Monday, 11 August 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Fourteen

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Tuesday 12th August
West Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Last night I decided to abandon my journey, Derek tried to talk me out of it, but I have had enough, I think 'I Have Cycled the Cycling Out of Me'. Sunday really gave me a good kicking, the torrential rain, the mountains and massive 500ft undulations, together with my left knee playing up, I decided I do not want this anymore. Basically I miss my family and friends, today is my 93rd day on the road and I want to be a normal person again. Deep down inside I feel as though I have disappointed so many people who have been following my blog and contributed to my St Wilfrid's Hospice 'Just Giving Page'. All I can say is a 'Big Thank You' to all those people, old friends and new friends, who have given so generously. A big thank to 'My Cycling Family' who have supported me throughout my journey and the people who have helped me. It started with Dave and Jeanne in Boston who looked after me and showed me friendship and kindness which I will never forget. Then there was Jared and Amanda who took pity on me after I asked them for help (I had just climbed for 47 miles, in 100F temperatures up to 7000ft) and drove me to South Lake Tahoe. And then my super hero's Mike and Robin who saved me from the side of the road when my bike broke, and then drove me to my hotel and brought me a meal. Then there's my clubmate Derek, who's driven me around to get my bike fixed and then looked after me when I was riding on Sunday. For the last three days we have had horrendous rain storms and Derek has driven me northwards towards Boston (we should arrive on Wednesday). Derek has been a good clubmate and friend, and without his help I would still have been in Cartervile. Thank you again to everyone who has helped me on my journey and made my dream ride come true. Graham. Picture shows 'My Cycling Family' giving me my 'Send Off Party' at the Royal Oak pub.

Monday 11th August
Front Royal, Virginia. Woke up and it was still pouring with rain, the weather forecast said there was severe mist in the mountains. We decided it was too dangerous to drive in the mountains (I wasn't going to ride anyway) and that we would drive Front Royal to try and get out of the rain. Still raining when I sent this email so having a rethink on what to do next. Picture shows photos and memories of the 1999 Paris Brest Paris.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Thirteen

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 10th August
Fancy Gap, Virginia. 80 miles. Average speed 12.5mph. Left Lenior about 7.30am. It was drizzling with rain, not enough for waterproof top though. Then began the 20 mile climb to Blowing Rock. About 2 miles out it began to rain quite heavily and the mist came down. In Blowing Rock I joined up with Blue Ridge Parkway, it doesn't have a Highway number. The hills got bigger and steeper, and I climbed to 3,800ft. This is about as high as the road climbs, but because of the mist and rain it made for uncomfortable riding. Derek was supporting me in the car and was carrying my pannier bags for me, so this made the climbing easier for me, but it was still hard. Derek and I decided to my buy cheap 'pay as go phones' so that we could keep in contact on the road, and they have proved invaluable today. At 48 miles Derek caught up with me and gave me some food, I only saw one place today where you could buy food on the Parkway. For the first time on my journey my left knee started to ache, probably due too rain and continuous climbing, and it was starting to get cold! So I decided to climb off after 80 miles and get in the car. Fancy Gap is a very small mountain town and we found a really nice deli/restaurant, I needed hot food and drinks to warm me up. Picture shows one of the many signs of interest on the Parkway. It was to wet to take pictures and was frightened of getting water in the iPad.

Saturday 9th August
Lenior, North Carolina. Left Carterville about 8.45am and drove 300 miles to Lenoir, most of it on the Interstate. Had a snack at a Waffle House in Anderson and arrived in Lenior at 2.45pm. We are now in the foothills of the Applachain Mountains and 20 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will take us 500 miles through the mountains. Picture shows my poor bike stripped and ready for action, tomorrow I will ride with a small rear bag and bar bag.

Friday 8th August
Carterville, Georgia. Good news today, my bike is ready so we drove to Woodstock to collect it. The bike shop is called Out Spokin' Bicycles and is situated in Main Street, Woodstock. I've now got a rebuilt back wheel with an Tiagra hub, a 105 rear mech, and a SRAM chain and cassette. I took it for a little test ride and everything was working perfectly. They had also given it a clean up so it was looking in good shape for the final ride up to Boston. Picture shows Derek, Thomas (cyclocross champion), Kevin (owner), me and Dan (first class mechanic). Thank you all for your patience and friendship.

Thursday 7th August
Carterville, Georgia. Left about 10am and drove to Dawsonville and Dahlonega on the road I would have ridden to Cornelia. Beautiful forest roads but with big undulating hills. A chilled out day seeing the countryside. Picture shows Derek at the wheel of our hire car.

