Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Good Samaritan

From the title of this blog, you will probably already guess the outcome of today’s ride. But let us tell you our story.

We squinted out of the window this morning, blinking into the light, to find snow falling. Although we were looking for any excuse to turn over and go back to sleep again in our cosy little cabin, a cursory glance at the ground outside and the presence of the sun in the sky made this rather difficult to justify. The snow was light, and was not settling on the ground. So, up we jumped, flicked on the coffee machine, scrambled a few eggs, and got ourselves decked out in our cold weather gear. Schweet…

As we set off, we were actually thinking that we might have overdone it with the cold weather gear, as the sun was in the sky, and it was quite warm. We had a short, but hilly ride ahead: 29 miles, climbing (again) to 7,500 ft on the way, and then descending steeply through the historic village of Pinos Altos, and into the cute little town of Silver City, NM.

We took our new approach to the climb…slow and steady wins the race. We figured that we would need to take it easy on the descent as well, but had images of ourselves arriving early into Silver City, and possibly taking a detour to sit in one of the many coffee shops in town, or even perhaps an excursion to the Santa Rita Open Copper Mine, around 10 miles down the road from our hotel. But unfortunately, the weather was not playing ball. When we reached around 6,000ft, the snow started to fall, increasing rapidly to that point when the wet-weather gear just had to make an appearance. By the time we had donned the gear, the snow had indeed started to thin out again (typical, we thought), but of course, that was only the start.

By the time we reached 6,500 ft, we were a little concerned to see that, although still relatively light, the snow had started to settle on the road. There were very few cars passing, so little chance of it being dissipated before we rode through it. But, hey, we could just take our time, and it would be fine. Perhaps the copper mine was out, but surely our afternoon lattes were still safe?

At 7,000ft, things started to get a bit more serious. The snow was no longer just settling, but was at least an inch thick; and it was now coming down thick and fast, with a bitter wind-chill to compound the issue. We ploughed on, taking our time, and being cautious, but actually marvelling at the fact that we could cycle through the snow and make our own tracks as we rode along. And of course the trees and plants around us looked magical all covered in white, together with that stillness that only a snowstorm can bring.

Between 7,000 ft and 7,500 ft, along the top of the mountain, we seemed to be taking part in our own slow-motion version of that event in the Winter Olympics when skiers race against each other all at the same time over large humps of snow, up and down, up and down. The snow was several inches thick, and it started to get difficult to control the bikes. With breaking about as effective as your granny gums clamped on an ice-lolly, we were reliant on finding the thickest snow on the road to act as a natural brake, of course without falling off the side of the road, which we couldn’t really see. And when ascending the jack-rabbit hills, we had to work really hard to push through the snow, and if we had a little wobble at any point and had to stop, it was pretty hard to get started again.

As we started the descent from the top of the mountain, things started to go from bad to worse. The snow was even thicker but had started to pack down in a way that broke away in blocks from the wheels of the bikes and made it almost impossible to stay upright. After we had both taken a tumble, we decided enough was enough, and started to walk. We knew we only had around 3 miles to go to get into Pinos Altos, and to be honest, we were as quick walking as we were riding, and at least it was slightly warmer and a little safer.

By that point numerous cars, trucks etc had gone past us in the opposite direction, almost always too fast, and none stopped to ask if we were OK. And then Bob and Susie came past in their Jeep. They looked really concerned about us, told us to keep going to the museum in Pinos Altos and that they would go back to Bob’s place, get his pick-up and then drive us down to Silver City.

The last mile or so into Pinos Altos seemed like the longest of our lives but we eventually made it, and were more relieved that we can possibly express to be in the warm standing in front of the wood burner in the museum shop, and chatting to George, who runs the museum, and his dog, Sally (a 16 year old rat terrier, and cute as a button). We couldn’t believe that we were still shivering after 30 minutes of being inside, and it started to dawn on us how cold we had been outside.

And then Bob and Susie, our Good Samaritans arrived, gave us a big hug, packed us inside in the back seats of Bob’s Ford F-250 pick up, and Trusty and Steed and the panniers right in the back. We’re still not sure that we were really with it during that 7-mile drive down to our hotel in Silver City, but we cannot find words to describe how grateful we are to them for saving us.

To emphasise their selflessness, we should also mention that Bob is the owner of some cabins in Pinos Altos, which look absolutely lovely (we have checked them out online tonight). Yet, without a second thought, he picked us up, drove past his cabins, and dropped us off at our hotel in Silver City. What a good man.

So, you see, our adventure today was really very similar to the story of the Good Samaritan, and we feel lucky to be here to tell the tale!

Us x


We are presently experiencing problems with the '14. New Mexico' photo album.

Your patience whilst we attempt to fix the problem, is greatly appreciated


IT Support aka Badge x

p.s. its now snowing outside, so IT support may not be arriving until 4 o'clock US Mountain time.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

There And Back Again!

You can do one of two things! Spend some time viewing 30 great new photos from today and yesterday or read this blog. We’d prefer if you did both, but we’d understand if you only had time to do one or the other …not!

Today was supposed to be a rest day and it started off being just that; waking up at 9:30am in this lovely log cabin made even more lovely by the great hospitality of Doug and Ian, who manage/own the Lake Roberts Cabins, problem was something strange happened! Instead of pointing ourselves like automatons in the direction of the nearest Laundromat, our adventurous sides kicked in and we started getting dressed in our cycling gear. We soon found ourselves on Trusty and Steed moving along at a great rate of knots and hearing echoes of our Followers sympathetic voices screaming, “You guys are crazy, get back into bed and rest your tired little bodies”. Contrary to popular belief we were not crazy, but had decided to do the touristy thing today and visit the historical points of interest in and around the Gila Wilderness (the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Gila Hot Springs). With Trusty and Steed free from their 60lbs handicap of rear panniers, we struggled to contain their twitchy performance as they sped along the tarmac like true thoroughbreds… all sounds great doesn’t it?

