Monday, June 13, 2005

Saturday 11/06/05

Left our Ghetto/Gangsta hotel about 10.30 after a nice lie in knowing we had next to no milage left to do. We made our way to the ferry port just in time to miss the last of the mornings ferries and had to wait an hour and a half till after lunch for the next one. Whilst sitting at theport another cyclist with full panniers wheeled up and started to chat with us. Low and behold he was a Brit! We had heard strories of this lone English guy called Pete who had been a day or two in front of us for a week or two. It was just a shame we hadn't met up with him earlier, we could have rode the last few hundred miles with him. We eventually borded the ferry and spent the whole journey sharing stories with pete and getting very excited about hitting our finish line. Ah San Fransisco - AT LAST!!!!

Then we had about 12 miles (or at least it should have been) toi get to the airport and meet Marks parents. The route we wanted to take was closed off and detoured and we got totally lost in another ghetto in South San Fransisco. After a brief (illegal) spell on the freeway we got to the arrivals lounge just 2 minutes before Mark's parents walked through the doors!

Anyway, we have more photos to come and we want to thank everyone of you that has sponsored us on this epic journey. We will post more information again soon and let everyone know just how much was raised for our chosen charities.

See you all in England!!

Heres some nice shots of San Francisco:
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One of the Inmates:
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The Golden Gate:
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A view of the city from Alcatraz Island:
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Friday 10/06/05

Our last full day of riding. Feeling real mixed emotions. Its nearly over which is great. Don't have to get up in the mornings get on our bikes and ride silly distances anymore. However the adventure is over. No more anticipation of random events, no more serious excercise, what are we going to do with ourselves now its over? Its become a way of life. Well I guess all good things must come to an end. Maybe real life could have the same adventure factor with the same attitude adopted on this ride, maybe.
Anyway Today we rode seventy miles to Vallejo the city on San Fransisco bay with the ferry port connecting us to San Fran. We rode through the University of California at Davis first, which was pretty much all cyclist, hardly any motorized traffic. After that we followed winding country roads which cut through breathtakingly beautiful citrus groves for miles upon miles. All very pleasant. Then we arrived in Vallejo, or Ghetto lands as I affectionately refer to it as. That place was dodgy with a capital D. We had a right palarva trying to find the RV site. We asked loads of people, to which the response was usually 'Que? RV?'. When we finally found the site marked on our map we found that they didn't actually allow camping. So what did we do? Yup thats right we headed for the most dodgy low rent motel we could find. It was grotty. The room next door to us seemed to be the permanant residence of three black women and 5 kids. We found out later there had apparently been a fatal shooting there only a week before! We locked the door and didn't stray for nothing or nobody.

Thursday 9/06/05

When we woke this morning we didn't want to look outside to see if it was still raining. To our jo thouh it had eventually stopped although all our kit was still soaking. We had 60 miles to get to Old Town Sacramento which is to the west of the major metropolis. It was a real easy ride to Sacramento, all on a slight downhill gradient and after so much altitude training the oxygen rich air made it even easier. After being so high for so long it felt very strange coming back down to below 2000ft. Our heads were spinning all day long, both of us felt very strange. After we passed Folsom state prison (yes, the one Johnny Cash sang his famous song about) we hit the American River Bike Trail. This was a bicycle specifis path that snaked for 30 miles through the parkland that runs along a mile eaqch side of the river that splits Sacramento in two. It wqas really nice riding and we stopped half way at the University of California Sacramento campus for lunch. We slept well that night in a campsite just west of town knowing we only had one more full day of riding ahead!

Wednesday 8/06/05

Still pouring down in the morning. Alex woke up to find himself being dripped on. Both of us were kind of up before 10 but thought that maybe the rain would pass. No such luck. We had to pack the tent up wet, so it picked up all the filth from the floor. All our kit was also soaked. We spent the whole day in the rain. It must have carried on unrelentlessly for at least 24hrs. This is pure Karma. The cosmic balance of plesure and pain. We were blatantly paying for the time we had in Carson/Reno. What should have been an extremly enjoyable day where we were to descend from 8000ft to under 1000ft in 80 odd miles turned out to be a cold and wet ordeal. It could have been worse I suppose, at least we didn't have to pedal. After the first 15 miles we were so cold we were praying for somewhere to stop and warm up. Fortunately the Strawberry Ski Lodge and Cafe came to our rescue. They had a huge open fire and we stood there for ages drinking coffee and drying off. Whilst we were there we met another guy called Don who was on his way from San Fransisco and going to Boston. He was just as cold and wet as us and we stood chatting for a while. He was on his way to meet friends in Carson City and then go out for the night in Reno - it all sounded very familiar and we wished him as much fun as we'd had. We arrived in Placerville fairly late and we searched out the grottiest low budget hotel we could, unfortunately that was full, so we went for the second worst where we had to get a roll out bed for one of us. It was grotty as hell. The Indian guy who ran the place was like 'so you ride across America yes? Why you no fly, it much cheaper and you get there faster?' Now that is how to miss the point completly! We just shook our heads and went to bed.

Tuesday 7/06/05

Climbed from woodfords to the top of final pass, Carson Pass, only to realise the road from the top of the pass was closed. So we had to ride all the way back down to just above woodfords and cut over another pass to the south of Lake Tahoe, a serious detour. We camped at a KOA there which cost so much, $35 almost the same price as a motel! Even worse at about 10pm the clouds opened up and it started pouring such rain as we havn't seen the likes of since Virginia. To compound the damage though we left our panniers out. Alex even left his open. Oops.

Monday 6/06/05

Woke up wondering what on earth had happened the night before finding ourselves asleep in our own king size beds in a huge casino suite. Alex decided to eat his clod 1/4pound burger that was still sitting on the room service trolley for breakfast whilst mark opted for the gallon pitcher of ice tea. After awaking Steve in the other suite we all got ready and headed back to Carson City laughing and joking about how surreal the previous night had been. We had lunch together then got back to steves and kitted up to set off on the road. By the time we had got going the wind had really picked up and the stuggle was not helped by the hangover. Only made 28 miles to a small place called Woodfords just over the California border. Hoooraay the last state and only one more mountain to go!!

