Monday, 4 October 2010

On YOUR bike?

We hope this blog has shown you what a fantastic experience cycle touring can be. We didn't have much (or any...) experience to go on when we first started planning our trip, and advice from various experienced friends and Internet sources was invaluable. We've put up some things ourselves for anyone who is interested in planning their first trip... Just go for it, you'll love it :-)

Packing list

Toolkit and spares
-Pen knife
-Eurohike multi tool
-Adjustable spanner
-Allen keys
-Electrical tape
-Spare brake cable
-4 sets of M5 bolts, washers, and nuts.
-1 spare inner-tube (we took four, and never used one of them)
-Tyre leavers
-Puncture repair kit
-Screwdriver (if not attached to penknife or multitool)

Bikes and attachments
-Bikes- cycling similar models, and same diameter tyres, minimizes repairs equipment you need in the group.
-Drinks holders x2 per bike
-Rear rack. We were advised to minimize our packing to what can fit on a rear rack. This is great advice… Be brutal with restrictions, as extra weight is costly.
-Panniers (either connected with 3rd compartment, or separate)
-Map bag (that hangs off handle bars) [ours was made by mum, and was excellent for easy referencing]
-Compass- you’ll need it LOTS. Ours hung off the break cables for easy reference. -Suitable handlebars, well-taped for padding. You need at least three obvious different hand positions, or you’ll get tendonitis. Standard cross bars are no good! (Butterfly handlebars are a simple solution to fitting variable position handlebars onto your bike without replacing v-brakes. See Anna’s bike…)

-Tent (Vango banshee 200/300)
-sleeping mat x3
-cups x3
-sporks x4
-Bowls x3
-Sleeping bags (£25 Quecha 680g) [great though could have done with a sleeping bag liner to use on hot nights.]

Cooking and toiletries
-Saucepan x1 with lid
-Washing powder for clothes
-Toothbrush x3
-Nail clippers
-Trek towels- we were going to go without towels, but small, quick-drying towels are a good solution. -Cigarette lighter
-Fold up stove frame. Twigs, and cardboard packaging boxes used for fuel.

-Cycling gloves- essential.
-Light pyjamas
-Underwear x3
-Socks x3 pairs
-Cycling shorts x2 (divided opinion as to which is best, padded or unpadded. Fear not; after day 2, saddle pain really isn’t an issue!)
-Sunglasses (essential for blocking sun, wind, and flies, and for looking pro…)
-Yellow cycling jersey, and one other
-Jogging bottoms/leggings for evening
-Mary’s meals shirt- turned out to be too hot to cycle in, so became our Sunday mass gear!
-Old trainers for on bike. Hard soled, proper bike shoes would be good if you’ve got the budget.
-Flip flops for off bike

-Camera and batteries
-Paper copy of address list and useful telephone numbers
-Pilgrim passports. Got these stamped in places along the way. Obtainable from
-USB SD card reader-uploading photos to blog
-Phone per person. With charger
-Clothes pegs (pegging wet washing to bikes every day whilst on the road looked ridiculous, but dried everything.)
-Phrase book. We definitely could have done with an Italian dictionary though
-Travel insurance details
-Flight home details
-Shorter morning and evening prayer book
-Cycling computer (Sigma) (for recording mileage etc)
-Plastic carrier bags/sandwich bags for putting sleeping bags, essential papers etc that need to stay dry

First aid and medical
-Antiseptic cream
-Antiseptic wipes
-Bandages x2
-Antihistamines- sedating and non-sedating. For hay fever and mosquito overload, and getting some sleep in dire campsites...
-Sports re-hydration tablets
-Cocodamol (for more heavy duty!)
-Penicillin, loperamide and doperidone- took these but didn’t need them.
-Insect repellent
-Sunscreen factor 30+ (sports sunscreen- creamy ones just melt off everywhere.)
-Lip sunscreen

Road cycling confidence- being tired blurs your judgement!
Good sense of humour
Will power- be prepared for the daily grind…

Friday, 13 August 2010

“Via Romea” project: All the roads still lead to Rome

“Via Romea” project: All the roads still lead to Rome
We've been away- had heard that Rome Reports had actually produced the news clip, but hadn't seen the final version. Enjoy! Nothing quite like watching your own stretched face in widescreen... We'll keep this for the grand kids.

Friday, 6 August 2010

After party

We've been back just over a week now, although it does seem much longer. We're all enjoying the simple pleasures of life, like washing machines, good food, and that time in the morning when you open your drawers to a CHOICE of clothes you could wear...
Travelling non-stop for a month is a bit nomadic, and it's great to be back with family and friends we missed during the trip.

