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Road Cycling Holidays

Leaving on Jetplane

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A sign that reads 'Steve's High Weed Mowing'

One of the riders stood outside a shop.

An empty, winding road that runs alongside a mountain in America.

The hilly terrain taken by riders during a cycling tour of America.

‎Where was I? Ah yes, having cancelled International Rescue we had a jolly evening in a bar/restaurant overlooking the ocean, laughing about how we had spent 3+ hours thinking one of our riders was dead and nearly launched a 25000 dollars/hour search helicopter.
 
Next day was the‎ longest of the trip with lots of hills. Thanks to a return up the biggest of these looking for someone who had, in fact, gone shopping I finished on a magnificent 92 miles and 8000 feet of climb. I was f@?’/d!
 
‎We spent the evening just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and had a pretty passable Indian for tea. As with all Indian meals it ended up costing 50% more than expected – exacerbated by the whole tax, tip, tax on tip nonsense.
 
Tuesday was ride into ‘Frisco day and everyone enjoyed it – everyone except the rider with Fanta pee who, after a 2nd visit to ER and intra-venous ‎anti-biotics conceded that he wasn’t a well man and headed home. We also said a scheduled goodbye to ‘Pierre’ who had a job to keep. Before leaving he managed to suprise me…….I have a fairly high tolerance when it comes to the price of fancy cycling kit but when he proudly told me that he had just purchased a pair of £1000 pedals (that’s right pedals!) I had to have a bit of a sit down.  
 
His other half – ‘Katie’ – is now alone and at our mercy (sinister laugh).
 
Today, for now it is Today, we rode out of SF through the Golden Gate park and started our way down the coast towards Big Sur. The Mustang count is rising almost as fast as the temperature. I LOVE IT!
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Night Fever

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View of a bay in America from a bike on a sunny day.
A cyclist, before the fever struck, taking a break by the sea and in the sunshine.
Empty coastal road in America against a clear, blue sky.
A road through a forest in America.
An American road sign.
Warning: this blog may contain traces of smugness!
 
So, lovely steaks and a jolly evening in Leggett then the easy 47 miles to Fort Brag on Highway 1. The day started with a bit of a climb then a magnificent 12 mile scream down the other side. The sun was high and it was REALLY spiffy! We are now back beside the Specific and the scenery is really first class – all the better for being viewed from a saddle rather than a love machine.
 
The day was done by 2pm, leaving time for rehydration and a high powered business meeting on the sun terrace. This was briefly interrupted by the emergence of 3 strippers from the room behind us (they MAY not have been strippers but were certainly dressed for the role).  
 
An early evening meal should have been the end of things but one of our riders who had previously reported as being ‘a bit poorly’ was found in his room shivering with a fever and peeing razor blades so we are now in the ER waiting for George Clooney to tell us what is wrong with him. More later!
 
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

You’re The One That I Want

Highway One with a blue, cloudy sky

American forest as seen from Highway One

A cat sunbathing on a plastic chair

After a magnificent day in the Humbolt Redwoods State Forest we are in Leggett, CA. This is a favourite stop in a little 9 unit motel with a lovely garden and gas BBQ which we will use to cook steaks and salmon fillets shortly.
 
The BEST thing is that we will now follow Highway One instead of the less excitingly names US101 which has been our companion for the last 800 miles.   ‎Tomorrow we will have the ritual parade through the drive through tree, then a big climb and a plunge back to the coast on good old Highway One.
 
I expect most of you are thinking ‘this is all very interesting but how is his bottom?’. The answer is…….fan-bloody tastic! I started using a Brooks saddle last year – a splendid leather thing made by British craftsmen and designed to mould to the contours of your arse – and it is the best thing since sliced bread (this is just a saying – don’t try putting sliced bread on your saddle).  By bottom is completely free of bruises, sores, festering boils and supperating leisons. Just thought you would want to know!
 
The cat? It came and claimed my chair in the sun while I was showering.
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

I Can’t Stand The Rain

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Delicious evening meal in an American restaurant

A road in America when the rain has cleared and sky is blue

An American road with tall fur trees running along the sides of the road.

The rain has cleared and a rider stands in the sun on the deck of a log cabin in the woods.

A park in America with the sun shining brightly.

Me again. The last 3 days have been a bit pants for weather and my creative juices don’t flow unless it is sunny. Fortunately today has been sunny so lots of juices today……don’t worry I have had a shower!
 
