Monday 31 May 2010


After getting Anthony’s spoke repaired at the local bike shop, we spent much of the day relaxing in our lovely hotel the Rio Vista. We were well looked after by Sonia, who helped us to do our laundry and provided us with fresh baked cookies. Sonia … you are brilliant!

Back on the road tomorrow

Us x

Sunday 30 May 2010

Passing Out at Washington Pass!

This blog posting comes to you a day late, why? Because we were so shattered last night and all day today, we couldn’t muster the energy to write the flippin’ thing. And crazy though it may seem, we’re still completely bush whacked now, 24 hours later! So let us try to share with you what happened yesterday to cause us so much pain and suffering.

Reviewing the maps and elevation guide in the morning, we knew the 90-mile ride into Winthrop, WA over a 5,500ft mountain pass through the North Cascades would be pretty tough, but we didn’t realise just how tough! Waking up later than planned and leaving at 10:30am didn’t help matters either. Still, we were feeling quietly confident, mainly because it wasn’t raining (the first time in 4 days), the sun was out and the temperature was just perfect for cycling. 15 miles in and everything was looking good. The winds weren’t very strong and we were rolling with ease over the nursery hills situated at the foot of the snow-capped mountain range of the North Cascades. Seasoned Followers of the blog will know that when we’re experiencing Cycling Perfection something bad is very likely to happen, and it did! ½ a mile later another one of Anthony’s rear spokes snapped with the all-familiar ‘Thwang!’ sound. We couldn’t do much but cut the remaining piece of loose spoke from the wheel, shrug our shoulders, curse a little, unclip Anthony’s rear brakes and head into the mountains. Just as we were about to set off we saw something protruding out from Kats front tyre, reflecting in the sunshine. On closer inspection it was a shard of glass lodged deeply into her front tyre, surprisingly though the tyre wasn’t deflating and Kat decided to leave it in and gamble on it holding out for the remaining 75 miles.

So with a warped rear wheel and a broken bottle stuck in a tyre, we got back on our saddles and set off to tackle the next 40-mile section of the ride, which relentlessly ascended 5,000ft without a break. As we cycled, we were blessed with many great views of the North Cascades. Seeing the snow capped mountains, deep gorges, many waterfalls and crystal clear lakes was truly breathtaking. We took some photos, not as many as we would have liked, but took the executive decision to try and finish the ride rather than stop to document our failure. Nonetheless we have posted some photos for your viewing pleasure.

After a quick lunch of cream cheese English muffins, energy bars, peanuts, chocolate bars, crisps and Powerade at about 2,500ft, we felt suitably refreshed and ready to knock out another 3,000ft round of climbing. Problem was Anthony wasn’t refreshed enough! Just 400ft from the summit of Washington Pass, Kat riding behind, noticed that Anthony was swerving in and out of the very wide hard shoulder. “Are you all right sweetheart?” she enquired. Anthony gave no response. “… that’s strange” she thought to herself, so asked again “Are you alright?” “I’m seeing green dots” came the response. Close to fainting but in his usual ‘I will not be defeated’ stupidity, Anthony’s body was close to shutting down and he refused to accept it. So Kat, with brain still engaged fortunately forced us to stop at the side of the road, rest and take in some more food. We eventually made it to the top and prepared for the 25-mile downhill ride into Winthrop. This section was of course a lot easier, reaching speeds in excess of 46 mph we made it to our hotel (Rio Vista) quickly and safely.

Thanks to Sonia (the Management) who welcomed us in, we were relieved to be out of the saddle. She also recommended a close by Mexican restaurant for us to refuel.

fyi we broke our record and did 6,800ft of climbing and burnt 9,320 calories …booya

Us x

Saturday 29 May 2010

A Question of Materiality

It sounds like a title to a novel by the British thriller writer, PD James. There was no murder, and no Detective Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, although there were a few mysteries that we’ll come back to later. But the reason for the title is that we have been coming through some towns with some curious names: after Sedro Woolley, our ride today took us through Concrete, then Rockport, to our destination for tonight, Marblemount. We’re not sure what it all means, but it’s a material scientist’s dream…

Our mysteries, however, are why it continues to rain, and why, now we are travelling East, we still don’t have a tailwind… and most of all, why it is still in the 50s here, when it is almost June, and the rest of the US appears to be experiencing a heat wave. Shucks… onwards and upwards, though.

Today, despite the constant drizzle, the fact that we (and Trusty & Steed) were covered from head to toe in grit, and that Kat got a puncture just 2 miles from our destination, we really enjoyed our 48-mile ride from Sedro Woolley to Marblemount. We rode through the Skagit River Valley, hugging the river banks almost the whole way. It’s an unattractive name for a beautiful and powerful river, with the greenest, lushest scenery you can imagine.

It all made us feel so relaxed that, when an Elk shot across the road just inches in front of Anthony, we were quite shaken up. These creatures are HUGE, and we had never imagined they could travel this fast, or just creep up on us out of nowhere… thank heavens we were just cruising along on the flat river valley with minimal traffic, rather than pegging it down one of the hills that we have encountered in recent rides.

Tonight, we are staying in a cute little hotel called Buffalo Run Inn, with a great restaurant just across the road, where we ate well tonight (fish, rice and vegetables… sound familiar?) Still, it’s good to be packing in the healthy energy food. We have a long ride tomorrow, with some serious climbing. Fingers crossed for the weather.

...And Happy Birthday Len (Anthony's brother), celebrate in style!

Us x

Friday 28 May 2010

The worm has turned!

We are officially on our way back to the East Coast of America. In normal circumstances you wouldn’t be far off the mark to think that we should be feeling happy with ourselves, after completing just shy of 8,000 miles through 17 States and 1 Province and burning close to 600,000 calories. But the truth is we’re feeling a little sad! Yes, we still have 6,000 miles left to do and with every mile from here on in we’ll be getting closer and closer to home, hopefully with a tailwind for most of the journey. Problem is, it just feels like the Beginning of the End, the Epic Journey has turned and is now in its final stages. Despite a little sadness, we’re still excited, enjoying the moment and remaining positive. It’s crazy how quick time has gone, but all is not lost, as we’re only 4 months away from seeing family, friends and 7 months from spending Xmas at home.

Rather talk about the details of today’s very wet 30-mile ride heading South into Sedro-Woolley, WA with a very strong wind coming from the South (who would have believed it), we’d prefer to spend some time recapping on the Epic Journey so far.

