Saturday, August 19, 2006

Day 8 Part 2.

I set my alarm for six in the morning hoping that the french family would be gone so they would not have to be subjected to my alarm in the sleeping compartment of the train but when I woke to the alarm they were still there, poor guys. I rose early an hour before my train was supposed to arrive at lyon which was a good decision as the train was half an hour early which left me wondering as to what would happen if you stated asleep, would you wake up in Switzerland? In a total mess by this stage I dragged my bike and bags off the train and reassembled my travelling equipment in th estation to begin my next mission which was to find my girls apartment in Lyon. I departed the station and immediatly headed in the wrong direction for about twenty minutes realised my mistake and consulted my map. Here I think is the lesson I want to impart to all who read this. If you are not sure of your direction or your instincts please consult your map or ask for directions it will save you time in the end, no one will mock you for consulting your map or a passer by and you will save time and energy. I have made the mistake several times during my trip, feeling but not knowing and cycling 10Km in the wrong direction is a massive waste of time and energy all for the want of pulling over and opening your bag and looking at the sign posts around you. Sometimes it is necesary to act on impulse but if it is not necessary just accept that you do not know where you are and spend a few minutes by the side of the road reading your map. Anyway. I eventually got my barings and was heading the corect way. after half an hour of cycling one near escape with an early morning delivery truck and my chain coming off again I found myself climbing the steps to my girls apartment (Many very steep steps), even after over one week of cycling I was out of breath and sweating profusly. I reached the top of what was my final hill and rang the bell. A few minutes later I was greated by the most wonderful smile. The end.

Friday, August 18, 2006

His First Day Home - RV Sleeps

The 2am mark has passed and I think RV is probably sleeping soundly since I put him to bed an hour ago.

We met this morning as he cycled from the train station to my home and he was dripping with sweat! A small moment of grogginess and awkward conversation followed and all I could think of was how unreal it all seemed to have him sitting infront of me, knowing that he had come home...

My heart is fluttering a bit from the thought but most of all, the pleasure in just spending a lazy, rainy day together is what makes me the most happy.

We drank and we ate, we made love, we giggled like kids.

Welcome home baby.

-RV Girl
Listening to Ramona Cordova

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Day 8 Part Two.

Ok for once im not typing this from a washroom im sitting in my girls apartment in Lyon eating curious pastry thingys and drinking a nice red wine. How did I get here you may ask? Well after purchasing my ticket I wondered La Baule for a few hours, lost my cigarettes ate a gormet pizza and had a few drinks before catching a train to Nantes which would be the first leg of an overnight journey. I was extremely nervous not because I had to ride the train alone but because I had to navigate frances famous train system hauling around a saddle bag a bike and a backpack and the lonely planet guide book I was using as a travel aid (Which was actually written before the advent of the euro) told me I would need a Housse (Bike Box) to ride certain trains, but a Housse I did not have. Through broken english/french I managed to understand from the ticket desk guy that it would not be necessary but my mind was still filled with images of angry ticket inspectors questioning me harshly in a foreign language as to why I was attempting to board one of their TGV's with a fully assembled and unboxed bike and maybe even denying me access to the train. As it turns out not all french trains cary bikes, so you need to book yourself and your bike onto a train with the appropriate bike car or as in my case a sleeping car which all seemed to me to have a special compartment into which you can place your fully assembled velo. I toyed with the idea of using SERNAM which is the SNCF door to door or station to station bagage service but this was a bit more complicated than waiting for an appropriate train. I waited nervously at La Baule station for the train to arrive and when it did the platform dude seeing that I was a bit confused directed me with out a word to the propper train car. Inside were a series of hooks hanging from a rack attached to the roof from which you hang your bike by the front wheel. All very neat and considerate in my opinion becaise where I come from you would be hard pressed to find such an accomodating and well thought out service as this, but Frances railways pride themselves on being extremely bike friendly. I took the train to Nantes were I worried again (Im the nervous type ok) but when my train arrived (Train a Grand Vitesse going all the way to Geneva overnight) the dude in the funny hat seeing my bike just smiled asked for my Billet and pointed at my carriage. After almost falling between the platform and the train as I struggled up the three metal steps and throught the narrow door and around a tight corner just inside the door with all my bags, camping equipment and bike I found a little bay designated as a bike storage compartment. It may sound funny to a few of you but things like this which im sure a common in other countries are totally foreign and seem amazingly considerate to someone from Ireland where the authorities and train companies would probably make you jump through hoops to bring a bike on a train not to mention charge you an arm and a leg. My compartment was right next to the velo space and when I open the door I found a frend woman with her two very well behaved kids getting into their bunks, you see there are six bunks in the 2nd class sleeping compartments. I did not want to subject these poor people to the feet and armpits and worn three days in a row t-shirt so I waited till they were asleep before entering to sleep myself. I spent that time looking out the window at the very blurry scenery reflecting on my trip and anticipating seeing my little girlfriend again in a few hours. I set my alarm for six in the morning as my train was due in to Lyon at sevenish. I found that I could sleep while the train was moving but woke every time it stopped which I found pretty funny, maybe it was the soothing vibrations keeping me under. My trip almost at and end I noticed I was not feeling particuarily depressed, I put this down to the fact that I know another adventure is begining soon for me. My new life with my girl in Lyon starts in a few hours and I can always hit the road for a day or two at a time whenever I feel the desire. Stay tuned as I have more to digress but im too exhausted to write anymore tonight and dinner is almost ready mmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So Now Is The Time...Am I Ready?