Here's some pictures of our journey home. People keep asking how we got the bikes back- the answer is, much quicker than we got them there, to the great confusion of the check in desk lady, who couldn't work out our one-way tickets at all.
We were met by our very own surprise Swiss guard... credit to Mum for an incredible last-minute dressing up cupboard raid. Hope you're just as impressed as we were.

Our lovely neighbour and fellow parishoner Julia Jones bought round some champagne to celebrate.
We're still receiving donations on our website, but hope we can round up all the final monies over the next week or so, so please click on the link if you haven't donated yet and would like to. We have been truly bowled over by the generosity we've received from family and friends, other friends we haven't been in touch with for years, and many other people we've never even met. Your support is very inspiring and humbling!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Journey home

Here are some artistic interpretations of our flight home. We arrived in Heathrow at 11pm, and were home just before 1am.
We can thoroughly recommend BA. They let us check in bikes as standard baggage, the bikes survived in more or less the same state, and gave us second rounds of sandwiches on Greg's request. In fact, we approved so much we gave them a round of applause on touchdown. After a lukewarm start, the rest of the passengers agreed with us.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Via Romea Awards Ceremony

Since arriving in Rome, we've split our time between being tourists and pilgrims. We've walked lots, cycled not much, and seen tons of churches, monuments, Roman stuff...
We also all now have a set of NORMAL CLOTHES each, and are avoiding lycra at all costs.
This morning, we had a TV interview and footage session... yeah, that's right :-) The Rome Report turned up with cameras, we donned our gear, and did some slow cycling for the cameras. Bit of an experience! We're not naturals, had a view interview disasters. We think/hope they edit nicely.

Last night, we closed our pilgrim part of the trip with our very own Via Romea Awards Ceremony. Here are the results:

Best bike: Joe says Joe's (Bertie), Greg says Greg's (Bettie), and Anna says Anna's (Brutus)... no joking she's not that deluded. Anna really says Bettie.

Worst bike: Brutus. Anna points out though that whilst everything else broke, the tyres were invincible.

Best bit of kit: Draw between the tent and our folding campfire.

Worst bit of kit: The empty 300 ml single cream pot we carried the entire way. Or the phrasebook.

Best country: Joe= France. Greg= Switzerland. Anna= Italy.

Favourite day of trip: Day 12, Bourg St Pierre to Quincinetto, over the Alps take two.

Toughest day's cycle: Aigle to Bourg St Pierre.

The Dire Straights Day Award: Day 7, from Froncles to the middle of nowhere, rough camping, with just the oreos and crisps.

Favourite church award, St Peter's and Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, excluded: Chiesa S. Maria del Carmine, Pavia.

Best city, Rome excluded: Pavia and Lucca, straight draw.

Best drink: shoot out between cold water, cold milk, and coke.

Best food: Pasta with any sauce, followed by peaches

Best swimming: Bolsena lake

Best view: draw between Montreux and the Swiss-Italian border mountainous region.

Best downhill: from top of Gd St Bernard Pass to Aosta, down the Alps

And the others....

Machine man of trip: Joe

Machine woman of trip: Anna by default.

Entertainment Jukebox of Trip Award: Greg... by default.

Best driver: Anna. Yep.

Worst driver; Joe. Unbelievably, his repeated minor collisions means he overtook Greg and the mash crash in a photo finish.

Yellow Jersey Award: Joe. He wore his for all but 2 hours of biking.

Mr Map award: Joe

Early Bird Award: joint between Anna and Joe... or, everyone but Greg.

Sleeping Beauty Award: Greg.

Pro Cyclist Nation Award: Italy. They had all the gear.

Most Frustrating Continental Habit: The Siesta. Please, it's lunchtime. Someone sell some food...

Epic Language Fail Award: When Anna stood on an Italian's foot and said 'Prego'.

Via Romea Gold Star Award: Electrical tape. You could build a bike from it we think... we nearly did.

That's all, folks. The award winners would like to thank their family, friends, sponsors, pets and paniers. They also want world peace.

Pictures from Rome

View from the dome of St Peter's
Victor Emmanuelle monument... Greg and Joe are in there somewhere

Below- Gatorade. a funny European version of Lucozade. This picture is dedicated to for Dom Roche Saunders and Phil Wheelan :-)

We like Swiss Guards. Any excuse for a chat.

The polizia didn't like this.

This is us just after arriving in St Peter's. If you haven's guessed, these pictures aren't in order at all- bit of an internet cafe disaster. Behind us are 2 people, Americans from Texas. There's five of them, a family with a friend, and we've managed to bump into them every day in Rome so far. Small place!

More arrival in Rome pictures