Yesterday, I scanned around Arles – I read they have a little tour of the places Van Gogh painted – there’s a reprint of the painting, right next to where he might have stood.

This was sort of fun, but there really were only two places that actually still exist that you can see – the rest of the spots are seriously, in front of a tree, which hides an intersection, on the other side of a big store full of dumb stuff no one wants – or, there’s one of the river and the painting is a bridge, but the bridge is long gone (same with his house)

Arles has sort of an identity crisis – it tries to be the van Gogh thing, it tries to be medieval, it tries to be Roman, AND it tries to be contemporary. I had a headache, but found a quiet enough campsite and got a much deserved and needed rest. Felt a lot better in the morning.

For whatever reason, I’m not uploading pictures today. Tomorrow, though, I will.

I made a decision to curtail the Rivera for some pretty good reasons:

It’s getting hot and humid and that cute sounding, “Minstral” wind is quite hard to cycle in. To give you an idea on how hot it is, yesterday was overcast and I still managed to get sunburnt.

It’s also high tourist season and EVERYONE wants to go to the Riviera. It’s going to be packed. A headache. If Arles is any indication, it’s not going to be fun to cycle in. These towns weren’t really designed for the amount of people that are in them – imagine Disneyland in the middle of your downtown, AS WELL AS the parking lot to Disneyland in the same area, and you get a good idea on what’s going on. It’s sort of hilarious, unless you’re tired and then you just want to lay down and wait till morning. Cycling out of Arles, north I saw about 20km of straight traffic trying to get into Arles.

And, I’m sort of running out of time. So! Another trip, one outside of the high season, where it’s not as warm and not as crowded. I think doing Italy on the same trip (all of Italy) would be fun as well. The only thing I regret is not seeing the Marc Chagall museum in Nice and getting into Italy – Lucca, the town my Grandfather is from is WAY off the charts for me. Like I said, it’s a whole ‘nother trip.

So, what instead?

North! Into the mountains, to a little town called, “Le Bourg d’Oisans”, which sits on the foot of the famous, Alp d’Huez.

So, a few days of traveling to get there and a few days to hang out and ride some pretty rides, for the love of riding a bicycle.

After that?

Well, I got a tap on the shoulder from a friend of a friend who lives in, of all places, Basel, Switzerland (or is it, Germany? – France, Germany and Switzerland sort of collide, right there) and he’s offered a warm bed and a roof. Basel is close to Strasbourg, which is on my radar (that crazy alterpiece that lives in a museum – must see), so I may just take him on that offer. After Strasbourg, it’s onto again, Paris! but let’s not get ahead of oneself.

Sadly again, I may have to nick out Ireland as a place to play, as I’d like to take a little bit of time in Paris. Again, my eyes are bigger than my mouth. If you see me in person, you’ll see, I do have big old eyes 😉

Anyways, my back wheel is on it’s last… legs. I just been to the third bike shop about it. The first said, “Ah, you need this part, but I don’t have it”, the second, in Avignon I don’t think… repairs? bicycles – or he didn’t want to repair mine and pointed me to Orange, where I am now. The guy at Orange said, “It’s internally destroyed” and was happy to sell me a new pair at some incredible price. The bike wheel of the pair he wanted to sell me had 20 spokes. I need something with 36, so that’s a no go.

So… there’s about 1 or 2 big towns before I’m lost in the Alps. I’ve done teh Googles and there’s a Decathlon and a bikeshop about the same address away and if one of them can’t get me a new back wheel, the other will. I am sending the old wheel to the bike shop back home with a, “ne marche pas” note – I do believe the manufacturer has a guarantee, so at the very least, I get a new wheel I can Craigslist (’cause, I don’t want it)

Anyways, wish me luck! My legs are a lot better after that short, 80k day of no hills yesterday and I feel fine. One of the problems here IS eating enough. Restaurants are expensive and not open all the time, supermarches are crowded and hectic AND close at 19:00, nothing’s open on Sunday and I’ve found my usual, “in emergency” foods aren’t available here. For example, Peanut Butter. Peanut Butter – the cheap fuel of choice for millions of cyclists the world over is a rarity in France and about 3 euro for a very small jar of. I haven’t actually bought any.

