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.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Would I have done anything differently?

 Before I say anything else, I want to thank all those people who gave me words of encouragement and goodwill while I was attempting the Trans Am bike race. I couldn’t respond at the time as Microsoft had stopped me accessing my email account- thinking I was a security risk as I was trying to get into it from a different location than home. I tried to amend this but to no avail, so thank you for your lovely thoughts and wishes.
I have no regrets about pulling out and it was definitely the right decision at the time.

How come my bike weighed 1 and1/2 kilos more on coming home from the USA  than going there? Surely I had the same load? I had to pay $70(US) for being over my weight allowance. I unloaded everything and pulled out 8 lithium batteries that I  bought to keep my spot tracker going across The States. They were expensive and I wasn’t going to throw them out, so was my tube of sunscreen, UV protection face cream and container of Anti Chaff. Then there was the extra summer clothes I wore on the plane going there, but had to be packed away in favour of some winter trousers and jacket I bought to come home in, for the middle of winter temperatures. OK I can see where the 1 and ½ kilos came from now.
Well it is lovely being home, even though it is the middle of winter. It is not too cold to ride my bike though. I have thought a lot about the last month and asked myself if I would have done anything differently to have finished the Trans Am, apart from the obvious: not sticking to my original game plane - if I had done that I would have finished.
I had too much stuff.

Yes, I should have taken less stuff for a start. I thought I had perfected my load but once a cycle tourist – always a cycle tourist and I took things I thought were indispensable but proved to be the opposite. I shouldn’t have taken a tent and sleeping bag – they may have been light weight but motels were the accommodation of choice, and a bivy bag would have done the trick for those occasional times of wilderness. I took far too much first aid stuff – that  could have been reduced by 2/3rds and I didn’t need insect repellent – I wasn’t still long enough for insects to bite me. I didn’t need a knife and fork but I did use the spoon and plastic cup I took - a lot, as motels have coffee making facilities but no cups or spoons and it was useful for eating cereal and yogurt out of. I don’t regret taking 3 drink bottles as you can always leave them empty when in an area of plenty of shops, but when you need a third drink bottle it is indispensable.
I should have been more flexible with my riding; I should have ridden through the evening, night and morning until the motels opened for the day and slept through the heat of the day. If I had kept cooler I wouldn’t have got so saddle sore and the creams wouldn’t have melted straight off like they did.
I should have had a Garmin or loaded the route onto my phone instead of using 12 heavy maps that needed to be constantly checked for directions and needing turning over to the next map. I wasted such a lot of time with my maps and if I had the route downloaded – I wouldn’t have got lost as it would have told me I had gone  the wrong way.
I was fit enough – my training was great,  but I needed to ride more through the night and to constantly push the distance as you get caught up in the hype of the event and your original ideas of daily distance gets abandoned in favour of keeping up with everyone else.
But what I have learnt – I can pass on to Niel who is still keen to do it next year.
Next year…… I have given it a lot of thought, and decided I want to be a ‘credit card’ tourist- doing big mileage but taking very little gear and using motels / hotels. Being away cycling for 3 weeks this way would cost the same as being away for 6 weeks and doing 100kms a day and camping the whole time. I am thinking about riding from Bangkok to Singapore.
Planning for next year already.

I met some lovely people while I was away, and I am very grateful to my lovely friends Jan and Reed from Olympic Peninsula near Seattle, who ‘rescued’ me and put me up for a week. It is often the people who make a trip not the scenery or physical achievement. Having said that though , I am very proud of myself for how I rode – not many middle aged women could ride 200kms a day carrying the weight of a child on their bike, in 40 degree heat  barely eating and in constant discomfort from saddle sores and  surviving on an average of 5 hours sleep a day.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Life after the TransAm

I've been trying to work out in my head what my cycling niche is now. This trip has sorted some things out for me and I realize that what I really enjoyed before, isn't what I enjoy now. Maybe it's a progression of aging, maybe it's that nothing in life ever stays the same. Maybe I am sick of hardship and hurting, or maybe I've changed. What ever it is I still love riding my bike.

What don't I like? Pain, going to bed dirty, being away from creature comforts for too long, repeating the same roads instead of seeing new stuff. And getting up at 2/3am every morning.
What do I like? Feeling free, fit and being part of the environment around me. I enjoy long rides - I find them physically satisfying. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment from the comfort of a motel room or your own comfy archair after a hot shower.
I'm starting to wonder if I've got soft.

