Raport Johna


I arrived in Las Vegas on the night of Tuesday 1st May and booked into Marriott Hotel. My bike did not arrive

Wednesday, 2nd

Walked and bus about town. I had dinner Gordon Biersch bar-restaurant across the road. I got talking to a retired lady, a teacher who gave it up and became a hostess in the Hilton hotel. She had stories of Las Vegas casinos and how they get their money back from the lucky winners. If you have a big win, they put you into a super bedroom, with everything provided – food, drink, and keep you playing until you have lost your winnings.

My sister Elsa arrived from Richland, WA about 11:00 pm.

Thursday 3rd

Zion National Pa,rk is 250 km NE of Las Vegas. We checked in to the Driftwood Inn and then travelled by shuttle bus up the canyon. Then we walked up along the river until it reached a point where the river flows between rock walls and you must wade through the water. The outdoor activity companies, rent out wet suits and send guided groups.

Friday, 4th

Up early and set out to climb out of the canyon to an overlooking pinnacle, called Angels’ Landing. All the land-marks are named from the Bible by the Mormons who settled here in the late 1880’s. Angels’ Landing was named because it appeared to be a point at which angels could alight from heaven.

In the 1920’s the community built the path to provide access from the valley floor to Angels’ Landing. In places it is hacked into the cliff-face, in other places the path is built against the cliff with stone masonry. This was done to promote tourism, not to facilitate the angels.

When you get to the top, there is a great a view down into the canyon and across the plateau which spreads away on all sides, eroded by deep canyons. The canyon walls show nine rock formations ranging in colour from deep red to ash white. These formations were laid in varying conditions, shallow seas, stream deposits, desert sand dunes. Finally the whole area was up-lifted by 3,000 m. This cracked the surface and streams have eroded these cracks to deep main canyons and shallower side canyons.

In the afternoon we drove out of Zion Canyon and took the road eastwards to the ridge line, passing through the Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Immediately beyond the tunnel we parked in a lay-by and walked a path which brought us to the view-point which overlooks the canyon to the west of the ridge line.

Friday night we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. I had a text from Sigitas – they are out of Death Valley and approaching Las Vegas.

Saturday, 5th

We checked out and drove back towards Las Vegas. I hadn’t noticed it, as much on the way up, but it was downhill for 100 km along the gorge of the Virgin River. There is nothing for food or shelter for many many miles. It flattens out about 50 miles before Las Vegas into a desolate plain, which gradually becomes a scene filled with pylons and industrial plants.

We turned off before Las Vegas and visited Hoover Dam, which is set in a deep gorge of the Colorado River. The dam was built for flood control and irrigation with the additional benefit of hydro power when the river flow allows it. In recent years the climate has been dry and the lake reached record low levels. The historic high level is highly visible by the salt deposit on the rock walls of the gorge. It is a complex of mighty engineering works. The recent addition is an amazing arch bridge, spanning the gorge, just below the dam.

Back in Las Vegas we moved to another Marriott business hotel, the Fairfield Inn on Paradise road and had tea in Gordon Biersch.

Sunday, 6th

Elsa left early. The BC group arrived about 3.00 pm at Circus Circus. I met Aiden at the front entrance and soon I met Sigitas, Maryla, Ewa and the others. Our rooms were in an accommodation block across the road. I shared with Aiden. I went in van with Ieva to collect the bike and bag from Fairfield Inn. I assembled the bike and then joined others for dinner in the buffet for $16 – eat as much as you like.

A friends of Ken (NZ last year) took us to North Las Vegas, near the railway station. The first casino was built there by an infamous New York mafia gangster, Bugsy Siegel.

The central attraction is Fremont Street, the overhead canopy is an electronic video screen which flashes pulses blazes with graphic arts, flashing lights and music.

When we got back to Circus Circus, most of the group went on to visit Caesar’s Palace and Bellagio. Sigitas and I stayed and had a beer.

Monday, 7th

A rest day for the BC group after a hard cycle from Los Angeles. I assembled my bike and took it for a test ride, visiting a bike shop, supermarket and pharmacy. I had dinner at an English – themed pub across the road with Aiden. Scottish football was showing on the TV.

Tuesday, 8th

I cycled with Bill from North Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam along the scenic route, Lake Mead Boulevard. We caught up with Brian and Alison near the entry gate to Lake Mead National Recreation area. We travelled together and got back onto the main highway near the dam, where we went into a hotel/casino for lunch.

Bill and I crossed the bridge and went down to the dam. Bill wanted to do the full tour so I went on and met Brian and Alison at the car park on the other side. We enquired about a route south and the girl in the shop, gave us the tip that the road which was marked closed would allow us join the main road, so we avoided the need to go back across the dam and up to the bridge.

We headed south for 15 miles on a very hot road. Finally we turned off and downhill about 1,000 feet to a marina on the Colorado river.

A very nice place, everything was perfect, but bone dry, not a blade of grass. Even though the area is barren it is home to a number of roadrunner birds. This bird, well known from cartoon films, spends most of the time on the ground, running at speed to catch insects and small creatures.

The shop was closed and I had no provisions, but Alison provided me with a meal made with dried ingredients.

Wedensday, 9th

Morning – we climb back up 1,000 feet, an hour of toil, back onto I 93 – a busy road, but with a generally good shoulder strip.

We stopped in two shop/cafes on route. The first one had an additional attraction – the opportunity to fire military weapons, ranging in size from small sub-machine guns to belt-fed machine guns and grenade launchers. Prices varied from $1 a shot for the small guns to $2 a shot for the big guns and $25 for the grenade launcher.

The second place was operated by two elderly ladies who showed great interest in the BC cycle from Beijing. Bill, Brian, Alison and I sat outside on the porch for a while, before resuming our journey.

Near Kingsman, the road was being resurfaced. First they sprayed bitumen and then dropped loads of asphalt which was picked up and spread by large spreading machines. Our bike tyres picked up a lot of grit which is stuck on by the bitumen. At some point Alison must have ridden onto the bitumen spray coat which covered her tyres. This caused her tires to get completely covered in grit. I had a cleaning fluid, for my bike chain, which together with my pocket knife produced a fairly usable result.

We got to Kingsman reasonably early and went into the museum which was just after the Interstate fly-over. I noticed a newspaper feature on the Kingsman explosion, an event in which two rail-cars of propane caught fire and exploded, killing and injuring many people. I spoke to a local lady who remembered the event and knew the fire fighters who were killed there.

