Friday, September 18, 2009

Glacier National Park

Day 428 (Slideshow) (Video 1)

Made it to Glacier where there are no glacier's any more. Even in late summer these peaks were covered in snow and ice. Quite a disappointment and the Bark Beetle has caused so much damage.
Well on my way to Canada and Jasper. I hope I can cross the border without being assaulted by the Canadians again. I still remember all my gear being thrown out of my truck when I crossed in Vermont.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Salmon River to Flathead Lake, Montana

Day 427

I am worried about the weather and thinking about not going into Canada. Its getting late in the year and it will be snowy and cold up there. I could cut across to Seattle from here.
Forget That!
Stick to the plan. I have decided to go north. I'm well prepered for the cold and my truck is running good. I've never been to Jasper so I need to see it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Day 422 (Slide Show) (Video)

As I was heading for Glacier NP I received an email from John Biehn in Jackson, Wy inviting me to come down for some fishing. The detour was a lot of fun and quite an adventure. Being very sick while driving through Yellowstone wasn't very fun though. It was so busy and slow with people and cars I couldn't believe it. The Climbers Ranch was a great place, I could have stayed there for weeks.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Devils Tower and the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Day 417 (Slide show) (Video)
I am very surprised by the massive Devils Tower. I had an idea it would be something to see but it was much more then I thought. I walked all the way around it which took a while. It reminded me of when I walked around the Acropolis in Athens. If your a rock climber this has to be high up on the list, a must climb.
Then off to this unbelievable range of mountains called the Bighorn's. Beautiful place with lot's of game. It was to bad I didn't have time to stay longer but I needed to get to a Wi-Fi location.
The reason I am even here is my new friend Big D, from Pine Ridge told me the Medicine Wheel is a must see and she was right. A magical place.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis, South Dakota

Day 416 (Video 1) (Video 2)

I have been worried about where I wanted to hang for the Labor Day holiday. You don't want to be on the road looking for a campsite. Its best to find a place early and ride it out. While in the Badlands I ran into this guy who recommended the Spearfish City Campground. I was a week late in arriving but it was a great place. After checking in the camp host came over to greet me. Dub was his name and he knew about me from the guy in the badlands who had just left a few days before. I missed him but he had told Dub of my adventure. After talking for a good while I waved goodbye and said "Good Luck to You and To Me" Banjo Dan. Dub turned around and told me the guy I meet said the same thing. I knew this was the right place for me to be. Dub and I became good friends but I never saw the guy from the Badlands again. Don't even know his name.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Center Lake - Black Hills, South Dakota

Day 412 (Video 1) (Video 2)

Center Lake is in Custer State Park. This has been a great week and one of the most beautiful places I've seen on the adventure. I had only planned to stay a couple of days but I couldn't leave. Meet several nice people and hope to make it back one day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Badlands, Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge, SD

Day 405 (Video 1) (Video 2) (Slideshow)
This is a place I'm looking forward to seeing. I'm fascinated with the area and the history. The Buffalo and Mountain Sheep, Deer and Elk are everywhere. I'm finally in the land of the Lakota Souix and Northern Cheyenne.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Missouri River, South Dakota

Day 403 (Video 1) (Video2) ( Slide show)

Glad to make it out of Wisconsin. The camping was very limited. Water that was brown and high prices. South Dakota is very different. Great prices and showers. Gotta love it. The Missouri River is quite a site. I would love to get out on it for a few days in a canoe.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Niagara Falls Aug 21,2009

Day 400 (Slideshow)
Camping in Canada and in New York on Lake Erie.
Very stormy on both sides of the lake. High humidity and buggy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Montreal, Canada 18/8/09

Day 397 (Slideshow)

Decided to head north to Montreal. Thanks Naomi for the great time and the couch. I wish I could have spent more time here. The city has a lot of things to do and the people from Montreal are great. I will have to return someday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Long Trail Vermont August 16, 2009

Day 395 (Slideshow)

Lucky to find any camp but Apollo was looking out for me again and led me to Barrewood Campground, Westfield, VT.
An unbelievable tent area in the back of the campground right on Jay Brook. Mark Perry is the owner and a real nice guy.

