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, 10 December 2013

'Dax' my new Audax bike.

It’s Christmas time again. People either love or hate Christmas. For some it is a reminder of sad times and missing someone, or simply the huge expectations we are put under to provide presents for all and sundry, and heaps of food and drink, and still stay on a budget financially. I was speaking to Karen our neighbor and she absolutely hates Christmas. All our friends are childfree, so like us – there is no point to Christmas. I know I’m not the favorite aunty to my nieces and nephews because I don’t give presents, but I’m not bowing down to consumerism just to make them happy. While people are under stress all around me, I am calm and collected and I intend to stay that way.

Niel getting my new bike home.
All I do for Christmas is go to the movies the one and only time I do that in the year, have the smell of Christmas lilies in the house, and I might have a Christmas ham or turkey – why not? But this year – purely by accident really, I have a new bike.

My touring bike, which I love, is too heavy for long distance audax events where every minute counts, and my carbon fiber road bike is too light – it just wouldn’t take the knocks and hard life of endurance riding on rough roads and hitting unseen obstacles at night and possible patches of gravel. So I introduce ‘Dax’ my new long distance / touring / bunch riding bike. I won’t bore you with the details, but it is the New Zealand brand of ‘Avanti’, and it is partly aluminum and partly carbon fiber and I love it. It is the perfect hybrid of lightness for speed and handling, and strength for taking the hard life of audax and touring.
'Dax' my new Audax bike. 

Actually virtually the same thing happened last year, when I finally got my touring bike (that was stolen in Vietnam), replaced just before Christmas. I hope I’m not setting a precedent.

We rode into Nelson to get our movie tickets, and saw a seal pup on the cycle track. In all the times we have ridden that track – we have never seen that before. It was very cute with huge eyes. Then a bit further on we got stopped and photographed and interviewed about our usage of the track as the paper were writing a story about the cycle trail. Maybe we will be in the paper yet again. I think that would be the 7th time we have been in the paper as a result of cycling!

Anyway we went to the movie theatre to get some tickets to see the latest Hobbit film. You would think that the movie industry wants to make money wouldn’t you? Well apparently not. The Hobbit movie hasn’t quite started yet, so I couldn’t buy the tickets in advance. I suggested that I buy gift vouchers and I phone in to book when it is showing. No, you cannot use gift vouchers to book a seat over the phone, even though they are giving away free passes to see the movie on the radio. Get this: I have to phone on the Tuesday before the week I want to see it and only after 5 pm and only use a credit card to book it. As Niel says” Do I need to have my mother holding my hand too” How totally ridiculous.

Anyway, for those of you who celebrate Christmas, have a lovely day. For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, have a great day off, and for those of you who come from a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas – well thank you for reading my blog and have a nice day. Cheers everyone. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

I'm now a Randonee.

I have the overnight bag, I have the Randonee stickers on my bike, and I’ve joined an Audax club, and have done excessively long bike rides, so I must be a Randonee now.

Last week I did a 320km ride over two days. It may not have been a huge distance but the gale force headwinds told me otherwise. It was so hard that I was losing my vision and almost blacking out from the sheer exertion. I couldn’t even use my big chain ring in the whole distance, when I turned into a different direction so too did the wind, I only had a tailwind for the last 35kms. I have decided I need a lighter bike for randoneering, so I am looking at turning my carbon fiber bike into a randoneering bike, by making it more comfortable for long distance and changing the wheels from lightweight racing wheels to sturdy wheels that can take the knocks.

 I am undeniably getting stronger, a 200km ride seems quite easy now, and I am looking forward to doing my first official Audax event in January or February. 
getting stronger.

 Actually I have been going over my previous trips in earlier years to reacquaint myself with the memories for my book. I thought you might like to see and hear about our first time we saw the Tour de France. It was so exciting I will never forget it.