It was almost closing time at the museum, when word went around that we had another five miles to travel up a hill and down into the other half of the town. Bill found the KOA site using a very small scale map and we arrived to a very nice camping site. (Kamp grounds of America started in Billings, Montana in 1962). About dusk Bill and I went shopping at the supermarket and stocked up with groceries.

Aiden arrived into camp about 10:00pm, a schedule which he tended to follow.

Thursday, 10th

I left early after map meeting. There was some uncertainty about where we would camp that night and the instruction was to meet at Peach Springs on Route 66 at 4:00 pm.

I stopped at road works and had an interesting conversation with the man on traffic control. Further on I stopped at an abandoned motel, some of the lights were still on and in the phone box, the telephone receiver dangled on its cord. The map shows a small settlement off the road, which must have been a mining camp, but there was no sign of life. A little bit further on, was an attractive road side halting spot – Huckbery shop/café/souvenir store. Outside, under the shade of the awning was a gleaming red Chevy sports car. In the open were some other veteran cars, including a Model ‘T’ from the Bonnie and Clyde era.

Some of the others arrived, Wojciech and Natalie and Brian and Alison. We relaxed on the porch for a while.

The next stop was our intermediate destination – Peach Springs which is in the Hualapai Indian Reservation. This tribe owns the Skywalk one of the attractions of the Grand Canyon which is about 20 miles north. It is a U-shaped walk-way which projects over the edge of the canyon with 4,000 feet of fresh air underneath.

Hualapai Lodge is owned by the tribe – a nice place to wait for the group to assemble. This took time and Sigitas decided to stay there for the night.

I met local men, who suggested the local sports hall as accommodation. This was located across the railroad tracks and beside the prison where some youths in orange overalls played desultory basketball in an open yard, behind a high fence, topped with razor wire. I checked out the hall and the man in charge, a Navajo Indian said we were welcome, but we would have to wait until the basket-ball practice finished at 8:00.

So we watched the Indian teens play basketball, and then the place was ours for the night, so we picked our places around the walls and settled down. Going to sleep is never a problem on a cycle trip and we were comforted to hear the huge trains going by in both directions every 15 minutes or so. Each one sounded its horn, a long, mournful woo – woo, as it approached and often the trains travelling in opposite directions on the double track crossed each other as they went by in the night.

Friday, 11th

We followed the famous Route 66 which has been by-passed by the new Hwy 40, so the traffic is light. This is good for cycling, but the towns on the route are left to survive on the tourist trade only. On the long main street of Seligman, the general store, motel and souvenir shop look prosperous. The group arrived in ones and twos and took a break in different premises.

I set off again by myself and about two miles out of town, the left side pedal came off the crank. Pedalling with one pedal doesn’t have much to recommend it even on the short trip back to town. Fortunately our support van was still in town, parked at the coffee shop and I joined the group there. There was no need to hurry now and Ieva and I waited until the everybody had left, before loading the bike on top of the van and advancing to Ash Fork, where our camping place was at a filling station where R 66 joins Hwy 40.

Ieva is employed in Vilnius with COWI, a Danish consulting engineering company. I was familiar with COWI in Tanzania in 1994, so we had found a shared interest in engineering.

The man who runs the filling station/shop carried a gun and regarded it as essential protection. The camping site was a sandy parking lot intended for motor homes, with toilets/showers at the filling station.

Saturday, 12th

We waited until everybody has left and then loaded up the van with whatever was left, put the bike on the roof and set out for Flagstaff. The cyclists turned off Hwy 40 at Williams, to head north for Grand Canyon but we have passed them all before that. We continued on Hwy 40, through pine forest hills, for 50 km to Flagstaff. I found a good bike shop and left the bike there to be fitted with a new crankset.

Like a lot of bike shop staff, the young man who dealt with me was a student. Also, not un-usual he had relatives back in Ireland. We walked around town while the bike was being repaired. The town centre consists of two story brick buildings dating from the early 1900’s, when the town prospered on the logging business. Near the bike shop, a large steam engine stood and we photographed each other there. We had lunch at a restaurant, which had a young and well-off clientele. A film crew were shooting a TV program out on the street.

North of Flagstaff they were burning the forest floor to prevent the build up of dry debris which fuels the large fires, which completely destroy the forest. There are ranches along the road in places where the forest has been cleared. As we travelled the forest got smaller and the ranches disappeared. Eventually the scrub forest gave way to desert scrub, before we got to Valle. Our camping place was the Flintstone camping ground. The ground was full of little seeds with 4 spikes, evenly spaced, so that one was always up. They punctured my tent, mattress and soles of my feet.

There was a nice motel across the road and we spent some time there in the bar. A salesman was showing his catalogue of guns to the barman, who obviously had enough guns already. The sales talk was skilful, each gun was excellent for accuracy and stopping power. In a country where multiple shootings are a regular occurrence, promoting guns doesn’t sound right. As I came out of the motel, I saw Aiden, just arriving, take a wrong turn and head off towards Flagstaff. He figured it out and arrived in the camp about half an hour later.

Sunday, 13th

It was only 30 miles from Valle to Grand Canyon on a slight upward gradient. Along the route I stopped, adjusting my bike, and a vehicle pulled up. I thought it was a helpful citizen. It was the highway patrol. A young guy, shaped like a barrel waddled over to chastise me for not being inside the white line on the shoulder: “you might get hit by an automobile, and that would sure ruin your day”.

On approach to Grand Canyon the first significant place is the airport. I was very busy with plane and helicopter flights over the canyon. The New Zealanders and Aiden took a trip. The reports were not enthusiastic – Bill said that he saw more from the ground.

After the airport is a big shopping centre, and then the entrance to the National Park. After the park gate it is a few miles through forest to arrive at the camping place which is about half a mile short of the canyon rim.

There was time to go and view the Canyon which we did.

I cycled west along the rim road and came back in the bus. The buses have a rack in front for three bikes. The buses are free included in the $12 park entry fee. They have 4.5 mill visitors a year, so the buses are needed just to keep the cars from blocking the place up.

On the near side, the canyon drops down in steps, with slopes and flat areas between. The far side is 10 miles distant and you can see the highly irregular pattern of the canyon cutting through the regular horizontal bands of rock. A blue haze reduced the clarity of the view. This comes from a large coal burning power station at Four Corners – where Az, UT, CO and NMx meet. That evening some of us attended lecture on the climate of the canyon and it’s affect on the climate of the area. The warm air rising off the canyon walls affects the wind patterns of the south-west.

The night was quite chilly, as the altitude is 8,000 ft.

