Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

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Blog50-cycling thru rural America

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Downtown Marion Alabama, neat little town.

Cycling thru the heritage or rural America, swamps and dense pine forests on our endevour to Ride Around the World (RTW) and see Gods Creation, what a great ride it has beenfor the most part. Some minor discomforts, to be expected. And some minor annoyances as well, also to be expected. An RTW would not happen without a portion at least of both,  God sees fit to wrap both discomfort and annoyance in sunshine, bluesky etc. Making it all easier to tolerate.

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2 views of the Frisky Bisquit, Canton Mississippi-great place

Jeremiah in preparing to leave the small Alabama town of Marion, took his host and teacher friend out for supper at Lotties Soul Food Restaurant in Marion. What a great meal, if ever thru that way be sure to try it out, you wont be dissappointed. The plan was to be up and out of town early, but broken glasses sort of had us make a few departure changes. The eye-glass repairs took until 11.00pm to finally get it all wrapped up. Under a bright blue sky and crisp winter air, Jeremiah finally turned a crank taking him further west.  Pretty much took State Road 14 west, but for a few kinks and turns. Rode thru the day with a small steady bump sensation from the backtire ( bells should have been going off ) stopped a little early and pulled the rear wheel for a reset and inspection…..all looks fine.

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Got up early again the following morning, just rolled up camp without bothering to eat. I find that Iam really loosing my appetite and it happens at both ends of the day pretty much. Its not because I load up during lunch in town, thats not my routine. Just a lose of appetite……could it possibly be my cooking? Yeah, didn’t think so……must be my colon needs cleansing. The day greeted me with slate grey sky and a soft damp breeze. Jeremiahs inner weather forecaster was predicting rain by noon. God however had different intentions, and by nokn I was as stripped of as can be and still legal. The sun blazed, my face burnt, and the sweat poured. Some time around 10, pulled over at a tiny poorly stocked roadside store and bought a cup of coffee. Sat there in a cane seated rocker, wood floor with all the ancestral creaks, chipped and peeling paint, looking out windows that needed a serious cleaning………and two very elderly black fellas playing checkers not 6 feet from me. They bantered back and forth, they would laugh and slap thier leg when they pulled of a surprise move that the other was not expecting. They discussed Morty’s sick hog, whoever he is. The grand daughters “bad missbeehavin chillens”, Lordy the yungins dont got no respec fo nuttin dees daze. Sorry folks, but it was just too much for Jeremiah to handle, the muted interior colors, the shadows, the characters…….it required an image or maybe 2…….but I soon found, that very suggestion also snapped the magical spell that had kept the tiny store wrapped in a time envelope. Both players refused the request with much animation, one would soon get up and leave as a result.

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Further on down the road, I passed by a Rodeo Complex which was part og East Mississippi College complex. Dang I thought, I better not pass that up, first sort of sight in almost 9 months. So, I roll up by the big front doors, park my bike and look around for someone to snap a pic for me. I done that and more. As it turned out the rodeo coach’s name is Goodyear. He actually rodeoed in my hometown of Coalinga california, and was on the West Hills College rodeo team for Bruce Hunt. He had met another freind of ours, Jason Clark when he competed against Salinas Hartnell College. He knew the secret town name for the backroad that I live on……the State calls it #198…….while the locals call in “whindyeight”. He had been up the canyon and branded calves at the Johnsons. Once again, I was shown just how small the world really is……..pssh, and someone expects us to believe they never heard of the Bible nor the promise of Salvation………right. the latter part lf this day had us riding into a stiff headwind and much bigger steeper hills. Quiting by days end, felt very good.

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A cycling group I met, they were out for a 100 miler

Rolled out early, grey sky greeted us for a second day and like the previous day the cloud parted for afternoon sun. Just not near as warm. We rode all day, had 2 cups of coffee was all for breaks. Never took a single picture, just rode. Racked up 93 miles with mostly headwind and hills. Jeremiahs camp for the night was nestled into some trees with 4″ or more of leaves to lay on, gfeat sleep. Camp was within 3 miles of Canton Mississippi, so we had decided to have a full brakfast in town that morning. Gotta say, I could spend sometime around Canton, very pretty little town. Lots of antique and junk shops, many little restaurants, and a beautiful town square repleat with a stately white Courthouse.

