Where did we go?

Below is our cycling route.  It’s not the exact roads we took, but the general idea.  Labeled towns are ones we slept in, although the list is not exhaustive.   Also, we went some other places, without our bike.

The party started in Heathrow.  Le Tour de France in Yorkshire.

England, Scotland
England, Scotland

Then we got in a car and drove south to Bath to get back on “our schedule.”

England
England

Then a ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff.

France
France
France, Switzerland
France, Switzerland
France, Switzerland, Italy
France, Switzerland, Italy

In Sondrio we ran into a ten day rain forecast.  So we jumped on a train and went to Bologna.

Italy, Slovenia, Austria
Italy, Slovenia, Austria

From Vienna we took a weekend getaway to Prague.

Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia
Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia

We were in Dubrovnik and Kotor for a week.

Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania
Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania
Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey
Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey

From Bandirma we took the ferry into Istanbul.

Continental Europe in Summary:

Europe
Europe

Then we trained/bused to Cappadocia and Ephesus and then flew to Trabzon, Turkey for a weekend of hiking in the Kackar Mountains.  Then a week in Israel/Jordan.  Then 36 hours in Dubai before finally landing in Kathmandu.  A week of trekking with Elizabeth and my mother Charlotte in the Himalayas before getting back on the bike.  (Delays because of a rear wheel that needed to be rebuilt.)

Nepal and Uttar Pradesh, India
Nepal and Uttar Pradesh, India

Then we got on a 36 hour train to Jaisalmer, in the far west of India.

Rajasthan, India
Rajasthan, India

After Delhi we went to RIshikesh for a week to do some yoga and “find ourselves.”  Then a plane to Vientiane.  (too many planes).  Before all of the below happened my parents came out and we saw Luang Prabang and Siem Reap.

Laos
Laos

We were in Chiang Mai for a while, interspersed with a trip from Katy’s family and a couple of days at the beach in Phuket.

Thailand
Thailand

In Phitsanulok we got on a train to Bangkok, and then went to the beach in Krabi to cool off in the Andaman Sea before flying back to the States.

Right now we are in Los Angeles, doing this:

El Porto, Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles
El Porto, Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles

The next three  weeks we will be in Southern Utah.  Any suggestions on day hikes, overnight hikes, scenic roads, dirt roads, favorite hamburger shops, favorite campsites, or other must-do suggestions?

Zionbound. 182km

It’s with mixed emotions – and very sore quads – that I write this blog post.

TheTouringTandem is winding down.  We’re getting old.  Our days of international bike touring are over.  (At least until we gather up a couple of children and come back out in ten years or so.)  It’s sad, and it happened unexpectedly.

The other day we checked into our hotel room at 8:15am.  After my cold shower, I got in my two hour nap.  Katy fuddled around on her Kindle.  Then we got to thinking.  What are we doing?  It’s too hot out there.  I’m sweating out of my shins.  (The other day I took off my spandex with a spatula.)

In the words of Hamilton – the Ham – Porter:  This pop isn’t workin’, Benny! I’m bakin’ like a toasted cheese-it! It’s so hot here!

Or if you prefer Dr. Evil:  It’s like sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads.

So we decided to change things up.  After a scurry of online planning, we got in bed at 7:50pm.  But as is never the case, neither of us could sleep.  I laid in bed and lived through the memories of the road.  They are good memories.  Ones we will relive again and again.  Often we will turn to each other and say, “Remember that ice cream shop in Ljulbljana?  Remember the tea in Ayder?  Remember Dartmoor?  Or the Po?   Wadi Rum?  The sunset in the Kackars?  Swimming north of Vang Vieng?  The balkava?  The prune crumble?  Remember the guy with his sheep in the hills above Srebrenica?  The furniture stores in Tirana?  Remember that slice of pepperoni on our way out of Udine?  The Indians who bought our dinner on Thanksgiving?  My barber?  Rebuilding our wheel in Kathmandu?

I tried to sleep, but my mind raced.

At 1am my alarm went off.  I shot out of bed.  The sun would be up in five and a half hours, and that meant heat.  Lots of it.  Gotta get a head start.  We raced off to the twenty four hour 7-11 to stock up on water and sugar, but found the morning market just starting to set up.  Who sets up a market at 2am?  We found our favorite, khao lam, and grabbed four, jammed then in our panniers (panniers I will miss packing each day) and got on the road.

As we rolled out of the parking lot a lady waved and said, “Goodbye.”  How did she know?  How does she know we are leaving?

At the first intersection, three minutes down the road, we had to choose.  Stick to our new plan or continue with the original plan.  I wanted to stay on our bike and enjoy three more weeks cycling through Thailand and Myanmar.  But, more than I wanted to stay, I wanted to leave.  The heat is dreadful. No point finishing a great trip hiding inside under the air-con.  We decided against enduring three weeks of stifling heat.  I turned left.

We rode from 2:30am until 11:30am.  It was a solid 9 hours in the saddle, 182km.  Our longest day of the trip.  Katy is tough.  When I wanted to quit, I just thought to myself, if she is still out here, surely I can toughen up.

We hit a steep climb early, and my quads ached.  Very, very sore quads.  Then it was a gradual roll until 8am when the headwind picked up.  It was a hot, muggy, hazy, ride-through-campfire-smoke, munch on Khao Lam kind of day.  At 9am, when the sun was raging and our butts were sore, we turned to each, smiled, and said “Enjoy it, it’s our final kilometers in Asia.”  We rode the last 20km slow.  The heat felt great.

