Blog

USA Week 2

Keith at the Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon

Links to all the Blogs and Maps

Charity Update

Many many thanks to all those that have donated.

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And a big thanks to all those who made it to Dale’s party at the Ratling Club. It was great to see so many people. Many, many, thanks. We loved it.

Meanwhile we’ve got to keep track of ̶F̶o̶r̶r̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶G̶u̶m̶p̶  our Keith …

Keith in the USA

Map of Progress so far in the USA.

Totals in the USA: 804 miles, 33598ft climbing and 60:15 hours riding

This weeks ride in the USA.

This week: 493 miles, 21417ft climbing and 36:54 hours riding

USA Day 4 Saturday November 9th

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Route USA Day 4 – November 9th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 4.

No rush this morning as the outdoor shop doesn’t open till 8. I will need gas for the stove if I end up camping tonight. Good to have it onboard in any case.

I had breakfast at 6:30 then on to the grocery store (not the one I left in a storm last night!), I need plenty of water and food for a couple of nights. The ladies in the store are charming, loving my english accent and advising me where to go over the weekends. It’s Veterans Day on Monday and lots of celebrations in this gun happy state.

I check out the hotel all loaded up. I didn’t think I would be doing this again; 6 litres of water and plenty of fruit to go with the rations. About 8 miles down the road I pull up at the Outdoor Pursuits store. It’s busy with people buying all sorts of climbing equipment.

I soon locate the gas cylinders as the assistant comes over. She enquires if I’ve got the right ones and do I need anything else. So I spend the next fifteen minutes discussing wild camping, fires and the best route for me. Then she sorts out all my change for me like I’m a 12 year old (Dale’s old trick).

On the road with 40 straight miles and a tail-wind. Bliss. I had to stop a take a photo as I’m in Joshua city.

A couple of hours pass and I take a left turn and begin my climb into the next valley; I think a spoke went . It’s not too steep for 8 or so miles. The last couple ramp up a touch and its now over 30º. On the descent I spot a fellow cyclist resting on the side of the road.

Phil said he had been on the road for six days and this was his last. He was routing thru the Grand Canyon and onward to 29 Palms. He advised me that Route 66 was shut from Amboy for 40 miles although you could get through on your bike. Just a couple of bridges washed away, no worries. He also told me the petrol station was the last place for water and where he had camped the night before. I was hoping the gas station was a cafe and motel. When I arrived the owner explained he had only recently open the gas station and a small shop. I’m 65 Miles in and it’s only 12:30.

I rested here, drank plenty (no beer) and considered my options in the shade. Seems I had no option other than to camp.

I push on for another 20 before I spot the place to camp. Just came over the ridge so it’s in the shade and the sun will rise right in front of me. I get my breath back and cool down. Shopuld I fix the bike then put tent up or vice-versa? I fix the spoke first and the tent will go up in the dark. It’s not long before the rear spoke’s sorted. I get the tent up, then prepare dinner and coffee.

The gas canister fits, so I’m happy. The sachet of dried pasta is soon prepared with cheese and mushrooms with a couple of rolls and a large coffee. Splendid. Dinner in the dark and it’s only 17:30.

I’m into the tent to read and ready for an early start. It seems I’m going to be listening to trains in the distance all night 🙂

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree Park
Joshua Tree Park
Desert and Mountains
Desert and Mountains
Gas Station and Cafe
Gas Station and Cafe
Straight to the mountains
Straight to the mountains
Desert campsite
Desert campsite

USA Day 5 Sunday November 10th

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Route USA Day 5 – November 10th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 5.

It was not a bad nights sleep but any kind of mattress would be good. Almost a full moon and as bright as can be at two in the morning. It doesn’t help when your trying to sleep for 10 hours on a rocky bed.

I’m active at 6 an have breakfast with coffee and all packed by 7. The rear tyre was flat?. Pumped it up and it seemed all good. I resumed on the closed Route 66 road. It’s not long before the closed road signs appear. No worries as I vear around the barriers, stay clear of the holes, and crack on. It works well for the first three bridges but the fourth bridge is completely washed away. No worries! I back track 40 metres and take the rough detour around the bridge. Thankfully the river is dry.

I didn’t see or hear anything for over an hour this morning but then I spot a fellow cyclist approaching. Steve’s a German rider who has come down from Canada and been on the road a similar time as myself. Nice chap and we exchange our local knowledge of water holes and food outlets. He’s heading down to San Diego then flying to New Zealand (warm weather). He’s very interested in my time in Japan and hopes to travel there in the summer. Even on a closed road these two cyclists move as a group of heavy motorcyclists are making too much noise.

The next point of interest was another classic 60s petrol station. I have a coffee and a sandwich 20 miles in. As I’m sat there viewing the table top maps of the local area a couple of ladies squeal about a spider under their car. I’ve got to take a look, it’s a Tarantula, pretty large and angry as I picture it. The ladies reverse out of the way being careful not to harm it. Advising me not to get to close as they bite and jump. A car pulls up at the pump, two large male locals. They look at me and ask what’s the problem? I say “take care as you get out as there’s a large spider in front of your car”. He gets out, looks and laughs. Puts his hand down and picks the thing up. So cool. Tells me no worries you can pick them up but don’t drop them as their abdomens split when they hit the floor.

Over the next few miles I noticed several more crossing the road along with many ground squirrels.

I made the decision to stick with Route 66, turning right instead of left. As I stood at the junction contemplating my decision a guy jumps out of his car and offers me an apple. Nice gesture, really not expected. It was a great downhill stretch into Needles. Where I’m booked into a room on the banks of the Colorado river. Turns out as not being on the bank, but it is cheap.

I’m out for dinner at the local cafe on the river, but it’s generally poor service and crap food. No wonder they’re not busy.

After a couple of beers I go back to my room to alter my routes to take in the availability of shops and accommodation. Looks like it’s three days to the Grand canyon south rim.

Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – Bridge down
Road closure - with holes!
Road closure – with holes!
Desert Tarantula
Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi) probably. About a 1000 species of Tarantula are known!
Desert road
Desert road

USA Day 6 Monday November 11th

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Route USA Day 6 – November 11th

Fly-through map of USA Day 6.

It’s pasta for breakfast due to the fact I didn’t pick up any milk or yoghurt yesterday 🙂 No worries it’s just fuel.

I step outside and it’s bright but a cold 6º. I’m still wearing shorts and my atlas shirt (thanks again Dave). I may have to re-think the morning kit. It will soon warm up and anyway I’ll be climbing all morning.

It’s terrible tarmac for the first couple of miles through the village – a bit like Ukraine. It’s not doing my rear wheel any good either. Two miles in and I cross the Colorado River for the first time. It looks cold and grey and is running fast. It’s busy up through the towns  as I stop off at Safeway in Bullhead City for the days supplies.

It’s seriously up hill from here for twelve miles. Thought these days were over and my legs certainly hoped so. It takes me an hour and half to reach the top and it’s a proper struggle at times; 3571 it says on the sign. I take it that’s feet, it is. Only 1088 metres. I have a bit off lunch; apple, cheese and a lovely baguette.

Then it’s a nice descent into Golden Valley knowing it’s a climb back out. No worries, stop for a cold drink and a chocolate bar in a petrol station. The place was full of war veterans in their roadster cars and Harley motorcycles. Expected more gung-ho stuff, but they’re super friendly.

The next climb’s not so bad, only 20 to goand the first 8 uphill. I can pretty much see the whole climb from the start, a dead straight line with a two mile dog leg to the top.

I soon arrive a my hotel. Nice and early 15:00. I need to be careful as it’s dark at 5.It’s a ground floor motel room again and I roll the bike straight in. Excellent.

I go to a Mexican diner next door for dinner. I’m spending so much time with the Mexicans I’m thinking of growing a moustache [Well it is Movember: Ed].

I’m a bit disappointed tonight as I tried to arrange my first Couch Surf but the host wasn’t available.

Definitely on the cards soon though.

Colorado River, Needles. California this side and Arizona on the other.
Colorado River, Needles. California this side and Arizona on the other.
Union Pass, Arizona
Union Pass, Arizona
Golden Valley, Arizona
Golden Valley, Arizona
Coyote Pass, Arizona
Coyote Pass, Arizona

USA Day 7 Tuesday November 12th

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Route USA Day 7 – November 12th

Fly-through map of USA Day 7.

I Crossed the border in to Arizona yesterday afternoon so the clocks go forward an hour. I have breakfast in the motel at 6 and it’s still very dark so I got all my gear ready to go but it is to dark still at 7. The sun’s creeping up and I set off at 7:20, still early.

As I climb out of Kingman I’m aware that the sun is rising directly in front of me. This means the drivers behind are dazzled by the sun and won’t have a good veiw of me or the road. So I stop and put my rear lights on. It’s cold and the hard shoulder is only a metre wide and very uneven. Not a good start to the day.

An hour later and it’s all change the sun has risen, it’s not so cold and the hard shoulder is wide and smooth. It’s rolling roads for the next couple of hours and the miles are easy.

At 10:30 I stop for some food and a rest. I perch myself on some boulders overlooking the highway, with a great view across the valley. Truckers are honking their horns as they pass. Not much happening today, the roads are quiet and I’m pleasantly buzzing along.

Not far to go now so I pull of the highway onto the original Route 66. On pulling into Seligman the high street is like a scene from a western movie; saloons, barbers and a Sheriff’s office. I decide to have lunch in the Roadkill cafe/saloon. It’s typical American stuff. A large wooden bar, ranch style restaurant, stuffed animals and more shit than you can imagine; T-shirts, fridge magnets, teddy bears and a whole lot more.

It’s only 2 mile to my motel. The lady is multi-tasking today she tells me. Running the bar, office and serving pizzas. I’ll be seeing a lot of her tonight 🙂 .

On the Purple Heart Trail
On the Purple Heart Trail
A Mesa in Arizona
A Mesa in Arizona
Road-side pitstop
Road-side pitstop
Scrubby desert and mountains
Scrubby desert and mountains
General Store on Route 66
General Store on Route 66
The Roadkill Cafe on Route 66 mmm hedgehog pizza
The Roadkill Cafe on Route 66 mmm hedgehog pizza

USA Day 8 Wednesday November 13th

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Route USA Day 8 – November 13th

Fly-through map of USA Day 8.

I pull out of the motel at 7:15. the roads are white with ice. I’m not liking this. Two routes this morning 70 miles and not a lot of climbing up through the local roads or, 94 miles 1000 metres of climbing but clear on the maps.

I turn left for the short option. After only 800m it seems the left turn is via a farm with large no entry signs all around. Plus pictures of firearms. Not for me, so I do a U turn and prepare myself for the 90+ miles. I have to pull over and put on my gloves for the first time. Not a great start.

It’s cold but dry so I get my head down and my first stop is Ash Fork. I need to pick up water, I have food onboard; bread and cheese. 20 miles in and I ride through Ash but it’s too cold to stop, even though I’m climbing. The next place is Williams at 40 miles. This place is just made up of Disney like saloons, hotels and garages. I pull over at a garage and get my water, chocolate and sprite. It’s 50+ miles to go from here but I’m making good time. I turn left and this is the road to the canyon.

I take off my jacket and gloves but it’s still a chilly head-wind. It’s just a long undulating road ahead, slowly climbing.

The sky is blue and looks very warm. Not so, my feet have been cold all day. Nothing to do with the fact I’ve had these summer socks on since Poland. Time to change maybe!

It’s not a hard ride this afternoon as I made good time this morning so I’m not worried about it getting dark. I planned to finish around 4 but I should be done at 3.

The ground floor room at the motel allows me to roll the bike straight in. Cool, going to go over the bike tomorrow and visit the canyon.