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Someplace along the road after leaving Canton. I noticex a fella out fencing, by himself, digging and setting posts. Decided I would walk kver, say hello maybe take a few pics if it worked out. Thin, taunt muscles, the dirt that comes with an honest days work was this mans business suit, and it fit him like a piece tailored for him. “Eyebe Dan Brown, eyebe jiss a workin an’a prayin upin cheer” . Took me a moment to decode and figure out just what was said, but before long we could converse. Jeremiah learns languages quick. “Yessir, eyebe 75 yeahs old heer ness week, doon never drink no smok……ahh tinks dat’s da reesin eyebe guud shape like ah is”. Couldnt argue with Dans medical observation, he was in great shape, and spent his time Prayin while he worked……dont think that hurt his healthcare orogram none either.

It was the word “BISQUIT” that caught my eye. A small locally owned establishment that is part of the central town square. Jeremiah was not looking for yet another danged morning franchise place…….Jeremiah was longing for a “just like Mom cooks breakfast”. The Frisky Bisquit was the place, hoppin busy, and smikes all around as folks got thier meals. Mine was great, most dishes had a bit of a cajun twist to them, a little spice, some chickory in the coffee etc, making for a fine meal and a fun stop. Sat at the counter, had a great visit with a fellow who would love to do just what I am doing. Fear would be his main opponent in making it all hzppen, fear of the unknown out on the road in far away lands…..a very real concern, and then fear of what his wife and family would say…….this one amazed me as I pondered that and promptly excused myself. I knew from past expierience that I could help this young fella (maybe 35-40). Jeremiah returned with what was left of his roll of silvery ductape……….take this I said, if properly applied it will solve things a marrizge councellor can’t…..its yours for free son, good luck!  I noticed as I stood, the felka had alot of small red marks on the back of his neck above his shirt collar…….strange……those look like hen pecks.

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Closed out the day with many more hills, the sunshine gave way its lofty moorings to heavy grey cloud that boiled in the sky. My rode took me further and further west, closer to my own loved ones and home. Gone for 9 months, maybe 11 by the time I got home……..I just knew that Collens tape would be due for replacement. Camp that night was not the best, but we ditched around the tent, staked out the corners incase she came a toad strangler ( for my European readers, that is an American term for a big rain event). Just a lot of wind to start and then a long slow drizzle till early morning.

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Not but 5 miles to Vicksburg, as we headed that direction it all began again…..that rythmic bump in my backwheel. Pulled over in Vicksburg, let the air out of the back wheel and pumped it up again, thinking that the tire bead was not fully seated. Sprinted across the I-20 bridge, some 3 miles total. Took a turn off on the old highway 80 headed for Monroe. By the time I got to Tallulah, the thumping had become pronounced, but still I could see nothing as a cause. Just another 5 miles or so down the road and it would all become very clear. The sidewall of the sturdy aluminum rim would collapse, sending a chard into the brake pad which inturn would  hold it fast while the knife edge of that section slashed a groove into the sidewall of my tire. The rim, missing a huge section, the tire slashed but not fully thru…..and quite a few miles yet till Monroe. Just kept chugging towards Monroe sincd it was the only place close with a bike store. Rolled into town that evening about 5.15.

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Many thanks to David, owner of Bike Solutions as he will rebuild my back wheel for me.  Thanks to Danny from my hometown bike store back in California, Rubber Soul Bike Store, he helped source the rim for us. With any luck I will be rolling out of Monroe tomorrow Wednesday the 4th,  “Shirley Surly” and Jeremiah will be closing the gap on thier round the world escapade with sunshine in thier faces and a Prayer on thier lips.