It's funny to think that over the past week both RV and I have been camping on opposite parts of the country or even in different countries. This beautiful lake is one campspot I invaded for a night near Geneva. No mosquitos, sunshine and lots of good food and wine.

Been moving non-stop since Switzerland and for that, I feel physically exhausted as well as mentally tonight. It is the first time I have had a moment truly alone in a long while and it feels comforting and relaxed. I can do those dumb things we do when no one can see!

It is hard to believe that in a matter of hours RV will be ringing at my door and not just staying for an extended weekend...I have a bit of fear seeping into me I'll be honest. We were in our different worlds lately and I think I may need some time to land back on our shared planet. I hope that won't disappoint him. I just have this mind that is vast, full of things everyday that I can forget even those things so close to me.

I have always been honest to RV about everything as much as possible but our lack of contact compared to normal makes me feel as if he has a lot to catch up on and it might overwhelm the both of us because we are not used to such distance.

My mind also races to make sense of what I feel although, no doubt, I am really happy to finally have him here. I just wonder why I feel so strange, detached...I don't know. Maybe I do but the fatigue isn't allowing it to sink in.

I have alot on my mind at the moment. It is nice to have a quiet night to reflect on those thoughts, on those people and hopefully get some sleep tonight. No booze, no fags.

See you soon RV.

-RV Girl
Listening to Under Byen

Day 8. La Baule.

I rose early this morning, it was pouring rain with high winds. It
looks sorta like how I imagine the french Riviera to be with the
weather of the west of Ireland. Imagine high rise apartment blocks and
casinos in the rain. Judging by my map it would be a long hard
dangerous wet day negotiating this urban death maze. I was lonely
tired and out of supplies. Maybe it was time to go home or to Lyon
which is my new home. But how would I do this with my limited french
and a bike in tow. I packed my things for the last time and cycled
into La Baule town centre in search of a Gare SNCF. After finding the
station I parked my bike and ventured inside into the unknown. I found
a relativly quiet section in the station and approached preparing my
french phrases in my head. The very nice very funny gentleman behind
the desk who spoke no english understood my request and typed away on
his computer for a few minutes before informing me that it was
possible today. So I purchased a ticket for myself and my bike and
walked away amazed at how easy the whole affair was. So I compose this
in a small local bistro drinking 1664, looking at the simple but
typically french menu watching the crowd, and they are playing one of
my favourite tracks by Joan Baez. Soon I can have a bath a huge meal
and touch my girl. It has been a wonderful journey, maybe not as long
as I had hoped but I feel it has done for me what I intended which was
to jump into french life and culture with help from no one and try to
get by even improve my french a little. And over all I want an
experience that will be a bridging point between my old life and my
new. I feel I have sweated out everything I needed to by now and that
I have changed both mentally and physically, its time to go home.

Day 7. Hot hills and Salt.

