Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short

April 18th, 2014 3 comments

Current Location: Selfoss, Iceland

Hobbes came to me as I started cycling of the first day. It appropriately summed up the day as I ended. Upon setting off it immediately started to snow and that combined with a headwind was a lot to take in on the first day. The weather continued to be an issue for the remainder of the day as I went through snow, hail, and yes rain. It was ceaseless in it´s downfall all day. The only saving grace to my soul that day was ending at the Blue Lagoon, a very touristy hot spring.

My first impressions of Iceland is that it is extreme in it´s starkness. Stark in it´s ever changing weather and stark in it´s bare landscapes. The taxi driver that took me from the airport told me that the weather can change ten times a day and after cycling for 2 days now I´m apt to believe him. It´s pretty plain to see why there are so few trees in the country. The wind has been whipping me at 60km/hr, which I´m sure is enough to ruin any burgeoning tree.

I have yet to run into another cycling tourer which is what I expected seeing as I’m 6 weeks early on the season and the weather has been far from ideal.

The people here have been friendly and helpful whenever I´ve asked for help.  Most everyone that I have met has had a strong command of the english language, which is benificial to me as the chances of me uttering even the plainest Icelandic phrase would be nigh impossible.

Tomorrow the goal is 75 klicks against a strong cross wind on the main highway.  I´ve managed to avoid this road by taking side roads but from here on it´s the only feasible route available.

FYI: I´m trying to post on instagram once a day http://instagram.com/romperdug

Categories: Iceland Tags: ,

Discombobulated

April 16th, 2014 6 comments

Current location: Keflavik, Iceland

A rather unremarkable start to this trip. After arriving this morning and getting into the hostel I setup my bike and got supplies for the road. I whittled away the rest of the day sleeping and pouring over maps trying to figure out the planned stops.

The hostel I’m staying at is part of an abandoned US military base. A lot of the buildings look worn but it seems as if they are trying to make use of the buildings. The city I’m in is a fair distance from Reykjavik which means it’s very quiet.  I’ve only seen one other guest at the hostel which doesn’t surprise me terribly as it is still the off season for holiday goers.

I think my chief concern now, as it has been since I thought up this scheme, is the weather. The taxi driver told me this morning to give up any hope of cycling the West coast as they are still dealing with meters of snow.  Fortunately for me the West coast was last on my itinerary so I can make a decision when I get there.

Categories: Iceland Tags:

Dust Off the Cobwebs

April 1st, 2014 No comments

It’s about time I shake off the rust on these old legs and see if they can’t propel me around another country.

In a moment of divine clarity Matthew suggested I cycle around Iceland.  So there it is, I promptly booked tickets to Iceland on the 15th of April.  Fourteen days away.  It’s just enough time to get Penny back into riding shape and get my mind right once again.  I’m not terribly sure about the route yet but from the small amount of research I’ve done it looks very manageable.

I’ve loved this video about Iceland, as it captures my imagination of the place and helps validate my choice of country (a few seconds of NSFW.):

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

It will be 23 days of exploring Iceland.  Less than I’m used to but it’ll have to do.

PS. This is not an April fools joke.

Categories: Iceland Tags:

The End…

November 10th, 2010 1 comment

Current Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

This ‘not a blog’ has no profundity, it’s simply been a journal of some of the people I’ve met and places I’ve seen over the last several years.  It won’t become a book, it’s time I lock the doors but I’ll leave on the lights in case people should stumble upon the words.  If anyone has questions about cycle touring, wwoofing, travelling on a shoestring drop me a line.  As karma goes I’m far in debt, were there a bank of karma I would be deep on the debits side of the ledger and light on the credits.  Fortunately I don’t think one can go bankrupt on karma, I look forward to paying off that debt.  It goes without saying thank you to everyone thats been a refuge for me, given me food, water, conversation or a smile; it wouldn’t have been the adventure it was without you.

I remember sitting on the same beach 2 years ago, each time a day before the end of the pacific coast.  The big difference probably being one was the beginning and now it’s the end.  It’s a little strange but wonderous to be able to say I’ve travelled around the world, it shrinks the perspective of the world.  Theres lots left out there to explore, a popular question so far has been where to next.  I wish I knew the answer to that question along with the answer to lots of other questions.

Having passed Leggett hill under my own power this time felt good, as everyone who has done it will tell you it’s a lot easier than it’s built up to be.  Leggett is the start of Hwy 1 which is what I associate with the beginning of ‘Sunny California’ it’s where the route starts hugging the coast and it is officially southern California.  To my disappointment I descended the hill into a thick fog that stuck with me for the next few days, there went my sunny.  After I passed Leggett I had to turn up the tempo in order to make it to Los Angeles in time for a Summercamp project.  Running centuries from Leggett on down to LA meant that I was doing in one day that took me three days on the previous tour.  The byproduct of doing it this quickly is that none of the regular tourers will manage to keep up that kind of pace.  Were I to give one piece of advice to anyone doing the Pacific Coast it would be to take your time and enjoy the ride.  I had to break one of my cardinal rules of not riding at night a couple of times in order to get to particular spots, not fun again. 