Sunday 5/06/05

Well after yesterdays fun and games in Reno we went tosee Lake Tahoe to revitalise our hung over bodies by having a dip. Tahoe is a lake nestled at the top of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, its gorgeous.
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Crystal clear waters with sandy beaches surrounded by snow capped mountains. Something else. The only problem was it was a bit cold and windy even though the sun was out so we chickened out of swimming. We headed on down to the town of state line, your last chance to gamble in Nevada, where there were 5 or 6 big casino complexes to look around, that was fun, Alex won $16 on blackjack.
We arrived back in Carson in the middle of the afternoon to meet Steves parent who had just arrived in from Puerto Rico after spending a month out in Peru perusing the acient Inca ruins of Machu Pechu. It sounds like they had a fabulous time. They were extremlely hospitable and lovely and it was a pleasure to meet them. I know what I'd be like if I came home after a month to find 2 strange foreigners in my house, but they were delighted. We all had a good long interesting chat over pizzas which they kindly ordered in.
Heres a nice shot of steve and his parents:
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After dinner we headed back out to Reno again. Well we had such a good time the day before we thought what the hell, we still got time to spare. The night started out around Steves friend Shaun's house with Casey (a real funny kid), Katie (the gorgeous girl we met the night before) then we headed to the biggest dive in Reno, an 'Irish' bar which I can't remember the name of where we drank some JaggerBlasters (drop a shot of Jaggermeister in the shot glass into a red bull and down it, it's good give it a go) and bloody marys.
We then headed to a bar called the Polo Club. This is when thing got real surreal. I mean we had as much chance of getting abducted by aliens as what happened here. First impressions of the place were wow this is classy. There was a pleasant smell in the air, not your typical bar smell. They served chicken wings in a crockpot and it all look nice a sophisticated. There was another party of guys in there about 5 or 6 of them sitting at the other side of the bar, they all looked like business men, much older than us. Well it wasn't long before Alex got talking to one of them called Rusty after winding them up a little. We had quite a talk about politics and especially the Isreal/Palistine conflict and American foriegn policy to which we found we very much agreed on the major issues. Anyway he told me not to worry about drinks he'd get them to which i was thankful. Then he started talking about the $75 whiskey he was drinking, you know how smooth it was and said 'hey you get one'. Well I felt a bit awkward but couldn't refuse such an offer, hell when does a student ever get to drink classy like that? Well soon all the other guys were chatting with him and his compatriots and having laugh. We had a real good time till about three. Rusty picked up our tab which was amazing, as by that time there were quite a few of those beautiful whiskeys on there and a shot of Louis XV congac (over $100 a shot). What a guy! It then transpired that our hotel accomodation had fell through as it was getting late and it was fully booked so I asked Rusty if he knew of any hotels that might be still taking guests. 'Not to worry' says Rusty 'leave it to me'. So he gets on his phone and rings round then says 'lets go'. So we hop in his car and drive down to the Nugget casino in Sparks where it transpired they didn't actually have any rooms, or so the women said. However Rusty it seems has a corporate account with them. You should have seen her face when he mention that, she took a completely different tack. Anyway he got us two luxury suites, complete with hot tub baths which were huge. I think the cost was something like $350/night/room. Now to add to this abundant generousity he added in room service food for us all.
Rusty, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. That was one of the best most surreal nights ever. AWESOME

Saturday 4/06/05

Awoke in the sweltering desert heat and headed off to Carson City for brunch. Our intention today was to get halfway up Carson Pass which takes us over the Sierra Nevada mountains and camp, but after stuffing ourselves in Carson City with all you can eat fish and chicken at Long John Silvers we decided to take a day off in Carson as we had plenty of time spare and it seemed like a cool town. We went bar hunting and found a strange little place called Lucky's or something like that. Played pool there for a while with two miners called Terry & Gilbert they were both totally drunk and after a while declared they were off to the 'Bunny Ranch' for some fun. We left them to that and went off to find another bar that might be a bit more lively. Stumbled across a small backstreet bar called Mo & Sluggos and headed in for more beer. There we sat at the bar and got chatting with the barman Steve. Steve was one cool guy and he'd done loads of travelling himself. He was just knocking off work so we bought him a beer and sat with him to chat. He told us that he was off to Reno that night to meet friends and party and wondered if we wanted to join him - of course we did! Reno was a 2 day round trip for us if we were to ride, so a lift over there was ace. We met some of his friends Katie, Torrey and Shaun. Went to 4 different bars and a huge casino complex. Had a total blast - danced and drank and laughed all night. It was one of the best nights we'd had in ages. We had a camera with us that night too, so we'll have scans of some truly awesome and hilarious photos soon. You the man Steve...

Friday 3/06/05

Well a bit of a nothing day today. Rode out of Fallon through dessert on 50 again. Had the luxury of winds mostly in our favour so it was not too much of a chore. 50 miles of that and we made it to Dayton where we stayed in a state park which cost $13 and we had no showers or even hot water. To add insult to injury the mosquitoes where out in their droves baying for blood.
The dessert is turning into civilisation now, buildings and shops are becoming more frequent, no need to be carrying food any more. I think we have survived the lonliest road in America, thats quite an acheivment. California here we come!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday 2/06/05

The end of the penultimate map today and the beginning of the last one. Wooohooo!!!!! Only 308 miles left and we can take our sweet time about it too. We have 8 days to do it in, great!We have only one major climb left in the whole trip. That is the day after tomorrow. Carson pass will take us from 4000 to 8000ft then drop us down an 80 mile downhill to sea level and California proper. Nice. Only a 60 mile day today. Most of it flat. It was however a bit cold and windy. It started raining as we were having dinner so we decided on getting a motel, once a week is all good. Alex was feeling still a bit queasy after the awful Mexican so it was a good idea.

Cycled past the 1000ft sand mountain which was crawling with dune buggies, cool:
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Salt flats! 30 miles of them and the wind and dust was a killer:
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Dust Devils swarmed all over the desert landscape and threatened to kill us a few times. only got hit by a couple though after seeing hundreds all day:
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Wednesday 1/6/05

A small day to cold springs today, Only 49 miles to the tiny watering hole in the middle of nowhere. We arrived for lunch, got a beer and chatted to the bar tender how was a cool and chatty if not slightly drunk 50 something year old guy. He gave us a beer on the house, treated me to something called Duck fart, which I was intrigued by, sitting in a bottle with a handmade label on. It was 150% proof and after a days ride had me more than slightly inebriated. We found out from him those horrible little critters we'd seen yesterday and had encountered again just are called Mormon crickets. They arew apparently having a plague this year. I don't want to be around in a month when qapparently they grow about 4 inches long. We put up the tent, had a shower, then headed back to the bar where a girl Christine had just taken over. We chatted with her for ages, she was pretty funny, she also treated us to another round of beers. We played pool for free and chatted to the few people who came in. One guy we met was telling us about living near mount St Helens when it blew. Two days before it blew he and a pilot frient of his had flew over the smoking summit. He showed us some photos of it and gave us a copy of one. However the best photo he had was one of San Fransisco bay about 50 years ago in the fog, a spectacular print which he could probably have made money on.
Ate dinner. Alex had a Mexican, bad move! It was obviously off because he was seriously ill about midnight (I was nearly sick in the tent). In the morning however when I told Christine's mother who was on the bar then about it we got some free drink and munchies for it so that was ok I guess (although I probably could have sued).

Check out Marks cookies!!!
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Tuesday 31/05/05

68 miles to the town of Austin today, about 45 of which was fairly flat, however there was one big climb with a double summit at the end which was a bit of a beast. We stopped at the lower summit at a free campground to get some water and there encountered a swarm of the most horrible little beasts I have ever seen. They look like giant mutant grasshoppers crossed with cockroaches and the kind of hop and tumble about. As we entered this place there were litterally hundreds of thousands of them all over the road. Eugh, gross! Anyway that night we stayed in the Baptist church/ RV park which was ok except for getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. HAd dinner at a small restaurant where the Brits actually outnumbered the Americans. The were two Londoner couples who arrived just after us who had been touring around from Las Vegas. We had a bit of a chat with them and listened to them trying to order. It was funny how much of a hard time they were giving the poor waiter, he just couldn't work out what they were on about. Ahh, how refreshing to here some Brits.

