Monday, September 29, 2008

Onto the next!

Glasgow roads

Have landed in Glasgow. Mostly seems to be a set of flooded potholes connected by a contorted one way system.

Can see the BBC Scotland building (that changes colour) from the kitchen tho, so all is well.

[edit] Just been pointed to the Glasgow University Cycling Club. Seems better than this failed attempt, seems like biking in Glasgow is an uphill challenge.

Glaswegan Bikes

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Misc notes from the road.

If you want to make bomb jokes at airports, do it in Denmark. The check in guys where laughing at me for first asking if it was okay to check a bag with a lighter in it, then asking them to dispose of a camping gaz canister (disposing of these things is an arse, took me a while to realise that airports must have a good way of disposing of them). Lots of over-arm throwing actions where made by the baggage guys.

I also managed to properly gash my hand while taking the pedals of my bike. I carried my first aid kit all the way around Europe and then used half my supplies in Copenhagen airport. Typical. I spend 3 hours in A&E on Sunday with a very nice nurse watchin 'allo 'allo getting the bike oil out of the wound.

A holiday happily lacking any real stories. Everything went to plan (there wasn't one), I achieved what I wanted to (I got to Copenhaagen), and there where just minor accidents - broken spokes, having to stay at a hotel because I was late in and a cut finger. Kinda strange - either a very good or very bad thing...

When I got in to Denmark I found myself always running in one of 3 modes - [Eating|Riding|Sleeping] It was kinda hard to break out of this. Whenever I wasn't in the saddle I wanted to eat. When I wasn't on the bike at the end of the day I wanted to sleep. Easiest thing was to keep eating ;)

Riding through france, belgium, holland, germany and denmark in such a fast sequence left some part of my brain struggling to learn the current language. There where enough similar works ("dushe" == shower) to fool it into thinking it was the same languge. Maybe I was learning latin, maybe Esperanto - I was probably learning nothing...

I've found that kinda peaceful, effortless state of mind I was looking for. It's kinda expressed as a "I don't need to care about that now" attitude, but feels nice and warm. I walked into the Tesco's I know and love (I normally enjoy food shopping, and I was looking forward to knowing exactly where the food I could eat was) and suddenly the world was full of the routine of last year, and it felt kinda sticky. I found myself walking the same route I always do through the store and my mind started wandering, there was nothing in my immediate surroundings to think about. Routine is something to come home to, not live for. But routine always chases you all the way up the meta tree, so best keep climbing it.

Photos are up, am working on tagging and organising them.

From the gent's toilet walls in Copenhaagen


Little solace comes
to those who grieve,
When thoughts keep drifting
as walls keep shifting
and this great blue world of ours
seems a house of leaves...
moments before the wind.

Zampano

Friday, September 26, 2008

Landfall

Well that's it folks. I've made it to Copenhagen. I'm even wearing clean underwear. I'm really hoping to find time over the next few days to revisit the blog and add in lots more details and photos, but life looks busy...



Day 25 - Zandvoot to Medemblick (100km) Although I suspect the distances are miles out because of the crazy Dutch cycle paths. These are fantastically - well sign posted and you always get priority at junctions, but aren't really on google maps.


Agrandir le plan


Day 26 - Medemblick to Harlingen (60km), and then a train to the german border Flensburg for 1am, where a very scary german policeman demanded my passport)


Agrandir le plan



Day 27 - Flensburg german/danish border (has drink shops on the german side, sex shops on the danish) to Korsør. southern Fyn was really good riding with lots of pretty villages, but that headwind is still following me...


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Day 28 Korsør to Køvenhagen 114 km



And so there was just time to buy clean trousers and pants before crashing with a friend for a few nights. Back in the UK on Sat!

Agrandir le plantis always better on holiday

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Amsterdam!

Day 19 (Am very confused about which day is which) St Malo -> Avanches via Mount St Michael.


Agrandir le plan

Day 20 Avanaches -> Caen


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Day 21 Train from Caen -> Lille. It took all day because you have to take the local trains with a bike in France.

Day 22 Lille -> Middleburg.


