Saturday, 25 June 2011

Greetings from Zech

Hello - tent and pitched for the night - about to get scrubbed up. Not long arrived in Zech, on the east shore of Bodenese (aka Lake Konstanz). Great ride today - nice and easy and no problems with navigation. Stopped in Meersburg - beautiful town - and was forced into doing some retail therapy - couldn`t resist some nice ear-rings - could have bought a lot more - loads of pretty crafty stuff but no-where to put it. Sat by the shore and picnic-ed - I´m in love with German bread roles - even better than French Bagettes! Seen all manor of bikes - and all sorts of people out riding and I can confirm that it is possible to cycle with a dog in a basket - seen a variety of wee dogs either in baskets at the front or rear of the bike - and one wee westie being towed in a buggy at the back of the bike - so now I know it´s possible I just need to get a buggy and a Westie (but think I´ll wait for retirement)! Can now see the mountains - there looking a wee bit scarey - not sure how I´m going to get on with the uphills but just need to take it a wee bit at a time and I´m sure the bike and myself will make it - Nige if I get there before you - you are buying me wine and dinner (please).
See everyone else who is coming out to the Dolomites in a few days and everyone else in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Good morning

Hello - greetings from Friebourg, Germany. Made it here yesterday early afternoon after a beautiful bike ride down the east side of the Rhine and then heading east - lots of birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Had intended carrying on but huge thunder and lightening storm in the afternoon - heavens opened and rained ++++++ and forgot to stop - after sheltering for quite some time decided to book into the local back packers hostle - good excuse to treat myself to a nice comfy bed. When the rain finally stopped I walked up the "mountain" and then up the viewing tower at the top and got fabby views of the town and surrounding area. Had a wee wander round the town which is pretty but can´t believe how much drinking there is going on in the streets. Back to the hostle to finnish off my bottle of wine that I´ve been carrying in my paniers for 2 days now and my very mature and ripening camambert - Nige would have loved it!!!
Right back on the road again.
Love to all.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Bonjour and greetings from Strasbourg

Well me and the bike have made it to Strasbourg - Im a little smaller - tummy is as flat as an ironing board which is nice but boobs have shrunk and thighs have got bigger - sure its supposed to be the other way round!!!
Surprised I found may hear at all - had a hell of job finding my way out of Calais - all routes seemed to take you to the motorway - but eventually was told I was on a "bonne route" - now got better maps and route planning mostly gone to plan - although been stopped by the local gendarme twice now - once for accidently cycling down a one way street the wrong way and once for accidently cycling down the slip road to motorway - I'd realised my mistake just as they got to me.
Weather mostly dry and sunny but caught in some heavy showers - the boots have been left at base to try and air them!!!!
Cycling mostly flat untill yesterday - passing lots of crops - can see for miles. Yesterday came from Vic to Strasbourg via Dabo - took this route as it would be quieter - knew it would be windy but hadn't taken into consideration the climb - this was this first wee hill I had come across and it was a cracker of a climb - the wind with me all the way - and an incredible downhill - the speedo broken so not sure how fast I went but best bit of the ride so far. Down the otherside and back into the flatlands again - seemed much more affluent here and grape vines as far as the eye could see!!
Continued on towards Strasbourg - all going well untill the last 10k or so when I could not find a route - all signs to Strasbourg seemed to point to the motorway but managed to highjack a couple out cycling and we did a wee bit of follow the leader as they took me on a mix of cycle paths and paths through the crop fields and then pointed me in the direction of the city centre where I found my way to the campsite with no further problems.
Been living on fabby bagettes, cheese and salad since I got to France but going to treat myself to something different today.
Now just got to find my way to Cortina!!!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Good morning