If your definition of ‘great’ is being pushed to the edge of near breakdown, quickly followed by experiences of pure ecstasy, you would have enjoyed our day today. With only 44 miles to complete on the round trip to the cliffs/springs and back again we thought today would be a breeze; and fresh from completing yesterday’s mammoth climb to a dizzy height of 8,227ft (just 656ft lower than the famous Col de la Bonette completed by a handful of Tour de France riders on bikes that weigh no more than 10lbs) we needed a ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ day! Unfortunately we didn’t check the elevation charts before leaving and after an over-rambunctious start, we soon began climbing up, up, up and up all the way to 7,500ft. As we crested the brow of the mountain pass we had only travelled and 10 miles and still had another 12 miles to go to our turn-around point, which was made worse by the super-fast long descent that stretched all the way (concentrate people…you can see what’s coming). The views were great and very brief as we tucked up into the foetus position to reduce drag and manage to reach a terminal velocity of …48.8mph, not even Miss Daisy drives that fast. We could have gone quicker if it wasn’t for the scary 1000ft drop-offs that greeted you at the end of each switch-back or the wild deer standing at the side of the road daring each other to jump out in front of you to test your reaction times.

Passing by the Hot Springs (to be visited on the way back) we eventually reached the Gila Cliff Dwellings, parked Trusty and Steed at the foot of the cliff and then walked the 1-mile trail up to the dwellings to take some arty shots. In essence, they’re caves hewn into the sheer rock and were inhabited by Indians 700 years ago. Making our way back down, we then mounted the bikes and set off on the return journey via the Hot Springs. On the way we encountered a wolf and managed to get a photo. It was a close call, as wolves in the area have been known to attack humans. Nonetheless, for your viewing pleasure we risked our lives to get the photo (check out the photo gallery - TMG hope you’re happy now).

With arms and legs still attached, we reached the hot springs, got semi-naked and jumped in. There’s something strangely rejuvenating about sitting in water heated by Mother Earth rather than Con Edison or British Gas. Despite the natural smell of sulphur (that’s what Anthony told Kat) it was very relaxing. We only spent 15 minutes in the bath that never goes cold and were soon back on the road …you guessed it going up, up, up and up to 7,500ft again. Once at the top the return descent was a little less ‘Chris Hoy’ as it was dark and ice was forming on the road. Speaking masochistically, today was utterly fantastic, despite clocking in a record breaking hill climb total of 4,582ft.

The sun set as we arrived back at the Log Cabin. Another roaring fire was lit and we ate Chez Katrina, which was very nice indeed!

Still no laundry …starting to smell now.

Us x

Friday, 26 February 2010

Meals on Wheels

We felt tired when we woke up this morning but excited about the day ahead. We would climb to our highest so far, over 8,000ft, and cycle through more stunning wilderness to our cabin for the night, just near Lake Roberts, NM.

We were sad to leave our new friends at Black Range Lodge this morning. After a yummy and healthy breakfast of oatmeal with apple and raisins, scrambled egg and toast made from home-made bread, all cooked expertly by Roberta, we were almost ready to hit the road. Then Matt turned up at our room, ostensibly to take a peek at Trusty and Steed (we cyclists are always curious to see what others are riding, carrying, eating, drinking etc), but actually he was armed with a large bag of the most delicious chocolate brownies that he had cooked last night…for us to take on today’s killer ride! After Catherine took a few great snaps of us outside the lodge, Roberta arrived with some peanut butter and jam sandwiches – how lucky were we?! A huge THANK YOU to all our friends at the lodge. We wish you all the best for the future, and happy cycling to Matt and Paige.

And then it was on to the event of the day. We set off into clear, beautiful, blue skies and snow-covered mountains. Having started off at a steady pace, we were surprised quite soon to find ourselves half way up the climb, and still enjoying it... Then, out of nowhere, a couple of carbon fibre cyclists appeared from behind us, with no panniers and only bottles of water for extra weight. We were ready for them to shoot past at a great rate of knots, but instead they pulled up alongside and effortlessly chatted as we plodded up the mountain. Hi to John and Dave (and their friends Suzanne, Sheryl and Lowell who we met at the top). Before we knew it, we were 8,200 ft high, at the top of the Emory Pass looking out at the view…awesome. The descent was also amazing, and pretty scary at times with all of the switchbacks, but really an absolute blast.

Making a fairly late stop for a lunch break around 20 miles from our destination, we were surprised to bump into Doug who had spotted our bikes outside the grocery store and decided that we were probably the mad cyclists who were coming to stay at his Cabins tonight. Turns out that this was a lucky twist of fate, as we had been expecting to buy the ingredients for tonight’s meal from the general store at the cabins. Doug soon put us straight on that one, explaining that the shop was closed and suggesting that we buy our food and alcohol there and then and he would take it to our cabin in his pick up, rather than us lugging it 20 miles at the end of a long day. Thanks to Doug, we were able to eat Chez Antoine this evening in front of a roaring log fire (expertly lit by the chef himself).

We’re off exploring tomorrow sans panniers …more then.

Us x

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Blowing in the wind

Good thing we did a holding blog last night and today is a rest day. We’re both sitting in our room eating Snickers bars and watching highlights of the Winter Olympics women’s and men’s curling on TV. Getting excited about lumps of granite sliding down the ice will most probably be the high point of today’s activities, so without further delay let us get on with telling you about yesterday’s adventure packed day!

Basking in the glorious sunshine and in a great mood we started from Las Cruces at 3900ft destined for Kingston at 6,200ft. We made our way through some choice parts of New Mexico. The wide open plains with Pecan Trees and Chilli Farms back-dropped against chains of magnificent reddish brown mountains made for some spectacular views. Pecan Trees are dominant in this region and an ingenious farm tool is used to trim their braches and keep them in check: imagine a 20ft long roller blade with wheels made of sharp spinning metal discs the size of dustbin lids. Attach this configuration to the arm of JCB and voila… you have a tree branch trimmer New Mexico style. Not wanting to be out shone by the mega-tree-trimmer we saw what we believe to have been a majestic Peregrine Falcon, even as it sat motionless on a branch it looked as if it was moving at a million miles an hour.

Still on a high and cycling with Talwin’ behind us, we saw, far in the distance, what we though was snow on the ground. As we slowly got closer, the upsetting truth became apparent. Thousands of little white up-side down crates, similar to dog-houses lined up in rows and columns that from a distance created an illusion of white snow. Poking out from this mass of crates were little sad faces not more than 8 weeks old, wishing for just one chance to run and be free. We were going to take a photo but thought some of you might have been as disturbed by the image as we were. Veal. Most of us have probably eaten it. This image will put us off for quite some time.