Wednesday 6th August
Carterville, Georgia. Received bad news from the bike shop today, they could only get me a 32 hole rear hub. They had to send away for a 36 hole hub which isn't going to arrive until Thursday. With any luck all should be finished on Friday. I looked at the old hub and there were cracks around the spoke holes, so I wasn't going to take the risk as we are going into the mountains where even more strain would be put into the back wheel. The temperature is in the 90F's so it was a nice day to have a look around. Another picture of that broken rear mech.

Tuesday 5th August
Carterville, Georgia. Jenny took us to Atlanta airport today to pick up the hire car, a White Toyota Rav4 which will be ideal for ferrying our bikes and luggage. Went on the Skytrain at the airport to the car rental area, checked the car over and then drove back to Carterville. In the meantime I received a phone call from the bike shop that the outer casing on the rear hub was cracked and so I needed a new hub and a wheel rebuild. Hopefully this will make everything okay and we can start our journey. Tonight Derek treated Jenny to our last meal out at the Crab and Lobster restaurant. Picture shows Jenny, me and Derek on Jenny's patio.

Monday 4th August 
Carterville, Georgia. Went hunting for a bike shop today in the Acworth area today with Derek and Jenny. A very difficult time was spent looking for one without success, so we decided to have some lunch. The staff at the restaurant then suggested a bike shop in Woodstock, so off we went. We found the bike shop quite easily for us, and they were really helpful and knowledgable. Hopefully everything will be okay and pick the bike up on Wednesday afternoon. Picture tries to show the damage when the rear mech broke.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Twelve

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 3rd August

Carterville, Georgia. Went looking for a bike shop today with Derek and Jenny but everything is closed! Found one that looked suitable but you could only contact it by email, have to wait until the morning to see if I have a reply. If not will have try and hunt down some more.

Saturday 2nd August
Catersville, Georgia. Left Fort Payne at 7.15am, very warm so just cycle top and shorts. Had a 4 mile climb out of town and then made good time to Summerville, and had a snack at a Subway. Then climbing out of Summerville disaster struct, the rear mech broke and jammed up the back wheel. I was helpless on the side of the road. I tried flagging down pickup trucks for help but no one stopped. I was close to tears when suddenly someone stopped. Mike and Robin were their names (see picture) and they were the nicest people you could have met. The bike went into the back of the pickup (a Ford L150, my favourite) and they took me to my hotel in Carterville. To repay their friendship and kindness I took them for lunch, and then they insisted on paying. I cannot thank Mike and Robin enough. I have found some truly wonderful people on my journey. God bless them all. Now I'm going to have to find a Bike Shop, but I think most of them are closed on Monday! Tonight I am having dinner with Jenny and Derek. It will be great to see them both and plan our ride back to Boston.

Friday 1st August
Fort Payne, Alabama. 82 miles. Average speed 12mph. Left Cullman at 7.30am. Cooler and overcast so gillet, cycle top and shorts. First 24 miles was a nightmare, they put a rumble strip in a very narrow hard shoulder, and the big lorries came along too fast and too close. The countryside got more hillier and big roller coaster hills. Had lunch at Albertville and an ice cream at Fyffe. Picture shows a rather big hard shoulder, but look at those hills in front of me!

Thursday 31st July
Cullman, Alabama. 81 miles. Average speed 11.9mph. After I sent yesterday's blog I got talking Fred and Sally, who had just driven 600 miles from Florida, and were going to drive to Kansas today to see their. They were a lovely couple and I appreciate the interest they showed about my journey and their friendship, thank you. Warm and muggy when I left Hamilton but still just cycle top and shorts. It started to get a lot hillier yesterday and continued today. The hard shoulders continue to be a problem. Some are good, then they stick a foot wide rumble strip in it so you have ride in the road! Fortunately the roads were light of traffic but the riding is still stressful because of the hard shoulder situation. Hopefully it will improve tomorrow and Saturday when I cross the State line into Georgia. Stopped for early lunch in Double Springs at a 'Subway' (tuna roll again). Rode past a Days Inn hotel on the way into Cullman but there was no food nearby, so rode North out of town to where I new there were several hotels and food. My two sons Paul and Stephen ride motocross, so this picture is for them.

