Woke up this morning as per usual time but just had a feeling
today wasn't going to be good! I felt good and the alligator and
catfish from last night hadn't had any delayed affects, so there
was no reason.
We set off a few minutes behind time and made great progress in
the first hour which is always the hardest hour as you bed in all
those aches and pains and get settled in the saddle.
Soon hit the town of Hammond and headed north which put the wind
behind me and good speed to Franklington. The route was flat,
wooded and swampy with random derelicts of what used to serve this
highway, more logging vehicles were on the roads as we went through
the forest plantations.
Lunch was at McDees, no food just drinks and a bit of internet
time to sort out the remainder of the route. As we sat in the car
the heavens opened and there was a storm of biblical proportions
which passed over within 20 minutes, that basically set the trend
for the rest of the day.
All of a sudden the wind would whip up and you could see the
storm coming towards you, I was lucky that I had Caroline in the
car in close proximity for shelter, however for the two cyclists
travelling in the opposite direction there was nothing. The hail
was hurting as it struck me - another reason for wearing a helmet
:-) Where was Caro? Two minutes later she tipped up as if
nothing was happening! Again within minutes it had gone.
I prepared myself for the next front by putting my waterproof
on, this made me feel like a boil in the bag as it was still in the
high 80s and the humidity was in the 90s.
We crossed into Mississippi about 3ish, there was no big welcome
sign as all the other states had. I rode on and two miles down
the road there it was - Welcome to Mississippi - but the most
unaccessible sign ever to have your photo taken!
The down pours kept coming all the way into Wiggins and now the
lightening has started and a weather warning has been given - one
thing I will say about the US TV stations is they know how to do
Caroline and I are looking at re-routing tomorrow to avoid the
storms, however may come at a cost of an extra day and finishing on
Saturday - we will see what tomorrow brings.
Lessons learnt today; should have done this east to west
(confirmed), Mississippi is full of petrolheads who love their
vehicles, no hard shoulder on the main highway I'm on and people
still think we are Australian.
Sunday, April 1
Today started with the weather channel informing me that there
was to be a record high across Louisiana, it seems everyday
somewhere in the US is having glorious weather and records tumbling
apart from the Sunshine State and West Coast.
Today was a big stage, however flat as a pancake and a SSE
crosswind that would still assist in giving me an average speed of
18/19 mph. From Deridder to Baton Rouge it was all East on the US
The road was very easy going as we passed what seemed the whole
of the state was at one form of worship place or another, it seems
like in the cartoon Family Guy, Jesus is Alive and well somewhere
in the US?
The humidity was frightening and either through irrigation or
recent rainfall the area is swampy and fields I could only describe
as similar to paddy fields, harvesting what crop I don't know.
I saw a few craft that wouldn't look out of place in the
Everglades and it did make me think of the film Waterboy -
everything from the houses to the locals. Caroline had a local ask
her something of which she just smiled and nodded!
The route headed due South for 10 miles and the head wind slowed
me down for an hour, but I knew the heading would soon be easterly
to get me back on track.
The roads from Opelousas all the way onto the northern bridge
across the mighty Mississippi on the outskirts of Baton Rouge were
shocking, I had one puncture which I saw coming but couldn't do
anything about and the loss of my magnet for the speedo. This is
always frustrating as I ride to the data, I found my self
doing bunny hops on my road bike to avoid wrecking the wheels -
both sets will need to be serviced after this adventure.
The frustrating thing when riding the freeways is the state of
the shoulder, usually quite good, however today it was unrideable.
There are some locals usually in pickups, this one particular idiot
was driving a heavy duty pickup that gave me a wide birth then
accelerated with the speed of a striking slug to coat me in a cloud
of V12 smoke, the embarressing thing was I nearly overtook him!
A good day the only climb was the ramp up the Mississippi
bridge. The day has ended on my first taste of catfish and
alligator, we will see how I feel in the morning!
My thoughts are with the turtle crossing a two-lane freeway
- is the grass greener on the other side? Hope he made it!
Lessons learnt today; Jesus is alive and well in Louisiana as
well as all the other States, new roadkill - frogs/toads and
different language and dialect with a definite English origin.
