Friday, 30 April 2010

…here’s the 411, hun!

Bandon, OR is a cute little place and has been a perfect location for a rest day. However, we don’t really want to bore you with yet more of the ‘rest day’ antics such as doing laundry, watching TV, planning routes, bike maintenance and eating in great restaurants …so we won’t! Instead let us update you with some interesting facts and figures:

Favourite State so far: Florida (Kat) / New Mexico (Anthony)

Days: 124 cycling / 187 total / 63 rest

Set of tyres: 10

Spokes broken: 2

Fallen off bikes: 4

Time in saddle: 545 hours, 20 minutes and 35 seconds

Elevation gain: 221,815 ft

Average speed: 12.8 mph

Average cadence: 58 rpm

Calories burnt: 502, 258 C

Worst destination: Andrews, SC (Kat) / Willcox, AZ (Anthony)

Worst moment: Riding through a tunnel in California (Kat) /Arse started bleeding in Texas (Anthony)

Best moment: Reaching Key West, FL (Kat) / Discovering Snickers Dark (Anthony)

Missing Most: Family and Friends

Not Missing: London Underground

State of relationship after 269,280 minutes in constant contact: Fair to Good

Us x

…also Badge (IT Support) would like to draw your attention to a website upgrade. You can now see all of our rides, stats and maps in glorious Technicolor. Simple click the 'Cycle Log' link under the “MAPS, STATS and PHOTOS” section, in the right hand side navigation bar.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Coffee, Chocolate & Glassblowing

They call this place the Rain Coast…no kidding. We can see why. It rained again today, but we love it here anyway!

The morning started with us trying to make up for the calorie deficit we suffered yesterday. We woke up feeling starving, and immediately consumed 2 bowls of cereal each (actually, Anthony had 3), plus multiple bagels, juice, coffee etc. The feeding frenzy was interrupted, in a good way, by Debbie, the manager of the hotel, and her client, David (she also deals in real estate). You’re not going to believe this, followers, but David used to live in Crouch End, just round the corner from our house in London. We didn’t have to do the usual “it’s near Hampstead Heath” routine, and it made us feel quite homesick to talk about our view of Alexandra Palace. Still, we can’t complain about the views today (see photos).

After waddling back to our room, and before setting off for the day, we watched the Today show on NBC with Kathy & Hoda. We were waiting to see the cookery slot: our friend Susan from Fort Bragg was in the studio to support her friend, a restaurant owner from Louisville who was cooking dishes that she will serve for the Kentucky Derby this weekend. Susan had done all the cooking prep for the show, and we can say that the mornay sauce and dessert looked lovely. Good work Susan! Hope you get a chance to have a mint julep this weekend in celebration.

Well fed and watered, we eventually departed on our 60-mile ride from Gold Beach to Bandon, OR. We started by twisting round a beautiful and rolling river valley, and then spent the rest of the day hugging the coast, and trying not to stop every 5 minutes to admire the view. Still feeling rather peckish, we stopped for fish & chips at a place called The Crazy Norwegians in Port Orford. Yummy! And we also bumped into a group of 6 gals and 1 guy on their bikes travelling south. It looked like they were having a lot of fun…

On our last leg of the day, we passed so many outlets offering coffee, chocolates and glassblowing that we decided it must be some sort of magical combination that we should really try. We’ll keep you posted.

We have a rest day here tomorrow in Bandon, and a coffee shop next door.

Us x

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Another State Another Time

There comes a time when a parent must eventually release its offspring from its care and encourage the child to adapt, learn and fend for himself. We have a similar relationship with the States of America. We learn a little bit more about ourselves with every moment we spend in each state, which helps us through the next stage of our adventure. This morning was a nervous few hours as we knew that, at 2pm, our lengthy relationship with California would be coming to an end!

We procrastinated this morning, spending more time than usual spreading the butter & jam on our hot English muffins and having a wonderful chat with Susan and Blane, two colleagues whom we met over breakfast. It was 11am when we eventually broke ourselves away from the breakfast room and returned to our room to make final preparations before heading out on the 59-mile ride to Golden Beach, Oregon. As we rolled away from the Hampton Inn at 12:30pm, kitted out in full wet weather gear, including shoe covers, the rain was beginning to subside and the Sun was putting its hat on …hip hip hip hooray! With the sun beating down upon on as we cycled covered head to toe in plastic, along perfectly dry roads, admiring all the fantastic scenery along the final stretches of California, puddles of sweat were slowly building up inside our suits, unable to escape through the elasticated wrist and ankle straps.

Sloshing our way to the Oregon border, we took a few photos, dumb struck by the sheer beauty of the even more stunning scenery. We took a team decision to remain in our wet weather setup as the forecast predicted rain and Sod’s law would prevail if we changed this late in the day. With ¾ of our ride completed, we stopped for lunch at the ‘WhaleHead’ viewpoint at the side of the road in the Samuel H Boardman’s State park. The sun was still shinning as we gazed out across the Pacific Ocean, chatted with another great guy, Ira from Brooklyn and ate cinnamon bread sticks from last night’s Pizza Hut delivery. Before beginning the final ¼ of the ride after lunch, we decided to take off the wet weather gear, releasing enough liquid to raise the sea level by 3cms. Five minutes into enjoying the dry weather conditions … it started to piss it down! “Holy Jenson Button” we cursed, now knowing how Lewis Hamilton must feel when getting weather strategies so wrong, and quickly stopped at the side of the road to put all our wet weather gear back on. Five minutes into feeling happier not being soaked by the torrential rainfall …the rain stopped and the sun came back out …“&*$%!” and “&*$%! Again” screamed Anthony.

Golden Beach, OR couldn’t have arrived soon enough and, fortunately with no headwind, we made it to our hotel (in Curry County) at 6:30pm, found our lovely room with the most awesome view, and sat for while on the porch, glass of wine in hand, watching the sun go down …ahhh!