Our favourite city has been Portland, Oregon. Just 2 hours from the beach and an hour away from skiing, we were blown away with how cool Portland is. Florida, New Mexico and Arizona despite their billion dollar deficits are pretty close when it comes to our favourite state. Florida is just wonderful, with great weather and the choice between beautiful sandy Atlantic coast beaches and the tranquil Sunkist coast hugging the Gulf of Mexico, before BP decided to redecorate it. New Mexico displayed some of the most varied scenery we have ever seen and Arizona was just stunning with its majestic mountain ranges fencing in vast expanses of flatland.

We’ve got through approximately 12 sets of tyres and have been rescued by kind-hearted individuals in possession of internal combustion engines, just 4 times. We have taken loads of photos and met hundreds of great people; we have been truly blessed. Our favourite Foody state would be Oregon and one of our favourite rides was Tallahassee, FL to Port St. Joe, FL.

So many more things have happened and there are lots more tales to tell. Hopefully we’ll throw parties in New York and London when we return to fill everyone in on the gory details.

With sadness in our hearts we say bye-bye to the Pacific Coast but we’re looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead, especially Yellowstone.


Us x

Thursday 27 May 2010

Defying Logic

A gentleman traveller on his way to London comes to a fork in the road and doesn’t know which way to go. In the middle of the fork is a house where two identical twin sisters live. One always tells the truth and one always lies, but he does not know which is which. Our traveller can only ask one question to one sister to find out which way to go. What does he ask?

OK, so you’ve probably heard it before. He asks either of them “Which way would your sister tell me to go?” He sees which road the sister points to, and then takes the other one. Logical. Well, this story reminds us of the behaviour of Audrey & Margaret, our beloved Gamines, on our 67-mile ride today from Vancouver BC over the Canada-US border and down into Bellingham WA. Whichever way they told us to go, we had to take the other road/the opposite direction to follow the route map. Heaven only knows what was wrong with them, but it was so ridiculous, it was almost comical. The worst bit was trying to get onto a huge suspension bridge across the Fraser River. We went round in circles for a good 30 minutes before finally finding the route onto the sidewalk of the bridge. Duh…

Still, we were overjoyed to be back on the bikes for a good, honest ride of decent mileage and not a ferry in sight. Indeed, we rocketed along, despite moderate side and headwinds, and made excellent time today, happy with the roads, and breathing in the beautiful scenery as we went.

We were also secretly pleased from a budgeting perspective, to be back in the US. Canada was lovely, but expensive. If it moves, they tax it, and tax it good. Tonight, back in the US of A, we checked into a spotlessly clean, quiet and very reasonably priced motel. We ate in a fabulous Thai restaurant just across the road, washing down some seriously tasty food with a delicious bottle of WA Riesling and coming in well under budget. It’s funny the things that make us happy…

Ooo! We nearly forgot. As we got out of the lift/elevator and into the foyer of our very chic hotel this morning, who was standing there with a big clock hanging off a chain around his neck and a gorgeous 22-year old blond doing the same? None other than Flavor Flav. What was he doing Vancouver? Anthony spent a while chatting with him but opted not to take a picture, because that wouldn’t have been cool!

Us x

Wednesday 26 May 2010

A Rainy Day in Vancouver

We have said so much about how great and friendly we have found Americans to be, well it would be unfair if we cycled out of Canada tomorrow morning without providing any insight into how we have found Canadian hospitality. A broad generalisation would be that America is a multi-cultural place, whereas Canada is truly cosmopolitan. In Canada you will find all sorts of creeds and cultures mixing it up and hanging out together, not merely living side by side in Gated Communities next to Project Housing or shopping in a Whole Foods situated 20 miles away from your affordable PigglyWiggly or hanging out in chic wine bars versus the local Liquor Store or Service Station. We love America but it must be said that Canada is very different and refreshing at the same time.

It was unfortunate that today’s heavy rainfall put a dampener on things. We weren’t able to get out and about taking part in, and experiencing Vancouver city living. We did manage to find a Coin Laundry and wash some clothes though! Getting back to our room we folded the clothes neatly then did some route and hotel planning …we are soo edgy it scares us sometimes! By the time we had finished our chores it was 8pm and time for dinner, so we walked the 2 flights of stairs down to the hotel restaurant and had pasta; once again pushing the boundaries of adventure and daring!

So, we’ve returned to our room, ready for tomorrow, our last day of cycling the US Pacific Coast before we head East.

Us x

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Va Va Vancouver

After the excitement of Victoria Day yesterday, the streets this morning were positively peaceful as we made our way back up the Galloping Goose Trail the 21 miles from Victoria to Swartz Bay to catch the ferry to Vancouver. Well, the ferry terminal is called “Tsawwassen” actually, just South of Vancouver, but with an unpronounceable name like that…

Anyway, we did our usual trick of speeding along on the start of the ride, then having a “quick stop” at a gas station, and suddenly finding ourselves pressed for time. It was 11.55 as we pedalled like maniacs from the gate of the ferry terminal toward the 12-noon ferry. Luckily they let us on. Squeezing between the lines of stationary lorries each with one pannier off to get to the front of the ferry was quite an experience too…

Departing the ferry, we were stunned to see an expanse of wetlands covered, and we mean covered, in herons. We thought about cycling on past as we usually do assuming that the nervous birds would take flight as soon as the camera was half out of the handlebar bag, but for some reason this time we were in luck. Check out the photos.

When planning our route from Tsawwassen into downtown Vancouver, we found that there was a tiny problem. The only way across the Fraser River Estuary for many miles is a tunnel that is unsuitable for bikes. However, Canada is a resourceful and cycling-friendly nation. They run a free shuttle bus for cyclists, which goes every couple of hours from one end of the tunnel to the other. Result!

Although we had a bit of a wait for the shuttle, there was another unforeseen benefit. We met Denver and Rob, fellow cyclists, who were “commuting” from Victoria to downtown Vancouver. Denver had clearly ridden this route many times before and was happy to lead the rest of us, pied piper style, through the streets of Vancouver …navigating the cycle paths, bridges and other short-cuts in any downtown city is always a challenge for us, particularly as the Gamines tend to throw up their hands and give up, sending us on crazy routes and beeping away for good measure. So, we were very grateful, and also enjoyed chatting to Denver and Rob as we cycled along.