I HAVE bought about a jar of Nuetella about every day. It’s nutritional content pales to Peanut Butter, but goodness gracious if it ain’t frickin’ lip smacking good.

Anyways (again), wish me luck!

Bon Anniversaire!

Well, yesterday it was a full month of touring.

I’ve gone from Paris, to Brest, Amboise, Sarlat, Bordeaux, Spain, the Pyrenees and now I’m a day or two to Nice and then, well Italy.

Current mileage is: 3742.4 km (2,325 miles)

Current mood is, stressed out at French tourists (and a really bad place to be that)

Current physical condition: Good! Although my legs need a rest. Don’t know current weight, so can’t tell you if I’ve lost any.

Bike condition: Good! Although the back wheel continues to give me problems. The bearings in the freehub are about toast. After a month. A month. That’s ridiculous. So, as soon as I find a, “corps de cassette 9 vitesses”, I’ll get that fixed up. Expensive little wheel of trouble.

If I had one wish, it would be to just leave France for a day or two, so not to have to deal with crowds, supermarches and having people get in my way inexplicably. One can dream. I’d also like to see a good movie and not badly dubbed American action film.

Yesterday (as the day before), I managed to find MOUNTAINS again – not huge, but mountains mean mountain passes and those are slow and kill the legs.

A few days ago, I noticed cracks in my helmet and the zipper on my jersey broke, so I replaced a few things like those and was on my way. They didn’t have the part for the bike, though.

Mountain passes are fun! on the down part and the roads here are crazy – it almost feels as if one is snowboarding. The hairpin turns, like this one:

Hairpin Turn

Can be a bit problematic,

If one does not stop in time to make the turn.

Yesterday, I also happened upon a…. waterfall! Which makes for a good spot to eat lunch,

Lunch by the waterfall

There was even an aqueduct of uncertain lineage a few meters away which was wild.

Speaking of aqueducts, here’s a roman one, 6 feet shorter than the Roman Colosseum I saw this morning:


This is the largest arch the Romans ever made:


Some graf from back in the *day*


So, the rest of the day is slowly exploring Arles and then, heading to Nice. If I find a campsite, I’m stopping to rest the dogs and take a well-needed shower.

Last night, I stopped after around 140km for… pizza! And then follow signs to a campsite. It turned out to be 19 Euros!n Which wasn’t happening. I just kept going on the road towards Pont du Gard in the rain and found a somewhat dry spot and made camp. Pretty loud as it was near a docking station for one of the larger hypermarches. Kind of, one of those places the French don’t want to think about having.

The night before was a similar story: I stopped after a good 100+ km (a lot of mountain climbing) and had dinner. This time it was cos cos with an undetermined meat (I just read the menu and picked something I didn’t know). Followed signs for a camp, but lost the scent, so hunkered down at a rest stop near a turn about. Loud, as there was traffic fro 3 sides, but it’s also pitch black, so I got what I got.

There was a scooter dude that kept coming in, about every hour to shine his light in my direction. I was ready for him to kick my tent, so I could kick him, but French people I guess don’t have any real gaul – they just kind of act as if they’re tough of something. Didn’t make for good sleeping, I don’t think I’ll camp in a place like that again!


Hello Everyone,

It’s an overcast day today – and the last few days have been a bit rainy, but I’m a good boyscout that has cut their teeth while pleasure cruising off the coast of New England, so it’s no worries.

This morning, I camped a few km from the Pont du Gard and that was pretty fun to check out. Left before HOARDS OF TOURISTS took away the magic. I have to digress a bit and talk about French people.

French people? I’ve found to be just fine.