The Long Trail I just did a short piece of the trail but it was a great adventure. At this time of year it is quite dangerous if your by yourself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Making Mistakes August 11, 2009

Day 390 (Slide show)

I'm trying to find a camp spot somewhere close to the trail head at Jonesville, VT. I want to do a segment of the Long Trail but arrived to late and no place to camp. But, I didn't even have a map. Not very smart, I thought I could wing it. Slept in the car which was a bad thing to do but found wifi service at the rest stop. Real nice of Vermont to have this service. I have to plan better. I can't get let myself get so caught up in the drive.

Monday, August 10, 2009

White Mt of NH to Acadia NP, Maine August 10, 2009

Day 389 (Slide show) (Video 1) (Video 2)

Acadia NP is a big disappointment. Lot's of commercial swill outside the gates. From Bar Harbor to the other side of the island its one huckster after another. I got to get out of here.
I'm sure it was a beautiful place once.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The North American Tour Begins August 9, 2009

Day 388 (Slide show) (Video 1 ) (Video 2)
(Video 3)

I will take 3 to 4 months to explore the North American Continent.
My first stop is the Bear's Den in Vermont.
This is where I first heard

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Searching for Strawberry Fields August 5, 2009

Day 384 (Slideshow) (Video 1) (Video 2) (Video 3)

One of my greatest days.
To ride my Betsy on the streets of NYC and to find the Strawberry Fields Memorial for John Lennon in Central Park.

Also, I was glad to survive this adventure.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Shipment Has Arrived August 2, 2009

Day 381 (Slideshow) (Video 1) (Video 2)

It took 30 days. I'm going to miss this old crate. It served me very well. I always thought this plan of shipping my gear and bikes would be the hardest thing to pull off but there wasn't a single problem both ways.
I want to thank,
Leah, my friend at REI who helped me with the planning.
Moses, my friend at ETC International Shipping (Long Beach, CA) who built this crate and shipped it to Prague. He also handled the logistics to ship it back to Newark, NJ.
Pavel, from CS Cargo in Prague who helped me receive this crate and stored it for me for 8 months before we shipped it back to Newark, NJ.
Daniel Plavecký, my friend in Prague who pulled off the feat of the century and cleared me through customs in Prague.
Pat, my sister who figured out a way to get this crate to New Haven, Conn from Newark, NJ.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Back In The Saddle" July 17 2009

Day 365 (Slideshow) (Video 1) (Video 2)

Out one year now

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Cabin in Vermont July 12, 2009

Day 360 (Slideshow) (Video 1) (Video 2)

What a great place to spend the weekend.
Thanks John & Pat.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Back in the USA July 10, 2009

Day 358 (Slideshow)
It fills strange after so long.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Frankfurt, Germany July 8, 2009

Meltem's great birthday party.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Amsterdam July 5, 2009

Thanks Sandra, I wouldn't have made it here without your help.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dusseldorf Germany 1/7/09

Back on the road again, following the setting sun.

Always WEST.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prague, Czech Rep. After 8 months its time to move on. 28/6/09

Day 346 (Slideshow) (Video)


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Must See Places Before I Leave 10/5/09 Day 297

Day 297 (Slide show) (Video)

Copy to follow

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I need the Rest Prague, Czech Rep 3-05-09 Day 290

Day 290 (Slide show) (Video)
I few pictures of this week where I rested and prepared for
my next trip to Dresden. More to come.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Krakow, Poland The Big Train/Bike Adventure 26/04/08 Day 283

Day 283 (Slide show)
(Video 1) (Video 2 ) (Video 3)

This adventure to Krakow is turning out to be a real problem. I've been out on an overnight bike riding tour twice in the past two weeks and I'm a bit tired but I want to do this if I can figure out the rail situation. I don't want another Odysseus moment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Walls Are Closing In 18/4/09

Day 275 (Slide show)

Before you read this I want you to know that this is the week that really set me back. About this point I didn't want to do this blog anymore because I was angry at myself for not seeing this happen. So now I've decided to tell it like it happened. WTF – 8/22/09

Sunday 4/12

I worked on my taxes and did some blog work. These taxes are going to be a problem. The number is 4 times higher then I expected. I have two more days to figure it out.

