Bagging it a bit late

Going on holiday has to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do – sort of moving house in miniature (very miniature when travelling by bicycle with Mike!). We’re dismantling, (well Mike is, while I hold), and packing the bikes – quite an art. Still on the first one – so this could take some time. No early to bed tonight, I suspect.

Last day at work proved to be very long indeed 7.30am – 7.30pm, but I (just about) finished everything that needed doing – fuelled on by sticky sweets, (thanks Ruth and Hillary/Sean). Certainly not a balanced diet or good for the teeth, but I’m sure those extra calories will come in handy over the next 1800+ miles.

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Blogging past my bed time

Got told off today for blogging, “When I should have been in bed asleep.” I agree – but to be fair I was in bed, just not asleep. My blog post tonight is slightly earlier (but only just). We’re just sending our final itinerary to our WarmShower host (Mike is doing this) and a link to this blog (“Hello”, if you’re checking us out – look forward to meeting you soon). We’re nearly ready, just need to pack our bikes into their bags tomorrow and check in online for our flights.

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Tomorrow is my last day at work before we go. There is so much to do and I’m afraid that some of it is going to have to wait until I get back. Apologies to my work colleagues, sorry if I have left stuff that you’ll have to do. Everyone at my work place has been through a tough year (and we’re still going through it) and I do feel a bit guilty going away – but I promise I’ll come back refreshed and energised and raring to go. Hang on in there guys, you’re doing a great job.

Really is time for bed now as it’s going to be a full on day tomorrow … night, night.

Wobble, wobble

We’re nearly half way through the detailed route planning now and Mike has had a little wobble at the thought of the challenge ahead. Ironically I think it’s me who should be having the wobble given that my daily cycle ride is about 1.5 miles downhill to work. At least Mike powers back and forth to Bath almost every day (almost 30 miles round trip) – I think he’ll be leaving me behind on this trip! The wobble was brought on at the thought of the longest day cycling we’re doing on the whole trip – 133 miles from Miranda Gardens to Fort Bragg. It will certainly be challenging, but it should also be beautiful as most of this section will be through the giant redwood forests. It is worth noting that we have done 139 in a single day once cycling from Bristol to Potters Bar at the start of our Easter cycling trip to Hamburg, so we know that we can do that distance in a day. It’s a good job that Mike and I have a kind of balance whereby if he gets wound up about something, I’ll be calm and vice versa. Enough wobbles for one night I’m off to bed or I’ll be in no fit state for work tomorrow – plenty of wobbles there to deal with too!

Sleepless, not quite in Seattle

So much for trying to get to bed early – it’s now well past my bed time and instead of being tucked up dreaming about our holiday I’m sitting beside Mike agreeing detailed route planning. We’ve left Vancouver, passed Mount Vernon, Seattle and are heading towards Portland now. We could have saved a fortune and done this trip from Mike’s study! There was me thinking that the marvellous Garmin device would take the trouble out of navigation – but it seems to me to be just as much hard work. (Mike note – the Garmin gps will work out routes for us, but it might not direct us the best way – so it’s better to do it manually). Hopefully this attention to detail will mean that when we get to the States we’ll glide along with no wrong turns, missed turns, travelling in the wrong direction etc, etc.(some hope!).

I confess that many a family holiday of my youth ended in a few heated words after navigation malfunctions, (and this was well before the invention of sat nav). My dad used to produce charts with every significant junction listed with an estimated time of arrival (eta). The ‘designated navigator’ was supposed to write down next to the eta the exact time of arrival so that upon arrival my dad could calculate the accuracy of the journey plan. This seemed to work reasonably well until everyone except the driver had fallen asleep, (it was normal for us to depart from home on our family holidays at about 2am to ‘beat the traffic’). I was left scarred mentally, although surprisingly not physically injured, after one incident where we were well and truly lost, (where exactly on mainland Europe I do not recall). My dad lost his temper and after consuming his cup of tea threw his bakerlite mug into the air only, by some freak chance, for it to come down right on my head – and I wasn’t even navigating. I think he felt quite guilty about it at the time and so he should, nobody should treat a bakerlite mug like that. So with the marvels of modern technology we should have no incidents of that kind!

Top tourist tips win prizes

So much to do and so little time. I can hardly believe that there is barely a week to go (9 days to be precise) before we fly to Canada. We still need to sort the travel insurance and to test packing and unpacking the bike bags in their carry cases. We also need to contact our wonderful Warmshowers hosts again to check that they are still ok to accommodate us. I can feel a ‘to do’ list coming on!

I know that it’s probably a bit late to be asking this question, (and I probably won’t have time to do many of them) but any top suggestions for a USA west coast cyclist gratefully received. So far I’ve been advised to stop by at Hearst Castle, savour the giant redwoods and try a particular chip shop – can you suggest anything else? Who knows, there might be a small prize for the the best (i.e. my favourite) suggestion.