Niel ' s Idea of Creature Comforts

Option 1) cycle touring long distance but over the short time of a week staying in motels.
Option 2) vehicle assisted touring with a bit of comfort, no load and the versatility that gives you.
Option 3) do Randonneur events from home or a motel.
Option 5) doing organized tours where you don't have to carry anything and everything is done for you - although you may have to put up with annoying people.
There is no reason to carry on doing things the way you always have in the past. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it, and I need to do things a bit differently now.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

10 days was enough.

After 1600kms my body has said enough. My saddle sores are so bad that I can barely sit on the saddle at all despite all the cream I am putting on them, and the lack of sleep is wearing me out so much that I am simply not enjoying this. When I got on my bike and started vomiting I knew it was time to pull the plug. If I could get one more day to Missoula In Montana where there was an airport and or train, then I could get to Seattle to where my friends live and try to get a flight home.

So one last day of struggling with my complaining stomach and saddle sores over Lolo Pass, I actually had to walk up some of the Pass.
I have seen some great scenery and some lovely people. I've seen Squirrels, Chipmunks, Deer. Birds of all sorts, and on my last day I have finally seen a mother and baby Moose right next to the road.

It has been a great experience and I exceeded my own expectations of my riding ability.
But right now I am going to recover with my lovely friends and enjoy the summer temperatures while I sort out getting home.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

I wouldn't want to repeat today.

Day 5 : 200kms and 920kms from Astoria.
It started out as a good day until I took the wrong road and did 110kms off trail. I had no drink left that for the first time in my life I was just guzzling drink from Discarded bottles on the side of the road. I was stumbling with fatigue and dehydration so I was imagining that God put it there for me. My tongue was swollen and my mouth felt glued shut, but I eventually summited the monstrous hill and I crawled the last 21kms in a headwind to Baker City.

 The motel was a god send as well and I just made it to a restaurant before closing. I considered quitting - I really did, but the kind words of Niel and friends encouraged me to carry on and with a whole 8 hours sleep I'm in a better head space.

After staring at the map ' I realize that I can be back on schedule in 2 days and then start making up time again. I will try and keep an eye on Fran so that I don't overtake her.
In the meantime I will be doing a few chores today, rest my body and go to bed early for an early start. I'd like to do 215km tomorrow to a town called Council, and there are no big hills only 2 medium sized ones.
What ever I drank from the discarded drink bottles upset my insides!!! Enough said already.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The first four days.

Hello my followers, this the second time i have written this - as I lost the first draft to the ether somewhere. I've just finished day four and have done 720kms so far .

It's been incredibly hot and therefore tiring, but others are in a worse state than me and I am actually now the first female but I'm sure that won't last.

My worst problems are bad saddle sores from chaffing in the heat (yes I'm using Savlon cream at night and anti chaff during the day. The extreme heat is just melting it off). And a burnt tongue and lips which makes me incredibly thirsty to cool them off. Never the less I am pretty proud of myself so far.

.Oh well it's 4 in the morning and time to get on the road.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Astoria or bust.

I had the strangest feelings leaving Niel at the airport and flying away. I felt nervous for a minute and then suddenly really empowered. I felt oddly like I had gained a sense of independence and self confidence. I don't know if that makes any sense, but I felt liberated. I know what Niel meant when he rode across South America and said he was scared at times, but also felt like he could do anything. Now don't get me wrong - I love Niel and all the trips we have done together, maybe it's simply that this trip came at the right time in my life.
In all my travels over seas I have always struggled to get my bike and gear within the 23kg weight allowance on the plane. Even wearing practically all my clothes and making my carry on bag as heavy as I can get away with, I have achieved the impossible today and my bike and gear weighed in at 22.8kg - awesome.

I've always heard that LA is the busiest and most unappealing of international airports. It certainly is busy but then so is Hong Kong or Bangkok, but LA seems to have endless queues that are very trying. And exiting my flight into the terminal someone had put the heater on! ! It was definitely Summer again and all those extra layers had to come off.
I got my bike together and took it for a test ride and firstly the computer wasn't going because I had put the wheel in back to front - duh. Then the handle bars started to turn around because I hadn't tightened it enough - back to the motel fixed everything and tried another test run this time my bike felt great and I felt less jet lagged and more alive. I'm looking forward to a decent ride to Astoria tomorrow.

Leaving Portland - I was surprised at what a big city it was. My very kind friend - Jan took me to Tillamook - just over 100kms down the Oregon Coast from Astoria and I rode against a strong headwind to Astoria. That coast would have to be the most scenic in the world it is a stunning combination of trees, beaches, rocky islets and estuaries. After getting lost at one point - I finally pulled into Astoria at 8pm.