Monday 30/05/05

83 miles to Eureka today. More down, than up, or so the map says. It didn't turn out that way though, it was still a killer. Four summits today with again nothing in between, pure pain.
There is one upside to this past few days in Nevada. We thought it was going to be a real harsh dessert environment, you know really hot, dry and sandy, however it has actually been fairly mild. In fact cycling out of Ely today was really painfully cold. I failed to mention also that the first day over the Nevada border we got slightly rained on and missed a cloud burst by just a couple of miles. We are again thanking our lucky stars we started this ride fairly early.
We stayed in an RV park which cost only $5 and ate a really nice meal at the local diner. Alex even managed to beat Mark at pool too, which hasn't happened in about 20 games, bar Mark potting the black or the white on the last shot.

Sunday 29/05/05

Not much to report on today. We slept and slept and slept. Got up went to MacDonalds, came back and slept some more, then ate a meal with a family from Vegas camping next to us, Leeroy, Sammi and their kids who where very nice and cooked some finger lickin' chicken. They invited us to stay with them anytime if we ever make it to Vegas. Before we went to bed we also met some more cyclists who cam over and introduced themselves. John and Becky were riding from Seattle to San Fran, then picking up the Trans Am Route to Illinois, I think, then ending up over the border in Canada. If you wanna check out their site its They were probably going to miss out Kansas I think and they were supported by vechile because they met another guy, Tom, who had done the route we are doing and was now going to ride it west to east, and his riding companion who had injured his achilles tendon and so had hired a U-haul van so everyone could dump their eqipment in it. Just how much easier is that hey?!

Saturday 28/5/05

Arrived in Ely today, a ride of nearly 70 miles over two 2000ft climbs. On the way back down to Ely over the 2nd we didn't even get to free wheel down as the wind was strongly against us. Stopped to eat our lunch at a bar in the middle of nowhere called Majors Junction. It was the only building we had seen since leaving the border. We thought it would be desserted but we found it to be suprisingly full. This is however Memorial day weekend out here, the official start of the Summer so everyone in the states that can is heading somewhere for their three day weekend and a large number of people, for some reason are inundating Ely. We have never seen a campsite so full. There was one pitch left when we arrived and all the RV sites were taken. Its absolute madness for such a nowhere place. We had a day off tommorow so we painted the town red that night. Went to the casino first which was slot machine after slot machine. Alex lost $20 on Texas Holdem with two pair 10's and aces vs a guy with a straight, gutted, and Mark after gaining a large number of quarters managed to loose the majority again. We left and headed to a bar or two and didn't leave till 3.00am and rode back to the camp site singing christmas songs the whole way back. Fun, fun, fun.

Snapped this one on Ely Main Street, pretty cool:
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Friday 27/5/05

Ouch, what a bad day, the begining of a weeks stretch of towns over 80 miles apart with nothing in between except big mountain passes. Today we had to do three passes two 1500ft climbs and one 1000ft covering 87 miles.
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It took us along time, we started about 8.00am and arrived after 5.00pm to the Border Inn 'casino' just over the boarder in Nevada and were dissappointed. As I said we were going to take a day off here but there was seriously nothing worth doing. The word casino can mean anything from a few slot machines to the Vegas Golden Nugget, unfortunately this wasn't the latter. The upside though was we could pitch a tent for free in the surrounding desert and just had to pay for showers. They also had a Bar/restaurant open 24hrs so we could eat a nice meal and pick up lunch for the next day where we would be heading to a town called Ely which actually is a fairly significantly sized town.
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Heres a good time to tell you about the book I am reading at the moment. Its called Desperation by Steven King and is based on the stretch of Route 50 which goes through Nevada, the self same road we will be travelling on for over a week. Heres the Blurb:
'There's a place along Interstate 50 that some call the lonliest place on Earth. It's known as Desperation, Nevada. Its not a very nice place to live. It's an even worse place to die. Let the battle against evil begin. Welcome to..... DESPERATION.'
Should I be reading this now? I don't know if its my best idea ever!

Thursday 26/5/05

A nice easish day today, only 56 miles to start off the new map which takes us through Nevada. We arrived in Milford (Utah still) where we did the last update from their public library, which was rather nice considering the size of the town. We were going to camp the night in the city RV park, but after an afternoon of doing not much decided against it because (1) the facilities were really basic (no shower no hot water, just a shed with a toilet and no paper which had been seriously abused and (2) it was the end of the school year and the field behind the school where we were camping became over-run by kids and parents so we checked into the motel attatched to the restaurant we were eating at. The girls (Trish and Chelsea) serving dinner there were a laugh, Trish just couldn't quite believe we were English and kept on asking us silly questions about England such as if we had met the Spice Girls and if we had Doritos in England. She was very happy to hear that the drinking age was 18 not 21.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wednesday 25/5/05

Our day off!Up a 9 which was nice. Spent the morning trying to attatch Alex's chain until realising the tool was broken and having to get a new one. When that was done at midday we found that the cassette needed replacing to as it was worn out by the over-stretched chain not a good day. However we are going to see star wars later, and we have another planned day off on the Nevada border casino RV resort in two days so its not all gloomy. Oh and guess who turned up today? Yup Babs and Bob the German couple again. Oh yeah did i mention we are travelling the lonliest highway in the USA through a Barren hot dessert doing more than 400 miles in 7 days, we gotta to rest up.

Tuesday 24/5/05

From a day which was going to be pretty tough anyway it just got ridiculous. Today the plan was to climb to Brian Head at about 10300ft and come down into Cedar City, the end of this map. We found out though that the high pass was out so we would have to take the lower but longer diversion which added another 13 uphill miles onto the journey making the day 71 miles and worst of all it deprived us of an 8mile descent which was supposed to be one of the steepest grades in America. It was a long day but it ended nicely with 17 miles of downhill all the way into town, thats pretty much Coventry to the centre of Birmingham, that nearly made the climb all worth while. Heres a view from the top of one of our last big mountains. We could see for miles, but the photo doesn't do the view justice:
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Booked into a campsite which was more expensive than the last at nearly $30/night with absolutely no alternative. Mark however managed to negotiate a discount so it cost us $45 for two nights. Well C'est la vie, at least we get a day off. We are well ahead of schedule to get to San Fransisco by June 12th. Had to make a stop anyway because Marks suspension forks had lost all air pressure and we apparently needed a special pump to repressurise them, Alex also needed a new tyre as his back was pretty much worn to the inner tube and we both needed new chains.