Dinner was great; fish, rice and vegetables as usual. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, more rain!

fyi – whilst watching NBC 5 News tonight, it was reported that a Mountain Lion is roaming loose is Oregon!

Us x

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Is that Elk, or Rain Dear?

We knew there would be “showers” all day today when we went to bed last night. Sure enough, we woke up this morning to the sound of rain thumping against the roof. And it kept on raining…

It rained as we stepped out of our motel room and walked to the café for breakfast; it rained as we set off decked out from head-to-toe in waterproof gear for our 41-mile ride to Crescent City, our last stop in California; and it kept on raining until just before we stopped for a coffee in the small town of Klamath, half way through our ride. And if that wasn’t bad enough, around 30 minutes after leaving Klamath, just as we thought that the sun was going to appear and dry our soaking squelching clothes and shoes, it started to hail…big hail stones the size of ball-bearings. Oh what fun.

But, somehow, we really enjoyed today’s ride. About 5 miles into the ride, we turned off the highway and onto a “scenic route’ through the redwoods. Within minutes, we had come across a gang of Elk. Apparently “gang” is the correct collective noun, and we’re not too surprised. They were pretty scary, especially the ones with the bandanas. Anthony managed to snap a very quick photo, although the camera was soaked within seconds of being out of its case, and we then kept our distance as we cycled by slowly.

A mile down the scenic route, we found a barrier across the road with a large “road closed” sign on it. Noting that there was just enough space at the side for a bike was fat back panniers to slip through, we exchanged mischievous glances, and decided that this notice probably designed for cars. We then had 9 glorious miles rolling through a beautiful forest with the biggest redwoods we have seen so far, and branches covered with moss so thick it looked like sage green velvet… and with not a single soul in sight! Well, it is supposed to be “adventure cycling” after all, and we have to say that our untrained eyes could not see why the road was closed, though we don’t doubt that there was a good reason, and that we were lucky to get out alive and unharmed…

Tonight, we are staying in the luxury of a Hampton Inn. We LOVE Hampton Inn; especially after a long and wet day’s cycling. It is a super-comfortable room, with a wonderful ocean view, a big snugly white duvet on the bed. Zzzzzz. Oh, and a coin laundry on the ground floor.

Tomorrow, more rain, and….Oregon!

Us x

Monday, 26 April 2010

Trinidad & Fajitas to go!

We knew it was going to be a short ride today from Eureka through Trinidad and into Orick. After quick counsel from the weather channel and a cursory glance at the elevation charts, we felt a little happier that evil ‘Edwin would not be joining us today and compared to recent rides our route would be relatively flat (only 2,200ft of climbing). There was of course one ‘element’ due to make a scheduled appearance at 4pm, but we were determined not to let the rainy day on Monday get us down.

‘Displacing’ ourselves from our room at 11.10am we were spiralling through the streets of Eureka enjoying the sun whilst it lasted and making best use of the wind as it pushed us along our way. Better still, the first 25 miles of the ride into Trinidad was 75% cycle paths along the coast and deserted roads with very wide shoulders and silky smooth road surfaces. So smooth, in fact, that at one point we hit a section of ‘loose gravel’ cycle path that surprisingly got Kat very excited; apparently she liked the Mountain Biking for beginners feeling …maybe our next trip will be riding through and not around the Grand Canyon.

By the time we got to Trinidad, CA it was time for lunch and as luck would have it we found The Best Little Coffee House in California, the Beachcomber Café. Run by Melissa, Alice and Jackie, a hilariously funny group of women who are obviously enjoying life, we had the best cups of coffee and chocolate cookies we have had in all of America. Feeling very satisfied and entertained, we eventually dragged ourselves away and out of the café. As soon as we left and got ready to cycle the remaining 20 miles into Orick, the rain came and stayed with us all the way to the hotel. Despite the rain, we still had a good time and for the first time in many weeks had Mexican to eat tonight.

We don’t have an internet connection tonight, so you’ll be ready this a day late …apologies.

Us x

Sunday, 25 April 2010

6 Months Down… 7,000 miles to go

Yes, followers, it’s true. We are half way through our journey, at least timewise, and have covered just under 7,000 miles. We can’t quite believe it, but it feels good, and we are looking forward to the trip ahead.

We had a fairly chilled rest day today in Eureka, CA, with the usual rest day activities, including a visit to Pro Sports Center, the local bike shop, to replace Anthony’s snapped chain. Big thanks to Cody and Jack.

Eureka is a strange City. It’s pretty big and we have been staying in the historic downtown district, which we expected would be the busiest area of town. There certainly is a main street with some Victorian buildings on it, and a few cute shops, bars, restaurants etc. But the place is deserted…it’s a ghost town.

Despite that eerie feeling, we ventured out for a wander around, and strolled along (not under) the boardwalk next to the water (singing the song as we went of course). After a light lunch, we walked back via the local Co-op, which had been recommended by Oscar and Elizabeth, and was fantastic…just like a Whole Foods! Snaking round the aisles excitedly so as not to miss anything, we decided to buy some cheese, cold meats and wine for supper. Yummy.

Off again tomorrow bound for Orick and more redwoods, hopefully stopping for a coffee in Arcada, a local college town on the route. Happy Birthday for tomorrow to Dad (Kat’s Dad).

Us x

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Sleeping with the Enemy

We should start today with a little more information about the events of last night. We’ve all heard of that classic 1990’s psychological thriller, Sleeping with the Enemy, starring Julia Roberts and bunch of other actors. Well, we experienced our own little 1990s classic last night in our pine cabin built in the middle of the wild woods of Honeydew, CA. Not that our version is anything like a psycho thriller but more like the comedy horror, Arachnophobia. We don’t know about you guys, but Anthony hates mice and Kat hates spiders and we don’t know of anyone who likes hornets! So imagine our horror when at 10pm we realised we were about to sleep in the company of all three, plus the ‘hundreds & thousands’ (for those of you who know what Mouse poo looks like)! Being a sufferer of Arachnophobia obviously trumps any other intolerable concern, therefore Anthony was gently persuaded to construct a spider/hornet catching device using only what could be found in the room and remove said Creepers, thus facilitating Kat’s attempt to sleep …Kat didn’t return the compliment concerning the Mouse, but hey that’s a woman’s prerogative.