Dinner is in the hotel with a hundred German tourists. All good fun.

Cafe on Route 66
Cafe on Route 66
Betty Boop Motel sign. Norwegians must be trusted!
Betty Boop Motel sign. Norwegians must be trusted!
Desert road
Desert road
PB133869
Ford Thunderbird, with Farmall (International Harvester) and John Deere Tractors
garage with horse sculptures
garage with horse sculptures

USA Day 9 Thursday November 14th

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Route USA Day 9 – November 14th

Fly-through Map USA Day 9 Helicopter flight.

Fly-through USA Day 9 cycle and hike.

I’m up early for a very busy day. It’s a great start with breakfast with the Germans, and the waiter thinks I’m part of the tour group. No complaints. I remove all the baggage from the bike.

I leave for airport at 8:00. Arrive at 10 past. Looks like I’m first here. I watch the crew do their safety checks, before they go through the safety briefing.

I’m sat in the front right side. Great seat. The rotors are running and the captain introduces herself to each of us. It’s gentle take off and we head across the forest. Probably only a hundred feet or so above the trees. Clear blue skies and the rim of the Canyon on the horizon. We don’t seem to be going very fast as we near the rim. WOW what a surprise, the depth and size as you come over the rim is amazing.

The river runs off to the north and the colours are amazing. Dale the pilot is answering questions and briefing us on directions and place names. It’s a truly awe-inspiring sight. The vastness is amazing. Dale completes her route over the next 30 minutes. Briefing us on names and formations as we circle the canyon. On the way back to the heliport she points out herds of buffalo roaming below. I’m soon out of the helicopter and keen to get back to the canyon.

First I’m up to the tourist info office on the bike. The park pass is twenty dollars but valued for seven days. Well worth it. The assistant explains everything I should do in the park, bombarding me with masses of information. I finally get away and ride up to the entrance. Two miles to the park and another three to the south rim.

I get a good view of the Canyon and a couple of shots of my bike in the foreground.
I take the bike down to Bright Angel trail head and lock it up. It’s a 10 mile hike along the rim to Hermits view-point with other view-points dotted along the way.

It’s a paved path with barriers at the more vulnerable spots. All immaculately clean, not a drop of litter to be seen. A far cry from China and the Stan’s.

It’s busy to start with but as I get further away from the gift shops and cafes I’m practically on my own.

The views are stunning and the Condors have appeared also. Gliding on thermals without a beat of their wings, there is also a few smaller birds about, but most have migrated south at this time of the year.

A coupe of hours into the walk and I spot a “Mule Deer” a huge animal just sat in the brush about 10 metres off the path. It takes a little time before I realise there are three of them spread over a small area. They don’t seem bothered by my presence at all and I’m within a couple of metres.

Finally I arrive at the Hermits Rest the end of this trail. I jump on a courtesy bus back to Bright Angel to pick up my bike.

I haven’t eaten since 7 this morning and its now nearly 5pm. Do I head back or eat and ride back in the dark? I eat and a couple of beers. Put my rear light on and set off home the 8 miles or so. The car drivers leaving the park are very courteous and leave me lots of space. It’s downhill and I’m in a hurry, as I speed along a herd of the Mule deer cross the road, at least two with a grand set of antlers. I’d best calm down as I wouldn’t want to run into them. Soon home safely to go through photos and videos before I shower and eat. PASTA and PIZZA not a place I’d recommend.

Excellent day.

Helicopter ready for Grand Canyon flight
Helicopter read for Grand Canyon flight
Grand Canyon and the Colorado river
Grand Canyon and the Colorado river
Buffalo
Buffalo
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon helicopter
Keith at the Grand Canyon helicopter
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon
Keith at the Grand Canyon
Deer
Deer
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
Raven
Raven
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

USA Day 10 Friday November 15th

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Route USA Day 10 – November 15th

Fly-through Map USA Day 10.

Breakfast in the hotel again this morning. Only difference, I had to pay for it. Book out out 7:30, cold and overcast, got my gloves and jacket on already. First 30 mile is a reversal of my entry to the park. Left turn and I’m off down the Fort Valley road scenic route. Passing Red mountain on my right as we trundle through Coconino National Forest.

Take a break at 45 miles, nice little picnic on the edge of the forest. Spotted a Greater roadrunner as I relaxed. (Geococcyx californianus)

Rolling hills are getting a little tougher now, head wind is trying me. Just push on!. After 15m things change around. Long downhills and the wind on my back (sometimes). Not long before I’ve entered Flagstaff, altitude 6906, Founded 1882. That’s what it says on the sign.

Lovely steam engine as we reach the centre. Turn right and head out of town, I know there’s a whole street of motels along this way. Just as I’m about to leave town I decide on the Western hills. Nothing smart, ground floor and clean. Plenty good enough for me.

Farewell to the Grand Canyon
Farewell to the Grand Canyon
break time
break time
Arrival at Flagstaff
Arrival at Flagstaff
PB154021
A 2-6-6-2 Baldwin Mallet Locomotive(1929) at Arizona Historical Society’s Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff

USA Day 11 Saturday November 16th

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Route USA Day 11 – November 16th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 11.

Breakfast on the bed this morning; muesli and yogurt and some fruit. On the road as early as possible today. 95 miles and I’d like to video call Dale later.

Head out at 7 with my damp gloves on. Due to health reasons I had to wash them last night!

I’m straight out onto Highway 180, Route 66, Purple Heart trail; it’s all the same road. Nice and flat and with a wide hard shoulder. In fact it’s slightly downhill and no wind. Excellent; I’m flying and after calling in for water my average speed is in the low 20s.

It’s prairie to both right and left with the odd large rock outcrop. It’s proper Indian country especially when combined with the town names “Two Arrows” and “Two Guns”.

Navajo Nation is to the north and Fort Apache Reservation  to the south.

After three hours I pull over for a hot drink; it’s still very cold and the sun hasn’t broken through yet.

I give Linney a call to catch up with what’s happening at home and to say I hoped to call later whilst he’s at Dale’s birthday party.

Only 30 miles to go. Long flat straight roads and I’m booked in to another motel within 2 hours. I’ve averaged 18 miles an hour today. Happy.

I give Dale and the lads a call at the Ratling club, but it’s all very chaotic and on a poor line.

Hope you had a great night Dale and not to much to drink. [Lovely night. Lot’s of People. Many thanks to all those who made the effort: Ed]

Tepees in the desert
Tepees in the desert
Desert, railroad and mountains
Desert, railroad and mountains
Arizona desert
Arizona desert
Geronimo Road
Geronimo road

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They have now flown to India. It appears that whilst they are in India they will travel separately. Jess is in Goa and Ben is in Pondicherry (I think).

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Welcome Home

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Keith, Dale and Linford at the Rugby World Cup Final

Welcome Home

Let’s welcome home Dale and Linford who have arrived back in the UK this week. Keith, on the other hand, has nipped over to the USA to continue cycling. More on that later.

Thanks

It’s Graham’s Birthday [5th November] today so had a little moment thinking about him: he would have been 64!

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Graham & Steven: in proper cycling togs!

Well it’s the final day, Linney and Camilla flew home today (have a safe journey guys) and Keith flew on to LA to start the next leg of his holiday (have a great time mate, hope the weather’s good for you and you are able to get out of the urban sprawl).

Well that leaves me in Osaka for one last day and the logistical nightmare of getting my bike and bags up to the airport; not the easiest of things to do. Keith made two journeys and stored his bike up at the airport a day early and Linney moved hotels to be closer to the airport and he and Camilla struggled with their bikes and bags on the train. I have opted to have the bike couriered up to the airport and then go on the train with my bags. This also involves sleeping at the airport; if I can camp in the desert I can definitely sleep in an airport, “nothing can go wrong”

To everyone who has supported our charities it has been a very humbling experience receiving all your positive comments and donations to our named charities, Alzheimer’s Society, the Fight for Sight charity and for the Slide Away charity. We have raised over £7.5K and really appreciate all the donations; an amazing achievement.

The only other thing to do is say my thanks to all that have supported our little jaunt, I apologise for not being able to name every one; the list would go on forever, however a few do need a special THANKS:

Billy Plews & Tina Plews East Kent Foods

For their continued sponsorship, they have supported every tour we have done, Cheers, (Though Bill was a bit concerned before we left, “you don’t need food and water all the way to Japan do you Housey”! was his first comment

Roy Berkhauer From R B Air Conditioning Services

Once again cheers mate supported every tour with a massive donation for the kits.

James Ritson McGinley Support Services

A big thanks to Jimmy and his team from the village.

Dave Austen

Cant say enough about your support mate, truly missed you on this year’s tour, I know you will be ready for next year, watch this space! A legend in China we met your agent, stall full of goodies.

Carl Moses & Cathal Bartolo

Cheers guys for starting the tour with us, made the first 1000 miles a doddle, pleasure riding with both of you.

Roger Hadfield

Driving to Poland and back, with a load of mad cyclists, who needed waiting on hand and foot, one of the only blokes I Know who can shut Carl up, for that reason you are welcome to drive us all over the place.

Rylan House

For making a great effort in joining us for the last 1000 miles (930), Cheers “Young Un” a very special experience cycling with your “Old Man” and that guy you sold your bike to in China is so pleased with it.

Keith & Linford House

A pleasure and a privilege to cycle with you two guys, can’t wait for the next “Holiday”

Steven House

For editing the website and blog, making sense of my cobbled together words and putting some sort of structure to the thing. Cheers Steve we’ll have a little beer when I get home.

Sandra House

Last but not least a massive Thank You to the fairest rose of all, thanks for letting me go on this mad caper, can’t wait to see you again in early November and getting a job again.

Charity Update

Many many thanks to all those that have donated.

20191107_CharityDonations

20191107_AzheimersSocietyThankYou20191107_SlideAwayThankYouB20191107_FightForSightThankYou

All the Details of the Calais to Shanghai Ride

Map of first 9 weeks.

Map of last 7 weeks in China and 3 weeks in Japan.

Full spreadsheet of everyday’s ride.

All the Details of the Japan rides

Spreadsheet of Japan Days details

Keith in the USA

Keith has flown to Los Angeles in the USA and is planning to ride across the continent. The first stage is a ride to Austin, Texas to visit his sister Debbie.

Planned route from LA to Austin via the Grand Canyon.

This weeks ride in the USA.

This week: 225 miles, 9535 ft climbing and 17:43 hours riding

USA Day 1 Wednesday November 6th – LA Loop

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USA Day 1 – November 6th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 1.

It’s my first day riding in the USA. I spent yesterday evening putting the bike back together, adjusting bits and pieces, and re-packing my panniers.

I have a relaxed start as I’m nervous about riding in the US. Not sure why, maybe the drivers are poor and the roads I’m likely to ride on not so good. Also I read up on highway codes in the US and every state is different. Not helpful at all.

I get out on the road around 10:00 and my plan is to head for Santa Monica and Muscle Beach. It should be pretty simple, just follow the 3rd Avenue West. The roads are not great and there are numerous stop signs and traffic lights. I’m doing my best to be patient with them but I have an urge to jump them when all is clear!

An hour later I’m on the beach. I’ve not enjoyed my journey here but things will get better. The cycle path along the coast is very good. Not too many skaters or dog walkers. It’s overcast today so that may be the reason there are not so many on Muscle Beach and the volleyball courts. I’m enjoying the ride now, relaxing and taking in the scenery. I see seals off Manhattan Beach, the sun shinning and it’s a quiet path down as far as Torrance Beach. I cut inland at this point, 40 miles into my ride. That was all I set out to do.

The roads are busy now and full of trucks busy coming and going from the port.