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Wed 28, left Marionat 11.45am Had to get my glasses fixed before I could leave. Took rd 14 all the way thru Greensboro etc, turned onto 39 headed toward Dekalb. Set camp at 67 mile mark, good day considering I left late. Also had to take back wheel off again to try and reseat the tire, no flat, just a steady bounce because of poor tire seating

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American version of "petit negro", we juss call'em BLACK PIGS

Thurs 29, up and riding by 7.45. Day started cloudy lookin like rain. Had coffee in a 4 house town at fork in the road, sat in pretty sparce general store in an old cane seat rocker watching two old black fellas play checkers as i sipped my coffee. Tried for a picture but they would have none of it. Stopped at East Mississippi College rodeo grounds for a quick pic and met coach Goodyear and his wife. Turns out he rodeoed at West Hills for Bruce Hunt in 87 and 88 and knew Jason Clark art Hatnell. Camped about 15 miles from philidelphia ms, talked for 2.5 hrs on phone with john temple today. Total miles 55 today, many big hills and mucho wind today.

Fri 30, pretty much just rode all day. Not one picture and met no one. Done 93 miles, camped in the trees on the side of the road.

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Sat 31, up and going in good time. Rode into Canton, very nice town. I could spend a few dayz here hunting junk and antiques. Nice old town square. Had a great breakfast at “The Frisky Bisquit” xuperb if ever thru Canton and right on the square. Had a visit with Mike while sat at the counter having breakfast. He wants so much to do my trip, but on a motorcycle….hes just afraid what all his friends would say. Rode on, met and visited with some cyclists on a day trip. Further down theroad mdt 75 year olx Dan Brown, no smoke, no drink and work 6 day week give the Lord the7th day. Rode on thru Edwards out on Old Hsy80, very rough, talked to Wilson a color fella about my age out gettin exercise…..no pic. Covered 64 miles today. Lookin like rain maybe tonight.

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Blog49-shade of the Stars and Stripes

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Content, and at home in the shade of the Stars and Stripes that canopies this fabulous country, clean air, trees, and on some days a brilliant blue sky. Makes me wonder why am I fighting an internal battle in both my heart and mind. It strikes me as entirely odd and unreasonable that I could be caught in this quandry, but I am. Our RTW(round-the-world) adventure draws yet closer to completion as we pass another mile marker along the road that circumnavigates Gods Creation. The roads are wider, in better shape generally, heck most folks even speak my language….and yet with all that, for which I’am grateful I find myself longing for that which I have come to know so well.

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That being Europe. I am for instance a little taken aback, when I step into a store and someone says “good morning sweetie, how can we help you”! Leaves me a little unnerved when I go into a store ask for stove alchohol and the man says “right this way Sir, follow me”! Where is the struggle and worry, where is the requirement for simple sign language, nobody refuses to answer a question nor direct you to an available source. Between you and me, this internalized battle would play out for several weeks, conclusions will come later.

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Leaving Lisbon turned into a mental and physical challenge for me, I was on the fight and ready for any provocation. My entire family was now jettisoning out of my life once again……and poor ol’me had to cross solo yet again. While I was needing to hug my wife one more time she was being hurried thru a different terminal gate. While I was struggling to make my luggage fit the airline standards, and then struggling yet harder for a thirdtime to meet these exacting conformities my family on the otherhand slip out of sight and on towards thier waiting plane with ease. Rattled, cranky and not inclined towards a kind thought nor gesture, I finally make my way to my own departure gate with a full hour to consider just what sort of example I may have been to those around me…..I wasn’t feeling like  Christian Giant right at that moment. Sometimes God delivers his message with softest swipe of a dainty silk glove…..other times he whacks you smartly with a catchers mitt……I realized I had just gotten the latter.

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“Hi, God bless us, pray we have a safe flight……I think Iam in the window seat please”. Within a few brief seconds of finding my seat on the aluminum skinned flying culvert known as American Airlines, I had been gently prayed for, had my faith shorn up and put in my respectful place with regard too who is really in charge. God. A middle aged women of Hungarian heritage, who had lived in Torrance California for 8 years, whom now had her flag planted along the shores of Wales, but would very soon be leaving to live in Israel…..after she had taken her seat extended her hand and said “God Bless you, I am Rebecca”. Ever meet that person, who upon eyesight almost, you just know deep down inside that everything about thier character is 100% genuine. I felt cared for, I felt like I really mattered……and we didnt even know one another. Gods working.

