Welcome to my blog!
The plan is, if i'm not completely knackered after all the riding, to keep a little diary here along with some pictures so you can all see what i'm up to along the way.
I think there is also a feature where you can post comments, so you can send me words of encouragement or just hurl general abuse from the comfort of your chair.
Coming to the end of my warm up holiday and i'm in San Francisco now. I've spent the last 2 weeks in arizona and california eating and drinking to excess so i'm feeling in peak physical condition. Only another 5 days until I set out so starting to feel a bit nervous. I drove through some of the mountains on the way here and there a little bit bigger than the hills in Richmond park!
Got my bike yesterday (she's called Elley May) so going out for a warm up run down the california coast later today.
anywho, hope this works and you're all well.
Pictures to follow and don't forget to keep an eye on the beardwatch feature!
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE EVENT
went out to warm up the best way I know how. needless to say I now have a horrible headache.
what an amazing day!
Dipped bikes in the pacific and then set out through downtown San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge.
The rest of the people in the group are great. All American other than me and Hans who is a bit of a nutty professor from Switzerland. I'm the youngest by a good few years and the oldest is 73 and on his 4th trans america crossing!
the ride was lovely and sunny with the wind at our backs. I've never gone so fast on a bike for such a distance. just a 75 mile ride to start us out but it wa sreal fun.
We even saw some vultures! they might have to wait a few more days before they start picking at my carcass!. day 4 is a 85 mile ride but a 8500 ft climb so maybe i'll be dead at the road side by then.
went past teh famous san quentin prison singing some johnny cash numbers
as we went. hard work singing nad cycling up hill at the same time.
One guy fell off his bike today which put a downer on an otherwise perfect day. he was in his 70's and was doing his first crossing which is pretty amazing. he'd been training for 9 years, quit smoking nad lost 101 lbs. 1st day he fall off, wrecks his shoulder and his ride is over. we're all really gutted for him.
got into the hotel about 2 and spent the rest of the day drinking beer by the pool.
well up for 51 more days of the same and if everyday is this good i'll get to the east coast, turn around and go back in true forest gump style.
cycled from vallejo into sacramento. really hot day, over 35 C. another flat and really fast day.
Went to the USA's biggets jelly bean factory! obviously it was staffed by thin, toned, athletic types. they had tourist leaflets on the wall. all the usual suspects until my eye was caught by one that was in 'queen's english'. retards, I swear.
left with a big
sugar rush and a shirt with 'jelly belly' plastered across my gut.
stopped into 'in and out burgers'. my mate tom from california swears they are the best burgers in the world and after eating my double cheese so fast that no one could get out there cameras for the picture, i dare anyone to prove him wrong.
spent most the afternoon on a beach by the sacramento river drinking ice cold beer.
bring on day 3.
these cycling days keep getting better and better
first part of the day was cruising down a lovely 25 mile cycle track along the american river. nice relaxed pace after i had biscuits and gravy for breakfast. spent at least 30 mins trying not to puke over bob who was cycling just behind me.
saw some wild turkeys and so we stopped for a while to chase them through the woods. seems to be the done thing here.
went past the famous folsom prison so had a chorus line of ' i shot a man in reno'.
came across our first big hill at the end of the day but thankfully
we had finished it by 11.30am and there was a brewery at the top of the hill. you can all imagine what happened after that.
i know it all sounds like fun and games so far and you're all thinking you want your money back. fear not.
tomorrow we set out at 5.15 (yes, in the morning) to cross donner's pass and i don't think there will be a kebab waiting for me at the top.
we're climbing about up to 8500ft up a big hill. got a look at it in the distance today and it had snow on the top! hopefully i'll be able to get up there and build and snow man.
DAYS 4 & 5
This is where the cycling started to get serious. in 2 days we did an elevation gain of over 11 000 ft. It was really hard work. It's really amazing that most the people in the group are twice my age and are still doing a real good pace up these huge mountains. I've never done anything like it. You just keep pedalling up hills for hours on end. I hope i'm still
able to do this stuff in 30 years. As i guessed, there was no kebab waiting for me at the top of donner pass and not quite enough snow for a snowman.