After a fitful sleep for the both of us, we awoke freezing our nuts off (figuratively speaking for Kat) and decided that taking a shower in this temperature would be beyond our pain and suffering threshold. So, straight out of bed we donned our sweaty cycling gear from yesterday, finally feeling like true campers and fried up 6 eggs and 10 rashers of bacon for breakfast …we felt a little ill after the 4th rasher, but we ate it all anyway.

Having a quick chat with our fellow campers before setting out on the 60-mile expedition past the Lost Coast and into the city of Eureka, we felt tired and Kat felt very irritated. We know this stage of the trip is starting to sound a bit like Jurassic Park with all this speak of Giants, The Lost Coast and Eureka, but honestly we are still in California and not on a film set, though the scenery has a tendency to make you question this fact. We started off with the compulsory steep hill climbs we have now become accustomed to over the past week, and eventually arrived at our first pit-stop: Petrolia. It’s a common believe that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Funny that! Because, as we were powering out of Petrolia and about to attack another 3,000 ft of climbing, with Anthony’s little Chicken Drumstick legs putting maximum torque through Trusty’s Crankset, there was a sudden SNAP! and then a …whirr as his little legs were spinning frantically at 100 rpm. The chain broke violently, not able to maintain structural integrity when placed under such immense power!!! Seriously though, for all you cycling fanatics out there, you’ll be impressed to hear that the metal snapped in two and not the ‘chain link roller’ merely breaking.

15 minutes and many expletives later we were rolling back down the hill and into Petrolia to look for help. Enter stage left Oscar & Elizabeth who offered up their Dodge Ram 2500, put Trusty, Steed, Panniers and us in the back of their pick up and drove the 50 miles into Eureka. We know that many of you may now be getting a little jaded with our worshipping of American kindness, but Oscar & Elizabeth you have entered our list of “The kindest people in the world …ever”. Thank you again.

It was a welcoming sight to arrive at our hotel, minus rodent faeces and creepy crawlies as bedside accompaniments, and instead settling for the basic yet standard bedside lamps and alarm clock radio. Being here earlier than usual, we did our two loads of laundry and managed to get out for an early dinner, where we met Leah, our server, who is just beginning to embrace the Joys of Cycling .

Don’t forget to check out our photos! And a new helmet cam is coming soon. O’ and we’re having a rest day tomorrow.

Us x

Friday, 23 April 2010

Avenue of the Giants

“Avenue of the Giants”. Sounds a bit like a thoroughfare in New York or Paris…perhaps one that has Hermes, Yves St Laurent and Lanvin on it. Mais non, mesdames et messieurs. It is THE road in Northern California to see huge redwoods, and no need to pay $6 to drive through the middle of it.

We set off with tummies full of eggs and bacon this morning, and feeling well rested after our mammoth day yesterday. The weather was bewdiful (that’s how you say it here); even the wind had dropped a few notches. So, with the Windstoppers stowed away in the panniers, and after a few miles spent on the freeway, the event of the day arrived. We turned off the 101 and onto the Avenue of the Giants. There is an ethereal quality that one feels when confronted with pure beauty on this scale. These trees are massive, with trunks wider than 3 people stretching out head to toe, and taller than a football pitch. But somehow, riding through them, we still had streams of sunlight sneaking through the lighting up the scenery. It was truly magical.

After about 25 miles, we reached the small town of Myers Flat, where we stopped for a quick bite to eat. We found ourselves compelled to visit the local winery, just to use the restroom you’ll understand, and bumped into Lisa and Cameron, a lovely couple from Sacramento, CA, who were vacationing in the area. After a pleasant chat in the sunshine, and resisting the temptation to go in and taste the wine…hell, to spend the whole afternoon tasting the wine, we pedalled on, and soon turned off onto our special “alternate” route that we are following today and tomorrow. It is 40 miles longer, involves over 8,500 ft of extra climbing, and has a shockingly bad road surface. But we’re not mad. It’s isolated, and stunningly beautiful. Today, we were treated to even finer redwoods than we had seen on AOTG (cue helmet cam), and then a cacophony of greens, as we looked down from our ridiculously long, hard, 2, 800 ft climb into the river valley below (see photos). Tomorrow, it will take us out to the “Lost Coast”, which speaks for itself…more then.

Tonight, we are staying in a cabin at the Mattole River Organic Farms and Cabins. It’s very much back to nature and on its own in the middle of nowhere. The owners, Ian and Melissa, were kind enough to get a wish list of groceries in for us in advance, so we were able to chill out and cook here this evening, without having to carry several kgs of extra weight over the mountain! And it’ll be eggs and bacon chez nous again tomorrow morning before we set out.

Us x

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Come on lads, Leggett

With wind blasting down the coast at 30mph from the North this morning, we considered spending a further day of rest with Jim and Susan, solving the World’s problems whilst sitting round their dinner table eating great food and drinking fine wines. But we needed to ‘bite the bullet’, set off and stop the procrastinating excuses of “we can’t cycle, it’s too windy”. Fortunately for us, Susan (what a star) had prepared a glorious breakfast to send us on our way. With a healthy balance of complex carbs (granola and fresh fruit), protein (boiled eggs) and good luck (a big hug) we were confident that today was going to be a good day…

Our 66-mile ride today from Fort Bragg to Garberville was very tough indeed. If it weren’t for the unbelievably strong winds rolling down the mountains from the North and being pushed in by the Pacific from the West, we would have completed today’s 5,726ft mountain climbing, 7,773 calorie burning, record-breaking ride in 7 hrs rather than 8 … and the calorie figures don’t even factor in the 30-mile headwind… it’s no wonder we’re sooo pooped this evening. All that said, we did experience some mind-blowing stuff today, and we’re not talking about the lax California laws concerning the consumption of Weed. No, we’re talking about the Mighty Redwoods …dudes and dudettes …they are f’ing massive, and we haven’t even seen the giants of Oregon yet. There was one Redwood in a town called Leggett that was so big you could pay $5 and drive your car through it. Literally, they (whomever “they” are) have cut a hole at the base of its trunk for people to drive their cars through. Wanting to experience this great privilege, we rode to the very place where this behemoth stood and asked to cycle through it.

