Archive for July, 2011

Day 44

A huge thanks to Elliot and Darren at Bike Newport. Not only have they fixed the bike, but after a day in the saddle of my newly adjusted bike, my knee feels so much better. Just goes to show that buying the bike is the first thing then getting it fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing is the next. Might be a bit of a journey for you guys back in Blighty, but anyone local to Newport should give them a go.

And for my next trick I am going to attempt to upload some video. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Hopefully that’s a video of me up-tiddly-up-up. If it’s worked then expect more…

Sorry if this is becoming repetitive, but it was another great cycling day here in Oregon. This strong northerly is still blowing me south and eating up the miles. As soon as my knee is back to normal I should be pulling 100 milers with ease. I’ve met quite a few touring cyclists on this part of the trip. They’re mostly doing a couple of weeks touring down the coast. Nothing as magnificent or awe inspiring as me, but bless them for giving it a go! There are a few who are going to San Diego so we might be crossing paths on a fairly regular basis, but we all have such different agendas that we might miss each other completely. We shall see.

I had another ‘moment’ today. I was so busy planning in my head how far to travel, where to stay for the night, where to get food, how long it was going to take me to get to San Francisco, how my knee was going to hold up and a million other things that I suddenly realized I was sort of missing the ‘now’. I stopped and just took in the view for a bit…

And that got me back to just enjoying the day. It’s not hard this cycling thing. At all! Just pedal a bit, then pedal a bit more. You get to where you get to eventually and then you stop. And that’s about it. It’s nice to not really think about anything. But then you start to think about everything. All the things that are important, anyway. Yes, I have discovered the Zen of Cycling! (“he’s gone ‘hippy’!”) What seems important to me now – and I think in this order – is Bridget, a family and our own business. I just have to get this cycle thing finished then it’s full steam ahead with the important stuff. Better keep pedaling then…


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Day 43

I think Oregon in the summer must be one of the best places to ride. I’ve had sunshine and a fair wind behind me since I got here. The north wind is cooling so you don’t overheat and the people are friendly and helpful.

I stopped at Newport to have the guys at Bike Newport look at the Rohloff hub and check the bike geometry to see if we could sort out my knee problem. Darren and Elliot were great. Darren changed the oil and suddenly the slight grinding disappeared and I ‘found’ the lost gear! Looks like I lost quite a bit of oil on the flight to Anchorage and I’d been riding with a fraction of the oil it should have had. It says something about the quality of the hub that it survived about two thousand miles with hardly any oil in it. It’s all working smoothly now and I have a full set of gears to play with.

Then Elliot got work on me and the bike and after a bit of finagling I’m now set up with the correct geometry. The saddle had to go back and up by about 6mm in each direction, which is quite a bit. My left leg is slightly longer than my right, so the seat position has to be a slight compromise. I may fit a shim under my cleats to correct my leg length issue. (Is this getting technical enough for you, Sam?!)

And the other thing I did was have a flight in a 1939 bi-plane!!! Oh, yes! I couldn’t pass up the sign by side of the road offering that. In the true spirit of 1930’s barnstorming, the guy had his plane out on the slightly underused airfield. Just him; no crew or in fact anyone else, unless you count his small dog. So after putting on the cloth flying helmet, goggles and headset we were up, up and away! And here’s the proof…



Brilliant! Now I just need a pipe and some outrageous flying jodhpurs and I’m set.

Pip pip


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Day 42

Another lovely day on the Oregon coast. Sunshine, fair winds, sandy beaches and some beer. Here is a photo of a sandy beach…


And in the background there are people climbing up the huge dune. But not a single one of them had a board to sand-board back down.

Wimps! Not like Bridget and I, who are past-masters in the art of sand-boarding after a scary afternoon in Peru. Another story for another blog.

For every up there must be a down (that’s cycling philosophy for you) and in this case the down is the knee trouble. It came on strong at the end of the day, so much so that I was having to favour the left leg to get me up the hills. I’ve got a short trip tomorrow and I’ll probably stay in Newport for two days to rest it, but if it carries on then the trip may be in jeopardy. I’m going to ask the guys in the Bike Newport shop if they can check my riding position and maybe recommend a physio. It’s not over yet!

I thought you might like a look at the ‘cockpit’. This is pretty much my daily view, especially when grinding up hills.

For those eagle-eyed amongst you then you may notice a discrepancy between the mileage on each computer. I forgot to start the big one! And that’s why you have the small, old one as a failsafe, kids.

Pip pip

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Day 41

What a great day! 75miles from Astoria to Tillamook through some spectacular scenery and cycled with some other great cyclists. All this with sunshine and a huge tailwind! It really doesn’t get any better than that.
Here’s a photo of some spectacular scenery…


And this is Steve from Baltimore. He is cycling to San Diego…

Oh and some grinning idiot in the foreground.

