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pedal plenty

notes on a north american cycle trip in 2008

Archive for April, 2008

Tour de Forth…

…. 117 kilometres (that’s 72 miles) that moi et Frauleine Direktor did on Sunday. Not bad! And we are so super powerful from our spin classes. The heart rate monitor said we had burned 23,732 calories each so to refuel we ate:

  • 5 gingerbreads
  • a small pony
  • 2 fruit cakes
  • 18 plates of kedgeree
  • 1 apple
  • 8 glasses of ginger beer
  • 3.5 scabby heided polismen

Oh you wanted to know about the training … we cycled around the Firth of Forth on a very sunny day (that’s us had our summer then). However, there were moments of non-cycle related whimpering from some parties in the peloton:

Look Frauleine it’s about 50 metres down to the water. Look! Look! Look at the boats! Alarmed look on Frauleine’s face as she set off at great speed over the remainder of the Forth Road Bridge.

Then there was the moment that I zoomed down the big, very steep hill and missed the turn off coz I was too busy whooping with glee. We had to cycle back up said big, very steep hill.  Fortunately I have very low gears. Unfortunately Ms Direktor was on her very highly geared racing bike. I think I was lucky to come away with just a dirt look. Note to self: invest in a pair of specs!

More training planned for this forthcoming weekend …

Posted by me on April 30th, 2008

Ooops ….

The diary’s gone a bit wonky. It was that Sys Admin who did it. Again! This time alcohol was not involved. Just incompetence.

PP diary will be back to it’s old outfit soon.

Posted by me on April 28th, 2008

Haggis agus …

CassetteYou know how I called my bike Laika after the first, so very brave, dog-in-space. Well, while no-one was looking at work I also called one of the servers Laika too. And I spend a lot of time talking either about Laika (the bike one) or Laika (the server one). Then Frauleine Direktor suggested that perhaps I was becoming somewhat obsessional about the cosmonautic canine so I have decided to call my bike Haggis instead. Gussie thinks it’s a good idea to stop calling things Laika in case they suffer the same fate as the space pooch (unpleasant melt down after 4 hours). Oh look there goes the server ….

So today Haggis (not the pudding but the bike) came home. She’d been at the bike shop and she is now Haggis agus*….

  • new shifters for the small paws. Shimano ST-R700
  • new shorter crank for the short legs, from France 46-36-26. Specialite TA Vega triple 165mm
  • new 9 speed cassette 11-34. Shimano XT M770.
  • new chain. Shiman0 HG93 9 speed.
  • new shorter bar stem so I can reach the handle bars now! Bontrager Race X Lite 60mm
  • Frog legs levers. Crane Creek Crosstop.
  • new wider handle bars so I can fit my handle bar bag. This means I don’t need to buy front panniers which would just encourage me to carry mor unnecessary rubbish.
  • new bottom bracket, brake pad, cantilever cradle, cables, handle bar tape (Red), fit bar bag thingies
  • trued wheels, oiled stuff, blew up tyres, test ride
  • Gill agus £607.45 lighter

* Kultchural note: Haggis agus = Haggis and. Haggis agus was a Gaelic cookery programme that encouraged Scots to learn to cook and learn Gaelic at the same time. Of course Scots are renowned for being rubbish at cooking (except perhaps the cooking of the deep fried Mars Bars) and rubbish at languages too (some people however are quite fluent in Weegie). Our Gaelic language skills did not extend beyond Haggis Agus and our culinary development stalled with the haute cuisine of the La brioche et frites avec sauce d’effluent chimique . Other Gaelic words we Scots know include:

  • slainte = cheers as in when you take a drink of uisge-beatha = whisky
  • Parlamaid = Parlour Maid .. eh I mean Parliament as in Parlamaid na h-Alba
  • Donnie Murdo = Danger Mouse

Posted by me on April 26th, 2008

Get on yer ….

Corn… bike.

  • I met a man
  • At the train station
  • The train station at Newark Airport
  • He was a nice man
  • With a John Deere baseball hat
  • And slight tum
  • He said his slight tum was due to being a farmer
  • He said farming was very good business
  • I asked him what he farmed
  • Corn, he said
  • I told him I liked corn very much
  • But he said, Not for eating but for biofuel
  • Oh dear
  • Fuel rather than food
  • That’s not so good
  • So get outta yer car
  • And on yer bike
  • Otherwise we might all starve

Posted by me on April 23rd, 2008

10 things … thing 1

Welcome to the occasional series of 10 things. Here I will tell of the 10 things I love about North America and 10 things I hate about North America

Of course, being Scottish I am naturally full of negativity and moaning (Jeez if you lived in this weather you’d be a bit down too!). So I am kicking the 10 things thing off with a thing I hate.

10 things I hate about North America

Oi! What is it with the date? I hate that, I really do and not just a little. Quite a lot actually!

I arrived at my rental apartment in Arlington last week and I looked on my rental agreement and it said I was actually arriving on the 4th of May. Feck! I booked it wrong, I am going to have to sleep on a bench in the Pentagon City Fashion Mall (no bad thing coz there’s an Apple Store and a …. but I digress).

And then I remember that Americans (and you Canadians are a bit guilty of this too) write the date wrong.

Month, Day, Year. (04/05/2008) What is that about?
It’s Day, Month, Year (05/04/2008). Obviously!
It so very very confusing for us non-North Americans.
Come on people of America and Canada.
Get with the rest of the world.
Get with all those computers. You evented the damn things (well you didn’t actually the Engerlish did that, I’ll give you that you invented the transistor but I digress yet again ….)
Where were we ?
Yes, the computers
You invented their date format dd/mm/yyyy
Get with the machines!

I feel better now that I got that off my chest. Sorry about strongish language. I was upset.

