Into Paris

Posted in The journey journal, Wine and cheese and bikes at 8:39 am by Administrator

So here I am on a beautiful morning in Lyon and I figured that I’d do a bit of blogging. Lets see how much time I get.

I left the story off last time in Montreiul. From there the we headed to Paris and spent 2 more nights free camping. The wind slowly abated and the hills became slowly less nasty and our legs were getting a little stronger. The signs of tiredness were starting to show though as none of us had expected it to be as hard as it had been. Its amazing how much hard it becomes to ride a bike once you put 40 to 50 kilos of gear on it. I can do 100 km in my sleep on a road bike but the touring bike takes a lot of effort. As I was carrying the food for Nic and I my load varied up and down and I was trying to eat as much as possible to keep the load light. We’re generally buying food in the afternoons now. We stop in at a supermarchè and buy dinner breaky and lunch the next day. Its working well. Jen carried all her own food and gear and was tremendous at keeping going.
Our camping spots were interesting. Either there aren’t many unattractive places in France or we’ve been really good at picking the picturesque ones as we’ve had some beautiful fields and locations to sleep in. One night we contemplated sleeping under a graphitti covered bridge but instead Nic spied a cute little fishing spot down the river and so we slept there.
We also made a fun stop at a town that had turned itself into a giant, townsized garage sale for the day. Everyone in the place wheeled all of their junk out to the street and people came from hundreds of Km away to buy the junk. Jen even found some great burningman costumes and Nic found the french books that she’d been craving. I was just happy to taste some of the local wines.
The road into Paris, that we took was the N1 which is quite the large highway and so there was lots of traffic to escort us in. The roads so far had been the secondary roads and the french are pretty good about giveing cyclists room to breathe (please take note of that australia, you don’t have to try to kill the cyclists).
So into Paris we rode. We didn’t come in via a hill and so didn’t get a great overview of the city like we’d hoped for but after lots of twisting through the streets we popped out of the maze at the Place d’étoile and the Arc de triumph. This was paris and all its stunningness (I’m sure thats a word). We did a bit of sightseeing and the met with Alexis who had agreed to put us up for the few days that we were in town. He was awesomely hospitible and I can never repay him for how good he was to us. His cooking was excellent as well. I’m not sure if that is genetic with the french but I’m not losing any weight in this country despite riding millions of kilometres. Paris was a delightful blur of pastries, museums and random old stuff and once again I really enjoyed my time there.

Anyway time to hit the road again in Lyon so I’ll hopefully get another chance to update soon.




Posted in Uncategorized at 8:48 pm by Administrator

Was going to write lots of stuff about the journey into paris and down the loire valley and now just into the Rhone valley but I’m really sleepy and there is a comfy REAL bed calling my name so the updating will need to wait a little longer……..ZZZZZZZZZ

The bit in Northern france

Posted in The journey journal, Wine and cheese and bikes at 7:35 am by Administrator

So it seems to me that the people of northern france are really scared of trees as there were hardly any to be seen, that they are a mountain loving people due to the excessive number of hills across the countryside and that they constantly endure a strong southerly wind that is the bain of all cyclists trying to cross south to Paris.
Well that was the feeling that we all got from the few days that we spent crossing to the south.
The absolute best thing about cycling in the mornings in France is passing through the small towns and smelling the patisserie cooking up its heavenly goods to sell to the world. That smell would make a strong man cry it is so good. I now know how the ancient sailors felt as they tried to resist the charms of the Sirens because I nearly dashed my bike against the rocks trying to get to the patisserie many times.

So as the map will have shown we spent nights just outside Calais, in montreiul (pronounced mon-troy), on the south side of Poix de Picardy and just north of Paris before a great few nights in Paris with my old friend from College, Alexis.