Wednesday 30th July
Hamilton, Alabama. 81 miles. Average speed 12.5mph. My 80th day since leaving Dave and Jeanne in Danvers. Left Booneville at 8.30am. Not very good hotel and I could only manage to send one email to Paul and Stef. Quite warm so just cycle top and shorts. Used Highway 30 for first 24 miles but turned into a nightmare as it had no hard shoulder and the big lorries kept passing me too close. Shortly after stopped at a 'Subway' for a tuna roll and came out and saw a sign 80F. Then crossed the state line into Alabama and a small hard shoulder started appearing, thank goodness. Didn't see an Alabama state sign, perhaps because I was on a minor road! Stopped for ice cream at Hackleburg. Today was quite hilly and towards the end some very big climbs. A taste of things to come as I near the Smokey Mountains. Good news is Derek flew out today, so he should be chilling out in Carterville. Pictures tries to show the forests I am cycling through.

Tuesday 29th July
Booneville, Mississippi. 78 miles. Average speed 12.3mph. Left Holly Springs about 8am. Much cooler this morning but sill warm enough for just cycle top and shorts. Lots of short sharp hills in the forests today, but this brought back the logging lorries. Still no hard shoulder to ride in so you have to use your discretion and pull off the road sometimes! Stopped lunch at a place called Ripley, fortunately I found a 'Subway' and had a 12in tuna roll. Temperature was only 77F when I rode into Booneville. The picture is for my grand daughter.

Monday 28th July
Holly Springs, Mississippi. 67 miles. Average speed 12.6mph. Very warm when I cycled out of Memphis so just cycle top and shorts. Then saw sign 78F at 8.30am! Although I was on a minor road (Highway 51) the traffic was quite heavy and there was hardly any hard shoulder which made it worse. Stopped for lunch at Senatobia and then headed east. The landscape then changed from flattish farmland to hills and forests. 90F when I reached Holly Springs. Picture tries to show the countryside I'm riding in.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Eleven

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 27th July
Graceland, Memphis. Left hotel about 8.30am and walked the 2 miles to Graceland. By 9.30am there were 100's of people arriving in a car park/cafe/souvenir/ticket office area opposite Graceland. You were then taken by mini bus to Graceland over the road. You were shown all over the grounds and house, and then taken back across the road by mini bus. Brought some souvenirs and my daily burger, and then just sat about outside listening to 'Elvis music'. Well worth a visit, but it's a well oiled machine made to take your money.

Saturday 26th July
Memphis, Tennessee. 87 miles. Average speed 14.5mph. Left West Helena about 8.15am. Very warm so cycle top and shorts. After only about 10 miles and I crossed the Mississippi River, a massive bridge that was quite steep to climb. Again the countryside was quite flat, but the hard shoulders either became very narrow or non-existent. This made cycling very dangerous at times, as the traffic passed by too close. Had some lunch at Tunica on Highway 61 heading North and then went east on Highway 304. This took me to Hernado and Highway 51 which leads me straight onto Elvis Prestly Blvd and past Graceland. My hotel is about 2 miles away and so I have a bit of a walk tomorrow. Picture shows the start of the bridge over the Mississippi.

Friday 25th July
West Helena, Arkansas. 63 miles. Average speed 12.9mph. Left Stuttgart at about 8.15am. Quite warm so just cycling top and shorts. Easy going day with open farmland and only a slight breeze. Stop for lunch at Marvel and met an American whose wife was English, and they had visited Bognor Regis! Last night the manager of the hotel I was staying in heard about my 'journey'. He asked if he could contact the local newspaper (Stuttgart Daily Leader) and so after breakfast I met reporter Bill Shrum. Picture shows C.K. Patel (manager), Bill Shrum and me. And just to prove how generous people are C.K. let me stay without paying, thank you.

Thursday 24th July
Stuttgart, Arkansas. 64 miles. Average speed 11.9mph. Left Dumas at 8.15am. Warm and muggy but cooler than yesterday. Cycle top and shorts. The countryside is flat, but I am riding North on a slight uphill all the time. And guess what? With the wind against me. Picture shows the bridge I crossed over the Arkansas River.

Wednesday 23rd July
Dumas, Arkansas. 68 miles. Average speed 13.4mph. Doing a slightly shorter route today but added a bit on to make a bit of a ride of it. Left Warren at 8am. It was already very warm so just cycle top and shorts. At 9am saw sign in Monticello 88F. All of a sudden the forests disappeared and it was open farmland. Cotton and potatoes looked the main crop. Had a snack at Dermott and an ice cream at McGehee. Picture shows a cotton warehouse with a sign that's difficult to read on the side.