Long Beach is my destination but I’m not liking the traffic it’s far too heavy. So I start heading back to downtown LA. It’s not long before the traffic improves and I’m cruising the downtown streets.

I locate a local bike shop and purchase an inner-tube, the guy has no WD40 or grease. But he tells me where to purchase the WD and gives me a knob of grease in tin foil. Nice man. I pop into the local supermarket to pick up tomorrow’s lunch and get the WD40. The place is full of Mexicans; I should have done Spanish at school!

Then it’s back to the digs where I have a bite to eat then sort the pedals out on the bike. I dis-assemble the cranks then clean, grease and re-assemble. Didn’t take long, all seems fine now.

I have dinner at Gut’s; burger, salad and chips, and then back to the Holiday Lodge motel; not the classiest of joints!

Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills
Manhattan Beach, LA
Manhattan Beach, LA
Manhattan Beach, LA
Manhattan Beach, LA
beach cycle path with skateboarders
beach cycle path with skateboarders
Beachfront Houses
Beachfront Houses
Downtown LA
Downtown LA

USA Day 2 Thursday November 7th

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USA Day 2 – November 7th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 2.

I’m all ready to depart at 7:00, packed and ready to roll.

Getting out of LA turned into a battle for the first couple of hours. It was all steep climbs and stop signs. I’m feeling tired from the start and the short sharp inclines aren’t helping.

I stop for lunch at a primary school sports field. It’s a wonderful expanse of baseball and football fields. All in pristine condition. Not surprising given the area they’re in. All the timeI’m under the watchful eye of the local Police. I pass Harvard University [this University is in Massachusetts! so not sure what this is: Ed] shortly after and on to the Electric Pacific bike trail.

It’s a lovely 10 mile stretch of new tarmac and I pass only three other people. I spot a cycle store (Don’s Cycles) so pop in and buy some grease for my bottom brackets. Don follows me out the store and spots my bike. We then have 20 minutes of me telling him where I’ve been and him advising me of where I should go. Lovely bloke, very helpful.

Once I clear LA the Lytle canyon is my next challenge. It’s 14 miles of twisted climbing to end my day. Not what I wanted as I’ve been feeling tired all day.

It takes me 90 minutes to cover the ground after fueling up at a coffee shop.

The Best Western hotel is a bit dated!

Bike and Motel
Bike and Motel
House with Dolphin fountain
House with Dolphin fountain
Picnic stop
Picnic stop and the Police watching!
Electric Pacific Bike Trail
Electric Pacific Bike Trail
Route 66 and mountains
Route 66 and mountains

USA Day 3 Friday November 8th

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Route USA Day 3 – November 8th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 3.

I had a great breakfast this morning with make your own waffles included. The weather’s good again as I continue the climb out of the canyon. Train whistles echo up the valley as they also weave their way up. they are pulling hundreds of containers with their eight locomotives.

I drop down gradually and follow the “Old Woman Creek Road” along undulating highway with poor hard shoulders. Luckily the road’s not too busy. I’m making good time this morning and by midday I’ve got over 50 miles in the bag. I pull in to a large pile of boulders to seek some shade for lunch. It’s 30º now. It’s a ham and cheese roll, banana and apple and I’m refuelled.

About an hour later I pull into a layby to check out hotels. As I come to a halt a couple in a mobile home ask, ‘Tea, coffee or water?’. Turns out they were from Gouda (Netherlands) and are very nice and very chatty. They;ve been in the US visiting friends and touring for 6 weeks. After two bottles of water and a cup of tea we said our farewells.

I’m still not feeling great and my legs are aching on any sort of climb. Perhaps the two weeks off the bike hasn’t helped! No worries, I still did 85 miles today on some difficult terrain. Better tomorrow 🙂

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree
Towards the mountains
Towards the mountains
BNSF Freight Train coming up the Cajon Pass, California, USA
BNSF Freight Train coming up the Cajon Pass, California, USA
BNSF Freight Train coming up the Cajon Pass, California, USA
BNSF Freight Train coming up the Cajon Pass, California, USA
Olivia's Farm
Olivia’s Farm

USA Day 4 Saturday November 9th

[Keith camped this night with no wi-fi – so this day will be included in next weeks post: Ed]

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

They have now flown to India. It appears that whilst they are in India they will travel separately. I think they both flew to Delhi over the Himalayas, but Jess is now in Chennai! Where Ben is I don’t know!

20191109_JessBen

Japan World Cup Rugby Final

Mt Fuji - clear at last
Mt Fuji – clear at last

Note

Keith and Linford don’t ride this week but rather travelled around with Charlee and Camilla. Some photos are posted below.

Meanwhile Dale continues to ride around Honshu Island as he returns to Osaka.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191101_CharityDonations

Map and bike and bear
Map and bike and Slide Away bear

Week 20 Summary: Dale’s Tour

Dale has been looping around Honshu Island and this week returns to Osaka from Yokohama via Mt Fuji. He then takes a train to Yokohama to rendezvous with everyone else for the Rugby World Cup Final: England vs South Africa.

This map shows this weeks ride.

This week: 334 miles, 19655 ft climbing and 30:06 hours riding

This map shows Dale’s Japan Tour.

Japan totals: 792 miles, 48019 ft climbing and 68:07 hours riding

Dale Day 8: Sunday October 27th:

Dale didn’t ride today but stayed in Yokohama to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa: the Boks won 19-16.

Yesterday Dale watched England vs New Zealand in the other semi-final. England stuffed the All Blacks 19-7.

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-26 at 16.33.26(1)
At the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7
WhatsApp Image 2019-10-26 at 16.33.26
Dale and friends at the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7

Dale also saw the Wales vs South Africa semi-final, but its wasn’t such a great game.

At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa
At the Rugby World Cup semifinal: Wales vs South Africa

Dale Day 9: Monday October 28th:

20191028_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 9 (Dale) – October 28th

I’m back on the road again after two days watching the Rugby semi-finals. I went to both games: Saturday’s was excellent, a great game from an England perspective but unfortunately the Sunday game was a bit of a damp squid and never really got going with South Africa running out the eventual winners,

I met the guys running Ron Rutland’s press releases (him and a guy called James cycled from Wales to Japan, they have loads of sponsors and even brought the whistle out for the first game) one of their main sponsors is DHL, so it looks like we will be able to get DHL to ship our bikes back for us. I’m awaiting confirmation but he seemed very positive.

My plan is to now cycle back to Osaka taking the eastern route this time. Starting with todays ride with a potential view of Mount Fuji if the weather is favourable. In the morning we had clear blue skies so it’s looking good, though it can change in the mountains very quickly.

I was climbing all morning up to around 2000m on really good roads with very little traffic. It was quite pleasant with nice views of Lake Yamanakao, the Doshi river and the mountains Yakiyama Omuro, Komotsurushi and Mikuni. It was a stunning section of road across the top of the mountains athough the cloud came down on the western side making it impossible to see Mt Fuji; fate and all that but still a really nice ride with a lovely descent before the final climb of the day.

A good day in the saddle and I needed it after two heavy days watching the rugby!

Castle hotel with bike
Castle hotel with bike
Castle hotel
Castle hotel
River in the forest
River in the forest
Footbridge
Footbridge
Dam run-off
Dam run-off
Dale - hoping for a free pint or two
Dale – hoping for a free pint or two

Dale Day 10: Tuesday October 29th:

20191029_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 10 (Dale) – October 29th

Here we go again woke up to the sound of rain pelting against the windows; happy days! At least it is not cold and I only planned to do 70 odd miles. Still it’s really not nice going out in the pouring rain. It’s a bit different when you get caught up in the rain as you have very little choice but to carry on. However I have to move on to get back to Oaska and sort out getting my bike home [Steve’s frame though: Ed], then build myself up for the final; surely nothing can go wrong.

So I hit the road with a steady downpour. I just keep smiling as it’ll all be worth it when England bring home the Webb Ellis trophy (so I kept saying to myself).

All I can say is the rain never stopped all day, in fact it got worse, so I did not stop for lunch and just powered through. I arrived at the hotel around 13:30 but the girl on the front desk said my room would not be ready until 15:00 but I soon sorted that out and gave her my best sad face whilst dripping water all over the place. I think they were well please when they got me a room straight away.

No pictures today as everything was to wet and you could not see anything anyway. The good news is that it is meant to be a little brighter tomorrow. I hope so.

Dale Day 11: Wednesday October 30th:

20191030_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 11 (Dale) – October 30th

I woke to a lovely sunny morning so different from yesterday. Once I got out the road my Garmin started to play up. I think it was operator error last night when I downloaded the ma. It was sending me all over the place for the first 10 or so miles as think I had set it on Mountain bike trails by mistake.

So I kept the Garmin running but reverted to MapsMe. This does eat up the battery on my phone but I had a couple of battery packs with me so it should be OK.

This route took me along the shores of Lake Hamana, a very tourist place with hotels doted along the shore and all sorts of trails to follow. I was glad I was not following my Garmin now as I would have been in forest for sure. I had a lovely 20 or so miles along the lake, quite flat and really sunny.

Then it was a nice steady climb up into the forest where I stopped for a little bite to eat at the top of third climb where I prepared some stuff for a radio interview later in the evening.

Dale Day 12: Thursday October 31st:

20191031_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 12 (Dale) – October 31st

It’s my penultimate riding day in Japan and another sunny day. I hope it’s the same for Keith & Linford who are visiting Mt Fuji today.

I knew my ride today was going to be through busy towns and cities so I had a few different plans for the day just to see how it plans out. The first part of the ride along national road 23 was not too bad but it ran adjacent to E1A which was really busy and anyway cyclists are not allowed on them. I stayed on the 23 for around 35 miles on pretty good cycle paths across loads of bridges and heavy engineering works.

I’d had enough of stopping and starting now so plan B came into operation. So just after the city of Yokkaichi I turned off onto the minor roads using downloaded google map. It was so much better getting away from all the traffic and before I knew it I was out in the countryside where I belong past forest campsites and warning notices about the monkeys which I didn’t this time.

I then took a single line paved track up to the top which was really good riding. I only met one other car coming down and he looked like a forestry guy. I had a bite to eat at the top and a drink in a picnic site. Then it was back on the bike for the down-hill ride into Otacho. Well as in the UK it’s never all downhill in Japan with their rolling roads, but nevertheless it was a really nice ride today the first part in typical Japanese cities and town and the second part in their fabulous unspoiled country-side. Quite a contrast between the two.

Shipyard
Shipyard
Mountain view
Mountain view
Cycle-path map
Cycle-path map
Valley in Autumn
Valley in Autumn
Mountains and small-holdings
Mountains and small-holdings
Cycle-path through the woods
Cycle-path through the woods

Dale Day 13: Friday November 1st: Last Day on the Road

20191101_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 13 (Dale) – November 1st

It’s my last days cycling in Japan; it has been a wonderful experience they are really nice people and their manners are amazing. The food’s not really to my taste but vegetable ramin is pretty good, when it’s available,

I woke up to a really foggy morning but the girl on reception assured me it would all clear shortly so sat and had an extra coffee and cake with her and sure enough the fog cleared. Just as I was about to leave Keith contacted me about ticket prices for the final. I said do it mate from our joint account so I  left with a spring in my pedals thinking, “we have only gone and done it! cycled here and get to watch the final, nothing can go wrong”.

But my navigation was  wayward for bit as at 2 miles I got a bit confused but managed to get back on track in the end,. Then it all went a bit pear shaped at 15 miles in; there was a massive mudslide so I could not pass the road but the guy sent me down this little track. Mate is was rough, good old planning, bhut even that was un-passable at the end so I backed up and went on the road. It was really nice scenery and the guys working on the mudslide offered to give me a lift, I just smiled and told them I had World Cup final tickets so no problem. I’m not sure they understood a word.

