Tuesday, 20 November 2007

overwintering in Bodrum

Now that my trike has gone home, my travel plans have had to change a little. The plan is still to travel to India and then on to Nepal.

As i can only get a 6 month tourist visa for India, the plan was to travel around India for 6 months then head into Nepal for a few months trekking in the Himalayas before going back into India with a new 6 month visa. However the best time to trek in Nepal is September till November. İf i left Bodrum now i would get to Nepal 3 months to early. So i have decided to over winter here in Bodrum and leave at the end of February next year.

As i am going to the gym 6 days a week by then i should be a fıt, lean, chilled out travelling machine. İ am currently checking out some apartments to rent for the winter and i hope to more into one this weekend

İts a plan.....well kind of

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Missy goes home

After a long drawn out thinking thought thingy process i came to the conclusion that even though i love my trike, i love having arms and a face that haven't been ripped apart by a dog, or worse a pack of dogs.

So today i packed up Missy and sent her home via TNT. One day i hope to see her again.

Think i might get drunk tonight to try and overcome my loss. Not that i need an excuse these days :)

Monday, 5 November 2007

Still ın Bodrum

After 20 nights staying in the local backpackers hostel i did not feel like leaving bodrum. So i have rented an apartment for the next month (£6 a night...great) and will wait and see. There are far worse places to overwinter, like London!

Lazy days are here again

There is of course another reason why i am staying a bit longer in Bodrum (no....not that one!).When i was triking down the road the other day i was attacked by 4 dogs. Two dogs i could handle but not four! İf it wasn't for a passerby and a big stick i truly feel that i would be in hospital having reconstructive plastic surgery about now. As this is about the thirtieth time i have been attacked by dogs whilst on the trike I'm beginning to feel that enough is enough and the next time i will not be so very lucky.

So right now i am seriously thinking of sending the trike back to England and using buses and trains instead...

Friday, 12 October 2007


As ı got on ferry to bodrum (from the island of kos) i realised that ı was leaving Europe behınd and entering Asia ( at least in a geographical sense). One continent down 4 to go. To say that i was a little tired would of been an understatement. So i decided to have one beer too many and i dıd.

Sunday 28Th of Oct.

ı have been here now for just over 2 weeks and ıts has been fun. i managed to go diving for 3 days before my nose became totally blocked up (and even though ıts been a week ıts still blocked and the dive season here is almost over...bugger).

The town of Bodrum ıs certainly geared towards the tourist. English papers, breakfasts and of course sport! So 2 out of 3 ain´t bad! Dıd manged to watch the rugby (headache the next day) and football as well.

Should be back on the road during the middle of the week. As i have not done much triking durıng the last 4 weeks the hill out of town should be fun (that is of course a lie....i will be panting like a dog)

Friday, 5 October 2007

Island hoppıng: part 2

As ı left santorini on the ferry to Paros to meet up wıth my family it came to my attention that the last time i had a family holiday i was 12 years old! Still, worse things happen at sea... When i got to paros i had a 11km ride over the hills to the town where i would be spendıng the week ( cheers sister...what was wrong wıth the town right next to the port? )

The week was a time spent relaxıng with and takıng the piss out of the family. Well its the last chance i will have!

From there ıt was back to Athens, hang around for 3 hours for the overnight ferry to the island of kos. İt docked at the port at 05:30 and then all i had to do was wait around till 16:30 for the ferry to Bodrum

Friday, 28 September 2007

Island hopping: part 1

After 9 nights in Athens (it took the man at bike shop a little longer than he thought it would but i am now the proud owner of a Rohloff hub gear system) i woke up early to pack up the tent and cycle to the port to catch the 07:25 ferry to Santorini. If you don't know, this island used to be a big volcano till it blew up leaving just parts of the crater rim intact. Anyway after 8 hours or so on the ferry i arrived and got off the ferry to see the crater wall looming up about 400m into the sky. (okay it was more like 285m)

As i started to trike up the f**king steep road i was glad that i had changed gear systems, 'cause now i had lower gears than i had before. This was a very good thing indeed. The "hill" was, so far, the steepest road that i have been up and if i was still using my old derailleur system then i really would of been straining my knees...

I'll be here for a week might even hire a scooter or if i am feeling stupid and have a death wish then it will be a quad bike!

update: today (Thursday 4th ) is my last day on the island. Tomorrow morning I'm up bright and early to catch the ferry to Paros for a weeks holiday with my family!

