Grant, Sheila, Picky, Nelsie and I visited Glenn and Dee in Edinburgh for Hogmanay (NYE 2005) and other drinking games. Lucky for you lot I took very “phew!” photos. Click here for the gallery or any photo below for a bigger version.
Back from Prague now.. It snowed, it snowed, it SNOWED!!!!!
It was even snowing at Stansted Airport when we arrived back in England! (It’s -2degC in London now).
Briefly: Drank loads of Czech beer, ate loads of traditional food (mmm dumplings and goulash..), explored a bunch of beautiful buildings and generally wandered around the lovely city, bought my first scarf, played in the snow (I like snow!), drank loads of Czech beer, bought some souvenirs (something I didn’t do during my bike tour), played with the others (Grant & Sheila, Steve & Nelsie) in our toasty apartment (hehe.. Fur TV!), added two beanies to my growing beanie collection, drank hot mead (18% not 80%), ate sweet twirled thingies, scoured Christmas markets (blue, neon xmas trees?!), took a few photos, watched the Astronomical Clock on the Town Hall do its skeleton dance, collected beer paraphernalia, lost my voice, lost at poker, crossed Charles Bridge and climbed towers, explored Prague Castle, struggled to come up with a background to this, wondered aloud about the clothes worn by the “women of the night” in sub-zero Prague temps (didn’t manage to get a quote after all ;)), tasted carp (much-hated fish in Australia and has nothing to do with the hookers! ;)), drank hot chocolate with rum and whipped cream, bought enamel cat trinkets, lost sleep chewing Sheila’s ear off and again with the Czech beer and running around like a stoopidhead (scored 5quid for walking down the street to buy a Rizek in my yellow smiley-face boxer shorts and a t-shirt – any wonder I have a cold now), stood on the river bank at night after the snowfall and sighed at the beauty of it all, won and lost random games of Rock-Paper-Scissors and Thumb Wars, snatched coasters from many hospoda (pubs), pondered the meaning of life, cured cancer, blah, blah, the usual tourist stuff! 🙂
As always, full report will probably not follow because I’ll be too lazy and/or doing something else, like: Hogmanay. 🙂
2005-08-15 Berlin, 2005-08-15 Potsdam, 2005-08-17 Dresden, 2005-08-20 Leipzig, 2005-08-24 Nuremberg, 2005-08-26 Heidelberg, 2005-08-27 Switzerland, 2005-08-29 Freiberg, 2005-08-30 Waldgeist (Killer Schnitzels!), 2005-09-02 Heidelberg, 2005-09-04 Heidelberg (Fireworks), 2005-08-14 Berlin, 2005-08-14 ‘Up to Hamburg’, 2005-08-14 ‘Up to Bremen’, 2005-07-26 Groningen, 2005-07-14 Apeldoorn, 2005-07-03 Haarlem, 2005-06-21 Brugge, 2005-06-09 Tournai, 2005-05-29 London, 2005-05-28 London, 2005-05-13 London
Trummelbache Falls, Hamburg ITU Triathlon World Cup, Drumming in Hamburg, Haarlem Tent Storm 1, Haarlem Tent Storm 2, Haarlem Tent Whinge 1, Apeldoorn Ride 1, Apeldoorn Ride 2, Den Haag Marching Band 1, Den Haag Marching Band 2, Den Haag Marching Band 3, Den Haag Cheerleaders 1, Den Haag Marching Band 5, Riding along on my pushbike honey.., Gent canal cruise, Tunnel bike path, Belgium somewhere
El Seano modelling The Short History of Nearly Everything:
I found this image funny because we both bought Bill Bryson’s book during our separate European travels. We both cycled. We both worked for the same company. God damn copycat! 😛
Unfortunately, due to the laws of astrophysics, the original image cannot be altered. I instead offer this modified image as an alternative for the United Christian Hands Across Gods America members. Cast not your eyes upon the foulness above! Bathe in the gloriousness of his holiness.. (hippy agrees, the knee WAS a bit too much!)
Yes folks, over four months and I have returnethedededed.. Behold!
I’d love to fill you in on all the details but I have a hangover to nurse (happy birthday, whatever your name was!) and I have a package to unwrap and a WHOLE SUITCASE of CLEAN CLOTHES to try on!!!!!