Hi all
Currently in Ashford - had a lovely evening and a good nights sleep at Chris`s parent`s house - thankyou to all of you for putting me up.
4 days of cycling since leaving Newcastle - mostly good but hardwork.
Yesterday saw me coming from just South of Cambridge to the Tilbury Ferry across the Thames - I was a bit concerned re navigation and the amount of traffic I would come across but as it happens this turned out to be one the best day so far - taking me through lots of pretty villages and towns with houses of all shapes and sizes and styles including tudor and pretty thatched cottages - lots of wild flowers at the road side - and lots of crops and vegetable growing but NO cows - not seen any cows (or sheep) for a couple of days now so not sure where milk comes from. Mostly very little traffic until I got closer to the ferry.
Cycled part of the way with a fellow called Brian - American, tall, good looking and lean (don`t worry Nige - not my type) - anyway he could get up a heck of a speed and distance on his chosen 2 wheeled steed - a wee foldaway bike - was out training for a 100 mile race he is going to do.
The 2nd half of the day, which I (wrongly) expected to be quieter and easier for a navigation point of view - struggled to find the cycle path - when I eventually found it it took me in and out of all wee nooks and crannies in Gravesend so I abandonned this - however I did discover that Gravesend is where Pocohontus died. Combination of roads and wee bit of cross country on some tiny wee bumpy narrow paths through woodland (where I saw a fox) I eventually got to Maidstone where I picked up the A20 - 2nd to the motorway this is the main road to Dover - busy to begin with gradually quitened down the further east I went - more hilly than the last couple of days - not big hills but big enough at the end of a long day - 108 miles all in!!!!
Heading to Dover to day and then across to France - not going to go far though - I will give me knees a rest and get my bearings.
The next time I post I should be in France!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

06 June

Got up about 6.30am after a good night sleep - dry but chilly outside - had to force myself to get out of my tent and some how managed not to set off until near 8.30am.
Big bike ride planned for today - want to make it to Chris and Kenny`s house on the north side of Newcastle today - it sounds better saying that it is on the north - doesn`t sound quite so far away!
Chilly morning - cold head wind. Lots of stops and starts to refuel - thankyou to Emma for my supply of tablet - went down a treat.
Started on the A7 and then went onto the A68 - bit busier than expected but mostly good and mostly plenty of room - although there were a couple of hairy moments when the lorries carry logs went by.
Lots of uphills - very hard work - but made up by the downhills that followed - maxed at 3omph.
Didn`t think I would ever make it to Newcastle but eventually made it - fantastic lasagne and pudding made by Chris and then a super nights sleep.

Sunday 05/06/11

Finally set off about 2pm on Sunday - much later than planned - mostly because of my lack of organisation and poor packing skills and then Nige decided to check if my chain was decreased and oiled enough - which it wasn`t and he kindly did it for (that bit of planning did work!!).

Went to Falkirk and then picked up the canal tow path to Edinburgh - not very fast going as the path was quite busy and forgot about manoeuvring through the various "z" gates with a heavily loaded bike - however saw lots of wildflowers and it got quite exciting when I was dive bombed by a lapwing!!!

Got a wee bit lost in the middle of Edinburgh - not helped by managing to lose the appropriate bit of map but eventually managed to find my way to the south side of Edinburgh and then picking up the A7 south.

Dry most of the day but when I stopped at Newton Grange for the night, the rain had come on quite heavy so got the tent up as quick as I could, which probably wasn`t very quick.

Warm and cosy in my new tent and sleeping bag

50 miles today - not as much as intended - but a good start.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Last day of work today!! Good day but so glad I`m on holiday. Setting off on the bike on Sunday - from my house in Stirling to Cortina in the Dolomites (as you do) - the trip has been planned for sometime now but planning is maybe not quite the right word ..................................

The trip has been planned in the sense that at the end of last year I decided that I was going to do this mad bike ride and then go walking and climbing when I get there with Nige and some friends from the OMC - they have more sense and are either flying or driving there.
That is where the planning and organising has kind of got to though ..............................

I have a vague route - Stirling to Dover; Dover to Dunkerque (by ferry); Dunkerque to Strasbourg and then Strasbourg to the Cortina - it`s a kind of join the dots on the way kind of route with a kind of south and then south east direction but I`m fairly sure I will arrive at my destination. Picking up my road map of Europe tomorrow will probably be quite handy.

As to other planning - between now and Sunday I need to gather together tent, sleeping bag, clothes, stove, camera, etc, etc and not get too drunk at the wedding we are going to on Saturday night- big congrats in advance to Jean and Chris!!

And then there is the training for such a long bike ride - well this year apart from my daily bike rides to work- mostly less than 2 miles each way - I have hardly been on the bike. I have done lots and lots of running for the London Marathon but NO real cycling so the training is kind of starting on Sunday, kind of on route, which sounds quite reasonable to me???

Right going to stop typing; the other half is doing the dishes so I have no excuses - I am going to try and conquer my fear of packing - I hate it with a passion - although I am very limited as to what I can take so it does simply things - wear one / wash one and if I`ve got room I`m going to squeeze in a dress (and hope it doesn`t get too crumpled)!!!