There is this “Beer Garden” that is a nice place to meet up with folks so I rode over for the afternoon. There is some pictures here of the place. It's in Letna Park not far from the Metronome on the hill overlooking the city. Its a great view and the afternoon was nice. I need to get my mind off the computer anyway.

I was back in my flat by 5PM, no one showed up. It's a Sunday though.

I see in the weather that this week might be the last of good weather for a while. I need to set up a two night bike tour fast it looks like. I'm ready for something longer now that I'm used to the trails and riding over here. I'm looking for a spot with some history or a good campsite on the Lobe River.

Monday 4/13

Well I seem to be in another rut. My brain is freezing up. I have to get these taxes behind me. It's all I'm thinking about.

I rode down to the train station to see if I could find out how the bike/rail thing works. I'm ready to take a train ride to another city and ride back. Two places are on my list and those are Krakow, Poland and Dresden, Germany. Krakow is an interesting choice because I wasn't planning to go there but a nice CS lady sent me a note and invited me to go there and ride for a few days. Dresden has always been on my must do list but that won't be until next month. I have been invited to Dresden by some nice folks for a Bluegrass Festival. Back at the station I did find out that the prices a pretty cheap. Dresden is not a problem with a bike but Krakow will be difficult. The information about getting a bike through all the transfers is a bit vague.

I've got to figure out this tax issue tonight.

Tuesday 4/14

I didn't get much sleep last night. I'm feeling quite blue about this tax thing. I've decided to go ahead and pay it all, I don't want the IRS on my back a year from now. This going to put a real crimp in my adventure. The IRS and State Taxes are coming to about 70% of my available funds. With me still in Prague I'm going to have to be real careful now. I'm not going to be able to buy a car now. It feels like I've just been robbed. I'll just have to figure something out.

The weather is still good which is unbelievable but I see a storm is coming on Thursday. I am going to come up with a two night bike tour to the south and start tomorrow. It will keep my mind off the other problems and it's cheep. I seemed to have caught a small cold a few days ago but can't let that stop me.

This is a hasty plan and I don't like to do this. I worked on the map for the ride all night so that meant I am packing this morning. Not a problem though, I have everything all together and ready

My target is to be out the door by 10AM and I made it close enough. Packing seems easy now that I've made a few trips already but I have to stay off the computer.

I had trouble finding the route along the way due to poor signs. Some were missing and some were gone altogether. This route is to the south of Prague and very close to the Karlštejn Castle were I had been in November.

After about 5 hours and 57K I reached the turn off where I would go East towards the river. My target is to reach this nice campground called Živohošt along the river and the whole trip would be about 250K. As I was approaching this turn off I could see a small mountain I had to cross over. Then the trail turned to dirt. Now I'm getting discouraged. I didn't notice the mountain on the map until now. I guess I was in to much of a hurry. As the trail disintegrated to a bad trail I could see that I would have to cross the massive ridge on this trail. I wasn't feeling up to it. I turned around and started to search for a camp spot anywhere. After a couple of hours of searching I came upon a horse ranch with a grove of trees in a dry riverbed. I just pushed my bike up into the trees and set up the camp. I was pretty well hidden from the road and it was late so there wasn't much traffic. The nice hammock I have was very camouflaged up in the trees. This place is better then the private campground I saw earlier. That one was right along some railroad tracks. I don't think I would get much sleep there. I've seen a lot of these private campgrounds along the tracks. Very strange.