So, what's happened in the last week i here you ask, Well, on my 1st night here i manged to avoid having my right knee cap destroyed by the kick from a horse by about 4 inches ( reason 84 on why i hate horses). After that little episode a beer was in order and so was watching the rugby. Mind you the bar was charging 8 euros for a bottle of amstel so i didn't drink that much (and if you believe that then quickly run to the window to watch the pigs fly past)

The rest of the week was mainly spent sitting in the hammock, reading the papers and various books and nearly always having a beer nearby. Yesterday i did hire a little twist and go scooter for the day. I speed around the island, chilling out looking at the views. At one point i had the "pleasure" of running over a cat. Its dead and i nearly crashed but i managed to save the scooter from having a low side.....and no i didn't stop!

After Paros I'm off to Bodrum in Turkey for 20 days D&D.....can't wait!!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Delphi to Athens

It only took me two days to get from Delphi to the campsite just outside of Corinth. It was right on the beach (again!) and i had shade and hammock space....so i stayed for 4 days. The 1st day i walked into the modern town of Corinth, some 3km away. (yes, you read it right..."walked"...must be fit or something!) Found a bank, followed by a day old broadsheet from England and then sat in a cafe reading the paper, drinking ice coffee and watching the world go by. The following day was Sunday and it was also election day in Greece....so a day was spent swimming, floating ( its the only way i can "sunbathe") and yep...you guessed right...swinging in my hammock.

On the Monday i walked the 3.5km to ancient Corinth (and it was uphill..!!!!) The place was really great. It was the quietest site that I've been too, which was a very good thing indeed! There were a few Bible groups hanging about the place but i am nothing if not tolerant :). I spent the morning there chilling out, just sitting around the site under the shade of various trees.

The following day it was back on the road to Athens. It was about 85km to the city centre, so i did it in two days! The 1st day was only about 2 hours on the road, over the isthmus canal and along the coast road to the "last campsite till Athens". The following day i took a short cut across an island and then when i got to Athens, spent about 2 hours getting very lost( i found it amazing how many places didn't sell road maps of Athens. imagine getting to Trafalgar square and trying to cycle to ealing without a map and just a vague sense of direction). After working out a good method of crossing 3 lanes of speeding traffic (don't ask me what it is...,my mum reads these!) which i used on several occasions i arrived at the campsite. The place is right next to a dual carriageway and the host is the most miserable person I've ever met...well until i met the rest of the campsite staff the following day!

I'll be here for about a week. The trike is in the bike shop getting upgrades (expensive ones but well worth it). I've yet too go site seeing....but i have time

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

From Olympia to Delphi

The road to Delphi started out by back tracking along the road i had already travelled. I stayed at the same two campsites as before but not for as long this time! I left Kato Allsisos on the Monday morning and headed north along the coast pass Patra to the town of Aiyio. I was intending to spend the night here at the campsite that was shown on my map. However i couldn't find it, so i took the ferry across the sea to the southern shore of northern Greece instead. On both of my maps there was a campsite marked just near the ferry port....guess what, there wasn't one (are you starting to see a pattern here....don't worry it gets worse!). By now it was about 14:30 and hot so i triked 10k down the road to a little fishing port and stayed in a hotel. It was only 30 euros a night and it had a balcony! For once i had a "night in". You can't beat a cheese and ham crusty roll with a bottle of local wine. All the was missing was a pork pie....i really want a pork pie, have done for about 5 days...i need help!

The following day i was on the road at about 9am after having a nice lie in. The road followed the coast line winding its way up, down, around and over the headlands. The sun was shining (can't say that was anything but expected) the sky was blue and the sea was just gorgeous. After about 3 and half hours of triking i came to the town of Itea. From here Delphi was only 16k away. Sadly the last 12k were up hill (with a vertical rise of nearly 600m), so it was time to get hot and very sweaty. Mind you it was nice to have a decent climb to go up.

So here i am in Delphi, the campsite (which has a swimming pool...nice) is about a mile out of the town. I got here yesterday (Tuesday) and I'll be back on the road tomorrow. According to "my map" i can get a ferry from Itea to a little town about 10k from Corinth (my next port of call if you like). Sounds great....I'll only have to pedal for about 80minutes in the day. Unfortunately the ferry doesn't actually exist!!!! Great....now i have about 180k to pedal to Corinth or if you like 3 days on the road....i was really looking forward to the ferry ride.