Monday, 14th

In the morning 6 of us went up to Mather Point to see the sunrise. It is an impressive scene, it gradually lights up the canyon walls as it emerges above the horizon.

We went back to the camp and set out again to join a guided walk down into the canyon along a good path. The wind had changed and the smokey haze which had obscured the view was gone. Bill, Sigitas, Maryla and Ieva went further down the trail. I came back and did some more bus touring along the rim.

I got back to the camp at 1:00, tired, having been up at 5:00am.

Later I went out looking for internet, and met Ewa at the shop. She told me that internet was available at the library.

Tuesday, 15th

The first 40 km was still in the National Park along the canyon rim, as far as the view point called Desert View Watchtower. The tower was built in the Indian style as a tourist view point. It has great views at the point where the Colorado River changes direction from flowing south to flowing west. Five km before the watchtower I stopped at Tusayan museum, an archaeological site. The pueblo was occupied for only twenty years from 1185.

After the watchtower, the ground falls away from the canyon rim about 2000 feet to the semi desert. Once off the downhill section, the road runs parallel with the Little Colorado River, which is hidden in a deep canyon of its own, and joins the main canyon before the big bend in the river.

A long section of road works was restricted to one-way traffic, but cyclists were allowed to proceed. I stopped at road-side vendor’s stall and bought some Navajo jewellery. The camping place was at the junction with Hwy 89, at a filling station/shop. The shop owner was a stern Navajo woman who had strict rules, no access to the showers/toilets after the shop closed. She has suffered from vandalism in the past.

Wednesday, 16th

The Cameron post office and trading post are a little further on. Here the road crosses the Little Colorado river at the point where the river changes from being a surface stream and enters the canyon. The old steel suspension bridge, still stands, but the traffic is now on the new concrete bridge.

At 25 km, our route turned off H 89 and headed east to Tuba City, a Navajo town. I stopped at a nice restaurant for refreshments and then went looking for a museum which was advertised on the way into town. I passed several schools, the museum was probably in one of them, but I gave up the search and resumed the ride. Outside town, a site with dinosaur footprints was advertised, which Bill visited.

The next stop was a shop/filling at Tonalea. Opposite, set back on a side road was an nice Indian school, under the Bureau of Indian Education. We gradually assembled there and then moved on to look for Ieva at Cow Springs. At Cow Springs there was no sign of Ieva. Bill and I were together at this point, Ryszard and Janek were ahead and the others behind. Bill and I cycled on until we came to the next Indian village and turned off the highway. We crossed the railway which runs to the Black Mesa coal mine, and looked around the settlement, in case they were camped out of sight.

We retraced our route, I was ahead up a long hill and because my neck was stiff, I couldn’t look around easily. When I got to the top of the hill, I looked behind and found no sign of Bill visible.

I headed back down the hill and came upon Bill relaxing, saying that he knew I would find the error of my ways and return. He had found the elusive marks which indicate a BC camping site, some chalk arrows on the road and a streamer of yellow paper. It was the entrance to a farm, a sandy track which got sandier as we advanced. At a certain point Bill decided he would go back to the road to prevent the others from overshooting, as we had done.

He parked his bike but I carried – on pushing the two bicycles along the sandy gradient. Fortunately it wasn’t far to the farmstead of a Navajo farmer where I saw the van and some of the tents already set up. Not long after I reached the farm, Bill arrived wondering where his bike had gone.

Ieva had been exploring side tracks looking for a camping place and had got stuck in the sand. The farmer had pulled her free which his pick-up and offered camping at his place. He had a nice bungalow where we could use the shower/toilet, while his own two teenagers (boy and girl) had to wait. He was very amiable and enjoyed the company of an exotic group of strangers.

I was sure that Aiden would never find the place, but soon another pick-up arrived with Aiden as passenger, his bike at the back and a Navajo woman at the wheel. He had gone into her farm back near the Cow Springs sign and she decided that she should bring him, rather than let him off on his own. Aiden told me that she had an Irish husband once, perhaps this was a factor in his favour. The term Irish is applied to second and third generation in America, not just straight from Ireland.

The farmstead included a rustic shed, of pine logs, which was set up for outdoor dining, complete with tables and benches, so we dined in comfort that evening.

Thursday, 17th

I left site at 8:30 and soon reached the loading silos of the Black Mesa coal mine. This coal mine was developed on Hopi tribal land against the wishes of the Hopi. A central figure was the attorney representing the Hopi, who was secretly on the payroll of the mining company. For the full story see: the arcticle.

The climb continued for another five km but with a really strong following wind, it was no problem. The road goes down the Long House valley to Kayenta, which I reached about 11:00. I took some photos of the Black Mesa plateau which lies south of the town. You can see the mine on Google Earth. I then turned north to the totally different landscape of Monument valley.

I reached the turn-off to the visitor centre about 2:00, ahead of the pack and went into the Navajo market to have lunch. I waited at the road junction for a while and then went towards Goulding’s camping centre on the west side of the road. On the way back my chain broke. Disaster. I walked to the main road and thumbed a lift to the visitor centre which I could see about six km away on the skyline between two of the flat-topped buttes. The first vehicle stopped, a pick-up driven by a burly Navajo. I put the bike in the back and we talked as he drove me to my destination. None of the group were there. The first thing was to fix the chain, a notoriously dirty job. Then I went inside the visitor centre to wash my hands and view the exhibits.

Two hours passed and still nobody… until Bill arrived. We waited a good while longer until we realised that we must have missed the elusive signs again and were in the wrong place.

We went downhill back to the main road and then on to the camp-site in a side canyon called Rock Door canyon road. The view was very scenic, with the red walls of the canyon framing a view of the flat-topped mesas in the distance.

Friday, 18th

Some of the group went in the van to the visitor centre and then down into Monument valley. I had seen enough of the visitor centre the previous evening so I set off for Mexican Hat, a small settlement on the crossing of the San Juan river about 35km away. Looking backwards there were great views of Monument valley, until I passed a crest and headed downhill to the San Juan river. The land was mainly bare rock, with very sparse desert vegetation.

The hotel at the bridge was very attractive, set under a cliff on the bank of the river. I went in and had some food and then set out again, stopping at the filling station shop for provisions. The actual feature which gives the place it’s name, a large circle of flat rock, finely balanced on a pinnacle, is a little bit outside the settlement.