Monday 23/5/05

Rode about 65 miles to Panguitch today with the ride split over two big climbs. Rode till midday 38 miles to an awesome pizza for lunch in Tropic. I think it weighed us down somewhat for the rest of the ride, we could barely finish it. More amazing canyonlands on our way up to the top of the next hill.
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We stopped at the top for refreshments and met a guy who had obviously drank himself retarded, he had the memory of a goldfish and thought the Queen, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger visited him regularly (but not all at the same time he added). Funniest thing though was his singing dog. When asked to sing it would, kinda, apparently its favorite was Bob Dylan it could accompany him to guitar. On the way down the otherside a path had been built for cyclists through red canyon which was pretty cool, lots of hairy swithbacks etc, just glad no one was coming the other way.
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We found upon arriving in Panguitch that the only campsite there cost the obscenly high price of $27/ night, the highest we have paid so far. Absolutely ridiculous. Oh well, the Germans were there again and they paid the same, its good to be followed by some fellow cyclists even if they had come through a much easier route than us which we didn't know about! We were thinking of taking a day off here as we havn't had one for over a month now and Mark was complaining his butt was sore, however with prices like that we had to push on for another day.

Sunday 22/5/05

Another beast of a day today. 65 miles from Torrey to Escalante over the 9400ft boulder mountain.
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Not too bad we thought just 30 odd miles to the top then down the otherside to Boulder town for lunch (Boulder town is so remote it was apparently the last place in the continental USA to have its mail delivered by vehicle). When we arrived in Boulder for lunch we realised just what being remote meant, seriously high prices, I mean it was nearly $10 for a burger with crisps. Us being poor decided to leave it and fix ourselves something to eat at the grocery which was still overpriced. After lunch we thought it was just a small uphill then a large downhill to Escalante, were we wrong. We did a small uphill then a large downhill into scorching hot canyons (we had been at the snowline in birch and pine forest talking about going sledging not two hours before) then we had to climb up ridiculously steep switchbacks out for getting on an hour, dripping with sweat the whole way. It was worth it though, on the way back down on the final descent we came down a road called hells backbone, it is called this by virtue of the fact it is a steep winding road built upon the apex of a high rocky ridge overlooking canyons. It was an absolutely awesome descent, made better, if thats possible by meeting our first honest to god English people in the whole of America when we stopped to take a photo. Roger and Penny were touring from Arizona to Las Vegas, I never thought I would be so glad to hear a cockney accent! We arrived in Escalante at about 4 where we were going to stay in the state park, when we arrived though we realised it wasn't near any shops and was the same price to camp as in town so we headed back. On the way some middle aged guys stopped us as they drove by who said they were riding too, and gave us information on where to stay. They just drove to where they wanted to ride, did a loop and stayed in a cabin, not very hardcore. The camp ground was ok but as with alot of stuff in Utah food was real expensive.

Hell's Backbone Road was a death trap as its name would suggest. Heres a photo from the side of the road looking down into one of the canyons, it was like this on both sides and it had 14% downhill gradient for 5 miles! awesomely scary fun!
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Saturday 21/5/05

We have decided now that the weather is just too hot to be riding into the afternoon so we got up today at 6am, which hurt. Our day today is only 50 miles so we should miss the midday sun. The ride was more difficult than we anticipated however because it was all uphill and the sun still got roasting after 9am so we arrived about 2ish (after being harrassed in Subway by a crazy women) in Torrey. On the way we met a German couple called Barbara and Robert (there are more foreign tourists in the outback of Utah than there are indigineous folk, Germans mostly, a bus load of Japanese and a smattering of French) at the visitors centre of capitol reef national park, they were cycling a loop from Las Vegas to the middle of Utah and back again in four weeks and were just about to begin the return journey. They told us to camp where they were as it had a swimming pool, joy! So when we arrived the first thing we did was head to the pool, which wasn't large but was pure heaven after days in the hot, hot sun. Before we got in though there was a little girl swimming with her dad watching so we sunbathed and waited for her to finish, bad move, her old man(and I mean old, he was 65 an she was 8) was possibly the most boring man in the universe and he just had to engage us in conversation. The thing that excited him the most was watching pigs being bathed??!!, that and the fact he could claim $400/month off of the state for being a dad to a child under 16. He was so dull he even carried polaroids of his house and car with him. Anyway that was about it for the day, we sat in the pool till we burnt, played computer games on the game boy and drank 3.2% beer (3.2 is the highest percentage you are allowed in Utah for some strange annoying reason). Just one photo of Capitol Reef National Park sums it up - more canyons and crazy rock formations and scorching heat.
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Friday, May 20, 2005


We just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has posted on the site or emailed us. Were sorry we cant reply to everyone, but our computer time is always limited. Anyway the comments always help keep us going and we love to hear from you all!!!!

Friday 20/5/05

After the last 2 days of heat and distance we decided to get up and out early and give ourselves the afternoon off. Rode 51 miles through more hot canyons and dramatic scenery to Hanksville where we are writing this update from. Its costing us $10 to write this so you all better enjoy it! haha. We have loads of great photos to share and we will update them when we get to a decent computer (which might be a while....)

Thursday 19/5/05

Beast day alert! Grabbed supplies and headed into the vast Utah canyonlands. The first thing we had heard on the radio that morning was the warning of record high temperatures for this time of year, rising to an expected 95 degrees. Rode through canyons for 83 miles to Lake Powell (a 5 year drought had reduced the lake to a mere puddle). On the way there was supposed to be a motel and cafe, it turned out it had closed 2 years earlier and would probably never reopen. This was the only building we saw all day, it really is vast and empty out here. Although the scenery is something else, you feel very insignificant and alone. Upon arriving at The recreation area at Lake Powell the shop had just shut for the night and Alex had no food left. Fortunatley he managed to rouse the owners and we got beans and meatballs for dinner - whoopie! Set up camp and met a lone traveller in an old VW camper van called Henry Ellis. He was real good to us and offered us lots of tea and water. He had a real old hippy vibe and he sat there all night listening to Japanese Pan Pipe music. We thank him profusely for the new can of propane he gave in exchange for our empty can. Got in the tent and it was so hot it took hours to get to sleep.

Its scary out here its just so desilate
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Wednesday 18/5/05

Got up early as we had a big trip of 83 miles today and grabbed some fried fuel in a Mexican restaurant for breakfast where we met a guy from Scotland. I think he was as suprised to see 2 English guys out there as we were to see him. He was a trucker and lived in Canada but travelled all over the states. Stopped in Dove Creek for lunch 10 miles before hitting the Utah boarder.
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No thats not some sort of helicopter device sticking out of marks head, its a telegraph pole in the distance!!
This is the state we have been dreading - hot, dry and dead. Rode on to our destination of Blanding where we got a cheap motel and the town was as interesting as the name suggests.
Just before reaching Blanding we crossed the dam at Recapture reservoir, heres a photo of South Peak form across the reservoir (they really are not very imaginative with their place names out here)
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Highlight of the day was catching the new series of South Park - classic stuff!

