Saturday, May 31, 2008

We Start Tomorrow

Here we are in Paris! Totally unbelieveable.

The flight left on Wednesday at 10:00 PM and we (Don & I) at 11:30 on Thursday we arrived. Total time on the plane and including time change over 24 hours. Naturally our bikes weren't on the plane they were on the next plane which was due in an hour. So we sat down and waited. Tw0 hours later we had our bikes. Lucky we found a van which drove us to the hotel so we didn't have to wait in the cab que which was easily an other 1.5 hours. The van boiled over just as we reached the hotel so we jumped out.

I did manange to get up and go for a 2 hour run in the morning. It was really great running though the streets down to the Seine. At 6:30 there was very little traffic and the sidewalks were empty.

Yesterday Jim Don and I walked down and visited the Louve. Although we walked continuously for 4-5 hours we didn't see it all. We did see the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory and numerous other famous paintings and sculptures. For supper we meet up with Curt and Clare and had supper in a sidewalk cafe. Although it was quite expensive it was sure fun. A 500 ml beer is over 12.00 cdn!

Today we had our fist rider meeting and learned about the luggage routine and how they will run the tour. You get two bags but only one which can be accessed every day the other one only gets unloaded on rest days. Great all my careful planning is out the window. Otherwise it looks pretty straight forward.

Although I can't seem to access my e-mail accout I have heard that big dog Phantom is recovering from what ever mystery illness attacked him. He sends along a great big WOOF WOOf to all his friends. This is a really big relief as I was extremely concerned that I had left him for good.

There is a ton of things to tell about the beauty of Paris and I would love to insert a great many pictures but unfortunatley I am writting this from an internet cafe which doesn't allow up loads so if you wanted to see pictures of Paris you will just have to Google them. If there are a million errors I appolagize as this is a French machine and it doesn't have an English spell check. In addition all the keys have been scrambled which makes typing real fun. Great bad spelling and no pictures! Never the less thanks for dropping by and thanks for leaving comments.

Tomorrow we ride for Provins 105 kms. (It was hilarilous watching Jim try to reset his cycle computer to kms from miles)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ready! Set! Go!

Here it is 1:00 PM on Wednesday May the 28 and I am ready to go, with just a matter of hours before the plane takes off. There is probably a bunch of stuff which isn't done. However I have no idea what it could possibly be. I have packed and repacked the bags so many times I have no idea what I have any more. I think that the most important things have been taken care of. The most important thing being the training. I have ridden over 1600 kms this spring, done over 100 spin classes, run 20 kms every week for the past 16 weeks, and lifted weights twice a week with Lynne, my trainer. So I think that part is done. In fact it is better than just done I am in excellent shape. The bike is in a box and was packed professionally. So not to belittle the talents of the baggage gorillas it should be OK. The rest of the gear well who knows there is probably some things I should have packed, and some thing I should have remembered but there it is. What is there is there. Maps have been printed and are ready to go. Euros have been obtained and boarding passes printed.

Yesterday there was a major panic. I was printing off the various reservation slips and confirmations and while I was doing that I checked the hotel room reservation. The online page had a check your reservation button so I hit it. To my horror the hotel room in Paris was CANCELED in big red letters. Panic phone calls to my travel agent and after agonizing hours she straightened it out. Penny at Cruises of Excellence is way better than a plaster garden gnome every time.

Chris, my training partner, and good friend came up with a great thing yesterday. It is a small electronic devise which you type the message into and it gives you translations in to any of 12 different languages. Plus it has a lot of standard phrases and other useful stuff. This should prove very useful for myself as I am extremely bad at that sort of thing. I can only speak red neck and that isn't going to make it in a lot of the world.

Sadly my big dog is very sick and I am going to have to leave him in Agnes' capable hands. Last year he had a large tumor on his leg and we had it removed. It was cancerous and looked very bad. This year he had a small lump on his side just behind his rib cage. So we thought we should have it removed. It turned out to be just a cyst and totally harmless. However he has never really recovered from the operation. Whether it was being sedated or maybe it is just coincidence, but he has been losing weight and refusing to eat. The last few days he has vomited everything back up and today he has refused even his favorite treats. A few months ago his sister was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was euthanized. Phantom is 10.5 and that is about as long a bouviers des flanders live. Agnes and the vet are both very sensible people and if worse comes to worse I know that he will not suffer needlessly. I only hope the same good sense is used when my time comes.

Our hotel is only a few blocks from the Louvre and some of the other famous land marks. I am looking forward to having a run down the Seine.

Thank you so much for your comments. They are great to read.

See you in Paris!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

10 -- 100 -- 1000

It was smoking hot in Calgary today. At 30 C this had to be the hottest day of the year. It was great cycling in shorts and a jersey. No triple layers of long johns, no under shirt, tech shirt jersey and parka, no hat under your helmet, no mittens over the riding gloves, it was great. The weather sure brought the crowds out, I don't think I have ever seen so many riders out on the road.

I started this great day with an early morning 10 k run. This friend was headed off to London Ont and I would be gone by time he got back so we got together at 7:00 am for a run. he brought his two dogs with him, so I took one and he took the other one. It was kind of different running with a dog, but fun. My two dogs are too old to run with. Phantom has really bad arthritis and Xena just couldn't do it. Later we sat on the deck and drank iced tea and watched the four dogs play in the yard.

