Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Celebrating Slovenia


Celebration time upon reaching the border of Slovenia, the homeland of my paternal grandparents.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees

18 kilometers/11+ miles of non-stop pedaling was my goal and I am happy to say I achieved it even though at one point I came to a crawl to wend my way through a herd of cattle and goats. The 6% average grade belies the difficulty of this giant of a climb. There are numerous 9% sections and the final kilometer is 10%. As I neared the top the Tourmalet was socked in with thick fog. What a climb. A dream come true for this touring cyclist. I have a feeling I will climb it again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Col du Aubisque in the French Pyrenees


Look carefully and you see the tunnel the narrow roadway winds through as you transistion downward off the Col du Soulor to begin the ascent of the Col d' Aubisque.

Monday, October 26, 2009

L' Alpe D' Huez


This is one of the many awesome views you see while climbing L' Alpe D' Huez. Bourg D' Oisans, where I camped, is the village at the base of the L' Alpe D'Huez. The climb is truly mythic, starting out at 12% grade, it goes up relentlessly for over 8 miles, passing through a couple villages before arriving at the ski village at the top.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lavender of Provence



I pedaled past these fields of lavender between Mont Ventoux and the town of Die in the French Alps.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Cross Against A Glacier


I took this while climbing the Col du Lauteret in the French Alps.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bicycle Touring The World

Have you ever just wanted "to go"? To finally see the world for
yourself, and under your own power at that. There is no better way than by bicycle. You travel fast enough to get "there" and slow enough to see everything in between. Each day brings new adventure. Oh, you have a plan. You know you'll be in Croatia next week, then Italy after a ferry boat ride across the Adriatic Sea, followed by a few weeks in French mountains, then a loop into Northern Spain's Basque Country. But what you don't know is that you'll soon camp on an idyllic Croatian beach, or that you'll share lunch with a fascinating stranger (now a new friend) at a Tuscany deli, or tent behind a centuries-old church in the prettiest of French villages, or stop for the night on a Swiss mountain precipice looking down on a picture-perfect village reflecting off a crystal lake, or be invited to have supper and spend the night with the German farmer's family... On and on it goes, day after day, adventure blended with wonder, spiced by the personalities of the people you meet. Have you ever just wanted "to go'? I have.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Boxing of the Bianchi Volpe



Karl, the owner of the incredibly awesome Greensburg Cyclery, check out www.greensburgcyclery.com , boxed up my bike for me yesterday. All the while I was making mental notes to remember how to put it all back together at Heathrow Airport in London on Tuesday morning. I bought a duffel bag at Walmart to carry my 4 panniers, sleeping bag, and helmet. I'll be carrying my handlebar bag on the bus and plane.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CYCLING SIMMONS JOURNAL OF TOURING EUROPE JUNE 25 - AUGUST 31 2008 BEGINS NOW

WELCOME TO CYCLING SIMMONS DAY-BY-DAY JOURNAL OF 3020Miles/4860Kilometers
TOURING THROUGH TEN NATIONS 

Monday, November 10, 2008

June 24 - London England - Holland Park YHA







While landing at Heathrow Airport(bottom pic), on a very nice day at that, we flew over Windsor Castle at low altitude. First landmark siting accomplished. From the airport I took the Picadilly (light-rail/subway) to Earl's Court (where I took the middle pic of my first steps on the streets of London) and found my way over to the Holland Park Youth Hostel(top pic) where I spent the night. I am trying to learn the new currency, pounds & pence, and my head is on a swivel when I walk cause these folks drive on the wrong side of the road here. Or do we? Anyway, I begin cycling in about an hour, 7:30 or 8:00, Possibly to Canterbury. It should be an adventure navigating my way through and out of London.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

June 25 London to Canterbury 97 miles / 123Km











Cycling out of any city can be a test, London was a big test, first because of the language barrier (and you thought they spoke English in England) and second was the fact I waited till I got to London to buy maps for England and couldn't find any. By 11:30 I found a bike rental shop with free maps to get out of the city and while buzzing around the big city I happened to pedal by Buckingham Palace and a bunch of tourists taking pictures of a big clock. I said to a tourist, "what's everyone taking pics of", and she look bewildered and laughed at me. It was Big Ben.It was not the greatest day of riding, city riding can be difficult, but hey, it was England, so it was all good. The 76 niles kicked my butt. I arrived at the Hostel in Canterbury about 8:00 and then had a pretty bland pizza at the Olive Grove. I could see the Canterbury Cathedral as I walked to the restaurant. There was no internet at the hostel so my posts are backed up.
All is good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

June 26 Canterbury England to Boulogne-Sur-Mer France 50 Km / 31 Miles - Cycle Path 17 - White Cliffs of Dover - Speed Ferry - The French Cyclist





What a day - again. Two english cyclists clued me in on the National cycle Route 17 from Canterbury to Dover. A great route on narrow lanes with hardly a car. Nothing like it back home. I arrived at the Speed Ferry, directly in front of the White Cliffs, not knowing if I could catch a lift. The French fisherman across the English Channel had been striking for the last 2 days; But they were back in business so I was a happy cycle tourist!!! No sooner I pulled into the docks a French cyclist pulled in behind me with panniers and we began talking, long-story-short he has toured Southeast Asia and Europe but was only on an errand to England and biked over. He volunteered to help me find my way around Boulogne-Sur-Mer (good thing, 60,000 Pop.), So we found a bank to score some Euros I'd be needing, a bike shop, and then he visited a cheese shop. We go in, one minute later his Trek carbon-fiber bike with panniers carrying his computer is gone. We had just talked about locking bikes and he never has in all his tours. What a bummer. He went to the police station. And I found my way to a hostel on Ave of John Kennedy, Mariany's.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