My trip diary – Tuesday 16th July 1996

Wow what a day; the Tour de France was fantastic / amazing, I’ll never forget it. We got to the right road and there were Gendarmes stopping traffic and masses of people walking and riding bikes heading towards Hautacam Col. The closer we got, the more people there were, as they converged from all directions. Then we started up the hill. The sides of the road were filled with spectators and the road itself was a mass of cyclists (some riding, lots pushing their bikes) and walkers. We were determined not to walk no matter how hard to got. Just passed half way up, I was streaming with sweat – it was running down my arms and legs, and I saw Niel waiting for me. We decided to stay at that spot as it was perfect; we could see down around several corners and even further down, we could also see up past us uphill. It turned out to be the perfect spot, as the riders looked right through us and up around the corner, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

We sat there for 2 hours in the heat watching everyone come up. People were draped in flags and singing. Then the promotional vehicles came throwing worthless stuff to the crowds. I got a little flag with ‘champion’ on it, and a blow up thing (I have no idea what it is). Everyone was grabbing for things, waving, and touching the cars. Then came the cars with flashing lights – warning the crowd back and following them came the vehicles with rows of wheels and spare bikes on their roofs, and more flashing lights, the helicopters  were overhead. When the helicopters got closer, we knew the riders were getting closer. And then we saw them, it was so exciting, the crowds were cheering and clapping and shouting and the riders passed within half a meter of us – looking right at us – although they were probably looking around the corner. And then Miguel Indurain looked right at me – what a thrill – I’ll remember it forever. Even Niel was bright eyed and bushy tailed at being looked at by such a cycling legend. It was definitely worth the long wait. It showed us they weren’t supermen and suffered like anyone else.
Miguel Indurain in full flight.

Not many people have seen Indurain in full flight, and have photo evidence.

We have seen and done so much by bicycle, and we have so many more adventures to come. I am pleased to have made the transition from racer to tourer to Randonee; life it full of possibilities if you just reach outside of your comfort zone and grasp them.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

I'm now a Randonnuer.

We have joined the AudaxUK. It is a long distance cycling club. Audax events are also called Randonee events. You have a specific long distance to achieve, and a cut off time to do it in. Assistance isn’t allowed and you must prove you achieved the distance either by event organizers signing your card and submitting it, or using a GPS as proof, and sending your card off to qualify your ride, before it is sent back to you. It’s a wee bit confusing, I don’t even know if I have it correct in my head, but one thing is for sure, you must belong to an Audax club.

We want to do the Paris /Brest / Paris (PBP). Like the Olympics, it is held every 4 years. It is 1,200kms long and you have 90 hours to achieve that distance, including power naps when possible. It has been going for longer than the Tour de France and open to all Nationalities and it is our next goal to train for. We found doing 170km days carrying 25kgs of weight on our tour, so easy; we thought we’d build on that and become Randonneurs. PBP is the logical goal.

To be accepted as an entrant, you first have to do qualifiers of 200, 300, 400 and 600kms; and these have to be done in the 12 months before the event. The event is in 2015, the qualifiers must be done between August 2014 and August 2015. So we are busy doing rides of 200 to 300kms this summer, as a stepping stone to next year’s bigger distances.
On the way to Kaiteriteri Beach

Yesterday I did my first 200km ride. I called it the ‘Tour of Tasman Bay Beaches”. It is amazing what choices of beaches we have available to us in a ride of 50km in one direction and back for lunch, and then 50kms in the other direction and back. We truly live in a slice of paradise here. The first 100kms was easy, but the second 100kms were a struggle at times. I had a dehydration headache which luckily disappeared after drinking enough, and then I had to grovel into a very strong headwind from Nelson out to Cable Bay. Luckily the wind didn’t change and I had a strong tailwind on the return 50kms home, but by then my legs were threatening to cramp on me. I held the cramps at off by drinking heaps and spinning the pedals instead of pushing hard, I got home after being on the bike for 11hours. I’m very proud of myself for doing it, and I can build on that over the summer to be competent at 300kms by autumn.
Kaiteriteri Beach voted NZ's favorite beach.

Moteka Beach.

Ruby Bay.

 You may also be interested to know that I’ve started writing a book. It is an autobiography, but with an emphasis on all the crazy, funny, bizarre and interesting things that have happened while living my life on a bicycle. I’m thinking that I might call it: ‘A Wheely Good Life”.
Rabbit Island beach - only 10kms from home.  
Tahuna Beach Nelson's main Beach.


Cable Bay - where the power cable between the North and South Islands used to come ashore.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Home, and reflecting on our trip.

It’s been almost a month since we have got home. We are back to house and garden maintenance, and back to normality. Although some people would question whether our life is normal.
Cup of Tea in the Motueka Valley.

The spring weather is fickle, but we’ve managed to get a few long rides in, purely for pleasure and to retain some fitness.