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By the culmination of that 9.5 hour flight, as we passed over Greenland for my 8th time, however this time God was really at work showing his magnificense. The slanting rays of a setting sun swept across the snow capped jagged peaks in a way I had never seen before. The deep rifts that formed between worn cornices were bathed in a meloncholy soft blue making the pink light on the gleaming snow all the more brilliant. As warm pink ambiance faded, morphing seemlessly into stronger orange and crimson tones, we arced over the polar route at 565 miles an hour. God was at work on landscape out our cabin window, and upon hearts in row G, seats 32 and 33.

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Touch down, as wheels screamed and the reverse jet engine thrusters send us all headlong to the front of the plane were it not for seat belts, we arrive in Columbia, South Carolina. After almost 8 months, Jeremiah is walking on American soil, thru customs and out into brisk evening aire. My first two days would be spent with friends and relatives, Ryan, Trace and 2.5 year old Chloe. I would gain yet another moniker. While in Morroco, everywhere I went, I got “Ali-Baba”, on three other occasions while traveling thru customs I was called “Jesse James”, at Columbia while lining up for imigration a security fellow said “right this way operator”, and now I wore the gleaming hat/crown known as “Unk”. Good to arrive at a welcoming home rather than a stark room at Hotel 6. Better to be woke by a sharp rap on the head with a gleaming yellow plastic building block…..than to hear Carly Simon belting out a tune on the radio alarm…..I lay there for a moment rubbing the swelling goosebump…….and thinking whooly crap and poochy maggie……..I am in USA. I have been on my way to this place for 8 months, and the realization of arrival was slow to land in my mind. While I have been pedaling, life has been churnning along at home, there were now boyfriends and girlfriends to compete with for time, business was trundling along in my own office, decisions made shaping future outcomes that I had no part in, friends whom I loved dearly had passed away…… ALL, while I frolicked. It really was a torrent of emmossions, guilt, elation, anger, satisfaction,all coming to a crescendo in that moment……as a smiling, cute 2.5 year old asked me to get up and play “Unk”. My head was swimming as I made tractor sounds, shared twice eaten grapefruit and read the story of Goldilocks…….can this be real……someone must have slipped me LSD along the way. I felt as twisted and contorted as a Lewis Carrol character. Yet here I sat at an actual kitchen table, family around, every word spoken was recognizable, I could read the signs and labels on the food. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it, I was needing some quiet time to sit and ponder all that it meant to arrive at this point in my journey.

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2 days later, well fed, rested as a cyclist can be and with Chloe escorting me on her gleaming red tri-cycle down her street, I cycled south out of Columbia, out of the security and comfort of family once again making my way south towards the coast at the famous civil war city of Charleston. Had to be sure that I could lay claim to a coastline departure, not wanting to cheat my own nor my friends expectation as it regards this journey. Somewhere along about here, as I cycle threw the the pine scented aire, billowing cumulus clouds partially obscuring the afternnon sun, smooth blacktop ribbon layed out before me…..that I will no doubt iether offend or dissappoint many. My journey takes me completely across the southern USA,  where JWP (Jeremiah Watt Products) and HSBT(Horse Shoe Brand Tools) have many friends and customers. Aquaintances from engraving classes over some 25 years of teaching, saddle customers and avid fans of our DVD’S. If I were to stop at each for just a brief visit, I would never get home. RULES OF THE ROAD, no offence, but the rules have to apply to bring the journey to a conclusion. There are going to be many I ride by because I simply didn’t know that I was that close to your home town. Others whom I know well will also be passed simply because miles and timing really matter on a trip like this. As much as all things matter, miles is what closes the gap between myself and success. Only by taking the safest, straitest backroad route, and covering my average or maybe better each day will Jeremiah get home to the waiting sunshine and cerulean skies of California and the loving arms of wife and family. If by chance you see my ride right past your house, or you read on this blog that Jeremiah passed within but a few miles and didnt stop to see you…….it’s not because he doesn’t care nor for lack of want too……its very simply a longing to arrive home much like a migratory bird in flight. SORRY, but its going to happen…..my aplogies. I am traveling like a DUCK headed south with a snowball stuck to his butt, and sunshine on his eye lids….. cant wait for the snowball to melt away.