I photographed it and had gone on about 10 km when I was passed by Janek who rapidly became a dot in the distance. Janek is a competitive athlete, with many Iron man competitions completed. The landscape features of ridges and streams were at right angles to the road. The biggest feature is Comb Ridge which was major obstacle to the first wagon trains of the Mormons who came down from Salt Lake City. Comb Wash, is an intermittent river, with thick scrub growing on the gravel flats. There were a good number of vehicles there, something was on, hunting or shooting, most likely. Comb Ridge was a short steep climb.From Comb ridge the land slopes towards the town of Bluff, where Cottonwood Creek joins the San Juan river and the valley floor is about a mile wide between the bluffs, which give the town it’s name. The bluffs are the edge of the plateau through which the San Juan river has eroded a wide valley.

We assembled in the café, at the entrance to the town. The café owner was a pleasant young man. He told me that after 12 years as an electrical engineer, he is going back to medical school.

Ieva found a campsite in the town, a nice place with grass. The campsite owner was there, living in his own rig. His daughter now runs it and he travels with his rig, going to warmer places in the winter.

Bill and I went looking for a beer but we found that there are no bars in Utah, beer is sold only with food in restaurants.

At dusk a strong hot wind started and blew for a couple of hours.

Saturday, 19th

Next morning Ieva went ahead to scout out a camping spot, near Ismay Trading Post. This is on a minor road which we thought might be a gravel surface, after leaving the main road at Aneth. At Aneth we were told that it is surfaced all the way – very good! A local man told us that the trading post was closed, but on arrival we found that, although it looks closed, it’s elderly owner is still doing some business. A Navajo had just arrived to buy a tire for his van. There was another pick-up with a family group, a man, his wife, a teenage son and his wife’s brother. The men were drinking beer – the curse of the reservations. They gave us a beer each. The son offered to sell me his dream-catcher. A little net to catch and detain, bad dreams.

The people at Ismay told there was a fund-raising day at the school and sure enough, it was busy when we got there, about 6 miles further along. The state Education Board planned to close the school as they considered it too small. The community have taken it over from the state – it is now a charter school. The state pays the teachers, and the community maintains the building. We met Dorothea and another lady who were enthusiastic about multi-culturalism and bi-lingual schooling. Dorothea is the mother of Moki who teaches in the school. We also met a Polish lady who is a resident there.

$10 entry provided a lunch of the best home-cooking and was very tasty.

We were invited to stay at Dorothea’s farm, which was 5 miles further along the road. It was in a lovely setting. Her daughter Moki lives on the property in a building which once was another old school house. The teacher then was a local young woman who lived in a one-room cabin during the week and return home at week-ends. Moki’s father was an Apache, which leads into Dorothea’s life story. She was born in New York of a German father and Slovenian mother, she came west for the romance of the cowboy lifestyle.

We camped in a field and some bathed in the creek (McElmo).

Sunday, 20th

Next morning, Dorothea lead us on a walk, up onto the rock ledge overlooking the canyon and valley. Although she is over 70 she was well able to climb. We walked along and then came the down the ledges to Moki’s house. We called in on Moki to view her chickens, turkeys, pigs etc.

We set off a bit late by normal standards, but the journey was not very long. I got to Cortez at lunch-time and had lunch and milk-shake at Mc Donalds with Alison, Ryszard and Monika. I left first on the road to Mesa Verde which is about 8 miles from the town on the I60 which goes to Durango.

Ewa caught up with me when I stopped to adjust the saddle and take pictures. I rode with her and enquired about life since 2007 when I last met her in Poland. That conversation took us to the National Park entrance. After that was a 1,000 ft climb over 4 miles to the camp/shop/restrooms.

I had a shower, first thing, because I had none at Dorothea’s. The camp site is very nice. We drove up to the car park to view the annular eclipse at sunset.

Then we had a party as it is ½ way on the Beijing – London trip. We built a fire and roasted potatoes and pork and had cake for dessert. A few songs, mostly from Janek, who is an entertaining character. Aiden gave a song in praise of Murphy’s stout – the drink of choice in his native Cork.

All food had to packed away in big metal containers, to avoid attracting bears.

Monday, 21st

We visited one of the cliff-houses which make this place famous. Access to Balcony House was originally down the rock face using small finger and toe holds which were cut in the rock. This is now the exit, but they have chipped them into shallow steps, with bars and chains to hold on to. The entrance is along a modern path, and then up a 32 foot ladder.

The buildings are in a deep recess, over twenty feet deep and thirty foot high and up to one hundred foot long. The edge is protected by a 3 foot wall and this gives the name of Balcony house.

The cliff house were occupied for about 100 years from 1100. People had lived on the mesa for several hundred years before, so why they built on the cliffs and why they left remains a mystery.

Tuesday, 22nd

I went in the van with Ieva back into Cortez to get things for the bike and called to Post Office for stamps. We left Cortez and headed north to Dolores where the mountain terrain starts and the Dolores river emerges from a valley onto the plain.

I got back on the bike at Dolores and cycled 10 miles to the a camp-site at Priest Gulch, a very small place. We camped in woodland by the river.

I talked to an American who lives with his wife in the camp-site during the summer. He works in a furniture factory up the road. They make reproduction American rustic furniture. During the winter he takes his rig to Phoenix, Arizona and I presume works in a different job there. The rig is a trailer type, pulled like an arctic by his 2.5 liter pick-up. He commutes to the job on a modified golf cart which stands up high over the wheels. I met to another man in Montrose later, who had built his own vehicle in a similar manner

Wednesday, 23rd

The morning was very cold – our introduction to increasing altitude. I set out with Bill on a long climb to the top of the Lizard Head Pass. We passed through Ricco, once a mining town, now a village. An old headwork stands by the roadside. We had tea in a nice café. We left the forested valley and above the trees the views are very beautiful and alpine with a range of peaks on left and right, still carrying a lot of snow, particularly on the right as these are the north facing basins which don’t get much sun. On the left side, the ridge still had the snow cornice from last winter. I remarked on the glossy wings of a mountain raven and said that it was a simile favored by poets.

Beautiful girls have hair like a ravens wing. This brought back bad memories for Bill. He was scammed in Beijing by a lady with hair like a raven’s wing.

We met a local cyclist who had done a lot of cycle trips in many places. From the top of the pass it is downhill to Telluride through very beautiful mountain scenery. Near Telluride we passed the Ames power station, the world’s first high voltage AC hydro-power station.

After arriving in Telluride Bill and I went into the tourist office at the entry to the town. The girl let me use a vacant office to make a phone call home – no charge. In the hallway another young woman was tearfully telling a friend about her difficulties at work with her supervisor.

We camped in the town park at the upper end of the town. The scenery is spectacular, mountains on three sides and waterfalls coming out of the hanging valleys. The mining was done along the mountain in the hanging valleys and at the lower level of the valley. In addition to the mines there were crushing mills and smelters to extract the metal from the rock.