Strangest roadkill I’ve seen on the raod?  A lobster in Maine, I literally had to do a double take in order to identify what it was I almost ran over.  I just imagine that the lobster thought he was making his grand escape, only to flop onto the highway where he cooked on the blacktop. 

A few pictures added.

Sunset against a bridge

Pacific Pondering

October 28th, 2010 Comments off

Looking for the same experience as the last ride is perhaps the wrong attitude to have taken this time around but it proved to be no less magical a second time around.

I did manage to ride with a fellow from Canada for a few days starting from Humbug mountain on through the redwood forests.  Patrick was a guy who in many ways seemed to be mirroring my first ride down with constant bike problems and not having the right gear for the time of year.  Luckily for him I had a spare set of long johns and other warm clothes to help him get through the colder nights.  According to rangers I spoke to on the way through Oregon the number of cyclists had certainly started to dwindle in the week before I got there, which I wasn’t very surprised at.

Much of Oregon is as I remembered it, except the hills got a lot easier a second time through.  It is just as beautiful as I thought, which is a good thing since I encourage just about everyone I meet that they should do the Pacific Coast on a bike and especially Oregon.  I thought I might have been more prepared for the attack of raccoons this time around always securing my bags at night before going to sleep.  This didn’t deter them very much getting a few of my bagels one night and some of my granola bars.  I hate raccoons.  Another night they put some small holes into my panniers, which was probably one of my worst fears.  Which means that one of my waterproof panniers is no longer water proof.  I can see people laughing at me on this one, and on the whole I can see why.  I just wish that Oregon put in bear boxes on their campgrounds like California does, it would make life so much easier and less frustrating.

I have to thank Mr. Ed from Oregon for dinner and all the smoked salmon he shared.  I met Mr. Ed as he was cycling into the park and we got to talking about travels and he invited me to dinner which was really great. He had just landed a 48lbs salmon a few days previously and had been busy smoking it.  He talked a lot about Spain as he’d had 14 trips there so far and I got to share a lot about other countries.  He loaded me up with some salmon steaks and a heap of smoked salmon which I shared with some other campers when I got back to camp.

Getting to the Drury Parkway in Northern California is probably the best stretch to cycle down, for those that have gone down this particular stretch they probably remember it well.  It’s one of the first tastes of the redwood forests and probably the most magical.  There is very little traffic on this road and you coast downhill for almost 10 minutes in the quiet hush of the redwoods.  I don’t think I would ever get tired of this road as the magic there is only interrupted occasionally by a passing car.  I almost get annoyed by being intruded upon but their sight and sound is quickly swallowed by the forest and again your alone in the forest of Endor.

One more update for the rest of the way down the coast and some pictures.

Categories: Pacific Coast Tags: ,

Making It

October 26th, 2010 2 comments

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

Quick note to say that I’ve arrived at the end safely.  I’ll post my thoughts in the next few days, the short daylight and long rides left me little time to post while riding so hopefully I can catch up soon.  Things may be crazy in LA for a while so bear with me.

Categories: Pacific Coast Tags: ,

Uncanny Echoes

October 12th, 2010 1 comment

Current Location:Waldport, Oregon

Thanks goes to Angie, Matthew, and Sam for hosting me in Seattle.  I see again why I could live there, it just has a good energy and having friends there helps.  The beer, food, and company was good.  Two weeks went by far too quickly and it was time to hit the road once again.  Of course I was already worried that I would be behind the cold as it’s already over a week after I had left last time.

Riding the pacific coast a second time I won’t lie and say I’m not looking for a similar experience to what I had the last time through riding with 4 great people.  I almost found a piece of it starting the trail north of Seattle I ran into a British couple who treated me to dinner at the Public House in celebration of finishing the Northern Tier (or my version of it.)  Unfortunately the next day I was heading into Seattle while they continued on south. 

Speaking of looking for a similar experince of last ride I did get a chance to catch up with Jay who met me at Lincoln City and shared a pizza while he recounted to me his exploits of the last couple of years and I talked about riding around the world.  Great to catch up with one of the gang from the last ride.

I found the hills of Washington to be the hardest yet and Oregon to be pretty easy compared to last time where I started each day agonizing over the many hills I’d have to crest.  I do find myself thinking about where I took breaks last time and hills I had to walk my bike up, I’ve come a way from back then.  It’s weird but the weather has been strangely similar to what it was last time, riding into Astoria dripping from head to toe was exactly how I rode through last time and riding into Cape Lookout to a cloudless night is just how I remember it.  If things continue this way I’ll be soaked to the bone once again riding through Crescent City.

The first day riding out of Seattle it settled on me that this was the end, quite the depressing thought and something I don’t dwell on much but it’s the truth.  Time for reality very quickly.