The cats / kittens are happy and confident, and the two kittens are no longer small, but full sized now and they are still inseparable, usually falling asleep together in a tangle of legs on the same chair. The ginger kitten is now identical to our ginger cat. We have to look for how many legs they have to tell them apart. You may remember that my beautiful ginger cat lost a leg last year.
Three very content cats.

We had an article written about our trip in the local rag. I’m quite pleased with it actually, as it says everything I hoped it would say.

 On reflection, Canada had some beautiful scenery, and friendly people that have a lot in common with New Zealanders. Having arrived back home, we realize how many people here ride a bike, compared to the lack of cyclists in Canada. Except Vancouver   where there were a lot of cyclists and cycle paths. It’s funny really that when we get home from a trip to Europe – where cyclists are almost more numerous than cars, and we arrive home thinking New Zealand has a lot to learn from Europe, now it’s the other way around.

Do I have a favorite place in Canada? I really like the pretty village of Field, located in a valley of beauty just west of Kicking Horse Pass in the Rockies (British Columbia). There were some lovely campgrounds, some that I felt quite at peace in – moments of mental calmness are treasured. There were some lovely spots in Ontario around the edge of Lake Erie, especially Port Stanley. The spot where we first saw the Atlantic Ocean was special and very pretty. But my favorite province would be Nova Scotia – especially the Annapolis valley, where I felt quite at home.

In America – again there were some lovely campgrounds.  Niagara Falls was incredible, but the area it was located in was not. My favorite spot was in Lake Saranac – New York State in the Adirondack Mountains. It was beautiful, non-touristy, and I had that calmness there - that is special. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were my favorite States, and Burlington (Vermont) was my favorite city. It was vibrant with its student life, and actually had great shops in the center of town – a rarity.

I checked out some of the other transcontinental cyclists from the website, and it was disappointing to find that most of them had hired cars for bits of their trips, but still claimed to have cycled across Canada. Who are they kidding? It really belittles those that put in a huge effort to actually cycle the whole way, no matter how dangerous the roads, how high the Passes, how far between towns, how bad the mechanical breakdowns, or if you suffered from sickness or injury.

Cool Birthday card.

Would we have done anything differently? Yes we’d use trailers instead of pannier bags. Niel broke both his front and rear carrier racks – they just were not up the job of carrying all the weight for that distance. And I just didn’t have enough room for carrying any food items. It was a real juggle to find spots for groceries for our dinner, or to take lunch food if there were no towns to buy anything. Aside from that, we did everything right, and can call the ride a success.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Halifax - 7350km in 81/2 weeks.

Niel managed to fix his bike and we were back on the road by 10am. We took highway 9 – our so called shortcut  to the Canadian border. Oh my god talk about a hard road, it was non – stop up and downs that were so steep I actually had to walk some of them, and I haven’t had to do that in the whole trip. It was also a humid 30 degrees and there were virtually no shops to buy food and drink. After 113km and no accommodation or hopes for dinner anywhere we decided to stop at a rest area that had a portaloo, a river near by and an area to hide the tent from the road. The only thing that spoilt it was the masses of mozzies and midgies. After a meal of a filled roll left over from lunch and a big bikkie, we slept like a log.
A swollen eye from midgie bites.

I woke up with one eye swollen almost shut from a midgie bite, and we carried on -  on highway 9 to the border. We had some American money to get rid of first, so after a meal of Maccas we still had $11 left,  we could always eat chocolate. The customs people were very nice at the border and couldn’t believe how fast we had crossed the country from Vancouver. They also couldn’t believe we had ridden highway 9 – it is well known as being very hard.
The Atlantic at last.

We took the motorway after that, as bikes are allowed on the motorway in Canada. And finally managed to get  our first glimpse of the Atlantic, when I felt absolutely awful, I was so tired I couldn’t move, or even open my eyes for 10mins. I thought that I had ‘hit the wall’ big time. But later realised that I had food poisoning.  I dragged my body to the campground and felt a bit better in the morning.
We have now made it to the end of our journey. We are in Halifax, and have even ridden out to the airport to confirm our tickets. We almost had our bikes taken from us there, we left them locked together and security guards tried to take them away as they were a bomb threat. Can you believe that! 2 loaded touring bikes – a bomb threat. If they hadn’t been locked together they would have been gone. They had tried to shift them and they were so heavy , they had only managed to shift them a meter. After losing my bike last year to a thief in Vietnam, that would have been my worst nightmare, after all we have been through in this trip.
Yeah we made it to the end.