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Day 23 Middleburg -> Monster / but by a less dum route than google thinks....


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Day 24 Monster -> Zandvoot. Went to go and see the Escher exhibition in the palace in Der Haag! Original MCE prints! woo! and a chandelier shaped like a skull and cross bones!


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Biking in Holland is fantastic, loads of great signage and cyclepaths...but the paths don't always go the straightest route and they are only flat enough for a Netherlands Bike. The road bike has real problems with so many cobbles with such a weight on it. Between that and the constant north easterly wind, progress is slow, but very enjoyable. Everything is very sensible and scandinavian (returning plastic bottles at the back of every supermarket, well kept everything).

Very cold mornings and evenings, I've ended up buying a fleece to keep the worst of the cold out. Between that and my great sleeping bag, I'm toasty at night. Once the sun reaches you in the morning it starts getting warm and the afternoons are almost hot.

With so many bikers, it´s strange because you don´t greet other cyclists like you did in france even tho racer guys who are out on the weekends'. Ah well, the people are nice and friendly and speak better english than i do. I´ve also started seeing you people since I´ve gotten to the towns, why are only old people allowed in the countryside in Holland? Young people seem to stick to the towns....

Was a very nice campsite last night (and for €15 it should be!) but I ended up with a sanding pitch and a tent still wet from last night. And now I´ve got a wet and sandy tent (with a torn bag around it) in my bag.

Day 25... well I'm in Amsterdam and tis lunch time. Will be heading north soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

North coast!

So have finally got back online at St Malo, while I'm waiting for tkhe world to warm up i should fill in some details!

Day 10:


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Turns out that campsite had lots of slugs! Ainhoa through biarritz to St-Girons.
Day 11:

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St-Girons to Dunes-de-Pilat. Dull coast, great sunset and fantastic dunes under the moonlight. Canpsite was under the big dune - really cool stuff:


Day 12:

Dunes to Ile d Oleron, Boyardville.


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Day 13:



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Boyardville to Rochefort, a rest day - slept well in a hostel and made tat last scattered blog post;

Day 14:


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Rochefort to Pouzages, (50 km se of Nantes. Another spoke broke, so i ended up getting a wheel changed; the new wheel has even less spokes... but seems to be doing well.

Day 15:


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Pouzages to Guerche de Br. a small villqge near Rohnes

Day 16: (seem to have lost a day somewhere°


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Guerche to St. Malo. A long ride over ever flattening hills; Every hill has its cathederal, and every cathederal has its castle; Was great to get some miles down; Was a sunday so usual problems of finding anywhere to buy anything. Ended up in Malo at _ great campsite overlooking the bay....and great shower and bog roll to boot! Now off to look around town (and being very aware that i'm not the nicest smelling person in this cafe...)

I'ts all a bit of a blur france being big and mostmy dull in the middle, but it's very nice just letting the miles wash over me every day. I'll come back and fill in some details soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

crazy french keyboards!

Time overdue for an update methinks. Been a bit down for a few days so I'll take it slow from this warm cafè. Still no working CF reader 5so no photos). I suspect my CF card is bending the pins in the readers as I travel around...oops ;)

Day 9 Zarautz to Ainhoa 127km


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So I finally made it to france! about bloody time too. great treck through the mountains. The only way I can find to dry my clothes properly is to wash them in the morning and then wear them till they4re dry. No problem as if it's raining i4m alredy wet and if not they4re dry by midday. I got new sunglasses and a replacement for that lost derailuer nut this morning. Oh boy do i look cool now ;) nerds never look cool, we just think we do... Great climb up through the hills on the GI-2631, a dum detour up to Alkiza 5was cool because there where kids racing bikes in the village village at the top and i got to cross the finish line before racing downhill!

edited!

Then the (slightly pretty) major climb up the GI 2130. Good long uphill to get into.Good downhill to San Sebastian (ti,ed mysef at 90sec a km) and into a supermarket 5now everything is in french and spanish...) and ate too much. Then the final slow treck up into the hills - was a bit to much after so much food, but made it to the top after a 'siesta' on a log pile in the rain and mist. Big rolling hills, a big version of the Peaks. Then a longer downhill than i thought to the french border (very dull, just q kiosk left) and into canp at dusk.

damn, being kicked out am now so am in rocheford sur mer in france! check flickr!