We crossed the dry Rio Grande several times and it wasn’t until we took our final lunch break 5 hours into the trip at the foot of snow-capped mountains, that we learned why the river was dry: thanks to Wanda at the grocery store who explained this to us. The Rio Grande is fed from the north by a huge body of water called the Caballo Reservoir, which itself is fed from the mountain streams and melt water from the snow. Each winter, the reservoir is damned to encourage the maximum volume of reserve water. In spring, the dam is opened and water flows freely down the Rio Grande and into the many creeks which in turn support the multi-million dollar farming economy of New Mexico, with each farm taking its turn to irrigate its land. Refreshed and armed with information to take our minds off the ‘Killing Fields’, we turned west to complete the final 27 miles …OMG it was tough, especially with Edwin’ and the Sidewinder playing tag with us all the way. Check out the Garmin speed/elevation graph in the photo gallery.

15 miles, 90 minutes and 1500ft ascent later, we still had over 10 miles to go as the sun began to set behind the snow-capped mountains. Rather disturbingly, we hadn’t seen a single open store, restaurant or service station throughout this whole 27-mile torture. We were both quietly thinking, “Where on earth are we going to eat?” (or something a bit less polite) and decided not to discuss this obvious and imminent problem. Finally approaching the B&B, we were greeted by growling, barking dogs. But nothing was going to stop us getting a shower, food and a good night’s sleep. We think the dogs could see the rabid hunger dancing like fire in our eyes and made a swift retreat fearing for their own lives. We parked our bikes up against the side of the building and walked through the front door of the B&B without a scratch or bite!

As we walked into the open sitting room made cosy by the ornate wood burning stove in the corner, we were struck by the overwhelming (i) smell of food cookin’ in the kitchen and (ii) Bob Dylan’esque aura permeating through every sinew of the building. An irresistible urge to don a pair of sandals and tie dye shirts; eat tofu, smoke herb, hug trees and play the guitar was understandable. Catherine, the owner, is the Grande Fromage of ‘natural building’, providing consultancy services around the world and teaching the art of ‘no rules’ natural building from her B&B nestled on the side of this snowy mountain. Sitting in the open plan lounge to greet us as we walked in were a lovely Canadian couple who shared the philosophy of eco-friendly organic living. After a short introduction and Anthony hugging Catherine after she informed us that we were invited to dinner, we got shown to our room. A quick wash and scrub up we hurried back down to the main house for a family style dinner of Pumpkin Ravioli & Salad with Paige, Matt, Roberta, Jor, Tom and Catherine. We learned that Matt and Paige, who had cooked the dinner, were fellow cyclists, who had chosen to be homeless as they cycled from San Francisco to Austin, and had arrived at the B&B a few days earlier. Roberta is a sculptor looking to learn more about ‘natural building’ and Jor (meaning “earth”) a Norwegian traveller whose fixed abode is …wait for it …the Earth. Dinner was a nice affair as we exchanged stories about life, recent experiences and eco friendly cooking.

We’re meeting a lot of urban warriors on this stage of the trip who are well educated in the matters of complex carbs, yoga, the powers of crystals, Adobe wall building and opening chakras, but unfortunately for us (present company not included) have not yet mastered the essentials of consuming ORGANIC WINE. For thousands of years alcohol has been a staple and important part of the development of the human species. We respect this important part of our history and encourage others to do the same (Warning: Alcohol should be drunk in moderation and not if you’re pregnant or a light-weight).

As dinner was coming to an end, we heard the distant sounds of singing and guitar strumming coming from the front room. Then to make things more interesting, the Canadian guy came into the kitchen to find some spoons play! Very one-man band.

A big thanks to Matt, Paige and Roberta for all the delicious cooking, to Mike for the fresh vegetables, and to Catherine for inviting us to dinner both nights … and a late Happy Birthday to Paige.

Us x

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Holding Blog

Just a short holding blog for tonight, as we have had a long and very interesting day today: 88.3 miles to our current location, Kingston, in the Gila Wilderness. Since we are both tired and it is getting late, we wouldn’t be able to do the blog justice, so we will wait until tomorrow and tell all then…

Us x

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A McCaskill Day…

So, the snow forecast for today did not arrive, and it was beautifully sunny (if a little cold) all day. Takes us back to the sort of weather forecasts we used to get on BBC1 when we were growing up. Oh well! We had a good rest day, chilling out and generally saving our legs for tomorrow’s 85-mile ride, and significant climb (we haven’t calculated what that amounts to yet, but we have seen from the elevation chart that we have some climbing to do towards the end of the day). We returned to “the neighborhood” (aka Appleby’s) tonight and had some healthy food, with rice and vegetables. We’re such social butterflies (not).

We have our cold weather gear laid out tonight for an early start tomorrow, after a hearty and healthy breakfast, of course…nuff said.

Us x

Monday, 22 February 2010

Sizzling Fat-eaters

The difficult thing about staying in a very comfortable and reasonably priced hotel that serves great food and wine is checking-out! We are of course on a vacation with a purpose! So when we unwittingly fall into total relaxation mode it causes us great pain to wrench ourselves back into the saddle for a 6-hour workout. Today was one of those days where we just weren’t looking forward to another day of battling against 30mph head and side winds and scattered rain …but as usual we donned our Pearl Izumi’s, made our way down to breakfast for our early morning feast and then set out onto the very busy roads of El Paso.

Before escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and into the beautiful countryside, we made a short stop at ‘Crazy Cat Cyclery’ to purchase some more Butt Butter for Kat and glove liners (in preparation for freezing temperatures in Arizona) for Anthony. Whilst there, Claudia and Alex took great care of us, pumping up Trusty and Steed’s tires with a proper high pressure pump, and kitting us out with some great new water bottles (we’ve been using the current ones for 4 months now, so it really was time for a change), and a few other bits and pieces. Big thanks the Claudia and Alex!

Back on the bikes, we carefully made our way through the busy city and eventually found ourselves commenting on how stunningly beautiful New Mexico is and were amused to see a road sign saying “Anthony 11; Las Cruces 34”. We didn’t pass through Anthony, which was right on the border of New Mexico and Texas, but found the fact that a nearby town was called Anthony, very amusing.

Despite the wind being a pain in the neck (and face) everything else was just fine and dandy. We passed through acres and acres of amazing Pecan Farms, which astonishingly produce over 76 million lbs of Pecans each year from New Mexico. We also crossed the Rio Grande and experienced first hand the drought that everyone has been talking about…check out the photos, the river was bone dry. Approaching our final destination of Las Cruces, we passed through the beautiful wine region of Mesilla; it was a thriller!