After our rest day we did 2 easy days, to Gold Beach, OR and then Crescent City, CA. Both were cool and overcast with a pesky headwind but soon done. In Gold Beach we had magnificent steaks the size of a baseball glove in a proper restaurant with table cloths, napkins and everything. It will rank in my all time best 5 steaks!!!

Some bonus tracks

China‎ Girl

Yesterday was truly horrid with biblical rain all day. 3 riders immediately wimped out and took the van while 3 bravely set out to ride in the rain. 2 others waited to see what would happen and, at midday declared they were also taking the van. Sadly this meant I too had to get in the van (snigger!).
 
‎So it was a sort of rest day for me too!
 
In the evening we went to a ‘Eat all you can’ Chinese buffet – 8 quid!

I Need A Dollar 

I am a big fan of pound shops‎. Obviously there is the fun of asking the girl on the checkout how much each item costs but I also really like the feeling that I am getting a bargain. Merica, naturally, has to go one better and had Dollar Tree…..the same thing but everything costs a dollar. The best deal we could find was a BOTTLE OF WINE! We didn’t buy one but I bet it would have been OK!

Back on the Chain Gang 

Today we past a Merican convict crew working on the roads. It seems that the 21st century equivalent of breaking rocks is…….strimming!

Our House

In the middle of the woods is a cabin in the heart of the redwood forest. Location, Location, Location.
 
T‎onight, take-away pizza and beer…..mmmmm!
 
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Now That’s What I Call Music

It is a rest day so lots of time to write drivel and plenty of banging songs to use:

Bandon The Run

Bandon is a very nice little seaside fishing town.  Fantastic views out to sea, though it is cool and misty so no swimming for me. 

A beach in Bandon, America, on an overcast day.

Crazy

We wandered ‘downtown’ and mooched around the harbour a bit and saw a couple of seals just cruising past – not a great photo but you can see he was there!
A seal in the harbour in downtown America 
You will have to google the song to get the relevance…

Happy Hour

It is sunday, it is a rest day, what else do you expect us to do?
 
On a rest day, the cycling tour group stop for a beer in an American pub.

Young Guns 

On the rest day last year I was quite keen on buying a gun but I was talked out of it.  This year I was determined to buy one, but the cunning Katie found a safer compromise and bought me this:
 
A child's small water gun
I’m going to buy some caps and then woe betide any punk who fancies making my day.

Ticket to Ride 

It seems that someone who shall remain nameless (yes , it is Sarah) thinks that I am not actually riding but just siting around drinking beer with Geoff. This is, at the very least, slander but possibly also libel and definitely bloody cheeky.  I have nothing to prove but here is the proof:
A cyclist riding a bike down a street in America.

The Bare Necessities

Don’t you just love ‘Merican TV?  It is all garbage but sometimes you stumble across something even worse than usual.  How about this – it is called Naked and Afraid:
Naked and Afraid American TV show
As best I can tell that they take people and put them in the wilderness to survive……..in the buff.  Of course, being ‘Merica they can’t actually show the naughty bits so the whole screen is covered in pixelations!
 
Back on the road tomorrow…

Pump It Up

The punctures are worth it for this view. A misty bay in America.

A bay in America. The sun is creating dramatic light contrasts and makes the rock in the sea look silhouetted.

View from the saddle of a bike of trees in the woods.

Well, when I wrote yesterday I said the bike was running like a Swiss watch. It turns out it was a fake Rolex. I fixed FOUR punctures in total and there was clearly something in the tyre that I just couldn’t find. Eventually I got the damn thing to stay inflated and today it has been fine.
 
One odd side-note: while sitting at the roadside mending puncture number 2 a rather scruffy bloke shuffled up to me to ask if I needed a hand. I thanked him and said I was fine and he ambled off, then stopped and turned back to say ‘I don’t sleep with men any more’.    OK!
 
I really love this route from my two years of Love Machine duty, but the view from the saddle of a bike is even better. The ‎views are often spectacular but also the general ‘vibe’ is a great experience.
 
We are in Bandon, OR where we will have a rest day. Our motel is on the beach and if the mist would just bugger off it will be a great location to chill tomorrow.
 
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Fantastic Day

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A bay in America with the sun shining on the water

An American bay surrounded by trees when the sun it out.