The town was quiet, it is after ski season, but those who were there were thin, rich and glamorous. The other side of the coin was a poor old guy with a guitar, sleeping in the toilet, because it was warm.

I went back to the town centre with Ieva to buy a book. We called in to a carpet shop and the owner, who was of middle eastern extraction, probably Iranian , showed us his finest stock. He had a handsome young fellow as an assistant, who on a signal, supplied us with soft drinks. The owner, gracefully declined to put a price on any item, he was happy to entertain us for a while, he didn’t expect us to buy.

In the bookshop, I bought a book on Telluride and another about the Wyatt Earp and the OK corral gunfight. I gave my book about Custer and Crazy Horse by Stephen E. Ambrose to Ieva. It was her introduction to that period of American history and she was immersed in it for several days after.

Thursday, 24th

Next morning it was a 12 miles down a narrow valley to Placerville. The air was cold and the valley was in shadow, so it was a freezing ride. Along the way in the few small settlements, that live off Telluride there are houses and apartments… We called into the shop in Placerville – another mining town, now a road junction with a shop. We got talking to the woman of the shop and a man who called in. There was 15 years of work building the Telluride ski resort. Now the work is in maintenance and operations.

From Placerville it was another long haul to the summit of the Dallas Divide Pass. On the way down from the summit, there is a view of a wide valley and the town of Ridgway, the scene for John Wayne’s film True Grit.

Bill and I stopped in the park for lunch. A man came over to talk to us. He was a member of Warm Showers, an organization which promotes free accommodation for touring cyclists. He was waiting for a Belgium cyclist who was coming the other way and was delayed by head-winds.

We lunched on the town park and then rode on to Colona. A bit outside town we caught up another cyclist who was from Australia. Soon after we met his friend who was waiting and Bill also joined. We stopped at a shop half way for water and then rode on to Montrose.

Bill and I called into the Ute museum dedicated to the memory of the original tribe who once called all of Colorado home. They are left with one small mountain reservation.

Montrose is a nice spacious town. We stayed in the KOA campsite. Aodhan didn’t arrive until nearly 10:00 pm. He visited the warm springs at Ridgway and spent some time there.

Friday, 25th

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River is a smaller version of Grand Canyon, formed by a river cutting down as the land rose up. It is not that small… the vertical walls are 2,000 feet high and 20 – 30 miles long. Fortunately the distance to Black Canyon was short. Eight miles out the road from Montrose and then six mile and a 2,000 ft climb to the rim. There is a nice shop at the turn-off selling fossils and minerals as well as food and drink. The owner spends the winter in Mexico, which he says is becoming less secure. He told us about the tunnel which brings the water of the Gunnison River to farmland around Montrose. That night we attended a lecture by a Park Ranger, a retired teacher, on the sky and the stars. He was very amusing in his delivery. A big part of his presentation was the amount of light pollution which has made the stars invisible over much of the country.

Saturday, 26th

We stopped at the shop again for another look at the fossils. I bought several items, fossils and jewllery.

We climbed a pass to Cerro summit and then down to Cimarron. This was once a busy railway town on the Denver and Rio Grande railroad on the branch which ran from Montrose to Pueblo. It was a cattle town where cattle were loaded onto the train. It had several hotels where cowboys would relax after weeks on the cattle drive. Now it has one shop, still in the same family for three generations. The network of railways that joined the mountain mining towns is gone and only the main east-west lines remain.

After Cimarron we had head winds as we went along the valley until we faced north for the next climb. On both climbs, Natalia left the men, Bill, Wojtek and myself, in the dust behind and waited in the sun for us to catch up.

Coming off the second pass we could see where the Gunnison river enters the canyon. There is a hydro dam at this point with a large reservoir behind it. As the afternoon went on the wind got stronger. I walked across one of the bridges as the side wind gusts could send me into the traffic without warning. About a mile before the camp at Elk Creek the police were supervising the recovery of a lorry which was blown off the road and went through the guard-rail.

We got to the camp as the visibility reduced in the rising dust storm, which Monika described in her blog as looking like a scene from a horror film. I put up my tent and Aodhan’s. I got talking to an American couple with children from Gunnison who had come for the weekend. They said it is normally calm and clear. He works at a new ski resort, Crested Butte, near Gunnison. They rent a house and can’t afford their own.

Bill and I went to look for Aodhan about 7:00 – four hours after we arrived. We found him about a mile before the camp which was a relief. We then went into Gunnison to get supplies… 17 miles.

Sunday, 27th

Sure enough – the following morning we had blue sky and a following wind. We did the 17 miles back into Gunnison in good time… me and the 3 NZ. I learned from my book, that Wyatt Earp stayed here in the aftermath of the shooting at the OK corral. He never returned to Tombstone and spent his later years in California.

We went to the supermarket and a coffee shop. A cycle event was in progress, the cyclists were out on the circuit so there was a lull. After an hour, I set off, when you have a following wind it is better to use it before it decides to blow the other way. I stopped at Parlin which had a store/PO, but closed because of the public holiday, Memorial Day. I wrote some postcards, posted them and had my lunch. Bill arrived we set off for the final 21 miles along Tomichi Creek KOA camp site at Sargents, at the foot of the Monarch Pass. It is at 9,000 feet and the air was thin and the wind was cold.

There was a bar – cafe on the site and a nice young fellow with red hair (Irish grandmother) served fish and chips. Most of us gathered there for a few hours. Bob was in shock because USA beat Scotland in a soccer match. Monika was doing her blog. Ieva was reading, Sigitas was responding to people who want to join the trip in Ireland. Maryla was writing also. Brian and Alison had gone to their tent.

Monday, 28th

Last night was very cold -9 deg C. I woke at 2:00 am and could see frost sparkling on the inside of the tent. I emptied my bag and put extra clothes on and jammed what was left between by back and the tent, which cut down the heat loss. Some of the group went into the launderette during the night and slept there.

This was a rest day. I needed the day off to acclimatize to the altitude which caused dizziness and slight headache.

Caroline who knows Aodhan spent the day here with us. Her partner was climbing one of the 14,000 ft peaks on the Divide. She lives in Denver and spends 6 weeks in Ireland every year. She cycles with the An Oighe group in Cork when she is there. She arrived at 10:00 am. I gave her breakfast and heated milk on Ieva’s stove.

We went for walk through village and then on about a mile until gravel road comes onto main road. A man on motor bike stopped to talk .He works in a school in Gunnison and his wife is a nurse.