“Yes of course sir” said the lady from behind her desk in her makeshift office, “that’ll be $6”.

“6 dollars?” Kat replied.

“Yes, 6 dollars”, the lady repeated, slightly confused by Kat’s tone.

Kat then explained “So it costs $5 dollars to drive a car full with 6 people through a tree trunk, but $6 dollars for 2 cyclists to perform a similar act?”

After a long, thoughtful pause and an expression on the lady’s face that resembled a light being switched on for the first time in 50 years confirming that her longstanding pricing model was fundamentally flawed, she replied “Yes, 6 dollars”.

… we didn’t cycle through the tree!

Not perturbed by this minor setback we, like the Littlest Hobo (that’s Hobo) made our way back into the wilderness taking some great pictures of the dramatic changes in scenery (minus the Mighty Redwood of course) and eventually arrived at our lovely hotel by 6:30pm. We struggled down to the restaurant and ate well. Now, back in our room sans TV, we write the blog with weary hands and tired eyes.

Goodnight Everybody.

Us x

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hospitals and Hospitality

Well, yet again, we are knocked out by the kindness of the people that we meet on our journey around the USA. Today, we were lucky enough to experience, once more, the hospitality of Susan & Jim from The Restaurant in Fort Bragg, and what a wonderful relaxing day it has been.

We ambled over here from our B&B around 10am this morning (a very short trip for Trusty & Steed!), and immediately found ourselves whisked inside for poached eggs, bacon, toast etc. Susan showed us around the cute little apartment above the restaurant where we are staying tonight, and explained the history of the building. Turns out that this building was the first hospital in Fort Bragg, dating from the 1800s. And guess what? The B&B where we stayed last night across the street was the second hospital in Fort Bragg, after the first closed down. Unwittingly, we have been on a historical hospital tour of the

We spent the day chilling out in the apartment, planning routes, watching TV, doing a few bits and pieces that we needed to do on the computer. We did venture out briefly, with the emphasis on the word “brief”. It was truly blowing a gale out there, with gusts of over 40 mph from, you guessed it, the NW! Thank goodness we didn’t ride today.

This evening, we ate with Susan & Jim, who cooked for us (the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). We both picked up a few tips from the professionals, and undertook some minor tasks, before we all sat down at “the chef’s table” in the kitchen for lemon prawns with wild rice and sautéed vegetables. Delicious. And we finished off with some divine crème brulee and homemade carrot cake. Kat is a bit of an aficionado when it comes to crème brulee and can, hand on heart, say that it was one of the best that she has ever tasted (perhaps THE best in fact).

After what seemed like an evening shooting the breeze with old friends, we made a bit of a fuss of their super cute dogs, Scruffy and Julia, and then returned to the apartment, where we are once more chilling out and getting ourselves ready to set off again tomorrow… a long and hilly ride to Garberville, CA, and the redwoods. Awesome.

Us x

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Fort Bragg, CA

OK Chaps & Lady Chaps, we’re going to keep this one brief, as you all know we are here in Fort Bragg having a non-cycling day. So, as usual, our so-called “Rest Day” was actually full of the usual suspects: laundry; bike maintenance; late brunch; booking hotels; planning routes; checking weather forecasts; shopping at CVS et cetera et cetera; you get the drill.

However there was one event that added a certain ‘quelque chose’ to today’s mix. After a recommendation from Susan (the owner of The Restaurant) we met up with Debbie, a journalist from the local paper, to give an interview about our Epic Journey (don’t worry mum and dad we wore clean underpants, crisply pressed shirts and a 2-piece suit) and posed for a few happy snaps …all for a good cause we hope.

Ah …and one more thing, we’re going to stay an extra day tomorrow and try to have a proper rest day. Susan and Jim have kindly offered us a place to stay, which works really well for us, as tomorrow is a bringer of heavy rains and strong winds! We’re going to execute a double-play on Thursday, cramming two days of cycling into one.

Us x

Monday, 19 April 2010

Staying Ahead of the Rain

What can we say? We knew it was going to rain today, and we made it the 60 miles from Gualala to Fort Bragg before it started. And even better than that, we had a tailwind pretty much all the way. Was it a dream brought on from falling asleep watching The Weather Channel after too much wine? No, it’s true.

It was an interesting ride. After yesterday, with more hairpins than a Vidal Sassoon salon, today was much less winding, on the whole, but there was literally NO flat terrain at all. We climbed just under 4,000 ft throughout the ride, but none of the climbs was more than 350 ft. Crazy! But beautiful at the same time. This coastline is stunning: ragged rocks, raging seas, the promise of whale watching, and green hills/wildflowers, as well as a decent road surface and shoulders most of the way. Also, there are cute little towns every 10-15 miles or so with little cafes/delis. Job done. We loved it.

So, we rolled into our B&B in Fort Bragg well within our expected arrival time, even after a puncture. After a quick wash and brush up, we headed straight out to a local restaurant called, quite simply, “The Restaurant”. Wwwow! What a great little find. The food and wine were divine; the décor relaxing yet stylish, with fabulous paintings all around the room; the music uplifting yet unobtrusive; and the people, well, they were just the best. We had a lovely chat with Susan and Jim, the proprietors, and Madeline, our server. We were so excited about Anthony’s entrée of lemon chicken, that Kat pestered Jim and Susan for the recipe…and voila, Susan came out with the sauce recipe, and Jim described how he cooks it. And then there was the cheesecake and the rich chocolate tart that they treated us to for dessert. Mmm. Need we say more? We returned to our B&B very contented, and are now chilling out, happy in the knowledge that we have a rest day here tomorrow. Zzzzzz.