This morning I was feeling more refreshed than I have all week,
obviously because of my rest day. I packet my stuff which is getting
lighter all the time thank god. I set out from Vannes determined not
to hit the highway or N routes as they sat here. I planned my route
carefully and used my intuition to find my way out of the city because
the signs never help. Within a few minutes I was moving aong at a good
pace convinced I was going the right way and I was until I missed the
turn off for Thiex and ended up cycling exactly were I didn't want to,
on the hard shoulder of a 4 lane motorway. I suffered this for about
200m and decided to jump the barrier onto the adjacent road which
turned out to be exactly were I wanted to be. The rest of the day was
spent battling a headwind when I was exposed and powering up small
hills which pale in comparison to the hills of central brittany and
trying not to get too dehydrated in the 30 degree heat. I did not pich
a destination today I just decided to head south until I got tired or
found somewhere plesent to stay. Going through one largish medieval
tourist trap I even toyed with the idea of booking into whst looked
like a very nice and reasonably priced hotel. But being the sadist
that I am I decided to push on as there was no real athmosphere. After
that town (Cant remember the name) I encountered salt farms near the
coast with literally thousands of people in SUV's lining up to buy sea
salt from vendors on the side of the road. Earlier I crossed a very
nice bridge which crossed one of the inlets from the bay of Moribhan.
On the other side was a bird sanctuary with a great resting point
overlooking a marina. While I was there I got to see the bridge raise
up to let some yachts in. Altogether I estimate I covered approximatly
80 Kms today in about 6 hours. In the end I stopped in la Boule as I
was almost out of water and I spotted a sign directing towards a
campground. It is the most depressing site I have seen yet but has
everything I need I suppose. La Boule seems to me from looking at my
map to be a single urban conurbation ending at St. Nazaire. I intend
to tackle this tomorrow with a fresh head and hopefully the other side
of the bay it is situated on will be more relaxed and less built up.
My knees have healed significantly which was the one reason I made it
so far today and my ass isn't so bad either. I wonder how tomorrow
will go I haven't negotiated such an urban maze yet here I'm not
looking foreward to the challenge knowing how bad the signs are in
towns here. And can someone please tell me why only one in twenty
signs here tell you the distance to the next town?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day 6 Pt 2. Monday I think.

As this is my day of rest I decided I should just hang at the campsite
all afternoon and cook and eat and generall chill out. So I did, it
was a bit windy so I cooked in the doorway of my tent using my foam
mat as a wind breaker. My on the road cooking skills have greatly
improved over the course of the week I've graduated from pasta and
sauce to smoked salmon and emmental on bread for starter and garlic &
spice potatoe wedges and fried mushrooms with Jambon and garlic bread
on the side for main course. All prepared on a single gas stove. This
requires immaculate timing and delicate planning to accomplish but has
thought me to put a little more effort into preparing my meal times
which when camping takes a lot longer than in the kitchen. But the
benefit is that I get a decent meal very cheaply while reducing the
weight in my saddle bag. The more food I eat and the more gas I use
the lighter the load becomes. I have also been disgarding anything I
find is not useful. So far bug repellant, chain oil the fourth spare
gas cannister, dirty t-shirts and shorts and one or two other bit have
been either used up, binned or past on to other campers. But I did
loose my soap which I am a bit pissed about. My mum finally figured
out how to phone me I'm not sure if this is a good thing as she will
be calling all the time now but I miss her to. I suppose I should
report that thus far I have not had a single puncture a fact I put
down to the Kevlav tyres I have on the bike. Over 300Km now and no
major problems except the chain the other day, I guess it has
stretched a bit and 1st gear is out of the question from now on which
is a pisser as it has been my favourite what with all the hills and
all. Anyway tonight I look foreward to reading the news on my pda and
cracking open the great looking bottle of wine I bought at monoprix
for 3 euro 50 cents and smoking a gauloise or two. The wind has died
down and I think its time to pull out the foam mat and watch the sun
set from the hill on which I'm camped. Till later my friends.

Day 6. Vannes.