A feature of Sargents is the old water tower for railway – made of wood. It is registered as national historic building. Sargents was a busy railway stop. Trains going up the Marshall pass needed helper engines which were stationed at the village.

I booked cabin for following night, having no desire to freeze again. It was very cheap, only 15 dollars extra on camping fees and this was split between four of us, Bill, Aodhan and Bob joined in.

Roger in Ireland e-mailed to Maryla looking for a link to my blog, which unfortunately does not exist. I sent him Alison’s and Monika’s.

I was ready for sleep when Bob came in and said that map-meeting was at 9.00 pm. I excused myself from it. I slept well. Bill didn’t and blamed the coffee.

Tuesay, 29th

Up at 6:30 and packed up and took the bags to the van which was parked down near the teepee. Brian and Alison camped last night – it was not as cold as the previous night.

Bill left before eight and I left about 30 min later. I didn’t have any hope of catching him so I took it easy going up Monarch Pass with a short stop at each mile marker. The ascent is 10 miles at 6% grade and took about 2 hours. I went into the shop / visitor centre and bought a small meal and some jewellery. I came outside and was getting ready for the descent when Bill appeared. I asked him how he got behind me – in fact he arrived before me and had gone up in the gondola. Alison arrived. I took a few photos and a German woman took a group photo for us.

Scenery is totally alpine – pine forest valleys and rocky peaks, still with the remains of winter snow. The wind was cold and I put on plenty of clothes for the descent, not wishing to repeat the experience of coming down from Telluride.

Bill disappeared ahead as elegant as a swooping swallow on the downhill bends and I took it slowly, enjoying the view.

We got to Salida and I joined Bill at picnic table on green space to have lunch. A man joined us to talk. He was James Brophy – works in Crystal Butte ski resort – selling property. He provided an entertaining commentary on the stupidity of people in ‘red’ states. He gave me his facebook connection, which is a platform for his view on the ‘red’ states. ( Blue = democrats, Red = republican)

We went on to Post Office – Bill send postcards. We left Salida at 2:30. The road follows the Arkansas river, which originates on the watershed of the Monarch pass and flows east to the Mississippi River. The railway runs on other side of river.

We stopped at Cotopaxi, at a nice general store. Sigitas and Maryla were there Bob and Monika arrived. I had burger and coffee. Monika gave me her last Rollo. Bob and Monika left first and Bill and I followed. The road was uphill for about an hour and leveled out into rolling green pasture with cows. After a few miles more we came to the other road from Texas Springs. A few miles along we saw an American flag in the distance which I assumed was Hillside, but suddenly we come on sign which says Hillside Ranch and can see tents and our van.

There were a few small houses and we are camped on the green. Ieva had gone to the ranch and was told we could camp there.

Ewa arrived in and skidded on the gravel and fell but no damage done.

One of the houses, is rented by couple from Kansas. Yann and Pammy are delighted for company and thank the Lord. We settle into party spirit. Janek sings, Monika and Natalia sing, I sing. Monika give a ring to Pammy who puts in on her necklance along crucifix which she got from her husband of one month – Yann. His wife died of cancer and Pammy 's husband was murdered. They found each other. He is a Wiccan goes to fairs selling roasted almonds and wiccan things. He has a company – Wiccanshare (help-aid) and invests in small start-ups.

Wedensday, 30th

I am travelled in van with Ieva, I have packed my bike and put it on the roof. We left the camp about 10:00 – Aiden was still there – talking to Yann and Pammy.

We stopped at a small town, West Cliffe and had some things to eat in corner cafe. Bob and Monika were there, Ewa arrived. We went up the street looking for the museum. A guy in a pick-up told us it is on other road. We went there , but found that it opens only at the weekend.

Ieva went to a garage to get a puncture fixed and while that was being done we went to buy pies for the party. The young woman in the shop wore a very simple dress and Dutch style cap and was probably Amish. We went Family Dollar and then back to Ace Hardware looking for bubble wrap for Ewa’s bike.

After Westcliffe the road rises for a while and then goes downhill, off the mountain and into the prairie. Some sections were very steep – 8%.

Finally we could see the prairie stretching endlessly ahead. We passed Bill with about 20 miles to go and then on to Pueblo. We followed the map and got to the motel at the corner Santa Fe and 8th.

The radiator of the van was leaking so we went to a garage. They found that it was leaking from a seam and there isn’t much to be done. We also went to the Post Office, to see if they can take my bike. The man checked box and said it was too big. Another man offered to lead us to UPS and we followed his car there. After some measuring and haggling the deal was done to take the bike to Newark for €120.

Back to motel, Sigitas says that Aiden was taken to hospital by helicopter, which sounds bad. We waited some time for information and then Bill drove Sigitas, Maryla and myself to St. Mary’s Hospital. Aiden was fine, he had a bruised thigh and that’s about it. His helmet was damaged, so the ambulance called the helicopter in case of neck injury.

On the way back we went for diesel and called to a wine store.

Bill went back later to collect Aiden, bringing Aiden’s bags to the hospital to allow him to get his insurance documents.

The party began before they arrived back, but before it was over Bill arrived with Aiden, in great form after his adventure and a big bandage on his leg. We dined on pie and wine.

Thursday, 31st

Ewa, Wojciech and Natalia and I went early to the Greyhound Station. We boarded an earlier bus to Denver and arrived about 10:00. I went to 16th Street Mall with Ewa and we had breakfast at McDonalds. I said goodbye to Ewa outside and returned to the bus station. Back in the bus station I got a priority boarding pass and say goodbye to Wojciech and Natalia.

The bus trip lasted 27 hours and I arrived in Pasco, Washington, at 2:00 on Friday 1st June.


Sunday, 3rd

Elsa and I drove to Dry Falls via Moses Lake and Soap Lake.

Monday, 4th

Travel by train to Chicago, arriving on Wednesday 6th June.

Saturday, 9th

Bus from Chicago to Newark, arriving Sunday 10th June.

Wednesday, 13th

Flight via London, to Cork, arriving in a rainstorm – a sign of things to come.


Sunday, 15th

I collected Carlotta at the airport and took her to Margaret Kennedy’s house where she stayed until Friday.

Monday, 16th

I collected Carlotta by car. We went first to County Hall, then to Fort Camden and then crossed by ferry to Cobh and had lunch.

Tuesday, 17th

Carlotta and I cycled to Kinsale. We visited Desmond Castle and Charles Fort and my niece, Patricia’s café.

