder and lightning and rain still tried to claim the sky. The sun rose at the horizon and quickly disappeared behind the clouds. I had breaky, lounged around too long and finally got going. That was Macadonia.
Hmmm.. Australia really spoiled me. Greece a different story. I had a plan for today that was going to get me 200+ kms further ahead. It started out fine to, made really good time from Volos to Larissa. Feeling strong. Eager to push. Larissa is a big city.
Very cool to navigate through these cities. It almost appears as if anything goes so long as you don't screw up. Bikes and scooters(with helmetless riders for the most part) are right in the mix with buses, trucks, taxis, cars, and pedestrians. There seems to be an understanding between everyone as the traffic flows.
Anyway, to get to the #3 I had to punch right through the center. I got a bit turned around and asked a foot patrol officer for directions. I had my map out and showed him where I wanted to go. He sort of hesitated, then said that the route I wanted was no good. Very dangerous. Narrow, mountainous, and curvy.(thats not verbatim). Very dangerous is though. He then pointed to the international road and said..(verbatim) "much safer".
So I didn't question him I just went for it. 77k to Katerini is all I needed. If I pushed.. Maybe just over 2 hours. I wasn't sure if I was taking a risk or not. I'd been warned not to ride on the international twice already. 77k. Rolling the dice. Craps.
Up ahead after 20k was a toll booth. Last time I just rode up to the gate and payed the man. He let me through and I was on my way. Figured that was maybe routine. Not this time. This time I was asked to get off the bike and wait over by the control building for the police.
1/2 hr later they showed. I pleaded my case, they sat stone faced and then helped me get my bike and myself in the back of their truck and down the road we went. They did not talk to me. Guess I really pushed my luck. But I was headed in the right direction.
They had to pull a guy over and give him a ticket at one point. Shortly after that they dumped me at a place called Platamonous and drove away rather annoyed. It was just an insignificant spot on my map and still on the international highway. No secondary roads in site. But there was a train station.
Now I'd already looked into this yesterday and was told No Bikes on train. Same with the bus unless I broke my bike down some. The issue is going west every day, yet staying east enough to make my route work for me. That is why i couldnt just take some other road. Or route.
I met a gentleman at the station who assured me I would have no problem getting bike on train at this station. He was right. So my distance today was good but only half of it counts as ride time. However... I am now beyond the international highway issue. Many routes to choose from and Macadonia in my sites. Hopefully tomorrow I can start racking up the kms again.
Okay, I know, what's with another short day. Sorry. Still trying to get my eu act together I guess. Will start making up for it tomorrow. Had to abort plan A,B,and C. Bruce has a brand new plan. Was still feeling whipped from flights etc and so didnt bother setting alarm. Slept until 7am, went and bought food for breaky and the days riding. It's a habit now. Couldn't resist. Faster than sitting in a restaurant and way cheaper. Also, had to find sun screen. I used up the last of what I had in OZ and figured I'd get some in Athens. Figuring on gas stations for supply. Nothing. Must've stopped in at a dozen of em and a couple stores. Everyone looks at me funny when I ask. Found some real nice tanning lotion. Not even a SPF rating. So I went all day without yesterday. Had to hunt some down this morning. Rode to the other ferry on the other side of peninsula. Got there with minutes to spare. Then spent few hrs doing some serious climbing. Had a day high in energy output but short in distance. Beautiful areas all along my route today. All tourist areas but before tourist season. Payed 30euros both yesterday and today.
A challenging day out of athens battling traffic, language, navigation, dead end roads, no sun screen and highway patrol. Think I got it all figured out now. Ended the day with a ferry ride. Found a hotel for 30 euros. Only traveled about 170k. Loving the food. Kinda miss the caravaners though. Maybe even the roadtrains:)
Abu dhabi. Stop over en route to Athens. Flight on etihad air was marvelous. Very comfy seats. Very good food and service. Sat next to guy named Paul and got to know each other a bit. Enjoyed his company. Talked, ate, slept, watched couple movies. He's en route to Dublin. Paul, if you read this, email me. Will forward blog about Armstrong. The attached photo is a typical supply I had on board to get me through a 200-300km day. That's weight I won't have to carry in eu I imagine.
Putting this waypoint in manually as I didn't get a chance to at the time. Athens. All I saw was what I saw from the transit bus from airport to hotel, and what I saw from the hotel room window. Then what I saw while negotiating traffic and navigation out of city next morning.