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The lapping waters of a grey Atlantic ocean wash the feet of the city of Charleston, as I arrive under dull lead grey cloud and slow drizzling rain. The last 2 days have been a slow wet soaker, off and on thru both night and day. With the coastline of South Carolina now at my back and the west firmly taking its proper position in front of me I begin my actual trek west. Heading no place imparticular, but all the while due west. one backwoods road after another, one slow growing hill at a time, we are passing thru a very rural America that that I have not seen in several years. Tiny towns, repleat with old men sitting out front of poorly stocked general stores. Cars on blocks take up space next to a flower planter on front lawns. Hand painted signs as well as glowing neon, lead you vintage antiques…..some as old as a quarter century…..and the price reflects its rareness amply. Outside bait boxes, humming beer coolers, and bins full of night crawlers , the resonant sound of howling coon hounds wind thier way into your phyche, slowly “america”seeps” back into your vocabulary. Y’ALL, lays on your tongue like a morsel after a good meal. A wave from passing motorists whether in a new Lexus or thouroughly beatin farm truck, are all sent with the same purpose and intent…..hello……goodmorning…..welcome……good too see you!  Its happening, so slowly as to be invisible but for the receptors in the heart. Home is happening, awakening within. Replacing memories of foriegn soil and landmark, warm well known words land on my timpanic membrane replacing those of different tongue which are harsh to me by the fact I dont recognize them, yet they had taken up residence.

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Traversing thru National Forests, barely discernable from non national forests I am hurtling thru a sea of tall Pine and Poplars. In a 3 day stint of riding taking me into Macon Georgia. A city that is somewhat of a musical legend, along the lines of Memphis. Home to musical greats from the Blues and R&B genres of the music industry. My old Shirley Surly was having her own difficulties with the current southern red sand voyage we shared. Her back gear group, front main ring and well worn original chain were all beggining to slip and jump as we tackled each new hill that rose in our way. Best take care of all this here and now while we have the place to get parts, versus later on down the road. 3 days in Macon were spent getting some new power cords with US ends. A new miniSD for the tablet, work on images, seeing American Sniper, and knowing that Micheal Moore would forever suck. I was back home, where idiots can have a microphone and an opinion……thank God the founding fathers didn’t promise an audience.

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Robert Lovett, water management and maintenance expert for Georgia Rural Water, steps from his grey pickup, a friendly southern smile and slow twangy speech, asks me how far am I traveling? Today, I am aiming for 60 miles, but when done I will have ridden around the world……proving one of these Georgian log haulers doenst turn me into a hood ornament first I joke. Robert, is somewhat of the town welcomer as it turned out, over several the years Robert has welcomed about a dozen cyclists of the long tour type, along with several across America walkers and the most unusual a man who traveled in a 10 goat wagon caravan. Pretty sure its classic southern hospitality and charm that make Robert a tourist magnet and the southern States a destination, yes even in the smallest towns.

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“Say, where ya headed with’al that there stuff on yer bike”…..chcking out thru a drug store line, somewhere Georgia. The conversation ensues, incorporating the gal acting as checker on this cloudy day……mostly west right now I say…..but the beggining was some 8 months ago. A fit man, about my own age, square jawed, hosting a dimpled chin and a firm handshake congratulates me and welcomes me back to “good ol’USA, good to have you home brother”. Say he says, why dont you stay out at my cabin tonight, it looks like its going to rain again tonight. We have hot water and a good bed out there, besides its on your way and only maybe 3 mile from hear. Tim, the fella offering the cabin, resonates that American hospitality that is so much of what makes the south an endearing place to live,see,visit. My only problem is that is only 1pm and i have more miles to conquer, sorry Tim, and thanks again, maybe another day.