So today is my day of rest. After my breakfast of Oatmeal green tea
and bread I decided it was time to see some of the city, and stock up
on supplies. I packed my day bag and hit the road on my velo. I
followed the signs pointed to Centre Ville and discovered that the
campsite was a lot closer to the town than I had previously thought
due to the fact that on my way here the signs directed my the long ass
way maybe three times as far. I was angry as this had prolonged my
agony yesterday but happy that I had discovered a shorter route. The
city of Vannes is great, old school looks and everything you need. I
purchased cheese vegetables and fruit in the organic market and ham,
milk, wine and smoked salmon in the Monoprix and also some gauloise in
the tabac. I've set myself up for an evening of tasty food and drink
while I recouperate in the campsite sitting in the sun. I talked to my
girl earlier to and she seems to be having a good time which makes me
feel good. I'm getting a good kick from watching french families
arrive in loaded cars and set up their camps. The father is usually
stressed to the max after a long drive and the mother is usually
shouting at him for some reason, then they have a huge fight as they
attempt to errect the massive tent they have taken with them. The kids
are by this stage running around fighting each other with the youngest
crying the eldest lending a hand and the middle child causing trouble.
But after an hour or so they are all sitting around the table eating
lunch laughing and joking as their holiday really begins. It seems to
me that camping is a major passtime to the french as in sure it is to
many other european nations much more so than with the Irish. But then
again we don't really get the weather or have the facilities most
other countries have so I suppose it makes sense also there is a
certain stigma attached to caravans in Ireland which should really
make no difference. Shit black clouds approace maybe ill see my first
bit of rain here? Ill let you know how my creative cooking goes later
while I'm hangin in the wash room chargin my fone.

Day 5 Pt 2.

I suppose I should start this addendum by saying that I do not always
get time or remember everything that happens in a day. Often I am
rushed, usually I'm standing in the wash room trying not to look to
suspicious as I type away on my pda fone gizmo. Last night for
instance after composing my note for the day I was asked my two very
nice very alternative Dutch nationals to partake in a few glasses of
pastise before bed. We had a wonderful conversation sitting under the
stars we talked about Tolkin, Monty Python, backpacking told stories
and made jokes. I did not mention this earlier because I simply
forgot. I also failed to mention that it took me an hour to find my
way out of Josselin not because as a solo traveller I did not want to
admit I was lost but because again its not so easy to do on the fly.
However I do plan to reread all of my posts when I finish this journey
and add anything I forgot or did not realise till later in a sort of
epilogue. But there is one thing I do feel I should mention now and
that is the deep sense of lonelyness I feel during this trip. Mostly
when I am on remote forest highways by myself or in a campsite in a
forest late at night or when I sit in a pub surrounded by strangers
who do not speak my language. These are when I feel it most. I think
it is because I am never normally along, certainly not for more than a
couple of hours and if I want to talk to someone I can but here I
cannot, not in the way I need to. Basically I have no friends here
although I am surrounded by friendly folk. Today I almost cried on the
phone with my girl, I can't explain why it just came over me as we
exchanged the regular lovers banter. But I really felt and meant it
when I said I love you, I had a lump in my throat. I think this is
more than a bike trip to me now, it is a gateway to a set of emotions
I could never of experienced living as I did in Ireland, I was too
comfortable there. I do not care how long I stay on the road, it has
already shown me what I want and need, funny it did not take long but
I've always been hyper sensitive. Good night my friends.

Day 5. Hills and Success.

Writing again in a wash room:-/ Hasn't someone figured out that us
campers need the occasional 230V wall socket to charge our phones so
we don't have to watch half naked men shave. Also tonight its
definite, I need to learn more french, I need to be able to ask for
things and understand questions and answers. Maybe ill just get drunk
in the campsite bar instead after all I can order drinks and that's
the most important thing. Ok so I'm in Vannes very lovely but
unexpectedly busy coastal town. I'm happy today but it was not the
journey that made me smile, what makes RV happy is the fact that I
have crossed brittany by bike. After four hours of pain due to wind,
lots of hills and my chain coming off just before I made Vannes and
again before the campsite I saw the sea. As I crested the final hill
after the aerodrome I saw a tiny reflection in the distance this
lifted my heart just enough to ignore my knees, which at this stage
are both pure agony, to make me push through the final few Kilometers.
I think I'm going to rest here tomorrow and pick a destination
tomorrow. Some other highlights todat were seeing tour de france
messages drawn in chalk on the road as I decended from a forest south
of Josselin and seeing a Prayer to Nature with an accompanying Picture
drawn by a child stick to a tree at a rest stop. I feel these few days
have been pretty hard on my body hense the day of rest. At at few
points today I simply ran out of energy and had to stop, a big factor
in this is that I have not had a full nights sleep since I arrived as
the sites here are frequently near roads and it has gotten a lot
colder than I thought it would on more than one night. Anyway I'm
having fun despite the pain and fatigue so bring it on nature just
give me one day of rest first.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Day 4