Today (Wednesday) i spent the morning going around the ancient site at Delphi. It is built on a series of terraces which wind their way up the hill for about a 100m gain in height till they reach the top of the site where the stadium is. I could tell you all about it but sod that...look at the pictures instead (www.sfauphotographs.com).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

From Patra to Olympia

It took me 7 days to travel the 140 km's from Patra to Ancient Olympia. Did i get lost, did the trike break down or was the road uphill all the way? No....when i got to the campsite at
Kato Allissos i spent 4 days there lying in my hammock, swimming in the sea (the beach was only 50m away), drinking ice cold beer and watching football at the campsite restaurant.

After 4 days i decided i should really get a move on, so i went 60k down the road to another campsite. This one was on the beach! The beer, which came in one litre glasses, was even colder than the other place. After another 2 days of sitting in my hammock....swimming...i think you get the idea of what i was doing, i got off my arse and triked for 2 hours to Ancient Olympia.

The road was easy and mostly flat. However after the 1st hour i started to enter the area that had seen the worst of the recent fires. The smell of smoke was still lingering in the air and it was strange to see the course the fire had taken. It seemed to swoop and meander along the lines of the hills. One house could be destroyed by the fire and the house 20m away was left intact, the same for the olive groves and forests.

I got to the campsite at Olympia to find it nearly completely empty. There was my tent and two others. It seems that people are under the impression that the place is shut or burned out. Its not, so come and visit!

I've been here since Tuesday ( today is Thursday). Yesterday i spent day looking around the 3 museums here. Two are of the Olympic games, modern and ancient and the third is the museum of archaeology. The fire came so close to burning the museum down (see the pictures). Today i spent the morning walking around the ruins and taking once again loads of photos. Tomorrow I'll be back on the road to Delphi retracing the journey that brought me here...could take me a while...i mean those campsites are great!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Goodbye Italy

So after several weeks (and spending far too much money: 24 euros for a nights camping was a little bit excessive i thought) it was time to get onto the ferry to Greece. Have to say, looking back i had fun in this country. Saw some great landscapes, both of nature and those made by man. Even enjoyed the mountains....well a little bit, usually once i had stopped for the day and was clenching an ice cold beer in my fist

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

On the road to Bari

i left Sorrento on the Tuesday morning, for the next 5 days it was hot...damn hot...in fact it was so hot that one day after 2 hours of triking i had to take my shirt off and wring out the sweat....did i mention the mountains...well there were mountains, steep ones, with no shade...did i mention that it was hot....damn hot and there were mountains as well. In fact one day i passed a road side temperature gauge and it was showing 51oc...did i mention that it was hot...damn hot and that there were mountains as well, steep mountains, with no shade for hours on end....Okay...i think i made my point.

Now I'm in Bari, in a nice 3 star hotel (only for 3 nights) and Ill soon be on the sea heading towards Greece.

Thursday, 16 August 2007


Sorrento is on the peninsula that forms the bottom half of the bay of Naples.The peninsula is formed of high rocky mountains and steep cliffs that fall into the sea. The roads follow the cliff edges, which made for some exciting if not tiring cycling. Sorrento itself is found on a small Plataea of level ground into between two mountains, with the town going right up to the cliff edge. The harbour is at the bottom of the cliff ( obviously) and the road to and from the harbour is narrow and twisty. At one point i was walking down the road and two buses had blocked the passage of traffic due to the fact that they had met on one of the tight blind corners.I spent 5 nights here....the main reasons were to go to Pompeii, go diving and due to the fact that there were several "Irish" bars, drink ice cold cyder whilst watching the English football and rugby.

On the Saturday i got onto the train and headed to Pompeii. Even though i had read about and watched tv shows on Pompeii to actually go through the main gate into the town was a special moment. I had arrived quite early in the day and all the guided tours went left so i went right. For the 1st hour or so the parts of the town i was in were quiet and mostly empty. After that, well it just got busy. ( there are about 270 photos of the town...look at those!!). I spent about 4-5 hours just walking around, in and out of the houses and halls. Walking down the main roads, side roads and alley ways were just moments of wonder.