We’ve fallen on our feet with our hotel too …it’s great, and very reasonable. Best of all, it has a fabulous Italian restaurant, Cibo, where we ate tonight. The freshest of local produce, cooked perfectly, and tasty as can be, washed down with some seriously stylish vino. A big hello to Ed and Kelly, our hosts tonight.

Us x

P.S. A quick thanks also to another Rob, from the ferry, who did offer to drive us from the ferry and through the tunnel.

Monday 24 May 2010

21-Gun Salutes

We ‘made like tourists’ today, which was fortunate, as today was Victoria Day and we were staying smack bang in the middle of it all in a hotel on Quebec Street right next to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. We were planning on having a lazy morning watching TV, but faced with images of Oom-Pa-Pa bands, Majorettes, Union Jacks and Military Might parading down the street just outside our door, we thought better of experiencing this memorable event via the CRT and instead ventured outside into the Sunshine to stimulate all our senses. We weren’t disappointed!

Victoria Day (in French: Fête de la Reine) is a federal Canadian Statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 24th in honour of both Queen Victoria’s birthday and the official birthday of the current reigning Canadian sovereign (Queen Elizabeth II). It is also considered an informal mark of the beginning of the summer season. So as we sat on the curb along the edge of the road packed with thousands of spectators as the city bell struck Noon, we were amazed by the Royal Salutes exploding into the blue sky from the barrels of 4 very big guns. A little tear came to Kat’s eye when the British National Anthem filled the streets of Victoria …we actually missed Queen & Country. It was tiring work trying to catch that ‘perfect photo’ for your enjoyment, but we managed it and the picture is there for all to see.

Feeling hungry, we thought it would be a good idea to experience a little bit of France (there seems to be a little bit of France everywhere in Canada) and grab something to eat in a typically understated French Bistro, with a fantastic little sun-drenched outside courtyard. We tucked into our Salad Nicoise, Croque Monsieur, Frites and of course un petit verre du champagne …very civilized!

We returned to our hotel room via a quick but necessary detour to buy some English chocolate (Bounty, KitKat, Crunchy, Dairy Milk Whole Nut, After Eight Mints) and were determined not to sully the memories of today with laundry duties. We did however perform the mandatory route and hotel planning and Anthony did have a long chat with Joseph, so all was good!

Better still, especially for Kat, we ventured out this evening to watch SHREK Forever After in 3D at the local cinema. Kat’s favourite character of all time is ‘Puss in Boots’ and it was great fun to watch that little animated Cat on the big 3D screen.

Now back in our hotel room we’re feeling good after a lovely Rest Day in Canada and watching the usual suspects on TV. Oh, one last thing, we’d like to say a big “Hi” to T&MG and that we have seen the new USA Fiesta ad on TV …yay!

Us x

Sunday 23 May 2010

Galloping Goose! Are we in Canada Already?

Today we visited our new friends, Sidney & Victoria. They’re a lovely couple! All it took was a short ferry ride, and we were out of the USA and into British Columbia, Canada. OK, so Sidney is the port to which ferries from San Juan Island arrive, and it was short ride down the Galloping Goose Trail to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, our destination for tonight. It is called Victoria after Queen Victoria, and coincidently, it is Victoria Day tomorrow, when there will be a big parade through the streets, random partying and fireworks.

All went to plan and, although it was freezing when we disembarked the ferry around 11am this morning in Sidney, and we were forced to step to one side and pull on our full-length cold-weather gear, within 5 miles or so, we were stopping to take it off again, as the beautiful sunshine broke through the clouds and we breathed in the fresh Canadian air.

After 10 miles or so of the “Goose”, we turned off onto the “Seaside” trail, which took us all the way around the shores of Victoria, and through the neighbourhoods we had read about that we really wanted to visit: Oak Bay with its English style Tudor houses: check; Clover Point with the lovely view across the bay: check: Beacon Hill Park: check; James Bay: check. And it was only a short 27-mile hop in total from Sidney through all of these neighbourhoods to our hotel near the inner harbour. Bonus.

Quite by chance, we stopped for lunch at a little place called “Olive Olio’s”, which was fabulous and, from speaking to some of the other customers, we found that it was a hidden gem that the locals love and hope that the tourists don’t find: what can we say…we’ve obviously got the knack… Tonight, we ate at a great Thai restaurant (again). We’re digging Thai at the moment as a cheap and thoroughly tasty way to get our chicken/fish, vegetables and rice, with reasonably priced wine. Job done!

Now we’re chilling out in our hotel room with full bellies, looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow, a bit of sightseeing (perhaps), a large dollop of admin/accommodation booking/route planning (definitely), and a spot of firework watching, we hope. Canada…we likey!

Us x

Saturday 22 May 2010

We got the Hump

How awesome was today? 40 tonnes of awesome that’s how much. Waking up this morning excited at the prospect of seeing some of God’s wonderfully wild creatures we skipped breakfast at our “less than wonderful” hotel and made our way directly to Friday Harbor to grab a bite to eat, before quickly heading toward the marina, down the gangway and onto the Western Prince II, preparing for a day on the water we would never forget.

The Western Prince II is a 35ft’ish boat that tours around the San Juan islands carrying like minded people on a water safari in search of Big Game, such as Orcas/Killer Whales (both mammal and fish feeding …bet you didn’t know there was a difference), Grey Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles and even Minke Whales. As the boat manoeuvred gently out of the packed marina and began its navigation around the many islands set like jewels in the Strait of Georgia, we were reminded that we were on the hunt for wild animals and wild animals will generally do their own thing, quite often not showing up on cue. We therefore shouldn’t be disappointed if all we saw was the odd seagull. We’ll they couldn’t have been more wrong!

15 minutes into riding the waves, Captain Pete received a radio transmission from another Captain on the waves, that a rare sighting had been confirmed 6 miles north of our present location. Relaying this message to Nan and Chris (his first and second mates) we, along with the other 24 passengers were informed that Humpback Whales had been spotted ejecting 15ft water fountains from their blowholes. We pounded the waves for a few more minutes and then arrived at the reported place. Engines switched off and with everyone holding their breath …then suddenly “There she blows”, screamed a very excited passenger. With digital cameras pointed in all directions frantically taking panicked shots of anything that moved, we all managed to miss the 30 tonne mammal effortlessly powering its way through the open water. Round 1 to the Whale! Anthony, not used to losing Rounds, composed himself, focused, and got the camera ready for Round 2. We think a picture speaks a thousand words, so no more chitter-chatter from us, just take a look at the photos of whales, eagles, birds and rams.

