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.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Outrunning a Bear?

There are some things in life that aren’t necessarily pleasant (unless you happen to be good at it), but everyone needs to be able to do, at least at a basic level.  And I am talking about being able to run.

After several years of having difficulty walking, I can finally run. I’m not fast and I can’t go very far, but I CAN run. Back at Christmas time I started walking with my stick, and tried to jog little bits till my knee told me to stop. Now I can run 3kms without stopping, and it doesn’t hurt. That is beyond fantastic. I’m ecstatic.  That may be a pathetic distance to some, but it is awesome to me, as I still have a cartilage tear in one knee and my feet are only half fixed.

Why do I feel this need to run?

No normal human being can outrun a Bear except maybe downhill.
 I want to know that I can run from a Bear chasing me. You can’t outrun a Bear, and Niel (beloved husband of mine), says he only has to run faster than me!! However on our trip around the United States, it taught us two things about Bears. They do attack and kill people, if they are hungry enough. And they are hopeless at running downhill. So there you have it. I want to be able to outrun a Bear downhill.

Meanwhile, my cycling is excellent. It’s getting close to winter now, and although the weather is fantastic, it is too cold for shorts now, and the tights have emerged from the bottom of my set of drawers. The lights now festoon my bike, and my new reflective jacket is being well used. Only 2 months to go until our trip across Canada and the US.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Why Train?

Well the Trans - Canada / US is definitely going to happen now. The tickets are booked, and paid for. The time off is Okay ed by our respective employers. The training is perfected, with weekly rides of up to 150kms. And a weekly average of between 200 and 300km. (Fitting in work and time for domestic chores). We still have a few things to buy – no thanks to the Vietnam thief. Now that the winter daylight hours are approaching, I have replaced my reflective jacket, but need to replace a few more things yet.
Our very cute kitten - Henry

I must admit I have been distracted in the last month or so, by our new kitten. He is so very entertaining. He has learnt a lot in that time. First of all don’t jump on the chicken or you will be viciously pecked. Don’t jump on the cat or you will be jumped on back. Secondly the bikkie bowl never runs out of bikkies, so you don’t have to eat everyone in sight. Thirdly golf balls are the most fun thing in the world. Followed closely by the scratchy post, that has all sorts of toys hanging from it. And lastly the cat door is all for you, although sometimes it is locked on you, which is very annoying. Oh boy did that kitten land on its feet, when it decided to live under our house, after being abandoned.
Henry won't even leave Bob alone to have a drink from the watering can.

Why am I training so much? Don’t you get fit on the trip? Well, yes, you do get fit as you go. Most people who haven’t cycle toured before don’t realise how hard it is, if you are fit to start with, it is one less problem to contend with. Anything can, and usually does get thrown at you with touring. The weather can turn nasty with cold or wet or gale force headwinds, or searingly hot, or humid, or usually a combination of these. It can be nonstop hills that never let up and make you behind time. You could make it to your destination and there is no food anywhere. You could crash and be hurt, or your bike damaged.  The road could end up as gravel. It is sapping to ride 20kms or more of unexpected gravel on a fully loaded touring bike. You could get lost and end up in god knows where. You could get attacked by an animal - dogs or (god forbid) - bears. It is quite common to get heat stroke, saddle sores or bad chaffing. Or sick with the flu or food poisoning, or even hypothermia. All of these things have happened to me.
My longest training ride of 153kms from Blenheim to home

In France, we got hypothermia crossing a mountain pass and took shelter in and alpine hotel where we passed out.

In Spain, we got diverted onto a gravel road detour that took us over a 600m hill in a storm. And I crashed twice in two days and had to ride with what I thought was a broken arm.

I’ve had heat stroke a lot as we usually come from our winter to a northern hemisphere summer and our bodies aren’t used to the heat.

We have gone hungry in many countries.

We’ve been chased by dogs.

We’ve had food poisoning, and been ill.

I have had chaffing and saddle sores to contend with along with my chronically sore feet which has caused my problem knees.

Probably my worst time of all was crossing the Nevada desert just north of Death Valley, in a gale force head wind in temperatures hovering at 40 degrees Celsius. The road climbed over 4 high passes not mentioned on the map and always into a wind so strong we could only manage 10kms / hr into it. We had no food and had to ration our drink. It was a distance of 143kms to the next town and we HAD to make it. After 12 hours in the saddle, I struggled into town severely dehydrated, my body had gone into shock and I couldn’t stop shaking. The heat had burnt the lining of my lungs which gave me chronic Asthma, I had no Asthma huffer, we were at 10,000 feet in altitude and I had altitude sickness, so I could barely breathe, and I had to keep going like that for another week until we descended to the Californian coast. How did I do it? Sheer will power and the power of my leg muscles alone. That my friends, is why you train and get fit before you leave home. If you are not fit before you go, it can be a disaster.
Training ride with a cup of tea out to the Riwaka resurgence.

Training also helps you to get used to being all day on your saddle. If your saddle is uncomfortable this is important to find out before you leave home. It is a time to work out what gearing to use, what tires are right for the country you are heading to, and what gear you may need to purchase. You need gear to cover every possibility, but you don’t want to be over loaded, everything you take, you need to carry.


So if you are thinking of going cycle touring – train.