The following day i went for a dive. Sorrento is best seen from the sea and as we headed off to the dive site it was the perfect start for a Sunday morning. The local padi outfit seemed ok and after checking and changing my equipment i was happy with what i had. After about a 20 minute boat ride we arrived at the small pinnacle of rock sticking out of the sea. We all did our buddy checks ( this is a lie because it never happened) and rolled of the boat into the sea. Among the party were a few locals and an Aussie couple ( no watch, no depth gauge!!!) one of whom hadn't bothered to check his bcd....it leaked, badly. Anyway, because i hadn't dived for 10 months (far to long) i stayed above 20m. After a very enjoyable 40 minutes of solo diving (my buddy's diving skills needed alot of work) it seemed that everybody else had started to do a safety stop. This did piss me off a little as i still had 100 bar of air left which would give me at least another 20 minutes with plenty to spare.....(and as i was paying for this!!!!!!!!)

In the evening i went down the pub, watched Chelsea get a lucky draw with Liverpool ( i know, even i didn't think it was a penalty) and had at least one cyder too many.

Monday, well i had a hang over so i didn't really do much and on the Tuesday i got back onto the trike

Sunday, 12 August 2007

On the road to Sorrento

After looking at the map i decided to go along the coast. Not much chance of coming across any mountains. The roads were flat (mostly) and due to the fact that it is the height of the Italian summer holiday season most of the campsites were full or nearly full. However i was able to to find space along the way. I stayed two nights at one campsite which was only about a third full....the shower (single) didn't work and the toilet ( the only one left that did flush) hadn't been cleaned in weeks. The name of the place....camping Paradise. However, the clothes needed to be washed!

Southern Italy, along that part of the coast anyway, is dirty, smelly, rubbish strewn and sleazy. So i was quite glad to get to Sorrento, even if it did mean having to cycle uphills and cliffs.

On a more sombre note i did come within 5 inches of being wiped out. I was coming downhill the hill into Sorrento, the road behind me was empty so i was maxing out the speed and on a racing line. I entered into a nice tight right hand bend, hugging the wall, with my body leaning over the side of the trike. All of a sudden, a car, coming up the hill decided to overtake on a the blind corner and missed driving into me by the afore mentioned 5 inches. So...sometimes speed saves lives because if i hadn't of been going fast i wouldn't of been hugging the corner......

Saturday, 11 August 2007


i got to the capital of Italy during the afternoon of Tuesday 7th. The campsite is just outside the ring road (no way was i going to cycle into the centre).Its quiet and a courtesy coach takes you the mile or so to the local train station at prima porta.From there it is a 20 minute ride into the centre of Rome.

My mental picture of Rome was formed mostly by one of my favourite films - roman holiday, staring Gary Grant and the young and always beautiful Audrey Hepburn. Have to say, i think Rome would look better in black and white and before McDonald's came along!

On my 1st day sightseeing i slowly bimbled towards the Colosseum ( it was 1 of only 2 places i really wanted to see ). When i arrived there an hour and a half later from walking the 3 kms from the train station, well lets just say the queue was slightly on the long side. So, me being me, didn't want to stay in one place standing for at least 2 hours and once again off i went. I headed for the 2nd place on my very short list of things to see. When i arrived at the Pantheon it was relatively empty.

I walked in and straight away the eyes headed upwards towards the dome and the circular opening at its centre. The dome, which until the latter half of the 20th century was the biggest concrete dome in the world, was jaw dropping beautiful. Its Recessed squares going upwards getting smaller the nearer to the top was unadorned and naked in its majesty. The lower half ( or circular walls ) had been ruined once again by the catholic church by turning it from a "house of the gods" into just a "house of god". Still it was worth the cycle ride to get here and be able to stand inside!

When i left the Pantheon behind i wandered to and along the river for a short while. I came to the bridge nearest the Vatican, so i thought I'd pop over and have a look. Have to say, St Peters square looks better, bigger and more impressive on the TV. Did i queue up to have a look around the palace and check out the murals....erm...NO!

Once at the campsite bar, i stayed till closing time, which was 1am...mmm....nice!

On the Friday, i once again headed into Rome. This time i made good time on the walk to the Colosseum and the queue was only 50 minutes long. The Colosseum was the highlight of my time in Rome. As i walked through the grand arch that lead into the arena i had a "sense of history" moment that i hadn't felt before in Rome. I spent about two hours inside, walking around or just standing still. I looked down on the killing ground and tried to imagine what it was like back in the heyday of the games, with 50,000 Romans cheering on the mayhem and slaughter. Once i had left the Colosseum i felt that my time in Rome had come to a natural conclusion.