… we met some great people on the boat and had a wonderful time admiring the beautiful scenery and wildlife. We docked 3½ hours later, and had a quick drink at the bar before returning to the room for some R&R. 9pm! Dinner tonight was a rushed affair, but none the less very pleasant.

Back on the road tomorrow, heading into Canada.

Us x

Friday 21 May 2010


Inspired by our fabulous Greek meal last night, today we went “island hopping” around the San Juan Islands in the Strait of Georgia between WA State and Canada. We caught a ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island, where we cycled around the whole of the West side of the island, before catching another ferry late afternoon to San Juan Island, our destination for tonight. Orcas was beautiful, and we met some cool people as we were waiting for the (late) ferry from Orcas Island to San Juan Island– hello to Doug at the Orcas Hotel, and the couple from Edinburgh with your cousin, and friend from Bellingham –sorry, we didn’t get your names before we left for the ferry.

Arriving in San Juan, we felt that all was good with the world. But that was before we had checked into our hotel. Our hotel for the night was literally minutes from the ferry. Pulling up to the hotel, we were greeted in the very tastefully decorated lobby by the German manageress who kicked off by telling us that we would not be able to take our bikes to our room, and would have to lock them outside. When we gently explained our trip and therefore how important the bikes are to us and that we don’t have locks with us as we always take the bikes to our room, she looked at us as if we were stupid and asked sharply why on earth we weren’t carrying locks? We explained how essential it is for us to minimise weight (unnecessarily carrying very heavy locks) when attempting to cycle 14,000 miles up and down 8,000ft mountains …duh… but this still had no impact. Jeez… had she not heard of German technical efficiency, or vorsprung durch technik? We believe she wasn’t really German, because she continued to look equally unimpressed and instead showed us to the side alley outside where we were invited to lean the bikes against the dustbins…nice.

We were then shown to our beautifully appointed but tiny room on the 3rd floor with… a shared bathroom on the 2nd floor. OK, so perhaps we have become a bit “princessy” on our trip, but for a room that is over $100, no matter how stylish it might be, it is inconceivable that we would choose to stay in a place with a shared bathroom. When we think back to the joys of Ahoskie NC, Andrews SC and other such gems, even they had their own bathrooms…

Unfortunately, the hotel had no other rooms available, but did have a room with a bath at its sister motel down the road. Traipsing back down the 3 flights with all our bags, and back on the bikes, we found that our German lovely had, of course, called ahead to tell the staff at the motel that we should under no circumstances be allowed to take the bikes into the room, and they greeted us with this message as we stepped into reception. By now, that we were not only island hopping, and hotel hopping, but were hopping mad.

In the end, we found that our room had a balcony (derr), so Trusty & Steed are taking their rightful place out there as we type. But that wasn’t the end of things, oh no, not for a minute. We won’t bore on about the other issues we have had, save to say that the reason that the blog will not be posted tonight is that the internet in our overpriced room doesn’t work, and the reception staff, presumably inspired by the directness of management, suggested it was our fault for having an Aluminium Mac Air. Don’t ask….

Anyway, giving credit where it’s due, reception did give us a good recommendation for dinner, and we ate fantastically well. So, we’ll pipe down and turn in for the evening. Whale watching tomorrow!

Us x

Thursday 20 May 2010

“The Magic City”

We’re still in the United States of America but, interestingly enough, on a circle of latitude that is farther North than the most Southerly point of the Canadian border; this was refreshingly confirmed after hearing several people talk aboot how great it is to be oot relaxing in and around the islands of the Strait of Georgia. We’re experiencing this beauty first hand, completing another 32 miles on Whidbey Island from Coupeville to Anacortes. Being a short ride, we decided to take it very easy (11.6 mph average speed easy!) and coast leisurely upon smooth road surfaces, securely in wide hard shoulders, beneath the blazing sun and blue skies, with a healthy tailwind, whilst gazing side to side into the deep blues and emerald greens, looking for Orcas, Bald Eagles and Grey Whales that allegedly frequent the region …no luck today, but we remain optimistic.

Our morning start was also very nice, as we sat at the breakfast table with fellow guests enjoying an insightful chat about US politics, the state of UK politics and the evil business practices of the US Food corporations. We even received a donation from Dianne & David the keepers of Anchorage Inn …thank you.

We apologise again for our previous failures to deliver pictures to support our continued hype about how great the scenery is. So today we took advantage of the bucket loads of time we had and stopped a couple of times to take photos. Deception Pass State Park was exceptionally stunning and we hope you enjoy the pictures.

We rolled up to our hotel at 3:30pm, did some quick laundry then set out to the local Greek restaurant …the food was authentically Greek and was very very yummy.

Tomorrow we will catch some more ferries (not Kayaks as recommended by some locals, as they are too small) to the San Juan Islands in search of Orcas and other large sea mammals.

Us x

Wednesday 19 May 2010

The Little Weatherman who Cried Rain

As we approached Seattle, and for the whole time we were there, rain was forecast each day. Each day we woke up expecting to see grey skies and wet streets, and each morning it was gloriously sunny. There were, perhaps, a few showers while we were there, but they were light and short. So, when the weather forecast for today said rain, we were naturally a little sceptical.

It was a beautiful, clear morning. Too hot to wear the wind-stoppers even on the ferry that we took from Seattle over to Bainbridge Island, where our ride for the day started in earnest. It was a busy road off the island, but we were lucky enough to have a shoulder/bike lane the whole way today, a good road surface for most of the route and either no wind or a tailwind. All sounding good? Well it was pretty perfect until we started approaching Port Ludlow, a small town where we decided we would stop for a lunch break. About 2 miles before this, the heavens opened. Having nonchalantly packed our raingear somewhere other than the top of our bags, there was a bit of a kerfuffle as we delved into the panniers and wrenched them out. Too bad we didn’t listen to that weatherman…

After a short break, it was still raining, but we set off anyway, and it was quite a pleasant ride considering. As we approached Port Townsend, where we needed to arrive in time for a ferry that only went every 90 minutes, we suddenly started to panic. Just as that happened, the wind picked up, and we missed a turn for a cycle path which was supposed to take us to the ferry port. Pedalling at double speed, we eventually found our way onto the path further down the road, and arrived at the terminal with time to spare. However, by that point, the wind was so bad that they were talking about cancelling the ferry. Eak squeak…how would we get to our hotel for the night?

