Thursday 30 September 2010

33rd State …done!

Our vision was to actively take part in a life changing experience that would broaden our appreciation for life. We embarked upon a mission to cycle around the perimeter of North America and along the way set ourselves many goals and targets. We’re on schedule and have successfully reached many goals, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing. We’ve missed a few targets, such as not cycling through the Grand Canyon and falling short of 14,000 miles. However …drum roll please …today we reached another goal, our 33rd and final state, Connecticut (CT). It’s not long now until we complete our mission and realize our vision.

Being so close to ‘Mission Accomplished’ it would be very easy for us to get ahead of ourselves and lose concentration, which is not something you’d want to do when cycling the final 200+ miles into Manhattan. Therefore, with sensible heads screwed firmly on, we jumped on a bus to leave Newport over two impressively large and busy bridges, which did not permit bikes. When safely back on the mainland, we removed Trusty and Steed from the rack on the front of the bus and breathed a sigh of relief. It’s never easy sitting on a bus witnessing a grumpy driver executing every move possible to try to dislodge the bikes and run over them, only to turn around and say “sorry guys it was a mistake!”

Giving the grumpy bus driver a two-fingered salute (English style) and saying farewell to Kathleen, a lady we got talking to on the bus who suffers from MS, who gave us that extra bit of inspiration to push us along the final stages of the trip, we were back on the bikes and making our way toward Mystic, CT. The cycling was 50/50. Half the trip was on a scenic beachside highway and the other half was along a busy state highway. The shoulders were wide, the road surface was great, the traffic was thin but very fast and scary. We made it to the CT State line, shed a little tear and pushed on to Mystic. Arriving at our hotel we were faced with an Internet connection that didn’t work in our room and the realization that we had lost our cell phone …bummer.

To be honest guys we’re extremely shattered and are looking forward to being back in NYC and then the UK with family and family.

Us x

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Finding the Road into Rhode Island

Today was… well, today was one hell of a day. It was the day when we passed our 13,000th mile, and ventured into a new state, Rhode Island, but it was also one of the toughest days we have encountered in the whole trip.

The 64 miles from Plymouth, MA to Newport, RI should have been fairly easy. It looked like a long straight road with a wide shoulder, followed by a good stretch of bike path, and then a quick jaunt over the only bridge into and out of Newport that allows bikes.

Unfortunately, we did not bank on the fact that our long straight road was super busy and scary dangerous at the junctions. And apparently, cycling on it was prohibited… oops. We only found that out several miles into our ride, at which point we decided that we had better respect the rules of the road, and get the hell off! Problem was, we didn’t have a map: we are going off-piste for this last bit of our trip, skirting round the coast rather than following the ACA route inland. And, as you can imagine, the Gamines were a fat lot of use in such a crisis.

Still, with help from some wonderful people along the way today, we got here safely, and before dark… phew. A huge thanks to Louis, the owner of the Louco gas station in Middleboro, MA and Al, the owner of Middleboro Car Care next door. Al gave us some great directions to get us on our way, and Louis packed us off with some gratis bottle of Smart water. Then, when we had followed Al’s directions, we stopped Dave, who was out running in his lunch hour from the nearby Ocean Spray Corporate Headquarters, and asked him if he could direct us for the next few miles. Dave invited us into HQ and to the front desk, where Heather searched online for suitable directions for us all the way to THE bridge, and added to our liquid refreshment tally with a selection of yummy Ocean Spray Cranberry energy drinks – thanks you guys, you’re amazing.

After battling a fierce headwind, dodging drains and potholes in the road and trying to stay out of the way of the armies of cars and trucks gathering behind us during rush hour, we were relieved when the ride was over. Arriving in Newport, we were struck by all the beautiful buildings as we made our way to The Cleveland House Inn, our hotel in the centre of town. Jeff greeted us warmly, finding a safe place for Trusty & Steed to rest their weary heads overnight, and recommending a great place for two starving cyclists to eat (that’s us). The whole experience at The Moorings restaurant was superb, especially the food. We also had a good chat on our way out with Sean (bar manager, we think) who is planning to sail around the world with his wife – now that would be a real adventure! We wish them luck.

Finally, we want to mention Christina, the wonderful breakfast lady at the Best Western Cold Spring in Plymouth, whose daughter, Linda, is sadly suffering from MS. We were moved by Christina’s description of the challenges that Linda faces day in day out. When we hear stories like this, it makes a day like the day we had today not seem so tough after all.

Us x

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Plymouth Rocks

Today, we’re really shattered again! 43 miles into a very strong headwind to get from Boston to the historic (Pilgrims, Mayflower, Rock, first Thanksgiving, English settlement, etc.) town of Plymouth took its toll.

Still lovin’ y’all

Us x

Monday 27 September 2010

A Rainy Day in Boston

Although we’re only a few days away from the end of our trip, we found our non-cycling day in Boston still filled with the usual activities. While doing the laundry, we looked with a wry smile at the state of some of the clothes that we continue faithfully to wash, and agreed that their days were numbered. We booked the last of our accommodation, and had the usual frustrating time plotting the GPS waypoints for the next few days worth of routes. We’re off to Plymouth, MA tomorrow and then down into Rhode Island.

Us x

Sunday 26 September 2010

Tri-State Ride

It’s late, we’ve just finished dinner at a local Thai Restaurant and we’re back in our very comfortable hotel room watching TV and of course writing the blog.

The day began with us waking up at 7:30 this morning, packing our Panniers early and then meeting our fellow guests over breakfast. Lori, a super fit athlete, and her friend Joy were on a shopping and general pampering break, whilst Alice and Bill were visiting the area to attend a variety of theatrical and musical events. We all chatted for ages before eventually saying our farewells and going our separate ways.

Our plan for today would take us through 3 states, ending up 71 miles SW in Boston, Massachusetts. For the most part the ride was great. The tail wind pushed us along beachside highways at speed, with grand views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sun shining bright. As we sped along, we saw hundreds and cyclists riding in the opposite direction as part of an organised ride from New Hampshire to Maine. We sympathised with their situation, with many of them displaying painful expressions on their faces as they struggled against the brutal headwind. …been there, seen it, done it.

The final 15 miles into Boston were pretty hairy! Not only did we have to battle against rush our traffic across many an 8-lane highway on awful road surfaces, but the light levels were dropping and we had to ride with extra vigilance. We had a few close calls with the traffic, but made it to our hotel safely.

Not long now.

Us x

Saturday 25 September 2010

The bands of Jupiter trump the rings round Uranus

It was a HOT day today for our 60-mile ride from Portland, ME to Kittery, ME. Negotiating the busy streets of Portland to start off, we were glad to make it onto some of the bike paths that led out of the City and down to the Coast. Yes, we couldn’t resist dipping out toes in the Atlantic Ocean again… in fact we were desperate for a swim, but we made do…

Battling a strong headwind, we were pleased to roll into our hotel by around 4.30pm, with plenty of time to relax and unwind before strolling into town, and across the State Line! Weird but true, as we walked across the bridge over Badger Island (yes, we paid homage to the Badger), and into Portsmouth for dinner, we actually walked into New Hampshire.