French people on vacation? While at a supermarche? I’m through with them. They are horrible.

The idea of private space seems so much different in France than here and I haven’t yet figured it out. The following scenario keeps playing out:

I’m walking in a very straight path. No one is in *my* way – in fact, I’ve positioned myself so that I will not be in anyone’s way. Sometimes I have a big bike, with loads of Stuff on it, so I take care not to, well, hit someone.

Someone, will, without looking, or thinking, or even caring, GET in my way. Either, they just walk right in front of me, without looking. Or, they’ll look, and STILL GET IN MY WAY.

And then, they act surprised.

I have tried all my tricks I learned in high school to repel: I act weird, I act dirty (as in, covered in dirt – like I’ve spent 3 days straight in the woods), I puff up my chest, I act like I’m going to take someone’s skull and destroy it –

none. None of this works.

My only thought is that, it is my obligation to get out of anyone’s way. For this, I get to… get in everyone elses way? See? I can’t figure it out.

It’s horrid at the supermarches and god help me, the hyper marches. Again: Straight, logical path. A man will look at me. A man, standing still, *perhaps* in the middle of an isle. He’ll see me, and, as I approach, He’ll put out his arm and place his hand on his hip, just as I’m about to pass – so I must SWERVE to avoid him.

I’m a mannered man. I did kick. I don’t punch. I say please and thank you and help little old ladies through doors and across streets. But there’s some much of this type of passive-aggressive action I ca take before I flip.

Unless, I figure out why it’s like this and reveal, the French way of doing things.

And as I sit here, legs very much mush, I ponder why this all is. Is this just France on vacation? They act like they don’t have to act correct because it’s well, they’re time not to be imposed to the rules that they themselves have put forth?

I don’t know.

I’m uploading pictures. It will be a happier post next time 🙂 Any help with the above, please, please help.


Last night, I slept in a wooded area, after riding around 200km from around Lannemezan. That night, I spent in a cemetery, right next to a crypt and a giant church, with even bells gonging every 25 minutes. That day was around 100km, but included 2 mountain passes.

I am pretty much spent, so it’s a day off in Albi.

Albi had one thing I was interested in – the Toulouse Lautrec Museum. And, although small, it was nice, but now that’s over with and to be honest, I don’t know where to go to, next. I guess I’ll kiss the South Eastern part of France and make my way North, on the last leg. I guess. We’ll see. Suggestions?

I feel so bad, as my mind isn’t very clear – When I say, “Tired”, I mean my legs are refusing to work anymore. All I want to do is to lie down – so typing on a computer is pretty close. The rest of tonight is finding some cheap-ish food and a campsite (got a map with one on – so no problem there). What I feel bad is, I want to relate to you, *right now* my experiences, but I think this is impossible, it will have to wait. I simple cannot emote them in the way I want. But, I can give you snapshots and write. Write snapshots.

So, here’s some of that:

The Col du Tormalet:


The highest pass in the Pyrenees I happened upon. Not so hard. It’s very funny to think the mountains at home are so much larger. To give you an idea, this mountain is only 1,000 feet higher than where I *live*. It’s 15 miles to a higher point from my doorstep.

This day was overcast, so I didn’t know what I was climbing up, until, well, the clouds parted ways:


Which, you have to say, is pretty cool.

It took forever for the weather to pass. What to do? Well, this is France, so what you do is grab a cup of coffee and watch the weather (literally)


One thing is for certain in France, if you want an expresso – anywhere you are, it can probably be had.

The cafe I was i also had vintage bikes on the wall. There was one that caught my eye, that had a, “retro-direct” drive. You pedal regularly for one speed and *backwards* for another. Here’s the back:

I’ll have to make one when I get back (now that I’ve had a good look).


The trick is that pulley in the middle. Hmm.

The last mountain pass for me in the Pyrenees:


No problem. But, as you ca see, the weather was still not so good, so my plan was to take the rest of the day and cycle as far out of the Pyrenees as possible, hoping to beat out the storm.