But then the good stuff. On day 4, I did a 4.5 mile descent of about 2000ft. got up to speeds just shy of 40mph (trust me, it's fast on a bike with your face over the handlebars). I thought I would never do anything that much fun again. But then we got to day 5. We cycled up mount Rose. The climb was about 2500ft over just 8 miles; it was a killer. We got up to 8900ft and it was literally freezing. I would cycle up it twice to do the descent. We rode down a 4500ft descent over 8 miles of bendy mountain roads. Got up to 43.8mph and i'm sure it would've been faster if my huge grin wasn't acting as a wind trap and slowing me down. Covered the whole 8 miles in a little over 15mins. I WANT MORE ! ! !
lots of other none adrenaline fuelled stuff to. Found another brewery next to our hotel on night 4.
It's a myth that the yanks don't have nice bear; I think it's nicer than ours. Cycled past the beautiful lake Tahoe and saw some breath taking scenery. crossed the state line in Nevarda and immediately went to a casino. I lost. nothing turns heads in a posh casino like sweaty men in lycra.
and it turns out i'm going to be famous! well in south korea at least. one of the group, called zero (he's ace) is raising money for a korean charity and so the charity is filming our trip. It's going to be shown on korean national telly as a series later in the year. i'm on it loads so i'm expecting the fan mail to start pouring in any time now. sweet.
So far this is the most amazing thing I have ever done and we've only done 5 days and 1 state.
Tomorrow we go into the desert and i'm even excited about that!
DAY 6 - THE DESERT
set out into the nevarda desert. not alot to say about that. cycled 30 miles then rest, eat and drink. do that 3 times. lots of brown hills and sand.
got really hot. shock.
got into a pace line with tom and jack. that's the thing where you see cyclists riding wheel to wheel in a line. tough if you're at the front but easier when it's your turn at the back. covered the distance real quick.
finished the ride in small town america. town's called lovelock. 1 motel, 1 bar, 1 diner, 1 gas station.
got to our motel and joined in wth the local senior citizen's water aerobics. they told us some really funny dirty jokes but can't write them here as there are some youngsters reading.
more casino time tonight. played roulette last night and won 80 bucks in 5 mins. plan is the same tonight.
tomorrow - more desert.
Today was a different kind of desert. I finished the day with a hair dryer in my cycling shoes. Nevarda only gets about 5 inches of rain a year and we got most of that today. It was like cycling back home other than the big mountains and the variety of road kill - saw my first rattle snake but thankfully it saw the bottom of a
truck tire first. I'm not putting the photo up as it looks gross.
my puncture tally is up to 3 now, with a score of 2 just today. I'm second on the tally board now.
Took some of the Yanks to pool school last night; managed to foul on the black 4 games in a row so now i've been re named Dr Scratch (that's what they call a foul, but that's ok as Dr Foul doesn't sound as good)
We've finished the day in a pokey little town called winnemucca. Asked a local where was good to go out. she told us to go to a bar called 'scuds' as only half the people in there are looking to stab someone, the other half are out to have a good time. happy days in midwest america !
well i survived my night out in winnemucca. just. I'm afraid the details have been rated R, and so are not suitable for young people or parents to read about.
But today was Rodeo day! during our adventures of the previous night we found out that the Nevarda state high school rodeo finals were
in town so we all went along. obviously we blended right in with the cowboy crowd dressed in our lycra.
it was ace! bucking bronchos, calf roping, the works. we all got our pictures taken with miss nevarda state too!
i got lassooed off my bike by a ten year old. ha!
after our fun packed morning we cycled on to the next town called battle mountain. the hangover from the night before made it a real challenge and we only had to do 54 miles! battle mountain was no where near as cool as the name suggests. tomorrow off to Elko but i'm inspired to buy a cowboy hat !