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“Blessed are those weak in Spirit today but filled with a desire to find the comforting bosom of Christ. For he shall not overlook those who seek him……can I get an AMEN for that brothers and sisters”. The words boomed out of the speakers, dislodging loose white paint chips from the ceiling overhead……thankyou Jesus, you did it again I mentally said to myself….thankyou Jesus. I had not taken in a Church service for now 8 months and was longing for it. This particular morning, I rode past 4 maybe 5 tiny roadside Churches……all I was waiting for was an approximate time, nothing more. “Turn here” was the clarion call inside my skull. Plenty of cars out front, and about the right time for a renewed life to begin. Once again, upon closing the door behind me I realize that JW is the only vanilla to show up at the OREO party. The Saints are on there feet now, arms waving rythmicly, voices harmonizing in a way and hitting notes that are heavenly. I refrained from singing knowing God was loving this and he would not want to hear me scratch the record right in the middle of such a glorious rendition of a hymn I had never heard. 2 splendid hours, hugs, handshakes, well wishes and dinner invitations abound……but as I said “THE ROAD RULES”. Pastor James send me off amply Prayed up, and we covered almost 45 miles that afternoon settling finally with sunshine threw Pine boughs and a soft evening campsite on a rust red matt of Pine needles. Another day down and another day closer.

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Feeling a little like Peter Sellers brother, I asked the fellow if his ambling lanky dog would bite. Heck said Johnny….”he doan even got no teeth….what’ya ass fer anyways”. All wanted at the moment was to get a closer look at, and an image of an old red car in a dilapidated open front barn. “Heck, com’on in  tcheer, get your self a picture, he t’aint gunna hurt’cha nun”. And so it was that I met Johnny and Buster. A collector of old cars since he was 13 and now past 66 years, showing me his very first car purchase. A French made car I had never heard of, a Simplon……..Sorry Johnny, I said…..”but that motorscooter is as ugly as a gumboot”, what would make you buy something like that. Always felt like honesty is the best policy, even though sometimes it lands like a rock on glass. Pretty much agree says Johnny with a rye smile. So tell me about the old red car over in the barn. “Yeah, grew up here watching that beauty as a kid. It belonged to the fire Captain, it was the town ambulance, the town hurse, and represented the fire district at all functions…..bought that one when I turned 16” he says with the pride of a new father. Its a pretty rare beast as cars go. A 1945 Cadillac, with full delivery van construction built over a 1 ton truch chasis…..but most unusual component is the 8cylinder inline tank engine. A tank engine did you say? Yes sir assures Johnny. This car did not come out of production till 46, because we were waiting on a huge group of war surplus french made La Salle made tank engines. Part of the agreements after the war, buying up  war munitions and machinery from a cash strapped Europe. “Hold on a minute and I’ll start it up for yah” says an eager Johnny………a few wires, a couple battery leads and several reluctant purrings from a long idle engine…….vr…vr…..vroom…….vvvvrooooommmmmmm and its pure PURRING from under the hood, and Johnny wearing a Cheshire cat grin.

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Wjile I do find myself in front of an audience of people who want to know more about saddles, saddle trees and horse gear in general. Its very seldom the JW will place himself in a public speaking venue in which its a group of High Schoolers…..and on this occassion a series of 4 classes of all black students. To be honest, I dont know who was the more nervous…..the whole room was full of wide eyes. A longtime family friend, Darren Ramalho, same age as my kids, having graduated honors from UCLA  and now teaching thru the “Teach For America”program is the one who arranged the day. We are in the tiny rural town of Union Town, but a stones throw from the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement……and new movie release “Selma”. My job, to use pictures and verbal descriptions of my RTW journey thus far as a launching pad for the merits of education and work ethic. Have to say, that I was very welcomed by the local staff, made welcome by the kids at the school. In the end I think I actually got more out of the whole expierience than did they, great group of kids, both smart and eager. Walked away unharmed by the days events and would actually do it again…..never thought that would be the day. Thankyou Darren “Mr.Ramalho” for organizing a character building day for me. Thankyou Dean and Kim for raising a really great kid, who has always been a trusted friend and now a fine teacher.

