A bike fairy is born

They say ‘when a bike is stolen, a fairy dies’; so I’d like to think that when you give a bike to someone ‘a fairy is born’. Hence yesterday a bike fairy fluttered into life as we met with Jane and Ruby (Mike’s sister and niece) so that we could hand Mike’s old (but much-loved) lovely, red, hand built, steel Orbit bike on to Jane. This will hopefully give the bike a new lease of life with Jane as it’s been stored hung up rather underused in our outhouse for quite a few years. It was a bit sad watching it go, but good to know that it’s going to a good home (and thinking of all that extra space we’ll have for more bikes!).

New shoes

Posted by Matthew

New shoes arrived today, nice shiny new Specialized road shoes – my first pair of road bike shoes for road riding. I’ve worn shoes with cleats for a while, but they’ve been mountain bike shoes, which means that you can easily walk in them when you’re off the bike as the cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe. The new shoes have the cleat sticking out so they are far more efficient for road riding… but much harder to walk in!


Buying new shoes is not easy at the best of times, but cycling shoes are particularly hard to buy. They are not very stylish and certainly can’t be compared with Jimmy Choos, but I’ve gone with a very plain black pair. I was momentarily tempted by the patent red pair, but then thought no, too Wizard of Oz and so put them back on the shelf. So now I have shoes and bike, just need to put the two together and go for a test spin – the only trouble is I’m probably not going to have time to until next Monday :0( At least when I do go for a spin it will be to go and see my friend Polly – and I might even get to meet her man too, for some reason she has kept him well away from me – can’t imagine why.

Jam today and jam tomorrow

The temptation of picking my neighbour’s plums became too much today, so as soon as I arrived home it was out with the ladder. Next door have a very overgrown back garden, (in fact the whole house is pretty overgrown as well!). With the exception of some Buddlieia, the only other recognisable feature is the plum tree. Each year it manages to fight its way through the weeds and offer up its branches laden with fruit, hanging temptingly over our back garden wall and into Vicarage Road. Seems a shame to let them go to waste! Plums now picked, stewed and jammed.

With a dissertation to finish and a long cycle ride, I’m having to be quite organised with the preserving this year – especially as I have a prize-winning jam title to defend at the local Best of Bedminster Show. With that in mind I’ve upped the stakes with some additional secret ingredients – but I’m not revealing what they are yet. Let’s just say, I think the Women’s Institute judges will approve!

Bike envy (Mike not me)

I am a very happy (and lucky) boy, I have a lovely new bike. We collected my titanium frame Van Nicholas Yukon today from Leisure Lakes in Cheltenham. It is beautiful and means that we both have bikes ready for the trip. Poor Mike is very envious as he’s been pining for a new bike for ages and I’m the one who has one. Can’t wait to go out for a ride, but that will have to wait until Wednesday as that’s when my new shoes will be arriving. Anyway here’s a picture of the lovely new bike … this one makes us an 8 bike household now!


Changing plans and changing weather

Today I’d intended to be visiting Coventry to see Dad, Janet and family – picking up my new bike on the way. The bike is ready, but unfortunately I’ve been engulfed in a lack-of-sleep/too-much-work wave or tiredness, so am not really up to the ride. The bike will have to wait and I will need to rearrange a date to see Dad and Janet – although unfortunately it probably won’t be before their holiday to France.

It’s a shame not to be riding today as the weather is lovely and sunny – the first time it’s been like this for ages. This week has been wet, wet, wet, I hope we don’t get too much wet weather along the west coast. August/September is meant to be the driest time of year along this route and it should get drier as we go south. I read an article on the BBC News website about the heatwave currently sitting over the central/east of the USA and Canada. There was a little bit at the end saying that on the west coast they were experiencing unseasonably cool weather. Someone from Seattle was quoted as saying they didn’t know it could be so cool at this time of year. I expect we’ll still find it pleasantly warm compared to a British summer though!

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!

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!

It’s in the bag…

Posted by Mike

…or rather they will be. The bikes that is. After much research and discussion (should we take our bikes with us, buy them there, use hard cases to transport them etc) the decision has been made. Mike has today ordered two Evoc bike bags, one blue and one black. We can’t get the bags in Bristol as they’re out of stock until the 13 August (and that’s a bit too close to our departure date for comfort), so Mike has sourced and ordered them from a shop in Croydon.

We’ve watched this You Tube video showing how to pack your bike – it looks pretty easy, let’s hope it is! Our plan when we get to Vancouver is to pack the bags and post them down to San Diego the warm shower hosts we’re staying with. With luck they’ll be all ready and waiting for us to repack the bikes in before we fly home.

Must remember the sun cream

When I said ‘warming up’ I was thinking of warming up the legs – not the temperature. As it turned out the legs barely got warmed up (barely doing 12 mph today, on our trip to Hamburg it averaged 18-20 mph), but the temperature definitely rose. I learned from the Easter trip not to wear cycling gloves that would leave a spotty sun tan pattern on my hands. Today I wore solid gloves and now have a white stripe around my wrists and completely white hands. I think some strong lotion is needed before we head west.