Tuesday 17/5/05

Left Telluride late after catching an expensive breakfast from yet another miserable waitress. Rode to the top of Lizard Head Pass at 10,222ft. Heres the info sign at the top - everyone likes proof!
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Heres a photo looking over to the snow capped mountains that sit either side of the lizard head pass, it was so cold that the lakes up there were frozen solid!
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If we had stayed at Placerville that night like we had originally planned, then it would have been a much bigger climb. But as it was Telluride was at 9,000ft already so it wasn't to far to the top. Climbed way above the snow line to the top and then followed the Dolores river for 40 miles downhill to Dolores. We were gonna get lunch in a Rico on the way down but EVERYTHING in the whole town was shut. So we rode on to Stoner which had a great cafe. Outside the cafe they had hummingbird feeders which attracted dozens of them, it was amazing to watch them:
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Monday 16/5/05

Left Colona early with huge mountains looming in our path. After eating more yummy bree, bread and mango for breakfast we headed over to Ridgeway where we took a rest for a hot chocolate. There we met a guy who told us that we should go to Telluride - a beautiful ski resort just 3 miles off our route instead of our original destination of Placerville which had nothing. Leaving Ridgeway we had to climb up a really steep 11 miles to the Dallas Divide at 8970ft. We thought that the other side would be great coming down, but the winds were so strong that we had to peddle hard all the way down to Placerville. We stopped at the extortionate Blue Jay cafe for lunch and met a very snooty waitress who demanded we tip her! Another 15 miles of steep uphill led us to Telluride ('To Hell You Ride' a name coined due to the fact that the entire town ran on brothels back in the 1800's). Set up camp in the city park there and decide to go out and have a beer and a bite. We met 3 people on the pool table in a bar and got chatting. Mark was originally from England, he'd come to the USA on an exchange trip when he was 14 and never left! He and his girlfriend Alisha were really nice and offered us showers and a place to stay if we needed - unfortunately we had already payed to camp and were all set up. The other guy we met was Jimmy - he was fun. Mark and Alisha left and we carried on to another bar with Jim. After a few drinks and more pool Jimmy took us back to his flat to show us his mountain bike. At his flat we met his friend Scott. Now this guy was cool. He was a real oldschool skier who used to do crazy 80ft drop-offs into powder. He told us how he managed to damage his hamstring real bad and then skied for the next five years on one leg! Another time he broke his arm and gaffer taped it up and carried on skiing - he lived for the slopes in a big way. After chatting for ages with Jimmy and Scott we said our fairwells and hit the sack at about 2am.

Sunday 15/5/05

Got up early and rode 28 miles along the beautiful Blue Mesa banks to a tiny place called Cimmaron where we stopped and had our lunch.
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Unfortunately the restaurant was shut and so we had to settle for microwaved sandwiches again! After a very steep 5 mile climb out of Cimmaron to Cerro Summit and then an awesome 15 mile downhill to the town of Montrose. There we found the best supermarket we have come across yet which had REAL food. Got some bree, french sticks, mangos and fruit corner yoghurts (which we found out later were actually fruit corner cottage cheese pots Doh! not happy). Rode 10 more miles to the RV park marked on our maps only to find that they wouldn't let us pitch our tent there. Fortunately there was another RV park 2 miles down the road in a place called Colona which would let us pitch our tent. Only problem was we had to pitch it on the gravel so as not to ruin the sprinkler system - took us about an hour to peg it down!

Saturday 14/5/05

After getting to bed late the night before we didn't rise till late this morning. Grabbed a quick breakfast and set to work cleaning the cabins to pay for our stay. Just as we were leaving we met two other cyclists who were coming from San Francisco. They told us all about how hard the route through the desert would be. Carrying as much water as possible is a must out in the desert and they gave us a 4 litre water reservoir - that was real good of them. Set of to the Blue Masa Reservoir where we camped the night. Only managed about 50 miles today because we were still aching from coming over Monarch Pass the day before.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Friday 13/5/05

Friday the 13th today, scary, especially so as we have to climb the biggest mountain of our entire trip today, the dreaded Monarch Pass sitting at 11,312ft above sea level. It has been basically uphill the whole way from Cotopaxi to the top, thats 48 miles climbing a little under 6000ft. Now as if a long climb like that is'nt bad enough at that altitude doing excersise you are suseptable to altitude sickness anywhere above 7000ft. We were already having throbbing heads and a general lack of energy in the morning in Cotopaxi, but as the day progressed the hills got stepper and our energy levels got less and less. We had to stop numerous times before the summit from sheer exhaustion.
Heres a good photo looking back at where we had come from shortly before hitting the summit:
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We did make it though after 7 hours or so in the saddle and no lunch. By the time we arrived at the restaurant at the top we were absolutely ravenous. What did they have for us though? Nothing but hot dogs and crisps. What an anti climax!
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The road down the other side though was some awesome fun (except for the problem of my hands nearly freezing off).
Heres the view from half way down the otherside of Monarch:
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We didn't have to pedal all the way down to our destination a town called Sargents. This actually was not a town, we found it only had a population of 16 permanent residents however this did not stop it from being one of the highlights of the trip. We arrived at the campsite, which was an RV park, grocers, restaurant and yes a bar all in one and sat at the bar to enquire about prices where we got into a conversation with a middle aged couple who rode Harleys called Kathleen and Russell who were extremely nice and very amusing. They had six kids between them, their youngest being our age, but that sure didn't stop them being cool. They treated us to three rounds of drinks each which after Monarch was a God send and left at about 7. Kathleen even offered to pay the difference between the price of our camping and a cabin but we couldn't do that obviously. However we struck a deal with the owner of the place who said she would let us have a cabin for camping price if we tidied our cabin and the one adjacent which was absolutely no problem, awesome in fact, it got way below freezing at night. After getting settled we went back into the bar and got some food. There we met an old cowaboy who was a bit hard of hearing, then we played some pool and met some really cool people. Two brothers by the names of Jarrod and Ernie, Jarrods wife Angel and her friend. Well to cut a long story short after much revellry and pool we went back to their house listened to loud music and sat in a hot tub, yes you heard me right a HOT TUB, and it was minus four outside and we were drinking cold beers, it was awesome after the days ride, just what our bodies needed. Guys, you rock. Thank you so much. All in all an awesome day I think.