My body immediately voiced its disgust at any movement this morning.
Both my knees now ache but I'm sure its just the tendons streching and
not a cartelidge thing as the pain is equal and just above both knee
joints. I set off from Pontivey after a megre breakfast bound for
Josselin along the canal Nantes a Brest. The lonely planet guide
informed me that this would be a short 50 odd kilometer ride along a
peaceful tree lined waterway. Road vermin had a big smile all the way,
great weather, beautiful scenery, dozens of fellow bikers and not a
hill to be found. I was in heaven. The previous two grueling days had
taken their toll on me but they didn't ruin my ride. Along the way I
saw cute little ecluse houses with picturesque gardens, the owners
usually sitting outside drinking wine, reading, sleeping and drawing.
The canal lead me to Josselin without me ever having to deal with a
car. My girl called me half way for a chat which was also very nice.
After arriving in josselin I located the campsite very quickly, this
one is just outside the town about 2Km so no traffic tonight. I
pitched my tent settled with the english owners (I had a feeling they
were english b4 I met the as all the signs on the site are dual
language and the toilets are real toilets not holes in a shower tray
thingy). After a well deserved shower I hopped on my bike again sore
ass and all and popped into town. I searched around for a restaurant
only to find none of the opened till later so I went in search of the
spar that is rumoured to exist in Josselin but instead found the
patisserie and so bought a big loaf of bread (About a metre long) and
some croissante. After more searching I found the town square (Very
quiet) and a restaurant that was about to start serving and so with
the little french I had I explained that I wanted a table for one and
a pint. The owner then started speaking english and told me he would
send someone out to me in a few minutes. I ordered what I could
understand on the menu and was served up the most gorgeous meal,
sausage, pate, ham and bread and salad for starter and steak with
pepper sauce and frite for the main. My appetite was insatiable which
when I think about it is hardly surprising given that I haven't had a
decent meal in three day. I cannot wait to taste my babys cooking
again so I can put on all the weight I've lost. I sit here now
drinking a cold beer watching the sun set from the hilltop the
campsoite is situated on. A wonderful end to a perfect day. Tomorrow I
head for Vannes, I hear theres hills and I expect pain but I don't
care after today.

France...RV is Finally Here

What a joy. I have nothing to share but my complete content in knowing all is fine and that he will be here with me soon...

-RV Girl
Listening to Six Organs of Admittance

Day 3. Hills/Pain & Pints.

I'm composing this in the toilets of the municipal campgroung in
Pontivey. First off ill let you know that no one ever inspected the
campsite in Huelgoat and I left very early so my stay there was free,
I fully intended to pay but when you see how remote the site was I
don't blame the official for not bothering making the trek out there.
Today didn't start so well. I didn't realize I was so far from Carhaix
Plonger and there were many hills between me (Huelgoat) and Carhaix.
The headwind didn't help either. I also picked up an injury somewhere
along the way it started as a funny lil pain in my knee and became
agonising later on. Carhaix plonger was a bit of a let down when I
finally got there I found a pretty modern french town and a very busy
french town. On the plus side I've entered an area covered by a mobile
phone provider that supports my network in a roaming sense. So I got
to talk to my girl after a three day silence and also let my family
know I'm ok. It turns out they were very worried by my silence and the
fact that I didn't bring my helmet. As I'm travelling on quiet country
roads at speeds of between 2Kmph and 10kmph in 25 degrees C. I didn't
think it would be necessary or comfortable, I'm sweating buckets
already. I made Gurin by about one o clock after 50Kand felt I had the
energy and time to press on to Pontivey a further 50 odd Kilometers
and as there were no campsites anywhere I sort of felt I had to. So I
did. I also thought my luck had changed because the last 10Km to Gurin
had been mostly flat with wonderful countryside and good extremely
quiet roads. I was wrong to make this assumption, I was in for 50Km of
wind hills and busy roads. I crawled into Pontivey after five hours af
hard work. But now I was to be rewarded. Pontivey is energetic
beautiful has a campsite near the town and a nice canal running
through its centre. I checked into the campground beside the canal,
ate had a nice hot shower and headed out to explore. After about an
hour I found a curious looking establishment called (Cant remember)
inside was decorated to resemble a morrocan hash house. The elderly
female hippy behind the bar was delighted to have a customer and so I
drank several pints of bemish smoked a cigarette that was so kindly
offered to me and managed to maintain a sort of conversation with her
until she was relieved by her husband an elderly male hippy. When I
had had ny fill I walked back to the campsite along the canal watching
the pike cruise below the surface accasionaly jumping for flys. A
wonderful end to a difficult day. So here I find myself utilizing the
wall socket in the gents wash room to write this note. Tomorrow
promises to be an easy trek to Josselin according to the lonely planet
guide to cycling in france, flat off the road and only 50Km,
apparently. Until then bye bye.

