Thursday, 7 June 2012

So that is that! New blog ahoy...

I hope you enjoyed this blog in some small way! Here's what happened next...

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

All the best,


Monday, 30 May 2011

More Than A Feeling...Boston...27-30/05/11

Another early start to catch the 7am shuttle van into my hotel in Boston means saying goodbye again to the half of us who are still around: nobody in their right mind enjoys this bit, do they? Actually, you might get a different answer if you asked the other chaps, hah-hah!

Despite staying in a lovely hotel (who had my room ready and checked me in at 9.30am!) and the weather being set fair for the weekend, it was as if someone had pulled the plug, energy-wise. Even after a full-on lunch I was toast and had to retire for an old man's nap. Disgrace.

I felt fully able to get my 'arris down for the complimentary wine tasting/guzzling that occurs each evening at 5pm in the hotel lobby. This was something that I feel could only be of benefit to riders of future A.B.B. tours. I'll suggest this to Mike, who is doing well for 323.

I knew that Boston was a compact city and suited to walking around, but I didn't appreciate how easy it is to cover the ground, even at  my 'snail wearing flip-flops' pace.

Torch this place before this madness is allowed to get out of control!

In place for Memorial Day on Monday: Boston Common.

"If I'd been christened Kermit I could've had class. I could've been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."

Thoroughly enjoyed the Freedom Trial trudge. Tell you what though, these Colonials don't half bang on about the independence that they were allowed, ahem...

Splendid fellow, splendid ale...

What a way to earn a crust: and no, it's not the 'Fathers For Justice Synchronised Abseiling Team'. I think the bloke on the right missed a bit...

Old Ironside: not the great Raymondo Burr, but the U.S.S. Constitution.

...which means the obligatory, cheesy photo.

But nowhere near as cheesy as this beauty, hah-hah!

Sightseeing took a hiatus as I sought out a place to watch the Champions League cobblers: at short-notice it had to be the Marriott's bar. They have more screens than The Enterprise. It was just like watching Palace...
The only thing that marred an otherwise fine match was Fergie being so gracious in defeat, hah-hah!

I don't know what happened to me but I couldn't fight the urge to get the bike out early-doors on Sunday: two hours later and a lot of ground was covered...

About as close as I'll ever get, hah-hah!

Thought I was done with hills...

The Monument to the Battle Of Bunker Hill. Which wasn't fought on Bunker Hill. Ohio Bob, what do you say?
"Go figure."

The great Bobby Orr. Everyone was Bruins-mental as they had made it through to the final of The Stanley Cup...

Shame that the Red Sox were away this weekend. Another time, I hope...

As well as shuffling around town, I also enjoyed the trolley car tour and of course getting out on the Charles River cruise. Corona was $6.25. Scandalous. Mind you, it was about 85F out there, so they had us over a barrel...well, bottle really.

"There was a boat from Nantucket...".
You can fill the rest in yourselves.

There followed a fine meal in one of the many Italian restaurants on Hanover Street: the people of Boston certainly do know how to eat well.

That's pretty much it: after over five weeks away from home it's time to go back to it. I miss the company and BS of the group already, as well as the cycling, remarkably. We'll try to keep in touch: I have an idea for the next run...

Unbelievably, I have already seen one of the guys again: as I was sauntering along The Freedom Trail on Saturday morning I heard the unique booming tones of The Big Man, Lasse from a passing street trolley tour. I had just enough time to run across and shake his hand,
"I am tourist."
Yeah, unique is the word, hah-hah!

There were three reasons for this ride:

- to raise money for cancer charities and honour Linda's memory, as she lost her life to the disease, also

- for my own personal ambition and sense of achievement, and finally

- this one is difficult to explain without coming across as a pompous tool (imagine that), but bear with me...there is a chap who is a cancer survivor from the U.K. and he did a similar ride earlier this year.

He wrote about how one of the reasons for him doing it was just because he could as a celebration of life and what was possible, and not solely because he was in greatly improved health.
In no way was this meant in an arrogant manner, but really an appreciative one I think. Not sure if this makes any sense to you but I think I know what he meant.

As Daryl noted: "If we put one tenth of this effort into our personal lives, well then we wouldn't be such a bunch of losers!". I'm paraphrasing slightly here, but that was the gist of it. I think. He's right as well.

Alright, here endeth the sermon. Thanks to everyone who sponsored  and supported me: you know who you are. I hope that you enjoyed this blog too: I did!


Friday, 27 May 2011

Sea And Sand...Day 33...Keene to Salisbury Beach, MA...Thurs 26/05/11

So, we load our luggage for the last time on this trip and of course it will be a day of 'lasts' and goodbyes too.
In the meantime, just see who has the Business Class accomodation right beside where we load: slide open patio doors and depart...smarter than the average bear!
From the left we have Ohio Bob (legend), Manny and Lee. Plus some bloke hovering in the background whose wondering if this really is it?