I can now call myself a trans-continental cyclist – awesome. I am very proud of myself. At 53 years old I put a lot of younger people to shame. 7350km in 8 and a half weeks. Anyone can do it you just need to be cycling fit and a determination never to give up, and always just go that little bit further or faster than you need to. It becomes easy after a while.

Monday, 19 August 2013

The life of a cycle tourist is never dull.

Niel finding the problem.
Things always happen in three’s, I said to myself after I had my new wheel replaced and was back on the road again, but I didn’t want to tempt fate by saying it out loud. The third disaster has now happened, is something trying to stop us getting to the end of this trip?
Only 40kms from the Atlantic Coastline.

Niel’s bike ‘wasn’t feeling right’. He assumed it was the rear hub bearings, and there was a lot of sideways movement in the wheel. He really wanted to push on to the Atlantic Coast only 40kms away, but I convinced him to stay here in Bangor and fix it, and take the shorter route tomorrow so that we don’t lose any more time. We don’t have any emergency days left. It was the right decision, his rear hub was as cut up as my rim was. Luckily he kept my hub and spokes of my old wheel and he can rebuild his wheel using those parts, but my hub uses a different type of gear cluster, so he will have to wait till the shops open in the morning to get a new cluster and chain. Come back to the motel – fix it, and then we need to ride 155kms before the day is done. The life of a cycle tourist is never dull.

So all going well, we will be at the New Brunswick border this evening , ride up to St Johns along the Atlantic coastline the next day, and be on the ferry to Nova Scotia the following day. Surely nothing more could go wrong ?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Big Trouble.

What a difference a day makes, after scaling a 15km hill I summited and started to descend with my brakes on and suddenly – BOOM, my back wheel / tyre exploded. There was no sign of Niel he was enjoying the downhill and was by now kilometres away. I started walking, eventually a kind motorist asked if I needed help and I asked him to stop the cyclist dressed in white up ahead. After walking for another kilometre I saw Niel in the distance sitting on a railing waiting for me.
My wheel rim torn apart.

Judy, the lovely lady who rescued me.

I was in trouble, the ‘donk, donk ‘ noise I have been hearing every time I used my rear brake was not a patch of oil on my rim as Niel surmised, but a crack in the wheel rim. My rim was a shattered mess. There is no way to fix that and I needed a new rim or wheel. The nearest bike shop was 60kms away and there was no cell phone coverage to phone them. I had no option but to stick my thumb out to hitch a ride.
Niel is my knight in white lycra delivering me a new wheel.

Dirty hands, stuff everywhere, and great entertainment for the McDonalds patrons.
No one picked me up. After walking another kilometre I saw some nice looking people outside their house and decided to ask to use their phone. They very kindly offered to drive me and my bike to Woodsville -the next town with a motel. So Niel and I gathered our wits together there and realised that Niel will have to ride to Littleton ( the place with the bike shop), ride back to fix my bike and then we’ll both ride back to Littleton.

That sorted, we used the Wi-Fi at the motel to look at where some of the other Trans Canada riders are. One couple had discovered their ferry to Newfoundland had been cancelled and they didn’t know what to do. So we thought we would check out our ferry to Nova Scotia. Shock, horror, ours had been cancelled too.

Apparently the Nova Scotia government subsidises the ferries and it is so broke it had to cancel some services that weren’t getting enough patronage. Now what do we do? We found out that there is still a ferry service from St John in New Brunswick to Digby in Nova Scotia, but it is another 300kms to St John. After pouring over the maps and adjusting our mileage, we reckon we can still make it to Halifax. There is one hiccup though; the ferry only goes at 12 noon, so that is another cycling day gone.

We have to make it to Halifax and not just the coast, as our flights home are from there. Thank god I had the sense to keep aside 2 days for emergencies. Those 2 days have saved our bacon.

Well, not only did I need a new wheel, but also a new cluster and chain – it was senseless putting the old one on when it was decrepit too. After fixing that, Niel discovered I had no brake block left – it had been eaten away by the jagged cracks around the rim. So with new brakes, new gears, and a new wheel I was a happy chappy at last. Now it’s time to do some big kilometres and get the end of this trip.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Almost at the Atlantic.