I met the storm and got wet, but did manage to go *through* it entirely and made camp in a very small town’s cemetery. Why there? The small rocks that made up the ground were dry – dryer than any grass in the area. It was also below the ground level (you go down steps) so no one could see me. I gained access by a small, unlocked door next to the church – usually cemeteries are closed after around 19:00 – I went through the side door, I guess. And that door was another little veil from me and the outside world.

On the steps, I had a most wonderful picnic of a cheese and chorizo sandwhich, potato chips and.. .cookies! Food is a funny thing – it tastes so good for different reasons. At that specific time, that food was the best food I had ever eaten in my life and I’m not the biggest fan of pork. The cheese, which I’ll never know the name of, was the best cheese I had ever tasted.

Food is also a very expensive thing in France and I’ve been eating out of Supermarches as much as possible. On my day off, the day before this, I did go to a restaurant, in hopes of getting a pizza. French pizza is on a flat bread and they do crazy things with it, like put Foe Grais on it. But, they’re usually cheap and fattening – which is what I’m looking for (and it’s hot food, for a change).

I went to order the pizza and the waitress told me, “Only for dinner!” and I went, aw, crud, since I didn’t want to order from the 15 Euro menu. But, I did. And the food? Well, it was *alright*. The salad was just lettuce with tuna, the duck leg was a little overdone. It came with, well, fancy french fries and onions (which was the best thing on it) and a small dessert. Would I pay 15 euros for it again? No. It was forgetable.

That sandwich in the cemetery – not as forgettable.

One more thing about food – on top of that mountain pass, there was a guy, selling cheese out of the back of his van. Of all places. Cheese is like drugs to the French. He was even given out little free samples. The visual on it… sigh.

When I bushwhack, I don’t really think it’s prudent to take too many pics of the campsite, but the light at 7:00am at the cemetery was beautiful:



I slept, as they say, “Like the Dead”, although at 7:00 there was a plethora of gonging going on and I was out of there post haste!

The next day was nothing but pushing pedals I guess – very tired legs going very very far. The day started at 7:30 am and ending at 10:30. I couldn’t find a good place to camp for a while. I wouldn’t ridden all the way to Albi, but they closed the road I needed for construction, so I just ditched on the side.

OK, time to find some food before the shops all close.



Cyber Cafes are so cool, since they almost live up to what I’m supposed to think they are, after reading Snow Crash.

For example, I can be traveling in a foreign country by bicycle, sleep in the woods, visit a 400 year old cathedral –

and then, go down an alleyway and hook up my tiny, 1lb laptop to a connection in a somewhat questionable establishment (but not one without really friendly owners) and bang! I’m in 2008 again.

I’m in Albi and I will be here until I get my net fix, uploading pictures and catching up on work.

In case you’re wondering what I know about Albi, well, this:


Three mountain passes yesterday:




Don’t have much internet time, but they were extremely steep and it was extremely warm. In a nutshell. Taking a break today and have two more HUGE passes tomorrow and then I’m out of the Pyrenees. Sad.

Yesterday, there was a freak rain storm that collapsed my tent, and some of my stuff was in it, but nothing got ruined. I was eating in a dining room and stayed there for a while, until the campsite guy told me I could sleep in the game room. Dry. That was nice of him. I’ll extrapolate when I can get a power outlet.


And, quickly – on the border between France and Spain, 50 meters before a mountain pass, I found a center for contemporary sculpture and architecture –


Contemporary Sculpture in the middle of NOWHERE

And here’s the sign to the place – my guess is that it’s in the Basque language, which is amazing to think that such an old culture has such contemporary shoots coming out of it.


Love to do more research about it when I get back.

Basque Symbols

While I’m still here, Some strange Basque signage:

Basque Swastika made out of Jai alai Baskets. So strange.