Saturday, March 31
Thought I would start off by running through my morning
0700 Get up and start stretching and pack car
0730 Breakfast (depends on the motel, usually toast, porridge and
Medical prep: painkillers, heat roll on, suntan screen and
0800 Roll out
Well today was the last day in Texas and if honest I was quite
happy to see the back of it. Texas has been more than a third of
this ride and certainly has been a state of two halves, the first
being dry, arid and big country the second being green, temperate
It was a hot one the clouds had gone and by 10am it was 80
degrees and climbing. The route should have been quite simple but a
sequence of events and communication breakdown led to the first
hour being not as productive as it should have been. After a ten
minute review of our procedures and contingencies the day started
The route was flat with a nice southerly wind from the west
assisting me, being a the weekend there was a lot happening in
every town we went through all family orientated which was nice to
see - yard sales, BBQs, walks and a fire station open day.
We had lunch in Buna just off the highway, I find my best
cycling comes after being fed. Caroline was having a bit of a
nightmare with the map today but in her defence there were some
dubious road markings, however no excuse for taking me over a road
that was fit for mountain bikes and tracked vehicles, fortunately
it was only 2 miles long. Important note is not to go off the main
roads, especially in the back end of Texas.
Louisiana was on the horizon, I for one was happy to see
different road signs and just that little bit nearer. As I
pulled up to the state line, Caroline was talking to two cyclists
who were doing east to west. Jack and Jerry were travelling
unsupported and were doing it in aid of American Cancer Support.
Like us a cause very close to home. We traded cards, tips and had a
photo and onwards into Louisiana. Meeting Jack and Jerry made our
day its always good to speak to fellow cyclists on route. I wish
them all a safe journey.
What's changed from Texas to Louisiana? Roads are the same, its
even more humid and pretty swampy and therefore - mozzies!
Stats: Through 4 States
Another Best Western and the coffee machine doesn't work,
improvement on yesterday I suppose.
Lessons learnt today;switch radios on, always check the map before
turning, if in doubt stay on the same route always go back to the
place you last saw each other and locals seem nice in
Friday, March 30
Overcast and thunderstorms due. At least the wind was from the
south and should assist in propelling me to Navasato on the US 105
Today was the 12th day on the road and it told. I missed a
lot of the scenery as my head was down trying to get a rhythm going
but the roller coaster road wouldn't allow me to.
Caroline seemed to be enjoying herself taking photos and
admiring the scenery and every now and then giving me an update on
the days progress.
At Navasoto it was a quick drink stop and on to Montgomery for
lunch in a nice park. My lunch consists of anything with protein,
sugar or fat so it was sausages, bread and cheese swilled down with
a Dr P. Had a lovely chat with Jess - always highlight of the day
to talk - gives you strength and motivation to get there!
After lunch the terrain had flattened out and Lake Conroe was on
the horizon. Passing through the town of Conroe I got the
impression this area was a bit if a playground for the city folk of
Austin, Dallas and Houston. There were a lot of RVs the size of a
single decker bus if they weren't big enough they towed a vehicle
behind, usually an SUV.
The ride suddenly hit problems as the road I was on had just
been scarified and the surface was unrideable! After getting
through Conroe it was a nice flat easy run into Cleveland and the
Best Western. A rare day - no punctures :-)
You know when you've been looking forward to something for at
last 12 hours and when you get there you feel deflated. Well that's
how I felt when Caro booked in and told me the internet and TV
wasn't working! It got worse as I was trying to relax in the bath
Caro informed me that the fridge and microwave weren't working
either - forgive me for not getting excited by the whirlpool.
Lessons learnt today: maybe look at Super 8 tomorrow, lower
cadence less strain on my left hamstring and 85% humidity is
Day closer to home :-)
Thursday, March 29
It was an earlier start on an overcast Thursday morning in
Kerrville, TX. The mission today was to get to Austin as quick as
possible. I planned that we could be there before lunch as it was
only sixty-odd miles. The reason was to visit Lance Armstrong's
bike store - Mellow Johnny's which said quick enough sounds like
Maillot Jaunne (yellow jersey).
The route took us through Fredericksburg which was very German
not just in name but buildings and road names, even had a bier
keller in town. They also produced their own wine and it was
referred to as Tuscany in Texas.
Going was good and I had the assistance of a nice tailwind,
however as we got to Austin city limits the 290 went from a 2 to 4
lane freeway at this point Caro escorted me through town to Mellow
Johnny's. Situated in town the place had such a rustic feel and
very laid back.