At the last minute, the call was made to run the ferry… phew. We had a slightly stormy crossing but had a wonderful chat with Jeanine, from Port Angeles, who told us about the wildlife in the area and gave us a big hug as we went on our way to finish the last 6 miles into Coupeville, our destination for tonight. After a yummy Thai meal, we are back in our room watching the local news and raising our eyebrows at reports of Tornados in the area. But then again, perhaps we should pay more attention…

Us x

P.S. A note to Eric to send our apologies for not managing to catch up with him before we had to head out of Seattle. Thanks for the recommendations. Although we ran out of time on this trip, we will definitely be back.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Sleepy in Seattle

We recently decided to refer to our days out of the saddle as ‘Non Cycling’ and not ‘Rest’ days. We feel the term Rest doesn’t provide an accurate impression of what we actually do for most of the day. However, waking up this morning with almighty hangovers and faced with a to-do list including laundry, lingerie shopping and route planning, we managed to stumble through our chores, eventually finding time to relax for lunch at 2pm.

We found a great restaurant located on the 3rd floor of the Corner Market Building in Pike Place Market, considered the heart of Seattle. The restaurant is called Matt’s In The Market and the food and wine were seriously good at very reasonable prices.

After a touristy meander through the market famous for its Flying Fish and a quick wander through the shops of downtown Seattle, we made it back to our hotel room and settled down for the rest of the day and evening …at last a bona fide ‘Rest’ day (actually ½ a rest day).

So with our bodies well rested and Kat looking over room service menus for tossed salads and scrambled eggs, we say “goodnight everybody”.

Us x

Monday 17 May 2010

How Many People does it take to Cook a Wolf?

OK. So we loved Portland. And now we’re loving Seattle. We’re such butterflies…anyway.

Yesterday, we had a green and lovely ride into Bremerton, WA, from which we caught the ferry to Seattle. We followed the ACA route through Bremerton, which was truly the craziest route we have ever experienced. The main road stayed pretty flat and straight as we, tight for time to catch our ship, meandered around and up a number of steep hills looking down over the main road. Still, we figured, we’ll make it up on the downhill. No, no, no. Having climbed and…climbed, and…oh, climbed some more, we were forced to come down the steepest hills we have ever seen, where our brakes would not let us come to a halt before we were half way across the road crossing in front of us, and we were wondering what on earth the ACA route planners had been smoking when they conceived of this route. So, as Kat’s chain came off as well, as we were climbing, yes climbing again, after the steep downhills, up to the ferry terminal, we felt certain that we were going to miss the boat, quite literally. But luckily we put the chain back on and powered through with minutes to spare. Phew. And then it was a wonderful ferry ride into Seattle with some fabulous views.

We checked into our hotel just down the hill from the Queen Anne district of Seattle, and were soon round the corner in Ten Mercer enjoying a lovely dinner. Thanks to Natasha, our waitress, for a fab meal and for her restaurant recommendations which led us to our eating place tonight, ‘To Cook A Wolf’.

But, before we turn to that, we should mention what we have been up to today, a “non-cycling day” in Seattle. It has been a busy one, and involved us cycling across town to Velo Bikes, where we got new chains put on Trusty & Steed, and also finally managed to find the Ortlieb map cover for Kat’s handlebar bag that we have been desperately seeking for some time now…hurrah. Thanks to Lloyd & Aaron.

Tonight we made our way up the Queen Anne hill to “To Cook a Wolf”. This is a super-cool but wonderfully friendly place where they serve small plates of Italian inspired goodies…whatever is fresh and good, and they feel like serving. We had the tastiest crudo tuna (Ahi and Hamachi) as well as a chicken liver mousse to die for, and many other tasty dishes. But the thing we loved most was the number of genuinely friendly and interesting people that we met: Matt, the talented “crudo” chef all the way from Tennessee; Erin, a glamorous and lovely front of house; Mark, our charming and entertaining server, who gave us a number of tips for places to go next on our bikes; Jorg and Kevin, who sat next to us at the bar and whom we chatted away with happily for ages; and Ron, whom we met by the time we were onto our yummy dessert, and who stopped his car for us as we were walking back down the hill to give us a WA University jacket to keep us warm, and which of course Kat snaffled for herself without a second glance (Ron had already kindly offered us a lift which we had politely declined). What a special and unique experience…

Tomorrow, we will be taking in a couple of the main tourist attractions of Seattle, and fitting in a bit of laundry alongside…

Us x

Sunday 16 May 2010

Holding Blog

We've arrived safe and sound in Seattle. We'll tell more tomorrow.

Us x

Saturday 15 May 2010

Photos not included

There are days when nothing out of the ordinary happens and we just get caught in the moment of cycling. Today was one of those days! So much so that when we arrived at our motel at 4:30pm this evening, we were a little surprised, not knowing where all the time had gone.

In short, we left Centralia at 11am, annoyed at not getting up early enough to begin our 58-mile ride into Shelton before 10am. Fortunately for us, the ride was relatively flat (despite the cycle log saying different), the wind was calm and the road surface was pretty smooth, which all added up to us successfully getting back into the “Average Speed over 13mph” Club. Not since March 16, 2010 had we gone so fast, when we first crossed California’s southern border. The downside of cycling in the style of a Spin Class instructor, are the lack of photos. Apologies MG&T, we weren’t able to take a picture of the BIGFOOT sitting at the side of Hwy 12 tucking into what looked like fresh road kill, or was it Beef Jerky, who knows? Though, he/she did wave at us as we sped by …very polite.

Before we go. Happy belated birthday Holly, you don’t look a day over 35! And when you’re partying near Beaulieu-sur-Mer, remember its sister city is Tempe, Arizona! We cycled through Tempe, so in a round-a-bout way we’re partying there with you.

Us x

Friday 14 May 2010

Shall We Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?

Today was like one of those perfect summer days we remember having in the English countryside as children: clear blue sky, a light breeze, hot enough for short sleeves (but not too hot), bright green lush fields stretching into the distance, birds chirruping. You get the picture. We’re amazed at how similar the flora in WA State is to England. We’ve seen daisies, buttercups, cow parsley, dandelions, gorse…we could go on.