Today is Saturday and tomorrow, if its not raining, I'll be off to the west coast of Italy triking down it to Pompeii and beyond

Thursday, 2 August 2007

The day the smile slipped from my face

On the second day of travelling from Florence to Rome i left the campsite at sovicille ( near the city of sienna ) and after a brief chat with myself, decided to spend a day going cross country. The 1st 30k were really great, easy rolling hills with great views of the country side. The roads were quiet and the air was a gentle warming breeze. I was following the road in my map book when i came to a Tee junction. The plan was to go straight on ahead but the town i was aiming for was signposted right. It was only 25k to the town that way, which was about 15k shorter than my little circular route. So, even though i was breaking one of my "golden rules" of "if the road ain't on my map don't go down it" i thought to myself " what's the worst that can happen".....

the 1st 5k's were okay and as i came around a corner the road headed downhill into a valley. After 50m's of going downhill i had to stop very quickly as some bastard had nicked the road! All that was left were cobbles, gravel, ruts and dust....lots of dust! No worries thought i, I'm sure its just a small section of road thats been removed ready for resurfacing....it wasn't!

Because of the appalling condition of the road surface i was going along in 1st or 2nd gear at a walking pace. Then the construction lorries started going pass me from both directions, kicking up a small dust storm every time one went pass. As they were going pass me about every 2 minutes or so it wasn't the best time to try and go faster. Due to all the dust i was taking a drink quite often to get rid of the taste of the earth from my mouth. this went on for roughly the length of the valley ( that being 5-6k's ). When i got to the other side of the valley i was down to less than a litre of water but as there was a village only 2k away i wasn't to concerned. (can you see where this is going yet?).

As the dust cleared from yet another passing lorry i saw the road sign indicating that the hill i was to have to go up had a 15% gradient. This did not make me the least bit happy! A road that steep i can just about manage....if it was on tarmac! Anyway i continued peddling my trike and the road got steeper, around one corner, the road got steeper, around a second corner, the road got steeper. By the time i got to near the third corner my legs were on fire and hurting, the rear wheel was just spinning in the dust and not pushing the trike forward. I stopped! The trike started sliding backwards. Once i had managed to stop the backward motion of the trike the only thing left to do was get of and push, so i did.

When i got to the village, their wasn't one, just a big construction site. By now i was down to less than half a litre of water and still the road went upwards. So there i was, in the early afternoon under a hot blazing sun with no shade on the road and no real idea how long the road would be going uphill. Slowing pushing my trike, whilst the sweat dripped from my face forming little swimming pools in the dust for the ants to play in.

Over an hour later and i was still pushing my trike up the hill, sometimes loosing my footing in the fine dust that covered the once tarmaced road.....and i was out of water. Not good! By now i had told myself that the 1st hotel i came to that had a restaurant or was opposite one would be the placed i stayed in that night. Shortly after that it appeared that i was once again on tarmac...great you might think...well it was but i was still going uphill and there was still no water. Luckily, for me the road shortly met up with the main road (which was the one i would of been on if i had obeyed the golden rule). From there it was 1000m's to the 1st hotel.

At that point in the day, looking back, i think i was starting to suffer from the earliest signs of heat stroke and dehydration. when i arrived at the hotel i quickly checked in and asked for 2 litres of water. Both bottles were ice cold and the 1st one lasted less than a minute! By the time i got to my room i was already on the second bottle when i saw how much the hotel charged for a room per night....glad it's only money....or in this case 150 euros a night.

The next day i travelled 30k to a campsite. It took me 6 hours due to the fact that if i wasn't going downhill the only gear my legs could manage was 1st.

Sunday, 29 July 2007


when i arrived in Florence in the late afternoon after a very long and uphill day, i knew that the campsite was on a hill south of the river overlooking the city. All i had to do was find the river and then the correct bridge to cross over it. 40 minutes later, i had arrived at the campsite and was looking forward to getting off the trike and setting up the tent on a nice shady flat piece of land. What i got was mostly gravel with limited shade from a small olive tree. On the bright side the beer at the bar was cold and wet.

