Postcards from Baja

It’s been over a month since I joined around 90 other bikepackers on the waterfront in San Diego, California to start following an off-road route some 1700 miles long the length of the Baja peninsular, in Mexico. At some point I will write more about the rest of my journey across Greece, and maybe even […]

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Up, Then Down, Then Up Again…

After four days, the rain eases enough to finally allow me to escape Pyli, where things have all gone a little bit Groundhog Day. Relocating from my bed to the hotel dining room for a daily breakfast of bread, honey, jam, sliced (plastic) meat and cheese, and a boiled egg, I then hustle across the […]

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Wilder than Expected

They come out of nowhere, at around shoulder height, from the verge on my left just as I pass. Snarling and barking, launching themselves after me. They must have heard me coming, and take me completely by surprise. One moment I’m considering how the patch of ground by the side of the track up ahead […]

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And So It Begins (Again)

It is just over a year since my last post here.  How this has happened, I do not exactly know.  What has taken place during the past twelve months?  In some senses, many things.  In others, none at all. The trip along the Colorado Trail was amazing.  There are some images here and below, and some half written words […]

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Colorado is Going to Kick my Butt…

There were many things that I took from my journey through France and Spain last year. Some of these need writing about, if only so that I don’t forget them. Perhaps I’ll get round to that at some point. But one thing that struck me strongly whilst camping in the hills around Calanas on one […]

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Here Comes the Chill…

The descent down into Aracena cuts through the vegetation along narrow paths and then tight, rooty singletrack. Its an exciting change from the wider dirt roads, at least until I need to get off and walk… Over the last few days I’ve noticed things getting colder – when I’ve camped, I’ve needed my jacket as […]

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West of Cordoba

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Once again, I’m in danger of letting the final few weeks of a trip fade to a vague memory before I’ve managed to write down some words. Already two […]

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A Glimpse of Cordoba

Spanish maps initially showing motorways between main towns and cities look a little daunting when you’re on a bike, but when you look closer you realise that usually there is a way of following the main route without riding the actual road. Sometimes there is a bike lane on the other side of the fence, […]

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Into Andalucia

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] How long do you think it is polite to carry on chatting in the street with someone who has just made an unsolicited offer of sexual favours – mid […]

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The Wind in Spain Blows Mainly in my Face

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] It feels good to be back on a Camino. To be following those little yellow arrows, for a while at least. There is some reassurance that the route will […]

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A Warm and Showery Introduction to Valencia…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Heading down the coast from my little beach retreat at Benicassim towards Valencia involves taking some nice smooth bike paths… …tracks through lime plantations… …past decrepit industrial estates… …and […]

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Inland Bound

Having left Valencia with my front wheel pointed roughly in the direction of Andalucia, I thought I’d put up something on the planned route ahead. Just on my last afternoon in Valencia, having thought I might be heading into the mountains on tarmac, I found an off-road route heading out of the city, in the right […]

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The Bike and the Gear

A few people have asked about my bike setup and so I’ve finally got around to adding pages with details of the bike and the gear I’ve got with me… (they’re up the in the menu along the top of the page…). I’ll try to add a bit more detail and some thoughts on what […]

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Ten Days of Transition

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] As I start to write this, I’m back on the Mediterranean coast just north of Valencia, having a little break by the sea. After the amazing views of Montserrat, […]

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In The Shadow of Montserrat

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Leaving Vic a little later than planned, with a rushed packing up of my gear that would have been done the night before were it not for an invitation […]

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Under a Catalan Sky

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] The rain is still running down my face as I try to find somewhere in the tent to put my soaking waterproof without getting everything else wet. Thunder echoes […]

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Wanderlust’s Blog of the Week!

I’m surprised but excited that my little summary post on crossing the Massif Central by mountain bike has made it onto the Wanderlust travel website as their Travel Blog of the Week! Awesome! I do find it a little strange that its often these short list-type posts that make it onto sites like Wanderlust, but […]

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A Mediterranean Jaunt

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] A few days spent hugging the mediterranean could barely be more different than those spent plugging my way through the Massif Central. Passing through Sète, I am suddenly in […]

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6 Tips for Crossing the Massif Central by Mountain Bike

The Massif Central region of France is quite literally, massif massive, stretching from virtually the centre of France right down to the Mediterranean, and covering some largely remote 36,000 square miles (93,000 square km) of mountain, high plateaux, forests and heathland. As the Rough Guide states… “Thickly forested and sliced by numerous rivers and lakes, […]