Us x

Sunday, 18 April 2010

From Russia with Love

So we started today’s idyllic ride from our very unreasonably priced Bed & Br… in Jenner, situated at the mouth of the Russian River. Unfortunately Helena, last night’s studious chef, was not on duty for this morning’s breakfast! If it could be called “breakfast”? Subdued by the knowledge that today’s ride started off with over 1,000ft of very steep hill climbing, we were hopeful that this morning’s breakfast would supply us with the necessary fuel to ascend these dizzy heights quickly and easily. We were shown to our table and presented with coffee, a very small half cooked waffle segment and a quarter sector of one slice of orange, melon and strawberry. We inhaled our starter! and waited patiently for the main breakfast course …and waited …and waited …and waited ………. “OK where’s our god damn breakfast?” The second course didn’t arrive, as it didn’t exist. We left the dining room with our tails between our legs and seriously pissed off with our ‘Bed & nonexistent Breakfast”.

With stomachs empty, we set out past the mouth of the Russian River and toward Fort Ross (Форт-Росс), a former Russian establishment in what is now Sonoma County. We know we keep saying that we have cycled the most beautiful part of the Pacific Coast, but seriously this stage was the most beautiful yet …apparently the Oregon coast is even more stunning …we can’t wait.

Starting to feel a bit peckish and with all our Waffle now converted into waste product, we arrived in Timber Cove which fortunately for us had a fantastic restaurant with breathtaking views over the ocean. Needless to say, we scoffed ourselves stupid and had far too many chips! Feeling a lot better after lunch, and admiring all the wonderful flowers growing wild on the side of the road that one would normally spend a fortune for in a chic flower shop, we cycled toward Gualala (your pronunciation is as good as ours) with a smile on our faces and with Helmet Cam rolling (check out the Gallery)

The day got better when we arrived at the Breakers Inn and got upgraded to an ocean view room, which was truly awesome dude. Basking in the beauty of our ‘room with a view’ we decided to eat in tonight. We walked over to the local supermarket, bought some cheese and pate and wine and had a very civilised dinner on the raised deck.

Happy Birthday Mum (Anthony’s mum) still missin’ you.

Us x

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Gnarly Dude

The thing about having lots of people around is that sometimes, it’s great; and other times, it’s just stressful. We had an experience of both today.

We realised that the road was going to be busy as we set off this morning for our 41-mile ride to Jenner, and waited several minutes before we could pull out safely from the driveway of our hotel. It wasn’t all bad, in that it was a rally of classic Italian cars that were streaming past us: Alfa Romeos, Fiats, Ferraris and an AC Cobra, but still…

The road was busy not only with motor ve-hicles, but also bikes, mainly going in the opposite direction. Then, about half way through the ride, we ran into a group of 4 touring cyclists (see photo) going in the same direction as us (unheard of). They were actually only on a 4-day trip from SF to Jenner and back, but they were camping, so they were carrying quite a bit of kit. Anyway, it was great to have a chat with them and swap ideas/advice etc, and we were very pleased to get a recommendation for lunch: a fish & chip restaurant in Bodega Bay, which turned out to be a hidden gem.

Despite the chish & fips place bursting at the seams with many loyal patrons, we arrived and rolled straight onto the centre table surrounded by a captive audience. The popularity was soon explained: the food was delicious… just as tasty as the English version, especially with the malt vinegar and sea salt. The surprising thing though was just how captive our audience really was! All chatty and very interested in our trip, they were thoroughly lovely people. We shouldn’t really be shocked, as we have met so many supportive people on this trip, but this was an exceptional place. We must give a special mention to Jim and Edie. We chatted away for quite some time, and cooed over their two expressive little Pugs. Jim was so enthusiastic about what we are doing that he not only took some photos and sent them to us by the time we arrived today, but also Jim and Edie made a very generous donation to MS on our site, for which we are very grateful.

Another table in the restaurant had a group of four guys on it from Yosemite, that we would estimate were probably in their late teens/early 20s. As we described our adventure, we were amused to hear the words “Gnarly Dude” in the background. Although we have heard this phrase on the TV, this is the second time we have heard it in conversation and it still makes us chuckle. And it got us to thinking that, what with all the traffic streaming past us, the tricky road surface, the hills and the wind, it did pretty much sum up our day today…

Tonight, we ate at the restaurant in our hotel. A new Swedish chef, Helena, has recently taken over the kitchen, and tonight she was doing everything herself: front of house, bar, waiting the tables, supervising the cooking. Somehow she managed to get through us all, and the food was really pretty good. Given that we are quite literally in the Russian River Valley, it will also be no surprise to hear that the wine was fairly quaffable here too…

Another shortish ride tomorrow, with some more steep hills, but hopefully a few less cars… There’s optimism for you.

Us x

Friday, 16 April 2010

It wasn’t our fault, San Andreas did it!

We’ve left San Francisco and are feeling quite sad. Our time spent in the Hotel and with our new-found friends was fantastic. Setting out late this morning and visiting the US Postal Service to send more stuff back to Anthony’s Dad, by the time we were on the road pedalling toward Point Reyes, it was 2:15pm. Fortunately the ride was a short 32 miles and we managed to arrive at our hotel just before 5:30pm. We ate perfectly prepared ½ roast chicken at the Station House Café and then retired back to our comfortable room, watching Criminal Minds on TV.

Did you know that the San Andreas Fault runs approximately 810 miles through California in the United States forming the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. Interestingly enough it runs underwater through a trough just offshore from the Point Reyes Peninsula …we are literally on top of it …awesome!

So, we’ve completed about 5/8ths of the Californian PCH and are heading toward Oregon ahead of schedule, which is a blessing and burden at the same time. We’re heading north, which means colder weather and we don’t want to get too far north too early and face yet another bout of wearing winter cycling gear. However, we have to bear in mind that we plan on doing an additional 1,000 miles (after missing out the Grand Canyon tour) through and around Yellowstone National Park and aim to finish the trip in New York by end of September 2010. Our plan therefore, is to reduce our average daily mileage from 50+ to 30+ miles per day and hopefully by the time we get to Seattle the weather will be glorious. We’ll then up our average pace along the Northern Tier, where the winds will hopefully be in our favour.