I also have a real towel and VEGEMITE!!!!
There will probably be many summary posts from now until I find a job (Captain Time Waster, at your service).
I want to note everything I unpack from the bike so I know what to take next time..
UK SIM is back in, but my phone screen is still dead.
Looking forward to unpacking and throwing my bike in the river hehe
I am sitting here, probably for the REST of the day, replying to emails, blogging (in a very half-ar$ed way) and maybe I’ll even get started on unpacking (yeah right!).
As for cycling, well, temporarily, it can get fscked!
I need to replace my seat (bent in 2003!) and probably the cheap SPD pedals which I seem to have bent (too powerful for my own good).
Broke a spoke on the rear wheel too (could have been when someone else moved the bike while it was locked) and I want to murder the fscked up rear mudguard which required adjustment every 10mins on the last two days riding.
The handlebar bag is holding on but I might try and find a replacement bracket for it before it snaps totally (Deuter brand, perhaps they have spares?).
I totally can’t wait to ride the bike once it’s unloaded!! You have no idea how much I hate panniers. What is worse is that they are so damn useful for cycle touring! :S
Mudguards, however, are my sworn enemy and I will take great pleasure in dousing them with petrol and watching them burn..
For the curious, I weighed myself and I’m about 4-5kg heavier than when I left (100kg). So, with all that riding.. I managed to do a lot of eating too haha 😛
Mum is helping me lose weight by airfreighting me packets of Tim Tams! hehe Mum, you rock!
Okay, not really, but I am less than 100k from London now! Busted out a couple of big days to get here. Currently in Kemsing, tiny little village south east of London. The hostel is kinda quiet and the dude here let me into reception to use the pc..
I’m done talking now. Buy me beer.
After my little gloat, the wheels fell off the hippy train..
I really did feel ill after that beer and it carried on through the night and the next day. I think I just pushed my poor(ly maintained, poorly treated) body too far..
Unfortunately, being an old-school hostel, they lockup during the day, so I had to vacate. This basically forced me ride to Ypres instead of lie in bed all day recovering. My physical collapse was well-timed – it was one of the coldest days I’ve had (10degC) and it pissed down all day!!
To give you an idea of how woeful I was feeling, my speed through the mountains (the natural enemy of a fat crunt) was just under 20kph at the end of a full day.. my speed from Kortrijk to Ieper, a 30k, relatively flat ride, was 14kph!!!! Two hours to ride 30k!!
It felt like I’d been hung from my wrists and repeatedly punched around my torso. Every bump rattled my insides, I cursed every freezing gust of wind and the chilling rain. I wanted to roll up into a ball in front of a heater and sleep.
I already knew the Ypres/Ieper hostel was booked out so, using the Kortrijk hostel guy’s advice, I went to the Museum in the Market Square where a nice lass helped me find a BnB. The singles were taken but a double was free for 45euro. I shook my head. There was some discussion in Flemish and the price became 30euro.
“Can I check in now?”
“I’ll take it.”
I booked a spot on a Flanders Fields tour for Monday, bought some Frites and Belgian chocolates and laid in bed all day watching TV – with the heater on! 😀
Points to note: I saw a ProTour race in Dutch (Bettini won), a pro race of some sort in French, a cyclocross race, Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, an episode of Flying Doctors – with Bud Tingwell as a patient, no less!
The doco on London sewers was quite interesting – half in Dutch and half in English and it even had Holly (Norman Lovett) from Red Dwarf playing one of the ye olde characters!
Bike Content: Have you seen VELO-CAM? I’ve never seen it before, but in the ProTour race, one or more of the riders had a camera mounted on their bike! It must’ve been on the fork or down tube as it showed the front wheel and rider’s hands on the bars – awesome!
Did the Flanders Field tour this morning which was very interesting. The number of soldiers who’s bodies were never recovered is astounding! I think more than 50,000 on the Menin Gate and another 20,000 on the wall at Tyne Cot cemetary. That’s just Aussies. War is fscked!