Once we got off of the ferry we headed south and I thought that taking the coast road would be nice and flat and good. I was a little wrong. The road was nice and scenic but it was anything but flat and with a roaring head wind we only made it a little way south before stopping for the night in an abandoned (and falling down) farmhouse on the cliffs overlooking the English channel (the the marche as it is know to the rest of europe). We were all stressed about being caught and thrown off the land but as we found out later, no one really seems to care where you sleep if you area cyclist and don’t leave a mess. The french airforce did a few fly overs and we thought that the were on patrol for vagrants such as ourselves but our comoflage worked and the never found us. Also we found out that bbq lighting fuel isn’t the best thing for our stove and so we couldn’t get it to work and ended up eating cold cans of chicken korma (and vege curry for Jen) for dinner. Mmm cold canned food. We were also out of water and since it was late, I back tracked into town to find some. My mastery of french got a few drink bottles filled at a small shop so that was all good. Basically I knocked on the door after closing time and when the guy answered I held up the bottles and pleadingly asked “Eau” (pronounced badly as Ooh). He didn’t seem happy about it but filled the bottles anyway.

We have discovered that if the French know you then they are welcoming and helpful and hospitable but if they don’t know you then they don’t really seem to care and will only go out of their way to help if really pushed. We hit that a lot while asking for directions and things.

Day 2 of france was an early start up and down the rolling chalk hills of the Normandy coast. None of us was mentally or physically prepared to carry the weight up these hills into the head wind and so going was pretty arduous. Lots of stopping at the top of hills for a photo and a drink. The scenery was stunning though and so that made a good excuse to stop and rest.. I mean have a look at. I got my first flat in Bourgne sur Mer. It took a whole screw to penetrate the kevlar liners in the tyres but it did and I heard that horrible and scary hissing noise of air leaking from my back tyre. One thing that I liked about riding along the coast were the hundreds of concrete bunkers still left over from the world wars. Its interesting to see them all still in place and gives a really perspective on the scale of the wars in that area and the invasion size. There are also war monuments everywhere and many towns are dedicated to the forces that ‘liberated’ them.

From there we decided to head inland a bit to try and avoid the wind but couldn’t escape it and after a pretty tiring day we stopped in the camp ground in the town of Montreiul. It took a car load of french guys about 35 seconds to try to pick up Nic afer she asked for directions and even though she pointed out the fact that her boyfriend was standing 5 m away they were not to be dissuaded. But she resisted their charms and I got to keep my girlfriend. That night we wandered into town for a restorative ale in the local bar and felt much better about having had a gloriously warm shower and a comfy spot of grass on which to park the tents.

ok rounding off for now. We’re just outside Lyon with some great couchsurfers but its time to head into town and so I’ll finish the updating later.



Wobbly Panniers fixed

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:12 am by Administrator

It was all a matter of balance. I have to put my back ones right to the back and the front ones far forward. Nic is playing with hers in different ways but its all about the balance and needs to be adjusted every day. interesting. At least we can go fast down hills now and the bikes won’t fall apart.

Also I’ve had chain issues as I damaged the chain in London but quick links are the schiznit and they fixed it up quick smart.


how the gear is going after week one

Posted in Gear that We use, tips and repairs at 6:03 pm by Administrator

Things that good
- Neoprene booties
- camp stools
- GPS is good fun
- removable arms on bike tops
- accupuncture needles.
- cameras
- sleeping mats (it is worth carrying the good big ones)
- pillows (mmm comfy black wolf pillow)
- tent is going really well especially the set up features
- flouro vests on back of bikes for visibility, we can be seen from miles away

Things that are bad
- wobbly panniers (large imbalance at front end)
- GPS (needed to spend the money on detailed maps for it) the one that I have is not really for road navigation.
- food is too heavy.
- we have too much gear.
- screws and nails on the road
- toyworld waterbottle cages aren’t good enough
- trent’s short camera lens is faulty so only have the telephoto.
- Nic’s seat needs to be better. Already having a few issues. This was the best of the 5 seats that she tried out and so more research or luck was needed there.
Our clothes aren’t quick drying enough, need less cotton.

The main equipment is holding up ok so far but the front panniers are creating a weight imbalance on the bikes that is causing massive speed wobbles at anything over 25 km/h. We will be playing with that in Paris but if it continues the stress on the frame will be too much and our arms will wobble off.


