USA Week 5

Inside the fancy B&B in Brenham, Texas
I’ve written this little song about cycling.

Links to all the Blogs and Maps

Table of links to all Blogs and Maps.

Charity Update

Many many thanks to all those that have donated.

A special thanks this week to Aylesham Parish Council and the £1000 they have donated to the Slide Away Charity. Remember a donation from the Parish Council is a donation from everyone in the village. Massive thanks. [We are still awaiting confirmation from Fight for Sight and the Alzheimer’s Society that they too have been donated a £1000 each: Ed]. This is an astonishing contribution and we cannot stress enough how humbled we are that the village have done this for us.


Keith in the USA

This week Keith has mostly hung out in Austin, Texas visiting our family there.

Thanks to Debs for her contributions to this weeks blog.

Eventually he got off his arse and headed out ….

Map of Progress so far in the USA.

Totals in the USA: 1965 miles, 65396ft climbing and 140:48 hours riding

This weeks ride in the USA.

This week: 199 miles, 5876ft climbing and 13:42 hours riding

USA Day 25 Saturday November 30th

So excited today as Keith is scheduled to arrive mid afternoon, we have been looking forward to this day for 3 weeks now,I have been so tempted to jump in the car and rescue him from the straight, boring long roads of West Texas. I hated the thought of him out there alone on Thanksgiving but Keith was determined to ride into town.

Charlee had given me a small list of his favorite things for breakfast and snacks etc, so I got busy in the kitchen a few days before, Soren malt loaf is not available in Texas so after searching for a few days I managed to bake him several loaves.

I rushed to make a welcome sign to place outside and just as I finished it, Keith was riding down the hill. So good to see him finally and eager to hear his stories from the past few months. He looks amazing and is ready for a cold drink, hot shower and lunch.


Keith arriving in Austin, Texas
Keith arriving in Austin, Texas
Debbie and Keith.
Debbie and Keith.

USA Day 26 Sunday December 1st

We took a quick trip out to Windy Point on Lake Travis before heading back to prepare for Sunday dinner, it was a fun afternoon with everyone here enjoying a roast dinner.

Keith and I spent the evening at a nearby Irish bar drinking cider and listening to the tales of Bike Rugby Japan.


Keith and Debbie at Lake Travis
Keith and Debbie at Lake Travis

USA Day 27 Monday December 2nd

We spent the morning at REI looking for a tent and then met up with Genevieve and Kristian for lunch at Hop Doddy’s. We picked up Geraint from school, he had seen Keith from his classroom and was very excited to see him again. Then we spent a few hours overseeing homework and playing at the park. William cooked a curry for dinner, a nice change for Keith as he had not eaten one in months.


USA Day 28 Tuesday December 3rd


Keith spent the morning cleaning up his bike and getting his gear sorted. Alex met up with him at Mellow Johnny’s bike shop and cafe, as it’s just a short ride from his office.

Pizza for dinner with the crew, plus Ryan a keen cyclist who wanted to hear more of Keith’s stories.


WhatsApp Image 2019-12-06 at 22.55.29
Keith contemplates a new tea mug

USA Day 29 Wednesday December 4th


Alex, Victoria and Keith met up downtown for lunch. Keith then explored the capitol and the downtown hike and bike trail. Kristian and Geraint met at a new place not far from my work so we all got together and decided to have BBQ for dinner.


Texas Capitol, Austin, Texas
Texas Capitol, Austin, Texas
Texas Capitol, Austin, Texas
Texas Capitol, Austin, Texas

USA Day 30 Thursday December 5th


Keith and I met for lunch and then he had a afternoon exploring Central Austin.

He put the word out that he was at the Draft House so time for a quick drink before heading home for dinner. William had cooked home-made pasta and ciabatta bread.


USA Day 31 Friday December 6th

Route USA Day 31 – December 6th

Fly-through Map USA Day 31.

Time to get back on the road, I think I packed him another 100 lbs of food to take, just kidding. After cooking him some eggs and bacon, he packed up the car as I had insisted on driving him out of Austin; Big Sister won this battle.

Big sad lump in my throat seeing him ride off up the hill, I was very tempted to follow him.

I have so enjoyed following the Bike Rugby Japan tour and feel so incredibly proud of them. So many memories and stories to share.

We only got to August on the photos as each one has a story.

I am grateful for the many people who showed them kindness on their journey, a bottle of water, or a piece of fruit, even offering them food and a place to stay.

Thank you Keith for stopping by, we really enjoyed your visit.

We will miss you.

Look forward to the updates.


Keith preparing to depart.
Keith preparing to depart.
Keith hits the road again and is heading east from Austin, Texas
Keith hits the road again and is heading east from Austin, Texas

My wheels arrived late last night (23:00). I went to bed reading up on the front hub adapter and reminding myself what I need to do in the morning.