We ate at Pesce, a wonderful Italian restaurant serving lots of fresh fish. Hi to our fabulous server Molly – we had a fantastic evening – thank you! On our way back, there was a man in the street with a huge… telescope, with a line of people ready to look through it. Not knowing what all the fuss was about but not wanting to miss out, we joined the line, and soon found ourselves looking at Jupiter, with its Bands and 4 moons visible… totally awesome.

Then it was back across the bridge to our comfortable B&B for some GPS route planning, TV-watching and chilling out. A long one tomorrow through NH and into Boston, MA!!

Us x

Friday 24 September 2010

Portland, Maine

Another short and sweet blog today guys! We woke up fairly early today, had breakfast, returned the Ford Escape to Hertz and then whilst Kat was planning where we would be staying for the next few days, Anthony watched Ironman2 on HBO.

At 6pm we were in a cab from the hotel to the Old Port area of Portland for dinner. Our cab driver, John was a Yorkshire man (preparing us for our NYC nights with Pat and Tim), an ex-bodyguard who has been living in Maine for the past 10 years and seems to be enjoying it. Being dropped off at the restaurant, we could see it was a popular place. No tables were available when we arrived but with help from Megan our server and Caitlin the Maître d', we were seated within 20 minutes and enjoying a lovely meal …thanks Caitlin and Megan.

Back on the road tomorrow, exactly 11 months on the road.

Us x

Thursday 23 September 2010

The Great Escape

OK, so this time, we are talking about the car. Today, we hired a Ford Escape and retraced our steps/tyre prints along the Maine coast by driving from Bar Harbor Airport to Portland, ME.

After a great breakfast at 2 Cats, across the road from our hotel, and a quick word with the resident cat at our hotel (a rather elegant grey feline with white socks and a hunting physique), we were on the road again. We cycled the 13 miles back across the island to the airport, this time finding a much better route that kept us away from the traffic and somehow also managed to have a better road surface as well… how does that work again?

Once in the rental car, we couldn’t believe how quickly we were eating up the ground, including the road works and dug-up road surface… but we also experienced a strange phenomenon. In the past, we have noticed that walking is no longer a natural movement for us. Our muscles ache as our legs try to go in a circular motion, and we keep expecting to be able to see people behind us in our helmet mirrors. When we realise that we don’t have our cycling helmets on, our heads feel strangely naked. Today, driving along, Anthony found himself taking his left hand off the steering wheel to point out pieces of debris on the road as he gently swerved to avoid them. We wonder when we will start to be normal again?!

Anyway, averaging around 50mph rather than our usual 12, the 125 miles went by in a flash and we arrived at Portland airport, and our hotel. We took advantage of the Manager’s reception in the lobby, knocking back a couple of free glasses of wine, before ordering some Thai food. Tomorrow, we’ll find our way into the city centre to have a look around, and then it’ll be back on the bikes again.

Us x

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Go South

Drum roll please! Tomorrow we start heading south along the Atlantic coast. Our final 500’ish miles take us on our final leg into Manhattan. Not quite believing what we have accomplished this past 11 months, we spent most of today in automatic pilot, researching hotels from here to NYC and of course, doing the laundry. On a disappointing note, we did realise that our final mile count would be closer to 13,000 than 14,000. We blame that on the snow in Arizona, which stopped us from cycling the Grand Canyon loop …you didn’t expect us to blame ourselves for the shortfall did you?

We’re about to go out for a nice celebratory meal, get an early night and tomorrow morning start on our way to Portland, Maine.

Us x

p.s. we have returned from our celebratory meal later than planned thanks to the lovely time we had with Cerri our server at Mache Bistro

Tuesday 21 September 2010

The Cadillac Escapade: An Excellent Ride

No, we’re not talking about the SUV favoured by the hip-hop crowd and notorious for being involved in drive-by shootings. We’re saying that today we climbed 1,532 ft up to the top of Cadillac mountain, the highest spot on the North Eastern Seaboard, offering 360˚ views of the surrounding area. It was stunning. And, without the bags on the back, Trusty & Steed were light as a feather, making the ascent a true “ride in the park”. The descent wasn’t bad either…

Despite the fact that we were supposed to have a “rest day” today, we decided that our surroundings were too outstandingly beautiful to either sit indoors chilling out, or even wandering around the cute town and drinking lattes etc. So, after a relaxed morning, we hit the Bar Harbor Bike Shop to pick up a map of the bike paths – Hi to Steve and Jessie – and then pedalled off into the distance…

Having reached the top of the mountain, we did the touristy thing and wandered around the loop at the top with all the other visitors, snapping away on the camera. As we were starting to head down the mountain, we bumped into Mike and Krista, who had hiked all the way up the mountain and were looking to catch a ride down... oh, we should also mention that Mike was “very funny”! We had a chat about Northern California, where they are from, and especially Gualala, CA, where they are building a vacation property, and which was one of our favourite places on the California coast.

The way down was lots of fun… it would have been more fun for Anthony had he not caught up with the cars in front and even overtaken a couple of them, but it was still a blast. Then we finished the ride by following a few of the well-groomed carriage roads in the area, away from the traffic and through some lovely wooded areas with lakes and streams etc. Bliss.

Tonight, we went back to Café This Way again, which didn’t disappoint. We’ve decided to take a further rest day here tomorrow, and then instead of backtracking by bike on the same (and only) route, we’re going to get a rental car and whizz back along the coast, freeing up some extra days to explore some new areas on our way back down the coast towards NYC.

Finally, we have two HUGE Thank You’s. Kurt, Ross and Roger Leedy, thank you so much for your amazing donation. We hope you enjoyed your trip around New England on the Harleys. Susan and Jim, thank you guys for your generosity; it’s so kind of you. We’ve been thinking of you a lot and hoping all is going well over in Fort Bragg, CA.

Us x

Monday 20 September 2010

The Far East

Let us pause for a while and consider what we have achieved! Firstly, we are at the most Easterly part of our trip, Bar Harbor (longitude -68.206558) on the Atlantic Ocean. The first time our Epic Journey spied the US Atlantic coast was on October 20, 2009 gazing out the window on board a British Airways flight holding position before safely landing at NY JFK. Secondly, we met an extraordinary amount of fantastic people today: Lesley, Paula, Danielle, Tim, Jack the beautiful chocolate brown Labrador, Muffy (she isn’t a vampire slayer) her husband David and an inspirational hard working American called Matt. Thirdly, we had 6 comments on yesterday’s Blog (3 of them should have been on today’s but we published it late …sorry), which made us feel great, so thank you Susie aka David & Sheila, The Rolling Reverend, Laura (you’re brilliant), Lesley and Paula aka david.