Posted by me on April 21st, 2008

All quiet …

It has been all quiet on the Pie Front of late however this does not mean that the Pie Fund is in neglect.  In fact the pie fund is quite healthy as can be seen. (NB pie fund is in sterling not USD coz that wouldn’t be very much money at all!)
Furthermore, news reaches me from the West that Sharon is primed and ready for pie making, with pinny * on, spatchula in hand, bowl under arm.  Actually, Sharon will be using a special automated pie making, mixing gadget.

I did undertake some pie investigations while in the other Washington, the non-West one, but there was not a single slice to be found.  However, if you wanted a raspberry, cheese croissant … well that was a different matter (I kid you not!)

* cultural note:  pinny = apron.


Posted by me on April 18th, 2008


How long til you go? ask T the Speedy, he of the Carbon Fiber bike and fount of all cycling and camping knowledge.

Oh ages, I don’t finish work for another 5 weeks.

Eh but …. said Mr Sweaty Onion, raising an eyebrow.

I look at the calender and Holy-ChroMoly it’s 14th April! Quick bit of adding on fingers and I am very shocked to learn that I finish work in just 3 weeks and 5 weeks from today I will be somewhere on this road. Better get myself sorted!

larger map

Posted by me on April 14th, 2008

This week …

… I underwent a heavy training schedule in readiness for my trip. The training did not necessitate the wearing of the padded shorts, nor the wearing of the clippy shoes, nor outrageous amounts of Goretex. Not even a bicycle was used in this training. Because the training was of the Kulchooraal type. The training was undertaken in Washington DC and I was able to determine the following about the Capital City of You Ess A.

There are only 5 types of jobs to be had in DC:

  1. working for the Government
  2. working for the Military
  3. working to guard 1 and 2
  4. working to feed 1 and 2 and 3
  5. working to clean up after 1 and 2 and 3 and 4

I have never seen so many administrators in my life.

But what’s the best job in DC?

That’s easy!

Being a member of the Police Force of the Library of Congress and getting to handcuff patrons who talk above a whisper in the reading rooms.

Posted by me on April 12th, 2008

Dearly departed …

or in other words, an excuse to write another list.

I am on very, Very, VERY important work business.

I am.


I am going to an exciting conference and even more excitingly I am going to Library of Congress to talk about authority files and their Flickr project. But that’s all an aside to my list. My list is a list of things that are inside my left pannier. While I am here in America on business I am making use of those lovely fellows at US Postal (formerly mates of Lance) and having them take my left pannier to Sharon and Kendall in Tacoma. This is a cunning ploy to avoid having to pay excess luggage when I fly to Vancouver in May. Aye, we Scots are thrifty.

So list of dearly departed things includes:

  • left rear Arkel pannier of much redness
  • Arkel tent tube (red natch.)
  • tent pegs
  • Big Agnes fast fly floor
  • Big Agnes fast fly
  • Big Agnes inner tent (Bye bye my Darling Agnes, bye bye)
  • oh sh*t, nearly forgot … Big Agnes tent poles!
  • midgie hat (just in case they follow me to North America)
  • 6 little Scottish Saltires. (Last time when I took my little flags and put them on my bike people thought I was Finnish. What do they teach in school in America?)
  • My Fat Tire Amber Ale cycling socks. Thank you WandA!
  • 2 x rear pannier covers. Yellow. Yeuch!
  • 2 x inner tubes
  • Factor 50 sun tan stuff for putting on my ears. I hate getting Crispy Ear.
  • Head torch with some batteries
  • My lovely Buff that I got from Eeva in Finland (yes she IS Finnish and not Scottish. Her flag looks different from mine)
  • A pair of Gore leg warmers
  • A pair of Gore arm warmers
  • A fat, jolly, travelling buddha. I hope he doesn’t gain any more weight! He’s not full size obv!
  • Tube of special clothes washing stuff. I was hoping to escape chores but ….
  • Lip salve
  • Maps. Millions of maps.
  • The barely tolerated these days, Northwave shoes.
  • A roll of gaffer/duct tape. You can always find a use for gaffer tape.
  • 2 sets of Tibetan prayer flags to decorate my tent.
  • Some ziplock bags for all those things you need ziplock bags for.
  • A 1st aid kit with some big, BIG bandages.
  • A book from Philomena for reading in Wyoming. Thank you Phil.
  • a RED notebook
  • my Goretex waterproof troos
  • my ThermaRest
  • the kitchen sink

Good bye my dears. I shall see you all again on 13 May in Tacoma.

Posted by me on April 7th, 2008


I have heard that on The Great Plains there is not much verticalness along the road. There are no trees, no walls, no posts to prop your heavily laden bicycle against. It is V IMPORTANT to prop you bike up on The Great Plains coz there are terrible rumours of merciless lightning storms.

LightningMy thinking is …

  • If lightning storm comes
  • Get off bike
  • Prop it up
  • Run away
  • Far, far away
  • From the bike
  • Lay down in a ditch (at this juncture some people choose to kiss bits of their anatomy)
  • Pray (if you are in to such things) or alternatively Hope
  • The lightning strike
  • Hits the bike
  • And not you

For months I have been trying to find a suitable kickstand to ensure my bike Gets It rather than me out there where all is flat. But The Man at the Bike Shop, Oh how he laffed.

No-one uses kickstands, he smirked.


And look at your bike. It’s fat. Have you been feeding it pie?

Oh that’s not fair, I protested. She’s just got Big Tubes!

SleepBut then I found the most, most brilliant thing. Possibly worthy of The Nobel Prize for Really Quite Smart Simple Stuff.

The amazing Click Stand.

It’s kinda like a Salvidor Dali crutch for your bike.

My dollars are hurtling through the internet to Aberdeen, WA as we speak/type!

Posted by me on April 5th, 2008