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A Sign of Things to Come…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Travelling through the forests in France means joining an overlapping network of secret paths. These routes, where motorised vehicles are mostly prohibited, are decoded by a series of layers […]

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A Tale of Two (Many) Gorges

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] The trail leaving Bagnols les Bains (913m) heads up and over the Mont Lozere massif, passing La Croix de Maitre Vidal (1445m) and the Col de Finiels (1541m). Comparing […]

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A Brief Interlude in Civilisation

From the friendly gite in Le Giraldes, I head south to Lac de Charpal where I leave the GTMC and ride directly to Mende to pick up a train to Montpellier the following day for a little pre-planned city interlude. I leave my host with a promise to transfer her the money for my stay […]

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This Bike Ain’t Made for Sprinting

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] Leaving Saumur I head east along the Loire Valley. The view of the city I get as I leave makes me sad not to be able to stay and […]

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A Rude Awakening…

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] “Could the Guard contact the Driver please, could the Guard contact the Driver” At the time I don’t pay much attention to the announcement other that thinking that it […]

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Meet Frank

In his day job, Frank is an X-Wing pilot. Not one of the famous ones that you’ll have seen on the big screen, but one of those Squadron guys that just gets on with the job in the background, killing Tie-Fighters without boasting of his glory to Han and Chewy. You can see it his […]

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Where Did The Motivation Go…?

[I’m using the (Un)Inspired Ramblings Facebook page to post some more regular updates and photos in between main blog posts here. You can find it here.] [Caution – this post may contain a small element of over-emotional soul searching. Please don’t read on if you think that will cause you to cry, get angry or […]

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So, When Are You Actually Going to GO?

That is the question everyone is asking me. The question that, eventually, enters every conversation with friends. But seriously, Chris. When are you actually going to GO? When? A year or two ago I decided that I was going to take a break from work, rent out my flat and head off on some kind […]

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El Camino, Part 4: Buen Camino!

In an attempt to catch up with last year’s trip and actually be able to focus on current plans, this is a bit of a long one.  So grab a nice cup of tea, you may be here for some time… Over the next few days the trail becomes much busier as I join the more popular […]

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El Camino, Part 2: Mud, Sweat and Gears

“Please remove all the bags, sir.” “Sorry, what?” “You need to remove all the bags from your bike, sir. We can’t take it like that.” Damn. Not what you want to hear when you’re checking in, late, for the Eurostar. And when the bags concerned are awkward shapes strapped in a complicated manner to your […]

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El Camino, Part 1: An Introduction

(Image from http://www.millionsteps.org/?page_id=121) The Camino de Santiago de Compostela forms a web of ancient footpaths crossing Europe towards Santiago de Compostela, in north-western Spain. Originally started as a Roman trade route that took people from all over the empire to what was then the end of the known world, since the Middle Ages pilgrims have  walked […]

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Lakes and Hills…

Crikey.  Its been a while.  Despite having finished this trip months ago, I wanted to post something about the final week heading across from Lac Leman to St Gallen… more for my own memory than anything else.  So here are some notes from that week, as well as some photos. Day 1 – New brake […]

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Psssssffffftttttt…..

Well, it had to happen eventually. After one thousand, one hundred and thirty something miles, I had a puncture. What kind of hardcore terrain did this, I hear you ask. Was it some kind of hardy alpine plant with vicious thorns? Or perhaps a nasty bit of jagged Jura rock? Errr…. No. I somehow managed […]

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The Beginning of the End…?

So after getting up early for sunrise views of / from the Creux du Van, a quick coffee and breakfast (muesli pour moi, two carefully fried eggs for Uwe, the yolks of which he took great pleasure in wolfing down in one) we headed off back to the trail. I was feeling good as it […]

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A Daily Beasting

Each day on the Jura route seemed to follow a similar pattern. Head off and fairly soon hit a hill. Pedal upwards slowly. Try to avoid cows. Follow the route as it peels off the roads onto forest tracks or rocky, slippery ascents. Push. Sweat a lot. Cross the plains on the top through forests […]

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What a Load of Old Bull

The Swiss farmers seem to like their electric fences. They use them to keep these guys under control (although given the Swiss love affair with all things bovine, perhaps the fences are actually there to keep us from bothering the big fellas) and are pretty much everywhere. [This guy is not your (my) friend] The […]

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Back to Square One?