Tuesday 22nd July
Warren, Arkansas. 105 miles. Average speed 13.4mph. Warm and muggy so gillet and shorts. Then saw sign at 8.30am which said 80F. Scenery change though, big forests but that brings big logging lorries. Again roller coaster hills but thankfully only slight breeze. Lunch at Camden and ice cream at Hampton. Picture shows a sign that apparently tells the story how the native Americans were herded off to reservations.

Monday 21st July
Hope, Arkansas. Left Idabel about 7am into a chilly start. Long sleeve top and shorts. Soon started warming up and when I crossed the State Line into Arkansas I wearing cycling top, and it reached 85F in the afternoon. Lots of big roller coaster hills again, down to granny on the big ups. Lunch at Nashville, then only a gentle ride in to finish the day off. The wind is still not in my favour, but it was only a gentle breeze.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Ten

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 20th July
Idabel, Oklahoma, 100 miles. Average speed 13.2mph. Left Durant about 6.45am into a chilly and misty start. Long sleeve top and shorts. After about 10 miles it started warming up, so just down to cycling top. Lots of rolling hills and narrow hard shoulders. Had some lunch at Hugo and an ice cream at Valliant. Also I had trouble finding hotel which didn't have very good wifi connection. Can't believe it's 70 days since I wobbled away from Dave and Jeanne in Danvers, couldn't even wave goodbye because the balance of the bike was all over the place. Picture show Rob and Charlie, two runners, who befriended me in Pauls Valley and wanted to know all about my journey.

Saturday 19th July
Durant, Oklahoma. 103 miles. Average speed 13.3mph. Left Pauls Valley at 6.45am. Bit chilly so long sleeve top and shorts, but changed to just cycling top after about ten miles. Went into a small mountain area called Turners Falls, where they have turned the falls into a fun park! Had breakfast in McDs at a place called Ardmore. Countryside nice and green, reminded me of the South Downs, able to ride reasonably quickly over the rolling countryside. Had a snack at a place called Madill and then suddenly came to this spectacular view of the lake and bridge. Apparently the lake is in Oklahoma and Texas, so that's why it is called Tishomingo. Got to first hotel no vacancies, said town was full up. Nightmare! Tried another across the road and got a room thank.

Friday 18th July
Pauls Vally, Oklahoma. 73 miles. Average speed 12.7mph. Left Anadarko about 7.30am feeling a bit chilly. Long sleeve top and shorts. Saw temperature sign 61F. Slight breeze against me but most important no rain. Countryside started to get greener and the hills not so severe. Made good time and had a snack at Lindsay. Arrived at Pauls Valley about 1pm, so too early to book in and went to a Subway for some lunch. Got talking to Rob and Charlie (who were both runners), and they were really interested in my journey. It's nice to meet genuine, friendly people and I wish them well on their drive to Minnesota. Picture is for my son Paul.

Thursday 17th July
Anadarko, Oklahoma. A big storm system has come in causing flooding and heavy rain. Decided to sit this one out for the day and start again tomorrow regardless. Trouble is the rain ruins the bike and it's impossible to keep your shoes and feet dry. There's nothing to do here. The hotel is on the edge of town and a bit run down, but at least I can get food. Will try to get Paul's Valley tomorrow and a Comfort Inn hotel.

Wednesday 16th July
Anadarko, Oklahoma. 93 miles. Average speed 11.9mph. Left about 6.45am, again needing lights. Chillier than last few days, so long sleeve top and shorts. After about 10 miles it started to rain, then got heavier and heavier. Then the big roller coaster hills started to come at me and the wind. Stopped raining about mid day. Then found a place to have lunch called Cobb Creek, it only had a garage and cafe. Then the wind really started blowing from the South. All in all a very hard day in the saddle. Couldn't be bothered with any pictures what with all the bad weather so here is a picture of me collecting my bike after it's overhaul in Kingman, with Ran who runs the shop.

Tuesday 15th July
Elk City, Oklahoma. 99 miles. Average speed 12.4 mph. Left Pampas about 6.45am in gillet, top and shorts. Still quite dark so lights on. The wind had come to meet me, even at that time in the morning. The the hills got longer and bigger, big roller coasters one after the other. You got to the top of one and you could see them in the distance waiting for me! Had trouble finding food but suddenly there was a diner at a small crossroads in the middle of nowhere near Sweetcorn. The last 20 odd miles I have even riding on Route 66 with all it's memorabilia and tourist things. As the picture shows I have now past into Oklahoma.