So, why was today a most wonderful experience? Well …leaving Bucksport this morning under clear and sunny skies and a refreshing chill in the air, we began our 47-mile ride into Bar Harbor feeling relaxed. The first 20 miles had to be navigated carefully, as in places the road surface was as bad as a couple of days ago and the traffic was pretty heavy, but we made it through without mishap and, just as we were ready for a quick break, we cycled into the lovely town of Ellsworth. Searching for somewhere to rest a while, we stumbled across a fantastic coffee shop called ‘Maine Grind’ and as we tucked into our cup cake, pain au chocolat, beer and coffee, we met Lesley the owner and Paula her friend. Chatting for ages before eventually saying our goodbyes, we wished we could have stayed longer, just chillin’ with Lesley and Paula in the sunshine. But of course it ‘aint over till the Fat Apple sings, so we parted company and carried on our journey along a picturesque highway heading toward Bar Harbor.

The road into Bar Harbor was also pretty busy with lots of RV vacationers and 18-wheelers finishing their shifts. Occasionally we would look to our right and catch a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean peering through the gaps between the huge houses that occupied the prime real estate, gorging on the fantastic views all to themselves. It was shame we couldn’t see more because we would have liked to take some pictures. Not despondent and hoping for better views tomorrow, we carried on up and down the surprisingly hilly terrain. At the top of one of the final climbs for the day, just as we were beginning the descent, we passed by two cyclers who we would meet later that night over dinner.

The Quimby Inn was our hotel for the night. Greeted by Tim and Jack, we parked our bikes in the shed, moved in to our room and kicked back and relaxed. We’re not too sure why, but we have been finding our rides quite difficult of late. In comparison to the gargantuan rides completed early in the trip, it’s baffling why our recent ones aren’t a ‘ride in the park!’ If any of you have any theories…please share. So after a brief rest we got ready for dinner and made our way out to Main Street. Walking through the hotel reception we got talking to Danielle, the other owner, and shared stories. She explained that she hiked for 6 months, completing 2,174 miles along the Appalation Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine] raising money for MS in honour of her mother and like us, doing something challenging for herself. Again we had a long and great chat with Danielle and are very impressed with what she achieved.

Downtown Bar Harbor is a lovely little place, full of great shops and bustling with activity. On Lesley’s recommendation, we found a great restaurant called This Way Café and were tucking into some great food, when a rather healthy looking couple sat down on the table next to us and said “are you two cyclists?” “Yes were are” replied Anthony, “how did you guess?” To which David replied “your skin colour”. We all laughed, knowing that in rich affluent areas of America you don’t see many black guys! David and his wife Muffy explained that they noticed us whizzing past them down one of the final descents into town. We noticed them but didn’t recognize them in the restaurant, which is understandable ‘cause all white people look the same you know! We spoke for hours about all sorts of stuff and had a great time. David was especially interested in how fast we went down hill as he thought he was going at a fair clip. Muffy found the descent quite hairy, so she road on her breaks for most of it, which is fair enough. We explained that we were also pretty scared on the descent with all the big potholes in the road, taking it easy and keeping our speed below 35mph.

We had a great day today and are looking forward to our rest day here in Bar Harbor.

Us x

Sunday 19 September 2010

Quack, Quack, Oops

We awoke to the sound of ducks on the river below our window. They were a raucous bunch: a few white ducks with orange bills, a couple of black ducks, and a whole stream of grey juvenile delinquents with a lot to say for themselves. By comparison, the Mallards were impeccably behaved!

After a hot shower, a couple of breakfast bagels at the café next door, and a large coffee, we were well and truly awake, but still not particularly enthused about getting back on the road. It’s difficult to explain really. Perhaps it’s our bodies telling us that we have been pushing them too hard for a very long period of time, or it’s a psychological thing because we are so close to the end. Suffice to say that we gritted our teeth and jumped back on Trusty & Steed, knowing that we only had a 36-mile ride today from Camden, ME into Bucksport, ME.

The roads started off as their usual challenging selves. The road surface in Maine has been particularly difficult in places with small or no shoulders and the worst kind of broken up road surface: long, wide cracks in the direction of travel… just big enough for a tyre to slip down and throw you off balance. Still, we stayed upright and soon rolled into the small town of Belfast where we were chuffed to find a large Co-Operative supermarket. We haven’t seen one of these since Bozeman, MT and consequently ran around like kids up and down the aisles wowed by all the fresh and good quality produce. We decided to buy some cheese, crackers, wine and fruit for dinner tonight, and left feeling like all was good with the World. We also met a nice couple outside, and chatted to them for a few minutes before heading off again.

The road improved dramatically after Belfast, and before we knew it, we had arrived at our motel in Bucksport. We found that we had completed over 2,000 ft of climbing, despite the short distance we had travelled, but didn’t feel too bad for it.

We’re looking forward to an evening just totally chilling out, putting our feet up and watching TV. Bar Harbor tomorrow: the North-East turning point of our trip.

Us x

Saturday 18 September 2010

The Breaking of Trusty!

Today was a day to remember! Not for the scenic beauty, but for the catastrophic event of Trusty. Before launching into the details of our crazy afternoon, let us tell you about this morning.

Last night we had decided to implement a ‘get out of bed early go to bed early’ strategy. And so it was that this morning Anthony got out of bed at 7:30am. Showered, dressed and packed we both left for breakfast before 9:00am, where we met Pauline and Grenville originally from Derbyshire (England) who were visiting family in Jersey and then taking a vacation up the New England coast. Following breakfast we were back in our room making final decisions about what bike gear to wear to ensure we didn’t get too cold on the ride (the temperatures have been dropping recently). By 10:30am we were outside at the front of the hotel in the searing heat (yeah we were surprised too) taking layers of clothes off! We started to pull a small crowd. Chatting to a few people we explained that we were cyclists and not voyeurs with a fetish for black skin-tight clothing.

Waving goodbye to our new found friends we set off on our 55-mile ride toward Camden. The going was tough but not difficult. For the first 5 miles, the road surface was horrendous and the traffic was thick and fast. But we soldiered on and as luck would have, 1 mile later we turned off the main road and onto a quieter and smoother version. All was good as we crested the brow of our first hill climb for the day and began a gentle descent down the other side. Whilst freewheeling with carefree intent, Anthony decided to pick up the pace a little and put some torque through the crank. At that precise moment everything went crazy! Seriously, we had no idea what happened, but the resulting image of his back wheel, spokes, rear derailleur, chain and cables meant that cycling was off the menu for today (see photos).