The store is more than just that it is a centre with cafe, bike
fitness centre and showers and changing rooms for people like me
making a pilgrimage to the great man's place. I spent 30 mins
dreaming of what I could have then bought a few bits and pieces.
Just for the record my bike was as much in dollars as I paid
After getting out of Austin it was onward to Bastrop. Progress
was good and a few miles were to be stolen from tomorrows stage,
must be the inspiration you get from a great man as well as our own
Finally got in at 6 after a really good day, the only down side
was a quick fire 2 punctures, Caro was there on the end of the
radio to get my spares. The Sheriff even pulled over to check
everything was OK - seriously the people are all so helpful, they
maybe packing but manners maketh man.
Lessons learnt today: UK is so expensive and the roads require
nets along the side to stop turtles crossing.
Thunderstorms ahead, that was the forecast for the day and they
weren't wrong (weather channel). The ride started easy and the
towns were being ticked off Caroline's list quite quickly, it was
nice to have a little bit of a tail wind for once.
I don't know why but I love riding in the rain, I just seem to
pick the pace up. The route took us east through a town called
I met up with a guy called Don who was riding from San Diego to
Jacksonville, he was riding unsupported and left SD on the 2 March
and is arriving on 28 April best of luck to him - if you can get
the time off or retired that is the way to do it.
Even though the pace was good I still managed 2 punctures. Lunch
was spent a place called Hondo McDees (wireless) we had a portion
of chips/ fries between us. Hate the looks I get when I walk in in
Lycra! Texas is so macho.
After lunch it was a stretch on the worse stretch of road so
far. Slows you down and the vibration kills as well as wrecking
your bike. Felt like getting onto Lance to say if you want to be
Governor get the roads sorted! True to form as we crossed a county
line the road was smooth.
We rolled into this town called Bandera -wow it could be used as
a set in a cowboy film (apart from the vehicles) it was so quaint
The last leg into Kerrville was very pleasant the terrain was
rolling and very green. With the weather you could have been in
England apart from the bison at the side of the road. Had to keep
pinching myself at what I was seeing. Rolled into Kerrville just
before last light cleaned the bike down and was tempted to use the
pool but not open till May.
Tea was an Angus Mac with cheese and mushrooms and my new
favourite Dr Pepper. A good day :-)
Lessons learnt today: keep fuelled for max performance, put your
phone in a waterproof bag and change your song playlist.
Breakfast as usual but not the easterly wind I was expecting,
the morning got off to a great start 20-25mph all was good, even
the road surface which seems to reflect the relevant counties
Border Patrol are all over the place, why haven't they arrested
Caroline for acting suspiciously next to the border :-)
Del Rio was a little bit of a dissapointment, just a strip with
fast food, motels and car sales - i do ask the question do
Americans cook? There seem to be more fast food joints than any
At least the scenery is changing, it is getting a lot greener
but also very humid. The US 90 East is fairly flat and easy going,
however still not a lot to see.
I didn't meet any cyclists today which surprised me as the
ladies I met two days ago said I would catch them up, maybe a
Just the 3 punctures today, not blow outs but slow ones. Means I
didn't remove the sharp from the tyre - schoolboy error!
Bit of a boring day but really looking forward to the next few
days as we get near to Austin and a ranch for Caro, also getting
close to the halfway point and that means all downhill from here or
should I say hot and humid.
Lessons learnt today: check tyre before inflating inner tube,
wear hi viz jacket and this area hasn't recovered from
Monday, March 26
Woke up to gloomy looking conditions outside, the stars and
stripes outside were showing me that I would be dealing with a
headwind all day just as the weather channel predicted.
After an incident packed breakfast where poor Jessica the
receptionist had been left to cook breakfast and accidently set the
fire alarm off annoying the residents even more than not having
their eggs for breakfast. Not good Best Western! We had to make our
way back to Marfa as we had stayed in Alpine due to no motels being
Cycling back through where you have just driven from usually is
quite demoralising but the views and pass into Alpine took my mind
off the wind. Alpine is a nice state university town and one of the
first pioneer towns from the late 1800s. The terrain has changed
from arid to a more temperate with a lot more green.
Out of Alpine and the wind was starting to get to me I knew at
this early stage that I would struggle to make my target within
Just to brighten my day I spotted some wild boar ahead of me
with some bird of prey just above I tried to get a photo close up
but scared them off probably to the advantage of the birds (they
looked like eagles to me - certainly big enough).