Wow. Today has been absolutely astonishing. We rode out of Pueblo bound for the mountains at 10 after a large breakfast with Mary and Ruby and got to the top of the first hill at 11ish near a place called canyon city which is where the worlds highest suspension bridge is located (we did'nt see it though because it was 5 miles or so off route). The change in scenery could not be more dramatic. We don't care now if we have to haul our up mountains, anything is better than those plains, they were so dull. There is now a new and beautiful panorama beyond every turn in the road. I have to say this is some of the most jaw dropping scenery I have ever seen.
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We were hoping to do some white water rafting on the Arkansas river as it is one of the worlds premier locations, however some of the guys we spoke to gave us it straight and told us the water wasn't really up high enough for really scary, dangerous rafting so we left it. We will be going when we hit california though because apparently they are in for some of the best rafting in 10 or 20 years. We followed the river from there all the way to cotopaxi about another 40 miles away where we stayed a a sweet campsite on the waters edge:
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At the campsite we met an ex bull rider and all round nut job. The guy said he used to go off into the wilderness for months at a time with nothing more than a gun and a knife to survive, however his wife won't let him do that any more suprisingly enough. Alex managed to get a decent nights sleep in sub zero temperatures for the first time, that sleeping bag liner was all worth it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wednesday 11/5/05

We have the Rocky mountains in sight! Hallelujah!!!!
You can just about see the outline of the distant rockies on this snap:
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First veiwed them just out of Haswell where we stopped for lunch yesterday riding all day towards them on, can you guess? The 96.
Arrived in Pueblo shortly after lunch. This place is the biggest town we have been to since New York, and the biggest we are going to see untill we hit cali. Its a lovely place, wouldn't mind living here. It sits in the shadows of the Rockys which is quite an amazing view to have everyday. Picked up some extra water bottles for the bikes and Alex had to get a sleeping bag liner, which unlike everything else in the states cost the same or more as it does in England (dam $60 gone) but is of extreme necessity when we are hitting mountains and desert where night time temperatures are going to frequently drop to freezing or below.
We are staying with two lovely ladies call Ruby and Mary in West Pueblo where we are writing this from now. They have been really nice to us, they have just taken us out to the biggest, best all you can eat buffet ever. I mean hundreds of different dishes including steak cooked how you want and fresh strawberries but to name a few. After the meal we drove to a lookout point to get a good view of the mountains that lay ahead and the huge reservoir at Pueblo:
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Mary is at this moment doing our laundry for us (we have been stinking this past couple of days). they have offered us an absolute oasis before our long haul up the Rockys and we couldn't be more grateful.

Tuesday 10/5/05

Woke up feeling seriously wrong. It took over two hours to pack our kit away. Alex had to cajole Mark seriously (Mark had taken to hugging anything soft and trying to go back to sleep). Anyway we had to ride 50 miles to Ordway, still climbing through barren, but now more dusty desert like scenery, still on the 96, hungover to hell and what can I tell you it hurt, and thats about it.
Arrived at the hostel and slept like babies. A day we would prefer to forget (Im never going to drink again, yeah right).

Monday 9/5/05

Left early again to avoid winds. Rode through nothingness to a tiny place called Sheridan Lake (which was little more than a dirty puddle). Met a funny 21yr old guy who had moved out there from Phoniex Arizona a city of 6 million in the middle of the desert to a town of 66. He said well you might not have much going on out here but at least you can shoot any thing that moves. He told us about the one day in seven years of desert living he saw snow. It was 100 degrees and when the snow was 15 ft above the ground it turned to rain, before it hit the ground it had evaporated. thats crazy hot.
Carried on to Eads our destination, in Colorado. Yes we hit another border, out of Kansas!
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Rocky mountains here we come. Yes! Set up camp then hit the bar for dinner and what we hoped were going to be a few beers. First bar we went to was dead, so we headed on down the road to another which a young couple ran. There was one old guy at the bar by the name of moon. He was extremely kind and talkative. He wanted to know about all we were up to although he couldn't understand much of what we were talking about. He was an ex-principal, teacher and coach. He brought us a few beers then staggered on out. It got pretty messy after that. Our few beers turned into an all out drinking binge. We played pool for a while with the locals and chatted to all the locals. WE LOVE YOU GINGER.

Sunday 8/5/05

Highlight of today (you don't get many being on the same road for what seems like an eternity) was going into a gas station for lunch (actually a quick snack, we ate a big breakfast) and meeting this lovely lady called Marsha Mehl who invited us back to her place for a big mothers day lunch, which would have been awesome had we not have ate alot and had we not had to contend with gradually increasing wind speeds all day. We politely declined her offer but had a big chat with her and she left. we thought that was that but oh no, American hospitality knows no bounds. We went to pay for our food and the clerk told us not to worry about paying the lady had just put it on her tab, absolutely amazing!
Carried back on to Tribune our stop for the night. Found the sheriff and sat in the interveiw room next door to the occupied cell block while he sorted out the prisoner and fetched the key to the restrooms in the park we were staying at. Camped the night there. Had some extra time because we crossed a time zone so sat around playing poker for hours. I think we narrowly escape a severe storm because not long after we camped the wind started gusting about 30 or 40. We heard a mother call her children in because a tornado had been sighted. Luckily we didn't see it. I say luckily, but I think it would have been quite something to see.

Satuday 7/5/05

Got a nice early start this morning (Elaine and her husband had to be at church early, on a satuday too). Hit a tiny town called Alexander about 10 miles out which as well as being obviously Alex's name was just about our halfway point, heading west now, cool!
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Stopped for a small snack in Deighton, another 1 horse town. Hit Scott city our destination for the day about 5 and went for a great feed at another all you can eat. Couldn't get hold of the people at the hostel we were staying at for a while but fortunately a women in the super market had their home phone number so we got a hold of them after dinner. This hostel was the best we have stayed at. It's a sports centre with an indoor swimming pool, something we have been dying for since we got to the states, it felt so good to swim, it really loosens up our tired aching muscles. What really made Alexs day though was the fact it had a gym attatch with a trampoline (I havn't been on one in years, and I used to be pretty good at it too, not any more though I hasten to add). Settled in for another night with cable TV. Awesome!

Friday 6/5/05

A seriously windy day today. Winds blowing at 25-30 miles an hour all day, it had to be the hardest 50 miles ever. Actually I tell a lie it was 35 miles of serious cross winds bad enough to blow you clear off the road, especially when a cattle truck comes by ( they are the worst because they are well ventilated so their wind resistance is high and they travel with a wall of wind) but we had 20 miles with the wind behind us which we did in under 50 minutes which was quite something. Mark because his panniers are high and act like a sail was blown 5-10 yards off the road 5 times.
I (Alex) managed to wind up a republican for the first time at lunch, which wasn't as major a coup as I hoped, in fact I felt a smidgin bad about it because the guy was over 80, had a hernia the size of a football and and inoperable anuyrism which could explode at any time, but once he dragged me into it it got quite heated. His major grudge against the democratic party was its 'liberal' policies were trying to have gun control and pumping tax money into social services (which are clearly inadequate over here). Oh well. Any way he was pretty friendly otherwise and we left on good terms after he told us about the cyclist in eastern colorado he pick up in a sand storm. Apparently the guy was riding through 60 mile an hour winds at over 100 degrees farenheight, he was red raw. His words when this guy stopped were 'get me the hell out of this god forsaken country!!'. Theres a good chance we've got this to come, oh no!
Anyway we rode to a little place called Bazine where we found Elaine's Bicycle Oasis. A very nice lady who let us camp on her lawn for a fee and then cooked us up a humungous breakfast of pancakes, fruit, sausages and coffee before sending us on our way.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Thursday 5/5/05

Got up and rode 15miles out of Hutchinson to another town called Nickerson where we had lunch and pie in the Sunshine Cafe. There were no services at all from here to our destination Larned, so we picked up a few snacks and headed off down the single straight 60 mile road to Larned. Roads like that are really boring, we saw about 2 houses the whole way. We've found the only way to stay entertained on a ride like that is to play the alphabet game and 20 questions. Got to Larned about 5pm and the sun was blazing. Setup camp in the RV park and met a couple called John and Mary Landis who had parked up they're RV for the night next to where we were camping. We got chatting to them and they invited us to join them for dinner. We had a great meal with them and spent the rest of the night chatting away. Its great to meet people like John and Mary - it makes the trip so much more enjoyable.