I could have sat there drinking iced tea all day but all too soon it was time to get ready to go, get changed into the bike gear, load the bike into the car, and get down to meet Don. There wasn't any question about where we were going. We were headed off to Bragg Creek. Lots of hills, and miles to cover. We didn't see any wild life today it may have been too hot. I did see a pair of shades on the side of the road but they only had one lens. I would have stopped to pick them up, but I has going down hill at about 45 kms/hr. They would have made a good material for the blog. "My second pair of ditch shades" By time we got back to Calgary we were hot and tired. Our bike computers said 96 kms so we rode down the road for a couple of kilometers so that we would have a 100 km day.

Hot and sweaty I fell into the shower for the last leg of my triathlon. Standing there letting the water melt away my stiffness was wonderful. After I toweled off and put my watch back I noted that I had stood in the shower for 1000 seconds. What an amazing day! 10 kms run - 100 kms bike ride - 1000 second shower. I am glad I didn't have something else to do 10,000 is a really big number.

Let's Ride


Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Good Day For A Ride

Here it is less than three weeks to go before we leave for Paris. Before I go any further I should clear up what the actual dates are. I received a comment saying that I had not been clear on what the actual dates were. So I should apologize for this short coming. We leave on May 28 for Paris and arrive the evening of May 29. This give us a couple of days in Paris as we leave for Istanbul on June 1. We arrive in Istanbul on July 20 and fly out on July 23. This is hardly sufficient to see two of the most interesting cities in the world, but it is what we have.

Training is progressing well. This morning I got up early and did an 11km run with the university marathon group. It was a little chilly at 0 C but after you warmed up it was fine. On the run along the river path we saw several Canadian geese chicks. They were very cute little balls of bright yellow. Don and I jumped on our bikes right after the run and rode out to Bragg Creek. The Bragg Creek is just under 100 kms at 98 kms, it has several large hills, and there is always a head wind coming out of the Elbow River Valley. The snow which we had on Thursday is all gone here in Calgary but out in Bragg Creek there is still a foot on the ground. Apparently there was 3 ft out in Canmore. As we stared out there was a cold sprinkle of rain coming down but it cleared off as we started up the Edworthy hill. We were warm by time we got to the top and the sun was out. As we left the city limits the ride takes us past all these beautiful acreages. We watched a hawk catch a mouse in the fields. The hawk was circling the field and then dived on the mouse. As the hawk lifted off you could see the mouse in his talons. Then not two minutes later this huge coyote ran across the road in front of us. At Bragg Creek we pulled into Subway. It was great. So there we are headed home with a tail wind and the sun on our backs. What could be better? As we are getting close to town I spot this pair of shades in the ditch. They are in perfect condition except for a couple of minor scratches. They are marked as "Harley Davidson Classics" It was a good day for a ride.

Today's picture is of myself with a pair of shades that I found in the ditch. As you can see they are classics.

Tomorrow we ride to Chestermere Lake. So lets ride.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Adventure 2008 The Orient Express

Where to this year? How do you top riding your bicycle from Los Angles to Boston? How can you possibly have more fun on two wheels? Well how about riding from Paris to Istanbul with four good friends?

The Paris to Istanbul route is an old trading route which goes back hundred of years dating back to the time of the crusades. However is probably more famous for the train which ran from Paris to Istanbul and was known as the Orient Express. Or maybe it wasn't the train itself which was famous but was made famous by the book "Murder on the Orient Express" Whatever the case the ride holds the same sort of mystery and romance of east meets west. Starting off in the the classic city of Paris and riding into the mystery of Istanbul. We will cross though France and Germany, following the Danube Bike path for 1400 kms, into Austria, Bulgaria and Romania before we get to Turkey. The total ride is 4000 kms and spans a total of 50 days. I have read a journal from one of last years riders and it does sound like a totally different adventure from last year. The distances each day are smaller, but then there are lots of other challenges, bad roads, confusing directions, wild dogs in Bulgaria and foreign languages. Speaking of which being that I only speak redneck will be a real challenge for me.

This year we will be camping on ride days and staying in hostels, pensions, and hotels on rest days. None of that staying in nice comfy 5 star motels every night. I like sleeping in a tent, and am really looking forward to it. However landing in a great big bed and having a great shower was really nice. I guess I should also qualify it by saying I like camping when it isn't raining. I hope it doesn't rain.

I said I was riding with four great friends. So let me introduce them. Curt from Pennsylvania, I meet on my first bike ride from Vancouver to Calgary. I had broken my leg and had just gotten off my crutches. I had my cane with me on my bike and was hobbling around. Well every time I turned around there was Curt to help me out, pulling me up hills, handing out encouragement, helping me stretch, you name it. We had a great time. So Curt and I then went on the Pedal The Peaks ride in Colorado where we meet Clare from California. Clare quickly caught Curt's eye, which with her irrepressible spirit isn't hard to understand. By this time I am back running with the running group at the university of Calgary, where I met Don. Another adventurer just looking for a place to adventure. You just have to keep guys like that around! But then when you think you have met adventurers you run into Jim. I meet Jim on the Pacific Coast cycle trip which was from the Canadian border to San Fransisco. But then you heard all about Jim in last years blog. So how can you beat a group like that.

Don and I have been out riding quite a bit. Hopefully it will be enough. You just never know. We are looking forward to eating strudel, drinking beer, tasting some good wine, and having a great adventure.

Having fun everyday!