We completed the short 46-mile ride from El Paso to Las Cruces in just under 4 hours and were soon ready to recharge at the local Appleby’s with some tasty Sizzling Chicken Fajitas and a mammoth Jalapeno Burger …and wine!

We have rest day tomorrow because SNOW is forecast!

Us x

Sunday, 21 February 2010

El Resto

Our “Eat the Borderline” fans will be glad to hear that today, a rest day in El Paso, has been an orgy of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and wine… and we have loved it. El Paso doesn’t seem like Texas for some reason. Perhaps that’s because most of the El Paso metropolitan area is actually the other side of the border in Juarez, Mexico. We have a good view of that from our window on the 15th floor of the hotel but won’t be venturing over there. Backing up what we have been told by many of the bods that we have met on our travels, we are not surprised to read on Wikipedia that, as well as serving the best nachos around, Juarez is “the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones”. Talking of which, where is Anthony with those nachos…it’s hours since he went out…. No, don’t worry followers, we’re only joking, and we are heading in the opposite direction tomorrow, up to New Mexico.

We did venture briefly from our lovely hotel today…to do laundry of course. We had also thought about stopping by the El Paso Museum of History, which is just across the road, and has a Da Vinci exhibition on at the moment, but we didn’t quite get round to it. Apparently, it includes Leonardo’s version of the bicycle. Unlike Trusty and Steed, it has no comfy saddle, no gears and even no brakes… still, it was a first, so respect to Leonardo… Talking of Trusty and Steed, you’ll be glad to hear that Anthony spent quite a while today putting new rear tires on – they’ve lasted 1,250 miles since Baton Rouge, which is not bad at all, but given the large gashes that we found it them, it’s really quite amazing that we haven’t had more punctures…yes, we are touching wood as we type this.

So, we will be sad to leave our comfy little haven of loveliness (our hotel) tomorrow, but happy to be back on the road…though we’re still praying that the wind gods are going to be kind.

Us x

Saturday, 20 February 2010

1000 miles across Texas …done!

Old MEXICO behind us pka Tejas aka Texas, New MEXICO ahead of us and MEXICO beneath us …confused? Don’t worry; we have finally crossed the Lone Star State and arrived here on the edge in El Paso.

The last 3 days have been tough and we’re now chilling out in our hotel, the 7th tallest building in El Paso, Wells Fargo Plaza being the tallest (we scoured through the HTML pages of Wikipedia for some facts about El Paso and this was the most interesting). El Paso is a pretty cool bustling city and we’re pleased to say “adiós” to what has been our staple diet of Beer and Chicken Fried Steak for the past two weeks and “hola” to fresh salad and vino fino.

There’s not much to say about today’s ride. The road was smooth, the journey was a short 32 miles and the wind was strong but thankfully didn’t hamper our progress too much. It has been a fascinating trip through the mountains, valleys, rivers, canyons, ranches, city centres and historic southern towns of Texas; and we feel excited about starting a new chapter. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’re going to rest tomorrow and do the usual laundry and route planning and then set out on Monday through New Mexico.

Happy Birthday James (Anthony’s dad).

Us x

Friday, 19 February 2010

Edwin's Revenge

For some reason, as we set off this morning from Sierra Blanca, although we knew we had a 65-mile cycle, and The Weather Channel told us we would be facing a full-on head wind the whole way, we were not intimidated. We would plod along and just roll with it, we thought. We had completed much more difficult rides before. However, we have to say that we had slightly underestimated the challenge.

The first part of our day took us back onto our friend the I-10, with its wide shoulders, smooth road service ... and its 18-wheelers. So it was with mixed feelings that we followed the route off the I-10 after about 20 miles, for our first break of the morning…or so we thought. Unfortunately, the gas station on our route was closed for improvements, making it 40 miles until our first service stop of any kind.

With stiff upper lips (and not because of the cold today, it was toasty warm), we continued on the route, which took us down a deserted road right alongside the Mexican border (i.e. within ½ a mile of it), with nothing but farms and horses wandering across the road for company…oh, and a few Border Control vehicles from time to time. The scenery was really very lovely, and we enjoyed the chance to ride alongside each other for a change, but it was not long before we started to tire of the relentless and ridiculously strong headwind.

To make matters worse, looking into the distance, we saw it: a touring cyclist coming towards us looking fresh and relaxed, yes, with an almighty tailwind pushing him along! We found that Brian, a friendly and eco-friendly American from Portland, was cycling the Southern Tier route that we are following, but in the opposite direction to us (and with a detour on the end, as he will head up to one of our favourite places, Savannah, GA to finish his trip). We gritted our teeth and joked half-heartedly about the wind as we wished him well on his trip…

We ran out of gas about 50 miles into the trip. Quite literally. We had not eaten enough, and had been fighting against Evil Edwin for too long. With tears in our eyes (well, in Kat’s eyes anyway, even though Anthony had been shouldering the vast majority of the headwind), we stopped and crammed energy bars into our mouths as quickly as they would go. They gave us just enough of a boost to get us through the last few meandering miles and into Fabens, our destination for the night. We rode through the small town centre and, as directed, took the road towards the I-10. A couple of miles later, you guessed it, we found our motel, not so much “on the road between Fabens and the I-10” as billed but more “right next to the I-10”. We don’t like to think about how many miles we would have cut off by staying on the I-10, but it’s all in the name of cycling…

Dinner was burger and fries in our motel room courtesy of the gas station across the road, and we couldn’t even muster up any beers…unheard of…and on a Friday night too. Here’s to a large glass of vino when we arrive in El Paso tomorrow.

Us x

P.S. We were thrilled on arrival tonight to find that Laura, from MS Trust in the UK, has featured us on the home page their official website. A huge thanks from us to Laura. Check out the MS Trust website.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

We’re on a ride to nowhere

There is always a first time for everything and this morning was one of those times. With no rush to get up and complete a 90-mile trip to a pre booked motel, all we had to do was to ride 32 miles into Sierra Blanca. With no motel booking we ‘let our hair down’ and cycled west into the hills…just going with the flow man!