Tonight will be my last night in Marion Alabama and we will commence weaving our way west again tomorrow. What roads await, what towns we pass thru…..non of this is decided yet. I bear Jack Sparrows compass in my vest pocket, and the wishes of my heart lie to a westerly direction……a fair breeze does blow crisp snapping canvas in that direction.

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Blog48-ending Christmas in Porto Portugal

Gods gift to all of us in the Watt family, was simply the trip and a time to share in our love for each other. No gifts, just time together, it was far better than any other gift we could have been given. We done  big walki g tour of Lisbon, ate a fine dining places, ate at crappy ones well. Headed south to the very southernmost tip of Europe, while we enjoyed it we did get the car broke into and lost passports and laptops as well as a harddrive with images from southern Afrika that will never be replaced…..but, Christ did make sure that we are all well and healthy. Back to Lisbon and had replacements passports in 24hours. Jumped a cheap flight to Marrakesh, Morroco. Done several tours in Morroco for 5 days…..then back to Lisbon. From Lisbon, we drove north to Porto which is the capital city for the PORT WINE manufacturers. Now, we all enjoyed everywhere else in Portugal, but we all fell in love with Porto…..what a charming city to spend several days in. We have pretty much abandoned the standard regular hotels while traveling and have gone to apartments which are cheaper and enjoyable and homey feeling. Everything is loadex, the bike is tore apart and boxed up, all the rugs are packed and the Morrocan door ks also loaded…….yes, a door. For what…..heck we dont know, its just to cool to passup. One little side note that amazed us, is just how bad the air pollution is in Porto especially, but all along Portugal as well. Never really did find out why its so bad.

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Blog48-lovin our time in Morroco-part1

Morroco, as it turned out was about as beautiful and exciting as a holiday can be. More than we had expected, nicer people than we were prepared for, and far more rugged than expectations. The buying of khilim rugs from the rural villagers as well as tapestries, was a prime reason for the visit. Walking open air markets that have been held in the same central square for over 400 years is certainly another valid reason, not too mention haggling over everything you consider and ending with a smile no matter the outcome. No doubt, we shall return.

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Blog47-Cooking class in Morroco

Its not often, matter of fact never, do you find Jeremiah taking a cooking class. That “never say never” saying came too life in Marrakesh, Morroco and was thouroughly enjoyed by all four of us. A happen chance meeting of some young Colorado State University kids at a crowded Vegan restaurant, thier own excitement at thier own cooking class expirience was the impetus for our signing up for a class as well. Just love the random chance meetings that come about as we travel and allow God a chance to work his way into each day. In this case, we had the last table at “The Good Earth Restaurant”, and invitec 5 youngsters to join our table. The meal was great, but the kinship shared was even better.

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The day ends with a handmade pot of Morrocan Mint Tea, and the assorted pastries we made during our class. We have all become fans of mint tea, never thought I would be saying that nor dining vegan…….survived it all and enjoyed it.

Blog46- Christmas Holidays 1

A little belated, but no less heartfelt than that of an early Christmas greeting. Ours was spent in both Portugal and Morroco. Since its a holiday I will share just images, and text if something needs explaining. We are hoping that all had a Merry Christmas, and that Christ indeed blessed your home with love andaffection at this time of year, good health and healing, and safe travels for the many who are on the road and in the air at this time of Year. If all goes well, and politicians and leaders act as they are supposed to, we may even have a prosperous New Year. Holidays for us, are drawing too a close, currently we are in Porto, Portugal and really enjoying it. Porto, is one of those cities that is struggling a little, but its full of both character and charm. Our time in Morroco was nothing less than outstanding, and we all feel fortunate for having the chance to travel there.

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Chestnut roasters on the streets of Lisbon, noon on Christmas day.

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Christmas for us was not shared in gifts this year at all, just a chance to reunite as a family and share in a love of Christ.

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Thanks again Valentin, for 2 bottles of fine Spanish Wine on Christmas eve.

