An Odd Week for us Cyclists

14 09 2012


Budapest was cool. We left at 06:15 on a (shh don’t tell anyone) train to Zagreb. We we’re expecting to feel guilty as hell about not cycling but actually it felt quite luxurious and we had a pleasant 6 hours snoozing and chatting to Johnathan, our compartment mate. Our purpose for this abrupt change of direction was to go and pick up a new recruit- Rhiannon. She has been working as a Artist Liason Manager at Outlook and Dimensions festivals in Pula and will join us for the next leg to Turkey.

We then spent a very pleasant 5 hours in Zagreb cycling around, sipping coffee in a trendy cafe and eating Burek in the central park. Burek is a cheap curly pastry with meat or cheese being the common fillings. Delicious if you like cheap, greasy filling food- we do.

We then took another train to Rijeka.

After worrying about the hassle of travelling with heavily loaded bikes it was surprsingly easy, but I think this was due to the fact that are boarding and alighting stations were that end of the line, giving us more time to lift everything on and off. The whole journey cost about £45 each.

The following day the main street was filled with people. It was some sort of Olympic sports day for kids. Rose spent 2 hours watching the gymnastics while I did some shopping for maps and food.


After 2 days of cycling down the main coastal road, pretty busy and hilly but with lovely views, we arrived in Pula and went in search of the festival site and Rhiannon ‘the bike’ Davies. We didn’t expect to find a honed athlete but even by her standards her current state of fitness has set a new low.

Rhiannon was nursing a 14 day hangover and clearly hadn’t slept for some time. She was also sneezing and coughing a lot. Each time she coughs she yelps like a dog whose tail has been stepped on,  as she fractured a rib jumping off a homemade 10 metre diving board a few parties earlier.

Her bike (‘The doctor’) wasn’t much better either. 2 flat tyres, filthy drive train, no front brake and broken pedal straps. However with a bit of work and a lot of swearing the Doctor has been nursed back to health. Rhiannon we fear may take a little longer.

We slept in Rhiannons posh Shikar tent for free for a couple of nights but when they took all the others down and changed the code for the toilets, we knew we had to leave. So here we are in a cheap apartment (£9 each) on the edge of Pula waiting for the Saturday morning ferry to take us to Zadar where we will ride down the coast and across some of the larger southern islands towards Montenegro, Albania and Greece.

So it’s been a funny week with not much cycling. I think the rest is doing us some good but we are looking forward to getting back on the bike. It is difficult to sit still when you are used to moving every day and feels a little bit like we are under house arrest.



It’s starting to feel a little more real!

29 04 2012

So we are going on a bike ride and up until now we have had no bikes!

After many hours of Jimi searching far and wide for the perfect machine, he found me a ‘Ferrari’ as he called it! (Well it was black and red)

Only a small problem, it was in London and we are in Manchester. Thanks to a helpful auntie, problem solved, we borrowed a car and drove to get it. I was assured by Jimi it would be worth the early start, long drive, expensive petrol and heavy traffic jams along the way!

So we set off and hoped it would fit me and feel right to ride. (I secretly think Jimi was hoping it wouldn’t fit me so he could have it.)

After the Sat Nav nearly taking us the wrong way up one way streets, down industrial estates and crazy drivers beeping for nothing, we reached our destination.

Duuuuum duuuum duuuuuuuuuuuum… it was perfect! We were greeted by a friendly face, freshly brewed coffee and a nearly brand new Thorn Sherpa bike, perfect size, mint condition, and dare I say it, beautiful (Yes Jimi I think its beautiful, and not just a bike with two wheels.)

So I have my bike now and it feels as though everything is coming together for our trip, only a few more things to get and we can be on our way.

Jimi had a few days of intense jealousy and looking longingly at my bike until he found a bike which he will go and pick up tommorow… from Edinburgh.

From opposite ends of the country but he has the same bike as me, only a black one (and not as good.)

