Greetings from old Europe! I'm Les, and I'm British although I currently live in Germany. How I got here is a long story but basically, I gave up a life in the UK about 6 years ago, got on my bike and cycled here via France on what was supposed to be a long tour. Anyway, the day I set off was Sept. 11 2001 and it seems that for a whole week, I was probably one of the few people around not aware of what was happening in the world at that time, until I got a close look at a French newspaper.
I later discovered the town of Oldenburg, which is close to Holland and is geared up to a cycling culture, and I decided to stay. It's easy to base most of your transport needs around cycling here, so I sold off stuff like the car etc. and now enjoy a really healthy and low-cost existence.
In the last few years, I've toured much of Europe but my favourite corner remains the west side of Scotland, where I went last year for an island hopping tour. I usually take a small tent and cooking equipment and wild camp much of the time. My touring bike is a Dawes Galaxy - really a road bike with racing handlebars which allows for fast touring but needs good surfaces.
I've started planning for a really long tour next year and I'll hope to get advice from some of you. I need to work out a good route from the east coast of USA to the west coast and back again, taking in as many highlights as possible and avoiding getting run over.
Hello Les, what year is your Galaxy? Let's see some photos :) .
What type of adventure are you looking for in the US?
Welcome to BF!
Hello East Hill!
My Dawes Galaxy is about 8 years old but I feel really comfortable on it and I've covered about 30,000 miles since I bought it. I do most of my tours around Europe but the Highland and Islands of Scotland are really special - have you ever been to the UK?
I'm in a position to stop working at the end of this year and I'm ready for a new adventure. I've started collecting info on touring in the USA - the rough idea would be to fly to the east coast - say New York - and aim for the Great Lakes averaging 50 - 70 mpd and camping or using hostels - whatever is available. The aim would be to reach the Pacific coast via Yellowstone, head down the coast then aim to cycle back to the East, taking in tourist highlights.
What do you think? Is it possible or an I crazy? I reckon I'd need up to four months - the whole summer of 2009.
What king of cycling do you do? I enjoyed reading your blog. I'll try and work out how to get some pictures of my last tour onto my profile.
And thanks for the words of welcome!
I have been back several times to the UK, although I have yet to ride a bicycle there :( . I shall remedy that lack one of these days!
You are not at all crazy to want to travel through the US that way, but you definitely want to consult with the Touring Forum folks. They have some great stories to tell, and are a very sharing group of people.
I can tell you that heading from east to west will have you heading into headwinds.
I'm glad you enjoyed the blog--not much happening at the moment, but I am looking forward to the spring!
If you get the chance, tour up the north-west coast of Scotland. Go island hopping - using the ferries to hop from island to island and stay in the youth hostels. The mountain and coastal scenery is fantastic, roads are often single-track which slows the few cars to be encountered. . Only problem is that it can rain a wee bit there, but if you head north, there is more chance of a tail wind.
Thanks for the advice - I'll enjoy preparing for my 'grand tour'. Sometimes, this is more fun (and a lot drier) than the tour itself!
Hahaha, you are talking to a Lanky Lass who lives in Puget Sound! My ancestors have been bred to withstand virtual monsoons of rain, and I actually moved up here to this area because----wait for it---I MISSED the rain :) .
I've been invited to go cycling in Scotland by a friend on one of my genealogy boards and I have to say that it's up on my list of places to visit!
So you're a Lancashire Lass? You really grew up there? Then you'll know all about driving wind and rain etc. Actually, Scotland is not as bad as its reputation. I toured there last year and although I got some real soakings, the wind soon blows you dry again and the human body is remarkably resilient.
You should accept the offer to tour Scotland and prepare by cycling up Mt Rainier, or whatever comes to hand. Is it really so wet in NW USA?
Changing the subject, do you know how to post photos on this forum?
I did not grow up there (my parents moved when I was quite young), but it seems as if every time I have returned to visit that I have been greeted by those conditions you mention--and I enjoy it! Strange, eh? I will definitely take up my friend's invitation when I have time to do a tour justice.
I do know how to post photos--first question is, do you have an account at Photobucket, flick'r, or another photo hosting website?
I grew up in north east England and it's still one of life's pleasures for me to cycle around Northumberland. I lived in Manchester for three years and the best thing was access to the Peak District - great for walking and cycling. Now, that would make a good tour for you - through Lancashire and keep going north ...
Another thing I didn't mention about Scotland - a tiny little biting fly called a midge that attacks in swarms of millions when there is no wind. But don't let it put you off.
Don't worry about the posting pictures question - I think I need to update my website with a cycling page to link to. But if you should bump into B Gates on one of your rides ...
Aye, the thought I've had is to start in Manchester, wander through the Peak District, Lake District, get some dale riding in in Yorkshire, and end up in Scotland.
Originally Posted by Les Reay
I'm going to let my husband do the planning (he LOVES planning trips :D ).
I don't think Bill rides a bike, unfortunately. It'd be cool if he did!
touring in the UK
I think you could work out a really good route up the west side, but I’d definitely try to include Yorkshire – quiet country lanes and great limestone scenery. That would take you onto the Lake District which is spectacular but popular with car tourists and has some hellishly steep climbs. Further north, there is a signposted bike route which would take you into Scotland along minor roads (sustrans route).
There are youth hostels at decent intervals if you don’t want to camp and you want to meet other cyclists.
How does that work in the USA? Is there a network of hostels that cater for walkers and cyclists?
Yes, I haven't had much opportunity to visit Yorkshire. The Lake District could be quite jammed with car tourists and I know that some of those lanes are barely wide enough for a small car! As I said, I will let my husband do the planning (with my suggestions :) ).
Originally Posted by Les Reay
Hostels in the US...not many in the middle of the country. You could try checking into the Warmshowers site, and there are undoubtedly other sites where friendly folks will host a fellow cyclist.
Distances are BIG in the states--it can be quite deceiving. Anyway, I suspect that most hostels will be found on the coasts, but few in between. The Touring forum folks would know for certain.