The next day, having woken up at about my usual time of " too damn early" i took the short stroll into Florence. It was nice to be able to bimble around without the tourist herd. By about 08:30 i found myself by the cathedral. At the same time the entrance to the dome opened and after paying my 6 euros i climbed the 463 steps to the top of the dome. The views were well worth the effort! It would not be something that i would do in the afternoon...to hot and stuffy going up the spiral stone staircases.

After that brief bout of exercise i took to meandering around the streets. Bumped into Dave, however he didn't say much, just stood there looking off somewhere in the distance. A few museums caught my eye and i spent a few hours walking around them. Then, brought a paper, bottle of wine and sat outside my tent relaxing.

The following day was spent at the campsite, getting the clothes clean, resting the legs and wondering if it actually possible to massage knees

My time in Florence was limited to three nights...you can only spend so much time looking at things till boredom sets in and i was wondering what the lie of the land was like over the hill....

from Venice to Florence

I left Venice after spending 4 rest full nights there. Because of the little break i had the idea of taking it easy for the 1st day and just go about 50k down the road.....that didn't happen DOH! instead i ended up going about 100ks along the coast. Well, the pizzas did need to be burnt off!

Spent a hot and sweaty night in a German friendly campsite on the Adriatic coast. At least they had some decent German beer :). The next day, i decided to go cross country. 80ks later i finally pull up outside a hotel in the little town of Brisighella, tired, hot and feeling very knackered! However, as the hotel had a/c i didn't mind that much.After a beer induced rest full night i awoke feeling alot better but still with slightly aching legs. Luckily it was only 88k to Florence and there were only two mountain passes to go over!

Back in the mountains with tired legs....not the quickest day I've had cycling. I started at 08:30 and didn't get to the campsite till 17:30. looking back....the last 28ks i could of done another day ( after a night in a hotel, with a bath!)

So in the last 3 days I've covered over 270km.....could someone tell why?

Monday, 23 July 2007

across the north to Venice

Its taken me 10 days to get to Venice from the french border. Yes, even i am surprised it was that quick! The roads in this part of Italy are as you might of guessed straight and definitely flat ( well compared to the alps anyway). I even managed to trike 95k in a day, although that was the exception rather than the rule. Most days i look at doing 70-80k which takes about 6 hours on the road. At one point i was able to 28k in one hour.....trust me that is fast for my trike!!!!!

The towns I've camped in have all been in campsites that are about a 30 minute walk from the town centre, so unlike France, when i get to the campsite in the mid afternoon i pretty much stay there swinging in my hammock keeping out of the hot hot sun! ( i hear its quite wet in England these days ) On the two occasions that I've "camped" in a hotel/hostel i did make good use of the fact that they were in the centre of the town.

Today, i am spending my second day walking around the city of Venice. Its a 20 minute boat trip from the campsite. It's a beautiful city with a confusing maze of streets, passageways and bridges. After about 10 minutes on the 1st day i gave up trying to use the city map and just wondered around.

So far i have managed to resist the temptation of buying tourist crap (sorry "quality gifts from Venice") and have just stuck to the traditional buying of beer and pizza. Its great when you can eat what you like knowing that the next day you'll be burning all those calories off. If you ever want to lose weight, increase muscle mass and lung capacity.......get yourself on a bike and cycle to the north east of Italy

Tomorrow I'll be having a day at the campsite and then i will be back on the road on Friday, heading down the coast for a few days before heading inland to Florence.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

my last day in France

So this is it....my last day in France.

the road it Italy was 37kms long and the pass (itself 17km in length) went over the Col de Larche at 1991m above sea level. The highest pass so far. Talk about saving the best till last.

The day started well and after spending the last 10 days or so triking uphill i was finally getting the hang of it! After about 2 hours on the road i came to the start of the pass. It started steep and lets face it, for the next 17kms it wasn't going to start going downhill!

After just over an hour i came into the little village of Larche, just 7kms from the summit. Feeling the need to refresh and refuel i have an early lunch at a cafe. Half an hour later i was once again ready to go.

The following 6.5kms were spent mostly looking about 20 yards ahead whilst breathing in and out quite deeply and occasionally wiping the sweat from my face.

I sensed that i was getting near the top and as i turned a corner it turned out to be the last. There 400m ahead of my was the top of the pass. The nearer i got the bigger the smile on my face.

At last......after 39 days in France i had finally cycled across it!

and as for going downhill into italy...

Friday, 13 July 2007

the final push is near?