That's OZ done. Sad to go, today was tough though. Thought I wanted it to be easy but now that it's said and done...glad it was a challenge. Many thankyous are in order. Steve..what can I say...you went above and beyond. I guess you can pull the plug on globebents Aussie HQs. Power,Stuart, I can probably get through the next 5000kms without having to worry about a blowout and not having spare 650s and tubes. Really, I felt as if all of Australia was supporting me. Thanks for all the waves, honks, thumbs up, and good on yous. There's a lot I missed this trip..... Had to save something for next time.
Finally broke the triple century wall. Been getting close but hadn't done over 300k until today. And only just. Had plans to go farther. Just couldn't muster up the energy. 301.59k, actual ride time 13:03:50. Started@6am,finished@8pm. So 56 minutes 10seconds were eating or peeing breaks. It shouldn't have taken me so long. Was figuring 12hrs. But the wind decided to remind me it didn't play favorites. For better than 6 hrs mid day I really had to fight. The first and last 100k were easier. The proprietor of the hotel/motel in wubin is a very nice guy. Glad I stopped here.
A fun 200k to mt. Magnet. Weather looked gloomy there for a spell but the humid, foggy, cloak lifted and the day finished sunny and hot. 2 more to go.
Kumarina - Meekatharra 260k. Ride time..10:46. Up at 5 and on the road by 5:30 finished before 5pm a really fast morning then wind shifted round and slowed me down some. Clouded over, rained for 5minutes. Felt good. Hope it's not a sign of change.
Kumarina roadhouse 169k. What a fine day it turned out to be. I was prepared for a tough one with lots of hills and crosswinds. I woke up mentally prepared and found my front tire flat again. Fixed it and headed out of town expecting a climb right away. It didn't come. But for some minor stuff it didn't come all day. So I breezed into kumarina just after 4pm. No cell service here and maybe that's better. Means I'll get to sleep earlier. It's a cool place. A sort of run down oasis.
Newman 196k. Not so long in kilometers but much climbing. Last 30k was descent. Forced to spend $$$ for room as miners have taken over most everything as housing. Very scenic day in the hills. Few caravans, many road trains. Still mostly had road to myself until evening.
252k today. Had a big breakfast at motel in pt hedland and grabbed some food for the rd. Got rolling around 7:30. Very busy mining town slash port town. Rd trains coming and going from all directions. Was glad to put it behind me. Had a slight headwind that petered out late in the afternoon and a rd that slowly stepped up all day long. My legs had a hard time getting into it today. It took 6 hrs just to make the first 100k. The sun went down and I still had 80k to go. After dark the amount of rdtrains doubled. Around 7pm the downhill began and I was finally able to get into the 30s. Rolled into the auski rdhouse around 8:30. Pooped. a good challenging day. Fewer caravans out this way as am no longer on the coastal highway. Very scenic. Mountainous. Arid. Saw couple snakes. One I recognize now as the black headed python.
Got up at 4am. Was all set to get real early start but had to change flat tire. I hit a grid (cattle guard)last night just a ways before the roadhouse. Didn't see it coming up and just blew over it. Thought both tires were going to flat right then but nothing happened...anyway, front was flat this morning. Got going by 5:40. Had 100k done by 9:25 and finished the 145k to the pardoo rdhouse by 11am. Decided to have a real lunch in a real restaurant. Afterwords things weren't so easy. The wind swung round some, the road tilted up some and degraded some, and the traffic picked up more and more as I approached port hedland. Got in by 6 though only to discover finding motel room was going to be tough. Big boom happening due to mining and everything has been converted to mining housing. Did find a room eventually. An expensive one but dinner, breakfast, and take away lunch was included, washer dryer in room and what choice did I have. Dinner was buffet and man, did I pig out. Everything was so good. Loads of veggies, meats, mussels, barra. Salad bar, dessert. I'd still be there but they kicked me out:) 292k today. That's 583 in two days. Not bad for an old guy
Sandfire roadhouse 291k. A fine day on the highway. Enjoyed every minute of it. Road in great e and seemed to improve a bit with every km. Didn't see much in the way of animals or rdkill. Saw a dead snake(I'll have to find out what kind it is as I've seen 3 now). Saw a guy walking along the edge of the rd with 2 camels. I should've pulled up and said hello but was in a groove and didn't want to stop. I knew all day I was going to be getting in after dark. As it was I walked through the roadhouse door 4 minutes before they closed. Got a 40dollar room and a bunch of food. They locked up behind me and turned out the lights. Close. I started at 6:15am. Finished at 7pm. Actual ride time was 11:32:58. Means I sluffed off for 1:12 today.
