Sunday, 28 February 2010

That's a bit more like it!

At last, a break in the weather - sort of - I managed to get out last Thursday and did 18 miles around Ponteland and Westerhope and again today for 33 miles. I didn't mind cycling out to the coast with the wind in my face as I knew it would be with me on the way back. The prevailing wind here is usually from the West so this made a nice change. I stopped at Tynemouth for a coffee and was tempted by some hot do'nuts. Delicious I must say. Then onwards to Seaton Sluice, back to Seaton Delaval then a right turn to Cramlington and Seaton Burn via Arcot Hall (and a very large puddle in the road that I nearly went swimming in), then through Wideopen and home. Unfortunately, the heavens opened as I approached East Cramlington so I applied my NPIA shower cap over my helmet and was mostly dry when I got home. Thanks to Mr A. Perry Esq for that innovation! I have been pleasantly surprised by most motorists keeping a safe distance but nearly got wiped out when a tosser in a van decided to cut across the front of me at a small roundabout. I thought back to my time working with the maintenance men at Croda in Edinburgh and supplied said driver with one or two oaths I suspect he had never heard before and probably didn't understand anyway.
The forecast is dry for the next few days,(it was for today as well!) so I look forward to 3 days in the saddle (udder cream anyone) and getting past my 150 mile target for this week.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Training Hiccup

Did a brisk 20 miles on Sunday but the cold got through making me a tad red. Went to Thirsk on Monday (by car) and Derby on Tuesday. I hurt my back lifting some boxes in Derby so todays mega ride had to be cancelled. I have decided to try and raise some funds for St Oswald's Hospice which is local to me so they have directed me to the 'Just Giving' web site . I would like to thank Hilary, a receptionist at Cooper's Dental Practice, who overheard my wife talking about the trip and left £10 in an envelope to make her the first person to make a donation. If anyone else would like to, the link is here:
On account of the cold weather, I have sent off for a winter top and some neoprene shoe covers. They arrived this morning and will hopefully make a difference.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Why and How

The first question I suppose is, how did I get the mad idea of cycling 3629 miles in 50 days.
I was working in an office in Harrogate, playing a bit of touch rugby and football in the evenings when a friend, Andrew Perry, cycled across the USA from San Francisco to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My father had been a keen cyclist in his younger days and had once cycled from Edinburgh to Nice but I had never been really interested. Andrew's blog enthused me so much that I went and bought a second hand racer and found that it was a great way to exercise and see the countryside properly. I decided that I wanted to go on such an adventure and, upon retirement in April 2009, went to Bob Jackson's cycle shop in Leeds and had a bike made to measure. For those of you who are interested, it is made of Reynolds 853 tubing and has a Rohloff rear hub which contains the gears (a bit like an upmarket Sturmey Archer). It sports butterfly handlebars, a lovely old fashioned leather Brooks saddle and is shod with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres which should keep me mostly puncture free. It is a joy to ride and, a bit like me, is built for comfort not speed!
I have been trying to do as much mileage as possible, winter weather permitting. In early September I cycled from Newcastle to St Andrews and back as far as Prestonpans when the weather finally beat me. Still, I was quite happy with 275 miles in 4 days and no real aches and pains as this was the first time I had done 4 days serious mileage in a row. A picture of my bike on the Forth Bridge is displayed above and another better close up.
Despite the cold weather, I need to be building up from 150 miles per week to 300 per week between now and June 17 when I fly to Portland, Oregon to begin the trip.
I am travelling with a company called America By Bicycle. We begin in Astoria in Oregon, go West to dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean, then head east (hopefully with the prevailing winds at our backs!) and travel through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York State, Vermont and finally New Hampshire. We climb the Cascades, Grand Tetons, Black Hills and the Appalachians so there should be some spectacular scenery and sore legs. Last year there were more than 50 riders on the trip, the youngest being 18 and the oldest being 80.