Friday, September 05, 2008

update!

Day 6 - Downhill Day! 3rd Sept, 140km



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Overslept and left camp at 9.30 - great long downhill (in overcast & drizzly grey clouds) but got some great shots of the wet road and the misty mountains. Long downhill, all the way to the coast on a fairly quiet road. It was just so good to get away from the dueling a-roads and motorway of the coast.

Spanish roads (anything N* anyways) are great - there´s so much space here that there is noramlly an extra lane going uphills, and a 2m hardshoulder going downhill (means it´s safer going downhill). Drivers are nice too...lots of beaping to let you know they´re coming up on you on the downhills.

San Vincente Monestary was very nice, perched on a hill with a couple of nice bridges on the way in and out, then on to Cornillias, for some gordy Gaudi buildings. My bike slipped on wet cobbles (without me on it) and I think this may have been the start of my troubles.

Going out of town (turns out in the wrong direction) I broke a spoke going up hill. I was always afraid of this because it´s really a road bike and it´s got 30kg on the back of it. Luckly the next town had a very nice bike shop that had just opened again after lunch and they whisked the offending wheel away to be fixed.

Then it was a long drag along my old friend N-634 via Solaris to Laredo. Lots of rain, nothing better to do, but put some miles in - I did some good distance, but a spoke snapped again (I suspect it was the same one). So I got into the campsite at dusk (Three campsites in town all very well signposted, I ended up at the Laredo Camping. Nice big, a bit Butlins but cool enough.

Day 7 (google says 98km, but is lying because it doesn´t know about the magic ferry-bridge-thing)


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Tired after exersions yesterday and not looking forward to more messing about on the coast. Woke up to find that a slight swelling on the tyre had burst, so it took till midday to get the bike sorted (only 23 euros for new rear inner, outer and spoke - I wonder what kind of tyre I got) . Then more chasing the motorway on the (very nice, but twisty) N-364. Ups and down all the way to Castro-Urdiales for lunch.









(someone else´s photo, don´t have teh heart to tell the owner of this cafe that a CF reader with 3 bent pins ain´t doing anything except crashing Windows. I couldn´t remember what it looked like without looking it up either)



Nice looking historic place, but nothing to write home about, except i´m writing home about it. I fell on some wet cobbles (note to self - wet cobbles with a heavy pannier´d bike == bad). Then it was urban mess of a costal road (with lots of lorrys beacuse of the port) to Santurizi, where there was a nice ferry-crane thingy to incredibly inefficenly move people to the other side of the river for €0,50.

Derailuer now giving me grief on the uphill into university land. Lots of funny noises that tweaking doesn´t seem to fix. The uphil into univesity/gated community land was nice will high rolling hills, a few other cyclists out after work and lots of speed limits on definied cycle routes. Mountains all around with sea beyond, really good stuff.

Got to Gertika-Lumo and it was dark. Was considering the run in the dark up the coast to either Mundaka or Lekeito, even brought some groceries for cooking from Aldi´s (same in every country - rushed staff etc, almost throwing me out of the door at closing time). Then I realised that I had a real job for 19 months and booked into a Pensione. Mr. Bike slept on the balcony and I got a good proper hot shower and my phone recharged. It did feel like cheating, but I got to charge my phone, eat (another bad) chinese, and get a good start the next day.




Day 8 5th Sat September. 60km. I really hoped to make France today - I thought I hotel would set me up for a run into a Pyranese pass. On the way up the hill to




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I even found a nice (but casio) watch in the bushes on the way up the hill...but then the gremlins struck again. I was still struggling with derailuer problems when I got a flat back tyre at the top a hill. It was no problem to swap out for my spare (I´ve been carrying it for months, hoping it was the right size), I also had a go at the deraileur. Turns the fixing between it and the frame had come loose. If I knew this it would have been easy, but I took the thing off first and lost the nut...so tis now attached using a not stolen from one of my drink bottle holders. GAH... 90 minutes looking for that nut and tuning the gears again. But the hack worked and was on the road again.