Roebuck Plsins Roadhouse 133k. (it was that or 430k to the sandfire) The Willare river roadhouse was a welcome spot to spend the night. I actually ordered a large pizza(saw one delivered to a table of 4 and couldn't resist) and 2 liters of milk. Retreated to my room and devoured the works. In the morning I loaded up. A short day so not too much. Got going just after 7. Saw more croc's today. Made it to the Roebuck Plains Roadhouse by 1:30pm. Now just chillin. Preparing for tomorrow. There's a pool here but completely fenced off as it's just being installed. It's full of water though. Sure looks inviting. There was one at last nights stop but was already closed for the night by time I got in.
Willmar bridge roadhouse 237.62k started late, finished early. Bit of climbing but really, a fairly easy day. At one point the water came right up to the road and I saw a 3 foot? Croc just 15 meters or so in front of me on the shoulder of the road. I braked and grabbed camera but he was shy and bolted for the water. It was another services free day. Nothing tween accommodations. Almost empty road. A couple in a rent a van pulled over and waved me over. We talked for quite a while. They are cyclists as well. Had there bikes and gear in the van. I've met a lot of people I wish I had more time to get to know. These were 2 of them. As well, My buddy Steves emailed description of today's ride was bang on and made the day even more enjoyable. Willmar...finally an affordable room.
A 6:15 start...should've been a bit earlier. 293k, just shy of 11 hrs of actual ride time and just over 12 hrs total. no services all the way. What a great day. All the stepping up that I have been doing last couple days played into a series of great step downs all day long. It's really quite amazing how long you can stay up top without having to ride up and over any true summits. Very different than our hills/ mountains back home where if you ride up 600meters, you can pretty much expect to ride down 600meters almost as soon as you reach the top. Sun down by 5. Dark by 6. Had maybe 45 mins of night ride avoiding cows crossing the rd in 3 separate places. Staying in a "safari tent" at the fitzroy lodge. Again...overpriced but nice enough. Town is still bout 3k farther. Didn't want to ride in and back. Didn't want to walk. Just made do with what I still had on board. Will stock up in town in the morning. Hope they open real early.
Uuugh. Tough day. Only 160k but not too much of it easy. Took me as long to finish as yesterday's 200k. Still, I made it. I'm in halls creek gearing up for a big push tomorrow. I wheeled bike off rd for photo op, clicked it, rolled on. 10 minutes later both tires were flat. Found tiny thorns in both. No shade to be had but flies not so bad. Nice breeze. Removed thorns replaced tubes and rolled on. I know better. Many of my touring buddy, Ken or my own flats have occurred this way. Have been being careful. Just got careless today. Wasn't even that great of a pic. I now know better...again. Water running across rd at one point. I had to stop and play in it awhile. Road trains would send up a huge spray going through. Felt sooo nice. I think there must be a cheeper motel here in halls creek... I just took the first one.... Turned out to be most expensive one yet. Subsidized by buying dinner at grocery store.. There was an ozzy football game in play, I stopped to watch for awhile.
Made it to turkey creek. Toke me until 8pm to do it but I'm here. Left kununurra about 9:15 and after crossing a dam and a bridge, started climbing. It was a hot day. I spent a good portion of the afternoon being reminded of what a good ozzy headwind is all about. I rolled into doon doon around 3pm. A caravan park, store and gas station. No cabins or rooms... Met a couple there who had been riding for nearly a year. Started last June in Alaska. They had camping gear so were just about ready to pitch their tent. I grabbed some extra food and said good bye at 4pm. Sun went down bout 5, it was dark about 6, beautiful stary night. Nearly no traffic. Flat rd. Flood damage here and there but mostly good. Rolled into turkey creek at 8. Store and everything was closed but a guy in one of the rooms new owners #. Called it, he came down and here I am snug in my room. Just over 200k.