The fauna is slightly different. We started our day at the motel drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and watching a tiny humming bird buzzing around outside the lobby window. Don’t see many of those in Blighty these days… Soon after we set out on our 43-mile jaunt from Castle Rock to Centralia, we saw some Steller Jays (vibrant blue); the bird with the scarlet red arm-pits (we’ve seen loads of them); and later a bright yellow bird (see photo).

But generally, it was the peace and quiet of the day, the minimal traffic on the roads, and simply the feel of being in the middle of the country that enveloped us as we pedalled along. We were tempted to think that there was nothing that could really be captured adequately in a photo, and then out of the blue (quite literally) we had the most amazing vista with Mt St Helens emerging off to our far right, and directly ahead of us, Mt Rainier looming magnificently in the distance: both covered from peak to base in snow and looking wholly alien against the pure green foreground. We felt compelled to get out the camera and start snapping!

After a few ridiculously steep climbs that appeared out of nowhere, we suddenly found ourselves cycling through the residential outskirts of Centralia. A quick stop for Anthony to get rid of a rather large bug that had flown down his cycling shirt and bitten him (!), and we rolled up to the motel. Exactly on time, Margaret beeped to confirm that we were arriving at our destination. Hurrah! Yesterday’s Gamine performance was the worst we had encountered so far on the trip; so bad indeed, that we had to download the Garmin maps and stats from Audrey, and Anthony had more than a few stern words to say to Margaret. When she wasn’t listening, he even talked about needing to replace her with a newer model…eek. Margaret’s performance today… not a foot wrong: no U-turns; no route calculation errors; no routes twisting round in circles; no hissy fits; not even a chirrup out of place. Margaret lives to see another day. What a relief for Margaret fans everywhere.

Us x

Thursday 13 May 2010

"...down in Castle Rock"

Today is the 201st day of our Epic Journey and we began our most perfect ride this morning heading 67 miles east from Astoria, Oregon looking forward to arriving in Castle Rock, Washington.

Our motel in Astoria had lots of plus points; clean, spacious and very comfortable with great views across the mouth of the Columbia River. However when Kat has knowledge that a Coffee Roaster is nearby, it means we have to skip the motel breakfast, and instead make our way across the road to sample the local brew! So this morning, we ended up doing more than sampling the local brew when we were confronted with a glass cabinet full of scrumptious pastries and fine looking Panini. We couldn’t resist and purchased a wide selection of other goodies (quiches, paninis, scones and hand cooked crisps) for lunch later in the day, as well as coffee and cakes for breakfast. Thanks Melissa, Elizabeth and Lea (or Leah) of Columbia River Coffee Roaster.

Packed with enough food to feed a small family of 4 and after taking a few shots of the 3-mile bridge spanning the Columbia River, we set out in the glorious sunshine along a disused railway line converted into a trail. The trail followed the banks of the river and passed through a small marina packed full of vocal, entertaining and smelly Sea Lions, before ending conveniently at the spot where we had to join the road and follow the route.

We won’t go on too much about the road surface, but we must mention that for about 20 miles of the ride, the road was ‘CP’, the remaining 47 miles were near perfect. We had to stop at mile marker 27, eat lunch and catch the ferry across the Columbia to land firmly on Washington state soil. We have often said that crossing a state line is more than just seeing a sign at the side of the road. There are other sensations that excite (or disappoint): sometimes it would be the road surface, other times it can be the people or the vehikkles they drive. But this time, when entering the state of Washington via Puget Island and then onto Cathlamet, your sense of smell is bombarded with the colour green, it’s truly amazing and we loved it!

So cycling along the picture perfect landscape with the mighty river on our right and Evergreen clad sheer mountains on our left, we were lifted to greater heights of euphoria when we saw St. Helens snow white Mount rising high in the distance. Apparently there are days when you can see her red-ring interior with hot steam venting out from the centre …shame we’re not going to see that spectacle.

With a final push up some big hill climbs and hanging on to our bikes as we thundered down the other side, we arrived at our hotel at 6:05pm feeling great. After taking advantage of the guest laundry services and treating ourselves to some hearty Mexican food we retired to our room for some R&R.

Us x

Wednesday 12 May 2010

A Bridge Too Far!

After bidding a fond farewell to Pawel, our host at the beautiful Coast Cabins in Manzanita, we were back on the road this morning bound for Astoria, our last stop in Oregon. We made a quick stop en route in Seaside, where Andy and Brian at Prom Bikes mended Trusty’s broken spoke and tweaked a couple of other things on the bikes which were a little troublesome. Thanks guys!!

We meandered on the Lewis & Clark road from Seaside to Astoria (named after the famous explorers to the Pacific North West more than 200 years ago), which was beautiful, and perfect cycling, except perhaps for the wind which, as usual, was a tad gusty. We completed the 43-mile ride by around 5pm and found ourselves back in our usual style of accommodation this evening (!), although it’s fine…clean and comfortable, albeit not the luxury we had encountered over the last couple of nights. And we had a truly fantastic dinner at Bridgewater Bistro, overlooking the Columbia River and the HUGE bridge that spans it from Astoria into Washington State. Before we looked at our map we thought that we were cycling over it tomorrow, and were more than a little apprehensive. Happily, however, we take a detour up the river valley and get a ferry across further inland…phew. Didn’t stop us ordering an extra glass of wine (Dutch courage) this evening though…just in case.

Us x

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Man ‘Zzzz’ anita

Yet another day to be relaxed, reflective and just plain happy! Good thing really because what lies ahead of us, starting tomorrow, is 5 consecutive days of cycling; destination, Seattle, WA.

So, today we kept it simple …had fresh fruit and granola for breakfast; coffee and croissants for lunch; went for a walk along the beach; took some photos; bought some groceries; sat by the patio log fire; cooked chicken & leek risotto and drank wine. We’re now sitting on the sofa watching CRIMINAL MINDS in our dressing gowns …niiice.

Happy Birthday Debbie (Anthony’s sister). Hope you have a good day and we’re both missing you.