Fortunately our mobile phone and the prompt service from a nearby taxi company, was instrumental in helping to save the day. Jerry our taxi driver picked us up in the middle of nowhere and drove us to the nearest bike-shop, Bath Cycle & Ski where Jesse fixed everything, Davis grilled some chicken on the BBQ and Marnie was really nice. We must have spent 4 hours in the shop whilst Trusty was put back together again and we give our full gratitude to Jesse, Davis and Marnie for getting us back on the road. By the time all was present and correct and after receiving a very kind donation from John Bouchard, it was 5pm. Rather than begin a 50 mile cycle with the last 3 hours/30 miles being completed in the dark, we called the cab company again and had to spend dollars to get ourselves to Camden. Thanks to Tony our other taxi driver who got us to our destination safely and still with daylight hours to spare.

Strangely, we were still tired and hungry for fresh good food when we got to our hotel. Our prayers were answered, as just 2 blocks from our hotel was a great (utterly great) and honest restaurant, The Long Grain. Run by a couple from Bangkok, the meals were very tasty, made with organic ingredients sourced from local farms. We met more lovely people and especially enjoyed our time spent with Paul and Julie, who were vacationing, having their own kayaking adventure …good luck guys, it was great meeting you.

Back in the hotel room watching House, we hope tomorrow will be less adventurous.

Us x

Friday 17 September 2010

Cream Crackered

For some reason the last few days have taken it out of us! It’s strange because the people we have met recently on our trip say to us “you must be in great shape by now” after we describe our adventure so far. And we would agree with them: we should be. Yet we find ourselves with aching muscles and just wanting to spend all day sleeping, or at least lying down, and doing as little as possible.

So, being kind to ourselves, that’s just what we did today. We ventured out briefly to wander up and down the small, cute high street in Bath and buy a latte and cupcake (!) but otherwise we limited our activity to some essential admin and (of course) laundry. Following our stomachs again, tonight we will go out for a quick bite to eat and then try to get an early night… zzzzz.

On the bikes again tomorrow, heading North East along the Maine coast.

Us x

Thursday 16 September 2010

Time to take a Bath!

There’s this lake …and it’s very long. The name of this lake is Long Lake and it is a very beautiful 11-mile stretch of water surrounded by a dense ridge of trees that are in the throes of changing their colour from green to kaleidoscope. Our B&B, The Inn at Long Lake is perched on a little hill at the southern base of the lake. Looking out of the window as we woke up this morning, we were greeted with a vista akin to a Turner painting …it was wonderful. We had a lovely breakfast with Keith the owner/manager of the Inn and once again chatted about all the things that were wrong and right with the world. We’ve picked up so many pearls of wisdom whilst on this trip we’re beginning to feel like an aromatic plant with grayish-green leaves! Wishing Keith well, we set off on a 55-mile roller coaster of a ride toward Bath, ME.

Our starting elevation this morning was 350ft and our finishing elevation was to be 100ft, so today’s trip was supposed to be short and simple. The weather was playing ball and despite starting later than planned we still had loads of time. What we didn’t plan for was (i) over 3,600ft of climbing: “How is that possible with a net descent for the day?” you ask …well it was possible, and it hurt; and (ii) two stretches of road being closed, with very long detours, 2 miles and 15 miles respectively.

Approaching the first ROAD CLOSED sign, we duly cycled past it ignoring all warnings of no THRU ROAD. A mile later at the bottom of a very steep hill, we were confronted with a giant-sized hole in road, filled with all sorts of construction equipment. The way was shut and there was no route across …funny that! We reluctantly about-turned, pedalling back up the steep hill and took the short detour, as instructed. It was getting later and we were getting tired, the realisation that ‘short n simple’ were not going to be the adjectives for the day was becoming apparent. We took a quick break at the side of the road, refuelled and began again. 10-15 miles later we approached a second ROAD CLOSED sign. Learning nothing, we were about to cycle straight through, our usual Modus Operandi, when fortunately, Anthony had a rear wheel puncture right next to the “road-closed” barriers. We say “fortunate”?! Because, as Anthony was fixing the puncture, Kat removed the Panniers from Steed and went on reconnaissance down the closed road …15 minutes later …Kat returned and explained that there was no way to cross the road. Apparently a massive crane was fixing the road next to the river, when the road suddenly gave way …the river claimed both the road and the massive crane. The road was now closed for different reasons, as the county departments work out how to get the crane out of the river. However, as luck would have it, during her reconnaissance, Kat had met some burly firemen who said they would escort us across a private field avoiding the collapsed roadway and more importantly the 15-mile detour. Thank you Thank you Thank you Kevin, Scott and Zac for saving our lives (we know you save lives everyday).

Despite experiencing another rear wheel puncture, we struggled up many more steep hills and made it to our hotel in Bath, ME at 6pm, just before the rain started! Dinner at Solo Bistro was very nice and we were happy that tomorrow would be a non-cycling day.

Us x

Wednesday 15 September 2010

The Maine Event

OK, so we went to bed last night saying “we’ll be up early tomorrow morning…NO EXCUSES”. Well, here are the excuses… (1) the washing machine broke with our laundry in it last night, causing a delay and leaving us with half-dry clothes that we had to hang up before finishing the rest of our duties and turning in for the night; (2) we were woken by our not so light-footed neighbours stomping up the hallway stairs and once in their room (directly above us), proceeding to march back and forth into the early hours for no apparent reason; (3) at 1am a gaggle of drunk girls stumbled into the car park outside our bedroom window cackling loudly, looking for the keys to their car and setting off their car alarm 4 times for a minute at a time; (4) at 2am the car alarm went off again, at which point Anthony went outside to “sort things out”; (5) we’re just not very good at getting up in the morning (especially applicable to Kat); and (6) the dog ate our homework.

Despite all the above, we did manage to get up at an almost respectable time, and drag ourselves to breakfast at our hotel, where we were instantly woken up by the guys on the table next to us. Kurt and Ross are brothers who are on a trip with their Dad, Roger. They’re all riding Harleys, and they were full of beans this morning, chatting away to us about our trip and about journeys they have made before on their Bikes (of the motorized variety). Their energy and enthusiasm gave us a bit of a boost, and by the time we set off, we were ready to tackle our first challenge of the day: the small matter of a 2,855 ft climb to the top of Kancamagus Pass.

It was quite tough starting at the bottom of the climb, as our little leggies were a bit tired after the last few days of hills, but once we were into our stride, it was a doddle. The weather wasn’t really playing ball, however, and we were doing our version of the Rainmac Hokey Cokey… you put your rain mac in, you take your rain mac out; in, out, in, out, you shake it all about; you don your Gore-Tex trousers and you turn around; that’s what it’s all about … oh the rainmac hokey cokey etc etc... rah, rah, rah… repeat to fade…

Anyway, 14 miles later, we had reached the top and the rain had pretty much gone away for the day. Instead, it was freezing cold, so the long trousers had to come out as we prepared for 20 miles of descending. But we’re not complaining – it was a stunning view, and we’ve been quite enjoying getting back to a bit of hill-climbing and hurtling down the other side. No land speed records today, but a lot of fun!