I got me a stetson cowboy hat ! ! ! and I look cool ! with the beard i can almost pass as a real cowboy so long as i keep my mouth shut.
the ride up to elko was nice but no real adventures today other than teh purchase off my amazing hat.
next 2 days will be a bit tough. doing 108 miles to wendover the 117 miles on day 12 going through the salt flats.
really odd. i have no idea what day of the week it is anymore. me and the rest of the group just refer to the day by the number since we set out. today is day 9.
up at 5:00 am. these cyclists really like their mornings.
me and tom decided to do these 108 miles as quickly as we could. we could think of several reasons why this was a good idea. 1) it would save our backsides much pain. 2) we could get to the pool quicker 3) we could get beer quicker. it worked. we covered 100 miles in 5 hrs 35 mins, averaging 17.9 mph. and we had to climb a couple thousand feet up a bloody big hill. that knocked about 40mins off my previous best 100. sweet.
at about 100miles we crested a ridge to see the nevarda salt flats stretched out below. you have to see it to believe it. for hundreds of miles all you see is flat, brilliant white ground. you could think it's snow if it weren't for the heat haze shimmering over it. tommorrow we ride straight through it. cool.
we're in, wendover, is obviously the last out post of nevarda vice. tomorrow we cross into Utah, home of the mormons. these are not to be confused with the moumins. they scared the hell out of me. the reports i've been given of the mormons are a bunch of people who don't drink, gamble or have any other worthwhile vice. they do however have multiple wives, so swings and roundabouts.
due to a technical error (it takes too long and i can't be bothered right now) I haven't put any pictures on for the last few days. i'll sort this out on day 12 when we have our rest day in salt lake city. sounds like i can't go drinking, gambling or whoring there so i'll have nothing better to do.
don't forget to check out the maps of where i've been through (if you feel like it, obviously) and click onto page 2 to see more photos of my adventures so far.
this was the big one. 117 miles through the utah salt flats and on to salt lake city. unfortunately a mosquito had decided to bite me on the arse over
night, making an already uncomfortable day even worse. the salt flats were amazing. as far as you could see, nothing but white salt. we peddled for hours and nothing around us changed much. felt a bit like being on one of those stupid cycling machines in gym.
in salt lake city now for a well earned day off. california tom is sure we can find some trouble to get up to somewhere in town.
845 miles down, only 3001 to go ! ! !
there'll be more pictures put up later today so don't forget to have a look. i'll check back in on day 13.
The rest day was nice. eating, resting and lying by a pool trying to fix my awful cyclists tan lines. Tom did manage to find us somewhere good to go out but yet again, the contents have been deemed unsuitable for parental viewing.
the beard has finally stopped being itchy but is looking very ginger. Dad, i guess i've got you to thank for that.
the mozzy bite on my backside has got better, so thankfully able to sit down in comfort again.
decided to pimp my ride a little so got a cool little horn to go on elley may (have a look at the picture) and mananged to get ipod and speakers secured to the frame. all i need now is some bouncey suspension!
cycled 65 miles down the road to a town called provo. amazing mountain views to one side and a huge lake to the other but the town is a bit of a dump.
tomorrow we turn east and make for colorado and the rockies!
Right, i've not moaned about this once for the last 4 days and few hundred miles but i'm going to now. CYCLING INTO A HEAD WIND IS A BITCH ! it's like cycling through treacle. no matter how much work you put in, you just crawl along at a snails pace. in fact, the faster you try to go, the harder it gets.
glad i've got that out of the way. i knew we wouldn't have a tail wind the whole way but i think it's about time it turned around and blew from the west. those of you who pray, if you would add that
to your list i'd be grateful.
as you may have already guessed, the wind was an issue today. we cycled through a canyon pass up the mountains from provo to price. at the entrance to the canyon there was a wind turbine farm, so that should've given us fair warning. despite this it was a cool ride. team jelly belly (that's me, tom and jack. it's a reference to our cycling jerseys we picked up in the jelly belly factory but could also apply to our beer guts) got to the summit first along with our mechanic, sean, who is a semi professional cyclist. he's so good on the bike that he is able to take a piss while on the move and clipped to his pedals. not exactly sure how he does this as he has the good grace to drop to the back of the line when he needs to go. he says all the pros do it.