Oh, met an Aussie staying here this morning and he told me some crunts bombed Bali again.. fark. Be great if all the bombers put their hands up and we could just find a nice corner of the planet for them to detonate themselves in. Arzeholes!
To end on a lighter note.. this BnB has free ‘net, I’m in Belgium surrounded by beers and in a drinking mood again, I should make Calais or Dover by tomorrow night, the weather is good today, did someone say Belgian beers? WTF am I sitting here for?!?! *runs*
Actually, I’ll wait for the other Aussie to get back – he was talking beers this morning.. 😉
Maybe a warmup brew? Or two.. or..
I’ve made the decision to head back to London and I’m not fscking around.. over 300 kays in 3 days!
This includes crossing the Ardennes!! and I’m still the same fat crunt you all know and hat.. love! 🙂
Actually, I’m still achy from the stack, but it’s okay, I think it’s just bone fragments severing some nerves or something..
Don’t _I_ just rock?!
“What a wanker!”
“Hey! Who said that?! This is MY blog and I’ll spin whatever crapola I want!” 😛
Notice all the bold? Who’s a little bit proud of himself then? 😛
Right now I am wrecked.. I’ve pretty much crossed Belgium in the last four daze. My arse is begging for a rest.. everything hurts.. I had one beer tonight and I feel like I’m gonna spew.. but you know what?
It’s still mad fun!
Mum reckons she’s following my progress on a map or something so..
– The crash had me riding trains all over Luxembourg to find a frickin’ bike shop that was open! Ended day in Wiltz (pron. “Viltz”).
– From Wiltz I rode along bike path to Bastogne in Belgium, where I spent half a day in the tourist office while the nice staffer called people and photocopied three maps, just so I could make it to the hostel in Champlon via the “as yet unmarked” bike path (actually just small roads). I did. It was full! I couldn’t believe it! Champlon is tiny! Friggin’ school groups! Anyway the situation quickly turned better when they said I could camp on the grounds, with full use of facilities, for nothing! One of the dudes even shouted me some Rochefort Trappist beers, brewed in the nearby town of.. guess? 😛
– From Champlon, I removed all trace the locals’ doubts (and mine actually!) by making it to Namur. To enhance the challenge (“Fat bastard versus the Ardennes”, that is) I also took a few hours out of the day to visit the Han cave system in Han-sur-Lesse. The caves rock!
But the train rides, walking and boat trips must come to an end and then it was back onto the bike and into the rain, climbing some sickening, windy, evil bastard hills to get to Dinant.
Note to Self: Even if you are in full cycling kit, holding a helmet, dripping sweat onto their desk.. Never assume the tourist info person knows you are riding!
I’m sure there was an easier way along a river but I rode along the N90 or something.. 7% up for 2k, 7% down for 2k, 7% up, 7% down… I flipped out and started swearing loudly at the world (okay, so I do that normally, but this was crazed “can’t even get the words out” insane ranting-type swearing.. )
Dinant was a lovely riverside town and I thought I was going to have to stay here, which wouldn’t have been too bad, except the options were 80euro per night or camping. I’m over camping. It’s cold here damnit! But, this lovely TIC chick says “it’s 30 kilometres to Namur, all along the river”. I do a double take and test my theory with “so it’s flat, all the way to Namur?”. “Yes”, she replies. Holding back a jump for joy I get her to book me a place there and haul backside to Namur. Mmm hostel goodness..
Spent the evening with a crazy, openly gay, American jazz singer.. and if I ever say “I was too fscked to walk” it DOES NOT mean what you foul-minded miscreants are thinking. My arse is and will always remain a virgin, thank you very much!
– The next day I ripped out another 100+ kays riding from Namur to Mons. The distance should have been closer to 80k but YOU see if you can find a French speaking Belgian (Wallonian) that actually knows how to get anywhere without using the motorways! I just love riding around in circles… *takes random circle and cuts it into little bits, stomping the pathetic remains into the ground*. Um.. I’m not crazy, really..
Ended up in a pharmacy looking for drugs.. I mean directions.. and wound up speaking to the husband of one of the workers there because he could speak English. This helped a lot and I did the old TT effort along the river.. until the next hiccup where some old dude ends up (after getting frustrated at my directional stupidity, no doubt!) wheeling out a pristine, black, latest model, all the bells and whistles, Eddy Merckx flat-bar roadie!! Saved again!