After 69 miles we arrived at our destination for tonight, Naples, Maine, and a charming B&B called The Inn at Long Lake. We were welcomed warmly by Keith, the owner, and later wandered out to dinner at a local Brewpub, Bray’s. With no TV to keep us up tonight (ooh, did we list that as an excuse for our late night last night), it’s 10.15pm, we’ve done all our chores, brushed our toothy pegs, and are ready for bed. Let’s see what time we make it up tomorrow?

Us x

P.S. Don't forget to check out the photos.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

The Hotel New Hampshire

We met a lot of lovely people whilst staying at The Norwich Inn and leaving this morning was no different. After a large and very fulfilling breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, we scurried back to our hotel room to get the bikes ready for our long ride over some serious climbs. Making our final lubrication and pannier fastening checks in the rear car park, we got chatting with some fellow cyclists who were just about to begin a 35 mile ride in and around the area, and 2 ladies, one of which we met the night before, who were sincerely interested to hear our story a second time. We eventually finished preparing the bikes and managed to cycle all of 20 meters to the General Store at the front of the hotel, to buy fluids and peanuts, when we got chatting again! to the two cashiers in the shop. One of which, Ben Ryan, is the son of Lloyd H Kasper –Dept of Neurology, Dartmouth College MS research and Director of local MS Clinic. We hope they’ll be following the blog.

So it was a busy morning and despite our early’ish wake up, it was 11:30am by time we got rolling. The featured item on today’s menu was sauteed hills in a hill reduction with a side of hills and hills! It rained on and off all day but for the majority of the time it was bright and sunny around us, fairytale mists crowning the mountains high above us, and a slippery wet sheen beneath us. However the treacherous road surface didn’t stop us from enjoying both sides of the mountains! You must understand that when sweating blood and tears for over an hour climbing a steep high mountain, all you can think about along the way is getting to the top, and when you get to the top you feel like a God. High and full of euphoria, you are then eager to feel like a kid again and zoom down the other side …and we wanted to feel like kids again So you will all be pleased to hear that, 6 miles from our destination soon after conquering the last ascent, Anthony became ONE with Trusty and hurtled down the slippery wet mountainside, sweeping around bends faster than Lewis Hamilton managed to do in last weekend’s GP and broke his land speed record. A very respectable 50mph/80kph in the wet…awesome and scary! Needless to say the final few downhill miles brought us to our hotel in the ‘shake of a lamb’s tail’.

Dinner was a rushed affair this evening. Tomorrow’s ride will be a longer, higher and harder, which will require an early start tomorrow morning… …no excuses this time. We also had to do some laundry and plan some routes.

Everything was done in time, apart from the blog, so apologies for the late posting. Before we go, a quick mention to Joseph, Anthony’s son, who is doing a charity fun run on September 25th, raising money for cancer research …good luck Little Fella. Our followers can donate to Joseph’s cause by clicking here –-> donate to cancer research cause Joseph is keeping fit and doing something good.

A new state today, another state tomorrow: Maine.

Us x

Monday 13 September 2010

Only Happy When It Rains

Hearing torrential rain pounding down outside our B&B in Middlebury, VT from the early hours of the morning, through until the alarm rang out at 7am, we thought that we would cheer ourselves up by having a massive argument to start the day! Well, they do say that when it rains, it pours.

Anyway, by the time we had finished yelling at each other about nothing, it was around 11am, much later than we had intended to leave for our 66-mile ride into Norwich, VT. On the positive side, the rain had stopped!!

The day started with a long and steep ascent over Bread Loaf and the Middlebury Gap, which stirred Anthony’s “hisnia” up nicely, followed by one of most precipitous descents we have experienced on this trip: a 12% gradient where we accomplished a max speed of 46mph while dodging the many pot-holes. After all the climbing, the downhill was over in a flash. Hmmm, that helped our mood no end…

Knowing that we had a long day ahead of us with a further climb towards the end and worrying about fading light, we decided that we didn’t have time to stop for a break in any of the cute little towns that we passed through. As luck would have it, around 35 miles into the ride, the rain started again. Being forced to pull over and don our rain gear, we took the opportunity to pack down a few choice tidbits from our handlebar bags, which actually made us feel a bit better. From then on, although we could see clear blue skies ahead, behind and either side of us, a large black raincloud hung directly above following us for the next 20 miles, emptying its ruin upon our weary bodies without respite. We guess we deserved it… miserable gits!

As we continued on, Kat noticed that a lot of the places in this area, including our destination for tonight, Norwich, seem to be named after places in Norfolk: not only Norwich, but Thetford and Brandon too. And then, as we were cycling through the town of Sharon, Anthony spotted a road sign that helped us crack a smile (see photo). We noted that there are a lot of Sharons in Norfolk too.

Once we laughed and smiled, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and we turned off the busy main road on which we were cycling and onto the unmade Quimby Mountain road. Usually we would have done a great deal of tutting, rolling of the eyes and cursing about the road surface, but for some reason, Trusty & Steed came into their own, and we really enjoyed our climb over Quimby mountain. On the way, we bumped into David, who was out walking his Boxer dogs, and looked pretty surprised to see us (it’s a quiet road). We had a good chat with him as we got our breath back and found that he’s a keen bike rider too.

After a few more steep sections, it was downhill all the way into Norwich… yee-hah! We love our room at the Norwich Inn, and had a great meal in the restaurant here, ending the day in much better spirits that starting it. Tomorrow, we’ll be leaving the beautiful Vermont and moving on into New Hampshire. We can’t believe that we don’t have more photos, but since it’s rained almost constantly since we crossed the state line, we’re not going to beat ourselves up too much.

Us x

Sunday 12 September 2010

Breakfast in Bed

As non-cycling days go, today would be classified as an ‘Hors Catégorie’ Rest Day’. We started this morning with a healthy breakfast in bed followed by Brenda & Bruce doing our laundry for us (big thanks for being so selfless). The remainder of the day was seriously relaxing. Apart from customary route planning and reorganising the NYC accommodation to accommodate the premier standards of the high rollers who will be joining us in the Big Apple, we spent most of our time chilling out in our room watching TV.

We’re back on the road tomorrow.

Us x

Saturday 11 September 2010

Patience is...

If patience is a virtue, as they say, today we were calling on all of our reserves. After Anthony’s tyre blow out yesterday, we were straight on the phone at 8am this morning, trying to track down some suitable tyres that we could get to, or that could get to us, sometime today so that we could make it to our next location, 35 miles, plus a ferry ride, away in Middlebury, Vermont.