Leg 1 under way

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal, Uncategorized at 5:49 pm by Administrator

First off, please accept my appologies if there are loads of typing errors in this entry as I am slowly learning my way around a french keyboard and it is very hard to change after so many years of being an anglephone. We’re currently in Paris but I’ll start off with our journey setting off in London and the day and a half into dover.

I was stoked to have so many friends brave a sunday morning and the vocal Tamil protesters dressed in their union jack ponchos to come down and fairwell us at parliament square. Also huge hugs go to the 5 that rode out with us. Even though they put up with me taking q wrong turn after 5 minutes on the road and they survived that wonderfully traditional english weather that London had spent all week saving up for us.

We got on the bikes as big ben started striking 10 am and with a bit of drizzle on our backs headed for Elephant and castle and the A2. It got pretty soggy by the time Clemo and Shannon turned back for home and so Jen, Nic and I pushed on by ourselves. The sun did poke through occasionally but the wind was consistently across our noses and the rain meant that we were already breaking out the best of our cold weather gear. The neoprene over booties are a golden idea and recomended to all.

A note to my geol friends. Glaciation sucks when the bedrock is soft chalk. I no longer like ice ages after nearly bursting a pfoofer trying to get all my gear up some of the valley sides on the way to dover. In a day with solidly unfavourqble winds and the mushy legs of someone just starting a journey the added pain of seriously steep hills was entirely unwelcome. Still I managed to ride up everysingle one of the hills, even though I had to use every gear that I had.

We did have a nice pub lunch outside the M25 and ended up free camping in a beautiful little english feild just east of Sittingbourne. The sun had poked its head out long enough to set and we had a carvery dinner at a pub down the road. (how good is England for pubs!!!) The night passed without incident and we set off at 7 the next morn into a stiffening southwesterly and more hills.

We did a breaky stop in Canterbury and had a poke around the cathedral. The cathedral is a pretty cool one and I seem to have gotten over my ABC syndrome (Another Bloody Church). The town of canterbury was also pretty cool and after a few hours we hit the wind and hills and rain again to get to dover.

We chilled in Dover for a bit before getting on the ferry and cruising across la marche. We caused quite a stir by snoozing under the tables but after that we’d hit country 2! Woohoo. Also we knew that we were leaving England because the sun came out as we hit Dover and we sailed into the sunset in France.



The Week in London

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal at 4:11 pm by Administrator