Thousand island area Lake Ontario New York State.
 A new State and a new map – Vermont / New Hampshire in this case. What’s that in the bottom corner of the map? It’s the Atlantic Ocean – we are almost there. We have only 9 days cycling left till we get to Halifax. The seasons have turned, and autumn is just about here. The evenings are shorter, the nights have heavy dews now, and the leaves are just showing a hint of yellow in the forests. The sun has lost its power to give us sunburn, so we have thrown out the sunscreen now. And the temperatures have definitely cooled off. That will be good news to everyone at home, who is sick of winter.
Lake Saranac in the Adirondacks
Trees turning yellow and the cycling route through the Adirondacks.

We are at Burlington, Vermont. It is our last city before the end, so we are making it our day to buy something for ourselves. We have stayed on schedule for the whole trip and have 2 emergencies days up our sleeves, which we will use at Bar Harbour in case of bad weather trying to cross to Nova Scotia – apparently it is hurricane season. We are understandably talking a lot about what we will do when we get home, but also trying to enjoy this last bit of the trip.
On the ferry between New York and Vermont States.

The Adirondack Mountains were lovely and it was nice to have views of mountains to look at. We crossed from New York State to Vermont by taking the ferry across Lake Champion. The rivers and lakes around here are black in colour and it must be from plant tannins. We are now heading for the White Mountains before heading to the coast.  I think our bikes are only just going to make it. Niel’s tyres have the thread showing both front and back, and my gears are grinding and grumbling, and I only have a couple of gears that don’t give me trouble.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

New York, New York.

Lake Eyrie Canada, and back to the States again.
the ferry over the St Clair river to Canada.

The riding through pleasant Canadian country – side that was tidy and well kept, was spoilt by the people of Dunneville – which I have now renamed to Dunnyville because the people are crap!!
Pleasant country-side.

Did you know that Canada has a day off work every month? No kidding. I thought the country needed taxes to pay  off debt etc, but apparently days off are more important. It is these days off that ruined our time in Canada this time. The Campgrounds were full to overflowing, and we had to literally beg for a piece of grass, or we will pitch it out the front on the road edge. They just don’t understand cycling and the point that you CANNOT go on to the next campground 20kms further on, on the chance they may have a spot free. Anyway we were merrily riding along when a group of Harley riders decided to overtake us and immediately turn right – right on top of us, almost taking Niel out who was in front of me. Then the second rider tried to turn in the 1 metre gap between Niel and I – almost taking me out. I yelled out “ f…wit” and gave them the two fingers. They yelled out  to f off and turned around to harass us. The one that told me to f off, sped up and cut me fine to scare me. Well that is just a typical New Zealand driver, so it didn’t scare us. 10 minutes later we caught them filling up at a gas station and we pulled up to mingle with them and get their license plate numbers. Well they sped off as if they were scared of us.
Someone's private beach on the Lake Eyrie shoreline.

Then we got to Dunnyville. They camp ground was full of campers who couldn’t afford to camp at the beach, we won’t call them tosser’s – opps  I just did, oh well it’s the truth. An extended family behind us, so drunk the women were cackling with laughter non stop, a family of many kids next to us that thought our campsite was the playground and I lost count of the number of times their balls got kicked into our tent, and on the other side of us - the boy racers and their girlfriends with their friends, alcohol and car stereos. Well at 12 midnight the kids finally wore themselves out and stopped screaming, at 1pm the drunk family finally finished laughing at everything and anything and went to bed, at 4 am I got up and told the teenagers to keep their voices down as we hadn’t slept a wink and had to get up early. They finally went off in their cars ( right beside our tent), some time after that. So after 3 to 4 very interrupted hours sleep we were up and out of there. 
I'm terrified of these bridges.

We coudln’t wait to cross back into the States. But as we were cycling the last bit of the Lake edge before the border we stopped to take some photos of the nice scenery. Did you know that people can own the beaches here!! In NZ no one can own the beach – it is crown land and no one can prevent  the public getting access to the beaches, rivers and lake edges. So after peeing on someone’s private beach, we left with glares from the obvious owner.
The American Falls.

The Horseshoe Falls.