I also met Barry from Seattle who was on holiday with his wife and kids and was out for short ride. Damn him and his feather-weight carbon machine!

All in all a good day. The only slight fly in the ointment was the return of the knee twinge, but I’ll put that down to a longish day in the saddle after a few short ones. Some food and a good night’s rest and I should be good to press on to Newport tomorrow.

I bought some Assos chamois cream in Port Townsend and have been experimenting with it over the past few days instead of Vaseline. I’ve got to say the jury is still out. The menthol essence certainly ‘refreshes’ those parts that Vaseline doesn’t, but I’m not sure it has the same lubricating efficiency. (How’s that for technical information, Sam?). The trial continues…


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Day 40

Today was a sort of rest day in Astoria. I needed to organize an oil change kit to be sent to a town further south and took the opportunity to shed some weight. I managed to lose about 2/3kg of un-needed kit, which has been sent to Newport, OR which I shall pick up in a couple of days if I need it or send it on again down the road. So now I’m lighter and leaner and ready for the hills of Oregon. And so is the new Honker. I’ve fitted and tested and it’s almost identical to the old one. It just lacks the experience. I’ve also had to buy some new gloves as the others were falling apart, so hopefully I’ll get a new tan pattern on my hands now.

Sorry for the dull post, I’ll try and make the next one a bit more interesting.

Here’s a photo in compensation.
This is the Columbia River.



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Day 39

They day started badly with a flat tyre, but I never dreamed it would get as worse as it did.

I stopped to pick up some more low-fat, high-energie nut, caramel and chocolate bars and as I usually do I leaned the bike against the wall and popped inside. When I came out the bike was on it’s side and the front fork had spun through 360°. Not a disaster, but as I unwound the the fork the was a small snap and the horn from THE honker fell to the floor!!! The Bear Honker was dead. I was left with a squeaker that sounded like a dog’s chew toy. Bears would just laugh at that, not be bemused. I was consoled with the thought that it may amuse wolves long enough for me to make my escape, but it was no Bear Honker. I rode along occasionally squeaking the new Wolf Squeaker, but it wasn’t the same. And as I rode disconsolately into Astoria, just to make matters worse, the black, rubber bulb fell off and was lost in the roadside bushes. Now I didn’t even have a Wolf Botherer! Not much point in carrying on I thought. I doubt they’ll even let me into Mexico without some sort of Coyote Taunter. But I hadn’t counted on Astoria. If you need a Honker then head for Bikes and Beyond, they have a selection. I chose one identical to the Lost Honker of the North and tomorrow it will be installed.

The adventure can continue…


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Day 38

Amtrack is insane! They’ve turned it into the living hell that is scheduled flying. You have to check-in! That’s right, I said ‘check-in’. Then there are safety announcements on the train and advice about walking. I didn’t think you could complicate a train journey that much! I think I’m going to stick to cycling.

It dropped me off in Centralia and after a quick breakfast and a near Christian conversion from Rodney, a pick-up driving local hunter, I was off. Ok, so you want to know more about Rodney. Not much more to tell, apart from halfway through the usual conversation about what I was doing, how long it was going to take, etc. he suddenly asks if I’m a Christian. Well, it’s not the sort of thing one expects immediately after breakfast, to be quizzed about one’s beliefs. I answer that my mother brought me up as one and that seems to quell the zealotry. I don’t think he trusted me though. A European in Lycra cycling to South America? Certain to be the devil’s work.
I quickly made my excuses and left.

The cycling to Cathlamet went through some lovely, and occasionally, flat scenery. Quite a few hills, but as I’m starting to appreciate the good thing about going up hills is that at the least it’ll level off and at best there’s a big downhill on the other side. Wheeee!

That over there is Mount St. Helens. What’s left of it anyway.


And I hope this is an amusing anachronism. But if not, then you know where to get your weak women.



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Day 37

Ok, slight change of plan.

I met up with Andy, a friend of a friend, in Edmonds today (thanks for the Boddingtons, you northern monkey!) and apart from the beer he also passed on the sim cutter I ordered a while ago and had sent to his place. So that means I can now, and don’t tell the Feds, buy a pay-as-you-go sim card and cut it down to fit my iPhone4. Muwhaha! The simpletons, I shall fool them all!! But that means a slight detour into Seattle to buy the said sim card.

So here I am in downtown Seattle. I was going to leave it until I got further south to buy the card, but it was so close that it seemed foolish not to. My plan now is to get back on track by getting the train (do you see what I did there!?) to Centralia and rejoin the American Cycling Association’s touring maps to Astoria and the south. Yes, I could cycle it, but I’m not going to. So there!