Us x

Monday 10 May 2010

Spoke 2 Soon

The day had arrived; the day that we had to leave Portland. It wasn’t easy. When the alarm went off this morning, we were so relaxed that it was even more difficult than usual to get out of bed. Our new (quiet) room was super quiet, the curtains were thick, and we ate too much roast chicken last night. Still, since we were getting the Tillamooook express back to the coast this morning, we knew we were on a tight schedule, and no shilly-shallying would be tolerated.

It all went to plan. We arrived good and early at the Greyhound station, and took our place at the front of the line. Placing Trusty & Steed in the rack on the front of a small bus was not easy. Especially a bus painted like a Tillamook cow. Imagine tying your child to the front of the vehicle in which you are travelling and then watching the rack bounce around with the bumps in the road. Quite. After bugging the very sweet lady who was driving the bus several times for reassurance that the bikes were OK, and they were really supposed to move like that, we sat back in our seats and looked everywhere we could apart from out the front of the bus!

But it was all good in the end. Trusty & Steed were fine, and we stepped off the bus, loaded them up with Panniers and Pan-Bs, slotted Audrey & Margaret into place, and were off on our 26-mile jaunt to Manzanita, just a little bit further up the coast, and our destination for tonight. About a mile into the journey, predictably, it started to rain. But, within around 30 minutes, it had stopped again. Just one of those Oregon showers we are getting used to. Then, as we pulled away from a gas station where we had stopped for a quick break to take off our rain jackets, THWANG! Yes, followers, you know what that noise means. Despite having Trusty & Steed tuned up over the weekend, and the broken spoke from our ride into Portland mended, Trusty had suffered another broken spoke. How? Why? In the words of the great Toyah Wilcox, “It’s a mystery”.

Anyway, we limped the remaining 15 miles into Manzanita, safe in the knowledge that there is a bike shop a bit further on that we will pass on Wednesday on our way to Astoria.

Manzanita is such a cute little place. We arrived at Coast Cabins, where we are staying tonight and tomorrow, and were completely blown away by the place. Big thanks to our friends Lisa Marino, and her husband John, who recommended it (and hope that all is going well for them and their baby girl, Sofia, born just a couple of months ago). It’s a bit of a treat, and we could wax lyrical for hours about how everything is so stylish and perfect; suffice to say that it’s simply gorgeous. Tonight we had a burger at the local “pub” which was excellent, and jam packed with a great mix of locals and visitors. We’re looking forward to trying out the tasty looking little coffee shop and bakery for breakfast tomorrow morning. More then.

Us x

Sunday 9 May 2010

Last Night in Portland :-(

Just a quick and very short update! Friday night’s fitful sleep was a major contributing factor to our 11:30am rise from bed this morning. After switching rooms to a much quieter floor away from college ‘frat’ boys determined to ruin everyone’s night, we slept like puppies and woke up ‘naturally’ on our own accord at 11:30am this morning.

Our first job was to walk to the bike shop to collect Trusty & Steed. On the way we did as the locals do, boycotting Starbucks and opting to spend our dollars at Stumptown Coffee Shop & Roaster for some very good cups of ‘pick me up’ and delicious pastries.

After collecting and then returning les bicyclettes to our hotel room, we did a quick turn around and were back on the sunny streets of downtown Portland looking for somewhere to have lunch. We eventually found Veritable Quandary (VQ) an über chic restaurant serving great food al fresco. Kat had the corn beef hash and Anthony had granola and yoghurt.

We then took a stroll on the waterfront path along the Willamette River, admiring the views of the town and the backdrop of tall mountains in the distance.

Back in our hotel room we set about (aboot for you Canadian followers) completing our chores, including laundry and route planning. It was 8.30pm and after a quick shower we rushed to catch the final place setting at Serratto, a great restaurant in the Alphabet District.

We’re now at the end of an action packed day, ready to get some rest before re-engaging on the Epic Journey tomorrow morning. We’re going to catch the shuttle bus back out to Tillamook on the coast and cycle north toward the Washington State border.

Us x

Saturday 8 May 2010

What's Brewing in Portland?

We’ve been having a ball in Portland. This is one city where we could definitely see ourselves living. But we’re not alone in that feeling. So many people we have spoken to on this trip have said that they are moving to Portland. And the people that live here already seem to be super-enthusiastic about it in a way that we have not encountered elsewhere (perhaps with the exception of San Diego).

We mentioned in an earlier blog that Portland is known as the “green” city, but here are a few further random facts about Portland.

Climate: it has wet but mild winters, and dry, hot summers. But by “wet”, we mean wet… from November to March, on average, it rains at least every other day i.e. 17 or 18 days in the month. We thought London was bad! Still, apparently these are perfect conditions for growing roses, which is why Portland is known as “The City of Roses”.

Population: at just under 600,000, its population is much smaller than London (7.5 million) or New York City (8.5 million), but it seems just as cosmopolitan, and we can’t quite believe that it is that small.

Live-ability: you can walk everywhere, and it has a fantastic public transport system. Happily for us, it is also known for its microbreweries, coffee houses, varied and high quality cuisine and for serving fabulous Oregon wines.

Politics: it’s so fiercely Democrat or “blue”, that it is known as being “ultra-violet”! It’s also so liberal with its freedom of speech laws that full nudity and lap dancing is protected as being “free speech”. Hilarious!

Cycling: yes, it ranks No 1 as the best city for cycling in the US…need we say more.

So, back to our own experiences of Portland. After running all our “errands” yesterday, we settled down for a late lunch of dim sum, edamame, and spring roll in one of the nearby bar/restaurants. The place sold itself to us with its motto “Eat, Drink, Be Happy”. Oh…go, on then! And so we did and we were. After a bit of route planning, in particular working out where we will go in the Vancouver/Vancouver Island area, and in what order, it was time to eat again. So we moseyed on down to the restaurant in our hotel. We felt a bit unambitious, as we ate there the night before as well, but it was so good we figured why not.

All was good with life until around 2am, when the college guys in the room next to us started some high jinx at full volume in the corridor outside our door. As they seemed to have around 8 people staying in the room, and many female guests turning up giggling, knocking on the door, and then slamming it again around 5 minutes later, it was not a peaceful night’s sleep. This went on for the next couple of hours, despite intervention from hotel security, and started up again just before 8am this morning, until Anthony knocked on their door and left them in no doubt as to how angry he was, which seemed to do the trick. Needless to say, we were a little irritable when we finally woke up. However, one room change later, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we do not get a repeat performance tonight.