So here we are back in the States in New York State. We have cycled off to Niagara Falls. The falls were stupendous, but the neighbouhood they were situated in was rough as guts, derelict buildings, broken glass in the shop fronts. The USA is not the land of opportunity, but the land of lost opportunity, if this was anywhere else it would be attractive to the tourists who flock here. And the tourists would be wandering around looking for lunch and other such stuff, but no, the USA needs to get it’s act together and get this tourist dollar to pay off their huge debt. Niel and I had a heated disagreement here as to who should carry the back  with the cycling shoes in it. Well as I was carrying more I thought it was a no brainer and Niel would carry it – that would be the chivalrous thing to do. But no, when you are married chivalry goes out the window.Anyway we were not happy happies as we perused the stupendous Niagara Falls. Unfortunately we have to pass through here again tomorrow on our way to the shores of lake Ontario – our last lake.
Sunset over Lake Ontario.

Why is that unfortunate, I have to cross that scary bridge again. That is 3 scary bridges in 3 days. One crossing from Canada to the US, one crossing to Grand Island where  the camp ground is, and one crossing back to the mainland to see the falls and carry on with our jouney. This bridge is scary because it is old and rusted and the cars roar inches passed you. The cycle way is so rusty it is warped with humps that you could call speed humps and these are sloped towards the outside railing. But worst of all is the manhole covers every 20 metres or so. These are so rusty that the hinges are broken and you can see the water through them. Only a rusty dodgy plate between you and the water that is about to rush over the Niagara Falls. I kept telling myself “look at the path or the road and not at the water. Calm down”. Over and over like a mantra until I got to the other side.  

We are talking to each other again, but  we are tired in every way except physically. We just want to get to the end now and go home to our lovely home and our poor old cat and kittens stuck in the cattery for 9 long weeks. The real temptation is to do big miles and just get there, but we can’t go home until our flights on the 25th Aug, so we just have to get over this jaded feeling and keep to the schedule.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Michigan Peninsula's

Sitting in a café in Fairgrove Lower Michigan, the café lady said “oh so you’ve been through the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan), they say it is much more beautiful than the Lower Peninsula”. Well firstly – why hadn’t she ever been there, it is 3 days by bike, and being American I’m sure she owns a car. But secondly – no it is not more beautiful. Perhaps people get a different perspective in a car than by bike, but the Upper Peninsula was all trees initially which are nice enough but after 2 days of it they get a bit boring, then around the lake edge was nice initially, but that too didn’t change view in 2 days and also got a bit boring. The Lower Peninsula however offers different views every day, in fact if you imagined the odd field of sunflowers and villages with smaller stone like cottages then you could be in France.
50kms of flat cycle trail.
Wind turbines as far as you can see and no wind.

I imagined the area north of Detroit to be quite industrial. A flat grid like pattern of roads and just above the biggest car manufacturing area in the States. If anything it is the total opposite.  Yes the roads are mostly flat and grid like in pattern, but that is where the imagined view ends. It is full of mature trees, beautiful and often mansion like houses that are well maintained and surrounded by beautiful gardens also well maintained. There are actually small towns that are still alive and functioning with shops, like the pretty Fairgrove mentioned above. Detroit city may be bankrupt, but it obviously was doing well financially once.

Pretty and mansion like houses.

I will say one thing for this area – it rains – a lot. And it is cold – a lot. Apparently this is typical Michigan so stoner camp ground manager told us. We had the ‘pleasure’ of staying in stoner camp ground. The manager was obviously high on drugs, had metal stuck all through his face, attired in all black jeans and hoodie with the hood up, and had vicious dogs at his feet that look scared of him. It was a basic campground, but all that there was available when we needed one. The funny thing is the day before, we stayed at the ‘best campground in Michigan’, with a little shelter over our picnic table and even a kitchen provided. The campground we are at today is overrun with lazy people driving little golf like buggies. Honestly people are so lazy they actually make you mad. They drive their cars and buggies to the toilets and laundry room. It is a way of life here. Back home New Zealanders  escape into tents to get away from things and to connect with nature.  When we go camping at home, it is to feel free, unencumbered by stuff, and preferably with no one nearby.