We managed to get through to the guys that we met yesterday at High Peaks in Lake Placid, who said that they could help. Alex’s girlfriend Phoebe was driving over from Vermont to see him, and could drop by our hotel in Westport on her way armed with the tyres that we needed sourced from a bike shop in Burlington, VT. Initially, we were expecting Phoebe to arrive around 12-1pm… then it was 4pm, and then eventually she arrived at 5.50pm! We’re not complaining. Alex and Phoebe did us a massive favour. It’s just that we found that we are not very good at kicking our heels with an uncertain departure time, and with every minute that passed after 4pm, fixating on the fact that another minute of daylight was being knocked off the time available for us to get to Middlebury.

So, as soon as the tyres arrived, it was action stations. Anthony & Alexandra, the owners of The Inn on the Library Lawn in Westport, who had very kindly let us stay in our room all day while we waited for the tyres, had offered to give us a lift to the ferry to help save us some time. Trusty & Steed were already safely in the back of their truck, wheels off ready for the new tyres, and somehow Anthony (that’s our Anthony) managed to get all 4 tyres on the wheels during the 17-mile journey to the ferry. Thanks guys, for everything, and we enjoyed chatting with you…

Pumping up the tyres like crazy people and rushing down the gangway to the ferry across Lake Champlain, the sun was already setting by the time we touched down on the Vermont side of the Lake and started the 16-mile dash to our B&B. With flash backs of Bisbee, AZ in our minds, we soon found ourselves riding along in the pitch black on a road without a shoulder, and with a very poor road surface. Going downhill, we found it best to assume a mountain biking stance, close our eyes and just let ourselves go… don’t ask. Well, somehow we made it to the cute town of Middlebury in one piece. We were warmly greeted by Krista at The Inn on the Green, and shown to a gorgeous and very comfortable room, with water, Gatorade, ice, cheese and fruit to help us recover.

Decamping very swiftly in the direction of a nearby hostelry to get our dinner order in before the kitchens closed, we found 51 Main at the Bridge, a great little nightspot with live jazz, delicious tapas, and of course some chilled wine. Bliss. Our server, Elianna, was wonderful and the stresses of the last few hours soon melted away.

They also say that “patience and fortitude conquer all things”. We found that a few kind people and a couple of glasses of wine go a long way too…

Us x

Friday 10 September 2010

Another Tyring Day

It was meant to be one of those short and simple 45-mile rides. A leisurely endeavour, where sweat isn’t broken and heavy breathing would be a distant afterthought. At first, everything was as expected. A chilly yet comfortable 9°C, a dull English mist clinging to the tops of the tall mountains, clouds inanimately buoyant in the sky, blocking the Sun’s every effort to scorch the ground, and a light prevailing west wind gently encouraging us along our way…perfect cycling conditions.

The terrain wasn’t ideal but who cared? Having experienced the dizzy 8,500ft climbs of New Mexico, the near vertical ascents of California and the mammoth expeditions over the Passes of Washington, we felt comfortable with the challenges of today. The problem was ‘Hernia’. And no, that isn’t the unfortunately named young girl we met on the road in Saranac who decided to join us on our ride today, or the laughing dogs you’ll find hunting Antelope on the African plains, but the painful bodily condition that’s plaguing Anthony’s progress up the steep hills. Just in case anyone’s worried, don’t be. Anthony’s now taking the advice of Bob (the Veterinarian we met in Port Hope) and is sleeping on his back with his legs in the air to help minimise the adverse affects…can you confirm David?

So with Kat cycling with one leg tied behind her back to keep the steady (slow) pace, we cruised up and down, up and down, up and down, across and over the mountains of the Lake Placid area aka Essex County. All was going well. We stopped every 15 miles to rest, eat, and buy anti-chafing cream: DZ-Nuts for him and DZ-Bliss for her’nia (sorry couldn’t miss that joke opportunity). Our second stop involved stopping at High Peaks Mountain Adventures to order some new tyres for Trusty and Steed. We stayed a little longer than planned but enjoyed chatting with Bob and Alex …thanks guys for your help. Our next rest stop, after a great 43mph downhill section and gut busting 6mph uphill section, was in a place called Elizabethtown. We stopped for drinks and a comfort break and met Rose who is a trained concert pianist and has enjoyed a few cycling tours of her own. We also met a lovely guy called Pete whose story touched our hearts …wishing each of you all the best.

Our final leg, before arriving in the beautiful town of Westport, NY and the wonderful B&B, The Inn on the Library Lawn, required just one more 200ft climb. And it was at that precise moment, half way through the climb that Anthony suffered another tyre side-wall failure. It’s a very dramatic and sudden event, and we are both grateful that it didn’t happen during our 43mph descent earlier in the day. If it had, this blog would have been signed ‘Kat x’ and not ‘Us x’. So, thanks to the cycling Gods, we are still with you today. With the tyre patched up in true Blue Peter fashion (sticky-backed plastic) and inner tubes replaced, we limped downhill into Westport and our B&B to meet a different Anthony, the owner and a great host.

After freshening up, we decided to treat ourselves and have a slap up meal at the nearby French restaurant. Veal was on the menu but after seeing yet more Veal Crates a couple of days ago, we decided to have the bloody beef instead.

Us x

Thursday 9 September 2010

The Sun Always Shines On TV…

… but it didn’t shine here today, at all! It was raining when we woke up, when we set out on the bikes from Potsdam, NY and when we arrived 60 miles later in Saranac Lake, NY (or Packamac Lake, as we have affectionately named it).

It was a ride that transported us right back, in our minds at least, to some of our days in Washington State. And not just because it was raining constantly. With total climbing around 3,500ft, and our end point being 1,100ft above our start point, we were back in the “granny gear” for some of today. It was cold too.

To add to the challenge, it was Kat’s turn to have a sidewall failure in her tyre today. Luckily this occurred as we were going uphill rather than downhill, but it was suitably dramatic nonetheless. Of course, it wasn’t fun changing the tyre by the side of the road, getting colder and colder, and digging into the bottom of the panniers for the spare tyre in the pouring rain, but we can’t really complain given that this tyre has been on since Missoula, Montana…

Tonight, we arrived at our hotel in the centre of Saranac Lake, and couldn’t wait to get warm and dry. We were soon out again packing in some pasta and garlic bread at nearby Little Italy, where our waitress Christine looked after us well. We’re now back in the room stuffing newspaper in our soaking shoes and hanging our rain gear from Trusty & Steed’s handlebars. It’s a glamorous life… when the sun shines.

Us x

P.S. Congratulations to Kat’s nephew, Leo, on his first steps. We’ll have him on a bike in no time (or the wagon …only joking Susie)!

Wednesday 8 September 2010

This could be Pots-er-dam or anywhere!

Just another short blog, sorry! We rested today here in Potsdam, New York Baby! Ummm ...getting a little jaded of saying that now, but no worries, the next time we arrive in the Empire State it will truly be the beginning of the end of this ‘crazy journey’. But before we start to give too much away of what our final reminiscent/nostalgic Blog may sound like, let’s refocus on today.