Day 2, August 10th. Hills.

After I wrote my last message I left my cabin to check out the
entertainment being offered by irish ferries. I arrived at the bar
just in time to catch the magician laid on to keep the kids busy so
their parents could get wasted in relative peace. This was followed by
a kiddies disco the playlist consisted of eurotrash style pop and even
a song which I'm sure was a jingle irish ferries used in an
advertising campaign. This tired the kids out so the parents could
continue their booze cruise. One thing that was a surprise was the
lack of vomit. I thought hundreds of kids eating crisps and drinking
coke and dancing on a boat that swayed through ten or more degrees
every fifteen seconds would of produced lots of this but no there was
non. After the kids a dude came on stage and announced that the
evenings adult entertainment would be commencing shortly. This
consisted of four people, two girls and two guys doing a medly of
condenced eurovision hits a few song from the musical greese followed
by atrociously bad cabaret with some irish dancing thrown in. I
estimate they did fifty songs in an hour with costume stages all
performed on an impossibly small stage. Such a mixture should be
witnessed by no man. In fact I think this sort of thing is only
allowed in international waters along with the filming of pay per view
monkey knife fights. During all this I consumed a large quantity of
alcohol, cigarettes and a cigar so as you can imagine I payed for that
today but after all I am on holiday. Anyway, the day began well I set
off at approximatly eleven am leaving Roscoff bound for Carhaix
Plonger. I followed the d58 towards Morlaix until I saw the turn off
for Plouenan. The traffic was a nightmare the worst I saw all day. I
took the d75 intending to get to st. Thegonnec but I found the road
was only partially finished and the diversion sent me north. When I
discovered this, after about five kilometers I turned back and through
some miracle I found myself in st. Thegonnec but I don't really know
by what route I got there. I then set my sights on Pleyber Christ and
had a short break. At this stage I felt good about my water situation
I was moving fast the land was mostly flat and there wasn't a lot of
wind. This all changed after Pleyber Christ. The d785 is a long
straight busy road that leads to the highest point in Brittany. I must
have sweated several pints before reaching the radio transmitter that
sits on top, the view was wonderful and I had plenty of time to admire
it as I had to stop at least six times to rest on the climb. The wind
had picked up significantly and I was seriously doubting I would reach
my intended stop point. At the top I could look back towards Roscoff
across the gorgeous fertile landscape I had just crossed. But the d785
had sapped my strength and exhausted my water supply, during the two
hours it took to complete. I was moving at no more than six of seven
kilometers an hour at that point which is extremely frustrating when
you are faced with an eighty of ninty kilometer stage. But my luck
changed, I was not greeted by more hills on the other side when I
looked over the top. Instead I coasted for several kilometers all the
way to Huelgoat through beautiful forests with plenty of signs telling
me carhaix was directly ahead but not saying how far. At the end of my
coast I spotted a sign advertising a camp ground, the first I have
seen, I was feeling quite tired at this point and I needed water and
food so I decided to jump at it. I followed the signs they lead me
into a beautiful peaceful forest. The camp was very small only about
ten places to pitch a tent or an camper van but the office was locked
there was a sign on the door but only in french. So I waited for half
an hour or so before I figured I'd be better off finding out what it
said so I took out my french to english dictionary and realized it
instructed me to pitch my tent and settle with them when the office
opens in the morning. So I put up my tent and made myself something to
eat. I'm spending my first night in france in a forest and to tell you
the truth I am feeling a bit lonely. I saw no other cyclists either on
the ferry or on the roads here. My phone has not worked since I
arrived so I can not even let my family know I'm alright, I'm sure
they are worried especially mum. And of course I miss my girl very
much I wish I could share these moments with her. I hope she comes to
visit me soon. I wish that dog would quit howling.