In light of our newly found laissez faire attitude, we meandered down to breakfast, saw that the jigsaw puzzle we had started last night had just one new piece added and consequently discussed the possibilities of staying an extra night at El Capitan and riding the 92 miles directly to Fabens tomorrow, passing straight through Sierra Blanca. Nothing to do with having extra time to complete the 500-piece jigsaw puzzle you understand! However, common sense kicked in after seeing the weather forecast predicting 20mph WNW winds for tomorrow… it was fun whilst it lasted!

Fed, yet feeling sorry for ourselves, we returned to our hotel room, got kitted out in our bike gear then made our way back down to reception. After saying our final farewells to Russ and Laura we were on the road at 1:00pm. It’s a strange feeling, cycling in a foreign country not knowing where you’re going to sleep for the night…umm maybe that feeling is called “Camping”. Heading for Sierra Blanca along Interstate 10 we didn’t speak much on the ride. We’re sure you’ll appreciate that cycling along an interstate with 40-ton, 80ft juggernauts passing by at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds is not an environment conducive to cycling abreast, taking photos or having relaxed chatty conversations. It wasn’t ‘all bad’ though! The scenery and road surface were beeeauutiful and we have now passed into a new time zone: Mountain Time.

Arriving in Sierra Blanca, we stopped off at the service station to get beers, chocolates, crisps and peanuts… just in case we had to sleep rough for the night. And then, as if by magic a convoy of Border Control Enforcement Officers rolled in. Of course they were interested in our story (or maybe they were just doing their job) and recommended a place for us to stay the night…sorted!

Pedalling the short ½ mile to the recommended motel, we were met by the manager and the breaking news that a disgruntled taxpayer had just flown his plane into an office block in Austin, Texas in the belief that IRS officers worked in the building and were responsible for him paying what he believed to be too much tax. Being the place where we celebrated Kat’s very special 40th birthday we feel strangely connected to this awful event and send our deepest condolences to all who have been affected.

Fyi - After checking out Russ’s “helmet cam” footage Anthony is now researching online and can’t wait to purchase a helmet cam…you’ve been warned.

Us x

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Captain, Our Captain

It has been an interesting little rest day in Van Horn. We have been staying at a great hotel, which we found out today is steeped in history. El Capitan was a grand old hotel of the last century (opened 1930). It was then bought by and operated as a bank for several years, until the current owner purchased it and started to restore it to its former glory. The first phase of the renovation was completed recently, and is still in the development process: the rooms and the lobby are complete, but they are working on a restaurant, bar, conference room and fitness centre. We were lucky enough to start chatting to David Luna who has been directing the redevelopment, and whose father and grandfather before him worked at the hotel. David gave us the full tour of the hotel from the basement, where he pointed out a number of the original features, including where the ghosts usually hang out (!) right up to the stunning view from the roof, where they are also thinking of putting a rooftop bar.

As well as the usual rest day activities (followers, we will not list them again, we know you know), we also found a half-completed jigsaw on one of the tables just as we were leaving breakfast. 3 hours and a few cups of coffee later, it was miraculously done. We got so carried away, we then dismantled it and started a second one. Well, there was a crackling fire, wonderful swing music in the background, and Kat even had her slippers on…talk about chilling out.

Then this afternoon, Russ and Laura arrived. They are … wait for it … cycling the perimeter of the USA. Except they are going in the opposite direction to us and are taking a slightly different route. As we have come to expect, they are also considerably more intrepid: they sold everything they owned before coming on this trip, and are camping as well as staying in hotels. When they arrived today, they had been camping out for the last 5 days in subzero temperatures, and had been carrying 5 days’ worth of food and water with them. Kat could not even lift Laura’s bike up… oh well.

So, now we are sitting (again by the fire) writing this, and chatting with Russ over a beer. We might just have to try and finish that jigsaw before we go to bed. Rock n Roll!

Us x

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Van Horn, Texas

When the rivers were deep we didn’t falter. When the valleys were low we still believed. When the mountains were high it didn’t stop us, no no. We knew you were waiting, we knew you were waiting for us to arrive safely!

Safely completing each day of biking the USA borderline is no haphazard occurrence, but instead a well executed example of planning, implementation and deployment. Late yesterday evening after consuming 4 bottles of beer, beef burritos, chicken enchiladas and tacos, we had an epiphany, ‘Our Hotel doesn’t serve breakfast, so what are we going to eat for breakfast and lunch tomorrow?’ Fortunately for us, on the way back from the restaurant to the Hotel, we stumbled across a Food Market and purchased a collection of meat, cheese, granola, bread rolls, milk, chocolate, butter, bananas and other food goodies… You may laugh! Eat the borderline…Ha ha, very funny. But this example of food planning would prove instrumental in the successful deployment of Trusty & Steed for today’s high altitude, 90-mile sortie across the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Imagine how we felt getting up at 6:30am to prepare our Granola and Banana breakfast eaten out of make shift plastic bowls; slice cheese, ham and tomato with a pocket knife to make our sandwiches to be eaten later on the side of Interstate 10; and being informed by The Weather Channel that the first stage of our 90-mile ride would be implemented in 18°F/-8°C temperatures. To say we were slightly apprehensive would have been an understatement. This ride was different! It started straight out of the blocks with a 3-hour, 21-mile, 2000ft climb up to the McDonald Observatory perched 6315ft in the Davis Mountains; and believe us when we say, “getting there nearly made us throw up”. No down hill reprieves and no tail winds, just dragging us, the bikes and 60lbs of kit up some seriously steep ascents. Once at the top, however, everything turned into pure joy. The views, the descents and the road surface were to die for; even Edwin and Talwin decided to share the rest of the day.

We got to our hotel ahead of time and promptly went across the street to Papa’s Pantry to replenish some of the 6470 calories burned!

Pictures speak a thousand words, so make sure you check out the photos.

Rest day tomorrow…only 5 more days left in Texas.

Us x

Monday, 15 February 2010

5,000 feet (1,250 Dogs)

Tonight, we are in the historic town of Fort Davis, the seat of Jeff Davis County, and a veritable hotbed of cultural and natural attractions. It has one of the best preserved 19th Century frontier forts, not that we had time to visit it, but we did pass by the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center on our way in from Alpine today, and tomorrow we will be setting off into the Davis Mountains, where we will cycle past the McDonald Observatory, which has several large research telescopes and hosts astronomers from around the world.