The cycling was ball breaking and no let up as we passed through
Marathon, yet another run down outpost. More shops and garages
closed than open. The weather got worse even the sun had gone in
and I donned a base layer - sunglasses only required for dust and
Even the scenery had become depressing I was starting to feel
groundhog - large open expanse of land and rail track, Sanderson
could not come quick enough.
Meanwhile Caroline was busying herself to make sure at every
rest stop food and drink were ready as I was using probably twice
the effort. I spoke to some locals in Sanderson who informed me
that these winds are here till the end of April! My chin
To make things worse I've been burnt on the one side of my face,
apparently called a farmers tan.
Spoke to Jess, cheered us both up :-)
We reached Dryden just before sunset. A long day and gets worse
as we have to go back to Sanderson to our motel! At least in the
morning I will be going forward to the start point.
Wish I could say more about today but can't, I just want to get
out of this part of Texas.
Lessons learnt today: should have looked at East to West option,
Texas is big, glad I bought my rain jacket and never doubt the
Sunday, March 25
Sunrise was at 8am and the temp was rising into the 70s. I was
really looking forward today as it was my first full day in Texas
and going through the 1,000 mile marker.
We met several old timers are breakfast, why do all Americans
claim to be English:-) They were helpful in guidance for our route
I climbed onto my bike to head south east, through Van Horn and
onto Marfa, right from the off I had company - a 20-30mph headwind,
The route took us along the Mexican border and Border Patrols
were all over the place, well all I can say any person who can
cross that border, the extreme weather and the open landscape
deserves a green card, not too mention the patrols.
Through Van Horn and onto a town called Valentine. We met two
young ladies doing the southern tier East to West, they were laden
with panniers and had left Marfa that morning. They were making
good use of the tailwind. We talked about where we had come from
and what we would be coming across on route, few tips about our
respective routes and the obligatory photo shoot.
Lunch was in a little place called Valentine. We stopped for
some shade in a dissused gas station I needed fuel to keep me going
in the unrelenting wind. Caroline was busy taking photos of
anything from old shanty houses to birds of prey and not forgetting
all the historic land marks.
As I cycled I could imagine Indians coming over the brow of the
surrounding hills looking down on the early settlers and stage
coaches that would have made this one of the oldest trails in the
US. The train line ran adjacent to the route and every so often an
engine pulling probably a miles worth of rolling stock from
containers to cattle - big country!
I have seen a few men in cowboy hats but the majority are
baseball cap wearers chewing tobbaco and probably packing a 45!
Still the folk have all been very helpful, we have given up
saying Chatham, Kent and have just gone for just outside London
answer I find it saves at least 2 minutes of confusion.
By the way I finished on a puncture - something to do instead of
trying to relax and recouperate. Wind is picking up and a 30%
chance of precipitation, or should I say chance it might rain
Lessons learnt today: put suntan lotion on before setting off,
take sunglasses off to avoid Panda look and don't try to hang
T-shirt on fence in 30mph winds.
The day started as it finished yesterday hot
and on the I-10.
After a nice breakfast it was time to get away
and leave New Mexico behind.
I for one was looking forward to Texas as it
is psychologically halfway (depends where you are in Texas) and a
rest day outside Austin is on the horizon (hopefully).
All the time I ride on the interstaes all I
can think is when is my next puncture?
Progress was good, Caro was hanging back ready
on the radio if required with replacement wheel.
About 10 miles west of Las Cruces I met a
retired couple from Seattle, David and Nancy who were riding on a
tandem, 50 miles a day! I felt like a cheat with Caroline in
support but as I explained its the only way I could achieve it
within my allocated leave.
Two punctures later I got diverted off the 10
as we came within the city limits the view of the Rio Grande was
spectacular. Now all I had to do was navigate through and onto El
Paso, all of a sudden the wind was from the south and in my face.
We had lunch by the side of the road, temperature was starting to
burn so went through my top to bottom regime (literally) sun cream,
heat rub etc.