After that it was a surprisingly pleasant ride into the outskirts of Osaka and then I hit highway number 1, which you are not allowed to cycle on, but as I stopped and tried to look intelligent looking at electronic maps, a really nice guy said there is a cycle path adjacent to the highway, he drove his car up to show me, nice guy, so a relatively easy ride into the city.

I booked into the hotel had a quick shower then went out to sort the bike packaging. Then I had tickets to Yokohama for tomorrow to sort out.

It was a great tour of Honshu Island, with really pleasant people and all a credit to the nation.

Dale and fellow cyclist
Dale and fellow cyclist
Woodland waterfall
Woodland waterfall
Forest trail
Forest trail
Dale on his last day on the road
Dale on his last day on the road
Cannondale T700, 9000 miles all done and getting ready to be shipped home
Cannondale T700, 9000 miles all done and getting ready to be shipped home

Keith & Charlee

These two did some travelling around. Sadly the hike up Mt Fuji was called off – bad visibility. But they did have a great days rafting on the Yoshino river.

Charlee goes cycling around Mt Fuji
Charlee goes cycling around Mt Fuji
Charlee with Fireweed or Burning Bush (Kochia scoparia) a pink grass
Charlee with Fireweed or Burning Bush (Kochia scoparia) a pink grass
The Fuji Express
The Fuji Express
Charlee goes Sumo
Charlee goes Sumo
Charlee and the castle moat
Charlee and the castle moat
Keith and Charlee with pumpkins
Keith and Charlee with pumpkins

Dale Day 14: Saturday November 2nd: World Cup Final

[Dale, Keith, Linford, Charlee and Camilla are all going to the Rugby World Cup final: England vs South Africa. Hopefully we’ll get some photos: Ed]

All the Details of the Japan rides

Spreadsheet of Japan Days details

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

After riding 6000 miles they are now in Almaty, Kazakhstan and will have a two week break here before flying to India.

20191101_JessBen

Japan Double Tour

Yoshoni river
Yoshoni river

Note

Things get a bit tricky this week as Keith & Linford are doing a ride south of Osaka whilst Dale is riding alone heading north out of Osaka. Both itineraries are given below.

Things have got out of wack because Dale has been visited by Sandra and Rylan these past 10 days whilst Charlie and Camilla arrive to rendezvous with Keith and Linford this w/e!

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191024_CharityDonations

Week 19 Summary: Keith & Linford’s Tour

These two have looped out of Osaka. Going south to the city of Oita for the Rugby World Cup 1/4 final between England and Australia before a rendezvous back in Osaka with Charlie and Camilla.

This map shows this weeks ride.

This week: 305.3 miles, 8213 ft climbing and 21:40 hours riding

This map shows Keith and Linford’s Japan ride.

Total in Japan: 661.1 miles, 22423ft climbing and 51:51 hours riding

Day 9: Sunday October 20th:

20191020_ridewithgpsmap
Route Japan Day 9 (Keith and Linford) – October 20th

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 9.

We'd seen this vehicle before - but no-one around to say hello to now.
We’d seen this vehicle before – but no-one around to say hello to now.
The Beppu to Yawatahama ferry
The Beppu to Yawatahama ferry

We were up early for breakfast and then had short ride of 14 miles to Beppu ferry terminal. Three hour crossing to Yawatahama went pretty slowly. Feeling rough from yesterday 👍

We came straight off the boat and pushed on to Ozu which was only 20 miles away and mainly through built up areas.

We arrive at our hotel in enough time to set up laptop/tv and settled down to watch the second set of 1/4 final games. Both good games👍, but both results not what I wanted ☹️. [Wales beat France and South Africa beat Japan: Ed]

Day 10: Monday October 21st:

20191021_ridewithgpsmap
Route Japan Day 10 (Keith and Linford) – October 21st

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 10.

We have 75 miles planned for today but the weather outlook is not looking very good. We were out sorting the bikes at 7:30; bit of oil here and there, air in the tyres and adjusting a front wheel bearing. Ready to roll.

It was a steady climb for the first fifteen miles and slightly chilly and damp. Unfortunately as we climb up the valley the views are ruined by low cloud and mist. It does’nt change all day. After a hour or so we pull over into a Co-op looking for fruit. Seems Seven-Eleven and the other convenience stores don’t sell fruit. Pick up a couple of apples and a bag of tangerines.

Linford following the river
Linford following the river
Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge
River and bridges
River and bridges

The day just gets duller and duller as we follow the course of the river. Traffic’s busy and the roads are not great. Lunch is a microwave meal in a “Family Mart” with coffee and chocolate eclairs to finish.

The final climb of the day and Linney’s on a mission. Not sure if he’s upset because I ate most of the eclairs or he wants to finish before it rains. No worries we’re soon making enquiries for a room in another dodgy hotel.

We leave that behind and find the delightful “Love max Hotel”. It’s not lovely at all.

Day 11: Tuesday October 22nd:

20191022_ridewithgpsmap
Route Japan Day 11 (Keith and Linford) – October 22nd

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 11.

It was Coronation Day yesterday. A holiday we knew nothing about until the parades started in the evening. There were plenty of drums and the same float as the autumn festival.

We were up and ready to go at 7:45; pumped up Linney’s tyre, oil my chain and off we go. A lap of the car-park to discover I sheared a bolt on my rear pannier yesterday. 5 minutes and rolling. Amazing things Ty-wraps.

View from the hotel in Shikoku
View from the hotel in Shikoku
Smallholdings
Smallholdings
Ikedaohashi Bridge
Ikedaohashi Bridge
Yoshino river
Yoshino river
Ikeda Dam
Ikeda Dam
Lunch stop at the Ikeda Dam and Yoshino river
Lunch stop at the Ikeda Dam and Yoshino river

The first 10 miles is up hill this morning, then all down hill pretty much. It was a steady climb in the muggy atmostphere. Sun was threatning to break out as we passed some lovely small holdings along the river. Not long before we reach the top, marked by a small tunnel. We descended following the Yoshino river which is pretty sizeable given it was close to its source. We stop for photos on the IKEDA dam.

We picked up some bits for our picnic at the “Lawsons Store”. and pulled over at a mini golf course on the side of the river to enjoy our lunch. Followed by fresh strawberries and banana chips.

Yoshino river
Yoshino river
Yoshino river
Yoshino river
Yoshino valley road
Yoshino valley road

The rest of the day was very enjoyable, downhill, along the tow path ( a cycle route).

We arrived out our shabby hotel at 15:00.

Later we went out for dinner at “Buddy Buddy” – the craft ale sign outside was the decider. The chef guy was lovely and chatty; Linney had the set Oyster dinner and I stuck to the chicken. The craft ale was on tap and we tried a few; all very good but the pale ale was exceptional. Pity we won’t be back.

Day 12: Wednesday October 23rd: OUR LAST DAY OF CYCLING

20191023_ridewithgpsmap
Route Japan Day 12 (Keith and Linford) – October 23rd

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 12.

We were up and out at 07:00.

The ferry leaves at 8. We were relieved to find our bikes haven’t been touched as we’d left them in the hotel open carpark. It was a warm bright morning as we pull into 7/11 to buy breakfast.

On arrival at the ferry terminal we purchased tickets and joined the queue to board. It was still only 07:25 but no boat was in sight.

The ferry at Tokushima
The ferry at Tokushima

Three lorries, six cars, three motorbikes and our two bikes to load. Doesn’t take five minutes. We go on board looking for a quiet corner were we can have our breakfast and a snooze. No worries, there are only a handful of passengers. You do well to meet people as you walk around the decks. Smooth sunny crossing, but nothing to look at.

On the Takushima to Wakayama ferry
On the Takushima to Wakayama ferry
On the Takushima to Wakayama ferry
On the Takushima to Wakayama ferry

We disembark dead on time after a 2 hour crossing. 50 miles today give or take. The first twelve are uphill out of the port then a couple of miles of flat countryside and then 35 miles of urbanisation. We take a break straight away. Linney wants to change his shorts. I take a look at my bike rear deraileur playing up. Shit iv’e broken the gear cable. What to do?

1, Change cable. (probably an hour, bar tape removed, gears may not be perfect)
2, Shorten chain (single speed)
3, Adjust deraileur to run on a higher gear (Use front deraileur, 3 gears)

I adjust deraileur in a couple of minutes and off we go. Linney leading (as always ) up the hill. I think he’s forgotten I don’t have all my gears. It’s only an hour, so press on up. Just happens to be a bright sunshiny day. Over the top then a nice descent into the town (past a petrochemical works).

Bendy Trees
Bendy Trees

Soon it’s time to eat again, “picnic” Linney says “there’s a park and lake ahead”. So we pull into Lawson’s Store for food. Out the store and into the park. Think reservoir with grass band around it. Not to worry it’s clean and quiet.

We spend the rest of the day riding through town but it’s not bad we keep rolling using both the roads and cycle-paths.

We book into our hotel at 15:00.

That’s our cycling over, I for one will miss it. Seems sad that we are done, but Charlee and Camilla arrive tomorrow. That’s exciting.

We have pizza for dinner as I fancied something more like home. Will be full on Japanese again tomorrow with the girls.

Day 13: Thursday October 24th:

[I’m guessing they hung out in Osaka all day and then went to the airport to pick up Charlee & Camilla: Ed]

Day 14: Friday October 25th:

If you can catch it you can eat it!
If you can catch it you can eat it!
Getting it ready
Getting it ready
It's not Egg and Chips is it?
It’s not Egg and Chips is it?
Charlee!
Charlee!

Day 15: Saturday October 26th:

[No news or photos from today. I expect they enjoyed the England vs NZ game though!: Ed]


Week 19 Summary: Dale’s Tour

After spending time with Sandra and Rylan travelling around Japan Dale is now cycling North on his own. [He’ll be looping back to Yokahama for the Rugby semi-final and final w/ends and will rendezvous with the others there: Ed]

This map shows this weeks ride.

This week: 458.2 miles, 27376 ft climbing and 38:01 hours riding

Dale Day 1: Sunday October 20th:

20191020_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 1 (Dale) – October 20th

It was a great result last night as England stuffed the Aussies [Rugby World Cup 1/4 final 40-16: Ed], Sandra & I watched it in an English bar in Oaska but Keith & Linney had tickets. Fair play we could have had tickets, but Sandra is flying home very early in the morning, so we could not take them up on the very generous offer of tickets; another bonus point for me, the doting husband that I am!

It was a very early start and we were up at 05:15 to walk Sandra to the station sort the tickets out and say our farewells agai. It’s only for 3 weeks this time as I have booked a flight home on the 6th November.

Then I went back to the hotel had breakfast and then get the bike ready. To be honest I was pretty nervous, not about riding on my own, but just getting out of Oaska, then riding through all the busy towns and cities. It’s really not my forte, especially without the expert map reading skills of Linney being there to guide me. Hence I had picked a relatively easy route out of Oaska; down to the river then follow the river to the outskirts of Otsu and then follow Lake Biwa around to Takashima; nothing could go wrong.

Dale on the shores of Lake Biwa
Dale on the shores of Lake Biwa
On the shores of Lake Biwa
On the shores of Lake Biwa
On the shores of Lake Biwa
On the shores of Lake Biwa

To be perfectly honest I was quite pleased with myself as it all went pretty smoothly to the river bank. Though the cycle track was very good with loads of road bikes on it every few miles they did put in some serious barriers to stop vehicles which were ok for road bikes but a pain with all the panniers on. I soon got the hang of it though. So enjoyed traffic free cycling for the first 25 miles and it was excellent following the river and watching all the sports going on; rugby, football, baseball, tennis, golf, with a bit of rowing and kayaking thrown in, all in all a good mornings ride.