During our short 24-mile hop today, we climbed to over 5,000ft, and tomorrow only gets higher… but more of that later. It was a bright, clear, sunny day today, yet was surprisingly chilly: definitely a leg warmer day. We had a relaxed morning in front of The Weather Channel checking the forecast, especially the wind direction (our constant obsession) and set off late given the short day. It was truly a beautiful ride in every way, and for about 10 miles in the middle of the trip we experienced a little bit of cycling heaven…yes, as we crossed into Jeff Davis County, we were treated to some perfectly smooth road surface, a joy that we have not known for a long time, together with a tail wind and a gentle descent…awesome! We were going to call this blog “We love you Jeff Davis”, but as the road surface changed back to its usual state, and we started to climb, our appetite for this title waned somewhat…

It’s a quiet night tonight in preparation for our 90+ mile ride tomorrow, with some serious climbing: we will get up to over 6,000ft within the first few miles, and will then have rolling terrain after that. We are staying at a lovely hotel: super stylish, with everything that we need, and very reasonably priced. To satisfy our “Eat the Borderline” fans, we should say that we had a fantastic meal tonight of traditional Mexican food, and are now back in our room early, watching the Hound Group on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (the US version of Crufts)…bliss. Len & Tanya – you will be glad to know that there is a beautiful example of a Rhodesian Ridgeback on as we type. But, somehow the Whippet ran away with it…closely followed by the Greyhound. Usain Bolt was nowhere to be seen.

Us x

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day

Celebrating the love & affection between intimate companions, the day of Saint Valentine takes its name from one or more Christian martyrs and was established in AD 496 by Pope Gelasius I (‘The Vicar of Christ’), the third and last pope born of African descent in the Roman Catholic Church. Not that we’re biased or anything, but it comes as no surprise that the global celebration of love (and stuff) was the invention of a black dude! Incidentally, as far back as he can remember, Love & Affection by Joan Armatrading has been and still is Anthony’s favourite song of all time.

Our pre-Valentine celebrations started last night in what was described as a ‘fine dining’ TexMex restaurant. Still beginners in the art of ordering food Texas-style, we gave the waitress our appetizer (starter) and entrée (main) choices and sat back sipping Margaritas waiting for the first course. It soon arrived, and ‘by golly’ it was big! We both gazed at the portion size of the Tumbleweed Onion Rings and panicked briefly, wondering “if the starters are this big, will they be wheeling our main courses in on the back of two Ford F-350s?” We weren’t disappointed. Kat’s chicken with tomato and blue cheese salad would have been enough for the both of us. And then there was Anthony’s chicken fried steak – yes, you heard right…chicken fried steak! Think of KFC but replace the chicken with beef…voila Chicken Fried Steak. It was tasty good but was the size of a Porterhouse and, of course, was covered in thick batter and deep-fried. To make things even more challenging we had foolishly ordered sides of Buttered Mushrooms and Confetti Corn… oh and we forgot to mention that (unbeknownst to us) the main courses came with mashed potatoes and greens. So, faced with enough food to feed team USA at the Vancouver Olympics, we did our very best to consume it all… and obviously failed.

Well-rested and looking forward to a busy day of doing nothing in Alpine, we awoke to an unusually ‘scorchio’ day. Dressed in shorts, flip-flops, vests and sunglasses we walked down the main street to a wonderful little café for brunch (well, we were hungry again by then), just 2 blocks from the Hotel. We sat outside soaking up the sun’s rays whilst tucking into bacon, sausage and egg croissants and fantastic cups of coffee. The rest of the day was just as relaxed and lovely.

Us x

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Alpine Adventures (Texas Style)

The day started with a fantastic Organic breakfast at Eve’s Garden – complete with fresh fruit, perfectly ripe avocado, freshly squeezed and blended juices, homemade orange zest biscuits (we call them scones), special honey, eggs and various other goodies, including some rice and beans to assist with the jet propulsion… Breakfast was a luxuriously leisurely affair, with a long and interesting chat with the owners, Kate & Clyde, and one of their friends, Mark.

Mark owns a crystal mine just South of Carlsbad, TX. The crystals are believed to have healing properties: they can clear away negative energy from a person’s aura and re-align the chakra (energy) centres of the body. We both had a turn sitting on a large slab of the crystal. We’re not sure we can describe exactly what we felt, but we both did feel a kind of positive energy or calm. Just what we needed before sitting ourselves on our small slabs of leather for the day! All that was left to do was take a few snaps of the gorgeous cats that greeted us every time we stepped outside our room, and we were back on the road.

And what a road it was today. Well, actually it was the same road (we’ve been on Hwy 90 now for around 250 miles), but the scenery was even more spectacular than yesterday. We also believe that it is a “magic” road. Somehow, we managed to climb from Marathon at 4,055 ft to Alpine at 4,475 ft without it really seeming like we were going uphill. Perhaps our perspective is all skewed after the last few days…still, we’re not complaining…or it was the sample of crystalline stashed in our panniers (thanks Mark)?

Tonight, we are in Alpine, TX, a historic town with many of its original features intact, including the hotel that we are staying in, The Holland Hotel, which has been around since 1912, closed down in 1969 and was re-opened again last November. We planned a rest day here because it has the only bike shop in the area, and the hotel is rather nice! Steed has been making a dreadful noise on and off for the last week or so (since the last bike shop) but, like someone with a cough who finds him/herself with a doctor’s appointment and is asked to “cough”, the noise miraculously disappeared just as we were pulling into Alpine….hmmmm. It’s a good job really as, on arrival on this fine Saturday at around 2.30pm, we found that the bike shop shuts at 1pm on Saturday and does not open again until Tuesday morning! Although we would love to have the excuse to stay until Tuesday morning, we can’t really justify it.

The other thing that we have noticed is that we have been following the railroad all along Hwy 90, and that the Amtrak station is just across from the hotel. Having heard the trains from our hotels and motels over the last few days, we are starting to feel a bit like the scene from My Cousin Vinny when the train passes by honking its horn at full blast around 5am … we’re keeping our fingers crossed for our rest day tomorrow…

Us x

Friday, 12 February 2010

Marathon Part II (Revelations of a Chocoholic)

Writers Block! Can we really write about the wind, ascents, road surface and the width of hard shoulders again… no because you guys would just get bored and think, “don’t these guys have anything more interesting to say?”