Wednesday, 18th

Carlotta cycled with John O’Halloran around Cork Harbour.

Thursday, 19th

Carlotta cycled with County Hall club on the Sheep’s Head peninsula.
Janek & Danuta were met at the airport by Donald and Maura. Donald, brought the bikes to my house and Maura took the people to the hostel.
I met Janek and Danuta at the bus station with the bikes and they left for Killarney. They cycled from Killarney to Portmagee and stayed in the Community Hall.
Raimonda, arrived at Cork airport and was collected by Maura and stayed at our house. I collected the van from the hire depot.

Friday, 20th

The USA group arrived at Shannon and went by mini-bus to Portmagee. Ken took Raimonda and Joachim to the bus station. Tommy Gately, Carlotta and myself went in the van to Killarney bus station to meet them. From there, Joachim and I travelled in the back of the van as far as the Gap of Dunloe, with Carlotta and Raimonda in front with Tommy. At this point Joachim and I got on our bikes and cycled via Glencar and Ballaghoiseen to New Chapel Cross, where we had lunch. On the way, the chain broke on Joachim’s bike. Fortunately I had my trusty chain tool (remember Monument Valley) and fixed it.
We cycled on to Ballinskelligs and then around the headlands via Finian’s Bay to Portmagee. It was tough going as the headlands were steeeep. We met the USA group, Sigitas, Maryla, Bill, Brian Alison, Ryszard, Bob at the community centre. They all looked thinner since I left them at the end of May, after the long trip across the USA. Maciek had arrived independently. Tommy had been to Cahirsiveen to visit the bike shop with Sigitas. Alison’s bike was damaged in transit and delivery of the spare part would take a few days. I got on the phone to Jackie (mini-van driver) for local knowledge. Jackie arranged a bike from a man on the island, his daughter’s bike, so we went across the bridge to collect it. Liz sent her bike by bus from Cork to Kenmare also – to provide a better bike from Kenmare. Some people had a sleep as they were jet-lagged and tired. Later as it was Sigitas’ birthday (29+), so we had a party in the Community centre. After I went with Tommy to the pub which was very lively with an Irish dance session in progress.

Saturday, 21st

We were fortunate with good weather for a visit to Skellig Michael. Joe, the boatman was getting annoyed that our numbers were less than predicted, when his phone rang with another booking. That was a bit of a let off, which Bill enjoyed, as Joe was just getting into full flight. The trip out takes about 40 minutes. We passed three intrepid travelers in sea kayaks also heading for the island rock. The island is a World heritage site as it is the site of a 6th century monastery which sits on a terrace at the summit. We had two and half hours for the visit which included a lecture from a woman archaeologist/historian. On the way back we passed close to the Little Skellig Rock, which is a gannet nesting colony, second in size to Bass Rock in Scotland. The rock looks white because of the number of nesting birds and overhead the sky is filled with a rotating mass of birds.
On return, the mini-bus took us up to the headland for a last look at the Skelligs and then took us part of the way to Kenmare to Coomaciste headland. From there we cycled the remainder, stopping in Sneem to watch Kerry v Tyrone football on TV.
We spent the night at the Kenmare GAA club, which was well equipped with a kitchen upstairs. I met the club secretary at the Landsdowne hotel and did some shopping at Lidl and got the tail-end of evening Mass at the church.

Sunday, 22nd

We were ready to leave at 9:00. I wanted to keep the group together, so as not to lose anybody on the minor roads . We cycled across misty hills to Toon Bridge, near Macroom, where we met Aiden and Liz and had another re-union. We had lunch at the shop and then cycled to Cork. We stopped at the Anglers’ Rest pub, near the city to re-group.
Sigitas and Beijing group went into town to meet Cork cycle festival and local Polish , including Chris Wolney of gazeta.ie.
I went home to arrange the collection of Ula and Zofia from the airport by Doug. Horst and Peter also arrived. Accommodation was at University Hall,Victoria Cross and we all assembled there.
A group of Lithuanian parents and children came to meet Sigitas and Raimonda. At 7:30 we moved to South Parish Community Hall for a party of Irish dancing and music plus, food, laid on by Liz who cycled the stages from Kentucky to Washington DC. The Lord Mayor visited to welcome everybody.
Ula and Zofia arrived from the airport and joined the party. The party went on until 11:00 pm and we then we returned to University Hall, some by taxi, some on foot.

Monday, 23rd

We went to County Hall and enjoyed a big breakfast courtesy of Cork Co. Council. Tom O’Sullivan arranged a welcome and photo shoot with the County mayor, Barbara Murray. Then Aiden lead the group out to Dunkettle. I followed a little in the van. At Fermoy the leading group took a wrong turn and had to be called back. We were met in Fermoy by Mallow cyclists, John Murphy, Regina Glynn and Mary Magner. Near Cahir, Joachim got a puncture and I came back from the town to collect him.
Tea cake was provided at O’Callaghan’s in Mitchelstown. The Avondhu newspaper organized a photo at the top of the square. We cycled to Cashel, got into the Rock of Cashel at the last moment and stayed in the GAA club (Cashel King Cormacs). An U-16 hurling match was in progress and a lot of kids were around, whacking balls with great skill. We stayed up-stairs in the club-house – very comfortable.

Tuesday, 24rd

I took Joachim into Cashel to get his bike fixed. We caught up with the cyclists in the hills at Killenaule village. At the next village Ballingarry, Maryla received information that the ferry from Dublin was booked out so phone calls were made to book the other ferry from Dun Laoire to Holyhead.
We lingered around Kilkenny for a while and some people did the tour of the castle. Sigitas and Maryla stayed until evening before setting out for Athy. We travelled on a busy road for about 10 miles outside Kilkenny until the road divided, N78 branching off N77. We stopped in Castlecomer at the heritage centre by the bridge. After that it was a short climb and then downhill all the way to Athy. We stayed in the GAA club, very fortunate as there was a downpour.

Wednesday, 24th

We cycled on quiet roads to Dublin passing through Blessington village, recently used a film set for a TV sitcom. We stopped at Russborough House, once home of Sir Alfred Bight and later gifted to the Alfred Bight Foundation and now open to the public and is well worth a visit. We reached Dublin in the afternoon. Initially we were supposed to camp on a little green area. However the college was buzzing with Italian students and camping under the gaze of a thousand eyes was a bit un-nerving. My contact man, the building manager moved us to a large lecture room which became our bike park. Zofia went looking for a room and this got me in contact with the accommodation office. A very obliging young woman and her staff worked hard to provide a room for everybody. We had accommodation for two nights at Griffith College, courtesy of the College. Michael and Renate, Danuta and Polish family joined us in Dublin.