at the summit there was a convenience store that was the last surviving building of an old prospecting town. it was run and owned by this great old guy called dennis who's family had been running the store
for 4 generations. he had a load of old pictures from the 1800 and somethings. the best was one of his grandad, who was the district marshall, and the infamous butch cassidy!
we had started the ride at 5am as the climb was pretty tough and we needed to get everyone in by night time. we got in by lunch time. the early start and my inevitable bad mood meant i had skipped breakfast. we went to mo's diner for lunch and my eye was drawn to the 1 pounder. yes, this is a burger with one pound of meat in it and is the size of a birthday cake. i devoured it. they had a challenge that if you could beat the record for eating it quickly you could have it free. the time was 6 minutes. i took about 45. the pictures are up so check it out. it's huge!
after lunch, i was carried to the local dinosaur museum. that was pretty cool too. they had a big chart of all the dinosaur eras over the last million years. tom pointed out that the dinosaurs didn't last forever, so neither will we, so why give
a f*&king s%#t about global warming. lou, you got any thoughts on this?
today we crossed the 1000 mile mark. pretty good for just over 2 weeks. only about 2800 miles to go!
we're back into the desert again. the recent rainy spell has made the desert flowers bloom and it it looks really nice.
the ride today was pretty easy, only 67 miles. we got in early so had a tourist trip to arches national park. amazing views of crazy red rock formations that are shaped like arches. i'll put some pictures up so have a look.
the climb into the rocky foot hills starts tomorrow so i'm off to bed early and dry tonight.
this was our last day in the desert and it's really starting to get hot now. it was well over 30 by midday and that made the going pretty hard but managed to do 96 miles in under 5hrs 25 mins. the main thought driving me on was getting into the pool. we finally left utah behind us and crossed over into the next state, colorado.
cycling in the heat is obviously
thirsty work and as a result i was hit by a bout of gatorrhoea. this is the unfortunate toilet based consequence of drinking to much gatorrade rehydration drink. tomorrow i might just stick to water.
we're definitely out of the desert now but things aren't getting any cooler. by midday it was reading 38 C! it seems that colorado makes wine so we decided to dive into the shade of a little winery to refresh ourselves. it made the last 15 miles of the ride much easier. things are starting to look greener, there are a lot more hills and there are enormous snow capped mountains just up ahead.
today our little tour of 30 odd people bumped into another tour doing a lap of colorado state. Their group had 1600 people in it! It was great fun cycling in such a massive group and we definitely got bragging rites when we talked to them about how far we were going.
on a more somber note, the beard is dead. it's just too bloody hot to be carrying a ferret on your chin and to be honest, it looked a bit stupid.
a more serious note, i'm starting to hurt and i'm beginning to see why it's called the cross country challenge rather than the cross country easy. in 2 days time we'll be at the top of those snow covered mountains i mentioned earlier so i'm off to the hot tub then for an afternoon nap. we got some take away from the winery too, so hopefully that'll make these muscles stop aching. bye for now.
mountain climbing started again today. climbed for 7 straight miles up about 2500ft into a howling headwind. hard work but as always, the ride down the other side was worth it.
spent the day mingled in with the 1600 other people from the colorado tour. mnaged to knock one of them off his bike! it really wasn't my fault but i felt really bad. he was tucked right behind me up the hill and i had to brake a little. he hit my back wheel and i turned around just in time to see him tumble into a ditch! he was hurt and we had a joke about it but i'm sure i heard him mumble 'bloody brit'. oh
had a tour up to black canyon national park. amazing views into the canyon. i'll put a picture up for you.
we had a old guy with us earlier in the tour called aldo. he was full of great stories. his son in law is a pro cyclist and a former room mate of lance armstrong ( best cyclist ever for those who don't know). it seems that the great man's recovery program was to get in from a ride and immediately submerge himself to the waist in an ice bath. i was really sore and mindful of what was lined up the next day so thought i'd give it a go. obviously it was cold. the suggestion was to stay in for 20 minutes, which i did. by the end though, i couldn't feel my legs and then realised i couldn't move them either. i had to get my self out using my arms! dumb idea. i don't recommend it.