Katy is – as you might already know – tough.  She’s strong – I don’t know many others who can jump on a bike at 2am and ride hard for 9 hours.  She’s optimistic – when the sweat was flowing off of us, and I pulled off the road into the shade cause I wanted to die, I would turn around and it looked like Katy and got just got of a swimming pool, but she had a big smile on her face.  When I came close to just hailing down a truck and hitching into town I thought, if my wife can do this, surely I can as well.   Katy is tougher than nails.  How she’s endured nine months on the back of a tandem, without any say in direction, speed, shifting, gears or brakes, I am speechless.  I don’t know anyone else who’s done what she has done.

**

But this trip isn’t over, yet.

Our new plan: go to the beach.  This morning we sat through an eight hour train ride (but only cost $2.25 each so it was worth it. Great discomfort to dollar ratio) to get back to Bangkok and in two hours we fly to Krabi.  Beach time.  Run around on some scooters.  Eat, eat, and eat.  Swim, swim, swim.

Then, after we’ve cooled off, we will reach our 10,000km goal.  We have 587km (365 miles) left.  On March 16th we will get to St. George, Utah and spend three or four weeks cycling through Zions, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches.  If anyone wants to come down for some hiking, biking, eating, or campfire-lighting mallow-roasting let us know. We would love to have you.

 

Chiang Mai > Hot > Li > Thoen

It’s 11:04am and I’ve just woken up from my two hour nap. It seems that two hours is always the appropriate length for a nap, regardless of what time that nap starts. Today that nap started at 9am. Yes, that’s a bit early, but we’re on a different “schedule” as of late.

I blame the heat. Which is fair. The weather forecast for the next week is highs of 100, 100, 100, 101, 101, 102, 102.  Around 10am it’s usually 90 degrees and by 11am I want to keel over and die. So we changed our schedule. Gone are the days of staying up past midnight watching Tour de France reruns on youtube, sleeping till 9am and getting on the road at 10am. Now it’s lights off at 9pm, wake up at 5 and then move in a frantic pace until the heat beats you into submission. I give, I give. (I then wake up from my nap around 2 and watch Tour de France reruns.) Today we didn’t have long to ride (my legs also felt pretty good from yesterday’s feast) and so when we arrived at our hotel at 8:15am we thought maybe we should get in another hour of cycling, but according to the map that would leave us in no-mans-land when the sun starts blazing. So we asked for an “early check-in” and I got started on my “afternoon” nap.

Questions you might be having:

Why don’t you just fly somewhere cooler?

We were “this close” to flying to Australia three days ago, but decided it was going to be too expensive. Also, we have a Myanmar Visa that we need to use. We wouldn’t feel so strong about going to Myanmar except this is our second Myanmar Visa. Our first one unfortunately expired before we were able to use it.

After Myanmar, where are you going?

We’re currently operating on two main agenda items: Clayton would like to reach 10,000 kilometers and Katy would like to spend a couple of weeks on the beach before flying home. (We are also interested in each other’s goals.) So that’s the current plan. Apparently the town of Dawei in Myanmar is supposed to have a truckload of beaches, and then we’ll make it to Krabi, Thailand and splash in the ocean – for a while.

What did we do yesterday?

At 11:30 we rolled into Li, a small town with two 7-11s. There are, in my opinion, only two redeeming features of 7-11 in Thailand. (FYI, 7-11 was introduced to Thailand in 1989, and currently has around 8,000 stores – just a bit fewer than the US.) Redeeming feature #1 – air-conditioning. Redeeming feature #2 – scales at most stores that operate for only 1 baht, and if you input your height it will also tell you your BMI (cause all cyclists are weight freaks.) At 11:30 we crashed into the 7-11. The A/C was leaking out of the motion-detected sliding door and I knew we were saved. Aahh. We ran inside and the four women at the counter (why it takes so many Thai people to work at Sev, I’m not sure – on 45th South it only requires a moderately overweight, unshaven, angry looking fella who would rather be outside having a smoke) started laughing at us. I laughed right back.

First up was chocolate milk: the refueling powerhouse of endurance athletes. I drank it as fast as I unscrewed the lid. Next was a Coke, because sugar and exercise are friends. Then I had a slurpee. Sitting on the floor in the back of the Sev, A/C blowing in my face, a nice cold slurpee. Things sure have changed.

Across the street Katy insisted on real lunch so we had pad thai and fried rice with chicken. We prefer to have khao soi for lunch but this Thai lady was not understanding our Thai pronunciation (which by the way, we’ve mastered – all five tones). We took our nap to the blissful A/C (well I napped, Katy would prefer to “read” instead of sleep) and then went out for dinner. For $6 we had some fried delicious things, stir fry pork with basil, fresh green mango salad, banana chips, an entire grilled fish, some greens, two bottles of water, a yogurt and a dozen bananas. Someone better tell the US of A about the prices we’ve been getting used to cause next month I think we’re going to run into an appetite-finance problem.

Current Odometer: 9,231 kilometers. Just a bit further to go. Then in a minute I’ll be free, and you’ll be splashing in the sea. Free.

First some photos from Phuket.

Katy's parents, Dave and Jeanette
Kayak
Phuket Sunset
Sunset
Phuket
Island
Islands
Cave
Peace
Peace
SUP
SUP
Sunset
Sunset
Phuket
Islands
We like sailing.
We like sailing.
photo 4
Cave Dingleberries.

IMG_0848 IMG_0965 photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Goodbye.
Goodbye.

And back to real life.

I'll have one.
Make mine a double.
Ganesha, the newest member of our family.
Ganesha, the newest member of our family.
Grub.
Grub.
The town is also called Hot.
The town is also called Hot.