Day 168 – Zumaia to Mimizan

Today has been a good day, although not everything went exactly to plan.

The morning was fantastic, riding with someone else pretty much reminded me why cycling is so good. The scenery was, for the most part, very good as well.

Riding through San Sebastián was pretty stunning but unfortunately I managed to fall off my bike… I don’t think I need to be overly elaborate but I can’t really blame anyone else, and it all came about because of wanting to go and look at a cathedral – and I’m usually so good at steering clear of culture!  Long story short – I landed very hard on my head and it’s very lucky I was wearing a helmet (which is now useless, so I’m using a different one). The bike is fine which is good, my wrist and shoulder are a bit jarred, but all in all, I’m fine.

To be perfectly honest, I’m more annoyed than hurt. I’ve ridden so far and through a lot of very sketchy moments without crashing so this just feels a bit stupid (it was all a bit embarrassing and extremely unimpressive).

Admittedly, the next half hour or so were not that great as I was still a bit grumpy but apart from that, the rest of the day was really good. I’ve now finished Spain and am in France – very different temperatures to when I was here six months ago!

This evening has been really good. The difference having some company makes is incredible and despite being a bit sore I’m hoping for a good last few days.

Distance: 114.6miles / 184.7km

Riding Time: 7:55:18

Av. Speed: 16.6mph / 26.4kph


Day 167 – Briviesca to Zumaia

Today has been a really good day. My legs took 80 kilometres to wake up so the morning was bit slow, but after that, it was brilliant.

Spain suddenly became a very nice place to ride and I’m almost sad that I’m leaving it tomorrow… almost.

I have now been joined by my Dad and cousin so that’s made for a much better evening. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the last few days; I’ll be home in a week!

Distance: 104.4miles / 167.9km

Riding Time: 6:46:01

Av. Speed: 15.4mph / 24.8kph

Day 166 – Valladolid to Briviesca

I woke up really tired this morning and it soon became apparent that the legs had not recovered from yesterday either. It’s been quite a while since they’ve been that stiff actually. A pretty rubbish breakfast didn’t help and once riding I instantly discovered that the wind was also doing everything it could to make the situation worse.

All things considered, I didn’t feel too bad. Progress was slow but I didn’t get quite as annoyed as normal with the wind. (It still wasn’t fun though).

The afternoon improved slightly as my body woke up a bit but the headwind stayed all day.

I went through a place called Burgos today; it wasn’t anything special although there was a rather impressive cathedral. Now those of you who have been following my blog for a while (or know me) have probably realised that I’m not massively interested in the whole ‘looking at buildings’ side of tourism. That being said; credit where credit’s due, the Spanish can build some impressive things (at least they used to be able to.. Not sure if their new stuff is any good)

Sorry but that’s all the is to say about today I think. Tomorrow is the last day I’ll be on my own which is good! I am currently desperate for bed though so I’ll have to sign off there

Distance: 117.6miles / 189.2km
Riding Time: 9:04:04
Av. Speed: 13.0mph / 20.8kph

Day 165 – Ciudad Rodrigo to Valladolid

I’m currently having to put in some longer days in order to get back for my planned finish date; so rather than me starting every blog saying: “I’m late again so this will be a short update”, maybe just assume that that’s the case from now on.

Today was long, but nowhere near as hot or hilly as yesterday. The wind kept changing between headwind and tailwind which was frustrating at times but overall didn’t pose too much of a problem.

I went through Salamanca at about half way through today which was very nice. I think that’s somewhere to visit properly at some point in the future. Spain so far has been good; not that there was anything wrong with Portugal, it just wasn’t that interesting.

Only other thing to mention about the ride today is that I went through my second (and final) antipodal point. Not massively significant in terms of progress but it’s a good thing to tick off.

The downside to Spain is how late the people eat. By 8:30 when the restaurants opened this evening I was absolutely starving, and possibly another reason why I’m so late.

Two more full days in Spain, a week until I’m on the ferry crossing the channel.

Distance: 128.1miles / 206.0km
Riding Time: 8:46:27
Av. Speed: 14. 6mph / 23.5kph

Day 164 – Nisa to Cuidad Rodrigo

I got about 5 hours sleep last night and I’m keen to change that, so this will have to be another short one.