Back on the coast tomorrow.

FYI - TMG aka MG&T, two of our VIP Followers are still with us. It’s just that their ‘Busy Tachometer’ has been redlining at 20,000 rpm of late.

Us x

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Dining with Friends

The day started with Anthony leaping out of bed with far too much energy than is natural, and a flurry of activity as he planned out our day with tasks allocated to each of us so that we could get everything done before meeting up with Tracey and Jonathan later in the day.

After another stunning breakfast – gotta LOVE that fresh fruit, and a good chat with Mary at hotel reception, we set about our activities: Anthony starting off with what he loves best…yes, that’s right, laundry; and Kat doing what she loves best…yes, shopping! We also managed to get Trusty into a bike shop for a bit of R&R to rid him of his creaky back wheel: big thanks to Dan at A Bicycle Odyssey. A bit of peace and quiet for us now as we cycle along (and no more drrrr click in the background when helmet cam is doing his stuff).

A bit of route planning, accommodation booking and general admin later, and we were ready to go out and see the sights of SF with Tracey and her 7-month old cutie baby girl, Sommerset. After a spin round the Presidio, we chilled out in the sunshine with a coffee and cupcake at a little café on the beach right next to the Golden Gate bridge. A quick trip to a couple of stores for a few essential items, and a lovely drive through some of the stylish SF neighbourhoods, with Anthony sitting in the back entertaining Sommerset and having her in fits of laughter with his “The Giraffe Show, Feat. Mr Cow”, and we were at Tracey and Jon’s beautiful home for dinner, and one of the loveliest evenings we have had on our trip. Thanks guys for a wonderful afternoon/evening, big kiss to Sommerset, a scratch behind the ears for Ledley, the Swiss Mountain Dog, and lots of luck to Tracey for her forthcoming Ironman triathlon in Utah!!

Back on the bikes tomorrow…

Us x

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Let’s Go To San Francisco

'Gonna keep this short because we’re currently experiencing a tsumai size wave of fatigue. We can’t explain how this happens, but when it does, there’s not much we can do about it but keep pushing on.

This morning we had a lovely communal breakfast with Terri & John, Audrey & Joseph and Peter, fellow guests of the Bed & Breakfast in Half Moon Bay. Feeling slightly energised after our large bowls of fresh fruit, pastries and bagels, we made a short ride through the town and onto the coastal path, complete with aPod (not iPod) of about 5 whales momentarily breaching just 200 metres from the shore. We frantically scrambled through Anthony’s handle bar bag to find Helmet cam and started filming …yeah you guessed it, no more whales!

Proceeding along the route we were pleased to be on very picturesque cycling paths for most of the journey. When we eventually hit the roads and were nearing our final destination of San Francisco, the gradients started to resemble the roads featured in that icon of iconic films “Bullitt”, we began sweat, puff, pant and push harder than we have for some time now. Taking a quick break in Pacifica, CA we met and chatted with Stephen and Craig, State Park managers and really cool guys.

Soon we reached Skyline Drive in Daly City, our steepest climb of the day, with views across to San Francisco and were pleased when we boarded the Golden Gate Bridge …yippee! A couple more energy sapping mega steep hill climbs and some ‘Happy Snaps’ later and we were at our hotel, The Gables Inn. Matthew, the very friendly guy at the front desk welcomed us and, after hearing about our story, upgraded us to a lovely room with a fabulous view.

As usual, the night ended with a dinner at a new restaurant in town recommended by Matthew.

Us x

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

There’s a Half Moon over Main Street Tonight

It was a great little ride today from Santa Cruz to our destination for the day, Half Moon Bay. It was a bit chilly as we set off, and we had more than a moderate head wind, but the scenery was beautiful and most importantly of all there was no rain!!

The day started with a truly stunning breakfast at our hotel, Pacific Blue Inn. After a bowl of fresh fruit, we were treated to another new culinary experience (further to our discoveries earlier in our trip: hush puppies, grits and chicken fried steak). These delightful items were called “Pop-overs”, and consisted of very light, puffy balls, a bit like Yorkshire puddings, but sweet, and dusted with icing sugar. In our case, they were also served with homemade chocolate/hazelnut butter (a bit like posh Nutella), and jams. Yummy. Anthony loved them so much, he even had his poached eggs in a cut open pop-over…

As we munched away at all these gourmet items, we had a very interesting chat with Kirk and Christine from Western Massachusetts, who were vacationing in the area. They had many tales to tell of the places that they had visited in California that we had not been able to see this time around, including Yosemite, Joshua Tree etc. And we all put the world to rights when it comes to farming, the food industry, the economy and the like.

With full tummies, and invigorated brains, we eventually set off for our 50-mile ride. The terrain was rolling and 95% of it was along Pacific Coast Highway, skirting right along the coastline. We were surprised to see that the coast around here reminded us of the North Norfolk coast where Kat grew up. We also noted that much of the flora and fauna is of the type that we both remember as young children …e.g. buttercups, those plants with the long green stem and little brown nubbin on the end that you could loop over and fire at one another, stinging nettles and many many other things. And we even got a picture of one of the eagles that we keep seeing (see photos).

About 20 miles into the ride, we passed two of those New Age Travellers that we saw in Santa Cruz yesterday… we kid you not, they were walking along the hard shoulder of the PCH, in their long green parkas with their dog. We recognised the dog first of all and then heard the familiar “can you spare a cigarette?” Honest; it really happened.