You’ve heard it all before: laundry, route planning, hotel booking, UK Admin, Thai Food, watching Criminal Minds, buying inner tubes and not drinking alcohol (honest); another perfect day. We’re back on the road tomorrow and heading into the Adirondacks. That means more hills!

We’d like to give another heartfelt shout out to all the crew at the Cambridge Suites Hotel in Toronto for their generous donation …much appreciated.

Us x

Tuesday 7 September 2010

New York, New York, New York, So Good They Went There Thrice

We’ve all experienced it before. The sudden realisation that we have made a mistake: not any mistake, but a big mistake. It hits us in a flash, we start to feel a hot flush creep right from our toes up to our faces until our ears are burning, our throats go dry, and then it’s like someone reaches into our bodies and clenches an iron hand around our hearts.

Last night, as Kat was preparing the GPS route for today, she read something on the internet saying that the bridge that she had decided (despite Anthony’s repeated suggestions to take an alternate route) for us to take to cross the St Lawrence River back into the US did not permit cyclists or pedestrians… oops! Consulting the map, it was either 50 miles further on or 40 miles back to get across the river, and things were looking bleak. Despite the super comfortable bed in our beautiful B&B, it was an unsettled night for both of us.

Waking to the sound of rain falling gently outside, we got up and prepared for the day, with heavy hearts, but planning to ask our lovely hosts Jane and Geoff for their advice. As we ate a fabulous “Full English” breakfast cooked by Jane, we explained our dilemma to her. In a shot, she told us not to worry, and that she would drive us (and Trusty & Steed) over the bridge herself. Just as the words were hanging in the air, the sun came out and we could have sworn we were in the presence of an angel!

And so it came to pass… After chatting away with Jane for quite a while about politics, Canada, the US and many other things, we got ourselves packed up, slotted ourselves, T&S and the panniers into Jane’s little car, and were overjoyed as we zoomed over the bridge from Canada to the US with the river far below. Looking at the fact that there was no sidewalk, that the bridge roadway is constructed of metal grating, and that it is around a mile long, we could see why bikes are not allowed, and were extremely grateful. Jane told us that one of the decisions that she has made in her life is to be happy and to spread that happiness to others. Speaking for ourselves, we can certainly say that we found Jane’s energy, humour and generosity of spirit infectious, and we set off for our ride feeling transformed. Jane – thank you, thank you, thank you!

Having crossed the bridge, it was just a short 28-mile ride into Potsdam, NY. It wasn’t without its challenges, however… one of Anthony’s panniers fell off into the road as he went through a big pothole, and a few miles further on he got a puncture. Still, it was a glorious day, in the 80s (after the 50s and 60s of the weekend), and we enjoyed our time on the road.

Arriving bright and early at our hotel, we went out for dinner at a local Thai restaurant and were back in the hotel by 7pm ready for a relaxing evening watching a bit of trash on US TV.

Finally, a huge thanks to Heather for her generous donation. We haven’t spoken in ages, so lets hope we’ll see you back in NYC

Us x

Monday 6 September 2010

Au Revoir les Canadiens

It was like meeting old friends over our healthy breakfast of fruit and waffles this morning. We chatted some more with Rob and Marie-Josee about the joys of touring, cycling, riding motorbikes, Harley Davidsons and Fatboys. As Marie-Josee was expressing how one day she would like to ride her own motorbike rather than riding pannier behind Rob, she mentioned a few makes and models that could fit the bill. Problem was, being a die-hard Harley man, Rob vehemently objected to her mention of said Japanese sports bikes, and if cost wasn’t a consideration, recommended she get a Harley, explaining that once she got used to the weight of the bike, she’d love the feel of it. And who are we to argue with Rob’s testimony, as he recounted that he, quote “… once saw a girl riding a Fatboy!” much to the amusement of everyone in the breakfast room. We loved chatting with Rob & Marie-Josee and invited them to see us in London if they ever decide to tour Europe on the bikes. And before leaving, we managed to take a quick photo of the “German Girls” and find out their names: Nina & Anna. Surprisingly, they left for their Tour from NYC and have visited many of the same cities as us …safe travels for the rest of your trip girls!

Our travels today were very safe! Mainly due to the 30 miles of cycle paths and very quiet county highways that followed the path of Fleuve St Laurent. The region between Gananoque and Cornwall along the river is known as “Thousand Islands”, because there are about umm, 1,000 little islands scattered throughout the river. We took a few photos to try and capture its beauty and were amazed to see, no matter how small the Real-Estate, how someone will find a way to build a castle on it. It is said that “No man is an island”… we’re not sure we believe that anymore.

Despite leaving late this morning at 11:18am, we arrived in Prescott, ON just before 3pm, to a fanfare welcome from Jane and Geoff, the owners of The Colonel’s Inn. There’s a lot of interesting history about Prescott, too much to mention on the blog, but Wikipedia does a great job of listing all the facts. Lucky for us, Prescott also hosts a selection of casual yet authentic eateries all within spitting distance of our B&B. Geoff and Jane encouraged us to pay a visit to The Red George Public House Inc. and we weren’t disappointed with the Chicken-Pot pie, beer, white wine… and garlic bread for dessert. Yes, that’s right, garlic bread for dessert: we were famished. Everything about this evening was made perfect by the hospitality of the Manager, Scott, and our waitress, Erin. And just as we were leaving we got chatting to the Crapnell and MacKay family who were very interested in our trip and kindly donated to the cause …thanks guys.

Back in the USA tomorrow

Us x

Sunday 5 September 2010

It's All About (the) U

This trip always keeps us guessing. Some days, we can cycle for miles without encountering a sole, or at least anyone who wants to talk to us (or who we want to talk to). Other days, we can be inundated with people who we meet who inspire us, and who we want to wax lyrical about on our blog. We’re pleased to say that today followed the latter example!

As we ate breakfast at our hotel in Napanee, the lovely lady who was in charge of the very fine breakfast, a Kiwi called Sandra, sought us out as she had seen us arrive yesterday, slightly dishevelled from the wind, and was interested to find out what we were up to (and perhaps us coming to breakfast in our cycling gear gave us away too). We had a good chat about the vagaries of the Toronto traffic (a phenomenon of which Kat had been blissfully unaware) and life in the area.

Stepping outside the hotel, we found that it was ****ing freezing! Not quite long-trouser weather, but we were both headfirst digging out our musty smelling Windstoppers from the bottom of our panniers for the first time in months. And then, a couple of miles in, we were dismayed to find that what we thought might be a short, light rain-shower was showing signs of turning into persistent drizzle. We dealt with it as Brits always do. We ignored it for about 30 minutes, hoping it would pass and being unwilling to admit that it was raining, and then we stopped, admitted our denial, and donned our raingear. Within 5 minutes, the sun was out and there was not a cloud in the sky. How? Why?