Lake Biwa on the ride out of Osaka
Lake Biwa on the ride out of Osaka

Then I hit a busy road into Otsu had lunch on the very nice promenade of Lake Biwa, and then carried on a minor road hugging the lake. I knew the rugby was on at 16:15 so I really wanted to be done around 15:30. Just as I was coming up to that time I overtook a guy on a shopping bike with a massive backpack on and said the normal “hello” he replied the same with a massive Manc accent. We ended up watching the first game with him and his mate from Guernsey and they sorted a place for me to stay at a friends of theirs place about 8 miles down the road.

Bike at the homestay
Bike at the homestay

I sat watched the rugby with them but went careful on the beers and then moved onto the Japanese style lodge and natural hot spring (Onsen) they had arranged for me. Well the place was superb, but unfortunately no WIFI so I went to the local bar and caught the 2nd half of the game. The hot spring Onsen was really good; where were they when we needed them a couple of months ago? I felt brand new when I came out; a bit pink but nevertheless very relaxed.

Dale Day 2: Monday October 21st:

20191021_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 2 (Dale) – October 21st

My bed in the traditional Japanese Inn was surprising comfortable; just a thin mattress laid out on the wooden floor and a weird pillow. With no breakfast supplied I had a croissant, coffee and bananas bought from the local store the previous night. I said my thanks to the owners and made an early start.

My plan was to head to Fukui through a couple of ski resorts via the Port of Tsurga though nothing was booked; just pedal and see how it goes.

Handy Route map
Handy Route map

The road was not that busy thankfully as it was not that wide. The first part was just a bit bumpy before a steady climb past the ski slopes of Kunizaki snow park. Quite a nice climb just steady nothing too serious, though it did get the legs burning after a couple of weeks out of the saddle.

A view of the sea - Wakasa-wan (which I think is the name of the bay)
A view of the sea – Wakasa-wan (which I think is the name of the bay)
A view of the sea - Wakasa-wan (which I think is the name of the bay)
A view of the sea – Wakasa-wan

Before I knew it I was coming into the Port of Tsuga. It was nice to see the sea but I kept to the outskirts of the town rather than going through the middle. As the road got steeper I hit the first of a series of 7 tunnels all about 1000m long. They were very well lit but not much room and really noisy. I stopped for lunch at a shrine over-looking the bay, really nice spot and a nice bowl of noodle soup; the guy took the meat out of it for me!

Dale and fellow cyclist from China
Dale and fellow cyclist from China

After lunch I stayed on the coast for a while and met a group of Chinese cyclists touring in Japan. We had a nice chat and exchanged our details hopefully they will get in touch again. Then I headed inland where it started to get very built up again through the city of Echizen and stayed like that all the way to Fukui.

Another map. Follow the bear!
Another map. Follow the bear!

I stopped at a 7-11 just before Fukui as they have a good WIFI and sorted out a hotel before I rolled into town, ready for another Onsen, then some food, before sorting out tomorrows ride.

Dale Day 3: Tuesday October 22nd:

20191022_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 3 (Dale) – October 22nd

I’m still getting used to this cycling alone thing. I enjoy the time on the road but it’s a bit weird at meal-times. Nevertheless I had a really good fill this morning; a cheese pasta dish. Strange for breakfast but very nice.

I had a pretty steady day planned for today up to Kanazawa but through the busy industrial area of Komatsu. All being well I should be able to keep to the outside of it.

With my plan in place I set off to get out of Fukui, all pretty straight forward,. Book a place near to your exit point; experience counts, all good. It was quite a pleasant morning sun breaking through the clouds with mist over the mountains I will be climbing tomorrow. I was feeling good so got a good pace on. Stopped for a drink at a little picnic spot and a nice lady gave me a free cup of coffee and a little cake; she used to live in Cambridge and was selling stuff for a local charity. She was very impressed with our charity thing too.

Then before I knew it I was in the outskirts of the industrial area; very stop and start for the last 20 miles just through industrial sprawl. It was a very easy day on the bike but it will all change tomorrow when I start to head for Yokohama across the mountain ranges. Looking forward to the adventure; nothing can go wrong.

[No photos from the 22nd: Ed]

Dale Day 4: Wednesday October 23rd:

20191023_ridewithgpsmap_Dale
Route Japan Day 4 (Dale) – October 23rd

I woke up to a lovely sunny morning which always makes you feel better. As does a massive breakfast. I knew I had a big day of climbing ahead of me. I set off early to get out of the city Kanazawa before the rush hour started in earnest. Actually it was not that bad as once again i had stayed on the right side (the exit side) of the city. I was soon out of the city and hitting a steady climb up to the mountains. It was nothing too serious with the climbing and the road was very quiet. This made for a lovely start to the morning, happy days.

Dale!
Dale!

I was just enjoying the clear roads and the lovely scenery as I meandered up the steady climb through the small villages and towns and had a bite to eat and a nice chat to a lady who ran a small shop in Inotan when she warned me that the road would get a bit steeper very soon.

Jinzu river
Jinzu river
Takahara river (or perhaps the Jinzu again)
Takahara river (or perhaps the Jinzu again)
Hydro plant
Hydro plant

She was correct but it was still ok as I followed the river (not sure of the name [Jinzu and then the Takahara: Ed]), past a series of dams and hydro-electric plants. I reached a peak just before the town of Hida and did my usual thing; stopped in a convenience store for a coffee and more importantly WIFI and booked a place to stay. It all seemed good.

Another tunnel
Another tunnel

So then set off again for the final 12 or so miles on nice traffic free roads. As I got closer to Takayama I had to make a little detour as no cyclists were allowed through the tunnel. It’s a bit weird as I had been through many tunnels earlier in the ride but it’s not a big deal; just a smaller road over the river.

I had made the same mistake as Keith and Linford with the hotel as it was an adults only one booked by the hour! Not for me! So I pressed on until I found another convenience store, re-jigged the booking and ended up with an Onsen again. I think I am getting used to the hot bath after a hard day in the saddle.

Later I had a lovely meal in the restaurant down the road; vegetable raman and rice, accompanied by a couple from Israel and another couple from Norwich, which capped off a fine day on the road.

Dale Day 5: Thursday October 24th:

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Route Japan Day 5 (Dale) – October 24th

I had another good breakfast; left over spaghetti! It’s a  massive treat so I had a few bowls as well as the cornflakes and fruit.

I left Takayama and headed straight for the mountains with a pretty steep climb to start off with. You could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance which always gives me a bit of a buzz. I carried on the small road 381 with very little traffic which was nice and signs saying watch out for the bears and monkeys.

It was the same as yesterday as I was climbing all you could see was hydro-plants and dams through pine forests; but it was really pleasant riding. I had to contend with the occasional tunnel but I’m getting used to them now. I keep my back light on and then just ride like Mr Magoo as I can’t see a thing!

Monkeys on the road
Monkeys on the road

I came out of one tunnel and saw a pack of monkeys sitting in the road; amazing! I tried to get my camera out but just took a picture of the trees! I could hear them all around me and I think they could smell the peanuts that keep me going all the time.

Then I went through the biggest tunnel yet about 3 miles long just as my Garmin gave up the ghost. It just froze so I resorted to my phone with a downloaded ridewithgps map; nothing could go wrong!

I’d had a few little mishaps early on but it seemed to be going good and I could even see the screen better. I also had a few battery back ups as well, so all was good.

Another handy route map
Another handy route map
Autumn in the mountains
Autumn in the mountains
Hydro-electric Dam
Hydro-electric Dam
Autumn in the mountains
Autumn in the mountains

I just kept riding through the amazing scenery with next to no-one on the road but I did meet a load of New Zealand guys out on the road with hired bikes and a guide. I met them just outside a tunnel. Their guide was a bit worried but I just said “follow me I can’t see a thing!” A few of them did but the rest held back.

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-25 at 11.55.53
Steam Locomotive JNR No. C12-199. Is a type of 2-6-2T steam locomotive built by the Japanese Government Railways and the Japanese National Railways from 1932 to 1947. A total of 282 Class C12 locomotives were built, 4 are still operational.

As we came out there was a bit of a rest-area with an old steam engine. I took a few pics with them and exchanged details and then got on my way.

Autumn in the valley
Autumn in the valley
Dale coming down the valley
Dale coming down the valley

It nearly went pear-shaped just after that as I missed a little turn but I managed to go back and find it. Naturally it made me smile that I can still get off-road. It was just a really steep section on an unmade road but pretty good fun and then a really nice downhill to the hotel.

Dale Day 6: Friday October 25th:

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Route Japan Day 6 (Dale) – October 25th

A big day is planned for today; will ride to Sagamihara a town just on the outskirts of Yokohamma and then get the train in tomorrow to watch the rugby.

I had an early breakfast and hit the road just after 7:00 in light drizzle hoping it would dry up later. After less than ½ an hour I had part of the answer as it started to rain pretty heavily. I pulled over and put on the full rain jacket, gloves and hat. It was not that cold but with the damp clothes it felt like it and it was coupled with a heavy mist in air. It was a shame as you could not see the stunning scenery, just a murky silent morning.

Thankfully not too much traffic on the roads for the first 20 odd miles but after that it got quite busy through a lot of small towns. Traffic lights at loads of junctions slowed my progress a little and I got some strange looks. “Why is that mad bloke out on his bike in this weather?”; the rain was coming down like stair-rods now.

I was that wet now it just was not worth stopping for anything to eat. I had nuts a bit of fruit, chocolate and plenty of drinks, so just I rode on through. It was good to get out of the built up area and I enjoyed the climbing rather than the descents, as I got a bit cold coming down.

It was a pity because if the weather was clear, I would have been able to see Mt Fuji, from around the town of Kofu to Otsuki. But nothing doing, I  could only just see my front wheel. It was the same for Lake Sagami but my consolation is that after the rugby I will be coming back out this way. Hopefully the weather will be better.

I stopped just after Lake Sagami and adjusted both brakes as it was getting difficult to stop in the wet weather. I then did the final descent into Sagamihara. At about 8 miles out they had closed the road as there had been a landslide and then as I started the diversion I met a guy from Hastings on a touring bike, (Graham). He had been on the road for over a year and had cycled from the UK taking the southern route. I had a really nice chat with him. He was on his way to Tokyo and then flying back to Europe next week. We said our good-byes and wished each other luck. He was not into his rugby. Then we went our separate ways.

[Filthy weather meant no photos from today: Ed]

Dale Day 7: Saturday October 26th:

[Dale has tickets for the England vs New Zealand World Cup Rugby semi-final, but heard no word or received any photos! He’s probably in a ditch somewhere: Ed]

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At the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7
WhatsApp Image 2019-10-26 at 16.33.26
Dale and friends at the Rugby World Cup semi-final: England 19 New Zealand 7

[Apparently not! these came in late so apologies to the email versions which missed these: Ed]

All the Details of the Japan rides

Spreadsheet of Japan Days details

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

After riding 6000 miles they are now in Almaty, Kazakhstan and will have a two week break here before flying to India.

20191024_JessBen

Into Japan

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Keith, Jonny Wilkinson and Linford at the Oita Stadium for the England Australia match. Rugby Word Cup 1/4 final

Proposed Loop from Osaka to Hiroshima and back

This map shows the proposed route.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191019_CharityDonations

Week 18 Summary: Island Hopping

This map shows this weeks ride.

This week: 355.8 miles, 14210 ft climbing and 30:11 hours riding

Spreadsheet of Japan Days details

Day 1: Saturday October 12th:

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Route Japan Day 1 – October 12th

Fly-through map of Japan Day 1.