I’m up at 6 going over the details of the new wheels before I shower and breakfast. Then it’s into Williams garage. I remove the tyre, brake disc and cassette from my old rear wheel, fit a new tyre disc and cassette to new wheel and partially inflate. I then remove the brake disc from the old front wheel, assemble the hub adapter and disc on the new wheel and fit an old rear tyre and partially inflate. I fit wheels to the bike, fully inflate the tyre and take for a spin around the estate. All appears well.

Debbie makes me a full english breakfast and packs enough food for me to get to the east coast (12 Days)! We’ve (Debbie) decided to run me to the outskirts of town to avoid the rush hour trafic. I finally get off at 9 o’clock. We drive through traffic to Manor on the 290 but roadworks going on so we carry on to Elgin. Debbie insists it’s the far side of Elgin. Then there is no hard shoulder. I’m thinking she’s not going to let me out till Jacksonville!

Finally we pull over and I put the wheels and panniers back on the bike. Set my Garmin up and say my goodbyes. Never easy as we don’t see each other often enough so it’s always an emotional time. I sling my leg over and promise to stay in touch.

The bike feels real good today with the new wheels and front pannier racks that are fitted much better than previous attempts. It’s a nice wide smooth hard shoulder, I have a tailwind and I’m making good time. Long rolling hills in front of me.

I pull over after 30 miles to eat some of the lunch that Debbie’s prepared for me.

Only 20 miles to go to Brenham so I contemplate pushing on to Hempstead, a place Deb and William have mentioned. It’s only after I’ve passed Brenham that I realise Hempstead is not on my route. Luckily I’m on the outskirts so only have to backtrack a mile or so.

Really happy with the bike and my body today. Been resting for a week and I’m sure my legs thought it was all over. They didn’t ache for long.

The B&B at Brenham, Texas
The B&B at Brenham, Texas
The B&B at Brenham, Texas
The B&B at Brenham, Texas
Inside the fancy B&B in Brenham, Texas
Inside the fancy B&B in Brenham, Texas

USA Day 32 Saturday December 7th

Route USA Day 32 – December 7th

Fly-through Mapy USA Day 32.

I’m up early and getting stuck into breakfast. This upmarket B&B has a kitchen full of food that I’ve been invited to help myself to; and that included the alcohol last night!

It’s a bright frosty morning but I’m out at seven. Not long before I’m out of town and on the long undulating roads. After half an hour I begin to get a screech from the bike. I can see nothing and can’t determine whether it’s from the crank or rear dérailleur. I pull over and lubricate everything and accidentally brush my hand over a hairy caterpillar. Now my hands and face are itching where I rubbed and touched it.

This is the Caterpillar that made my hand itch.
This is the Caterpillar that made my hand itch.

Not much improvement. I pull over again and dismantle the jockey wheels in the rear dérailleur and clean. I have all the parts lined up on a sleeper when a lorry goes past and blows everything into the long grass. After ten minutes I’m one bolt and one washer short. After another fifteen minutes, same story. I rebuild the dérailleur using the not ideal spares I’m carrying. The squawking is no better. I change the washer on the jockey wheel but it’s no better.

I’ve been riding four hours and covered less than 30 miles. SHIT.

I decide to inspect the whole rear mechanism, piece by piece. I remove all my panniers and turn the bike upside down. The rear cassette will not reverse and throws slack chain when I stop pedalling. Is it the new hub? It seems fine when I remove the wheel. The rear dérailleur and jockey wheels fine.

By now I’m covered in oil and grease from my many attempts at a repair. HOORAY I see the problem a tiny grub screw that holds the hanger on has backed itself out. I screw it back in 3mm with an allen key, rebuild the rest of the bike, load panniers and I’m good to go.

Sweet, no noises and I’m happy. 60 miles to go and it’s nearly midday. Not good, we calculate our time on the road at 10 miles an hour at that rate I’ll be riding in the dark for the last hour. I have the lights, but it’s not ideal.

I crack on, the road’s good and the wind is coming across my shoulder. I’m pushing 17mph for the next couple of hours. I take a short break to fuel up in “Conroe” and push into the weak headwind. Lake Conroe is on my left then it’s through the Sam Houston forest, very picturesque, for the last hour.

Lake Conroe, east Texas
Lake Conroe, east Texas
The "Children at Play" Statues at Conroe, Texas
The “Children at Play” Statues at Conroe, Texas
Sam Houston National Forest, Texas
Sam Houston National Forest, Texas

What I thought was going to be a horrid day turned out not too bad. I just need to clean the lubrication off the bike tonight.

Overland To India

Ben and Jess were cycling a more southern route across Asia to India. They’ve arrived in India, but have decided to split up. It looks permanent as the blog, once ‘Jess & Ben’, is now only ‘Jess’.

You can catch up with Jess here. An excerpt is below.

We’ll follow Jess for now and wish Ben all the best with whatever he is doing. Meanwhile I’ll see if we can re-connect with him in some way.



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