With a small push today from Talwin, we pedalled on to the next big town, Kingston, where we first stopped for Anthony to mend a puncture on his bike, and then for a spot of lunch. Our server, Jeff, was a downhill cyclist (riding hell for leather on a heavy mountain bike down a ski slope in the summer months). Some of his stories, particularly those of his various “tumbles” made our eyes water, and encouraged Anthony to order another beer. Good God people, it is Labour Day weekend after all…

Wending our “merry” way out of town, we soon found that it was necessary to make another stop. Well, a pint and half of Barley Days doesn’t disappear all by itself. Usually (i.e. 99% of the time) it’s Kat who’s crying pitifully that she needs to pull into a side road or a forest clearing for a quick “comfort break”. But today, it was Anthony’s turn. Luckily, we found the Treasure Island Marina where Mike was washing down one of the boats, and kindly not only let us use their washrooms, but also donated $20 to the cause, as well as entertaining us with a few stories as we chatted away in our animated state.

It was only a few more miles further on, and we reached Gananoque ON, our destination for tonight. We were rather surprised to arrive at our B&B to find the German girls that we had met at Hill and Dale Manor in Port Hope just getting out of their car as we rolled in. Hilarious! Hopefully tomorrow morning, we will find out more about their trip, and perhaps even their names…

This evening, we strolled into town, stopping to eat at the restaurant with the most distinguished name: Anthony’s … of course. We had some satisfying comfort food, and a lovely evening courtesy of the wonderful staff: Connor (our fabulous server – apparently we were his first ever table, and he did a fantastic job); Danielle (Connor’s big sis); Angie and Cindy. Thanks guys and gals.

Staggering back to our B&B, we met a couple of fellow guests, Rob and Marie-Josee, who were on their way out to walk off their dinner. We had a great chat before turning in for the night.

Finally, logging on to the computer, we found a generous donation from Dave and Jeanne at Hill and Dale Manor – chaps, you’re grrreat! And a comment from our friend the Rolling Reverend, who we met in Michigan, and who has cycled over 200,000 miles over the years for charity – Go Rev!!

Us x

Saturday 4 September 2010

3 Great Things!

  1. Dave and Jeanne laid out a glorious breakfast this morning, to a crowded table of hungry guests. We had a very entertaining time chatting with everyone, who for very different reasons found themselves sitting at the Hill and Dale Manor breakfast table sharing short stories. We had a mother and daughter from Jamaica who were in Port Hope preparing for the daughter’s first day at Trinity College School; a couple of German girls who we believe were touring the US and Canada by car; another couple who had recently helped their daughter move into her new University and; Kate who had wisely decided to give herself a little break from the stresses of everyday life and pamper herself for the weekend.
  2. Many of you may be familiar with the classic 1980’s animation ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ and the super human powers given to Prince Adam by Castle Grayskull. Today we felt a little like Prince Adam transformed into He-man! We were still suffering from yesterday’s herculean ride, and secretly wished for assistance to complete today’s challenging ride. And then as if by the magic of Grayskull (but actually the edges of hurricane Earl), ‘Talwin’ turned up blowing at 20 mph from the SW. We definitely felt like “we had the powweerrrr” as we headed NE toward Great Napanee, ON for 73 miles, completing the trip at a record-breaking 15.5mph average speed.
  3. We’ve now completed 12,000 miles “…booyah”

There are of course 2 more events that are worthy of a mention. David, Sheila, Barry and Aileen, thanks for your lovely comments and the UK donations… awesome!

Us x

Friday 3 September 2010

Calling Our Bluff

Waking up this morning, we prepared ourselves for what we thought was going to be a fairly easy 67-mile ride along the shores of Lake Ontario from Toronto into Port Hope. Feeling relaxed, we pootled around, ate a good breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and then had a long stretch of our muscles, which had become tight over the 3 rest days to which we had treated ourselves. And before we knew it, it was noon, and raining hard, and we hadn’t even set off…oops.

Donning our raingear, we bid a fond farewell to Toronto and the Cambridge Suites Hotel (Kat is now a big fan too of the city and the hotel), and followed the Waterfront Trail again, climbing up to the top of the bluffs that run alongside the lake and meandering in and out from the lakeshore. Hmmm… we soon realised that our 67 miles was a tad of an underestimate. In fact, it was 76 miles of climbing and descending on paths of varying surfaces (including soft sand/mud, crushed gravel etc), as well as a few stretches of super smooth bike path (so it’s not all bad). In fact, it would have been a truly glorious ride, had we just set off a little bit earlier!

Anyway… pegging it along the last section like men and women possessed, we arrived at our lovely B&B in Port Hope, the Hill and Dale Manor, just as the sun was setting, and with about 3 minutes to spare of the designated checking-in time. Dave and Jeanne greeted us warmly and were very forgiving about our late arrival, settling us in (and Trusty & Steed – they are cyclist and cycle friendly) and giving us some great restaurant recommendations.

After a very quick turnaround, we ended up eating at the Black Beans on the main street, which was an extremely good choice! Owned by veterinarian turned entrepreneur and all-round people person, Bob Sanderson, it’s a hopping little spot serving fantastic food and great wine in a fun and casual environment. After downing a mammoth jug of water (we got a little dehydrated on the ride) courtesy of our lovely server, Stephanie, we tucked in to the yummy food, and then spent quite some time chatting with Bob. Kat was particularly interested to hear Bob’s story as her Dad is a vet (now retired) and long-time foodie (not retired!) and has always talked about setting up his own restaurant… food for thought.

Bob then introduced us to Mark, a fellow cyclist, family man and super-successful businessman (he is President of a very large publishing company we found out some way into our conversation). We had a fascinating discussion and didn’t want the evening to end, but our bodies of course were telling us different.

Sinking into our comfortable bed at the B&B, it was more than we could manage to write the blog there and then, but we did log on and found an amazing donation and some lovely comments from our favourite Dutch friends Annita and Jan, and their little ones Roza and Annemoon. Thanks for the cryptic Dutch remark guys – very funny, we’re sure MG&T and PCH will be chuckling away too!

Us x

Thursday 2 September 2010

Taking it easy

Its nearly 8pm and we haven’t done much today. Just did the laundry, planned some routes and stayed indoors. We’re back on the road tomorrow heading around the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Thanks Ed for pushing the UK donation total a little higher.

Us x

Wednesday 1 September 2010

High Point

Today we did the touristy thing and went up the CN Tower. At 553.3m, it is apparently the tallest tower in the world … it certainly gave Kat a touch of the vertigo, especially when she stood on the glass floor 1,122ft high! Still, it was a great adventure and the views were spectacular. We tried to capture them in a few snappy snaps, but it’s nigh on impossible to encapsulate the whole experience.

After such excitement, we were pretty peckish, so we decamped to a nearby sushi bar: Ki. Wonderful food and a super cool restaurant. Tonight, we’re going to the manager’s reception at the hotel. Not a bicycle in sight!

Us x