June 27 Boulogne-sur-Mer to Aumale 156 Km / 97 Miles











What a day - again. Probably pedaled too many miles, but I always do that when I start a tour. I was struggling to communicate about campgrounds, no one speaks English in these backroads villages. Finally discovered through much effort at a C-store that Aumale had a Municipality Campground. So I headed for there no matter the miles. It turned out good as I spent the evening talking with a Dutch couple, in the back of their ambulance-turned-camper, who are Med students. How funny! We had a great talk about medicine, conventional and traditional(natural), travel, languages (they speak 4), and Holland of course as well as the rest of the Netherlands. Earlier in the dayI pedaled on my first cobblestones in Montrieul. Makes 6th Street in Youngwood feel like smooth pavement. I passed through dozens of villages and every one has a big old stone Catholic church. I popped into a monastery that has the largest Rose Garden in France. The narrow country lanes I biked on are amazing, nothing like it back in the states. I loved every minute as I biked under a thick grey sky, but it hasn't rained on me yet.




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

June 28 Aumale to Magny-en Vixen 108 Km / 67 Miles


Another amazing day! I'm starting to see a trend here. Started out under grey clouds, but the sun started breaking through by noon and got quite hot by the time I finished for the day. I was a little zapped (drained of energy) because of yesterday's big mileage. No problem, just take it easy. And that is what I did. I'm having a tough time in the grocery stores and as a result I've been eating things I normally don't. Heck, I ate a spinach quiche that I thought was a breakfast pizza !!!!!!! But I refused to pitch it. Gulp!!! Today's divine appointment (I know, sounds silly) happened as I cycled between Bezu-La-Foret and Dangu. Up along side of me appears a French cyclist. He speaks to me in French, I say "Parlay vous Anglais?" and he says "Oui". So he's asking about my trip and talks about a Japanese cycle-tourist he met last year who had a blog he followed. I told him I've got a blog too but haven't found internet access. Boom, he (Paul) invites me to pedal to his home to use the internet and camp there. So he gives me directions and he goes off to finish his ride. What a wonderful cycling area the Vixen region is. An hour and half later I arrive at his home, meet his wife Catherine, and were off for dinner after I shower. Paul said we were going to a pancake house. The cool restaurant makes crepes and you fill them with what ever you want. I had the waitress rolling her eyes when I said chicken, potatoes, cheese, and bacon; Yummy!!! In my tummy!!! Then of course for dessert you get another crepe with ice cream, lemon, and chocolate sauce. Really good. Reminded me of the ice cream waffles at Kennywood. So now I'm finishing up on Paul's computer and I'm all caught up for now. Tomorrow I should be near or in the Loire River Valley.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

June 29 Magny-en-Vixen to Chartres 118K / 74 Miles













A really nice day of riding. In the morning there were many cyclists on the road. In Bonnieres I stopped to buy water and randomly picked a woman to try my French on. I said, "Superemarche?" and she says, "You're lucky, I speak English.". In Bercheres-sur-Vesgre, a beautiful little town, I came upon a street fair and the folks there were great and interested in my blog. So hello to all of you in Bercheres. The route had a few climbs but was mostly flat and rolling on an overcast day. As I approached Chartres the famous Cahedral loomed large. I took the photo of the sign entering LaHaye in honor of my host from the previous night in Magny-en-Vixen. Thanks again to Paul and Catherine.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

June 30 Chartres to Muides-sur-Loire 123K / 77 Miles









Today was sunny and hot. The Route amazing. Very little traffic all the way on these roads. A shout out to my cycling comrades: you'd be dumfounded at the cycling here. It's been said France doesn't need cycling paths built because the entire country is a network of cycling routes. Check out a Michelin Road Atlas of France and all those white roadways are beautiful lanes with almost no traffic. I camped along the Loire River at the "Municipaux Camping". I pedaled through the villages of Coranez, Pezy, Rouvay, Sancheville, Bazoches, Peronville, took a break in Villamblain, Ouzouer, Concriers, and Mer.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

July 1 Muide-sur-Loire to Buzancais 121K / 76 Miles










A very hot day. I put my lightweight hiking pants on in the afternoon to keep the sun from cooking me alive. I have a bandana tied to the back of my hemet to keep the sun off my neck. I have to carry 6 litres of water when I pull out of towns because the villages have no stores to buy any and you don't know if the public fountain will be potable. This morning I started at 7:00 and stopped by Chambord Castle (pics later, this library computer will not allow pics uploaded). The town of Montresor lived up to it's hype as one of the lovliest towns in France. It was a really hot 80K to get there and I was hoping for a good rest. I stopped where a cyclist was sitting on a bench taking a lunch break. We began conversing and turns out he, Tom, was a part of an English Over-70 Cycling Club!!! I spent 3 hours in Montresor and Tom introduced me to the Tourism Center where I should stop when entering towns. Usually those working at these speak English. And I was introduced to Fillets of Mackerel in Mustard sauce. I promptly hit the Superemarche and purchased 4 cans. I found out some information that alters my route. Turns out cyclists are not allowed to climb the Puy De Dome (one of the famous Tour De France climbs, last used in 1971 I believe) so I will arrive at the Gorges Du Dordogne a little sooner.