Wednesday 4/5/05

We rose early today and rode 8mlies to the city of Newton. We decided to have one big brunch before setting off for the rest of the day and stopped at a fantastic Italian pizza restaurant. $4 for all you can eat salad, pizza and pasta! Fully fueled we rode the 50 miles to the City of Hutchinson. This was the first big city we had been to, so we set up camp as quick as possible in an RV park south of the city and then rode into downtown. Alex brought a sweet new pair of nike shox for $95 which would have cost easily over a hundred quid in England.Went to the only bike shop in town to pick up a few spares and got chatting with the guy that worked there. He informed us that there was a bikers hostel only a few blocks away and it was free. We were gutted as we'd already spent $15 on the camp site and set everything up there about 5 miles away. (We must email the AACA and inform them of that place because its not on the maps!) After leaving the bike shop we headed over to the mall to grab a bite and a movie. On the way we rode past the Kansas Cosmosphere which had rockets and other spaceships outside, unfortunately we didnt have time for the tour. We watched the Amityville horror and it was a bit of a let down, then got back to the camp in the dark and sat around falling asleep watching the washing machines.

Tuesday 3/5/05

Knocked out about 70 miles today on pretty much the same road all day. Had lunch at an all you can eat in cassoday (the prairie chicken capital of the world) another very quiet town with not alot going on.
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From there we rode in an arrow straight line all the way to Harvey county park. We rode past the actual state park hoping the private park further up the road would have better facilities, we were sadly mistaken the facilities were practically third world, basically all that was there were toilet seats arranged without partition over an open pit! We rode back to the county park and were pleasantly suprised, it was well looked after and sat in a tranquil spot by the side of the lake. The evening sun was georgous and the park was awesomely tranquil.

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Monday 2/5/05

Really glad we didn't make it to Toronto yesterday, where we would have been camping in the state park looked like it had no facilities plus it would have been 5 miles to town, if you can call it a town. After 40 miles of pedling through open prairie land which was the same through and through (cow, grass, cow, creek) we arrived. The place although having a population of over 500 was as far as we could see deserted, we half expected to see tumble weed blow through.
There were a few cafes there, but they were all shut on lunchtime on a Monday. The bar that used to be there had burnt to the ground and there was one grocery store which stocked nothing substantial. It was a ghost town. However we did find somewhere to eat about five miles out of town, the lizard lips cafe, where we met some cool people. Had lunch and a beer and a long chat with the owners and their daughter and left a couple of hours later. Rode the 20 odd miles to Eureka where we checked into a motel. Their we met the first pair of cross country cyclists yet. They were not doing it as one journey but rather splitting it up into 5 or 6 separate holidays, however they were 65 and 70 so that is fair enough, they were looking in real good shape for their ages.

Kansas is just as we thought - flat and quiet and thats about it really! Thought this photo would sum it up nicely
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Sunday 1/5/05

Today we were planning to ride over 80 miles to a town called Toronto from Girard where we stayed last night, however Alex wouldn't get out of bed till 10 and Mark got two puntures on the way because his rear tyre had worn through, so we didn't make it to our destinination for lunch until 4 O'clock and still having another 40 odd miles to go we decided to stay in the city park in Chanute, which was suprisingly nice as it had hot showers and was free. The night was really cold though so we cooked dinner in the tent and went into a shivering half sleep (Dreading the rockies now, if I could'nt stand it that night whats it going to be like camped at 8-10000 ft, baltic I suspect!).

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Saturday 30/4/05

Woohoo! We made it into the plains at last. Average speeds are high and the sun is shining. After another great feed in Cookys we set off for Kansas.

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Stopped in Pittsburg for lunch and Mark got himself a sweet new pair of trainers for about 20quid - nice. Alex spent ages drooling over a pair of $500 oakley sunglasses that had an MP3 player built into them and headphones that came out of the arms. We all know he'd only lose them so we headed off to the library where we wrote the update. Only 20miles this afternoon to Lake Crawford State Park where we'll camp the night. A few hefty milage days ahead of us now, but being in the plains is so nice that it should be a breeze!

Friday 29/4/05

After gorging on yet another fried American breakfast (fantastic fuel economy on those things) we rode 78 miles to Golden City. Just as we set off the rain started and it either drizzled or poured all day. So a pretty miserable day - one good thing about the rain though, the dogs dont chase us all day because they're tucked up in their kenels out of the rain! The map indicated a bikers hostel in Golden City so we tried to ring ahead from Ash Grove where we stopped for lunch. Only problem was that someone had nicked the pay phone so we decided to get to golden city and seek out the hostel. After riding in rain ALL day we made it and as we rode into town a guy pulled up in his car who turned out to be the hostel owner and was just about to head out of town - more good luck, I don't know how we pull it off! He led us to the hostel which was an entire house on its own with all ameneties (kitchen, bathroom washer/dryer, tv, hi-fi). It was a fantastic place to rest up the night and the cafe over the road "Cookys" served up a real top notch roast dinner. A good end to a cold wet day.

Thursday 28/4/05

Spent ages in the library in Houston emailing and updating the blog so didnt get pedalling till late. The weather picked up a bit and the sun was out, but the winds were just relentless. We were still in the Ozark Mountains which we had under estimated - theyre not mountains just hill after hill, hundreds of them and they are all steep - really steep. Made it to a small farming town called Hartville for a late lunch (You know your out in hillbilly land when you see frogs legs pies on sale - no joke). 26 miles after lunch took us too Marshville the only place for miles with anywhere to stay and with more storms forecast we decided against camping on the courthouse lawn and get a cheap motel run by the most unwelcoming miserable woman - a nice end to the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Wednesday 27/04/05

Only rode 42 miles today. Not alot but the next place was another 40 odd miles on top and we had alot of washing to do in the morning so didn't set out till past midday. We are in a place called Houston at the moment where I'm writing this from. Stayed at a cheap as chips motel run by a chineese guy whos daughter is a lawyer in New York and ate in an all you can eat chineese restaurant which was real good eating.

Tuesday 26/4/05

Rode to Eminence today over 67 gruelling miles over these darned Ozarks. They may not be too high but there are alot of them and they are steep. Today we went for 10-20 miles at a time not seeing so much as a house, its pretty rural out here. When we arrived we had a choice of three camp sites, two of which there were not people to be seen any where and the last of which was half a mile up dirt track going over a steep hill which was supposed to be the best and would have been except for the fact the shower block was still being constructed so there was no hot water. We rang the owners of the site however and he came on over unexpectedly and turned it on for us which was very kind. He was funny too, the thickest redneck accent we've heard yet.