For the most part I'm feeling alright but I can't stop thinking about how much trouble I'm in now. The night is full of stars and I don't see a moon. It looks very nice. Also getting a bit to cold. I wasn't expecting this, glad I remembered a jacket.

“NOTE” I saw the first real golf course today. I rode right by it. I miss the golf a lot but as I think about it the cost was to high. Of course if it wasn't golf it would have been skiing, cycling or climbing. I'm to much of an Rambler. I was destine to loose it all I guess.

Thursday 4/16

Looking at the weather before leaving I expected the low to be 6C/43F. It got down to 3C/37F. I took my light bag to save some weight and I was cold all night. It seems I didn't do a good job of thinking this one out. I waited for the sun to appear for a couple of hours but it never warmed up so I packed quickly and headed out. Immediately my left knee started to hurt. It was cold and when my knee starts to hurt It doesn't heal fast. I was in for a long ride back.

There was a big hill through a village that I made a wrong turn in which sent me over the top of it. I had to walk a couple of times so on the way back I was determined to not make that mistake again. I tried to navigate around it and got lost twice. The bike route signs pointed all over the place. It was hell backtracking when my knee was so sore. I made it though the bad area and all I had to do was to follow the river to the metro, about 40k. Nice flat ground to cover but I still walked in a few places to stretch my knee. Its a lot warmer now and I was out of water. I wanted to stop at some small market but never saw one. Around 1PM I ran into two nice Czech guy's doing some carpenter work on the river and they gave me some. Real nice of them to do that.

I made it home about 3PM very sore and tired. My first trip that was a bust. I sure learned a lot on this one though. This cold gives me a headache and nose like a fire hydrant. To my surprise my flatmate hadn't eaten my food. After cleaning up I limped into the kitchen for a “Miner's Dawn”

“NOTE” At least I worked out the problems with the bike computer so here are the actual specs.

Not very impressive but at least accurate.

Weight 86lbs.

Trip Dist 112K

Trip Time 7:32hr

Avg Speed 14.87kph

Max Speed 46.52kph

Trip Climb 740M

Friday 4/17

WOW! I'm limping pretty bad. Had to get to the kitchen for coffee this morning. I think this is going to be a 2 or 3 day heal up job.

I have a lot of deciding to do now and I see I have another note from Magda in Krakow. She wants me to come over next weekend. I will make a decision on that tomorrow. Today I'm working on a budget.

Saturday 4/18

I rode to the store today and even though I'm still not 100% I'm getting better. I figure if the train ticket to Krakow isn't to much I can make it. That is the only expense really. Magda seems like a nice person and I will be couch surfing. Riding around Poland seems like a good idea.

The time is coming when I need to move on. I'm trying to re-formulate my plan to accommodate the financing. I'm going to be busy collecting information. The biggest questions I have I guess is what am I going to do when this is over. Where will I settle? I'm having a hard time answering these questions.

Polish Zlotych

1 PLN = .291949USD

1USD = 3.42525PLN

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ostrá Campground On The Labe/Elbe River Day 269 12/4/09

