Monday, 8 December 2014

Laid Back Slideshows: come and see my holiday snaps!

I'm doing a couple of public slideshows in January 2015:

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ride stats & article for UEA

22,777 kms
4 continents
18 countries
1,320 riding hours
4,310 hours including all stops
17.3 km/h average
5.3 km/h including stops
116,269 metres climbing
6,000,000 pedal revolutions (approx)

UEA just published a brief article on their alumni site

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday, 3 October 2014

Glorious Finish

Some photos from the final day of my ride here. Thanks to all family friends and colleagues who turned up at Bikefix to welcome me home, an occasion I will long remember.
Riding over North Downs towards London with Andy Dave and Dominic
Bikefix Wed 1st October 5pm: various family members welcome me home

Delighted to be joined by Amy & Sara from RoadPeace

Foot art courtesy Shimano sandals

Bike so comfy I don't need to get off to enjoy a glass of bubbly

Re-united with long-suffering wife Pascale...

...and Dad Michael
If you were there and have good photos please email them to me, thanks.

Still rattling the tin for RoadPeace

What's the next challenge? If I can get my notes organised...maybe a book. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Return to the Motherland

Latest news, ie tweets and photos, click here

I've just arrived in New York City....which means only 1/2 a continent to go to the end! I've ridden every day since I left Vancouver on 5th August so now taking a week off to visit this place with my wife who joins me today. Then fly to Lisbon and ride home from there.

Quite a number of people following this blog and the tweets have recently been asking when I plan to get back home. Nice to know you are interested! It will be on Wednesday 1st October. Plan is to finish where I started, at Bikefix in Lambs Conduit Street London WC1. It would be nice to see some friendly faces there at 5pm. We'll probably go for a quick beer in The Lamb till around 7pm. Then I'm going off for a quiet dinner to reacquaint myself with my family.

See you soon!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ode to Canada's Highway 3

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Latest news, ie tweets and photos, click here

Canada's Highway number 3
Yes siree it's the 3 for me
Hwy 3's the one I like
Cruisin' along on my bike
From the Pacific to the flat Prairie
Hwy 3's the place to be

At dawn every day, back on the move
Mp3 pumping, I'm back in the groove
At dusk every day it's time to stop riding
Find a safe camp and go into hiding

Vancouver to Hope, rode with Bruce
Wind behind us, fast and loose

Hwy 3, in the breeze
Up the Anarchist Pass it's a puff and a wheeze
Met crazy Paul running down - crazy way into town!

Highway 3 here we go
Up the hills I'm pretty slow
But once I'm on the other side
Hang on tight enjoy the ride

Who'd've known: Canada makes wine
Thousands of acres of grapes on the vine

Riding the Rockies, blimey it's hot!
Cycling these mountains takes all I've got

On the Paulson Pass met Chris n Andy
Missing his wife, getting quite...hungry

At 20k an hour I see a lot more
Breath-taking scenery; wide-open jaw
Summits & lakes, torrents & streams
Roadside vendors selling fruit & ice creams

Hundred miles a day it's an 8-day ride
Over high passes and down other side
20k an hour, enjoying the views
Detached from reality, missing the news

At noon if I can I jump in a stream
Rinse out my kit, get myself clean
At the end of the week I'll find a motel
Jump in the bathtub to soak out the smell

Maple syrup on my pancakes
Eggs & bacon, hashbrowns too
Sausage ham & tomato
Coffee please - and where's the loo?

Hwy 3 for he who dares
Watch out for grizzly, black & brown bears
Hwy 3, who dares wins
$2,000 for littering - use the bear-proof bins!

Half way up the mountain is the place that I stop, it's neither at the bottom nor at the top
Half way up the mountain is the place that I sit - there's no other place quite like it
[apols to AA Milne]

Hwy 3 feel the heat
Crazy suntan on my feet
Wind's been kind I'm glad to say
When it blows it goes my way

Chevys & Harleys, RVs, the odd truck
Watch out for cyclists, please give a...fig

One-armed Neil, still awheel
Cracking jokes every line
Lives in Creston, hi-vis vest on
Even in the bright sunshine

For the eyes it's a feast
Going west or going east
For the cyclist it's a test
Going east or going west

Hope to Princeton and beyond
Of hwy 3 we're getting fond
Rock Creek, Greenwood, Castlegar
Hwy 3's the best by far
Glad I'm not stuck in a car

Continental divide at the Crowsnest Pass
Downhill to New York from here?
You betcha sweet ass!
Out of the Rockies
Onto the plains
Down on the Prairie
Where it seldom rains

Gettin' my kicks
Climbs not too steep
Route 66: watch and weep!
Also known as the Crowsnest
Highway 3. It's the best!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Blog update from perth

G'day from Perth WA! I've been a bit rubbish at updating this blog. Last update was from London on the day before I left. Now, two months and five days later, and 8,644km on the odometer, I have arrived in Australia. I'm better at tweeting so look there for latest news. I'm not sure if I can update this blog from the mobile and have had very limited access to computers which frankly has been a great delight. And at the rare opportunities I did get offered use of a PC I always seemed to have something better to ride my bike, or wash my hair.

