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.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Frozen drink bottles.

Mini Tour number two done and dusted.
This is such excellent training. Even though I’ve been cycle touring constantly since I met Niel in 1983, I’m still learning tricks and ways of coping with things.
Nelson on a beautiful summers day.

Where did I go? Well, nowhere actually. A big unexpected bill came last week that took the dollars I had put aside for a week’s cycling, to pay for it. So I pretended to go touring. I loaded up my bike with panniers full of old shoes, containers of fluid wrapped in towels, a tent on the top of my carrier and a full handle bar bag, and off I went every day, doing rides of varying distances. Niel joined me for most of it, so it was good riding, good weather, and good company.
Niel at the top of Spooners Range.

My last mini tour ended after 5 days with heat exhaustion, but I’ve learnt how to overcome that now. It seems that when you are dehydrated, no matter how much sun warmed water you drink from your drink bottle, it just doesn’t sate your thirst or cool you down, but an icy cold drink bought from a shop, instantly hits the spot and refreshes you. Is it the sugar in the shop bought drink, or the icy coldness of it? I put my drink bottles and a third container of sweetened juice in the freezer overnight, and voila – problem solved. As the ice slowly melts – you drink icy cold fluid that instantly cools and refreshes you. It felt like a ‘eureka’ moment. True – when you are camping – you don’t have access to a freezer (unless you are in a well-equipped campground that has a kitchen). But most petrol/ gas stations sell bags of ice, McDonald’s restaurants have ice with the drinks dispenser, and bars and cafes will have ice.
Frozen juice - Yum.

So over the last year – I have learnt to ride 200kms with ease, solved heat exhaustion problems, I have learnt how to prevent ever getting saddle sores and chaffing (a combination of women’s hygiene pads and anti- chaff cream), and lastly but certainly not the least – the pain of oversized pinched nerves in the ball of the foot, bought on by ‘hot foot’ and excessive amounts of cycling. You use ‘Voltarin Emulgel’ cream(an anti – inflammatory pain killer) rubbed in when they first start to feel hot, wear your socks for as long as possible to prevent your feet chaffing, then dispense with the socks, use more emulgel and when the pain gets too much – use pain killers. Even in a 30 degree sunny day, pushing up huge hills for a ride of 12hours - all of the above will work. The only thing I still have trouble with is knowing what to eat when it is really hot and you have no appetite, and no saliva to chew on dry things like muesli bars. Fruit is good, but heavy and not very sustaining. Ice cream hits the spot every time, but you need a shop to obtain ice cream, and it’s not particularly good to eat it all the time. I’ve tried sandwiches with a moist filling that won’t go off in the heat of your bag or pocket, cold cooked sausages are good, and they don’t crumble as you ride along. Any suggestions are welcome. One bonus of having no appetite is a loss of 9kgs of weight in 5 weeks – I’m not complaining.
Another hot day at Marahau beach watching the tractors pick up kayaker's and boats at low tide.

Mini tour number 3 in a couple of weeks’ time. This time I might actually go somewhere!  

Monday, 12 January 2015

Writing is where your future lies.

I've never been happier since I left my job,  but part of me felt bad for not contributing financially to the household coffers - so I got a job harvesting the boysenberries.  I lasted a week.  Employers of seasonal workers need to buck up their ideas if they want to retain their workers.  10 hour days doing the same brainless job at speed with no days off at all is no way to treat people. But then what right have I got to comment,  I'm just a frustrated  person rendered brain dead with swollen wrists hankering for a day off to ride my bike.
So I left and I am happily riding my bike with a vengeance to make up for my wasted week doing the boysenberries. You know it is funny - on reflection ; why should I feel guilty for having some time off working? I have never willingly been unemployed before, I never had children that meant years off paid work to bring up kids, and I am not a burden to society as I don't qualify for a benefit, so there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty.
All loaded up.

 Actually I am on a mini bike tour.You know when you are dehydrated - you stare at discarded bottles on the road side wondering if there is anything worth drinking in them. You'd drink puddles if you didn't get a mouthful of mud in the process. River water is a god send when normally you wouldn't touch it for potential bugs, but when you are that dehydrated - you don't care. Needless to say I suffered over the last 10kms to St Arnaud and had to drink 2 litres of Powerade and 3 cups of Tea before my stomach could accept any food. And that night I had terrible cramp But then this is why we train, or we wouldn't know how to cope with it or better still prevent it happening. It is the joy of summer riding.
My only cool day in the week of riding and it was bliss. St Arnuad - Nelson Lakes.

I still ponder how I can earn a few dollars,  when a friend told me not to worry but to concentrate on writing my book as "writing was where my future lay". Well what a lovely thing to say.  I know what a real writer is like - my brother is a real writer, but it would be nice to achieve some literary prowess when my old English teacher at school encouragingly said I would never pass my exams - I did pass my exams no help from her. I wish there was performance pay for good teachers in my day and then we might have actually had good teachers that care. But I'm getting off the point.
A swim at the beach would have been heavenly but I'm not into crowds.

It was secretly my ambition this week to ride 1000kms in 7 days while carrying a load. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't know if I would achieve it -.I didn't quite make it - I did 700kms in 5 1/2 days, and had to rest and recover for a day before completing my mission a day later, why? heat exhaustion and rapid weight loss. I lost 6 kilos in 6 days in the hottest week of the year so far and carrying 20 kilos of load over countless hills unable to eat due to dehydration and loss of appetite.I haven't felt this tired since crossing the Death Valley in 2010. I learnt not only to carry more drink than I thought I'd need and have a big breakfast as I don't know when my next mouthful of food will be, and try to take something other than muesli bars that are impossible to eat when your mouth feels like sandpaper.
But now that this mission is over I have the time to go back to my writing. Although that was such excellent training I am going to do it again.
I ride past this view every week and I still love it - looking towards the Richmond ranges from Motueka.