Today was hard, I think due to a combination of heat and hills. It was by far the hottest day I’ve had with this much climbing. In fact, it had almost double the climbing of any other day with similar temperatures. All this, along with the distance meant that today was never going to be an early finish. This was emphasised when I lost an hour crossing the Spanish border – hence why, once again, I am a tad late.

Portugal has been good but I’m pleased that I’m now in Spain where I can at least speak a bit of the language. I have grown used to English-speaking countries and now I realise what a difference it makes.

Ciudad Rodrigo (where I am now staying) is a very pretty town and it’s a very big step up on the culture scale compared to anywhere I’ve seen since Lisbon.

I’m still trying to process everything, I can’t really believe how close I’m getting.

Distance: 119.9miles / 192.9km
Riding Time: 8:57:49
Av. Speed: 13.4mph / 21.5kph
Elevation Gain: 2,231m
Max. Temp: 38 degrees

Day 163 – Lisbon to Nisa – Start of Leg 8

I’ve had three days off and am now riding again. Lisbon was great as I got to see my mum and sister, but it was not totally without stress. Problems with the bike and Garmin (the latter of which is still not resolved) meant I had far less time than expected yesterday.

It was good to get back on the bike this morning and clear my head a bit. I’m really looking forward to getting home now so it’s good know I’m working towards it again. I now have 9 days riding before England but whilst that isn’t very many, they are all going to be long.

I owe thanks to RodaGira bike shop in Lisbon who helped me out yesterday. Coincidentally, they are also the only shop in Lisbon to be in contact with Condor.

Lisbon was a bit of a nightmare to navigate without GPS but I made it out with only one wrong turn. My legs felt good this morning despite the early hills and headwind. (Lisbon is really nice by the way).

Once out of the city, the scenery and towns reminded me a lot of some parts of the South of France; although not the Riviera.

Having been off the bike for a few days, things like my hands were always going to hurt and it was around the 180km mark where it became more than just ‘mildly annoying’. The heat also hit me a bit towards the end of today. I’ve had it a lot worse but it was still mid-thirties and I don’t think I drunk or ate enough.

When I arrived in Nisa (actually quite a nice little town) I had to wait about half an hour for the owner of the B&B to come to work and ended up just sitting on the pavement in salty mess.

Dinner tonight was really good. I didn’t know what I had ordered and it ended up being a bit of everything – steak, rice, chips, salad, spinach, some kind of beans, carrots and what turned out to be grilled banana.. I thought it was aubergine and ate the skin – not something I recommend; although having said that, I don’t like aubergine either. Regardless, it pretty much had everything I needed.

I could write a lot about today but I really need to get to bed, apologies for the short America summary as well

Distance: 126.3miles / 203.1km
Riding Time: 8:48:43
Av. Speed: 14.3mph / 23.0kph

Leg 7 – San Francisco to Boston – Summary

Following the shortest leg of the trip, this has been the longest (unless I get very very lost in Spain)

Distance: 4497.81miles / 7238.52km
Riding Time: 305 hours, 41 minutes
Av. Speed: 14.7mph / 23.7kph
Riding Days: 42
Rest Days: 0

Mechanical Problems: North America has trumped everywhere else by a long way in this department. I came into it having had 6 punctures over 12,000 miles; I got 4 on this leg. And then of course there have been the numerous wheel problems – a broken rim required me to buy a wheel and after that, 6 spokes broke.

Food: Unhealthy.

So this has been exactly the same amount of time as the Australia leg (although there I had 3 days not riding), and much like Australia it’s very hard to sum up everything. It seems logical to break it up into states – but I don’t really have time to cover each one in detail as I have started riding again today, so I’m afraid this will have to be brief.

California: Not as sunny as I expected but San Francisco was a good place to start

Oregon: I can’t put my finger on why, but I was really happy to get into Oregon – or maybe it was being happy to leave California, I’m not sure. Oregon was where my wheel broke; but other than that, it was fine

Washington: I liked Washington, riding through the Palouse region was really nice (despite the heat), and the first climb and descent of the Rockies was good too.

Idaho: I was only here for one night but it seemed ok…

Montana: A lot of nothing – much like Australia except very very hot

North Dakota: Similar to Montana – although not quite as hot

Minnesota: I wasn’t here for very long but I really liked Grand Marais where I stopped for a night

Ontario (this is Canada): Friendly people, no moose, generally ok

New York (this is not Canada): Apart from a couple of spots, possibly my favourite state

Vermont: It was hilly..