Slept in this morning, didn't get rolling until 9am. Then started worrying that that might been dumb. Past the sign that said "no services next 230k" worried some more. Then I put all that out of my mind and just rode my bike:) the early part was fast. Was able to cruise along around 40kph for some stretches. Had 100k in by 12:30. Then it started getting tough..and hot. Temp about 38* if I can trust my bike pc. I was fully hydrated and had lots of water on board so no worries. Stopped under a tree by a creek and took in the breeze for a spell...and noticed how inviting the water looked. Now I'd been warned. "Croc country" but man it was hot..and the water was fast and shallow. Couple little pools looked deep enough to dunk in. I scanned the area. Tossed a big rock in and watched to see if anything went to investigate. Then decided to go for it. Sure felt good. Lingered there too long but felt very refreshed afterwords. At 190k I crossed the boarder into the Kimberly's leaving the NT behind. At the boarder I learned that the cane toad is making a mass migration from Queensland into Kimberly and that they are very poisonous. About the size of a good sized dungenous crab, it can kill a 5th fresh water croc. See now these beasts I wasn't looking out for during my dunk. Anyway..time change at the boarder too. 1.5hrs so 5pm became 3:30. Nice. I had 40k to go and it was easy going all the way. Chasing daylight all the way to kununurra. 233k.
288k day. Long one too. Started at 6, finished at 8:30pm. Got to night ride with the (one day past) full moon for a couple hours at the end and an hour in the morning. The first 150k were tough. Much up. Then a drop down into the victoria river valley and riding along a huge escarpment. It was 4pm at the Victoria river inn when I reloaded with water etc and began the last 90k.
A fairly easy day. 188k. Didn't even get outa bed till after 7. Lounged around the Inns grounds(they had a bit of a zoo there) till 8 and got rolling around 8:30. Got into Katherine about 5:30. Saw my first road lounging North Territory snake about 30k from Katherine. It wad alive when I past it. I stopped to get a closer look and a pic, by then a RT had run it over. Stayin in a cabin at caravan pk tonight. It's on the outskirts of town on the victoria hwy. That's it for the Stuart hwy. Sure was a fun few days riding it's length.
240k today. Not to shabby. Ended up in Larrimah. Makes for a short day to Katherine(my northern most OZ destination) tomorrow. Then it's southwest all the way to Perth(still a long ways off) bring on the nor-easterlies:)
Fairly easy 230k to Elliott. Got in round 6:30. It's a small town. Small town with problems I think. I got a cheap room behind the local pub. All that was available. There was no food available. Everything was closed and barred. A night patrol truck was making it's rounds with 4 guys inside it. I asked the tar bender if he could sell me a liter of milk. He brought out 3/4 of a ltr and gave it to me. Luckily I had food on board so managed ok. Though I used up all my cereal this morning, the milk will get me going in the am at least.
Apparently the devil lost his marbles. True story. Lost em some 1700 million years ago when the cooling earth was oozing magma. Guess what? ... I found em. They were just strewn all over the place right out in the open. I wonder what kind of deal I could make with him if I told him where he could find them. Maybe he could return me to my original size.
A very tough day into the wind all day. Still managed 187 but pretty sore. Staying at the UFO capital of OZ...Wycliffe Well. I saw one on my way in. Check photo.
Today I rode up and over the highest point between Darwin and Adelaide, I crossed the tropic of Capricorn, I got 2 centuries in, and I met 2 cyclists taking a break around lunch time. I also got the last room in Ti Tree. A 6 bed backpacker unit. 40 bucks.
Just over 200k today. Tougher than yesterday's 260 though as it was very undulated and I had a pushy crosswind all day. A very scenic ride through the hills, terrain changed a bit as I went along. Dry arid areas to forests of dessert oaks to gum trees and rocky areas. Alice springs seems like a very interesting spot. I wish I had time to explore a bit. Met up with Steve. He stopped on the roadside a few days ago to chat about the bike, the ride etc. I mentioned leaving my plugin adapter behind in a motel. He lives in AS and went out of his way to get one for me as a gift and then emailed me, letting me know and to call as soon as I got into town. Probably would've spent the night with his family but they are going through a spell of flu.
Another perfect day. 28kph average over 9:18:15 ride time. 260.71k Marla - Erldunda
Another good day. Started out very cold, wet windy and foggy but improved rapidly as the morning rolled on. Was tough to get Rollin though. I met 2 guys biking the other direction. One of them on the tail end of a 4 yr RTW. Good roads, was able to pack everything I needed to go the 240k. Marla is a busy little spot. I got the last room...close.