It’s now beer o’clock in Seattle. Hurrah! I’m in a restaurant overlooking, I think, Puget Sound, that has served me a fabulous golden, summer ale not dissimilar to Summer Lightening, for all you English beer fans out there (a Hop Back Brewery production). They also fed me fish and chips which were less fabulous, but I wanted to sample their ‘famous’ fish and chips. Keep trying, chaps! (I can confirm, or rather my waiter confirmed, that it is Puget Sound).

I’m staying in a hostel called American Hostel or maybe it’s Hostile America, either way it’s my first hostel of the trip. In fact it’s my first hostel ever. I think I’ll camp. I’ve got a room to myself. I feel far too old to be sharing with excitable gap-yearers or wierdos! Of course, to the young eyes of the post-pubescent backpackers that bother these places, I am the wierdo. Wait till you get to my age, younglings, not so weird then will I appear to your eyes.


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Day 36

After pushing off late from the hotel, I was directed to Point Hudson Cafe for breakfast and thank you John for recommending it. John was the owner/manager of the Palace Hotel. Lovely location and the breakfast was lovely too. Here’s a photo of the cafe.

That’s it in the distance.

It’s odd cycling around here. It’s beautiful, but the small hills are murder. I’ve pushed my bike more in the last hundred miles than I ever did in the thousand through Alaska and the Yukon. Short sharp shocks of vertiginous torture. And no one cheering me up the ascents. Hah! Those Tour de France Johnnies have it easy, I tell you. I may buy myself a yellow or green jersey, just to lift my spirits. And a ‘sports’ massage, perhaps!

I lunched at Port Gamble on chicken salad and fruit. The fact that the fruit was on the same dish came as a bit of a surprise. I should be used, by now, I suppose, to having odd combinations of sweet and savoury piled on the same plate, but really, chicken and strawberries? Or cheese and melon. Is there some culinary joke I’m missing here? I managed to separate the two, but why should I have to. Just bring them to me on separate plates. Separated by several minutes. Separately.
And this Monty Python moment made me laugh even more…

A whole stack of conversation cards. No questions on the Meaning of Life as far as I could see.

After an uneventful ferry trip to Edmonds on the mainland, I booked into the Best Western hotel right next to the ferry terminal. Might as well stay here ‘cos I’m going back the same way tomorrow. Dash the expense, it’s convenient.

It’s a small town, and the Main Street is full of pretty little eateries and knick-knack shops. Obviously a holiday town. They also have a small cinema which I suspect mostly acts as an art house, but not at the moment. No, it too has succumbed to the might of Harry Potter. Like most of the cinemas on the planet, I suspect. This author, too must admit to succumbing to the might of Harry Potter! Look, I’m traveling alone and I like a bit of popcornyness as much as the next chap! A single male traveller of a certain age must get used to the inevitable questioning looks he attracts when doing certain things normally associated with people in even numbers. This goes double if he wants to go to the cinema. Even more so if he wants to see a Harry Potter movie. So one must slip on the thick-skinned suit and get ready with the ‘cycling through the Americas’ explanation should anyone actually ask. They won’t. They’ll just look at you when you’re not looking. When they think you’re not looking. And at best they think he’s just a lonely man, at worst, well you know what the worst is. There’s no real way to non-verbally reassure parents that you’re just there for the movie and have absolutely no interest in their kids beyond a normal, extra-paternal protection. Unless of course the little beggars don’t stop screaming and kicking the back of the seat! Then it’s open season. The Glorious Twelve year olds will be shot on sight! Fetch me my Purdeys!

I liked the film, by the way. Well done Chris, the titles looked great.

Pip pip

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Day 35 – Rest day

Here I am in Port Townsend and the more time I spend here the more I love it. It’s got a small town, seaside feel to it, but with a hip arts/culture vibe going on. I think the Victorian brick buildings give it a sense of solidity and history that just isn’t present in most American towns. Talking to the locals, it does get quiet during the winter, but shops don’t close down and the arts scene stays vibrant throughout. They have an excellent artisinal bakery, two bike shops and an art-house cinema (oddly showing the Rob Brydon/Steve Coogan travelogue comedy, The Trip, as a film – not sure how that’s going to translate). What more could you need?

I didn’t do much – wouldn’t be a rest day if I did – just pottered around and drank coffee. Actually that’s a thing. They really don’t do pubs. Either here or in Canada. They do bars, but they’re generally pretty rough and either for blokes to get drunk in or for the ‘kids’ to pull. With all this amazing countryside you’d think a few country pubs would be a gold mine, but it’s just not in their psyche to drive out for a drink and a ploughmans. More fool them.

Here are some photos of the hotel.



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Pip pip

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