So what’s new and interesting in the world of Kat and Ant? Well, like Donkey in Shrek, Kat has found that when there is no TV to watch she can make an annoying noise by pursing her lips and sucking her teeth; and Anthony who was never really a chocolate fan, now consumes at least 4 Snickers (aka Marathons) per day and can often be found rummaging through Kat’s bag to steel her stash to get his fix. There are of course many more golden nuggets of information we would love to share with you but this Blog is PG-certified.

Speaking of multi Marathon experiences, we are over 4000ft above sea level in Marathon, TX. For the eagled-eyed amongst you, this is the second Marathon we have stayed in; the first being Marathon, FL where Anthony had his eventful and challenging 39th birthday. Hopefully y’all will be pleased to hear that today’s ride to Marathon, TX was not nearly as bad as the last. The sun was bright, the rain stayed in the clouds and, as we pedalled through and climbed up the sides of Sanderson Canyon, we saw some truly awesome views. We even had a rest stop at a designated picnic area to eat, rest and soak up the magnificent panoramic views… where is Helmet-cam when you need him most!

We’re staying at the Eve’s Garden tonight, an organic, eco-friendly bed and breakfast that is just too brilliant to describe in less than 300 words… thanks Kate and Clyde.

So without rambling on too much about the great ride, lovely weather, awesome scenery and fantastic accommodation…we’ll just say “Happy 21st Birthday Sheila (Kat’s mum)” and call it a night.

Us x

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cold, wet, long, dull, uphill day

As we stepped out of our warm motel this morning into the mist, we looked at each other, shook our heads and thought “why?”. When we realised that there was already so much moisture in the air that Audrey and Margaret’s screens were wet straight away, we tutted, leaned Trusty and Steed against the wall of the motel, and adorned ourselves from head to toe in our full-on rain gear. This was a good move, as within 10 minutes it was tipping it down.

Trundling along on the boneshaker road surface that seems to cover every inch of the roads around here, after around 30 miles we reached a store/gas station. Realising that this was the last out post of “civilisation” until the next grocery store 70 miles into our ride, we decided it would be rude not to stop and have a coffee and snickers and to stand in front of their calor gas fire (not too close mind you, not sure if that rain gear is flammable). As we stepped out again into the freezing cold rain, squelching as we walked, we looked at each other, and without a shake of the head, thought “`why….no, really, why?”

You get the picture. It was a tough ride. When the rain stopped and the sun eventually came out, the climbing started in earnest. We ascended over 4,000ft in our 90-mile ride today, with a net difference of 1,200ft for the day i.e. we are now 1,200 ft higher than our starting point this morning.

As we bent down this evening to stuff our damp shoes with newspaper to dry them out overnight, our legs told us all we needed to know…. Supper was a couple of microwave meals from the gas station across from our motel. Say no more. Sunny tomorrow apparently. Tomorrow is a new day!

Us x

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Cruisin' on a Wednesday Afternoon

The first day of cycling after a rest day is sometimes like that Monday morning feeling before work, you know the type of day the “Boomtown Rats” and “The Carpenters” sang about. And just like The Carpenters version of that Monday feeling it was scheduled to rain this morning…and not just any type of rain; freezing rain! The silver lining in this cloud of a Monday morning was the arrival of tender Talwin and the exodus of evil Edwin. “All hail Talwin the bringer of Cycling Perfection”.

After polishing off a healthy and hearty complimentary breakfast at the Hampton Inn in Del Rio we packed up, said thanks to Patty & Dora behind the desk, and set out to actually ‘Bike on the Borderline!’ We had just cycled 3 miles when things got even better. The hard shoulder became as wide as a car-lane and the surface was so smooth, it was like riding on satin sheets. We didn’t speak much in fear of jinxing the magnificent riding experience. Fortunately the experience lasted all the way to the Motel…awesome!

The journey into Comstock, TX was glorious. The forecasted rain didn’t come and the scenery was vast. On our left we gazed upon the wide-open plains of Coahuila, Mexico in the distance, and to the right we saw some beautiful expanses of water and the rolling hills of Texas. Crossing the Amistad Reservoir we were curious to see how this stretch of water provided passage from the USA into Mexico without any visible border control. After taking some lovely pictures of the reservoir we set off again only to be stopped at a checkpoint a few miles later and asked to produce our papers…what did we say about no visible border control?

Safely through border control it was a quick 5 miles to the Motel. A fantastic little place in a tiny village called Comstock! Luckily, just across the road was the only restaurant in the village where we ordered chicken sandwiches and crisps for dinner. Whilst they were being cooked, we had a couple cans of Bud (well actually four cans, two for later) and played some pool.

We’ve uploaded the photos and are just about to pack as we have a 90+ miler tomorrow.

Nosotros X

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Rudy rudy rudy rudy...

Unfortunately today we had a bit too much time on our hands. Having sorted out the laundry and much of the route/accommodation admin yesterday, we had a lot of time to relax today. They say that the devil makes work for idle hands. In our case, that means that we ended up getting hooked on a ridiculous US TV show called Millionaire Matchmaker, which is one of those things that you can’t help watching because it is so awful. It’s a good job, we think, that we have a good few days now with very limited services en route.

And with that in mind, we have eaten well over the last couple of days. Last night, looking out of our hotel window we saw a sign for a BBQ place called Rudy’s. Not knowing what to expect, but being overjoyed by its proximity to the hotel, we ambled over there to give it a whirl. What a good move. It’s a great set up where you go up to a counter and order succulent BBQ’d meat by the pound, plus sides like potato salad and corn on the cob, ice cold beer etc, they pack it all into a crate, and you carry it over to long wooden tables with red and white check tablecloths and devour it all with hot sauce, jalapenos and pickles. Yummy.

Tomorrow, we’re onto a new map, which always seems like another new beginning. We were due to ride 120 miles because we couldn’t find any hotels or motels closer than that. However, we were seriously chuffed to find that a motel has just opened up 30 miles into that route, and we have been able to split it into two days of 30 miles and 90 miles. We’re still in major hill/mountain territory, so expect many sob stories of gritty hill climbing. Oh, and tomorrow, add a bit of rain as well… But we’re ready.

Us x

Monday, 8 February 2010

Break for the Border

Apologies for not being able to post yesterday’s blog until this afternoon. We were staying at the historic Fort Clark Springs in Brackettville, TX, where the rooms are converted Fort Barracks made from solid stone. Lots of history and comfort, but limited modern technology we’re afraid.