So now I have THE bike, I need to get practicing on it now and await the big day to arrive. (86 days to go, not that I’m counting!)

The bike is dead, long live the bike…

12 03 2012

… but on the plus side I’m still here!

Sad news on the bike front though. Potentially “the bike” was fatally wounded in a collision with a car door last week. You will be pleased to know that the car door did not make it either, the Horizon gave as good as she got.

I was on the way home from work last Friday in the bike lane when with no time to react the passenger door was swung into my chest. Now although this still sounds bad when I write it a week later I must point out that I was very lucky. If the impact of the corner of the door was any higher then it would have been throat, teeth, eyes and it would have been much more serious. Also there was a conveniently placed wall that I landed on, as opposed to the floor which likely would have meant wrists or collarbones. As it happened I escaped with a dent in my chest, whiplash and the usual cuts and bruises.

I was well pleased with the emergency services response. Within 10 minutes there was 3 paramedics (2 vehicles), a passing doctor, 3 fireman and later in A&E another doctor and a policeman; all of whom were very good with me. To be fair to the people in the car responsible they seemed really nice and were of course incredibly apologetic. They also made sure I got their details, something I was incapable of thinking about and then they reported it to the police too.

All this has of course given me the excuse to take up one of my favorite hobbies legitimately- surfing the net for “bike porn” as Rose calls it. I’m thinking (dreaming) of a Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Back on the road!

17 01 2012

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back in the saddle again and “free”.
I have for the last two months been bike-less, due to it being stolen then finding it hard to replace, due to lack of money, choice and time.

I have now been loaned a a bike from my auntie until the trip to get some well needed training in and to avoid the hellish bus journeys I have been experiencing.

It felt great to be able to get on my bike this morning in the freezing cold and cycle all the way to work, without having to wait ages at the bus stop, squeeze next to someone on the bus, listen to their awful songs on loudspeaker on their phones, wait at traffic lights and, pay, ACTUALLY pay!
I just hopped on my bike and 15 minutes later no traffic lights or screaming kids and I was there, very quick compared to the hour on a bus!
Suffice to say I am very happy to have my bike back again with an expensive Kryptonite lock to secure it I may add.

So I returned home from work today (by 5:15) to find a lovely printed training programme pinned to my wall…. Jimi has been busy devising a programme to help me get even more fitter for our trip in the not too distant future. To be precise,only 190 days!

So off I go to do my tricep dips, dorsal raises, press ups and a jog down the road before my lovely healthy dinner which Jimi is making as I speak.

Watch this space for updates of our fundraising events to come and updates on how the training is going.

Another one bites the dust!

3 12 2011

Every cyclists nightmare when you return to your once locked and secured treasured bicycle to realise it is no longer there. (This is in fact the 5th bike me and Jimi have have had stolen this year!)

A small possession for some which is in fact is my whole means of getting around, to and from work, to the shops and for pleasurable rides at the weekend. It is not only that they took my bike but I now have to sit on a bus in rush hour traffic, (something cyclists do not have to put up with) for an hour when it normally takes 10 minutes on my bike to get to work, it costs me my well earned money and is very time consuming. I look out of the window and felt a little bit jealous of the cyclists weaving in and out of the traffic cruising down the road whilst we re sat still.

Well, little did they know but they in fact did me a favour, my trusty (and rusty) old bike was in need of replacing anyway and now we have insurance (after numerous thefts) I can in fact buy the touring bike to train ready for our big trip next year. So thank you bike thieves for taking the decision out of my hands of when and how to buy the new bike ready for our tour. My bike will hopefully be as good to you as it was me, that is if you get the brakes fixed, put a bit of well needed oil on the gears, get new tyres and give it a good clean, but in fact you’ll probably sell it for a tenner somewhere!

The police officer said bike theft is one of the highest crimes but I hope in other countries around the world this is not the case. A new bike will be on its way soon, when Jimi kindly chooses and buys me one.