Day 1, August 9th. The Ferry.

I have only been aboard for a few minutes but I have already walked
the length and breath of every accessible deck & I it has to be said
tonights entertainment prospects are looking bleak. The bar resembles
a refugee camp/childrens birthday party. Teams of kids run riot
excited by the fact that this is the first day of their holidays and
probably their first time on a boat. They run from window to window
and diving under tables shouting "we're sinking we're sinking". The
parents seem intent on staking out a good spot in the bar their
luggage in tow, apparently digging in for the night as they haven't
actually booked a cabin and at the same time feeding their already
hyper kids all the sugary drinks they want. A band is setting up
instruments on a stage at the back of the bar but since the audience
is both below the age of ten and above the age of fourty I do not hold
out hope that the music on offer will be aimed outside either of these
demographics. Ill drop in there later, see what its like and maybe
have a pint or two. There is also a restaurant a reading room an
arcade a few shops and maybe a cinema but I can't find where they are
hiding the cinema. So I suppose sleep will be the primary source of
entertainment for the next 18 hours. The boat I would estimate is
about 30 years old maybe more, everything is made from bakelite, vinyl
coated fireproofing and bits of plastic covered metal with rust
visible around most edges, all decoration is faux wood and all
surfaces host numerous safety signs. Everything on deck is steel
covered with multiple layers of paint evident were several layers have
worn away to reveal the flavour of some past era or the stripes a
former owner. My cabin is about 2 meters by 2 meters and is equiped
with a locker approximately 80cm by 1.5 meters which is the
toilet/shower. Yes you heard that correctly I said toilet/shower. The
shower nozel is located almost directly above the toilet seat and
while I was in there earlier I discovered creatures of unknown species
frequenting the drain in the centre of the toilet/shower locker. I
must say that this is without doubt the smallest, filthiest and
funniest form of accomodationtransport I have ever had the privalege
of experiencing. But I do find the hum of the engine the faint smell
of diesil fumes and the way the toilet/shower door swings slowly back
& forth as the boat rolls over the waves sort of calming. I might try
to have a nap now, maybe when I wake everybody will be drunk and this
floating relic will be even funnier.

Friday, August 11, 2006

No Word From RV...I Get Worried

Normally RV arrives in France today. I expected a chance of non-communication as his only contact is his mobile but when I saw a message from his family tonight, worried and also having not heard from him, I sit here unable to sleep...

One particular detail seems so out of place and I am left pondering if he intentionally left out an important part of his bike gear or if it was a simple mistake.

Not being able to have his voice reassure me and also my own guilt for having an extended travel in Switzerland makes me feel a little guilty for not having been there more for him prior to his departure.

I realise I am probably jumping the gun but just writing this down during my insomnia helps, even if a little paranoid.

I miss you RV...