Staying in city hotels makes you weak. That’s now my considered opinion. I’d been feeling a bit under the weather in Basel, just like I was coming down with something but needed a couple of nights of good sleep. But somehow with four nights of a double bed, proper pillows and a duvet I didn’t […]

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Hills, Hills, Hills

So, I’ll try to keep the word count down, but the next few days kind of built on the first only getting better all the time! On day 2 I had intended to head off down the river to get some miles covered but took the wrong turn as I headed out of Nagold and […]

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I Found Some Singletrack!

[Lovely smooth singletrack] So partly feeling demoralised that I’d failed at the first attempt with the mountain bike route, I headed off down the river valley, secretly happy to be on flat tarmac. Every so often I would come across little signposts with distances to all manner of places pointing up footpaths. Cyclists use these […]

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Never Underestimate The Germans

aka: never underestimate the weight of a loaded bike aka: a plan never survives contact I’ve struggled to write this as it feels like a lot has happened in the last week – first hills, first proper off road, first riding off-map/route. I’ve failed with the ‘little and often’ mantra that is meant to make […]

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Another Day, Another Big City Negotiated

Heading down the Rhine, I’ve now had the dubious pleasure of cycling into, through and straight out of some of Holland and Germany’s major cities: Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Arnhem, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Mannheim, Koblenz, Mainz, Karlsruhe. The experience normally goes something like this: – hit the city boundary and buildings (often industrial estate) with slight surprise; […]

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Wine on the Rhine

A resting couple of days in Koblenz was great, drinking too much coffee, reading and bike window shopping at Canyon’s factory shop which happens to be there (which I really didn’t know about in advance!). [Hero lives here: This tent and bike belongs to a Japanese guy I met who has spent the last two […]

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Baggage, Baggage, Baggage

I rode my bike today for the first time in a couple of weeks without any bags on it. What a revelation. How smooth! How quick! How light! How agile! How bloody difficult to steer and keep going the way you think you want it to. No longer weighed down and laboriously heading in the […]

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What a Difference the Sun Makes

After an uninspiring couple of nights in Duisburg I then had a glorious couple of days in the sunshine heading down 60 miles to Koln for one night and then another 65 onto Koblenz, passing through Dusseldorf and Bonn on the way. Both Koln and Koblenz are lovely. The route is now leaving the agricultural […]

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Ein Bitter Bitte

There is something about using the word bitte in a sentence asking for a beer that makes my brain want to actually ask for a bitter. The above sentence hasn’t yet popped out of my mouth but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, intentionally or otherwise. [The border] Its been a slightly frustrating […]

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Drizzling in Dordrecht

To be honest, this could have been called ‘Hammering it down in the Hague’, ‘Raining in Rotterdam’ or ‘Pissing it down in Pannerden’. Let’s just say that it’s been rather wet. Some first few days statistics: – Thunderstorms endured on day 1: 1 – Sets of bike shorts currently wet: 2 (out of 3) – […]

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And We’re Off…

Somehow it has taken the best part of a week after finishing work to sort out my flat, gather my things and get myself ready to head off. I seemed to spend successive days trying and failing to tick the same things of my list(s). Because I’m heading off a couple of weeks later than […]

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Udderly Smooth…

  I’ve never used this kind of stuff before, and it’s always seemed a bit weird. But I am led to believe that over the next two months, this will become my best friend: Originally made for cows. Moo.

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Finally, a Route!

Well its all been a little quiet on here on account of the last month or two being pretty much taken up with buying a flat & moving in, moving out of the old one, trying to finish up my work, and sorting the bike out. Plenty of things to do, no time to write […]

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Bike Shop Zen

The relatively new gears on the bike had been pretty slick until I was trying to fit the new mudguards and racks. Keeping the bike upright without a stand whilst working on it is a bit of a pain so I ended up having to prop the bike up against a bench, and where it […]

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Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’…

So, some decisions have been made… 🙂 Brixton Cycles kindly provided and fitted a nice set of rigid steel Surly 1×1 forks which are lighter than my old ones and contain the right fittings for both disc and v-brakes (the v-brake fittings are used for attaching my pannier racks – more on those another time). […]

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A Wandering Path

It’s probably about time that I actually looked at a map in detail.  It sounds as if navigating by cycle in France is as easy as finding a little road on the map that heads in roughly the right direction, and pedalling off.  Lovely!  However, I do want to end up heading in roughly the […]

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