We trundle out through Keene and into a stiff wee climb just to remind ourselves that today cannot be treated lightly at 115 miles and over 5000' of climbing. Still, the weather is beautiful...

Put your cheque book away and keep riding...

Loads of familiar place names in these parts...

Water and coke mixed kept me almost hydrated for the last few days. Sam Adams Summer Ale played it's part too, obviously...

A '68 Coronet...not sure if it was Hemi-fied or not. Mint condition. Move along, nothing to see here etc...

That, Sir, is a child's tractor. How is one meant to get a tow from that? Where's John Deere when you need him?

Bob, I like the cut of your jib...

 Some of the A.B.B. staff let loose...(L-R) Shelly (our sole lady Fast America rider), Jay, Judy and Jim. All good eggs.

Nearly there: our first RV point to let everyone meet-up and ride in together. I switched-off my Garmin and settled down to enjoy the remnants of my Subway. Sir Clive can only look on with cold, green envy. Or possibly cramp.

You could almost smell the salt...never have I been so pleased to see and hear seagulls.

I was the first in the brine, probably because I wasn't too precious about dragging either my bike or myself over the sand. Wild horses...

Posed? A bit. Heartfelt? You bet. What a feeling.

This close to letting go...

By this stage everyone is wandering around hugging each other, wearing dopey grins and taking photos of each other by the bucket-load. Beautiful, hah-hah!
Here is Mark, Manny and in the background Tom and Ohio Bob. All top guys who you'd get on well with.

Another bloke who has a dry sense of humour: young Jay. He was an inspiration at times because he never moaned or whined and just kept ploughing right along despite enduring some long days out there. Really pleased to have met you, Sir!

Lee with his wife, Debbie and daughter, Grace. They drove 11 hours from Virginia to see Mr. Hincapie in. Another real gent: I hope to cycle with you again Lee.

I didn't really want to leave: there was a lot to try and take in.
But before we did depart there was a group photo with a space for our missing rider Chris, who should've been with us: he is remembered by us.
After Shelly and Manny had poured the bottle of Pacific Ocean water that we collected on the 24th April into the Atlantic we realised that we had done what we set out to do.

After half-an-hour or so we gathered ourselves togehter...we came, we got sore and sodded-off!

With the legend. Ohio Bob. No further explanation required.
"Yeah baby!". You will never cycle with anyone quite like him again. Fact.

Right you shower, saddle up: it's time to follow the cops out of town. At a none-too leisurely pace either. Thankfully it was only five miles to the hotel otherwise we would have been dropped, hah-hah!
Red lights? We sh*t 'em.

Keep up... 

I hadn't cleaned the bike since the start: in fact it still had some sand from Huntington Beach on it. As Tom remarked,
"Oh, it's a red bike too."
Mind you, he's from Indiana so what does he know? He's another bloke who it was a joy to cycle with on those rare occasions when I could keep up.

Our final dinner together was at a nearby joint: believe it or not, this is our first celebratory ale: tasted pretty good too. With Mark, while Manny charms his wife, Michelle.
It would be great to meet-up and cycle with these folk again: we'll see if we can keep in touch. I'll miss Mark's deadpan delivery: always a joy!

After the meal we returned to our hotel where we each made a short speech about whatever we felt the ride had meant to us. I found that the guys who spoke before me said it all really, although for humour I should give an honourable mention to Jay, Daryl, Sir Clive and especially Mark, who wrote and delivered the speech that I wish I had. Very funny...nice job!

The Big Man Lasse had a total of fifteen punctures (flats) throughout the trip (I had a mere four. Smug.) so he was given a crown of inner tubes as a reminder. It's what passes for cycling humour, hah-hah!

Very thoughtfully, Ohio Bob had some commemorative dollar notes for each of us: however no bar in Boston would accept them..."Ouch! I felt that one, baby!".

With Jay and Daryl who is the coolest man although he might not thank me for saying that. Actually on reflection, I think he probably would, hah-hah! A man of culture and learning, at least as far as someone from Los Angeles can be...
Both are top men.

You wouldn't believe it: I saw this sign not three miles from the finish. Don't know what to say, really.

While I'm here I want to thank everybody who supported, sponsored and encouraged me on this trip. Without you none of this happens, so please take a bow.
And of course the same debt of gratitude extends to the crew of America By Bike: Jay, Judy, Karen, Jim and of course, Mike. Who is doing well for 303. Thanks all.

I'll probably add more rambling comments as my thoughts unscramble, but for now it's time to get out and see Boston. Hell yeah!

Your final numbers...You could add another ten miles on...I stopped it a wee bit early.