– Mons was actually quite nice too and I was going to stay another day there.. until I woke up and, almost out of habit, put on my soggy gear (the heaters weren’t on) and rode off! There were a few hostels in the NW direction – I’d already stayed at Tournai and it was too early when I hit Renaix (“Ronse” in Wallonian?), so I kept going to Kortrijk (Courtrai) where I found one of those older style hostels. Nice and has ‘net and beer, so I’m doing this..
Plan is to do one of the Ypres tours (infamous WWI battle ground) and then hit England again. This time I WILL take more than one day from Canterbury to London! Probably even take a train the last bit because this time I don’t have a “London A-Z” with me.. we’ll see..
Oh, the aim is to make it to the party on the 8th at Grant and Sheila’s.. I hope they want me back! 😀
Four months gone by.. guess I was due. Head-on with a motorbike is a new one for me!
It was totally my fault. I was in the Luxembourg Ardennes on the way to Clervaux in the north, from Echternach. Going too fast down a nice long hill and lost it around a tightening corner (told you this “habit” would get me sooner or later!). There was a motorbike coming the other way and as I turned to avoid him I clipped his bars and stacked it. Got up real quick, limped over and dragged my bike off the road. The other guy stopped and checked if I was okay. He just had to adjust his indicator and was totally fine with the whole thing – “shit happens” were his exact words.
I smacked my left knee and calf and I must’ve tweaked my left wrist, because it’s tender this morning. I think I hit my head but I don’t remember.. 😛 I think I twisted my left knee too – probably because of my dodgy pedals not releasing cleanly.
The bike didn’t fare so well. The left pannier clip was bent, the bag hanging by the front clip only, but I bent it back and it seems okay. The front wheel though was cactus. I tried truing it (with my Alien multitool), standing on it, smacking it into the ground – nothing would get the multiple wobbles out. I rode the next 20k to Clervaux slowly, with no front brakes and a very wonky wheel. It took me about 2 hours, but there are some hills here! My handlebar bag mounting bracket also snapped but the bag still hangs on.. for now.
In Clervaux I found a newsagents and they were very cool and helped me find a bike shop (all the way back in Ettelbruck) and pointed me in the right direction to catch a train there. Waited about an hour and caught the train to Ettelbruck. Asked a few people where the bike shop was – “velo shop??”
The bike shop was closed – fark! Waited for another hour to catch a train to nearby Diekirch – the trip took about 10min.. doh! Luckily, this shop was open and I got a new wheel (Mavic X221 I think?) for 38euro. I gave the guy 40euro because he also fitted the tyre and tweaked the brakes for me. Nice bloke, hope he does well in the upcoming cyclocross season. The shop had some SERIOUS hardware! I took some pics 🙂
It’s about 7pm now. I bought a daily train ticket so to make the most of it I plan to head north again to Wiltz and stay in the hostel there. It’s close to Bastogne in Belgium. I borrow the conductors phone but there’s no answer at the hostel.. uh oh.
You may wonder why I borrowed his phone? Well.. mine is stuffed! It was in the bar bag which clipped the moto. I think I can still receive calls but the screen is totalled so I can’t access numbers or send/receive text messages.. doh!! Luckily the ipod and camera are still working 🙂
Arrive in Wiltz around 8pm and it’s dark and raining.. I love cycle touring!
Actually, after all this I’m very surprised I’m so calm about everthing, usually I’d be mad as fsck! Must’ve been the bump to the head or maybe I have changed?
Anyway after asking a few people for directions and climbing another big bad hill I found the hostel and it was open – sweet!
Warm shower, wash clothes and tend to wounds (nothing open, just bruises). Down stairs to unlock bike and ride into town to find food and I find the front tyre is flat – how’s that for Murphy’s Law?!
I walk to a nearby kebab shop and enjoy an awesome kebab and chips, then it’s into bed.
I should be in Belgium today, once I leave Wiltz. I fixed the puncture – it was one of the thorns I picked up on the Rhine!!
Don’t send me text messages from now on!
As much as I’d love to read them.. I can’t!