It’s a Basque Swastika made out of Jai alai Baskets. The Basque culture, like MANY cultures uses a swastika like symbol – no sure exactly what the basque type means. “Jai Alai” (or the basque term for the same game” means, “Merry Game”. I see a lot of the same symbol on pottery – where it’s more of a flowy, flowery type of design – but I’ve never seen a 4 pedal flower. Strange!


Whoops! Broke a spoke not 20 minutes after ending the last post. I was in traffic in Centre Ville and I was waiting for a light. I started pedaling and, “Crack!” That’s it. Sheesh. All fixed now, just recharging batteries and then, onward. I guess every 1500km, expect a broken spoke.

Wish me luck!


Hello Everyone,

A couple of days ago, I pushed into Spain! Crossing the border gave me the sense of being knocked out and not knowing my name. Again. One side of a river – France, the other: Spain and it’s a totally different world. I went west until I hit a part of the road I couldn’t ride a bike on and went, “Hmm”. It was around 21:00, so not much more riding could be done, anyways.

Luckily, there was a Hypermarche and a campsite, so I got some food (bought a map!) and made camp.

I looked to see where the Guggenheim was in relation to myself (about 9km from San Sebastian).

It was about 150kmm away.

So. One, long day there, one day at the museum and then, a day back to the border… hmm.

I opted to skip this little side leg, in the hopes that if I do have extra time, I can spend it in Amsterdam with friends. And three days is a lot of time on my time scale right now.

So, the next day, I got up and went back East right to the border and then… South! into the Pyrenees! I’m currently in a town called, “Oloron Ste-Marie” and have already toppled a few, smaller mountains. Before me are 4 big ones, 2 of which I may get to today, or just got to the base. Getting pretty tired in the legs there, so we’ll see. Slow going, as it’s, well, it’s a mountain range.

Really excited to be here, though as this is the type of terrain I’ve been looking for.

Last night, I must have looked a wreck, getting into camp at the base of the Col d’Osquich, as a couple with their son from another tent came by and offered me… wine! And then more wine, and then dinner! Which was incredibly kind of them, as I was just about out of all food but the bare essentials of a few pieces of crummy bread and peanuts.

Beautiful campsite, overlooking the mountains, small and quite friendly campers as well. My thanks to that family – in the morning, the son even gave me a cup of coffee. Over and above!

Some photos:

From the day after surfing:


that’s the tan line. And those things that look like muscles aren’t – it’s all sinew, tendons and bone.

Here’s the first, “mountain” I was able to climb. That’s 169 meters, I might add…


Right now, I’m in the Basque region of… well, the world – it’s almost a country within another country, complete with their own language, called, Euskara:


Depending on what you’re looking on and where you are, it’ll be the only language of whatever you’d looking at. It’s very funny when you see advertisements, completely in Euskara. Lots of trucks are labeled in this language – and almost all use the same exact typeface. The weekend I rolled through seemed to be festival weekend and I got caught up in many a festival celebrating the culture

Here’s some more:


“Francia” is Spanish, the other text is the Euskara version of, “France”. Yes.

Some more type – one of those graffiti messages:


Notice, “Niggaz” is feminine. I’m trying to figure out if, “rap game” means, “to play rap”, or if it’s a term for doing some freestyle rapping.


A local cafe with a signed photo of 5 time (Spanish) winner of the tour de France – Miguel Indurain “The Alien”


A giant sculpture on road N121 in Spain.


Another mountain top’d!: Col d’Ispeguy – 672 meters – still a baby. The view from the top was incredible, though. The ride down was scary as… all hell. There were all these warning signs at the top that basically says, “you’re… gonna die” and then they stop and the road twists and turns – no safety anything after that.

Oh! The view:


Today, I was riding up another mountain and there was text, painted on the road itself – no idea which language this is:


I bet it says, “Take it easy, champion” or something like that.

And the top:


Another baby.

Alright. Away I must go. Wish me luck!