We woke up this morning and it was teeming with rain so we decided to have breakfast and discuss our plan for the day.

Rylan delivered the tent pegs and poles just after 10am. So that meant we had everything we needed to ride; apart from the weather.

Linford ready for any Typhoon!
Linford ready for any Typhoon!
All set for another day on the road
All set for another day on the road

We left the hotel at eleven in pouring rain and high winds; it’s Typhoon Hagibis, as you’re probably all aware.

It felt diffent riding on the left hand side of the road and using the cycle paths you share with pedestrians. Off we went, Linney and I happily cycling along in the rain. It wasn’t cold, above 20° but after about an hour the wind seemed to be getting stronger.

We stop and start all the time,; the Japanese are very strict on waiting for the lights to change. Even on pedestrian crossings they were waiting in the pouring rain.

Cycle-path along the coast
Cycle-path along the coast

Debris from the trees, spilt bins and bikes fallen over seemed to be everywhere. Broken umbrellas and potted plants were strewn across the pavements. Linney hit a patch of steel and lost his front wheel. Luckily he managed to step of the bike and he stayed upright. Only his dignity was hurt as he picked up his bike. I was thinking “should we be doing this?”.

After a couple of hours and very little progress due to the stopping and starting we found a fast food joint to eat in. Teriyaki seafood for Linney and burger and 10 chips for me. 😦

We get back on the cycle-path and it’s turned colder, so we decide to ride on the road. Now we can ride faster and warm up. Linney spots a hotel after a while, “what about this place?” he says. “Fine by me” I say; It’s ¥3900 for three hours? Whats that all about?

I found out when we tried to book in. One old man (me) and a young boy (Linney). I  think I went slightly red as it dawned on me what sort of establishment it was. We rode away fast!

Drying out kit in the hotel room
Drying out kit in the hotel room

We found a nice hotel a little later, but they only had smoking rooms. Ours smelt like a 70’s cinema.

In the Irish Bar
In the Irish Bar
Dave's Irish Bar
Dave’s Irish Bar

Later we had a great night in Murphy’s bar with owner Dave Coffey and his locals watching the Ireland v Samoa game. It was the best bar I’ve been in for four months. Cheers Dave!

Not great. Very wet and windy. Didn’t get very far as the cycle paths aren’t great, very stop and start. At least we made a start tho and further away from the storm. Yeah we wanted to get a bit further really but didn’t wanna get in late. Nice early start tomorrow and see where we end up. Linford.

Just when you think you’ve rode through all the worst possible conditions/days, the hot, the cold, the high, the long, the shit roads, the no roads. Just added typhoon to the the list. What’s next? 😅 Linford.

Good day today tho👍 Bit breezy and damp😂🍻 Keith

Day 2: Sunday October 13th:

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Route Japan Day 2 – October 13th

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 2.

It was a late start today; Linney has had to many late nights and we were finally away about 9:00. It was a fine dry day but still a bit blustery at times.

Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine
Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine

We had a nice ride out of town through some rice fields into the next town. Here we stumbled across an Autumn festival. Not a big event just a group of guys carrying a large Mikoshi shrine.

They took great delight in our interest and stopped and banged out a tune. I hade failed to notice that this thing had a 4 boys and a drum inside.

We left them to celibrate and cracked on. Shortly after Linneys back brake was making a funny noise. so we pulled over dismantled it and put it back together; all good.

Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine
Autumn festiva
Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine
Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine
Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine
Autumn festival with Mikoshi Shrine

In the next town we come across another massive Autumn festival. The guys were all in their Sumo outfits and the ladies in traditional dress. TRhey were all doing traditional dances and consuming alcohol. (tomorrow’s a holiday). We spent some time here talking to the locals and taking photos.

Onward we went out into the countryside proper. What a lovely place. Beaches, coves, fishing villages and lovely roads. It had been a pretty slow day in all so we cracked on down the main road. Low and behold after about 15 minutes the Police are onto us.

After the initial, ‘who are you?’ and ‘where are you going?’ they were very nice. They took all our details and asked us to follow them back the way we had come 400 metres.
Then  they ensured we knew where we were going and checked our route, kindly shock our hands and let us go.

Linney says no worries only 6 or 7miles  to go. Off we set still laughing at our experience with the Police.

Then we rounded the corner to see the steepest section of road I had seen in a long time. “No worries” says Linney “you’ll work up an appetite!”.

Coastal views near Setouchi
Coastal views near Setouchi
Coastal views near Setouchi
Coastal views near Setouchi
Coastal views near Setouchi
Coastal views near Setouchi
Linford as the sun goes down
Linford as the sun goes down

We went over the hill and down into the lovely fishing village. A small homestay is our shelter for the night.

We meet our hosts and expain that we want to shower eat and watch the rugby (Japan v Scotland). They were fine with the first three but slightly puzzled with the fourth.

Dinner at a homestay
Dinner at a homestay

After a lovely traditional chicken noodle stir fry I opened the laptop up to watch the rugby. After their innitial apprehension  and with Japan winning and many Sakis
they got right into the spirit of things.

Excellent evening, the nicest saki ever and new followers of Rugby. Can’t be bad.

Day 3: Monday October 14th:

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Route Japan Day 3 – October 14th

Fly-through map of Japan Day 3.

Cornflakes and coffee for breakfast; could be at home! It was a cool overcast morning as our host Yumi waves us off.

It was not great riding this morning as it was very built up and we are not allowed on the major roads (as we found out yesterday!). No traffic to talk of as it’s a bank holiday. The roads are tarmaced but not great. Along with the poor maps we have from various sources everything becomes a little harder. Oh for those long straight roads in Kazakhstan!

We pulled over at a bakery around midday and purchased a few items. Curried doughnuts! These sound horrible but taste great; no sugar in the dough? Also a pork slice sandwich, excellent as expected and a noodle bagette, also very good. All topped off with a chestnut loaf, my new personal favourite.

We found a quiet spot next to a lake and sat down for our picnic. Within minutes we discovered crickets, large ladybirds and turtles. Linney also spotted a Kingfisher but I didn’t see it ?

It was a busy ride today with very little open roads or countryside. Linney saved the best till last again. The map says it’s 5 miles this way but if I go this way it’s only 2? After a mile and a half we spotted the quayside so we popped down to take a look. Nice views and a ferry across to a Island. We could use that tomorrow maybe!

As we were leaving we meet a guy from Ireland in his cycling kit. Turns out their are eight of them and they’re cycling on the days off between games having flown their bikes out and hired a van. Nice idea (Dale).

On the way to Onomichi
On the way to Onomichi
On the way to Onomichi
On the way to Onomichi

He was in a rush to catch up with his mates so we gave him a card and wished them well. Off we go only half a mile to the View Hotel. (Clue in the name I think). We rode up the road crossed the railway then a took a left turn up the hill. Well I managed the first 400 metres up a very steep alleyway and then came to a set of steps. Linford had made a turn and managed another 60 metres. We looked at each other and said ‘we can go back a couple of miles or drag the bikes up the forty or so steps we could see’. No going back. So we dragged the bikes up forty steps, then another forty around the bend, then fifty with a concrete slope to one side to make things easier (not). Then finally around the last bend and 30 metres of hell.

We arrive outside the hotel pouring with sweat to the worried faces of our fellow guests. After 10 minutes and I’m still dripping the receptionist comes out with an iced glass of water and a smile on her face. She explained that whenever they get a booking they email back and advise against this route. I wonder why!

Kick Boxing champion Klahan Prapun at the hotel in Onomichi
Kick Boxing champion Klahan Prapun at the hotel in Onomichi

However it was a lovely hotel owned by a Thai kickboxing champion.

Day 4: Tuesday October 15th:

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Route Japan Day 4 – October 15th

Fly-through map of Japan Day 4.

We started the day with an excellent Thai breakfastat the Sea view Onomichi Hotel Seizan. It’s owned by former kick boxing champion Klahan Prapun. Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, soup and a mixture of cold vegetables. Far better than it sounds.

Departing Onomichi
Departing Onomichi

No rush this morning; we were to go back down the hill (the correct way today) onto the ferry then six islands and six bridges in 50 miles.

As we got off the ferry we studied the map along with a couple of local cyclists. We followed them for the first mile then over-took and made our own way. The route was shown with a thick blue line along the gutter. Easy, what could go wrong? Approaching the first bridge there were many view points and food outlets. We decide to carry on.

Departing Onomichi and the Shin-Onimichi bridge
Departing Onomichi and the Shin- Onimichi bridge
Linford approaching the Innoshima bridge
Linford approaching the Innoshima bridge
Approaching the Ikuchi bridge
Approaching the Ikuchi bridge
On the cycle path beneath the Ikuchi bridge
On the cycle path beneath the Ikuchi bridge
Approaching the Tatara bridge
Approaching the Tatara bridge
Approaching the Tatara bridge
Approaching the Tatara bridge
On the Tatara bridge
On the Tatara bridge
View from a bridge!
View from a bridge
Bridge cycle path

Linney for once letting me lead the way. Not long later I had missed the fact the the blue line had changed colour and I’d missed a turning. That was my day at the front over. No worries we backtracked the 100 metres and carried on.

We had lovely scenery all around us; dark green shrubs and trees inland and lovely blue waters out to sea.

Later we stopped off after the fourth bridge for a spot of lunch at a 7 Eleven. Not the best but cheap and convenient.

Looking back at the Tatara bridge
Looking back at the Tatara bridge
Approaching the Omishima bridge
Approaching the Omishima bridge
On the Omishima bridge
On the Omishima bridge
View from the Omishima bridge
View from the Omishima bridge
On the Omishima bridge
On the Omishima bridge
View from the Oshima bridge
View from the Oshima bridge
View from the Oshima bridge
View from the Oshima bridge
Hey! A bridge
Hey! A bridge
Looking back on the Oshima bridge
Looking back on the Oshima bridge

Approaching the Kurushima bridge

On the Kurushima bridge
On the Kurushima bridge

It didn’t take long before we were climbing up to the last and biggest bridge (Kurushima) at 6Km. As we rounded the final bends to the bridge we heard a friendly hello. It was from a guy called Max from Brighton; he had been chatting to a couple of Dutch lads in their hostel and they had mentioned us. So he’d set off to find us. Nice chap chatted along for the whole 6k of the bridge. Then we made our way into town to find a hotel.

Keith and Linford admiring bridges
Keith and Linford admiring bridges
Keith and Linford admiring bridges
Keith and Linford admiring bridges
Keith - is that 7 bridges we've crossed today?
Keith – is that 7 bridges we’ve crossed today?
Linford and Keith - that's another bridge crossed!
Linford and Keith – that’s another bridge crossed!
Keith and Linford admiring bridges
Keith and Linford admiring bridges

Day 5: Wednesday October 16th:

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Route Japan Day 5 – October 16th

Fly through Map of Japan Day 5.

We had nice simple breakfast of rice, pickles and coffee. It was a bright day with dark clouds over the mountains.

Ready for departure
Ready for departure

It was a nice but hilly ride for the first 20 mile with lots of small orchards and rice fields dotted around the hillsides. Lemons, limes, kiwi fruit and green tangerines abundant in the trees. Some were already bagged?

Turtle or Tortoise?
Turtle or Tortoise?
Strange looking flower. Possibly Camelia
Strange looking flower. Possibly Camelia
Linford on the road
Linford on the road
Hay stooks?
Hay stooks?

On one of the descents Linney’s back brake was play up again so we pulled over and changed his brake pads and adjusted my own. 15 minutes and we were away again.

We saw lots of wildlife about from huge spiders, to birds of prey. Missed this sort of stuff throughout China.