Amusement every day

Along the trip we have encountered many funny place names, road names and shop names. We dont have the time to stop and get photos of them, but we thought it was worth mentioning a few that have brought smiles to our faces.

Bumpass - A village in Virginia.
Poor Bottom - A village in virginia with a name we can both relate to.
Fenchman Knob - errrr - A mountain in Kentucky.
Knoblick - Another mountain in Kentucky.
Paintlick - A village in Kentucky.

I think thats about the top five anyway.

Can you believe that somebody actually asked us if we were from France!?!

When we told a girl in McDonalds that we were from England she said "oh, so you don't have to speak another language to visit England then" I said "yes England=English like France=French like Spain=Spanish" then she asked "so what language do they speak in Paris. You have to worry sometimes.....

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Monday 25/04/05

It was 66 miles from Chester to Pilot knob Missouri (Knob is their name for hill which makes for alot of immature laughs). We crossed the missisipi into Missouri:
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(apologies if I spelt that wrong) the longest river in the USA and made it to the hotel about 7pm just as the rain started. We thought we were out of hill country today as the flood plain of the missisipi is extremely flat for miles, were we wrong, we were just hitting the next range of mountains, the Ozarks, nooooooooo. Fortunately these do not look anywhere near as bad as the beasty Appalacians, at least not as high, we'll see.

Sunday 24/4/05

It was sixty miles from Carbondale to the next state border into Missouri (Illinois is a very long and thin state, the south end being less than 200miles across). We stayed in a town called Chester which has one extremly cool thing going for it, it is the home of Popeye the sailor man, cool! We checked into a best western where we were supposed to be able to redemn our free nights stay, but as with all things that sound too good to be true this was too! Apparently they would have sent us our voucher for our free night to Marks address in the UK which is about as much use to us as a chocolate teapot. However I suppose we can redemn them in San Fran when Marks parents meet us.
We went to eat that night at a place recommended to us by hotel staff, the harvest Schmorgasbord, which is their word for all you can eat, and boy did we eat all we could, and then some more, we were both in extreme pain waddling back a mile to the hotel, Mark broke out in a cold sweat and was threatening to throw up!

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Saturday 23/4/05

Wow what a long long day. We rode over 90 miles to the only big town in Illinois, Carbondale where we could get a motel and go out on the town for the night, which having been stuck in dry counties for nearly two weeks was enough to spur us on! The weather was bad, we hit headwinds most of the way again so did'nt arrive until fairly late on. It wasn't all we were hoping for on a big night out because we were pretty shattered and didn't have much time.We went and played some pool, then headed to their version of a nightclub which seemed to be stuck in some kinda cheesy 80's time warp (as alot of middle America is). Sadly we left fairly early and hit the deck.

Friday 22/4/05

From the church we headed out on our way to Illinois about 56miles away. We got out fairly late and took it fairly leisurely. The wind started to pick up during the day impeding our progress significantly so we made it to the illinois border at about eight at night. The border of illinois and Kentucky is the Ohio river. Unfortunately this crossing of the Ohio was not a bridge as in every other place but a ferry. When we arrived the ferry operators did not want to make the return journey across the river as the winds were high and it was fairly dangerous, however some guy working for the state managed to convince them to do one last crossing, if that had not have happened we would have been camping on the wrong site of the river with hot showers and food within sight on the other side. We are so so glad we got across to the campsite cave in rock state park.

I think you can see the glee in our faces here for boarding the ferry. Wind was high so ferry was swaying everywhere - hence the poor photo.
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Friday, April 22, 2005

Thursday 21/4/05

Another 70 mile ride today, this one apparently with no hot shower in sight, camping in a town park! I say apparently this is not what happened though, we neglected to read the addenda to our maps which told us we could stay at the first bapist church in Sebree. What an amazingly pleasant suprise we got when we got there. We turned up unannounced on the doorstep at about 4.30 in the afternoon and found the Pastor, Bob sitting outside he said we were in the right place talking to the right person and took us to the community centre to the rear of the church which was brand spanking new and amazing. We had a really nice hot shower a mattress to sleep on a full kitchen in which to cook had we needed to and to put the icing on the cake a 52" widescreen TV to watch! This was not the best thing about it though, Bob and his wife Violet were two of the most wonderful, generous selfless people we have ever come across, I mean they just radiated goodness (sorry guys you will probably be embarrassed to read this but its true). Violet insisted on giving us tea, and we ate very very well, great home cooking with the two of them, their daughter in law and two small grandchildren. Bob popped out for a while and came back with a homeless guy who looked in a bad way, who was trying to make it to somewhere in Tenesse after loosing his job somewhere in Illinois I think and they took him in, fed him then gave him 10 bucks and some sandwiches to help get him there. These guys were the definition of pure christian goodness, a true inspiration.

Wednesday 20/04/05

Rode over 60 miles to falls of rough, a state park by a damn. We were expecting something huge, you know like the Hoover Dam or something but no such luck, it was the weakest excuse for a dam I've seen. Anyhow spent another night in a motel as rain was forecast again.

Tuesday 19/4/05

Our map turned up at 11 in the morning at the motel we were staying and we hit the road and made approximately 70 miles to the Abraham Lincoln birthplace near a place called Buffallo where we got another motel because storms were forecast. Nowt much to write home about there was next to nothing there. However the going is getting far easier, we are well out of the Appalachians now and the roads are getting flatter and flatter.

Monday 18/04/05

Got up early and went with Doug to Lexington which is where the university of Kentucky was. We had breakfast in a very cool 24hr college diner where they had all sort of university of Kentucky memerobillia including Fraternity paddles which if you have ever seen the movie dazed and confused are what the Jocks spanked the little kids with.
After saying our goodbyes to Doug we went to the bike shop where Alex got his bike fixed (the brand new gear cables had frayed apart and the brake pads were now pretty much none existant) and we managed to get hold of the American Adventure cycling association and get the map sent to our next port of call Springfield by next day delivery.
We made it to Springfeild that night about seven . It was good to be back on the road.

Sunday 17/04/05

We spent another day with the guys because on Sunday there really is absolutely nothing you can do in Kentucky. We had a really nice day. Greg drove us all down to a nature reserve in a river gorge called Ravens Run about 20 miles away from Richmond. It was absolutely beautiful. The whole woodland was ablaze with this gorgeous blue and white plant called blue eyed Mary who's nearest approximation in England would be blue bells. Greg gave us the entire nature tour, he knew the names of all the plants we passed, their habitats and in which seasons they flowered (he was a keen plant photographer and was trying I think to put a book together on the Flora of Kentucky). We walked along the gorge for some miles which was a really lovely expirience (We will post some pics when we find a computer which will support the camera). When we arrived at the visitors centre at the end we arrived just in time to see one of the captive snakes throw up a half digested mouse which was digusting but you don't see that everyday.
We spent the rest of the day watching season 4 of South park and just relaxing then doing pretty much the same as the night before sitting around the open fire and chatting.

Heres a few photos from our trip to Ravens Run:
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Alex, Doug and Greg checking out salamander eggs:
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There were lots of waterfalls like this along the stream - a beautiful spot.
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