Day 269 (Slide show)
(Video 1) (Video 2) (Video 3) (Video 4)
Sunday I rode into the Bohemian Bagel for my weekly sit down and the bike trail along the river was covered with security. The Hilton where President Obama was at was right where I ride. I didn't realize this, they gave me a serious look over. Today he is going to make a speech up by the Castle. I hear there will be a good crowd of Expats to watch. The Czech's are mad at him so I don't think to many of them care about his visit.
The weather is still looking good for another tour this week. I have to get planning.
There has been this little campground on the Labe River that caught my eye several weeks ago. It will be another overnight trip but to the east side of the city. The bike path map I bought shows a nice trail. The campground is called Ostrá. Not sure what that means but the place is on the river and looks good on the website.
This is Tuesday, I spent yesterday preparing and I'm ready to go. This is going to be a fun ride. Every time I go I learn a little more about the area. I left about 10:30 am for the Bohemian Bagel so I could have fresh bagel's for the road. I parked Renee in the middle of the square with the cover on. It was a good test to see what would happen. There were many lookers but no one touched her. I weighed the bike and she was 87 lbs. Renee was like an American teenager in a McDonald's. Two ton's of fun. I have to cut down the weight somehow.
Now its time, I'm ready to go. I have to catch the metro to the east and go to the end of the line. That's where the trail starts. The first several miles were alright but then the trail turned to dirt. It was very rough, especially with the weight I had. The bike is hard to manage while going so slow. After several hours the trail became a walking trail. This is where I started asking WTF. I can't believe the map shows it as a bike trail. Mountain bike trail I guess. At one point I had a chance to cross the river on this walking bridge but the map says to stay on the side I'm on so I stuck to the map.
The trail got worse and I'm looking across to the other side thinking it has to be better over there. I kept going and eventually came to a highway where I could get across the river. This only meant I had to head away from the river through a small village then back to the south where I caught the river again. I was a bit nervous that I would find myself having to double back at this point. But all is well and within an hour I made the camp.
As I rode in I was a bit surprised to see a bar. But not really this is the Czech Rep. Several nice folks were hanging out and it was 3PM. As I looked around I could see all these small trailers where people live all year. Some were empty now because it was to early in the year for the seasonal folks to show up. But most of the trailers were being occupied now. I fit right in at the bar, they didn't know what to think of me riding in like that. Several folks spoke a little English so I got to hear all about the latest news. I was ready for a beer and the owner Eva was running the bar. I got a picture of her. She as been to the Grand Canyon she said and she had the best English. The place is a funky campground with several local characters. Much like a lot of campgrounds. I had several beers bought for me and around 6PM I went out to find a couple of trees for my hammock. The only place was close to a trailer but they were not there. I was right on the water though. Lot's of fish jumping much like last week. I went back to the bar for one more, which is hard to do but fortunately Eva had to close early for some reason. I was fine with that, 4 of these Czech Beers and you are toasted. I had 5.
There was a beautiful full moon and the fish jumped all night. The temperature was a bit warm, I could have brought my lighter sleeping bag.
This was a great camp spot. The fish here are Perch, Catfish and Sturgeon. There are a lot of fisherman fishing along the river and in these lakes. I was up at 6AM and waited for Eva to open up the place. Last night she said she would make me an American breakfast. She tried I'll give her that. She was very nice to me while I was there. The ride out was tough and I switched sides of the river thinking it would be easier. Most of the time it was a hiking trail with lots of loose sand. Many times I had to walk to keep from falling down. Renee did a great job but I going to switch out the tires as soon as I get back. I brought an extra set of rubber that are just a bit wider. At one point I came to a two tier set of steps that I had to carry the bike up. The stairs were metal and I didn't want to stumble on those, you can rip a knee open on them. Very hard trip but I made it back to my flat about 3PM just before it started to rain hard. I got lucky here.
For the rest of the week I spent a lot of time working on this blog. I would like to catch up but it is very hard. On Thursday I changed out the tires on Renee. The set on her now is 700 x32 and the new ones will be 700 x 35. Its not much but it is a noticeable difference. I think it will help. On Friday I went into the city to try them out. Prague is a crazy place to ride. The bike paths have some major obstacles like steps and curbs not even mentioning the cobblestones.
Its Saturday and several things are happening all at once. My taxes are due next week and I'm worried that I have been underestimating the amount I will owe. Also I have to think about leaving here and what to do with my gear and bikes. July will be here very quick. I have to develope a plan. There are many questions that need attention now.
But the weather is great and I have to talk advantage of it. I have a lot to do.