Voted the best campground in Michigan. our shelter in a lightning and thunder storm.
Well we have done 5,000kms now and have slightly over 3 weeks to go and 20 of those days are cycling days. We are definitely making progress, so that the end seems almost in sight now. I have had times when I have really had enough and feel like we just aren’t getting anywhere, but that isn’t so. Tomorrow we cross back into to Ontario for our jaunt along Lake Eyrie’s shore to Niagara Falls. It will be our last ‘great lake’ before cutting across the top of the north east corner of the States to Bar Harbour and our ferry to Nova Scotia. So keep reading to hear about our last bit of the challenge to go coast to coast.  

Thursday, 25 July 2013

scaredy cat.


Lake Michigan.
I have a confession to make, I am scared of deep water, and all the things in deep water. I cannot do water sports and can only go on a boat if I don’t look over the side into the water. So crossing big bridges by bicycle is very scary for me. The Golden Gate in San Francisco was very scary and I had to look straight ahead  and cycle as fast as possible. So the bridge over the strait from the upper Michigan peninsula to the lower Michigan peninsula that joins lake Michigan to Lake Huron is my biggest fear. The bridge goes for many kilometres and spans very deep water. I have been almost panicking about it for the last few days and now it is upon me.  However it looks like I might be in luck as they don’t have a cycle lane and bikes must be put on a shuttle to the other side.

Fighting to see the other side of the lake.
There's that bridge.

Talking about stupid suspicions. I was watching the TV in the motel last night ( yes another motel – as there are no campgrounds in this area), and there were people trying to find a Sasquatch. They had ‘evidence’ of its existence: a turd that was very human like! but not human, a thatch of red / brown hair that was DNA  coded as something like a human but not. A recording of guttural noises ( that sounded a lot like a Deer in heat), and trees that had been ‘bent’ into odd shapes that no human could do, human scientists and doctors who had apparently seen and even touched a Sasquatch but the most ridiculous thing of all was the heat sensor that detected something in the woods. There are many things in the woods, Deer, Bear, Squirrels, rats and bats to name just a few. They were determined that a Sasquatch exists. Silly people.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Emotions are up and down.

I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions this week. I had an email from the cattery where our cat and 2 kittens are on ‘holiday’. They are fine, but the kittens have grown a lot. All I could think of is that the cattery has had our kittens for longer than we had them and are watching them grow up. I miss them and Bob my cat so much it made me very homesick. Then we found out that there had been more strong earthquakes at home. So we felt a bit down.
Then cycling along we saw a father teaching his child of about 7years old how to shoot a rifle. Nowhere else in the world would you see that so obviously on the side of the road. How can that father live with himself?  It is bad enough that the child is being taught how to shoot to kill, but at 7 years old he does not have the reason to understand what he is doing.  What was he shooting at? A target circle? No it was a human figure.
Look at the difference in size of these biscuits, cheering myself up with a big bikkie.

Playing dodgems with road cones in the forest.
No Niel you don't need anymore road side junk, put it down. No it would be great for .......
We stopped for a lunch and met a family from Halifax Nova Scotia, and we realised that we are meeting people from our destination. And then we realised that we only had 28 cycling days left and every day that amount gets less. So that cheered us up. We even tried to do a nice short day of 80kms, but we are so fit that we couldn’t do it and had to keep going until we had done 120kms.  After doing that a couple of times we now have an unscheduled day off up our sleeve. So we have managed to cheer ourselves up, and to carry on.

We are in Escanaba Michigan (just above Chicago for those that are not sure where that is). So we are at the great lakes at last.  I have been looking forward to this bit of the tour, as there should be nice scenery with views – I have missed views. Trees are nice, but the fact that you never see a view makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. Hopefully there will be more towns with shops too so that we don’t have to go hungry and thirsty any more. We have been meeting more cycle tourists now that is always nice to compare stories and just to talk to people who understand life as a cycle tourist.
A house festooned with junk, but they call it collectibles here.
We are having a day off here, only our 4th day off since we started. I managed to talk Niel into having it in a cheap Motel. So we have wife, TV, and have the comfort to clean things including clothes and bikes. Actually the bikes are starting to show a bit of wear, mostly in the gearing. Niel’s bike only has a 5 cog rear cluster so his cogs have worn out to the extent that he can only use 4 of those gears, if he carries on, then another gear will get worn out, so he needs another cluster and chain to get him to the end. My chain may need a link removed; if I am not gentle with my gear changes then the rear derailleur gets a bit caught with the looser chain. So he is off to find a bike shop. But the best thing about being in a motel is that there are no insects biting you, and you can sloth around barely clothed. Bliss.