Tuesday, 25 April 2017

American Adventures

So my next trip is slightly more ambitious.......

On 1st May I am off to the States to explore by bike until my lovely friend Ada joins me in Oregon in mid-August. I am starting in Virginia and following the trans-America cycle trail which is just like the UK coast to coast route but a little bit longer. There is a map below. The trail follows rural roads and is maintained by an America charity, Adventure Cycling.


I'm currently flitting between being very excited and very daunted. Things I am nervous of include:-

Getting chased by vicious dogs (some states have quite a reputation)
A bear wanting to share my tent
Really really big hills
Getting bike problems far from any help

Things I am most looking forward to include:-
Being outdoors all summer (hooray!)
Cycling through some amazing scenery
Meeting fellow cyclists on the trail
Getting lots of time to read in the evenings - so glad the kindle was invented
Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup (lots of)

I full intend to change my plans if I want to. The Midwest will be around 40C in the summer and cycling in that heat sounds like the opposite of fun. I'm used to English summers after all. If need be I'll get a one way car hire and move on a bit. I know from experience that the Pacific Northwest is cool and rainy - much more my cup of tea - so whilst I intend to cycle all summer I may change location.

Here's hoping there are no visa issues and me and my trusty bike make it to Virginia! The trip has been a long time in the planning so I'm ready to stop getting nervous and start cycling 😊

I'll have a GPS tracker and will post a link to it on the blog once the new site is set up. Oh and to answer my most FAQ...... the trans America trail is 4228miles long. I'll have around 100 days before meeting Ada at the Oregon coast. So I'll need to average 40-45 miles a day if I stick to that route. Being a well known cycle route I won't be the only one on the trail and there are plenty of campsites /hostels / motels / food shops / bike shops en route. There are certainly sections where things are more sparse and I'll have to make sure I carry enough food and water and plan where to sleep more carefully but that's part of the adventure.

I'll also have a US SIM card with data so assuming I can set it up on my phone ok I will be able to pop some pictures and any exciting tales from the road on this blog. It would be lovely to hear from you all via comments or email as I go along.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Goodbye Ireland

My last day in Ireland was 30 miles back to the airport. Mostly through lovely rolling countryside of rivers, meadows and again many cows. Roads got less pleasant closer to the airport but the drivers were considerate throughout the trip. Especially around towns where no one seemed in any hurry.

Apparently Southern Ireland is very popular for cycle touring but I only saw one other tourer. It was definitely early in the season and a tad chilly at times but I had dry weather the whole time and very quiet roads. In the summer I can imagine the coast roads and campsites get very busy.

In fact I was thinking it was funny how few cyclists I'd seen on my trip. It seems they were all saving themselves for Sunday. Sunday is the day the Lycra clad cyclists come out to play! I must have seen 50-60 other cyclists on Easter Sunday but disappointly only one of those was female. Presumably the women were all busy cooking Sunday dinner. It was suprising and quite sad to see such a gender difference.

Anyways I'm now back home again and looking forward to the next trip. I'd definitely recommend Ireland as a place for touring. Nice gradients, lovely people, plenty of minor roads to explore and plenty of campsites along the coast at least. Also an astonishing number of B&Bs signposted at every junction if that's more your cup of tea. Navigating an airport & flight with a bike plus gear is a bit of a pain but do-able. A ferry is perhaps a better transportation mode.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Ireland Day 4 (Saturday)

Cycled in land from Skibbereen to a lake, then back east to Clonakilty. I'd been looking for a coffee shop and just happened to pass the model railway museum which had both trains and coffee. I though Dad and Norman would be disappointed if I didn't go in, though the museum was more about local history than geared towards railway enthusiasts.

Still here are some facts I learnt about the bygone railways of south Cork.......

  • Passengers could buy a ticket for a 'mystery train' which took them on a day trip to a surprise location! 

  • Once a year there was a pilgrimage train to a holy site which played prayers through the tannoy. 

  • In the war some branch line trains ran on turf, and 3rd class passengers had to get out and walk up the hills.

After coffee and cake I headed back to Timolegue and on to the headland at Courtmacsherry where there were amazing views. I got off the bike to do a short walk around the bluebell woods on the cliff.