I cycled along the Route 20 and across into
Texas. The US/Mexican border was quite prominent this was a case of
a divided city one prosperous side and one not so. After several
attempts to get across I called for the cavalry to help me out and
get me through the other side. I had underestimated the size of
this city it wasnt vertical but horizontal and went on for
I came out the other end unscathed and
puncture free. I witnessed my first twister winding its way across
the open ground, it was orange dust being whipped up by the
Finally got off the bike after 12 hrs - I am
spent!!!!! But haven't finished there, I now have tedious chore of
fixing tyres and tubes. I only have 8 new left, thus repairs are
Lessons learnt today; Caroline does not like Interstates, McDees
doesn't do refills, but Wi-Fi is good and my body needs a day
Friday, March 23
Today started slow as the wind was in my face
and the road surface was terrible and undulating, however still
averaged about 15mph. I think I've just been spoilt over the last
few days with good tail winds.
We went through a few one horse towns in
particular a place called Duncan, quite quaint - I do get some
funny looks off the locals! T
he landscape is changing massively as we head
south into New Mexico large open plains flanked on the horizon by
The one thing that will stick in my mind is
what I witnessed at the side of the roads all the way to Lordsburg
was the amount of beer bottles just scattered road side, whether
these are just flung from vehicles or there are parties out on the
plains? There were thousands! Maybe it was a smashed bottle on the
shoulder that gave me my third puncture.
My backside was killing again but a new pain
was taking my mind off it - white finger in my fingers from the
constant vibration through the handlebars (panty pads come in handy
Lunch was at Lordsburg at a garage before
joining the I-10 for the last stretch to Deming. I observed that
the locals probably spend more on their vehicles than their
Onto the I-10 for a 70-mile stretch, this is
where I am most likely to have a puncture so I get Caro to give me
a head start so she is always behind me as she has the spare
I had a fantastic tailwind and the road was
flat I had covered over half the route and a rest stop was 2 miles
up the road when Caro came passed and signalled for a stop - happy
days all of a sudden the Continental divide marker sign came up I
needed to get a photo, so off I went put the bike against the sign
and snapped away.
Within a minute of getting back on the bike
that dreaded sound of the flat tyre. My predicament was either to
spend 10 mins at the side of the road changing the tube or walk to
the rest area. I chose to walk. Trying to walk a mile in cycling
shoes isn't easy and you ruin the cleats which lock you into the
pedals so I took them off - a mile later a nice lady in a pick up
gave me a ride to the rest area (400yds) she was equivelant to
highways agency and said you cant walk on the side of the
Interstate. I was grateful as my feet were getting blisters. I will
just add those to the injury list.
With new wheels on I finished the leg in
double quick time, when I met up with Caro she told me some middle
aged woman had walked around our car and taken a photo of the
plate. Caro asked if she could help and whether she had offended
her of which the woman acknowledged but would not say why - nutter!
Personally I would of asked her not to take photos of the car! This
has unsettled Caro and for all the nice, helpful people we have met
this just brings you back to reality and more cautious.
Lessons learnt today; carry more inner tubes,
trust no one, New Mexico is a bit tired and it seems to be a poor
relation to the neighbour states.
Thursday, March 22
Nothing like a 4000ft climb to wake you up! I
was speaking to the motel manager and he was saying that I had a
10-mile climb and there will be snow up there, he was right on both
counts. Still what a wonderful experience and probably the most
scenic climb I have experienced.
Caro was strategically positioned with the
immaculately laid out car ready with drinks, food and medical (will
cover the medical aspect later!) However I'm not allowed to sit in
it I case I mess it up!
I met two other coast to coast cyclists laden
to the nines with panniers and the kitchen sink - how they got up
that climb I don't know?
The scenery as we passed thru copper mining
towns was breathtaking, the temperature was also breathtaking. We
were well and truely in Apache country, however didn't see many
wigwams! Cactus are starting to dissapear and the ground is more
open scrub as we drop down to the valley, wind is behind and the
going is very good.
I was hoping for a good break at a town called Bylass. I was in
need of food but more pressing was the pain in my backside similar
to sitting on razor blades. The town was the proverbial one horse
and very Apache Indian, what was worse was no diner!
Caro found a shop and got me a sandwich, banana and ice cold coke,
but more important some panti-pads for a bit of comfort in the
nether region. 50 miles later they had passed the test, good job
its a pack of 24!
Still on track and lodging at Safford, outside swimming pool looks
inviting to tourists but the locals wouldn't entertain swimming
until May at the earliest. Just met an ex-Sapper left the Corps (ex
23 Amph) in 86 and has settled over here.
Lessons learnt today: panty pads are not just for girls, Caro has
learnt to orientate a map (Google tablet) and pointless putting
suncream on my left side as it doesn't get the sun.