I'm staying a few days here with my brother Prof. Jonathan Evans and family for some quality time! Also time to rebuild and service the bike: new tyres chain sprocket brake pads. This bike has performed faultlessly since the back wheel rebuild in Berlin following two broken spokes in 4 days. It's a heavy brute to haul around at 15kg + same again with bags + 6kg of water so uphill and acceleration are accomplished at a rather stately pace. Average cruising speeds in zero/light winds are around 20kmh.

I've developed a 10/5/9 target for doing 200km/day: 10 hours riding; 5 hours eating and other brief stops; 9 hours in the sack and everything else. However it's a target that's gradually slipped since I crossed the river into Asia at Uralsk. I'd done 4,000km in 3 weeks so just short of the 200 daily plan. I could even account for that day: the wonderful pause in proceedings in Brest, Belarus, where I was met by a gaggle of local cyclists and press includingTV crew and taken on a city tour then lunch and a sauna. Thanks to Michael K who chairs the local cycling group Rucheek for organising all that, for being my host and indeed for his crucial call to the Embassy of Belarus in London to smooth the passage of my visa application. Photos here

It took five weeks to do the next 4,000km so the daily average plummeted to around 115km/day. In Kazakhstan this was due to fierce headwinds and some appalling road surfaces.  2,500km to Almaty took three weeks @120km/day average and they were hard days: headwinds every day sometimes so strong I was blown off the road; and road surfaces that varied erratically from brand new international class highways to rutted stony/dusty tracks where all evidence of any previous surface had long disappeared.

Riding those 120k/day, including stops at cafes/shops and an essential break of at least two hours at noon from the fierce dry desert heat in whatever shade available took from dawn at 0600 to well after sunset, usually stopping around 2230, utterly exhausted.  Average speeds were in the range 12-15kmh and often below 10kmh when the road or wind got really bad.

So as I crawled closer to the end of the road in Kazakhstan I began to wishfully think that things might get easier in SE Asia where the plan was to ride 4,000km Hanoi to Singapore in 4 weeks. So around 150k/day. It would be hot humid tropical monsoon. Hey that could be hard work too and I need a break! Furthermore the flight from Almaty to Hanoi involves one Bangkok which is half way down my route to Singapore. It was an agonising decision. I'd spent good time and money on the Vietnam visas (twice due to date change) and also on the malaria tabs which I won't need riding south from Bangkok. In the end those considerations were outweighed by the overwhelming attraction of an easy ride. Just 2,000km in 4 weeks! That sounded almost too easy so let's go for 3 weeks @100k/day and get to Singapore then onto Perth in time for Jonathan's birthday on June 13th. Yes!!

As soon as I hit on that idea the decision was made with no further dithering. I had till 20th May on my Kazakh visa and some days when I made almost no progress at all meeting that target looked like aiming for the moon. Eventually, with 300km of lorry and train assistance to escape the direst roads and winds, I got into Almaty on 15th May where the bike shop by prior arrangement had a box ready for me and there were seats available that night on the single daily direct flight to Bangkok.

The ride down from Bangkok to Singapore was an utterly different affair. I finally got the easier days that I had craved. Road surfaces were excellent throughout Thailand and Malaysia. Winds light to moderate, sometimes even going my way! It's hot and humid of course but easy to find shelter and rest for a few hours at noon. Daily monsoonal downpours are brief, warm and refreshing.  Best to get going at first light, ride about 70k by noon, eat and rest then another 30k by around 1600 or so. Easy life!

The vast majority of people I've met in all countries so far have been kind polite and helpful.  There have been numerous acts of extreme generosity, eg in Kazakhstan where complete strangers paid my hotel and restaurant bills, gave cash, shared meals, provided accommodation… Several times I was warned to be wary of the people in the next town/province/country where people are savages...but when I get there I meet more people of a benevolent disposition interested in where I'm from and going and usually how old I am (52).

The bike of course attracts a lot of attention which can get tedious: sometimes every other car hoots and stops to take photos and videos. I try to tolerate and remind myself that if they were coming down the Broadway in Wimbledon on a round the world ride by camel we'd probably hoot and shout and point our cameras at them.

The warmshowers network – couch-surfing for cycle tourists – has been brilliant. Great people offering free accommodation to weary touring cyclists. We have much to talk about as we share a passion. Many hosts offer far more than the bed and a warm shower, eg dinner and a family welcome which makes such a lovely change from the lonely norms that are wild solo camping and commercial budget hotels/hostels/guest houses.

The chief problem with people in every country so far, perhaps with the exception on NL, is that a sizeable minority of them turn into complete morons as soon as they get behind the wheel or onto a motorbike. Road danger is by far the greatest threat to my safety and I'm pleased to have made it this far without incident.

My body has been as reliable as the bike.  I’ve not been ill at all. Not even a headache or a dodgy tummy. Some rather tender achilles tendons in the early days were put to rest by heeding the doc's advice, thanks Helen!

Well that’s enough ramblings for now.  Next update – possibly – from NZ. That’s quit a long ride away from here. Watch the twitter in the meantime.