The view from the top of a hill, looking down to the sea

A cyclist enjoying an ice cream in the sun shine.

‎And it was! About as good a day for cycling as you could get ‎with a strong sun in a cloudless blue sky, gently rolling terrain and a sodding great tailwind. Added to this, the bike seems to be running like a swiss watch and all I had to do was sit on the thing and watch the miles passing under the front wheel.
 
The scenery in Northern Oregon was up to the occasion with wonderful sandy shores, rock stacks and white breakers, all shrouded in a light mist for a bit of extra theatre. Oh yes, even the whales put in an appearance.
 
‎Even a puncture couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  
 
What else do you need on a day like this? That’s right ‎a chuffing great ice cream 🙂
 
This is day 6 and we are a quarter of the way with 430 miles under our belts. Any more days  with the sun out like today and I might explode.  
 
 
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Devil Woman

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Two cyclists enjoying a break and having a coffee.

The job of sweeper mostly requires little more than riding slowly with the tail-end charlie. I am very good at it…if riding slowly was an Olympic event I would be in the medals, even without taking performance reducing drugs (or pies as most people call them).
 
However, there is always that nagging worry that one day EVERYONE on a trip will be fast. This has nearly happened on this trip. When the guests arrived they turned out to be a bunch of racing snakes with helium bikes and less fat than a veggie burger. Bugger.
 
This means I have to ride fast – I am nearly as bad at riding fast as I am good at riding slow.
 
To give you some idea of the extent of my problem I would like you to meet the pair in the photo. To preserve anonymity I will call them ‘Pierre and Katie’. The week before this trip they entered the Thruxton 24 hour race. Most people have the wit to enter as part of relay teams but about 40 idiots, including ‘Pierre and Katie’, entered the solo category.  
 
Pierre rode a gobsmaking 410 miles, placing him fourth. Katie ‘only’ did 361 but this placed her faster than all but 7 riders and the fastest girl by a country mile. I hate her. She cycles past me on hills grinning and whistling, brow untroubled by the sweat that is drenching me from head to foot.  
 
My sweeping is now being done from a veeeeery long way back – anyone encountering a problem will have time to completely rebuild their bike ready to watch me arrive and collapse sweating and gasping on the verge.
 
Bloody ‘Katie’!

Whale Meat Again

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 On Saturday we had time to kill while we waited for the last two riders to fly in.  Actually, rather a lot of time because we were awake at 4am….bloody jet lag!
 
We had a good old ‘Merican breakfast of corned beef hash at a diner, mooched around a mall then retired to a park to strategise is the sun.  I knew that there was a good chance of seeing whales on this trip but hadn’t expected to see one quite so early, an certainly not in a Seattle park:
 
One of the riders taking a break in the sunshine.

We also saw another rather curious thing in the park……a girl who had been sunbathing near us got up, moved  about 25 yards, sat down again and proceeded to take a ‘selfie’ of a rather intimate part of her anatomy.  We have reflected on this at length but have no explanation to offer.

Yesterday we finally started riding, 76 glorious miles down the side of the Hood canal in absolutely perfect weather.  It is good to be on the road again!!!
 
What with jet lag, the heat, and 76 miles under our belts everyone was tired and it was an early night. Unfortunately I was so tired that I fell asleep nursing a nearly full beer!  It seems that at some point in the night I tried to take a swig from the bottle but only succeeded in tipping beer all over my face…  If you have ever woken in the night because you are drowning in beer (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) you will know it isn’t much fun.
 
Today we turn west and will actually be on the Pacific coast by bed time.

The Bridge

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Elton John but I’m not going to help you with them all! 

Has anyone seen the footage of the ‘Merican suspension bridge that fell to bits when it got caught in a cross wind back in 1940? It started to wobble and twist and eventually fell into the sea.  Well this was the 2nd attempt which has fared rather better.  It is the Tacoma Narrows bridge which we crossed on our way to Port Townsend with our first load of bikes and riders. 

Tacoma Narrows bridge which we crossed on our way to Port Townsend with our first load of bikes and riders. 
No excitements to report yet – no lost wallets or keys locked in cars but there is still plenty of time :-).

 
The forecast for tomorrow is clear blue skies and highs in the mid-20’s… I believe that fair weather is also predicted for Blighty so no real cause for smugness but, never the less, I do feel a little smug.