Trip Count (est.)
Trip Distance 128.00 KM
Total Time 7:68 HR
Average Speed 12.26
Max Speed 35.12 KM
Trip Climb 646 M

Total Weight 87 LBS

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Lidice, Czech Rep" My First Bike Tour 5/4/09 Day 262

Day 262 (Slide show) (Video)
Early in the week I wasn't sure about where to go on my first ride but the weather was definitely getting better and I needed to make up my mind. I had a few ideas in mind but the place I liked most was a village called Lidice. This week is going to be great. I have been waiting for a long time to ride in the Czech Rep. and now I'm a bit nervous about it. I've done all my preparations thoroughly so I'm planning on making it on Wednesday.
The route I have planed will be about 145km with one night camping out. One of the concerns I have are the markings and signs they use here to designate the trails. They are very bad. I decided to go out on a scouting mission on Tuesday to ride a portion of the route to check it out. It is a good thing I did. The trail signs were easy to miss if they were there at all. It was a good riding day and I had gone about 40km when I crashed and injured my elbow and hip. As usual a car swiped me. This gave me an extra day though because I was very sore on Wednesday. One more day to rest up was good and it was a foggy, cool day anyway. Thursday was a perfect day, sunny but cool. I was out of the door by 10am and heading for the metro. I decided to reverse the route after my scouting mission on Tuesday.
I have an appointment at CS Cargo to check on my crate. I want to make sure it is still there and in good shape, I will need it come July. The weight on my bike, Renee is her name, is about 65 lbs. I've had more before, this is just a one night trip.
As I got on the metro I had two Czech guys asking me about Renee and where I was going. It was funny because one guy did the translation for the other, they didn't know each other. The appointment as CS Cargo went well, my crate is in good shape. My new friend Pavel has been keeping an eye on it for me.
When I left I wasn't done the road but a mile when I missed the turn. I doubled back and found that I needed to take a dirt road. No wonder. This would be the first of many dirt roads, trails or paths I would find. I made Lidice around 6pm which was a bit sooner then I expected. The ride was very nice and a lot of fun. The different villages were very interesting and I only got a little lost. It was a great decision to reverse the route because the ride today was flat for the most part. Now tomorrow I will be able to have a downhill day.
After touring around the very large grounds here at this monument I stopped for a snack at the memorial area. This place is very large and impressive. It is a lot more then I expected. The story here is quite sad. It's a good place to visit.
Its around 8pm and I'm sitting by a beautiful little pond were there are these large Carp jumping everywhere. Its starting to get a bit cold though. I rode around for about an hour until I found this place. The memorial park is quite large and I didn't want to camp in it, so I'm about a 1/4 mile away. This is a nice camp spot and I just had dinner.
It sure was hard to sleep in the hammock last night. I like to sleep on my side and be able to move from side to side. Can't do that in this thing. I'll get used to it. The Hennessy Hammock is perfect for bike touring because of the weight and it keeps you off the muddy ground. Someday I will have to put it on the ground though, I'm sure I'll get stuck without any trees.

This place by the lake has been a good spot. I was up at 6am and in bad need of some coffee. Instead of making any I decided to pack up and head to the village. Only 20 min.

I should be able to find some there I hope. Just as I got to the village area I realized that nobody was up yet. I turned towards the Memorial and there was some folks with some coffee. These were people that rune the gift shop, real nice. One lady spoke some strange form of English but I could get it. She told me several of the stories of the place. The whole thing is a bit depressing. I'm glad I came to see it but I can't believe what people will do to others when they get crazy like this. In the museum they had a film about the place so I stayed to watch it. Sad stuff.

Well I'm off down the road, heading for my flat. I'm glad I switched directions so I could have the downhill today. I made a few route changes but nothing major. In one spot I was on a dirt hiking trail, this was suppose to be a bike trail according to the map. By 3pm I was at the river waiting for the ferry. My Renee is almost to big for this little boat. The Skipper who was dressed in a little Navy suit, was amazed how heavy she was. I made it though and was home by 5pm.