Another Ocean

October 1st, 2010 3 comments

Current Location: Seattle, Washington

I have to give Alastair a lot of credit, I’ve now climbed the hills that lie between Canada and Seattle and they are a rough reminder of what Washington offers.  I say this even after climbing all the mountains across America; Washington hills for whatever reason have me lower and lower on the cogs at a time when I didn’t think I really needed them any more.  Had I started in Vancouver last time who knows how it would have went for me last time.

I’m happy to be back in Seattle, it’s probably one of the big cities I can be in and not feel overwhelmed.  Though I do have the feeling I’d be pretty happy anywhere with a roof over my head, but it’s always nice to be sharing time and food with friends again.  We managed to hit all of my favorite spots in town and get introduced to a few others now that Matt and Angie have had time to scout the area out properly.

I only have a few states left in this whole ride and it’s crashing to an end.  I added a few pictures, I know I’ve seriously been slacking in the photo department but when I’m riding 10 hours a day it leaves little time to shoot around.

Ruthies View of the Great Get-Together

Coffee in Paradise

September 20th, 2010 1 comment

Current Location: Twisp, Washington

Random notes on Montana, don’t ride too close to the road or you’re bound to get run over and don’t ride too close to the shoulder as you are bound to startle a snake that will then start to rattle.  I didn’t go back to investigate the markings on said snake as my legs got a boost of adrenaline.  Riding on I90 was not fun but it was one of the few ways to get back on track and recommended by Adventure Cycling, the mountain passes I got to ride through after that were amazing, it baffles me that we dare to put roads through some of these mountains.  Stop in Missoula if you cycle through to get some free ice cream and soda from the Adventure Cycling office, you may even get your portrait taken like my cousins did. Thanks to Kay and Bryan in Missoula for putting me up for the night and the beer.

I slid through the pan handle of Idaho and camped the night at a state campground.  The campers next to me had a little 4 year old girl who upon seeing me set up my tent invited me to share the fire with them.  She was super charming and we made smores and shared stories late into the night.  That was about all I saw of Idaho, I was mostly glad to be out of Montana where the speed limits are a little out of control.

I’ve now crossed the Sherman, Wauconda , and Loup Loup passes leaving me only the Washington pass tomorrow, it’s supposed to be a brutal uphill since it’s the only one mentioned in my maps.  Other than that I’ve now officially gone through a hail storm, on crossing the Wauconda pass last night it started a crazy lightning storm with heaps of rain coming down.  I decided to try and lose as much altitude as possible with the remaining light I had left, on the way down it starts hailing like I’ve never seen before, the whole road was white with pea sized hail.  As I learned from Gina, hail is rain the bounces and tends to hurt as I’m doing 30 mph down a 5% hill.  After a while it stopped only to have the road washed out as I turned a corner, I didn’t have enough time to stop and almost ate it fishtailing across the road but managed to hang on.  I finally went about 10 miles in the pouring rain before it started to let up and I found a place in a ranch yard.

Just a few days left until Seattle.  Wheee.

Crossing the Divide

September 16th, 2010 2 comments

Current Location: Missoula, Montana

I’ve crossed the divide, the continental that is.  The elevation gain on it is just over 2300 ft in a shade over 6 miles.  To put this into perspective that is like riding from Kahului to my house in Kula except int Maui you get 14 miles to do the same gain meaning the slope of the MacDonald pass is something fierce at times.  Once I got to the top I considered camping at 6000 ft or barrel to the bottom as the sun was setting anyway.  It’s hard to pass up a long downhill like that after spending a few hours churning up the hill so I figured it was worth it to go down for a while.  I think I would have made my Uncle Bill proud by passing a Winnabego on the way down.

Getting out of South Dakota wasn’t easy, the road was busy and the winds didn’t want to let go but I was definitely glad to have the end of the plains.  As many a tourer has said they prefer mountains over wind, at least mountains end while the wind will grind away at you all day.  I know I’ve said I wouldn’t complain about the wind after Denmark but the distances I’m having to grind out against the wind here is extreme.

My impression of Sturgis is that the place is a little to commercialized for it to be as roughneck as it’s made out to be.  I do hear that 600,000 bikes attended this years bike rally taking over the town and the outlying area.  South Dakotans tell me that it’s really just lawyers and bankers who get to play dress up for a week and pretend to be bikers.  Not exactly what I would consider hard core.  Thanks goes to my aunt Carol for putting me up for the night.

Making it into Billings was a welcome sight, mostly because I would have a bed to sleep in and knowledgeable advice on bike maintenance.  My uncle Bill managed to have the bike stripped down within hours of me making it there and a cleaner bike hours later I tested going up the bluff they live below.  We squeezed in a ride the next day and I managed to keep up with my uncle who is a pretty serious rider and all around bike guy.  Good food and a comfortable bed is always welcome.

By my estimate I have 2 days to Washington and then it’s all downhill from there, I wish this were true.  But in the grand scheme of things one state doesn’t seem to compare to much anymore.