For charity, or not for charity – that is the question

When I tell people that we’re riding nearly 2000 miles for our holiday, many of them ask: “Are you doing it for charity?”. Well the answer is “No”, but the more people who ask, the more I wonder whether I should.

If I did do it for charity, I’d have to choose a worthy cause. There are two that spring to mind. Number one: the Southville Centre, (of which I’m chair of trustees). The Centre is twenty years old this year and there are plenty of bits that need some love and attention. It would be mainly fundraising for the ‘un-sexy’ bits, (such as the glass roof lantern, new door etc) – the bits that are really necessary to enable all the fun stuff and community development stuff to happen.

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The second one I would probably go for is MacMillan nurses. I have a good friend who is having a rough time with cancer at the moment. I know that the MacMillan nurses have been a great help to her, it would be nice to be able to thank them in some way.

So if I do ride for charity, the other question is – would anyone sponsor me? I can’t answer that one … over to you!

Ban bad white van drivers

Well I’ve been hoping that we’d get through the next six and a bit weeks before our American holiday unscathed. Unfortunately, a very bad white van driver had other ideas today as he overtook Mike at a traffic light, turned left across himself and sent him flying across the road. Just to round things off, he drove off without even stopping. It all happened during the morning rush hour and so lots of other drivers were around – fortunately many of them stopped to check Mike was ok. Thankfully he was. A bit scratched, bruised and shaken, a ripped Rapha top and a broken key ring but no broken bones, thankfully. Let’s hope that’s the last road incident we have for a long, long time.

Another thing ticked off the list

Having planned the entire route down the west coast of the USA, I’ve been pondering how best to actually get to Heathrow airport with two very large bagged-up bikes. My initial thought was to use the airport coach from Bristol, but it appears that they have a ‘no bike’ policy! And Bristol is supposed to be an official cycling city! Someone did tell me that it is up to the driver whether they’ll let people on with their bikes. I decided that I’d rather not take the risk of missing a trip of a lifetime because of being stranded at Marlborough Street bus station in Bristol! So I have opted for the train to Reading with a little bit of airport bus, (which apparently does allow bikes as luggage) to Heathrow. Not sure how I feel about the fact that the cost of getting to Heathrow is 10% of the cost of the flight ticket – I’m pretty much certain it isn’t 10% of the distance! Is it a case of ‘rip off Britain’ or are airplanes seriously under taxed – or both? Anyway, at least I can relax a bit now knowing that the last bit of our journey plans are arranged.

Uh-oh, the spelling police have found me

I admit, I have been known to make the odd ‘blooper’ with a misspelt word or incorrect punctuation. Thankfully I have a guardian spelling angel who has been known to kindly point out the error of my ways on my Facebook page – in full view to the social media world. My angel has now visited this blog, so watch out for corrections – I’m sure there will be a few!

Mike says: I’m on to it!

Little green giant

They are smiling in the Isle of Man tonight, yes, Cav has done it again. A fine stage win in the Tour today plus he’s extended his lead in the green jersey competition. Fingers crossed he’ll hold onto it until Paris – pity we won’t be there to see the finish this year, but there are only so many holidays that it’s possible to have in a year. Anyway, to ‘mark’ the occasion, (no pun intended), here’s a picture of the man himself at last year’s Smithfield Nocturn in London.

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Warmshowers people are very nice

If you’re a touring cyclist who hasn’t experienced Warmshowers (the touring cyclists equivalent to Couch Surfing for backpackers), then you should. We first tried it at Easter this year when we rode to Hamburg and back. We stayed with Klaus and Katherine in Munster who fed us with a fab breakfast and sent us on our way with a packed lunch. In Oldenburg Dietmar (a retired Lutharian pastor) had a four course vegetarian meal waiting for us on our arrival and in Zwolle Faulkirt and Lineka also fed us wonderful meals. Whilst the food was delicious, the best thing about all our Warmshowers hosts was their friendliness and insight they gave us into the places we were visiting. They all showed great interest in our trip.

We’ll be staying with ten Warmshower (WS) hosts during our ride down the west coast of the USA and from the communication we’ve had so far we’re really looking forward to meeting them all. Today we go a message from our WS hosts in San Diego who’ve kindly agreed to receive and store our bike bags during our trip. Posting them from Vancouver to San Diego is a lot more inviting than having to carry them 1800+ miles (they are quite big). It seems apt that as we’ll be taking advantage of lots of WS hospitality we should repay the favour, so we’re pleased to have been contacted by a young Belgium family who’ll be cycling the south coast of England later this month. I hope we’ll be able to repay some of the hospitality we’ve received through Warmshowers.

It’s Pride – so time for a little ride

It’s Pride Bristol today, so we’ll be marching with Pride at 12 noon. Afterwards I’m helping to staff the Cycle Out stall in Castle Park – so I hope that the drizzle stops and it dries up later (it’s forecast to improve). I’ve baked some rock buns and some home made Jammy dodgers to sell for the Cycle Out club funds. With a bit of luck we’ll drum up some more punters for tomorrow’s very short family pride ride from Queen Square to Castle Park. When I say short, I mean short. It will probably take us about 10 minutes, quite a difference from the trip we’re planning!

We have a route… or we will soon

The Garmin City Navigator for North America arrived today, which means we can start to plot the detailed route. Well, actually it means that Mike can start to plot the detailed routes. I’ve done the task of finding our start and finish points for each day, including accommodation. Where ever possible we’re staying with WarmShowers hosts (if you’re a touring cyclist and don’t know about WarmShowers – you should, check it out). Anyway here is the basic route:

Thur 25 Aug – Flight Dep Lon 12.55 / Arr Vancouver 14.25

Fri 26 Aug – Vancouver – Mount Vernon

Sat 27 Aug – Mount Vernon – Seattle

Sun 28 Aug – Seattle – Centralia

Mon 29 Aug – Centralia – Portland

Tue 30 Aug – Portland

Wed 31 Aug – Portland – Neskowin

Thur 1 Sep – Neskowin – Florence

Fri 2 Sep – Florence – Port Orford

Sat 3 Sep – Port Orford – Orick

Sun 4 Sep – Orick – Myers Flats

Mon 5 Sep – Myers Flats – Fort Bragg

Tue 6 Sep – Fort Bragg – Sea Ranch

Wed 7 Sep – Bodega Bay – San Francisco

Thur 8 Sep – San Francisco

Fri 9 Sep – San Francisco

Sat 10 Sep – San Francisco – Seaside

Sun 11 Sep – Seaside – San Simeon

Mon 12 Sep – San Simeon – Buellton or Solvang

Tue 13 Sep – Buellton or Solvang – Ventura

Wed 14 Sep – Ventura – Los Angeles

Thur 15 Sep – Los Angeles – Seal Beach

Fri 16 Sep – Seal Beach – Solana Beach

Sat 17 Sep – Solana Beach – San Diego

Sun 18 Sep – San Diego

Mon 19 Sep – San Diego
Flight Dep San Diego 20.05

Tue 20 Sep – London
Flight Arr Lon 14.25

Big bags arrived

Very impressed with the speed with which our new bike carry bags have arrived. They are rather large, but we’ll need to do a few test runs packing them before the off. Unfortunately we forgot to order the road bike insert we’ll need for our bikes to pack nicely, so we’ll need to wait to practice before they arrive.