Thursday, 25th

Started with a photo call with the college President. Then we cycled to Donnybrookhome of the Polish and Lithuanian embassies. First we were welcomed at the Polish embassy and then we cycled down the road (Aylsbury Road) to the Lithuanian Embassy lead by the Polish and Lithuanian diplomats. We were entertained with coffee and cake and welcomed by the Lithuanian Charge d’Affairs, who thanked the Irish hosts, GAA clubs, UCC, Griffith College and Cork Co. Council. Sigitas replied to thank the Polish and Lithuanian embassies and the Irish hosts. It was an occasion for international good-will, marking the final stages of a journey by an international group from the last Olympic city to the next. The reception room had a beautiful red carpet, which I noticed Raimonda admiring. I asked her what she was thinking. “I think what they are doing with my taxes” she replied. Keep up the good work, collecting the taxes, Raimonda!
Afterwards, I lead them into Merrion Square and let them have an hour in the National Museum before moving on to Trinity College, where we had a good lunch very cheap in the Buttery.
After that people drifted off in different directions so that in the end myself and Bill cycled down the river to the port and then followed the Royal Canalback to Griffith College.
We had dinner at Peggy Kelly pub a short distance from the college.

Friday, 26th

I went with the cyclists to DunLaoire and saw them onto the ferry to Holyhead. I returned the van to Cork.


Sunday 5th

Flight from Cork to Bristol arrived 18:30.

I stood at the arrivals door and contacted Sue and Vernon who were parked in the Express car park a short distance away. Loaded up and got going along back roads to a camp site on a farm outside Bath. Castle farm.

Collected bike and took from van to fence, under tree.

Met Michal Nollau and Renate, Bill, Brian & Alison. Assembled bike. There is no village nearby .

Monday 6th

Left camp and into village, stopped at shop to buy some food. Got onto the canal path. Travelling with Bill up Devises Locks. Stopped at Coffee Shop. Met Brian and Alison leaving. Caught up with them, when Brian tyre burst. This tyre had cycled from Beijing.

Passed on, but then Bill went back to make sure that Brian hadn’t thrown tyre in ditch.

I went on by myself, but I was with Bill when I got a puncture in rear wheel. This took 10 minutes to fix. We approached the rise up to Salisbury Plain with Joachim and left him behind. When we reached the range entrance, I waited a while but then Bill and I went on across the plain. The road crossed a number of shallow dry stream before dropping down to the public road. We spoke to the Range Warden before reaching Rollstown camp. He said it was Ok to go out that way. At this point we were caught up to B & A again. We turned left to Stonehenge and arrived there and met Jan and Danuta. Viewed the site from road edge and then left for camp on farm.

Michael Nollau said that he would leave to-morrow. Carlotta and Raimonda prepare food at camp kitchen.

Went to shop and pub with Bill near/at Pelican Inn.

Tuesday, 7th

Map meeting proposed to go downhill and then back up through fields. I decided not and went back to main road at Winterbourne on A 303. Continued uphill and back via Roleston Camp, Larkhill to Dorrington. I came out along A road and turned off to Figheldean. Continued past Neatheravon airfield. Caught up with Jan and Danuta and left them behind. Met elderly guy and asked direction to Everleigh.

Everleigh and on the Collingbourne Ducis. Turned off to Brunton and then went via private road back onto marked route, past brick valve house of reservoir at top of hill at Fair Mile.

Continued to Windmill near Wilton and stopped for lunch. Stopped into Church in Great Bedwyn. Buried there, father of Jane Seymour. Called into shop for food. On to Little Bedwyn and Hungerford. Went in to Coffee Shop and met Brian and Alison. Left ahead of them and got on to Newbury. Leaving Newbury, nasty shock – Reading 17 miles. Took A4 most of the way apart from a few miles at Aldermaston. Difficult going along narrow track. Returned to A4. Rain had got heavy getting into Reading centre. Followed map out of town. Stopped at M&S store at petrol station and ate 2 pies. Chinese guy did not know where rugby club is. A bit further turn into Sonning Lane.

Rugby training in progress. Nice club-house. Youngish guy with beer belly in charge of facility. I was coming out of shower when Alison and Brian came in via players access.

Wednesday, 8th

I decided to take direct route to Windsor. Got there 10:15. Watched Guards march up for changing the guards. Went across river to Eton College, then back up to the Castle. I heard my name called. It was Nijole, waiting to meet the BC group.

We went across Windsor Park and on to Hampton Court Palace and took the tour of palace. Out at 6:00 pm and on to camp at Surbiton hockey club.

Thursday 9th

Four police arrive 9:00 am for escort to city. We went at quick pace along the riverbank for over hour and stopped at London Wetland Centre. Then we went by road, the police stopped traffic at roundabouts and traffic lights and reached Parliament Sq about 1:30. Pictures. On to Tower Bridge at 14:10 – the official end of the great journey.

We were met by the deputy mayor and provided with juice to drink. Went to pub until 4:00. Then followed Bob to Greenwich – viewed the ship Cutty Sark. Bob stayed in pub with Brian and Alison. I went with Sigitas and small group across Blackheath. We stopped at zero longtitude for photo and then on to camp at Blackheath rugby club.

Friday 10th

Went with Sigitas and others to view Olympic park. We queued for 40 minutes in John Lewis store to get to the viewing point.

Back into city. Pub Brittanna near Monument. Climbed monument. Walk across bridge – go to Golden Hinde ship (replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship – round the world 1580). Sig, Raimonda, myself returned to Eltham. Nijole stayed at London Bridge Station to meet a friend. Bob, Ula, Carlotta remained in centre until later.

Saturday 11th

Stayed in Eltham. Watched rugby match Blackheath v London Irish at 1:00 pm. Watched Olympics on TV, packed bike.

Sunday 12th

Got up early and packed tent. Everything ready… Sigitas suggested to bring to storage at Charing Cross. The X-ray machine was not big enough… we had to go to Victoria Station. Then back to Blackfriars station. We were in position at Blackfriars bridge when first marathon runners appeared on Lap 1. Stayed for full race and after went into pub for a drink. Got food from Tesco Express and had a picnic on the river wall. 4:00 returned to Victoria Station. Sig and Bill helped with bike bag and came to South Kensington station where I got on Piccadilly line to Heathrow. We looked like three gangsters carrying a dead body – or as Bill said a dead bicycle.

Sunday was a very enjoyable day with friends and watching the marathon was a great end to BC 2012.