New Hampshire: Bad roads

Massachusetts: I finished here and Boston was nice from what I saw…

America in general was fairly good but to be perfectly honest, I spent all of it thinking of the finish. London started to feel within reach after New Zealand and I don’t think a day went by where it didn’t enter my mind.

I’m sorry this summary is so short and unamusing but I didn’t get as much time as I thought I would and I still have to write today’s update. Pictures from America are not yet up… I will endeavour to change that ASAP.

Day 162 – Leominster to Boston – End of Leg 7!

I have now cycled across America! I don’t think that has really sunk in yet. Although to be perfectly honest, I don’t even think Australia has sunk in. I haven’t really stopped moving and I still feel as though I’m yet to let everything catch up with me. I also think I have to be wary about letting my guard down; I have one final stint through Europe, and whilst it’s short (relatively), it’ll be far from easy in terms of the daily distance I’m planning to cover. Having said all that, I am feeling very happy.

The ride today was short so I am going to keep that theme for this blog as well. I shall do a summary of North America as and when I find the patience and am not sleeping.

50 miles didn’t pose too much of a challenge and even riding into Boston was fairly pleasant. I owe a big thank you to the Hails for lunch and a keeping me company upon my arrival in Boston. Another huge thank you to the Steels who are looking after me whilst I’m here.

That’s all for now; unsurprisingly, I’m a bit tired

Distance: 49.7miles / 79.9km
Riding Time: 3:27:14
Av. Speed: 14.4mph / 22.9kph

Day 161 – Bennington to Leominster

A day of ups and downs – literally and figuratively.

I started off today with a 15km climb, and with tired legs and no chance of a warm up, it went about as quickly as you’d expect.

The descent down the other side was fantastic though. A wide, steep road produced the fastest speed of the whole trip (52.2mph / 83.9km/h – sorry Mum) and actually the first time I’ve got over 50. This has come as a bit of a surprise, as coming into this trip I thought the added weight of the panniers would speed things up; I have come to realise that the additional weight is completely negated by the aerodynamics.

Anyway, after a few more hills, things changed for the worse. I didn’t bonk (‘hit the wall’) but I found myself completely empty. Rather than lacking in energy I think it was more a case of a months worth of fatigue catching up with me. My legs had no answer to the road that kept heading upwards and mentally I was totally lost… I knew that that complacency I mentioned yesterday would come back to bite me in the arse!

After stopping for something to eat I felt pretty much the same and the next 40-50 kilometres or so were painfully slow.

After this, the weather turned. The rain came from absolutely nowhere and as miserable as it made me, it actually woke me up. I think the cold shocked me into action and the final 20kms or so were actually not so bad.

I have half a day left in the States… Although I don’t think that has really sunk in yet.

Distance: 97.5miles / 156.9km
Riding Time: 7:15:01
Av. Speed: 13.5mph / 21.6kph
Elevation Gain: 1933m

Day 160 – Utica to Bennington

I’ve been extremely unproductive in the mornings and evenings the last few days, and today is no exception. I think a lot of it could be down to complacency – which is something I really should have learnt to avoid by now. I have 150 miles left and honestly, there is a large part of me that just wants to get it done and do it all tomorrow (I should point out that I’m not going to though).

I was half expecting a spoke to break today – based on current form, it seemed like one was due but i’m very glad that it didn’t. Whether it will last until Boston I don’t know, but the next two days will be shorter (than today at least) , so if one does go, hopefully it won’t be too detrimental.

The first 120km of the ride went really well. The weather was good again and I felt fresh. However I think I ate too much when I stopped for food as I felt extremely bloated for the rest of the day.

In stark contrast to the morning, the final 80-90km were a bit of a drag, and not only did I feel really lethargic but my hands and feet also started to ache a lot. Either way, another (long) day down, only one and a half to go.

Since finishing this evening, three people have commented on my ‘slightly’ red face; including some random hillbilly who said I looked like Rudolf… I laughed it off..

Distance: 129.1miles / 207.8km
Riding Time: 8:50:36
Av. Speed: 14.6mph / 23.4kph