A lovely day and 43 miles covered. My average speed with loaded panniers seems to be 9-10 miles an hour assuming no hills greater than 'rolling'. The smoothness of the road surface also makes a big difference, more than I'd notice usually (or perhaps Yorkshire has smoother roads as standard!)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Ireland Day 3

A lovely day of cycling by the sea. I forgot to pack a swimming costume but didn't see anyone else braving the waves either! Below are pictures of the coastline and a very pretty stone circle. Lots of hills but of the gentle variety. 30 miles with a fairly early finish.

Camped near Skibbereen and walked into town in the evening. Good Friday however is not a party night in Ireland! There were some real Easter chicks in a shop window front though. They had a heat lamp and grain so seemed happy enough there.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Ireland Day 2

I've managed to get the GPS tracker to work. Hooray! You'll see I spent s lot of time in Kinsale.....

After realigning my gears (successfully but took longer than it should have) I set off and promptly got another puncture in my back tyre. I put a nice new inner tube in and a few miles later another puncture. The glass I went over in Cork city centre shredded the tyre too much - it was pretty worn anyway. I bought some nice new tyres for the States but thought my old ones would be ok for Ireland. Maybe it would have happened to a new tyre also.

At least it was Thursday which meant a bike shop was open in Kinsale. After walking a couple of miles back to Kinsale I got all fitted out. I could only get a basic generic tyre which is not nearly so swooshy and pleasant to ride as nice road/touring ones. You could go cross country on it quite easily which means it's not so fast on roads. However this just means I get one more thing to add to my list of excuses for going slowly (along with wind, hills, poor road surface, poor cycling technique, admiring the view, lack of fitness, laziness..... you name it I've got an excuse!). It's good things are going wrong as I'm getting lots of experience. It's even better when they are quick to put right again :)

By the time all the faffing was done it was probably around 2:00. Then I had a lovely 20miles or so heading south and west. First lots of green fields with cows, horses and a surprising llama. Then onto the coast roads which were beautiful. Lovely beaches, some old remains of castles, an abbey at Timoleague and everywhere the nice smell of the sea.

As I didn't get as far as I wanted to (and am slightly nervous about having more problems and getting stranded far from Cork airport) I'm busy replanning a route based around campsites which are open. The owner of this campsite gave me her number and told me to give her a call if I got really stuck  - aren't people nice! Weather a nice mix of sun and clouds again.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ireland Day 1

After a 4am start I arrived in Cork and so did my bike. Put it back together no problems and the nice people at the airport hotel are looking after my bike bag for me. It would have been just about feasible to bungee it on top of my tent but I would have got tired of it fairly quickly!

Below are some pictures of Cork. I cycled into the centre to get some gas for my stove and various small things I had forgotten. I also got my first (and let's hope last) puncture. At least I had a bench with a nice view of the river from which to mend it.

I'm staying on a farm near Kinsale who let hikers and bikers stay. As you can see it comes with sofa from which I am making a nice cup of tea :) also beautiful rolling countryside and views of many cows. Also wifi.

I am the first camper of the season apart from a French guy who is camping and working here while he studies at agriculture college. The land that my tent was on was cleared and mowed today so I've had good timing.

Milage today was 23miles. The GPS does not seem to have worked. No doubt I've not followed Ada's instructions properly! I didn't pack the spare (special) batteries so if it's out I'll have to test it back in the UK instead.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

I'm off to Ireland tomorrow. Desperately hoping my bike doesn't get damaged on the plane! My plan is to cycle into Cork to get some camping gas and food and then cycle down to Kinsale. There is a tent only campsite and hostel near Kinsale that is open. I've been in touch with the owner already who was very helpful. Then I will cycle west along the coast. I'll be carrying bulky items such as my large sleeping bag and bike bag that I won't need in the States. On the other hand I'm sure I'll think of lots of useful items I don't have!

I'm not going to aim for any sort of mileage per day in particular, I'll just see how I go. I also won't have internet access so I'll try and update this blog if I find some wifi. I'll have my usual phone and number if needed.

I'll also be trying out Ada's GPS tracker. If successful then you'll be able to track me here. 

First challenge will be putting my bike back together in Cork Airport car park. I'm sure they've seen it all before!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

This is my bike, and attempt to see if I can blog easily
on a mobile phone!

Learning how to blog

I'm creating this blog to keep track of my upcoming cycling adventures. One of today's logistical challenges is learning how to blog. Let's see if I can manage to upload a bike related photo......

That's All Folks

My cycling adventures in America have come to an end! I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I won't try a...