Had a great day. Tailwind all day but for the last 20k. Had to really work for those. Started at 6am, finished at 6:30pm. 260k fly country. Stop for a moment and they are all over you. I bought one of those bug mesh things. Keeps em off your face. Much more tolerable. Had to change rear tire today around 100k into the ride. Was hoping to get one more full day but it wasn't gonna happen. Without that mesh, the change would've been maddening. Coober pedy is a very cool unexpected town. Opel mining everywhere. Underground motels. Trendy strip. Well... Trendy for OZ outback. I found a cheap room and an IGA. Got my breakfast lunch and dinner, and all my road snacks.
A very short day,115k. Nice ride. Pimba-glendambo. Glendambos overpriced but a welcome oasis. Loaded up for tomorrows long stretch of 250k with nothin but outback in between.
Pt Augusta to pimba, 184k very tough day. Worn out from yesterday. Beautifully scenic though. Good roads, only couple dead cows on road. Lots of 3trailer road trains. Dry lake beds. Treeless tundra. Sunny, warm. Even after dark it was warm.
Stopping for lunch after 70k of climbing. Only 133meters but constant all the way. Now I'm looking back at the range (that's what you see in the picture) and trying to ignore the flies. I'm up on a plateau now but looks like more climbing ahead. Pretty knackered today but still having fun. Just need to get more sleep at night. Maybe tonight.
Got an early start but it was cold. The wind was already in my face too. Quite a few hills. Hard work all in all. Took me until 1:15 to make the first 100k. After peterborough, things got easier. Still had 4 passes to deal with but no headwind and great flat straight stretches. I dropped down out of the last pass as it was getting dark. Had a long runout to the crossroads and an after dark 25k on busy hwy with more road trains than I've seen the entire trip. Pt Augusta. Big city. I'm on the outskirts. Did 220k today.
6am start. Cold. Tailwind. Became crosswind by 8. Warmer but cold wind. Very gradual step up all day today. Became headwind. Blew me around a bit. 5pm wind began to abate, rd began to descend and sun began to set. I gambled there'd be accommodations in yunta...there was.
So so soon I'll be heading straight up the middle of OZ. Pretty much the entire length.
Cobar-Wilcannia...269k, actual ride time..11:27:13. Real time...13hrs. 6:30am-7:30pm. A perfectly beautiful ride. I think the proprietor overcharged me as I showed up late on a bike noticeably pooped. She said normally 95 but I could have it for 80. It's by far the most run down room I've been in yet. But it doesn't smell like cigarettes and she delivered a whack of free food after I'd settled in. She said anyone riding to Perth deserves a little extra.
164k today. Slight headwind. The last day going south for a long time. Bourke to Cobar. Almost no wildlife today...dead or alive. Great road. Little traffic. Most of it road trains. Began at 9. Got in at 5.
I'm in bourke NSW tonight. Another sunny headwind day. Short ride today but felt I needed to recharge a bit. Hand is feeling better cheese grater forearm feeling better too.
Got out of cunnamulla late as I had to see the doc one more time. They sure took good care of me. Only biked 164k today and ended in Enngonia. That puts me in New South Wales now. Bye bye Queensland. For sure a fun area to ride. Today was all headwind. Figures though as I'm heading southwest.
Got a 6am start on a 300+kday. After bollon, a small town at 115k, the rest of the day would be one long road west. Had a tailwind. Roadkill everywhere. Stopped at 200k for dinner...libbys beans, some fruit etc. Moved on. Sun went Down at 5:30, round 6:30 a kangaroo appeared right in front of me, I hit him and went down hard...see blog for full story.
Scared to save this one...may loose it when I try to post. Was a great day. 204k.
Well sht, ijust got a chance finally to post 8 saved waypoints and it dropped them...they are gone..... WTF. Other than that, things are good. Making my way to port Augusta. Weathers fine, roads are fine. Sorry for the big gaps in posts. T Think I may have sim card activated now...maybe things will get easier
Just getting going, spent the night here in gin gin. Cool little town that the Bruce highway runs straight through.
Somehow I just lost my last 2 saved waypoints. No idea where they went. Was just going to send them but they are gone. Oh well I guess.
Bye-bye NZ,hello OZ. Made it to motel. Time to build bike and get ready for early departure
Well, big dejavu, seems only days ago I disassembled bike, boxed it up and spent many hrs in transit. Anyways, I'm at the CHC airport waiting to board. There is a slight delay. That's ok as long as another quake doesn't cause a huge hole to open up in front of us on the Tarmac during take off. This is an international airport with a real domestic feel to it. My only peeve is that they only give you 30mins free wifi, then shut you down and demand money.