This has been a great first trip and I'm ready for another. I will spend the next few days repairing a few things and pick up some supplies before the next one.

This weather is suppose to be good for another week which is great. I'll leave next Wednesday for the another one.

Note: Fix the bike computer.

Trip Count (est.)

Trip Distance 92.00 KM

Total Time 6:43 HR

Average Speed 15.96

Max Speed 44.89 KM

Trip Climb 976 M

Total Weight 81 LBS

I returned on Friday and while recovering the weather kept improving. On Saturday I went for a ride on Betsy to the city. Its my first time to wear shorts since Greece. Some friends wanted to meet at a “Beer Garden” which was opening for the first time this year.

There are several “Beer Gardens” here that are in the larger parks. They are nice spots and a good place to hang out in the good weather.

The only thing I forgot was my Stripen water filter. I have plenty of water though.
Last note, my bike computer battery failed so I don't have any good mileage numbers. Damn.

Special Note: Don't plan on just having one beer. It's impossible, the Czech beer is easy to drink.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Betsy is a Bit Frisky" I Warned You 29/3/09 Day 255

Day 255 (Slide show)
(Video 1) (Video 2) (Video 3) (Video 4)

This week has been the best week so far for riding. I'm sure glad to because I'm getting a bad case of cabin fever. The week started with a forecast I saw on Monday showing that the temperature was going to get to 16C by Saturday. That is double the current temperature. This means I have to get busy and decide on my first road tour. I have three places in mind but haven't committed yet. Also Renee needs a check up. Thanks to my friend Rob I was able to repair the front brake problem incured during shipping.
Special Note: A few weeks ago my camera sling that holds the camera around my shoulder had a malfunction. I sent an email to the company and they sent me a new one here in Prague for free. I want to give this company some much deserved space on my blog.
Check out the link. "PacsafePacsafe Anti-Theft Bags & Travel Security"
I have gone half way around the world taking over 4000 pictures so far and this nice piece of camera security has saved my camera from getting lost or damaged so many times. Also it has allowed me to take a lot more pictures then if I had to take it out of a pack every time. This is what I have. The phone and camera strap.
These folks shipped me a new one which cost 15.50 USD. The price of the strap is only 9.99USD.
Now that's customer service. I have several other items from these folks with me right now on this adventure. This is a great company.
As I mentioned last week, Betsy has had a shifting problem. I did my best down on my special bike stand. The one on the tire, but I need better tools and I found a place this week. A small Czech bike shop Eurobike . The owner Pavel doesn't speak very much English but we managed and he saw right away what I show him. He had the right tools to get the derailleur adjusted and then he gave the whole bike a tuneup. Betsy was feeling real good. This only cost me 300CZK. (15.00USD) So this has been a good day and the weather is getting warmer.
On Friday I had the best day for riding yet. I toured all over the city. Wow, the cobblestones and curbs really suck. Another funky thing is the steps that come out of nowhere. It seems I'm always stopping to lift the bike up a curb or carry Betsy down some steps.
But it is nice to get out and check out the city. The traffic here isn't much different then California. Drivers all over the world want to kill you I guess. All day riding around the city I saw a lot of young tourists. I guess it is the discount time because of the weather. The pre-season crowd.
It seems like I'm riding everyday this week which is nice. I need to get used to the traffic and the bike path signs. It is easy to get lost if you don't watch for them. These signs are missing or posted in crazy spots a lot. I happen to bring a spare set of tires that are a bit wider and softer. I can tell already the I going to have to put them on Renee. The narrow 90psi tires on her now would be alright but not as nice as these others that are 70psi and wider. I bought them on the last day to, what a good move.
On Sunday I told a friend of mine from Moscow to go riding with me. His name is Pavel and I thought I would let him ride Betsy and I would take Renee out together. I warned him right off the bat the Betsy was a bit frisky. "Be careful" I said. Of course she threw him, right over the top too. He was alright but it spooked him I think. Everything was alright and there wasn't any damage.
I for one crashed too. I was waring my clip shoes and got caught in an intersection where the traffic stopped. I was going to cross over and a car got in front of me and down I went. No damage though. I have learned to fall correctly. Lots of good pictures here and some wacky videos for you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finally Spring in Prague 21/3/09 Day 247