Linford relaxing by the sea
Linford relaxing by the sea
Lighthouse and sea
Lighthouse and sea
Linford relaxing by the sea
Linford relaxing by the sea

At lunchtime we pulled over at a local bakery; the array of cakes and biscuits is quite amazing. We made our choices and set out somewhere to enjoy our lunch. After a short time we settled on the quayside. We unwrapped our precious lunch. Linney with his curried doughnuts and me with butterscotch muffin and to top it all a loaf of chestnut bread. All wonderful sweet stuff.

Only 30 miles to go this afternoon with sun still shining and the wind behind us. As we dawdled along a fellow touring cyclist sped past. I looked up to see Linney drop his gears and set of in pursuit. That’s that then and off I went. Wasn’t long before Linney was reeling him in and I would be there shortly.

Turns out the guy was German, traveling very light, and in a hurry to catch a ferry. We rode as a group for 5 or 6 miles before he went his own way. Turns out he had arrived in Japan to take part in a particular race that was shortened due to the tornado.

Only 10miles to go now and my garmin says 3000ft+ of climbing. That can’t be right? ‘Three tunnels’ Linney says. I say ‘we are not allowed through tunnels son’. ‘I hope we are because the alternative is not very good Dad’. What should we do? Crack on and see what happens we agree. Pleasently surprised to find the cycle paths following the roads although the lighting in them was very poor in places.

Coastal road
Coastal road
Linford at the tunnel
Linford at the tunnel

Soon we were out the last tunnel and following a steep 4 mile descent to the hotel.

Lovely, booked in smoothly and soon in the shower.

Great day all in all.

Day 6: Thursday October 17th:

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Route Japan Day 6 – October 17th

Fly-through Map of Japan Day 6.

We left the hotel heading for Misaki port along the peninsular. It was only 21 miles but bumpy and via the dreaded tunnels; 18 in total and a couple of bridges thrown in. After about 8 miles we came across a roadside cafe with a veiwing tower. It was 8:54 and the place didn’t open till 9 but the lady inside saw me try the door and so came over and let us in. Nice. Once inside we were hit with offers for coffee and local produce – all we wanted was to get to the viewing platform. So disappointed, no great veiws at all. Over looked what seemed to be a nuclear power station [Ikata Nuclear Power Station: Ed].

Back down into the cafe they greet us with the now familiar “Kon’nichiwa” chorus. (Good day). There was a huge aquarium and two kids feeding the fish through a clever contraption on the glass of the tank. Linford and I were looking at the free samples of manderins. I never knew there was so many different types. Over 20 on display and tasters for all of them.

Eastern or Japanese Buzzard (Buteo japonicus)

Linford, paying attention
Linford, paying attention
Linford approaches a tunnel
Linford approaches a tunnel
Seems to be a monorail contraption for delivering mail down to houses in the bay
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Linford and the monorail
PA173578
The monorail track sweeps down the hill

Back on the road it was tunnel after tunnel with the cars sharing the same space. Luckily they are such very polite drivers. Never feel at risk. Down we roll into the port which was heavy commercial place. Not very pleasant. We went straight into the booking hall got our tickets and up the ramp to the ferry. Arrival and departure from Misaki in 15 minutes flat.

On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku  island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku  island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku  island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku island to Oita on Kyushu island
On the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku  island to Oita on Kyushu island
The Oita Stadium from the ferry from Misaki on Shikoku island to Oita on Kyushu island

It was not a very large ferry; maybe thirty cars and a hundred passengers. We sat on the deck planning our route to Oita from the port. We had not much to look at as it was a fairly miserable day now. Overcast and threatening rain.

The hour soon past and we’re on our way; 17 miles to our hotel. As we approached the city Linney suggested lunch before we reach the hotel. So we went into Lawsons (think 7 eleven) picked up some fruit, savoury pastries and coffee. Sat inside as it was raining outside.

Oita is a large industrial city slightly grubby and rundown in places. Not a holiday destination. But a lovely stadium on the outskirts of town. Looks vaguely like a clam, with it’s retractable roof. We soon found our hotel a large rectangular yellow building with uniform square windows. Must have saved a Yen or two on this one.

Day 7: Friday October 18th:

[No cycling today. I believe the plan was to go fishing but the day was overcast so they went to the zoo instead: Ed]

Overcast day for Linford in Oita
Overcast day for Linford in Oita
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
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Linford and monkey
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the snow monkey
Linford and Keith in Oita
Linford and Keith in Oita

Day 8: Saturday October 19th:

[Match Day! Keith and Linford had tickets for the Rugby World Cup 1/4 final match between England and Australia, which England won 40-16: Ed]

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-19 at 06.44.10
Linford at the Oita Stadium
The Oita Stadium for the England Australia match. Rugby Word Cup 1/4 final
The Oita Stadium for the England Australia match. Rugby Word Cup 1/4 final
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Keith at the Oita Stadium for the England Australia match. Rugby Word Cup 1/4 final
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Linford at the Oita Stadium for the England Australia match. Rugby Word Cup 1/4 final

Dale, Sandra and Rylan

[Not a lot of news on this front. Rylan had to fly back home to work and meanwhile Dale & Sandra travelled about Japan seeing the sights: Ed]

Dale and Sandra in Tokyo

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

I’m not exactly sure where they are right now! Perhaps resting in Bishkek or perhaps they have already flown to India.

20191019_JessBen

The Great Wall

At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith and Linford.
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith and Linford.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

20191010_CharityDonations

A big thanks to those donating after the team have finished the ride. It’s much appreciated – including of course all those that have contributed along the way.

Week 17 Summary: A weeks R&R and The Great Wall

This week the team have hung around Shanghai and re-visited the sights that our Grandad saw in 1932 when he was there with the British Army. These are some of the postcards he collected at the time [we think he probably didn’t have a camera: Ed]. Our Grandad (Linford’s Great-Grandad of course) was born in 1910 and ran away to join the army at the age of 15 (he lied about his age!) and was therefore 21 or 22 when he was in Shanghai.

You can find information here about what the British (and Japanese) were doing in China in the early part of the 20th Century and how it all came to an end with the revolution in 1949.

Gash_4_D_0167
The Nanking Road
Gash_4_D_0168
Thibet Road
Gash_4_D_0169
Shanghai Bund
Gash_4_D_0170
Shanghai Garden Bridge
Gash_4_D_0171
Shanghai
Gash_4_D_0172
Shanghai
Gash_4_D_0174
Shanghai
Gash_4_D_0175
Shanghai, Bund
Gash_4_D_0176
Shanghai, Bund
Gash_4_D_0177
Shanghai, racetrack
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Shanghai North Station: this building now houses the Shanghai Railway Museum

So the boys relaxed for a bit …

Shanghai views
Shanghai view
Shanghai view
Shanghai view
Shanghai views
Shanghai view

Naturally they had to visit the zoo to see a panda.

Panda at Shanghai zoo
Panda at Shanghai zoo

They also took the time to visit the Great Wall of China. I think they took a high-speed train to Beijing and then were driven out to hike a section of the wall. They met a photographer along the way – hence the posed photos!

At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith.
At the Great Wall of China. Keith.
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith, Linford and the photographer!
At the Great Wall of China. Dale, Keith, Linford and the photographer!
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Keith, Dale and Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Linford
At the Great Wall of China. Photographer, Dale, Keith and LInford
At the Great Wall of China. Photographer, Dale, Keith and LInford
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Dale and Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Dale and Keith

At the Great Wall of China

At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China. Keith
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Keith and Dale
At the Great Wall of China. Keith and Dale

Rylan had already flown to Japan earlier in the week but the others, Dale, Keith and Linford, took the ferry on Tuesday 8th October from Shanghai to Osaka (Japan). A journey that takes about 48hrs. They arrived on Thursday the 10th to begin the Japan section of the trip.

Leaving Shanghai on the ferry.
Leaving Shanghai on the ferry
Dale and Keith. Farewell to China
Dale and Keith. Farewell to China

These are a couple of shots from when they were crossing the East China Sea.

crossing the East China Sea
Crossing the East China Sea
crossing the East China Sea
Crossing the East China Sea

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

This week they battled through Kazakhstan and then into Kyrgyzstan and the city of Bishkek.

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Shanghai

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Dale, Linford and Keith after completing the Calais to Shanghai ride [Club fine for undone shirts at the finish line: Ed]
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The route of the 8241 miles from Calais to Shanghai (original planned route in pink)

How Far Have They Got? All the way!

Map of first 9 weeks.

Map of last 7 weeks in China.

Charity Update

Many thanks to those that have donated.

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An extra massive thanks to those donating in the last days to bring up our target, but not forgetting all those that have contributed since the beginning. The boys really appreciate it.

Week 16 Summary: Shanghai at last

This map shows the weeks ride.

This week: 327 miles, 4,095ft climbing and 25:38 hours riding

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Accumulated totals: 8241 miles, 174,307ft climbing (that’s 6 times up Everest!) and 644:19 hours riding

Day 108: Sunday September 29th: Endless City

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Route Day 108 – September 29th

Fly-through Map of Day 108.

Time for a shower
Time for a shower

We had a nice breakfast in the hotel with cook your own eggs, cereal and toast; all very wester although all of us still had some noodles and rice. We left the hotel pretty sharply, with a nice ride out of the city across a big lake andthen into the never-ending suburbs.

Finally we hit some open roads after about 15 miles; it’s unbelievable how big these cities are and it was good to hit a few hills early on with rolling roads over small inclines and then down hill again. It really breaks the riding up especially when the country side is so green and lush.

We carried on through these rolling roads and it was so nice we forgot to have our little soft drink halfway through the morning section. We just carried on through the really pretty countryside riding up down the little valleys.

Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance
Linford approaching an arched entrance

Eventually we came to the town of Mingguang and with the young lads starving by this point we pulled over just as we entered the town. Nothing wes doing at the first side street so we rode up and carried on and found a place on the corner. It was a bit like a Chinese fast food place but we went in opened the first fridge and had our drinks but I’m not sure we paid for these!

We’ll probably have a bill when we leave Shanghai. We queued up and ordered our food. Rylan said it must be good because the locals kept pushing in front of him,. To be fair the food was good and we did not get too much like we normally do.

After an early lunch we still had around 40 miles to go so we hit the road again carrying on where we left off,through the rolling countryside. It was very pleasant riding with the temperature just over 30c; really pleasant and we were just enjoying the ambience by waving and smiling to all the people on the way through.

Off-road again
Off-road again

We stopped at a little village about 14 miles from Chuzhou for a drink just before we rolled into the town. All in all it was a pleasant days riding even through the building site about a mile away from the hotel. All of us got caked in mud and sand again.

It was Rylan’s choice for a restaurant to night; not sure if he researched it or just took pot luck but we ended up in a pizza place. I think he just wanted the knife and forks. It was a good meal though with the usual photo shot included.

Day 109: Monday September 30th: Arrests and Falls

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Route Day 109 – September 30th

Fly-through Map of Day 109.

Another Hotel departure
Another Hotel departure

Same hotel different city! All these different hotels in different cities/towns are playing mind-games with us; not sure what floor or room number we are in. They all look the same.

We are getting very close to Shanghai now and it looks like it will be mainly urban sprawl from now on.

Lantern decorations for the 70th anniversary
Lantern decorations for the 70th anniversary

We left Chuzhou around 08:45, with an hours riding in the busy town before we hit any sign of country-side. We went past many small towns and villages and we were all finding it a little bit difficult to get into the swing today. Maybe it’s because we are so close.