Spent the morning riding round christchurch. Then the rain returned. Changed motels to be closer to airport. Got bike box. Turns out the aftershock I felt around 6pm last night was a 5.3. That explains why proprietor and motel guests who all met instantly out in the yard looked little bit scared. Shock lasted 4seconds or so. Everything was shaking and there was a rumble like a backhoe rolling up the street. I just took it in stride thinking it was one of the common aftershocks. Later I felt two tiny tremors. Nothing today. Christchurch is a great bike town. Easy to get around. Not stressful in the least.
Just pouring out. Weatherman says it's socked in expect more tomorrow and Monday...lots more. Just when the roads seem tove flattened out. I'm bout 20k outside of Christchurch. By coincidence, there is an airport in Christchurch. I'm holed up in McDs sitting under a TV set that is just blaring some silly show that keeps bleeping the bad words like.."waking up with the worlds biggest ha-bleeeeep-don. Now is that appropriate for mcdonalds? Anyway...did I mention the rain? Been that way since bout 8am. Was hoping for wifi here but iPad won't accept it for some reason.
A fun tough day that once again fell short of my high hopes. Got up at 5 and was riding by 6am thinking to really put some distance in. Ended the day with 158k at 5:30. Actual ride time..8hrs, 35mins. It just seemed to far to push on to the next motel some 65-70k away when my average has been 19kph today. Maybe tomorrow I will see flatter roads and some progress in the distance. Spending the night in Chevoit. $55.
There auta be a waypoint symbol for fckin hills:) I'm somewhere in the pacific alpine triangle. It's like the Bermuda triangle but in the fckin hills!!
Thought I'd get early start and knock off 130k b4 lunch. However... It started raining about 6:30am. That and the rolly Polly coastal road kept things slow. Only 85 so far. It did give me a chance to try out my untested rain gear setup. It worked pretty well but stuff in saddlebags got wet. I think the rain is done. For now at least. So is lunch...time to go.
Was going to push through late tonight but by 5:30 it was getting dark and the town of Ward was on the horizon. I past a nice looking motel, then pulled into a store/restaurant to stock up. Owner said she was closing up but could make me some take away.(New Zealand speak) there was a "the works" burger for 12 bucks...figured what the heck. Then I noticed place was also a post office so I bought 3postcards and stamps. Asked about motels down the road. She said nothing for 80k. Figured I'd check out the motel after all. But push on if expensive. So pedaled back, wheeled up to office, popped the question.... "how much?" 90 bucks!!! I was gonna go but she said they had a caravan for $25. That sounded better. Then she showed me the communal room for cooking, chillin out, laundry etc. "laundry?" I said. Yep..$4 extra. So...that pretty much cinched it. It's the A1 Ward Motel in Ward. Really nice lady, really great deal. Really good value. The washer dryer are front load high end. The community building is brand new and very comfortable. Everything is spotless. You can even pitch a tent if you want I believe. So if you're planning a visit to NZ south, be sure to check it out.
Ihopefully I'm at the top of the pass between Blenheim and sedan. Too pooped for much more of that right now. I'm only unsure because they call it redwood pass rd, do you see any redwoods?
Just pulling into picton on NZ south island. Still have 5 hrs or so to put some distance on. Scenic ferry ride. Very laid back. Can wonder round with a beer in hand if you feel like.
Awesome day. 212k total. Made it to ferry terminal in wellingtonby 6:30pm. I should get a medal for finding it. Ferry leaves at 3am. Time to rest.
25k so far. Having a little breakfast on the roadside.
About 170k. Very epic climbing day. Awesome. Wouldn't have missed it for a flat 260. Got some make up miles to do for sure though. Wangarui seems like a cool place. Got in just as it was getting dark. Even had my lights on.
Lots more climbing today and another beautifully scenic day.
180k lots a hills. More tomorrow.
Easy morning, difficult afternoon. Cookie break near a stream.
45k into the day so far. Breakfast time. Nice smooth flatish road
Wonderful first day but long in the saddle, short on the distance.
In limbo. Have developed a psychological social dependency with my iPad. Without it I would truely be...by myself. Keeps me introverted though. Should give it away and see if I become extroverted in it's absence. On the other hand...it's very meditative...soothing.
Well actually, the start line is about 20k behind this waypoint. Just getting organized.