Anyway…our highlight of today was meeting up with Valerie and Paul, family friends of Kat’s, who live and work in Portland. They whisked us off for a late lunch in a fantastic brew-pub, where we basked in the sunshine in the beer garden at the back of the pub. We tried out a couple of the fantastic beers and some suitably unhealthy but yummy food, and had a wonderfully relaxed chat for a couple of hours. They then gave us a whistle-stop tour of Portland, including some of the picturesque bridges, before dropping us back at our hotel for the evening. Thanks Valerie and Paul for a lovely afternoon!

We’re now chilling out in our (quiet) room, content in the knowledge that we have another rest day tomorrow, before heading back to the coast on Monday. Oh, and we got a phone call tonight from Hugh at the bike shop to say that Trusty & Steed are fully recovered and ready for collection tomorrow – more on that then!

Us x

Friday 7 May 2010

Portland, Oregon

Today was a wonderful rest day in Portland and we got quite a few things done. Most importantly, Trusty & Steed are in the bike shop getting better and having a tune up! We have another couple of rest days here, so we’ll post a more detailed blog tomorrow. Don’t forget to see yesterday’s blog, which we’ve now posted.

Us x

Thursday 6 May 2010

The “Green” City

How is it that we can have a great day cycling, yet take no scenic photos? Well, we suppose it was because our 79-mile off-piste ride from the coast at Tillamook heading inland to Portland was just plain ‘Cycling Perfection’ (CP). The scenic route from the coast to Portland is glorious. It hugs the meandering banks of the cascading Wilson River through the emerald green Tillamook State Forest, all the way up to 1,600 ft. And despite being in Logging Country where logging trucks pass by every 15 minutes or so, there was minimal car traffic and the road surface was made up from tiny little hands that pushed us along all the way, which was lucky for us as we set off just after 10am and we knew we’d be up against it to get into Portland before 6pm.

Feeling good and without a care in the world we were effortlessly climbing up hill. After checking the Gamines, we noticed that we had been spinning for 25 miles without a break “…wow those energy bars are pretty good”. As if by magic, just when we needed it (food and a toilet stop) most, we came across a café and general store, smack bang in the middle of the forest, the only one for miles around. We sat down eating bagels, peanuts, chocolate and slurping Latte whilst having a wonderful chat with Roseanne (the manager) about Mountain Lions, Bears, Coyotes and all the scary wildlife one could find roaming free in the forests of Oregon state. She also informed us that our next 10 miles would climb up to 1,600ft, after which we faced a descent all the way down into Portland. Refreshed and armed with this valuable local information, we returned to the road excited and anxious.

It wasn’t long till we reached the top of the mountain to begin our 13-mile descent dropping 1,200ft into Gales Creek. We zipped up all the openings in our cycle gear, adjusted our helmets and prepared ourselves for the rapid descent. Anthony assumed his tight tuck position, dislocated his shoulders to reduce drag and was hysterically giggling at the prospect of breaking his land speed record. In his mind the countdown began: “10mph, looking good …20mph, concentrate …30mph, keep elbows in, knees tight” … then an almighty SNAP! THWANG! TICK TICK TICK! …you guessed it: Anthony’s spoke broke and we still had 42 miles to go; the record breaking attempt was thwarted! Kat had to console Anthony …he was crying like baby. Eventually, we accepted our fate and decided the only option was to limp into Portland.

On balance the rest of the ride was OK! The rear wheel held up and our moving average speed wasn’t reduced too much. Everything was OK until we hit the outskirts of the city, when Margaret and Audrey decided to take us down a route that seemed fine at the beginning but then led us onto an 8-lane highway with nowhere to go. The 10ft fence that lined the side of the very busy highway kept the perfectly formed cycle path on the other side in clear view. It was only 6ft away but out of our grasp; it was tortuous to say the least! At breaking point and no longer able to take the torment of cycling for miles on a scary 8-lane highway with this dedicated cycle path starring at us from behind a wire fence, Anthony finally said “F this for a game of soldiers, we’re climbing over that fence”. We stopped, perched ourselves up against the barrier to freedom, dismantled our bikes and threw them over. Next, Anthony put his hands between Kat’s legs, “Not now sweetheart” Kat objected, and helped her over with a gentle lift. Then, with Kat safe on the other side, Anthony delved deep, remembered his training from PE class aged 13 and vaulted over with ease. We both sighed with relief as we put our bikes back together.

Relieved, yet still anxious that we wouldn’t find our way through the spider web of one-way systems, cycle paths and parks, our prayers were answered by “Are you guys touring?” the voice of Anona, on her way back into Portland from her office in Hillsboro. Anona, being the Guardian Angel she is, cycled with us, navigating through the complex ‘paths of perfection’ and straight to our destination. If it wasn’t for Anona, we would still be trying to find our way to our hotel (which is great, btw, and we’re looking forward to our extended stay/holiday in Portland, OR).

Before we sign off we’d just like to say thanks for all the recent generous US donations, including Kristin’s rather sizeable one. Oh, and a big ‘Hello’ to Ben, our waiter for the night, and now our latest Follower.

Us x

holding blog!


We have arrived safely in Portland Oregon after a gorgeous 79 mile ride. This blog will be replaced with a more detailed version (photos, people we met, graphs & stats etc.) tomorrow ...we're both extremely shattered

Us x

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Crazy Capers

It was gloriously sunny as we set out this morning on our 57-mile ride to Tillamook, OR…famous for its ice cream, cheese and other dairy products! Obviously the sun didn’t last all day – this is Oregon after all – and we were rained on for 30 mins or so towards the end of the ride, but in the scheme of things, we can’t complain.

We had some wonderful views (see photos) as we made our way round a number of hilly capes today. It was “one of those days” for Anthony, however, who found a long shiny nail sticking out of his back tyre just as we took one of the photo stops. Having mended the puncture, literally a few hundred yards down the road, we looked up to a telegraph wire running across the street, hearing the gentle chirrup of one of those birds with bright red bits under its wings. Obviously what it was saying was “Hey guys, watch this, I’m going to sh*t on this cyclist…tee, hee”. And that is exactly what happened.

We also met a few interesting folk, all from Vancouver as it happens: a marathon runner and his wife; and another touring cyclist working his way down to Mexico.

Trying to get an early night tonight as we have an early start tomorrow for our long ride into Portland, where we will chill out for a few days.

Us x