As we stopped for “lunch” (in speech marks since it actually consisted of energy bars today, as we had failed to get any bagels/bananas, and there were no shops on the route between ‘mile 9’ and ‘mile 50’ of the ride), we were joined by Frank and Margit, a couple from Germany (between Dusseldorf and Cologne), who are cycling from San Francisco to LA. We had a pleasant chat about the joys of bike touring. As usual, we were overwhelmed by the number of cyclists who were out on the road, both touring and day cyclists, and as we have come to expect, hardly any of them were going in our direction fighting against Edwin …bloody lightweights or sensible buggers?!

Half Moon Bay, our stop tonight, is a cute little town, and we managed to get some very good sushi for dinner. It’s a hop, skip and a jump for us tomorrow into San Francisco where we will have a rest day.

Us x

Monday, 12 April 2010

Cruzin’ on a Monday afternoon

Despite the high pitched chirp of our cell phone waking us up from our deep and wonderful sleep at 8am this morning and the clattering percussion of persistent rain smashing against windows, gutters, patio chairs & tables and all other sorts of external paraphernalia; today was a good day!

Known for its promotion of an alternate style of living, Downtown Santa Cruz was a very relaxing place for us to have a rest day. However in typical fashion we had a lot of stuff to do and ‘rest’ was not on the list. Eventually stepping out of our very stylish hotel (Pacific Blue Inn) and armed with a Laundry bag full of wet and muddy cycling gear, we made our way through the hoards of ‘New Age Travellers’, who would often stop to ask if we had a spare cigarette or some spare Crack Cocaine “…yeah sure thing buddy, here you go. Take this spare 2g’s we’re carry around, and go knock yourself out”, and found a nearby Laundromat with a good selection of washing machines. We chose to use the drum style washing machine rather than the top loading type. It actually cleans better due to the increased centripetal force applied by the sides of the drum forcing the clothes to following a curved path, thus applying a reactive centrifugal force to the dirty water in the clothes …job done!

With a fist full of unused quarters and a bag full of clean & dry clothes, we avoided the numerous requests for intoxicating substances, dumped our clean linen in our hotel room then gingerly went back outside to find a place to eat …obviously. Lunch was very good and very filling. So filling in fact that when planning what we were going to have for dinner whilst eating our lunch we decided that we were more than likely to be too full to eat another meal in 4 hours. Instead we opted to visit the in-house cake shop, and loaded ourselves with Blondies (like Brownies), Coconut Macaroons, Cinnamon Swirls, Scones and a bottle of cheap Californian fizz.

Returning to the Hotel we worked off lunch …by doing some bike maintenance, performing various landlord duties and planning the Northern Tier/Yellowstone National Park stage of the trip. The feeling of having empty stomachs didn’t last long as we now speak with you feeling slightly nauseous after eating too many yummy things.

Before we sign off for the night we’d just like to say a big hello to Jon Royer, the man responsible for this morning’s early wake up call, to say hello and ask how we were getting on. Jon is the great guy we met in Round Top, TX and ate in his gorgeous restaurant famous for its pies. And another big shout to Tracey and Jonathan who we met in Gorda, CA a couple of days ago. Tracey and Jonathan have recently donated $250 to the US Multiple Sclerosis Society through our site. We’re trying to hook up with them in San Francisco this week.

Happy Birthday Julia (Anthony’s sister), we’re thinking of you.

Back on the road tomorrow.

Us x

Sunday, 11 April 2010

(Not) Riding on the Freeway

Today the weather forecast was for rain, and we were surprised to find that it did indeed rain. We had started to become slightly blasé about such a risk after a couple of weeks in Southern California, but it was clear from today’s events that we have reached the central coast!!

Having filled ourselves up with mountains of yummy pastries at our hotel in Carmel this morning, we set off on our 60-mile trip to Santa Cruz just as the rain started. It would only have been about 45 miles, but we decided to take a detour around the Monterey Peninsular and track the coastline…well, it is bike the borderline after all. Within feet of the hotel, we stopped to put on our rain gear…bottoms as well as jackets. Wet, wet, wet.

Despite the rain, we enjoyed the first 25 miles or so of our trip. We were lucky enough to be on a bike path for much of it, which was understandably deserted, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was at around this point that the rain turned from a constant downpour to pelting down mercilessly. After about 5 miles of it, we were overjoyed to see a small town on the horizon with a number of eating possibilities…yay.

Taking shelter in Subway, we squelched our way into the line to place our order, leaving a trail of rainwater as we went, and started to chatting to a guy in front of us called John, who was interested in what on earth we were doing out cycling in this weather…and who had a few good tips for us about Santa Cruz. We were about half way through our “$5 foot longs…any, any, any, 5, 5, 5 dollar foot longs” (for those not in the US, that is the Subway ad), when John came back into the store. He had been thinking about us about to leave the bike path and riding in the torrential rain on the freeway to Santa Cruz and offered us a lift, even though he wasn’t going that way. We were shocked at the short time that it took for us to look at each other and nod vigorously, and then start to justify in our minds that it was better for us not to be riding on the freeway with the heavy rain, low light, dense spray and the speeding traffic and just to get to our warm and dry hotel in Santa Cruz. So, we had a comfortable and warm trip with John in his Volvo (in hindsight the safest option) the final 30 miles. A huge thanks to John…what a star. We continue to be stunned and amazed by the acts of kindness that we have encountered through this trip.

It is still raining as we type this blog, and will apparently continue through until tomorrow, when we have a rest day here in Santa Cruz. Perhaps a good excuse to do nothing?!

Us x

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Are You Feeling Lucky

T’was a short ride of 28 miles averaging a very respectable 12.5 mph and spinning at a rate of 60 rpm (cadence). The ride into Clint Eastward territory (Carmel) was very pleasant and free from cycling difficulties.

We have realised that photos (and videos) speak louder than words and in response to recent requests for more smells and tastes, we have a little surprise for you …check out our picture and video library tomorrow.

Unable to execute the normal laundry activities since we left Pat and Chava in LA, upon arrival at our hotel this afternoon the first and immediate job was to locate a Laundromat and wash a whole heap of smelly clothes. Once completed, we then found a great Italian restaurant and ate very well indeed.

