Nobody Said It Was Easy

Never before have I invested so much time and effort in the preparations for a trip.  The customers have spent a considerable amount of money on their places and will be expecting literally the trip of a lifetime; the responsibility to make sure that this is the case weighs heavily on me. The detailed planning of logistics, route, accommodation etc has consumed many, many weeks of my time and it has only recently dawned on me that my preparations should include a bit of training since I am also riding the whole thing. I took a look through the photos from my 2009 Transamerica ride, just to get in the mood.  Mostly this filled me with excitement BUT I was a bit shocked by the photos of yours truly. They say that wisdom comes with age....well, it is very obvious from the photos that I will be starting a good deal wiser than I was in 2009!  Looking at this photo it seems I will be starting quite a few pounds heavier too.  Fortunately the recent fantastic weather means that I will be …

America The Beautiful

I was going to post this blog next week but I have just realised that it is the 4th of July, which feels like the perfect moment to launch 'the big one'.

When it comes to writing a patriotic song the Yanks know a thing or two.  This particular one is very much on my mind at the moment because of the verse:

"America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea"

I rode 'from sea to shining sea' in 2009, a journey that pre-dated this blog but very much started the whole thing with a series of email updates during the journey.   It was on those emails that I started using song titles to introduce each entry, little realising what a rod for my own back I was creating.  The whole trip and experience may not have been life-changing but it was definitely life-affirming, and I had absolutely the best time EVER!

I never imagined that I would get to repeat the experience, but an opportunity has arisen for me…

I Do Like Mondays

Being retired is excellent in almost every possible way.......but I don't like the weekends.  It really spoils things knowing that everyone else is off work too!

Mondays, on the other hand, are splendid.  While everyone else heads off to do their bit to keep the wheels of industry turning, I settle down for a 5 days of feckless idleness.

On this particular Monday the weather was so absolutely spiffing that I got on my bike and did a splendid 70, including a brief visit to my favourite sports drink vendor.  I would happily have done it for the hell of it but I am a man on a mission.  In 3 weeks I start my next adventure and it is a Biggie.  70 hot miles will be my daily ration for much of the summer so it was perfect training. 

Looking at the forecast I might be doing a few more sunny rides this week........bugger :-).

You've Got The Love

We are in Florence and here is a picture of my machine.  If that doesn't help you get the song connection there is no hope for you. 

Our ride today took us up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, from where there are suberb views across the city, then down and across the Ponte Vecchio into the heart of Florence.   Sounds fantastic doesn't it?  The trouble is that the place is rammed with tourists and people trying to relieve them of as many euros as possible. 

I sat and minded about £75,000 worth of bikes while the rest of the group wandered around, gawping at old shit and paying ten quid for an ice cream.

We don't actually stay in Florence, but a few miles further on in Signa.  Bike Adventures hotels are usually pretty good and we have done well for nice places, but our 'hotel' tonight is in another league.  We are staying in a 17th century villa and basically have the run of the place.  Tonight we are going to dress up and re-enact scenes from The Borgias.

That's Amore

I have been literally inundated with a request for an update on our little jaunt around Tuscany.  We have now completed 4 days with some tough hills, some glorious scenery and evenings spent enjoying excellent food and cheap vino.  Each day there is a choice of a shorter easier day (I do these) and a longer hillier version (the Chard Massive do these). 

The weather has been poor by Tuscan standards, but by the standards of anyone who lives in the UK it has been lurvely.  Today was a 'wet' day......a few spots of rain and the occasional wet road.

Tomorrow we go through Florence and we can't decide whether to visit all the splendid ancient buildings or sit by the river drinking beer.  It will be interesting to see which way we decide to go ;-)

Lean On Me

Well, here we are in Pisa.  I have seen the tower many times before but am always surprised just how leany it is. 

Our group of seven arrived on 3 different flights but we have now all hooked up and put our bikes together.  Between us there is some pretty fancy kit and I could see everyone taking quick furtive glances at the other bikes as they were put together..... anyone who has ever used a public urinal will know the glance I am talking about!

We are now setting about boosting the price of Peroni shares and waiting for restaurants to open.  Being Italy, this will occur about 5 hours after a sensible bedtime!  By that time Peroni stock will be worth more than Apple and tomorrow's cycling might be a bit of a problem.  Bugger!

Mambo Italiano

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Facebook!
So, your intrepid hero returned from Australia and sat around for 8 weeks picking flaking skin off his nose and watching all that fitness ooze out of his legs onto the carpet.   I had high hopes for lots of Spring cycling but these were thwarted by global warming which, unaccountably, seems to make it much COLDER.  The brief appearance of summer a couple of weeks ago helped, but my ambassadorial robes, which arrived a month ago, have only had a few outings and I have mostly just been eating the Ferrero Rocher and watching my waistline expand. 
What I need is a bit of sun and, as you can see from the photo, some exercise!
As luck would have it, I have a little cycling 'mini-break' that fits the bill perfectly....on Saturday I am off to Pisa for a week of cycling in Tuscany.  This is real 'cycling for softies' stuff with a support van to carry the crap, nice comfy hotels and none of that 100+ miles per day no…

In A Big Country

We made it.  We are safely in Perth with 2144 miles on the clock, the fat lady has sung beautifully and we know exactly how many chickens we have.

To paraphrase Kennedy's 'Apollo Programme' speach, we chose this trip 'not because it was easy, but because it was hard'.  It WAS hard but we have been very lucky.  Had we had more headwinds and/or very hot days it would have been much much harder and I wonder if we would have made it.

Australia truly is a big country.  Across two expeditions we have followed the coast from Brisbane to Perth, but we are still considerably  less than half way round.  The obvious next leg is from Perth to Darwin but that needs quite a lot of research.......the north is even hotter and the gaps between places even bigger.

Just to wrap up the fine details:

Last night we went to the local pub where it was still 1975.  The key 'attraction' was a couple of barmaids wearing very little but dental floss.  I am as broadminded as the…

It Ain't Over 'Till It's over

Neil returned at about 2am, long after I had retired.  This morning he refused to talk about where he had been but I caught him furtively stuffing a pink mankini and signed Village People photo into his panniers.   Still, what happens on tour stays on tour!

Today was another long one - 97 by the time we were in our cabin.  The first 20 were lovely, on quiet shady roads with kangaroos hopping along beside us. ..... which reminds me, why wasn't Skippy called Hoppy?

Then we joined Highway 1, which is back to being a roaring dual carriageway, where we ground along on the hard shoulder for 50+ miles.  My arse continues to give me occasional grief and even Neil seemed to be having problems today for some reason ;-)

We are now in Mandurah, a large coastal resort with same pretty pricey oceanfront properties.  Tomorrow we have less than 60 miles to Perth but the show isn't over until the fat lady sings.


We has an excellent BBQ last night and even found some proper British sausages (sausages need to be added to flies and beer on Australia's list of bad points).  We ate far too much and possibly had 1 beer more than was strictly necessary but it was a nice evening.

We went to bed somewhat trepidatious because, to be frank, our hot hilly day had left us more than a little buggered.  Today turned out to be OK; still 74 miles and still hilly but it was cool for most of the morning and the hills were a little less relentless.

Two things to record about our ride:

1/  we passed a sign warning us of smoke and soon found ourselves cycling through the remains of a forest fire.  It was very weird - completely quiet and still but with the odd plume of smoke from a smouldering stump.  I doubt the picture properly captured the scene.

2/ we also passed a girl standing beside a car that looked like it had just mown down a herd of cows.  A few hundred feet later we passed the remains of a badly…