Right now I'm in the alpine town of Barcelonnette. Its 37km's from the Italian border. All of which is uphill to the pass (1991m), which I'll be cycling up tomorrow.

On Tuesday 10th i went up my 1st alpine pass. It was the col de cabre and at 1180m high not the biggest thing I've had to trike over. However it was in the alps and i was just a little bit nervous of how steep it was going to be. Have to say i was slightly disappointed with it! It only took me just over an hour to climb up the 10k's to the summit and that was me taking it easy!!!!! The views from the top were just WOW and the descent had some great "O my god brake" hairpins.

The following day it was back on the road, leaving Apres sur Buech and taking the road to Gap. It was only about 40ks but as the campsite was a 3km trike up a hill with a 12% gradient the day ended up with me panting in the heat like a dog! I was going to spend two days there but there was no way i would be walking up and down that hill.

So on the road to Barcelonnette....i took the long way round. Don't ask me why! This involved going around the lake as opposed to along it. The roads were steep but the views were worth the effort. it was, for me, a long day on the road. I left Gap at 0830 and didn't get to the campsite till 1530.

Well my time here in France is almost over. Can anyone believe that fat little me cycled across a whole country...............

Sunday, 8 July 2007

how i came to Die

....along the D93 like everyone else :)

After the fun of my 1st mountain i spent the weekend in Le pays de Saint Flour. Its an old medieval town built onto a rocky outcrop overlooking the river. The campsite was only a short walk away and i enjoyed the many bars that the town had to offer! Due to the weather i had to endure 4 days there......luckily it didn't rain inside the bar.

once i had left the town on the Tuesday i travelled towards Die via Le puy en Velay, Saint Agreve and Charnes sur Rhone. I could tell you all about the towns, the roads etc but pictures tell a thousand words.....so off you go to www.sfauphotographs.com and have a look for yourself

Thursday, 28 June 2007

my 1st mountain

On the road to the Cul du pas de peyrol: from Salers to Murat.

the day started well, woke up to blue sky. the first time in six days. As the distance to Murat was only 42km's i had a late start and was on the road at about 9am. Usually i like to take it easy for the first 20 or 30 minutes however as i turned left out of the campsite the road was uphill straight away.

Still it was fun, the gradient wasn't to hard and i manged to get up to the 1st little pass in 4/5 gear.When i say "little pass" it was still 1241m above sea level! I remember thinking to myself that it wasn't that hard. Following the summit it was a gentle descent amongst the trees and little waterfalls. This lasted for about 3-4km's.

Then i came across the sign.....it informed me from the here the pass was 481m in vertical height, the road was 5km's to the summit and that the average gradient was 9.62%. Sweet...me thinks....this won't be as hard as i thought...DOH!!!!!!

The 1st 3km's were easy, in third gear with a nice high pedal action. Even got me smiling. Then, i came across the last two kilometres...
I was approaching a corner, the exit hidden by the trees and i thought to myself "f**k, that looks a bit steep" and you know what....i was right! By now i was sadly in 1st gear and was i struggling. The ascent has been used in the tour de France ( the last time in 2004 when Mr Armstrong powered up it) and most recently in the "race for the sun" a few weeks ago. As i tried to carry on peddling i came across the following words written on the tarmac. " 2kms to the pass...gradient 16%".

It took me about 45minutes to cover the last 2km. I could just about turn the pedals and every 100m's or so i would have to stop and give my legs a rest. It was basically a switchback...1km, sharp turn, 1km to the top. Finally i reached the top of the pass. Even before i could get off the trike about a dozen people surrounded me, some of them even started clapping. Guess they must have passed me on the road in their cars! After about 5 minutes a couple of cyclists came over to have a look. They looked at me...looked at the trike...asked me in which direction i had come and then when i told them looked at me in disbelief!

I spent about half an hour on the summit, then started the descent. Lets just say that even though i wasn't doing a fast descent i must of hit out 45mph! At this point i would like to point out how glad i am that i spent an extra 200 quid on the big disc brake option.

The next day i cycled 24Km's to St. Flour where I'll be spending the weekend!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

still smiling

well I've been in France now for just about two weeks and so far it's been smiles and happiness abound. Even getting soaked to the skin whilst triking in a thunder storm failed to get me down.