today was it. monarch pass. climbing up to 11 300 ft and the continental divide ( that's the point were the water has to decide if it wants to go tho
the pacific or the atlantic). it was without a doubt the single most exhausting thing i have ever done. people were saying you'd notice the thin air but i figured they were talking rubbish. by 10 000 ft, i was breathing like a fish out of water, felt dizzy and my legs wouldn't obey me (obviously the ice bath hadn't helped). a one point i wanted to get my bottle and couldn't manage to get in to my lips. I was third to the top. sean, the semi pro cyclist was up there first. second was chris. he's 60 years old and kicked my ass up the hill. he was amazing and an absolute inspiration. i've said it before and i'll say it many times again; i hope i can still do this when i'm their age.
cresting the top of the mountain was unbelievable. i can't describe the fuzzy feeling of satisfaction and achievement i felt.
the views were amazing. there was a little cable car to get you up to 12000ft. from there you could see a hundred miles in every direction. it was wonderful.
and there was still enough snow for a snowman! 48
hrs ago i was moaning about the heat and now here i am freezing my hands in the snow in late june! we really were high up. there's a picture for you to look at of the snow man too.
average speed up the mountain - 6.8mph. average speed down - 36.5mph. for 20 miles i didn't turn the peddles. i was really trying to break 50mph. only got up to 46.1 but that's still my fastest ever. dad, please don't worry but over taking cars on a bicycle is really good fun!
it's been an exhausting day but one of the most amazing of my life.
tomorrow we churn out 96 miles to pueblo then a well needed day of. i really ache.
the ride out of salida was amazing. probably the best 35 miles of thetrip so far. it was 35 miles down a gentle hill through an amazing canyon that followed the arkansas river. it was stunning. we left about dawn so we could get into the canyon for sun rise. it was really worth it.
had my first crash on the bike too! mum, dad, don't worry.
i'm fine but elley may didn't fare so well. it was a really laurel and hardy type crash. me and jack were heading down canon city high street very slowly looking at the shops. i saw a barbers and decided i wanted a hair cut. i turned a little and stopped in front of jack. the collision was in slow motion at about 0.5 mph but we both had our feet clipped to our pedals. there is no way of getting your feet out of those damned things quick enough so we just tumbled to a heap in the middle of main street. jack's ample frame landed on poor elley may's back wheel and buckled it beyond repair. the whole incident cost $220 ($ 20 haircut and $ 200 new wheel). my most expensive haircut ever!
DAY 21 - rest day
bloody exhausted. slept, ate, drank. went to national speedster car show. loads of shiny cars. not my thing but i'll stick a picture up for those of you who like that stuff.
pueblo to lamar. 121 miles! our longest day of the tour. it was as boring as hell. into the
flat farmlands of america now. wind howling across us and belting hot.
at about 70 miles we came across 2 people running. we stopped to say hello and it turned out they were running across america, true forest gump style, from LA to NYC. i thought what we were doing was mad! their names were joy and matt and they were running about 30 miles every day to raise money for a phillipino heart centre.
just outside lamar there was a cattle farm. it was awful. tens of thousands of cattle cramped in like sardines. the sight of it was nothing compared to the smell. it made me wretch and we had to deal with it for about 5 miles. so not all fun and games here.
tomorrow we've only got to do 105 miles though
now we're into kansas. it's really boring. flat. farmland as far as the eye can see. bloody hot. this is going to be the pattern for the next 1000 miles or so. boooooo !
i think the most fun thing was playing dodge the crickets. there were thousands swarmed all over the road. 1 point
for each you dodge, minus 10 if you squash one. you've gotta kill the time somehow.
saying that, i knocked out my first ever sub 5hr century. 100miles in 4 hrs 55 mins. my average speed was 20.8 mph. it's not going to get me into the tour de france but it knocked 40 minutes of my previous best so i'm pretty chuffed. would've been even quicker if i wasn't dodging those damned crickets!
Tot: 2.498s; Tpl: 0.146s; cc: 5; qc: 67; dbt: 0.0499s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb