Posts Tagged With: cycling


So my time in Madrid had come to an end and it was time to move on.  I decided that for the sake of saving time I’d take a break from torturing myself and ride on the bus.  In the end it turned out to be more of a change in torture techniques.

I rode into Madrid with my friend early in the day and planned on catching the overnight in order to save on lodging.  Everything went according to plan until I arrived at the ticket window.

“Two tickets for Malaga with bikes, please.”

“Are your bikes packed?”


Thus began a very brief and unpleasant explanation of how bikes needed to be boxed. True to Spanish form this did not mean there was a place to box them.

Realizing the situation was bad I called train information, which was kind enough to tell me that the route between Madrid and Malaga doesn’t take bikes – ever.

I was having a bad run in with the dark side of a laid back culture.  Where was German efficiency when I needed it?

I’m sad to admit I almost gave in.  I was prepared to sleep in the station and to try and find a box the next day.  I paced around.  I worried.  I felt anger, frustration and disappointment, but then my muse spoke to me: there are piles of bus companies in Spain, maybe another one would work.

“You take bikes?”

“Yes, if they’re wrapped.” Strike one, off to the next company.

“Do you take bikes?”

“Mmmm…. yeah.”

“I don’t have a box.”

“Well, hmmm….. can you take off the wheels?”

“No problem.  Where do you go south of here?” I wasn’t going to give him time to change his mind.


“Perfect, I’ll take two tickets please.”

Thus tragedy was averted and my day started on the empty streets of Sevilla rather than a dingy bus station floor.  What comes next?  Who knows!

A fine example of traditional Spanish contruction techniques .

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I have reached the end of my 1,000 mile bike trip from London to Madrid.  The end proved harder than the beginning when I realized I’d dropped my wallet at a hostel in Spain.  With no other option I was forced to race back 25km in the rain to the hostel where I’d left it.  Fortunately I recovered my bank card, but unfortunately someone had helped themselves to the cash.  Feeling rather upset I biked the 25km back to where I’d been, only to get a hole in my tire as I biked along the highway.  It’s experiences like these, and not muscular fatigue, that truly test one’s endurance.

These are some lucky bikes....

Still, some lost money and a flat tire is a small price to pay for such an amazing trip.  The views have been spectacular, the people fascinating and the experience truly priceless.  I expect to stay here in Madrid and rest for a few days before continuing to the Balearic Islands and the south of Spain.  It’s time to get off the bike and do some running and swimming!

Photos are a poor substitute for all the amazing views I've seen.

Categories: Biking, France, Ironman, Journeys | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments


So today I hit 1000km into France, which with my 100 in England brings me to 1100km.  A lot has happen since I last posted and I’m feeling the same inability to keep up with my experiences via blog as I did last year, but I’ll give it a try.

My new biking friend and I have decided to do the Camino de Santiago via bike.  It’ll add a 1000 or so km to our trip, but once you go 1000 what’s a 1000 more?  We’ve slept on beaches, in forests and barns.  The scenery has been as amazing as could be hoped for and the days have been difficult, but thrilling.  I’ll be putting up more and more pictures over the next week, but here’s a peek.

The best things in life are free.

A few more days and I’ll be in Spain.  That means crossing the Pyrenees and lots of pain.  Still the views should be spectacular and the experience one of a kind.  More on that soon.

Categories: Biking, France, Journeys, Travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

A ride through France

It’s amazing how much in life we take for granted, beds for instance.  Last night was my first night in a bed after four nights spent sleeping in the woods.  Aside from being much more comfortable, it was nice to feel like I wasn’t asleep inside a walk-in refrigerator for a change.

As for the bike touring, everything has been going as smoothly as could be hoped.  The French countryside has been as beautiful as imagined, with quaint cottages, beautiful roses and grandiose chateaus covering the landscape.

Half the buildings in France could be in a museum.

We’ve been covering quite a lot of ground, but took most of the day off when we arrived in the beautiful city of Tours yesterday.  That allowed us time to do some much needed bike repairs and to do more mundane things like laundry.  Today it’s back to the road as we head for the picturesque Poitiers.  More on that later…

Although they don't make for dramatic photography, the fields are soothing and beautiful.

Categories: Biking, Journeys, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Twisty-Ties and Duct Tape

Aside from another painful run, I thought about preparing for my bike trip today, but then I remembered that I never prepare for anything.  So I’m just going to do a solo bike ride from London to Ibiza and not worry about it.

That may sound crazy but only because bikers, or should I say cyclists, enjoy getting all geared up like they’re on the Tour de France or going to make a moon landing.  I remember being in a bike store once and telling them I was going to take a bike trip through New England for a few days (200 miles/ 300k). They asked me what kind of support I’d have.  What?  Like a couple F14’s in case I need an airstrike?

When my friend invited me to bike to Chicago with him, I didn’t decide to go till the night before.  For my gear I used some baskets I’d bought at a flea market and attached them with some twisty ties and duct tape.

I don't normally pack so much, but it was barbecue night.

Now I’m not against some level of preparedness. Lights are great and I never ride without my helmet, but that said, far too many trips are put off or never happen because of a perceived need for more preparation.  In the end we’re a lot stronger than we think and need much less than we imagine.  Believe it.

Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

I will either find a way or make one

-Hannibal crossing the Alps

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