Sorry for the short blog, we’re hoping that our pictures will speak a thousand words

Us x

Friday, 9 April 2010


Today’s ride was, in many respects, as close to perfect as you could get. Waking up early, we had a quick but yummy breakfast of cereal and pastries, before setting off from Cambria bound for Big Sur. We had been a little apprehensive about this leg of the trip. We knew we had over 70 miles to cover and, with a strong headwind, which we expected since we are travelling North against the prevailing winds. When combined with the elevation chart that we had poured over beforehand, it would be no mean feat to complete this in one day. However, everything came together and in the end, even allowing for the puncture about 30 miles into the day, it was a wonderful day, and no arguments either!

Rugged and ragged rocks were the order of the day, with raw seas crashing around them. And on the other side, wildflowers of all colours and sizes dotted across the landscape, and acres of green rolling hills and mountains. In some respects, the hardest part was trying to decide where to stop, and not pulling over every 5 minutes to check that we were not missing a stupendous view behind us…

The weather was extremely kind to us: no tailwind (we don’t expect that anymore) but only a mild headwind, and lots of sunshine to warm us up. We didn’t feel quite as upset as we have done in previous days by the many, many cyclists that we see whizzing past us in the opposite direction. And today we even stopped and spoke to a few people: hello to Tracey and John, who were cycling from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, with only a tiny rucksack each, and Paul (doing the same route) and Scott (wouldn’t you guess it…doing the SF to SB jaunt as well).

We were pleased to reach our hotel for the night, a “back to nature” lodge which we found had no TV, internet, cell-phone reception or any other mod-cons, although was very comfortable. Electronic detox they call it…hmm. Hence, today’s blog will be posted tomorrow.

Us x

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Little Sur!

Today was one of those ‘rides’ that will forever be in our hearts and minds. It’s been a while since we were so overcome by scenic beauty that even the bumpy road surfaces or battering headwinds could not ruin the day.

Armed with ½ a kilo of banana bread boxed-up from breakfast at Marie Callenders, we rode for 52 miles today stopping briefly in San Luis Obispo to purchase a new Ali-G doo-rag for Anthony’s sweaty head problem and a second time in Morro Bay to inhale the banana bread, washing it down with some very nice coffees.

We tried some Helmet cam shots but the sun was setting and the films didn’t come out very well …apologies.

After a lovely fish dinner and lemon tart dessert in the restaurant next to our hotel, Little Sur Inn, in Cambria, we’re now chillin’ out in our very comfortable room, ready for our 75-mile ride tomorrow.

Us x

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Perfect Pies in Pismo Beach

Today, we decided that we would defer all of the usual rest day admin that we had to do until this evening so that we would maximise the chances of making it down to the beach for our first dip in the Pacific Ocean. After waking up late, and getting caught up by a particularly gripping episode of Cold Case (complete with groovy 80s tunes), it was touch and go. But, we pointed our shades in the general direction of the ocean, and eventually we were off…

It was cold. Damn cold. The sort of cold that felt like an iron vice gripping around your calves and tightening as the waves encircled your feet and lower legs. But we persevered. We Brits are made of sterling stuff when it comes to swimming in the sea/ocean. The trouble was that it didn’t really get that deep. So, after throwing ourselves a few times into water that was less than waist deep, taking several sharp intakes of breath, and pulling a few faces, we decided to call it a day, and read our books on the beach for a while before returning to base.

For lunch, we went to the resort restaurant, Marie Callenders, famous for its pies. After a measly salad each, we both tucked into a large slice of pie (lemon meringue for Anthony, fresh strawberry for Kat). Gorge! We were back there again tonight for supper and must mention the manager, a lovely lady who was very interested in our trip.

On the road again tomorrow bound for Cambria.

Us x

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Strawberry Fields ...forever!

The United Sates of America. Now that’s an interesting expression. Why do we call the states of America “United”? Yeah, we know the history, the American Revolution and the Constitution of the United States formalized in 1788, but where does all that leave us now? We’ve only been through 15 of the so-called ‘united’ states, but are already exhibiting a love/hate relationship with this place. Let’s be honest, this glorious land is not truly united? Maybe in the legal sense when the federal government decides to demonstrate its power and authority, but apart from that, each state is a different country, each for its own. How did we come to this conclusion? You may well ask. Amongst other things, the massively varying standard of available food brings us to this conclusion. We jested a few days ago about how all US citizens should be moved to the coastline for the sole purpose of eliminating obesity. Well guys, there maybe some truth behind this crazy idea. Yesterday, we cycled from the coastal city of Santa Barbara to Lompoc, which can’t be more than 10 miles from the coast. Where Santa B was full of fresh food and healthy eating establishments, Lompoc was full of your fast food usual suspects, all packed into 2-blocks. With fried food no longer being an option for us (Thanks Pat) we walked ½ mile to the one and only non-fried food restaurant in the village. Now we’re here in Pismo Beach, back on the coast …and guess what? We ate in a restaurant with a menu packed full of fresh and non-fried food choices. Can someone tell us if it is written in the Constitution that all Counties or States more that 5 miles from the coast must be ‘united’ in eating fried food? Phew! You can see its not just Trusty and Steed whose gears are being grinded.

Getting back to the details of today’s ride, we plodded along realising that it would be a waste of energy fighting against the very strong and gusty head wind. There were times when we wished we had scratch ‘n’ sniff photos for your pleasure. Particularly when we cycled through a region that farmed gazillions of strawberries …the fragrance was to die for. Another thing that struck us was the number of Tourers we met along the ride. At one end of the spectrum was Alain Zwahlen from Switzerland who is 1/3 of the way through his 37,000-mile cycle tour around the Americas. And at the other end, a father a son team, embarking on a 250- mile cycle trip, with their wife/mum following behind in the car carrying all their stuff.

However, the most important fact of the day is Helmet Cam. It is now working and we made a little movie. Check it out in the photo gallery.

The hotel is great, with yummy food and spectacular views. We’re having a rest day tomorrow.

Us x