The Greater San Fransisco Area

Continuing my quest to travel the world.

It has been my quest to cycle around the world for a very long time, although I have ticked off 16 countries to date, I still haven't achieved the ultimate goal of cycling the world. I cannot wait any longer for the conditions to be perfect, age is catching up with me, so it is now or never.

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia
After our trip to Vietnam in 2012.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

I think I'm going blind!

Bob the cat helping me with counting kilometres.

I'm going cross - eyed. I'm sure my eyesight has deteriorated in the last 6 months. I've spent so many hours with a magnifying glass staring intently at maps, trying to add up kilometres that I've had countless headaches.Every time I think I've got the right amount of kilometers eked out over the right amount of days, I discover something wrong and have to start from the beginning again.

Instead of going to bed counting sheep, I'm counting kilometres, and wake up in the morning after a bad nights sleep, thinking I know where I've gone wrong, and start counting again. Then I discover I've left no time for the time delays involved at borders getting visas  etc to enter another country. Start counting again.

Honestly I feel like I'm going insane. Every time I mention the latest discrepancy in kilometres to Niel, he just rolls his eyes. Occasionally he actually say's something really unhelpful like :"I'll only be doing this once, so I want to do some sight seeing". What!!?! Your racing around the world - RACING and you want to go sight seeing! I know he's a strong rider but racing around the world and sight seeing...........Oh I know, it's so he can blame me when things go awry, as men are likely to do.

I think I'll go back to counting those kilometres. Hmm .....can he do 250kms over this mountain range??  Hmm maybe not - my sanity is at stake here. 100,200....

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain.

I was cycling home from work in the pitch dark, there are no overhead lights where we live, when it's dark - it's very dark. The road was black from the rain, when before I'd known it, I had hit flood waters flowing across the road. Luckily it wasn't too deep and I got across without falling off my bike.

It's the shortest day, and we haven't had Winter yet. The rain and mild temperatures have frustrated ski field owners as there is no snow anywhere. There's been so much rain it's broken records and even set new ones. May had the most rain ever recorded, and June is looking to be the same. Our road has been flooded twice in the last two weeks, the council has left the flooding sign at our gate, are they trying to tell us something! There is a deluge predicted for tomorrow, maybe they are just saving themselves the job of picking it up, only to put it back again tomorrow. Hmm....... great. I was starting to think Mother Nature has been getting her revenge on me for giving up the car. There's been so much water, my bicycle has developed a ticking sound in the bottom bracket - rusty ball bearings?? Then the sun came out.

Flooding sign left at our gate.

Every cloud has a silver lining. I realised that I may have had to ride in the rain and on muddy roads, and had heaps of punctures, but I realised that meant I was fitter than all those car addicts out there. My friends Karyn and Jane, who love horse riding, are equally exasperated by the rain, we can afford a bit of smugness for getting through it and staying fit and active.

Water a metre deep, making the ford in the road impassable.

Another plus side, is the garden, sure it's boggy, but look at the flowers - they think it's Spring. There are potatoes sprouting in the vegetable patch and the Lemon tree's laden with fruit, even my summer Capsicum plants are flowering and have little fruits on them.

Daffodils and Vespas

If we are at the shortest day then we are half was through Winter. If the weather 'turns to custard' now and we get snow and ice, it's only for two months at the most, and then it's officially Spring.

Spring is when all our planning and Niel's training accelerates. Spring turns to Summer and the start line in London looms large on the horizon. I might even get the Vespa out of the garage and get to use it without it getting immersed in flood waters and covered in mud. Perish that thought!!

Friday, 17 June 2011



The Gap of Dunloe - Ireland

We were in Ireland. It was our first day off from Touring. We were in Killarney at the beginning of the ring of Kerry Peninsular. It's a tourist mecca and a truly beautiful place. We had separate days planned. Niel - ever in need of achieving something with his day off - went cycling out to an old Druid's Fort, a ride of 150 kms. My  intention for the day was to put my bike on a boat trip out to the end of the gorgeous tree and waterlily lined lakes that were interconnected through a series of canals and rapids. Then cycle over the Gap of Dunloe and then ride back to Killarney.

This is a very popular place to visit with people walking, cycling and riding in horse drawn carts. With all the people, you'd think it would be impossible to get lost, but I managed it. At one point it started to rain, [as it did every day we were in Ireland] so I put my jacket on and a cap on my head. Due to the rain, there was a sudden disappearance of people as they must have taken shelter. With my cap down low over my eyes I failed to see the track curl back on itself, there was no sign post, so I carried on straight ahead. The track got rougher and rougher until it resembled a tramping track. It dawned on me that I hadn't seen a soul for an hour. So I retraced my steps and found the right way.

The Gap of Dunloe was beautiful and I managed to make it back to Killarney, with no further mishap. I mentioned getting lost to the visitors centre,who apologised for the lack of signage. The man said the signs keep getting stolen and ending up in American bars!

we are in a dilemma over our route through central Asia. At the moment we are mulling over 4 options:

1] Stay with what we have planned through northern Iran and through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan into China on the northern silk route.
PROS: Direct route with towns the whole way.
CONS: It is very difficult to get visas for the 'stans' essentially you need to be invited by their Foreign Minister. How do you do that? I don't know, and it is very expensive - approximately $2,000 NZ to obtain these visas. I'm also unsure about Iran. It's a bit dicey at the moment with the protests in Tehran. Also I'm worried about being a women in a Muslim country.

2] Avoid Iran by going through Georgia and Azerbaijan, cross the Caspian Sea by car ferry to Turkmenistan, through Uzbekistan, and skirt around Kyrgyzstan into Kazakhstan.
PROS: Avoids the concerns of Iran and is cheaper by avoiding one of the'stans'. I can still get through on the scooter.
CONS: Still tricky getting the visas.

3] Travel the length of Iran into Pakistan and then India.
PRO: I can still get through on the scooter.
CONS: The same concerns about Iran. With added concerns about Pakistan - not exactly peaceful and safe. Also Pakistan has worries about food and hygiene.

4] Fly from Istanbull in Turkey [ with the Vespa], to Dehli in India.
PROS:Avoids all the problems of the cost of the visas, and avoids all the problem countries.
CONS: The cost of flying the Vespa conteracts the savings made in not having to get visas for the 'stans'. We won't be doing enough kilometres so we'll have to do extra kilometres somewhere else. We'll need to get other visas which may be even more tricky to get than the 'stans' like for Myanmar.

At the moment I'm veering towards the 2nd option. The trick is to not get daunted by it all. Other people have done it,so it is achievable. Nothing good comes easy.

I wonder how many times I will get lost!!