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Bits from my journal

I don't keep a 'proper' cyclists journal - you won't find any statistics about how far, how fast, how high I climbed or how long I rode each day - I just jot down stuff that interests me, or makes me laugh, or cry. These stories are more about 'flavour' than about details or how to do things and so I guess they say as much about me as they do about the places I find and the people I meet

The stories are sorted by destination - well, actually, they're sorted by where they were written which isn't always the same as the place where I was headed. The list also shows the year they were written and a somewhat abridged description, you'll have to read them to find out what they're about; though as they are cycling stories, expect the usual cyclists interests to feature; food, road conditions and such like

Anyway, here are my stories:

Algeria

Mahgreb ride: Part 4   Ends in Algeria   2009

Whatever you do, don't stop on the way
I had been told over and over not to stop in the next village but the fates conspired against me and I stopped in an Islamist 'stronghold' in the mountains outside Algiers

This is the story of a day I learnt about myself

Australia

Renmark   Hey You! A conversation with a truckie   2006

Y'know there's a b***y bus youse can use?
I was three or four days away from my destination, stopped at yet another truck stop when he came up and started chatting. The chat started off pretty much as usual but it ended up with him hooting and hollering as he rode the trike around the car park.

This is the story of a chat with a new-found friend

Temora   High temperatures, high hills and high winds   2006

It had not been a good morning.
Nature conspired against me with the bike riders dreaded triple whammy - high temperatures, high hills and high winds - and I'd had puncture after puncture so when rolled into a small village in the middle of nowhere, I chanced my luck and asked in the pub about a room.

This is the story of a night spent in another land

Adelaide   The end of the road   2006

Feet up rather than feet first
Despite saying that I don't do 'proper' journals...   this is a day by day account of the trip from Sydney to Adelaide complete with distances and (low) speeds

For what it's worth here is a 'proper' journal

Egypt

Mahgreb ride: Part 1   Egypt to Libya   2009

Strange but true
You might think that riding a bike in Egypt is around 8 or 9 on the 'crazy' scale, but a bike rider fares a whole lot better than a car driver or pedestrian (and better than a rider in Sydney, Oz for that matter)

This is the story of days of nothingness

France

St Colombe   Mont Ventoux: The day the mountain won   2005

A first! A driver apologised to me
I was on my way to the fabled Mont Ventoux in southern France when after a very minor 'incident' that wouldn't raise an eyebrow here in Australia, the car stopped and the driver apologised. Cycling in France can be so very civilised. Ventoux stood over us, and I duly rode on

This is the story of the day that I didn't conquer Ventoux

Iran

Tehran   Reflections: On being in a rogue state  2007

A whirlwind (trikeless) tour of Iran
A follow-up visit to Iran is a certainty. Next time, I'll forgo plane and car and ride the trike, enshallah.

This story is about touring in Iran without a bike

Libya

Tripoli   Reflections: On being in a rogue state  2003

I had hoped to tour Libya, but that wasn't to be
A visit to Libya is worth the drama that almost all that venture there seem to have in actually getting their visa. It's just a pity that I travelled by bus rather than by trike. Maybe next time, enshallah.

This story is about touring in Libya without a bike

Mahgreb ride: Part 2   Libya to Tunisia   2009

A mud storm?
Yep, the dust storm had been blowing hard for a long time and now there were big splats of rain too, well, mud actually. Visibility wasn't too bad but that was a moot point cos there hadn't been much to see anyway

This is the story of days in the middle of nowhere

Syria

Palmyra   Why? Why ride 220 clicks in a day?  2001

Seen enough ruins to last a lifetime?
Well, even you would be impressed by Palmyra. From Damascus there are two roads to Palmyra (actually called Tadmur on the maps, just to keep you on your toes...), you can take the motorway 85 kms to Homs and then take a 90° turn to the right and head 160 or so kms into the desert, or, you can just take the direct road that forms the diagonal of the Damascus-Homs-Palmyra triangle. Very tempting and only some 200 or so kms. I took the direct road. twelve hours later I arrived

This is the story of a long long day

Krak des Chevaliers   An hour to ride just 4 clicks?  2001

So just what is the Krak?
The Krak des Chevaliers (or as it's known in Syria, Qala'at al-Hosn) is a formidable castle that guards the only pass in the mountain range that runs from Turkey down thru Lebanon. A solid, military outpost in a remarkable state of preservation that was said to be well worth a vist and after a nite beating off bedbugs, a nice short 60km ride was looking good and indeed, the first 55km were magic

This is the story of those last 4 kms

Somewhere or other   Where am I? In the middle of nowhere  2001

The maps were hopeless!
The maps I'd bought before I left, and those I ferreted out while away, were a bit indifferent; roads that seemed to have existed only in the imagination of the cartographers, distances marked seemed to be the think of a number, divide by three add seven type. In short, I got lost...

This is the story of a lost day

Hama   Reflections: on the Orontes River  2001

Hama has to be the most attractive city in Syria, it boasts good (cheap) hotels, great restaurants, parks + gardens and a very easy going, peacful atmosphere

Little wonder then that this story is reflections on touring in Syria

Tunisia

Nabeul   Wet! A wet, wet day  2003

The first day was meant to be easy
From Tunis it's only 69 km to Nabeul, but I took almost 5 hours and rode some 80 km. All in all it was not a great start and it was almost enough to make me call it quits then & there...

This is the story of a wet day

Douz   Dry! Sand, sand and more sand  2003

Riding on the edges of the Sahara desert
A long, full and varied day that shows why cycle touring is such a great way to explore new worlds. A day involving meeting amazing people, riding thru a sandstorm, being picked up by the cops and more

This is a story about being blown away

Mahgreb ride: Part 3   Tunisia to Algeria   2009

I was learning a lesson the hard wayt...
Pay attention when crossing a border!  I'd overstayed my visa and now the wheels of bureaucracy were turning very very slowly

This is the story of the day I learnt a lesson

Yemen

Al Higgara   A day in the mountains  2009

I don't like hills, I like mountains even less
The village was less than 200km from San'a but it took almost 5 hours to get there and I was scared stiff for much of that time but qat fixed that!

This is the story of a lost day