So tomorrow is the big send off and the beginning of the adventure. Geez its getting exciting. We managed to pack everything into the panniers and it actually fit. Nic has been spending a bit of time making sure that our bikes are set up correctly and that our kit fits well. The few hundred bucks for her to do the course on setting up the bikes was so worth it. My achilles has been giving me so much trouble the last few days but between the setting of the gear and the acupuncture its really improving. Yay for Nic.
This week in London has been really fun. Cruising around london on the bikes and doing loads of sight seeing. I’ve been revisiting some old haunts and trying to be a decent tour guide for Nic. The problem is that I keep forgetting important landmarks are there until we’re halfway through wizzing past them and then I flail wildly trying to get nic to look at them. I’m hoping that we haven’t missed too much important stuff. Catching up with quite a few of the crew that are here in London has been great and last night at the Crabtree pub was awesome to see some many familiar faces so far from home. The ride home from the pub was interesting after a few beverages. We managed to do a small pub crawl of some old london establishments before getting to the meeting. I had to get Nic to try some of the warm flat beers that I grew to like while I was living here and she had to see the Maple leaf pub to get a taste of home.
Its been also a bit weird for me to be back in London and I’ve kinda been looking at it through rose coloured glasses the last week. Only seeing the good stuff that I used to do and avoiding the stuff that drove me away. I still love the achetecture of this amazing, animal of a city and I’ve been trying to stick to the edict of only looking up when I’m tourinig the city. Looking up makes London such an interesting place as you can have several thousand years worth of stories right there in each of the buildings that you pass. It will be cool to get on the road tomorrow though and see if all of this planning was any good and if we’ll be suited to the ride and keeping it going.
Also from this week is the fun story of the Azerbiajani embassy. We had prepared all of our paperwork a few months ago for that visa and had it all sorted for when we got here to London. So after a bit of fun navigation through Kennsington we found the consulate in a basement. We walked in and a well to do diplomat asked if he could help. I said that he could and pulled out all of our paperwork. He took one look and said that it wasn’t any good and he couldn’t help us. I knew that the paper work was good and so questioned a little. It turns out that the paperwork was good until 4 weeks ago when the foreign ministry of AZ made a snap decision to change their whole system. Thanks guys. The diplomat also said that the only way that I’d be able to get a visa was to go to the embassy in my home country. Australia doesn’t have an AZ embassy so he helpfully pointed out that I should be able to get my visa if I went to Jakarta. Woohoo. Holiday to indo. Well actually after I did some deep questioning of the guy and his country’s wonderful system I found out that I could actually get some people in Baku to have the papers forwarded to Istanbul and we could pick up the visa there. Thanks for nothing mister diplomat. Anyway a few emails and another 50 US dollars I have got the paperwork sorted again and now it turns out that we’ll have to spend 2 weeks in Istanbul waiting for visas rather than the one that I’d planned but I can think of loads worse places to spend 2 weeks than Istanbul.
Tonight we are meeting Jenn at Heathrow airport so that she can join us for the first leg of teh journey to Paris. It’ll be great to share the initial part with a good friend and she will be our first guinea pig on how others joining the ride will be able to put up with us. Hopefully we can set her gear up and get her un-jetlagged by the morning as being slightly crazy and having only standard northamerican amounts of holiday time she is cutting the timing of the journey really fine. 1 night in London before leaving and then 1 in Paris at the end. Good luck getting back to work Jenn.
Anyway its time to go for now and go enjoy the last of london before we start living out of our panniers but hopefully I’ll be able to update this regularly.
Hugs to all


The adventures begin

Posted in Short trip in Old Blighty, The journey journal at 4:48 pm by Administrator

Well we arrived at the place that we’re staying in London this afternoon after what can only be described as an epic journey that once again made me really glad that I won’t have to get on a plane for well over a year now. The trip was a 4am start on Friday. then a quick flight to sydney. Pick up the bikes and stuff and criss cross sydney a few times. Then back to the airport for the short 8ish hours to bangkok and then onto heathrow, an hour late. Those of you that have done the trip can understand the pain. Those that haven’t can only come close by placing tight elastic bands around their thighs and sitting in a small cardboard box with a malfunctioning tv and the smell of armpits and farts wafting across your nose occasionally. We finished our journey with a quick set up of the bikes in heathrow airport and then rode the 40 km across to crystal palace. Ok, its not really 40 km but we did ride that far as my knowledge of the london road system has faded a bit in the last few years.
We did make it to a warm welcome and all is good but the flat tyre count is already up to 2 for Nic and 0 for Trent. We maybe should count these 2 as one happened on the plane and I may have inadvertently caused the second one while trying to pump up the tyre. Oops.
Anyway thats enough for now as I’m off to have a nanna nap before heading out to see the night sights of london town again.


Adiós Townsville, hello unemployment and freedom.

Posted in The journey journal at 1:05 am by Administrator

Well the excitement is mounting as we are in our last week before heading to London. We’re just now trying to make sure that we have everything that we could possibly need so that we can find out in a few weeks that we don’t really need it and that the stuff is too cumbersome. If only I could learn this lesson early. Also we have a plethora of media commitments (by plethora I actually mean a quick interview with the local paper in Torquay) and a few last minute catch ups before hitting the road. I’m just figuring out the video camera and hopefully I’ll be able to put together something of a doco on this whole adventure. I’ve also been uploading all of the google maps of the journey into the GPS so that we only get semi lost in the wilderness and don’t get eaten. Speaking of getting eaten I’ve got to try and source myself a slingshot in Europe to counter act the presence of overly friendly dogs in the small out of the way towns. They (appart from stone throwing kids) are the touring cyclists worst enemy and I’m hoping to be able to deter them as much as I can.
Anyway I’m getting excited and jumpy and nervous and wired and anxious and ….. so th esooner that we get to start the better.