It was such a shame to leave the Westward
Motel this morning, we could have stayed another night and Caro
could have got some horse riding.
We are well and truelly in gold rush country,
lots of abandoned mines and shanties which would have accommodated
I set off at a blistering pace, no wind and
pretty flat averaging just under 20mph all the way to the I-10 East
to Pheonix. Once we got to the junction we met some highway patrol
who advised which way to go to navigate around Pheonix, however it
was a dirt road so the decision was to go on I-10 (equivelant to
riding on the M25) and get as far as we could - as the freeway went
to 6 lanes it was time to get off! Just as well as I got 2 flats as
I cycled up the ramp to meet Caro!
Plan B - get me safely across the city to
Apache Junction. Once at Apache Junction it was off via the route
60 to Superior, a great climb up into Tonto National Park, the
views were breathtaking and the fast desent into Superior where our
accommodation was a quaint little motel. It wouldn't look out of
place in a 50s film.
Lessons learnt; don't ride on city
interstates, don't mention punctures and route selection around
Tuesday, March 20
It was a beautiful sunrise as we drove out
from our motel to the start point for today's ride of approx
140miles to Salome, Arizona.
On paper it looked quite straight forward,
however on the ground turned out to be very punishing. The ride
started through the sand dunes with a head wind I knew then it was
going to be a long day but worse was to follow the road was like a
roller coaster of painful little climbs through arid desert scrub
on the way to Blythe.
Caroline was stopping at random points along
the way and writing her journal and taking photos of the strange
desert flora - I did warn her about rattlers as I had seen two
Again we came across US Border Patrol (I got
worried and checked the map to make sure we weren't going the wrong
way, I was right we were approx 100 miles from the border) I cycled
through without being challenged, when Caro caught up with me she
told me that they wanted me to stop.
Lunch was at the Golden Arches in Blythe,
progress was good. Caro booked the motel for the evening at Salome
and off we went.
We crossed the Colorado River and entered
Arizona, one down seven to go. As we entered all of a sudden cactus
were every where. What I didn't expect was a 10-mile climb on the
interstate 10 dodging rubber and debris in the hard shoulder.
However, every time a truck went past the force would propel you up
without head wind - a welcome relief. Dare I say no punctures as
yet - miracle.
Every up hill has a down hill and this didn't
dissapoint all the way into Quartzsite, however followed by another
climb out of the valley.
I haven't mentioned by this time roadside
temperature is pushing into the 80s. Energy gels and water kept me
Finally off the I-10 and onto US 60 all the
way to Salome, I was feeling spent and speed was a struggle for the
last 20 miles even downhill, this one horse town could not come
quick enough - finally arrived at 6:30pm to a very pleasant
surprise - the motel was classic western.
Lessons learnt today - stop at border control
points, AC/DC makes you ride faster and get a flask for hot
Monday, March 19
It had to happen! Driving up the interstate to our start
point in Pine Valley and the road is closed due to snow and ice
- epic fail. As there is no alternate route we can only just
sit here and wait it out.
Finally the interstate was opened and we got
on our way, conditions were very icey and caution was taken on the
desent. Amazingly within an hour there was no sign of snow as I
dropped from 2000ft to sea level and one of the best desents I have
ever done average speed approx 40mph.
Within two hours I had gone from freezing
to mid-70s. Caro was pulled up by the US Border Patrol for parking
by the side of the road where accomplices would pick up Mexicans
crossing the border and trying to get into the States!
The good thing was the wind was behind me and
the roads were flat as a pancake through El Centro on the way to
I had an airshow from the USAF F-15 as they buzzed above me in
formation (top gun school) and practised their manouvres in the
clear blue sky.
On the whole a good day, Caro is getting the
hang of driving the car and used to the massive trucks on the road
as well as the main mean of transport being the pick up truck - law
into themselves. Tough day tomorrow through the desert proper and
on our way to Phoenix for Wednesday.
Lessons learnt today - don't park by the side of the road near the
border, wear gel gloves to combat the vibration from bad road
surfaces and wear sun cream at all times.
After a short sleep we were up early to pack
the car, shop and assess what we were going to do today with
regards to cycling - the weather was so unpredictable with snow at
2000ft and where we wanted to get to was 4000ft.
We went shopping our friend Rich from San
Diego. At Walmart we bought two walkie talkies which have proved to
be brilliant and were essential through San Diego.