Bike test ride completed (nearly)

The London Olympic road race trial is complete (didn’t Cav do well?). I can also now confirm that the trial of my new bike is now complete – but not quite as we’d envisaged. We left Brighton in lovely morning sunshine, but it became more cloudy as we made our way to Winchester. Leaving Winchester after lunch was when the weather all started to go awry; we thought we were skirting around the rain as we headed over Salisbury Plain, but unfortunately we were heading right into it. The spots turned to drizzle, then the drizzle turned to rain, then the rain turned to low clouds and heavy rain. We clocked up 107 miles from Brighton to Warminster, but then decided to abandon the cycling and catch the train from Warminster back to Bristol (it’s only 4 stops). Mike had forgotten his rain coat, so was soaked to the skin and shivering by the time we arrived in Warminster – I had to resort to emergency fruit buns and a cheap towel from Lidl! Even though we didn’t make the 130 miles home I feel no shame; 107 is still further than most of the distance we have to ride each day in the USA and I was carrying a big bag today too – much heavier than my holiday luggage. One thing is certain, I will sleep well tonight!

Pack it in … Mary Poppins has nothing on me!

Jam made and it’s still raining, so I decided to test my bag packing skills. I have to admit that my years working in a well-known supermarket chain (Every Little Helps), served me well in terms of efficient packing. Be it drawers, dishwashers or luggage, I can squeeze an awful lot into a small space. Mary Poppin’s carpet bag has nothing on my packing!

So gathering up my pile of ‘essentials for the touring cyclist’ I first laid them out. Here it all is…

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I know it doesn’t look like an awful lot for nearly four week travel, but I am assured they do have laundry facilities in the United States of America and Canada! It is also important to remember that this is largely evening wear, as most of the day wear will be of the Lycra variety. Anyway, with a little bit of Gok Wan compact wardrobe magic I reckon that this lot will convert into about 10 different ‘mix and match’ outfits – “Go girlfriend!”. Best of all it all fits into one small pannier bag with room to spare for food essentials. Ta-dah!…

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N, n, n, n, nineteen!

Eek, less than twenty days now to the off. Slightly daunted by the amount of work and non-work things that need to be done before we go. Most importantly I need to start the process of ‘bonding’ with my new bike. Hope to go out for a ride this weekend and some time next week too. Next weekend we’ll be cycling back from Brighton so that will be a good long ride test – hope the weather is kind to us.

The other big challenge for this week is to try and break the 12 stone barrier – below 12 stone that is. I’ve been lingering at 12.1 for a few weeks now and would really like to get to 11 something before we set off. I think that earlier nights, more water and a decent meal plan are needed to help me achieve this goal. Our meal times have gone to pot with so much going on at work. I’m also pondering whether I should take up the offer to try out running with Mike – however, this may need to happen after dark as I’m very self conscious about displaying my gangly body to the general public while I’m out running! So watch out if you’re about after the sun has gone down – you never know what might be heading towards you!

Test ride and more sleep required

Despite having had my new bike for nearly a fortnight, I have (rather depressingly) had no time to go out for a ride on it. I’ve barely had time to even touch it or even look at it lovingly. This should all change this weekend when the inaugural ride on the Van Nicholas Yukon will take place.

With less than three weeks to go, test riding is just one thing that’s needed … the other is more sleep. Working ridiculously long days and writing a dissertation is not good for the skin. My face looks like a join the dots puzzle. Next week I’m going to try starting ‘operation early night’ in an attempt to get more sleep – fingers crossed that will do the trick.

25 days to go!

August has arrived which means there are just 25 days until we’re off on the journey. Ruari (who’s house-sitting for us) came round tonight for a guide to all those exciting things like how to work the dishwasher, washing machine, boiler, TV etc. “Good luck with the TV” is what I say, what with two remote controls, nother for the separate surround-sound, another for the DVD, blu-ray and another for the hard disk recorder … I’ve barely manage to work out how to turn the TV on – let alone record something, (Mike edit: *sigh*). I think we’ll be writing lots of lists of instructions, as tonight’s whistle-stop tour was quite a lot for Ruari to take in.

August also means that it’s nearly my birthday, just 30 minutes to go, (well 9hrs 30 mins if we want to be precise). We had a lovely pre-birthday weekend in London, it had a bit of a bike theme with trips to Condor Cycles on Grays Inn Road, ‘Look Mum No Hands’ cycle cafĂ© (pictured) and a few rides on the London hire bikes. Thankfully I resisted buying the new Rapha cycle jersey in Condor Cycles as today it has been reduced by 30 per cent in the Rapha summer sale, which means 30 per cent saved that can be spent on some more lovely Rapha goodies of course!

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