Day 247 (Slide show)

This week started out with a boring winter Monday. I needed a few groceries but I ended up having to go to three stores. It’s a typical thing around here. Even the large markets don’t stock quality produce. It seems the small Vietnamese shops have better quality. But on Tuesday it turned out nice, about 10c, so Betsy and I went for a spin around the city. I found a tire hanging from a tree to use as a stand. Betsy seems to have been injured on the way over here. It was probably a forklift trying to make advances on her. She was having some shifting problems and I couldn’t see the cause until I got her in the tire stand. Her derailleur was bent. I did my best to straighten it out but I need a professional shop.

I have her purring like a kitten now though. Not long after I stopped at the tree the weather turned a bit cold so I had to get back to my flat. Good to be riding again though.

I want to say something about the streets of Prague. This isn’t anything like riding back home. I remember complaining to fellow rode warriors in Huntington Beach about the trash in the bike lanes. (nuts, bolts, nails and such) It was an appalling to think we had to ride in trash. Where were the city street sweepers? Well, I wish that was the only problem over here. Prague has crazy 5 way intersections with limited lights and curbs to get over. There is the cobblestone problem where you can break a tooth if you don’t keep you jaw loose. Then the worst is the steeps. Here you constantly have to carry your bike up and down steps that come out of nowhere. I’m never going to complain about trash again.

Wednesday I woke to snow. You can tell spring is close though this snow melted quickly. I’ve got to start planning for my tours. I have some ideas and it seems I can start to work on my conditioning now. I’ve gotten a bit soft sitting around so much. During my few rides this week I discovered a few new sites and some cool buildings. I really want to get out for an overnight trip soon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Group Headquarters of the Soviet Central Group of Forces Base 15/3/09 Day 241

Day 241 (Slide show)

I had just got back from skiing in Switzerland when I received an email from my friend Ricardo here in Prague. He wanted to know if I was interested in a day trip to an old Soviet Air Force Base outside of Prague. The weather didn’t look very good but I thought this would be a lot of fun. It’s a Sunday morning and I headed to this old train station here in Prague. I had been by it several times but never inside the place. It is called Masarykova. Their doing a small remodel in the place but it has a real old funky fell to it. There is always a plethora of local color hanging out around the place.

Anyway after boarding the train for a short 40 min ride then we switched to another single rural train that was only one car. This was a fun 15 min ride and then we were in the village of Milovice which is northeast of Prague. Then there was a short walk in the rain to the Group Headquarters of the Soviet Central Group of Forces. About the time we walked onto the old tarmac the rain stopped. The place is very large with many old building that have been left to rot. As I’m walking through I thought of Greece and all the ruins I had seen there. Of course it isn’t the same but the feel of history was a bit overwhelming. The place was decommissioned in the mid eighties and when you think about it that’s only 20 years. Who would have thought back in the late 70’s that a Yankee from California would be walking around the place today. Because this was the Group Headquarters I’m sure there were many high ranking officers floating in and out of here. Check out the pictures and Ricardo even found a bullet slug that someone had fired into a wall. I’m sure it is just some local guy playing around but it still interesting. I have it and I'm going to give it to my Dad when I see him.

He likes things like this.

The site now is used for many things. I saw a weekend warrior training area with some clerks dressed up in fatigues doing some mock assaults. There was an area where auto enthusiasts have a garage set up to modify thier cars to race on the tarmac. Then on one end of the base there is a movie set. This looked like a POW camp or a small encampment used to film in. It was very cool.

There were about 10 of us and we had a nice day even though the weather gave us rain and cold wind. I still enjoyed it.