Monday 14th July
Pampa, Texas. 76 miles. Average speed 13.4mph. Left Dimas at 8am, warm but a bit muggy. Started to rain then thunder and lightening, didn't last for long though. Had breakfast at Borger. Making good time when I had first puncture of the whole trip. Brand new tyres and a big sharp flint made a small hole. Now I will have to change the front and back tyres over, cut up a plastic bottle and tape it underneath the hole in the tyre. Hopefully this will last until I get to Derek in Atlanta! Because I am ahead of schedule I am doing less miles and slightly changing route for anyone interested. Picture tries to show landscape in Texas I'm riding in, unsuccessfully.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Nine

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 13th July
Dumas, Texas. 85 miles. Average speed 15.5mph. Quite warm when I left at 7.15am in gillet, top and shorts. Only 10 miles to the Texas border and a new time zone (now 6 hours behind UK). Normal roads for a change and with the new transmission fitted felt really quick. Lots of long climbs but manageable compared to what I had been riding, but with that nagging headwind and the temperature about 90F. I felt good after a week off the bike and no after effects.

Saturday 12th July
Clayton, New Mexico. Left Gallop about 8.45am and arrived in Clayton at 3.30pm. I was going to re-start my journey in Springer but decided on Clayton to try and get away from the mountains. Steve had a long drive, about 460 miles and then he was driving back to Albuquerque (270 miles) to stay the night. Then driving onto Laughlin the next day, another long drive. Because I am now ahead of schedule I have decided to reduce the daily mileage and try to have easier days. Unfortunately when I arrived the wind was blowing against me, it should be blowing in an west/east direction, hopefully it will be in my favour tomorrow. Picture shows me and Steve just before his long drive back to Laughlin.

Friday 11th July
Gallop, New Mexico. Had breakfast in Laughlin and then took Paul and Stef to the airport in Las Vegas for their flight home. An emotional goodbye then Steve drove me down to Kingman to collect my bike from The Bikeshop. Checked the bike over and brought some more chain oil. Then drove east as far as Gallop, arriving about 8pm. Steve is going to drive me to either Springer or Clayton, leave me there and then drive back towards Laughlin. He will probably stop around Albuquerque and drive on the following day. Picture shows us leaving the casino the night before!

Thursday 10th July 2014
Laughlin, Nevada. We all had a chilled out day by the pool. We hired a poolside tent thing which was great. Had TV, fridge and it's own chairs, and it looked down on the Colorado River.

Wednesday 9th July 2014
Laughlin, Nevada. Had a chilled out morning. Went and had a buffet breakfast at one of the hotels. Did some research on my iPad about future hotels and motels. Then at 12.30 we set off to Las Vegas airport to pickup Stephen. It's good to be a family again. Picture shows me at Hoover Dam yesterday.

Tuesday 8th July 2014

After taking pictures at the Las Vegas sign we had some breakfast at a McD's and drove down to the Hoover Dam. Unbelievable feat of engineering. Paul and Stef booked a tour of the dam for me. We went down inside the dam, saw one of generating rooms, went through tunnels deep down in the rocks and had a tour guide explaining all the history in the building of the dam. We then Drove down to Kingman to take the bike to the Bike Shop. From there we drove Route 66 (Kingman to Oatman, where they have donkeys walking in the street). When we reached Laughlin it was 115F.

Monday 7th July 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada. What an exciting place this is. So many people. 24 hours of total madness. We went from one hotel to another on the slot machines and eating whatever, whenever! We went to the local Harley Davidson shop and had this picture taken. Unbelievable experience. You have to visit Vegas just once in your life.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wheelsucker Blog - Week Eight

A big thank you to everyone who has visited my Just Giving site and donated money. Please continue to spread the word to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

Sunday 6th July
Las Vegas, Nevada. Left South Lake Tahoe at 7am. Drove over 450 miles through the most fantastic mountainous desert you could imagine and arrived in Las Vegas about 2.30pm. Then Paul and Stef took me out gambling on the 'Strip'. Then I got pestered by two ladies!

Saturday 5th July
South Lake Tahoe, California. 47 miles. Average speed 9.8mph. Left Sutter Creek at 6.30am in cycle top and shorts. Short climb out of town and into a small town called Jacksonville. Then the climbing started, long and steepish climbs, and gradually warming up. Saw sign that said 81F and the climbing kept going on and on. Reached a viewing point at 7,000ft and I was absolutely exhausted. The temperature must have been nearly 100F and I had just done 47 miles of climbing. I asked a young couple if they could help me. Their names were Jared and Amanda, and they couldn't have been more helpful. They had their dog 'Emerson' with them as well, but still managed to get me and my bike into their car. They took me all the way to my hotel, they were fantastic. If it wasn't for their help I could of done myself serious harm, I was totally exhausted after all that climbing and the extreme heat. But the highlight of the day was seeing Paul and Stef again. To see my family again after 55 days on the road was very emotional for me. They are taking me to Las Vegas tomorrow so I can sit back and relax. Picture shows Jared and Amanda where they saved me!