Arched gateway
Arched gateway

We were just ambling through the ride with nobody taking the lead. We stopped at a busy little market place called Yongningzhen for some fruit and cold drinks knowing we had the big city of Nanjing ahead of us. Once we hit the city on a busy freeway it was a little chaotic like most bustling cities. With the plan to try and keep to the outskirts of the city going quite well until we came across the tunnel under the Yangtze river. The sign said ‘No Bicycles Allowed’. So we all got in formation again and just went for it.

The tunnel is about 3 miles long and as we hit the entrance I heard the guy shout at us as we pedalled past. Nothing could go wrong! The first mile seemed ok  and the tunnel was well lit and the traffic kept a safe distance from us. Then it all got a bit more congested though we were still keeping a decent line it was just so noisy!

It was the police sirens trying to hunt us down and finally they rounded us up. They were all a bit confused as I don’t think they have had anyone silly enough to cycle through the tunnel before. It was like trying to cycle through the Dartford tunnel. Fair play we caused chaos. First they tried to get us to load the bikes onto a small pick-up then they realised how big and heavy they were so they left the bikes in the tunnel and gave us a lift out of the tunnel and then sent a bigger van in to pick the bikes up.

Police ride through the tunnel
Police ride through the tunnel

We’ve been here before so we sat on the wall laughing and joking once the bikes arrived although they had to go back for Keiths. Then the inspector arrived full of importance and ended up giving us a telling-off and fining us 50 yen each for violation of traffic laws (£6 each). It was all paid on the spot with a receipt. At least that was efficient and then they let us on our way.

First signpost for Shanghai
First signpost for Shanghai

We carried on through the city and came to another tunnel. We all looked at each other and said maybe not this time sp we rerouted and came to a big park. The guards would not let us through the park even if we walked the cycles. One guard started to shout at us louder and louder but we just smiled. Luckily a lady came over and explained to the guard that we could not understand him and she gave us directions around the park; very nice lady.

Linney & Rylan had a little look in the park while Keith and I looked after the bikes but they were only in there for half an hour.

Keith in traffic
Keith in traffic
Linford and the Yangtze river
Linford and the Yangtze river
Rylan and the Yangtze river
Rylan and the Yangtze river

All in all though it put another couple of hours onto the ride until finally we managed to get out of Nanjing and get some sort of rhythm going in the ride as we pushed on through the rolling hills trying to make up some time. The youngsters were fretting because we had not stopped for lunch so we had a bit of a compromise with a soft drink and some chocolate and a promise to eat as soon as we hit Zhenjiang.

Good lads they really hit the pace in the afternoon and dragged us along with them. Keith had probably one of the best falls ever as he got stuck in a rut on the road and achieved a full somersault with a twist, pike and the best landing in living memory. Definitely a front-runner for fall of the tour. Linney made the quip ‘that’s how to fall Dale’.

As we closed in on Zhenjiang we made another change of plan; book a hotel first then eat as it was getting dark. The “young uns” guided us in to the hotel with ease through the dwindling light. We all booked in and got the bikes stowed away then it was a quick shower, catch up on the rugby and eat.

I had a little go at matching Keith’s fall as I slipped in the marble hall. I went flying straight on my back with all the elegance of a sack of potatoes. Artistic impression: Nil points, but screaming like a girl: 10 points. Nothing, but feelings, were hurt though.

Day 110: Tuesday October 1st: The Penultimate Day

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Route Day 110 – October 1st

Fly-through Map of Day 110.

The team on China's 70th Anniversay Day
The team on China’s 70th Anniversay Day
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Linford, Rylan, Dale and Keith and the 70th Anniversary Banner for the People’s Republic of China 1949-2019

Today was a National Holiday in China celebrating the 70 years of the Peoples Republic of China formed in 1949. It was very big news out here and all the towns and cities were decorated with flags and Chinese lanterns. All the staff in the hotel had “We love China “ tee shirts on and were waving flags. Keith and I had a picture taken with them before the young ones left the breakfast table, under the celebration banner, then we had a full team picture just before we left.

The roads where reasonably quite as we left Zhenjiang making the route out of the city very easy though we did not hit any open roads. The towns and villages just merged into one. We made really good time in the morning on the empty roads but may be also because the lads did not want to miss lunch again. Before we knew it we had done over 50 odd miles so the call went out for a lunch stop as we entered Changzhou.

Unluckily at this point Keith had a puncture with the lads in front. I soon caught them up and told then to ease up and when Keith re-joined us we took a little detour into the town and found small café. We had a very nice meal with ice cream after although Keith did have another flat just as we left.

Barge on the Yangtze river
Barge on the Yangtze river

Soon we are on our way again with the rain holding off and with the head-wind not too bad it was just a matter of riding in the last 30 miles. We had a little break about 12 miles out as then some local lads went by on road bikes. It was like red rags to a bull; off the young went chasing them down with Keith & I in tow. We soon caught them and passed them but they did try and stick with us for a while but then tailed off. Then we joined two other local lads who stayed with us all the way into Wuxi. We left them with a wave and smile just as we found our hotel.

Day 111: Wednesday October 2nd: The Final Day

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Route Day 111 – October 2nd

Fly-through Map of Day 111.

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Keith, Rylan, Linford and Dale ready for the last day

Well it’s the last days cycling in China after over 100 days on the road. It seems a bit surreal to be coming to end of this part of the tour, but we have still got loads of cycling in Japan to look forward too.

Went through the normal mornings preparations; breakfast, get the bikes ready, then pedal – all pretty simple stuff. We all had our Bike Rugby Japan cycling tops on, Linney & I also had the shorts but Keith had mislaid his and Rylan never had shorts ordered. We did look smart outside the hotel for a photo shoot and think the lads were pleased I had finally binned my shorts that I have worn for the whole trip. [Club fine for not wearing the fully prescribed kit on a match day: Ed]. A Chinese guy took the picture on Linney’s camera and he kept getting stuck in the automatic doors trying to get the angle right. Linney was not too impressed and thought he was going to drop the camera or run off with it.

The ride on the last day
The ride on the last day
Suited and booted for the last day's ride
Suited and booted for the last day’s ride

We left Wuxi in light drizzle but it was very warm and we were straight out onto the secondary road into Shanghai,. Just over 80 miles planned for toda, all of it in built up industrial or suburban communities with next to no open spaces at all.

None of us were really enthused about the ride into Shanghai. I for one was very apprehensive as I’m not keen on riding in the big cities although the cycle paths in all the Chinese cities have been very good. You just have to be aware of the electric scooters zooming all over the place beeping their horns to pass.

Massive statue in Shanghai
Massive statue in Shanghai

With open fast cycling paths running adjacent to the road we made really good progress skirting around the edge of Suzho City. We saw a massive statue of a Buddha in the distance so we had to have a look. It turned out to be a theme park so nothing to special. We had a drink stop next to a shop selling crabs. The guy invited us in but it wasn’t  for me. Keith had a look at 100s of crabs in tanks waiting to be sold for dinner.

All looking smart for the last day on the road
All looking smart for the last day on the road
Massive underpass
Massive underpass

The road into the city of Shanghai followed the river, for the final 20 miles with the cycle path following up and over all sorts of concrete flyovers. It just seemed madness that we were so close.

Only 8 miles to go - beer stop
Only 8 miles to go – beer stop

After lunch we stopped at a little place for a beer and to take stock of where we were going to stay. With around 7 miles to the centre we picked a hotel close to the train station and set off to find it.

To be honest the ride into the centre of the city was not too bad; great cycle paths, then weaving in and out of the rush hour traffic was all good fun. We found the hotel and booked in with ease.

It did seem strange taking all the panniers off the bikes as we stored them in the hotel’s garage.

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Linford, Rylan and Dale in Shanghai
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Dale, Linford, Keith and Rylan – all done!

Thoughts from Dale

1: Now you’ve completed the ride what are your first thoughts?

We have only gone and done it and then wow Shanghai is massive but has no bars! Dale

2: Of those 100 days, which was the most exhilarating and which the most despairing?

The most exhilarating was seeing the Himalay mountains on the right hand side. The snow covered peaks were breathtaking.

The most despairing was not getting through the Ukraine/Russia border and riding 100 miles in a circle and to cap it off I got a bee sting in the eye. Dale

3: With different cultures and languages their was plenty of scope for embarrassment. Got a funny story?

Very embarrassing and funny for those watching (and it was being filmed) was standing up in front of all the trainee school teachers in a remote place in Kazakhstan and trying to explain where we had been and where we were going. I made a complete mess; getting all the countries mixed up; Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and all the other Stans. Dale.

4: Did you ever think you may not make it? Why or why not?

Not once did I think we would not make it. It was not an option. Sometimes I thought it just may have taken a bit longer than planned. Dale.

5: Before you started you said you’d probably throw your bike in the China Sea if you made it. Had enough of cycling yet?

We are carrying on as we intend to cycle in Japan too. But I’m definitely going to do another trip another time. Dale.

Bonus Question (from Dave)

You’ve surveyed beer from the North Sea to the East China Sea. Most memorable? And the worst?

Definitely the worst is when no beer is available! After that it was the warm beer in West China where they did not seem to have fridges.

The best beer was a freezer full of ice cold beer in a little shack miles away from any town in the Chinese desert. Dale.

Thoughts from Keith

1: First thoughts on finishing the ride

Never crossed my mind we wouldn’t finish. Great to be on time and all good. Keith.

2: Did you ever feel like throwing your bike in a ditch? Why?

Never felt like throwing the bike in a ditch, but Dale, yes! Keith.

Thoughts from Linford

1: First thoughts on finishing the ride?

Relief & excitement for Japan (which will include more riding)! Linford.

2: Funniest thing that happened

The funniest thing has to be Dale’s bee sting and the few days after where he looked like Quasimodo and then dad injecting his arse.  Linford.

3: Best day and worst day

The best day would be the home stay with the family in Kazakhstan. After meeting a drunk down the shop and him taking us back to meet his family who welcomed us, fed us and then let us sleep at their place. Also another highlight would be the last day in Kyrgyzstan after we climbed all day up a load of switch backs and then rode along side the snow capped Himalaya.

The worst day would probably be when we tried to go through the conflict zone in Donetsk but got turned away which meant going back to the same town we started in having done 101 miles. Also knowing that meant we had a massive 700 mile detour. Very disheartening and this was near the beginning so it wasn’t a good start.

Also one of the worst days was riding in the 48°c heat of the Kazakhstan desert against a big head wind. We were struggling to do 8 mph and drinking over 10 litres of water a day without going for a pee. Linford.

4: Weirdest food experience?

We had a lot of mystery meat soups in the Stans but they actually tasted pretty good. So it was probably ordering some random dishes on our first day in China. It turned out to be three huge plates; one intestine type dish, a dish with a load of little boney fish and then a really spicy and boney chicken dish. We all struggled to eat much of any of them which is very rare because I usually eat anything and everything put in front of me! Linford.

5: Were you ever worried about your safety?

I was worried a few times. For example riding through the ghost towns in Ukraine with bullet holes and blown up buildings around after we were told by the UN people not to step off the road as there are a lot of land mines everywhere.

And then our first night in China sleeping rough in a park trying to sleep with one eye open as there was a lot of people walking around and I thought we might get robbed.

Also being woke up by a load of old bill whilst trying to camp behind a petrol station wasn’t nice as we didn’t know who they were and what they wanted. Linford.

Everyday and ALL the Details

Full spreadsheet of everyday’s ride.

Map of Progress Part 1.

Map of Progress Part 2.

Overland To India

See how Ben and Jess are getting on as they take a more southern route across Asia to India. You can catch up with them here. An excerpt is below.

Last week they left Samarkand for Tashkent and finally left Uzbekistan and re-entered Kazakhstan. We’ve had no update since then.

Naturally we wish them luck as they continue. I believe they stay in Almaty for a while before flying to India and continuing there.

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