Half way down the hill I got another flat in the front (there´s no strain on that one at all, so was very confued. Was slow enought for me to make it into town). Pushing the bike into town there where a lot people wearing blue. But the time I made it to the harbour there where thousands of people wearing sailing smocks. Lots of music, huge numbers of row boats in the harbor. Was like cornwall, but somewhere warm!

That puncture was giving me real grief, the old cement I had just wasn´t holding the rubber, no matter how well prepaired it all was. After lunch a lovely Basque family swooped down on me, fixed with the dregs of the glue in 3 mins and ran of again. Was a real Basque affair - lots of anti-Espanol logos and that flag everywhere. When I tried my "no espaniol" line I got told by several very nice men that this was Basque and not Espaniol in any way shape or form....

At 4 the festivities began, there was a game. It went like this-
In the middle of the harbour was a goose. It was hung between the wall and another boat. On the other end of the rope was a group of 20 guys. Then teams would fill rowing boats with 15-20 drunk people, head out into the harbour, race past affore mentioned goose. One man on the back of the boat would try to pull the head of the goose. At the same time the 20 guys on the shore would catapult him up and down until he fell off.

There was also a greasy pole with a flag on the end of it, but I had to do some miles, and so will never know what these people will use that for. Was a really great local party, I was one of the few toursts.

Been on the road a while now and really enjoying it - feeling like I´m not making much headway, but I think that´s fair. Hopefully France will be flat and faster (already seeing lots mroe bikers)=

Just pitched my tent (The vango helium 200 has been a really good bit of kit, dried in no time today after being in it´s bag for 2 days). Easy to set up when you get the hang of it too. Time to go cook some tuna and rice!

wide tent!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

From a misc. tent in a misc. valley

Day 4-

Cuddilaro to Villaviciosa. (google says 115km)

Kinda a drag of a day now I look back. Left the lovely campsite in high spiritis, then the fantastic n-362a that swoops and dives around the motorway. The motorway gets tens of fantastic viaducts and you go all the way down to the sea and back up again each time. Great, but exhausting. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a beach with a long tunnel through to a hidden cove beyond (but no compact flash reader so photos will wait till next time) There is a another pilgrim´s trail here...to sandiego? There where lots of people walking along the coast, but I was suprised by the lack of motorbikes on a such a great road - i don´t think there are many in Spain, but if this was the uk it would have been crawling with bikers on holiday... Avilles to Gijon was a dull drag through suburbia.

The one notable point of the day was wondering into a Hyperion mega mart (John Lewis plus Tesos combined) looking for camping gaz. So I was standing there, dripping with sweat and bits of the real outdoors still caked onto me standing on astroturf listening to pop music, looking at tents... surreal. Found some on the second floor and got told of for taking a photo (will post it soon)

Gijon - Villa. was a goodrun through the mountians e-256, but by the time I´d got there, been lured by a chinese place with an English menu (food was shite on a plate tho) it was too dark to make the climb to the campsite (found it the next day - would have been an hour´s climb in the dark) so I ended up in a hotel for 26 euros and crashed hard. Mr. Bike slept in the garage.


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Day 5 (Tuesday 2nd sept?¿) 98km

Was really hungry in the morning so it was a packet of chocolate ricecakes with misc. stawberry sauce, then off along the coast. Was misc. main road till the pass from Farrero to VillarMayor. Massive haul up and down, but empty road (two other bikers where out) Great views from top, and finally getting away from that motway on the coast. Got some photos of cows with bells :)

Then on the straight to Cagnes, long slight downhill on wide, busyish road. A very nice place to stop and have lunch by the big pointed bridge, go for a bit of a paddle and get some maps fo the aea.

Final stretch through mountains (and pass [out of time in kisok, continued three days later...] a town called Poo )don´t worry photos are comming... The final stretch down the shear sided valley in with the low sun was properly pretty, and the campsite at the bottom was on the river so Mr. Bike could have a wash. He´s been getting quite dirtly, not really being designed for touring and all that. Just time for cooking and then some sleep.



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