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Road Cycling Holidays

Drive

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London Bridge Pub spotted whilst riding the 17 Mile Drive.

A harbour spotted whilst riding the 17 mile drive.

Two seals sunbathing in the sun.

A seal relaxing near the dock. Spotted during a tour of the 17 Mile Drive

A bit of an odd day today…..our first for some time without any encounter with the emergency services.
 
We had a laughably short day because of a problem with availability of our target hotel. On this bit of coast (Big Sur) accommodation at sensible prices is hard to find so we have had to stop short by 25 miles. This gave us less than 30 today but will require, gulp, 94 tomorrow. To make matters worse they will be hilly. Bigger gulp.
 
We left Marina for the short cycle path ride to Monteray where we wasted time on the wharf watching sea lions and pelicants before riding ’17 Mile Drive’ to Carel. This scenic route follows the headland from Monteray to Carmel past Pebble Beach golf course and some of the most gob-smacking real estate you could imagine. ‘That’s a big hotel’ said one of the group. ‘Yes it is’ I replied, ‘but it is actually a p‎rivate house’.  
 
With the combination of perfect weather, spectacular views and outrageous wealth it is one of the coolest 17 miles you can ride bar none.
 
We are now in Carmel where Clint Eastwood was once mayor. It is swanky and VERY expensive but quite fun.With such a short day we were done by lunchtime and we are wasting the afternoon by the pool. Although quite relaxed I ‎can’t help the occasional worry about how 94 hilly miles in 100 degrees is going to feel. Final gulp.
 
 
 
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Surfin Bird

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Sights spotted during a cycling holiday: whales and dolphins play in the sea.

Taking in the sights of people playing on the beach in the sunshine.

Geoff standing in front of the sea.

Geoff walking out of the sea in America

Today’ PS – don’t worry, nothing is on fire, just enjoying the sights!
 
We popped down to the beach to watch the whales and dolphins (of which there were lots) – not photos of them but a few more ‘general smugness’ shots.
 
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The Best Of The Police

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Sign reads 'Free Breakfast 4 Cyclists'

The police take down details when a cyclist is knocked by a passing car.

A Highway Patrol car, the American police

A very hot day in America.

‎….or the continuing adventures with Merica’s Emergency Services.

Fire

It seems that the hotel was not actually on fire. I hope you will understand and forgive my false assumption when I tell you that, as we sat on our balcony, there arrived not one but TWO fire engines, an ambulance and the Sheriff. So what ‎triggered the arrival of every vehicle equipped with flashing lights in a 50 mile radius? Unexploded bomb? Nope. Terrorist cell? Not even close.
 
A bloke who had cycled to the bar had fallen off in the car park. He didn’t actually even appear hurt but, having turned out, every bloke in a uniform want‎ed a crack at him and he was taken off on a trolley under protest.

The Bike Song

Today is national Ride To Work day in Merica. Well, all except one old (and possibly pissed) old lady for whom it was Try And Kill A Cyclist day. She swerved across the road a couple of times before clipping one our riders and knocking her off. Here we go again…..Hello 911?…..yes it is me again, we need some more help…..no, not the helicopter this time, just the police.
 
A California Highway Patrolman was soon on-scene, though disappointingly it wasn’t Erik Estrada (is he dead?). Our rider was OK – a few cuts and bruises and very badly shaken – but, again, the cop took our situation very seriously, filled out lots of forms and promised to shoot the old lady should they happen to find her.‎ Having taken a peak in the patrol car he was remarkably well equipped for shooting old ladies with LOTS of very big guns!

Hotter Than July

Yes, technically an album title ‎but who gives a rats?
 
Today the temperature hit 109…..that is almost 43 in Roman Catholic! It was hot! If the great plains are the breadbasket of the US then we are riding through the salad bowl and vegetable drawer. Today we passed the artichoke capital of the world….impressed huh? We are now in Marina and ready to start our assault on Big Sur.
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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!
 
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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!
 
 
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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.
 
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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!
 
 
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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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