Friday 4th July
INDEPENDENCE DAY. Sutter Creek, California. 90 miles. Average speed 11.7mph. Left Turlock at 6am. Cycling top and shorts, felt warm even at that time in the morning. Found way onto right road after asking workmen putting out flags for the celebrations. Made good time to Valley Springs for late breakfast. Then got really hot (100F) and lots of climbing. Really nice little town (see picture), the sort of small town that I imagined all small towns would be like in USA. Normal cycling today. No stress with the roads and getting my head back in order!

Thursday 3rd July
Turlock, California. Left Watsonville at 6am. Thermal top and shorts. Traffic was really busy at that time of morning. Concentrating on keeping into the kerb as far as possible, missed my left turn onto Highway 152. Realised my mistake after about a mile so wasn't a disaster. After about 7 miles started climbing first big climb of the day (see picture) but was covered in mist which got worse nearer the top. Nice fast descent down into Gilroy and a quick McD's. Then the hassle started again when they sign posted Hw152 up onto a Freeway (which wasn't marked on the map as a Freeway?). After asking clueless people and the village idiot eventually found my way back onto Hw152. It was then hassle free thank goodness. It is really stressing me out all this 'not allowed to ride on this road' business, and the police seem to be watching me all the time which is really freaking me out. Because of this and fact that they could change the status of the roads around Carson City, Paul and Stef are coming to meet me at South Lake Tahoe and take me down to Las Vegas, and then down to Laughlin to have my cassette, chain, bottom bracket and tyres replaced.

Wednesday 2nd July
Watsonville, California. Left Mill Valley at 7.30am. Thermal top and shorts which I kept on most of the day. Took cycle route to bridge, then really steep climb to bridge 28x30. Bridge covered in mist and traffic noise was horrendous. Difficult finding my way out from bridge and picking up the right roads. Really hilly and only averaged 10mph for the first 30 miles. The hills along the coastline got bigger and longer, and it was still quite chilly with the mist off the sea. Lunch at Half Moon Bay. After that the climbs got smaller so I could ride a lot quicker. Then the nightmare began. Highway 1, which I had been using turned into a Freeway around Santa Cruz, so I had to try and follow a cycle route which was very difficult. After asking everybody I could find eventually arrived in Watsonville after 11 hours of hard riding.

Tuesday 1st July
Mill Valley, California. 100 miles. Average speed 11.9mph. Left Santa Rosa 6am. Long sleeved top and shorts. Although I bought a map, getting out of town on the correct road was a nightmare. 22 miles later I reached Highway 1, only to take a wrong turn and ended up in Petaluma. Back again to Highway 1, this was fast becoming a bad day. Need to concentrate more! Stopped for lunch at Stinson Beach and then the climbing really started. Had to use my lowest gear for the time 28x30, it was like climbing mini mountains one after the other. Reached Mill Valley and then everything opened up and I could see the start of the bay. Kept riding about 3 miles (on a special cycle route) until I could see the bridge and got someone to take a photo. This same person told me there was no accommodation between there and the bridge, so back to Sausalito I go looking for a motel. Met a cyclist called Todd who took me back to Mill Valley and Holiday Inn Express, thank you. This turned out to be a hard days riding, but seeing the bridge in the distance made it all worthwhile.

Monday 30th June 2014
Santa Rosa, California. 81 miles. Average speed 14.3mph. Left Willits at 7.30am, just cycling jersey and shorts. Big climb out of Willits then easier roads. Made good time to Cloverdale where I had McD's and the temperature was 100F. Just as I entered Santa Rosa got stopped by police, apparently I had been riding on the Freeway! He wasn't very helpful, and when I asked him how I was to continue he said 'get a bus'. This wound me up so I told him I would like to be there when he visited England and then I could be really helpful. He couldn't even direct me to my motel! I am staying at Motel 6 and the young lady on reception was really kind and helpful, and this made feel much better. Paul and Stef phoned me and this calmed me down. They also booked two hotels for me on the 4th and 5th July, because it's a national holiday weekend. Picture shows the road I shouldn't been riding on.