-RV Girl
Listening to Isobel Campbell & Mark Flanegan

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I find it weird that I am undertaking this adventure on what I believe is the begining of a global crisis promarily concerning the liquid that drives the world. I mean oil of course. My adventure of course advocates an alternative that does not solve all our problems but is I feel a component that would solve a small percentage of our troubles. I am a man of science and I understrand that without oil there is no plastic, the ferry that will carry me from Ireland to France would not function and without oil this very blog can not exist. We are tied to this fuel, we need it to sustain the standard of living to which we have become accustomed. There are alternatives to the types of plastics we use the amounts and forms of energy we rely on to drive our transport, power our appliances and generally keep us comfortable, I understand this to. We are getting better we have to we have no choice. I think the current trouble in the world be it environmental or man made will act as a sort of catalyst pushing the human race toward a cleaner brighter future. I want to show and prove that cycling is a viable, clean and efficient form of transport. And so tomorrow I plan to take the first steps towards proving this hypothesis and through this blog I wish to highlight my struggle. The transition will be painful, alot of the strife that exists in the world can be traced to the people who want us to believe that oil can be used as it is used today for many years to come. They are the oil industry and the people who are the political wings of the oil industry. They act in ways that cause hurt both to the environment and to individuals and they appear as we can see from their more obvious visual protursions (Politicians and corrupt media) to feel nothing. We need change in both attitude and action. We need to re-evaluate the way we live. Now if you can just get over yout outrage fatigue and maybe your hatred of what you refer to as hippies or crusties the people you see at anti globalisation protests (Those of us who do not fit into the general stereotype or the type of individual you are familliar with) you will see when you look into your hearth that I am right. There is very something wrong with the world and I think it is this, oil is power, power is money, money is a drug. Goodnight.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tomorrow It Begins.

I have finished packing, training and planning and I am quite nervous now. Yesterday I took my fully loaded bike for a test ride. There were no rattling noises, nothing broke off and it was reasonably easy going even on the hills. I feel quite prepared in that I think the bike is up to the task but weather or not I will be able to cover as much ground as I would like is another story. Tomorrow I will travel to Rosslair to wait for the ferry and by Thursday I will be in France. From that point on it will be my special lady friends task to update this blog as it is not possible to post from my mobile but I will be emailing her my musings and my progress at the end of each day. Until next time, peace and love.

One More Day!

RV you are in my thoughts, can't wait to talk to you again!

Many, many kisses from Zurich xoxo

-RV Girl
Listening to The Eraser

Thursday, August 03, 2006

5 Days Left...

Only five days to go before I catch the boat to France and approximatly 17 hours later RV will be fresh off the boat (FOB). These last few days I have been training by cycling up to 40km per day and trying to figure out what I need to bring. The training was easy I just commuted to and from the train station by bike, but figuring out what would be useful and what would not and rounding up these items was no easy task. A side effect of these two activities was that I learned a few new facts about my routine and my country.

Lets start with my routine, every day I get up at seven AM I have a shower followed by breakfast then I cycle to the train station. When I get to the office I work nine hours spending half my time on my feet and half at my desk. At the end of the working day I return home and after I have finished all the necessary miscellaneous tasks it is late in the evening and I am too trashed to do much else except talk to my girl on skype and watch crap tv. Pretty much everything I needed to do to accomplish this trip or anything else for that matter had to be done on a Saturday. Only one day a week to do what I want, I started to feel Ive been conned. I think i deserve more than one day a week. What this showed me was that I would never be able to accomplish all those little projects I dreamed about if I continued to live like this.

I also learned that there is nothing you can get here that you cant get cheaper on the internet. Every single item can be bought for less online and I dont have to waste my time running around a poorly laid out city. This country is way too expensive, I have noticed this more and more as I prepared to leave my job and I started to shop around for the bits and pieces I would need. I dont plan on working in any conventional sense for the next year so things like this have become more important and apparent to me.

It has always been obvious that the nine to five routine is a bit of a waste as I could be spending my time doing what I want for a greater proportion of the week. In a way it is a viscious circle, never paying enough to make early retirement or prolonged absense from work a reality due to the high cost of living and making it extremely hard for anyone to break loose and try something different.

I suppose my point is that the majority of people here are stuck, they are trapped by the accumulation of material wealth and its associated debt due to the rip off republic and a routine that does not give you time to even consider something different. If you are open minded and adventurous this life might start to get you down, escape is possible but difficult. And so RV is leaving this expensive cage for greaner pastures and the ability to pursue a variety of crazy dreams.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I have but one enemy...

And his name is wind, unfortunatly for me I live in Ireland so I fight a loosing battle against this gastly enemy.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sometimes its hard to be a cyclist:-(

Yesterday I was actually ridiculed by two middle aged gentlemen sitting in a BMW in the car park of the train station as I locked my bike to the rack. I didnt see what the were sniggering about, I was simply a 20 something year old dude in casual dress locking my bike. Is there something wrong with cycling or something funny about the people who choose this as their preferred mode of transport. If there is i do not see it.