We kicked off early this morning pretty confident that the short 32-mile ‘break for the borderline’ would be a leisurely experience and that we would arrive in Del Rio on the Mexican border with plenty of time to relax, do laundry, watch TV in our hotel room and switch off our alarm in preparation for tomorrow’s rest day. We did arrive with lots of time to spare but you couldn’t really describe the ride as “leisurely”. Resigned to the fact that heavy winds will always hit you head on, even if the night before they were happily slapping you on your back, we struggled, ascending through the first 20 miles on the most dreadful road surface.

We didn’t have the energy to battle against the odds and decided to take advantage of our slow pace and try to take in all the scenic variations! Problem was, there wasn’t any variety. Just one long very straight bumpy road with nothing either side…honestly nothing, just what looked liked a rusty old railroad on the left and arid land with wire fences on the right. We’re sure the region has much more to offer but unfortunately our route along US 90 Hwy took us straight through ‘the land that flowers and pretty things forgot’. Just as we were about to cycle across fields for a smoother ride, we realised that the Road had forgotten to apply its Clearasil for the first 20 miles… now cruising effortless on the 10 mile stretch of Clearasil treated membrane we began enjoying everything around us. We even bumped into yet another ‘More Intrepid than Us Explorer!’ Wolfram, a German guy 9 months into his cycle-tour from Germany through Asia and into the US. We had a long chat with Wolfram at the side of the road next to the USAF base, with Jet fighters flying overhead. Careful not to point the camera too high at the military flying equipment, we managed to get a photo of Wolfram (well done and good luck Wolfy).

The last 5 miles into Del Rio were very relaxing and we’re happy and relieved to be here, and shocked to see our progress on the map (check out the photos).

Us x

Sunday, 7 February 2010

There’s a Cheer Over Bourbon Street Tonight!

The day started with a super bowl of frosted wheat, and ended with a Super Bowl. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and we were most excited thinking that at the end of our ride today, we would be watching our new team, the N’Awlins Saints, play the first Super Bowl in their history. But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The riding day actually started with a super-killer hill. Over 4 miles of relentless climbing, we ascended around 700ft into the clouds, winding round switchbacks, and found ourselves at just under 2,500 ft. It brought back memories of the night before, as we were finishing our bottle of wine in the Frio Canyon Lodge and chatting to the owners. Without a hint of a smile, they said “you’ll regret that bottle of wine in the morning”. Well, they were almost right. We can’t pretend that the climb wasn’t tough, but it could have been a lot worse. Once we had cracked it, we had pretty much finished our serious climbing for the day. The road turned into a mini roller-coaster and we were up and down and up and down. Yee-ha. And then, before we knew it, we were in Camp Wood, the only point of civilisation on our route today, enjoying a French Vanilla coffee, before setting off again to complete the remaining 50 miles of our ride.

A word about the road surface today: the word is Boneshaker. For the short stretches where we either crossed a bridge, or some roadworks had led to a small stretch of re-tarmaccing, anyone within earshot would have heard us let out a loud contented sigh The rest of the time, poor old Trusty and Steed were shaken to within an inch of their lives. However, we can’t really complain. Although Evil Edwin made more than a cameo appearance, perhaps closer to a supporting actor’s role, for most of the ride, we had a fair side wind and even a tail wind at times. Also, after the big climb, it was nearly all downhill. Even allowing for Audrey and Margaret taking us to completely the wrong end of town, and giving a few minutes for Anthony to save a goat that had got its head stuck in a fence…yes, you did read that right … we completed our 71 miles by mid-afternoon. Plenty of time to get showered, pick up a couple of chicken burgers, and settle down to the Super Bowl.

No internet access tonight so, by the time we post this tomorrow, we’ll know the score. All we can say for now is, WHODAT?

Us x

P.S. GO SAINTS!!!!! Super Bowl XLIV winners.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Lazing in Leakey

“Stop the Press” A rest day without doing laundry? We’re not complaining. Yesterday was sooo gut-bustingly difficult we just had to chill all day today. How those Tour de France guys do what they do is just unbelievable. And before any of you purists start mumbling under your breath in mockery of our comparison to the Gods of Cycling, you may want to know that yesterday’s cycling route was often used by the one and only Louis no sorry Neil no we mean Lance Armstrong for training and is still commonly used by USA Pro cyclists…so there.

Waking up at 11am (well it is the weekend) to more sunny and warm Texas weather, we promptly went back to sleep. We did, however, manage to do some productive things purely for the benefit of our loyal Followers! When you click on the Epic Journey map, you will now find a new and improved Photo Gallery. No longer will you have to scroll through lots of previously seen photos to view the latest additions, but now simply click the map and then select the state that interests you most… and enjoy.

Before we sign off… big thanks to the owners of Frio Canyon Lodge, Leakey, TX for making our stay great.

Us x

Friday, 5 February 2010

Kings of Hill

It’s 9:30pm, we’ve just polished off some well earned fried chicken for dinner and are now relaxing in our room ready to ‘turn in’ for the day. And what a day today has been; a ‘real deal’ of a workout. It all started with our usual best efforts to make the ride ahead as difficult as possible by getting on the road 1hr and 15mins behind schedule after visiting the bike shop to pick up our spare tyres. On most days, an 11:15am start would not be a major problem, but today we were heading North West for 68+ miles against a WNW 10mph wind. Throw in several “Category 2” hill climbs reaching over 2383ft (that’s pedalling uphill for 3518ft in total), bringing our average speed down to sub 12mph…do the math. The harsh reality was that we were going to arrive at our destination after 6pm.

Faced with the prospect of endless hills, relentless head winds and cycling into the early evening, we focused on the positive stuff… the sun was bright, it wasn’t raining and it was warm. Better still, as we got into the hills and valleys of Kerr, Bandera and Real Counties, the scenery was breathtakingly stunning (check out photos). And, of course, after each killer ascent in a series of rolling hills, there will be a ‘flies stuck in your teeth’ descent; and at precisely 5hrs and 17mins into the ride we broke our maximum speed record, reaching and maintaining 44.4mph for all of 7 seconds…yee-ha! travelling at high speed on a bicycle without protective clothing can be dangerous and should not be condoned.

Despite the very tough day, we had a great time and are now ready to make the most of tomorrow’s rest day.

Us x