I got to St. Malo on the 6th of June at around 10pm in the evening, with of course no hotel booked. Now being a walled city, space does tend to be at a premium so i wasn't able to find a hotel that could accommodate my trike. Started vaguely triking down this road across the harbour and after about 1000m came across a lovely little hotel on the corner of a square. Adding to its charm of having a secure rear garden it only cost 35 euros a night! As you might of realised i spent the next day sight seeing around the town ( photos at sfau.smugmug.com )

I left St. Malo on Friday the 8th of June.

What a first day on the road......
lesson one: In France "N" roads aren't really suitable for bikes, let alone trikes. image a two lane north circular!!!!

lesson two: learn to stop! i went far to far on the 1st day spending almost 9 hours on the road. Now i average about 6

so over the last couple of weeks the rhythm of life has changed. I wake up with the dawn chorus....mutter to myself about it being far to early to be awake and go back to sleep. I tend to get out of the tent anytime between 7-8am. Breakfast and packing up tend to take about an hour and then its on the road.
Depending on how i feel and what's ahead on the road, i usually aim to do 60-70km's a day.I tend to get to the campsite around 1-2pm. Then its just a question of pitching the tent, having a shower followed by a nice lie down. Afterwards it's into town for food, beer and a good leg stretch. Repeat that for 3-4 days and then have a day off.

Travelling through the countryside has been such a joy. the heat of the sun warming me as i pass amongst the trees, the smell of crops ripening in the field, the rustle of a breeze amongst the corn fields. The silent flap of a raptors wing as it sees me approaching from its perch. My exhalations rising in intensity as the road rises up over the hill. The fear and uncertainty as the dog races to its masters gate as i glide pass. The sound of a long and easy descent when all is quite except the sound of the tyres on the road and the slowing beat of my heart.

Now as for my body....well the legs are getting used to the workload and i reckon in about another two weeks they'll be sweet. The suntan lines are another matter all together :)

in this area of France its mostly rural with lots of small and achingly pretty villages. each with a church, baker, cafe and maybe a hotel/bar. On Sundays the only things that are open is the church and maybe the cafe for an hour or two and that's it! Talk about a flash back to the 70's. During the week between 12-2pm the only places open are the restaurants serving up their " plat de jours". On the up side the shops stay open till 7pm ( well they have to get their 35 working week in somehow) which gives me plenty of time for my siestas.

I'm slowly getting back into this thing called "writing things down" and "using more than 4 words to let people know how its going". My mum will be ever so pleased.

Most of the campsites that i stay at have a spare plug socket in the shower block so that i don't always have to relie on my solar panel. Which is just as well because the last week has been rain, followed by even more rain.

Right now I'm in Salers, which is little gem of a village perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the mountain. Its medieval in construction and stills retains all the charm and character of 500 years ago.

Tomorrow, well i'm off over the mountain.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

well, its been a week

Well I spent the last week traveling from Wokingham down to Weymouth. During that time I’ve managed to roll the trike, put a hole into one of the panniers (which aren’t waterproof by the way even if the manufacturer says they are) sleep rough on the side of the road and come to thank the fact that I’ve gave up smoking in January.

Luckily I have been enjoying my time on and off the trike and some of the local ciders have been a real treat. As always, I recommend the red lion pub in Swanage for drinking and the Man of War pub at the campsite on durdle door, just because sometimes the 1 mile walk uphill from the pub in the village was out of the question.

For the first week of many I’ve been taking it easy and letting my legs and lungs get used to the strain. What I have come to enjoy is the fact that I have got so much time on my hands. Even if I spend 6-8 hours on the road because most of the time I have been sleeping in my tent you tend to wake up when the sun rises and the birds start singing. You realize how many hours there are in the day!

I’ll be getting on the ferry to France in the morning and hanging out in St. Malo for a few nights before heading south.

All in all, this is so much better than working

Friday, 25 May 2007

and so it begins

Well the time has come for me to actually get on my tricycle and disappear around the world for the next several years. When I told friends and family what I was going to be doing….. “You crazy fool” were the words I heard most. (Plus “what…you’re to fat and lazy to do that”) Some did add a few choice Anglo Saxon words of their own (but I will be doing my best to keep these pages clean so I won’t be repeating them here…sorry Barry.) As I peddle around I’ll be taking far too many photos. Please feel free to have a look on www.sfauphotographs.com and when I have something to say, well obviously it will be on here. So, that’s all folks, for now....