We took a gamble to try and get to Alpine or
Even Pine Valley (50 miles) and set off from Dog Beach after
dipping my bike in the Pacific Ocean.
Caro guided me through the suburbs and finally
got out to the Historic Old Highway 80 which would take us to our
A quick pit stop at Burger King was required -
1000 calories in seconds. As we set off the inclines got greater
and the temperature dropped to just above freezing, we must be the
only tourists that will not witness true Californian sunshine!
At this time I was starting to get worried as
the snow was coming down heavy and the road was slippy, fortunately
it was all uphill.
Finally got to Pine Valley to find that the
motel was fully booked. Epic fail! We had to go back to Alpine to
get a room - early start to get to the starting point ready for
pretty much the same again but longer and all day to get us to
Brawley or even beyond.
Lessons learnt today; with an automatic car depress brake to select
gear, book motel in advance and wear more than one thin pair of
socks in freezing conditions.
Monday, March 12
I know it’s getting close now as I am starting
to get little niggles and sub-consciously thinking I need to pack,
I need to do this and need to do that - but I’m not doing
I am very happy with how my fitness has gone
and more than happy with the bike – I just need all of us to get
there in one piece. I have had a lot of support from
the Tri-Bike shop in Gravesend who are providing me with all
my energy and recovery drinks as well as inner tubes and
After riding in the Hell Of Ashdown Forest the
bike and I came through both unscathed and happy. It was hard to
picture at the time of riding through Ashdown Forest, as beautiful
as it is, that I would soon be riding through the Arizona Desert,
plains of Texas and Everglades of Florida – I know one thing, it
will be a lot warmer.
Specsavers in Gillingham High Street
kindly offered to put on a fundraiser for us on Saturday and
members of their staff did a turn on the spinning bike in store.
The Co-op Travel staff also did a collection. I'm hoping the event
raised lots of money and awareness for CLIC Sargent.
Friday, February 24
thinks I am getting very nervous and anxious about the ride – I
Forget about the physical preparation, it’s
about making sure I have everything I need. I am not talking about
have I got enough pairs of socks or toiletries, I am on about the
bike and the items required to support me whilst cycling, such as
With losing so many calories during the day I
need to ensure I am taking on protein and liquids or I will hit the
proverbial wall and have to stop.
Also items like a camera to record all the key
moments, ways of uploading the photos for the blog and Facebook.
You only do something like this once and it needs to be recorded
The garage is upside down with my search for
that little gadget or tool that I might need or that would come in
handy! As for packing the bike, last time it travelled the hard
flight case I bought was smashed by the baggage handlers,
fortunately the bike was OK.
My fear of the actual flight to San Diego! I
hate flying, as soon as I enter the terminal, Caroline says I turn
into a different person – I am not in control! The hustle and
bustle of people and crowds, delays and cramped spaces at 35000ft
for 12 hours does not excite me in any way, especially with my
alcoholic drinks ban.
I am still waiting for my new set of wheels for my bike to
arrive. Then there is the matter of a small bike ride this weekend
called the ‘Hell of Ashdown.’ This should be a good indicator as to
where I am in my fitness and a good run out for the bike.
The Hell of Ashdown is a 100Km bike ride around Ashdown Forest
and the North Downs with eight killer climbs! A lot of the top
club cyclists use it as a warm up for their season.
Friday, February 17
Less than a month to go and I am
feeling the ground rush, and running out of days to get everything
You only do this once and you have
to get it right.
If I said I wasn’t worried I would
I have to cycle through 1,000 miles
of barren, featureless terrain, where the horizon doesn’t change
and no place to hide from the persistent heat.
Among the nagging questions going
through my head are: what if it is too hot? What if there is a sand
I also worry about cycling on the
interstates, with big trucks flying past me and having to ride in
the hard shoulder where all the debris is – not good for the tyres
or the bike.
We have gone through the route a
thousand times, looking at places we have never seen before,
knowing we will see them soon.
I’ve read hundreds of fellow
cyclist’s journals that highlight their trials and tribulations and
every journal has something new for me to worry about.
It is a big challenge that will
push both of us, physically and mentally, but the rewards outweigh
the pain and suffering.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt
since losing Emily it’s that life is not a rehearsal – push
yourself to the limit and feel alive.
The support from people in Medway
five years on still amazes me, and inspires me to succeed in our
goal of raising £100,000 for CLIC Sargent.
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