There was a small second hand book shop in Stowe on the Wold or Hay on Wye that had become so fed up with pricing the cheap books, that they decided to sell them by weight. You could purchase 1kg of crime novels or 750g of Jeffrey Archer or even 2kg of natural history. Not since I visited that shop in the eighties has the weight of books been much on my mind. Until this week that is.
We have been packing things away to store our life in boxes here in our flat. I have emptied one book case after another into boxes and feared for the load carrying capacity of the floorboards. Books are very heavy indeed, that is a fact. Just so you know I will point out that fish tanks are heavy as well. Water weighs 1 ton per cubic meter, so be careful folks.
I hate packing, I even hate putting shopping away, that is how much I hate it. I have detested this week and have needed cheering up through twice daily visits to travel blogs from the area we will be in, and a slow flick through a very nice photography book about New Zealand. These have of course part therapy, and part procrastination. I have procrastinated a bit by taking books to a charity shop. Packing them into a rucksack to deliver them, gave me a bit of exercise as well. “There are no first editions are there love?” the lovely lady asked. “Do you want to leave your number just in case?” I have just two such books as far as I know. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, which was so unknown when I bought it that the shop assistant pointed me to the travel section when I asked for it, is one and it is quite safe.
This week has been momentous in my Morton’s Neuroma Saga. I have ridden my bike for 23 miles. This is my first post surgery ride and I was shaking like a leaf in a stiff breeze. I had also gone to the loo three times. Yes, I was nervous indeed. It all went well, other than confirming the blindingly obvious conclusion, that 3 months off the bike is not great cardio vascular preparation. Eight weeks after surgery it is possible to ride with almost no pain. I have bought some SIDI mega wide shoes to accommodate my now slightly wider left foot, and these will be my tour shoes. During my time off the bike I have put on 9kg from my race weight, even though I have walked when I could and done many miles in the pool. So there, if you want to shed some weight, get a bike.
Until I proved that I could again ride a bike there was always some doubt about the project. There was no plan ‘B’, so I have no idea what we would do and for that reason I have not put much about our plans into the blog here. So lets put that right now.
Part one is 3 months in New Zealand, doing something like a figure of eight. We fly into Auckland and will use the ride down North Island to get fit and dial in our equipment. The bulk of the time will be on South Island as every one tells us that is what we should do. In total this will be a trip of about 3,000 miles or so. From Auckland we fly to Los Angeles, where we first ride inland to pick up the Sierra Cascades bike route and turn North. This route goes up to Seattle is about 2,700 miles in length and is described as “an adventure along the stunning Pacific Crest” and it takes in our favorite National Park, Crater Lake. It has everything from high mountain to desert and a great deal of climbing.
The next part is a 4,700 mile cross country route called the Northern Tier which we pick up in Washington and ride across to the Atlantic coast. We should be in Maine for the Autumn colours and should have the wind from our backs doing it in this direction, so goes the plan.
Part two will be flying back to the UK and putting together wide tired trekking bikes which will probably be Thorn Sherpas. We go down to Portugal, Spain and Morocco for the winter and then come across Europe with the spring before going up through Germany to Rügen to catch the ferry to Sweden. Up through Sweden to the Arctic Circle and down through Finland to Helsinki. A ferry takes us to Tallinn in Estonia and then we cycle along the Baltic to start part 3.
The pace should be about 1,000 miles per month, give or take. My main concern is the annoyance and misery inducing attention of biting insects. I am not good with them and they know it. I will get cranky and look like a plague victim of that I am sure. Things that I will miss? Well it is a oppertunity to put in some prize-winning performance at triathlon thanks to my recent 50th birthday. I have raced far younger men since I took up the sport and his was my year to dish out the pain. Oh well, perhaps I will be great when I turn 60.
This Blog now becomes a TRAVEL BLOG. Which is what it was set up for. I am glad we gave ourselves the time to get up to speed with WordPress – let no one try to tell you it is simple. I will miss this wonderful big monitor and Mac as we turn to “The Dark Side”. A HP notebook with Windows which is cheap and quite cheerful but which we would swap in a heartbeat for a Mac Air were we to be given one or sponsored so to do.
Stay tuned now and press the “Sign Me Up” button somewhere up the top right and you will not miss a thing. Knowing you are there is going to be great motivation when the insects bite and the road goes up and into a headwind.