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What would Christmas be if we removed Christ from the whole scene. It would become nothing more than “National Paper Ripping Day”,  we all know that is not what the Holiday is about, and we should stand firm in our ascertions as too the origins and intent of this very special day. The Cathedral is a symbol of what is seen by many as Gods home, but for those who believe in the redeeming power of Christs love,grace and authority, we know that the life of this Cathedral is derived from those believers who walk into it…….we hope many of you did just that during this Christmas Season.

Blog45-Pan-eurasia completed

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Lisbon, let me say. Is not a city that you easily roll into. Its hilly, its extremely narrow in street width, once you get into the older portions of Lisbon you contend with cobbles and tram tracks as well as cars which really aren’t that polite. In reflection, China as it turns out has been one of the easiest countries to ride a bike in, and as far as individual cities, then I think Florence was maybe the easiest to simply ride thru. But lets not get to far ahead of ourselves, we left off with all of Portugal layed out in front of Jeremiah and his Surly bike. While Jeremiah may be a little sore in joint and tendon, we have however concluded the pan-eurasian portion of the round the world bicycle journey. Following this we will be riding on US soil and happy for it. Some will ask, what is this RTW thing I am seeing. Simply a well known acronym for – round the world, and apply it to whatever means of travel you have chosen.

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As stated many times now, I pick my own route, no mapped out routes provided by other previous adventure cyclists. Very simply, I look over my Google maps, try to find the smallest roads I can ride which lead me in a general direction that I want to go. It should’nt be so simple you may say, but indeed it is. My route is my route, I remain flexible to any and all advice from the road as I ride. I have on occassions, found sites along the way that appeal to me, these will get marked on the map and if it works out, we take them in.

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Crossing into Portugal due south of Ciudad Rodrigo, I then turned due west and made a long arching route to Subragal. Rolling countryside swept past the wheels of my Surly, it was easy on the eyes of the rider as well. Very pretty the eastern edge of Portugal. Now I had thought that the Brits and the Croates stacked alot of rock, but here, along the eastern frontera, there is a massive amount of rock stacked. Its not simply the miles of wall that you see, nor number of complete barns made of stacked rock. Its more than that. I was caught by the sheer immencity of some of the rocks that have been stacked, adding all the more to that sense of amazement. Portugal is a wet piece of Gods Creation, with abundant rain and fog. So trees, if older, are festooned with long tendrils of Spanish Moss, rock walls will be covered with a vibrant green carpet of moss in time, all of which adds to the photographic allure of the tiny villages the Surly rolls thru. My friend Buddy Goodman ( Warthan Canyon rock stacking champion in 1987 and again in 2007) would fit right in with these folks.

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There are plenty of fields where it is now obvious to me that hogs are being raised for the Iberico style hams, many fields of cattle are passed, not all are fighting type cattle, but certainly many are. Subragal, a city built around a hilltop fort which looks down at the banks of a passing river, dating back to its 1465 birth. Subragal, lay draped around the hillside, like the folds of a blanket, wrippling around the edges with the undulations of the Portugese countryside. Supragal is also the first place where I witnessed a truck load of cork bark being hauled in for its production. The whole cork thing is very interesting to me, yet I never did get to see it being harvested, nor did I fjnd anyone to talk about its harvest and production. Not for lack of trying, all I managed to find out is tbat you need a license to be a harvestor, and trees are protected. The bark is peeled away in large sheets from the trunk of the tree, leaving a vibrant red coloration to those trees that are freshly peeled. The trees are then given a number, the number tells inspectors how many years have passed since it was last harvested. There is an lbvious point atwhich the harvestors must quit or they stand to have damaged the tree, but on some trees they harvest up onto the lowest branches and on some not. Questions I would like to ask, but found no one to pose the question to.

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I mentioned clear cut logging as well taking place on the red sandy soil of Portugal, indeed there is much of it taking place. Having been a logger in my own past, I find it interesting and as such parked my Surly and took a walk out thru several logged areas. Trees cut at very small diameters, down to as small as 4″, moist red sand soil, they used feller bunchers and grapple type skidders……..I could tell, there tracks were still warm………ha,ha, just kidding. What I did witness as it pertains to the Cork Oak, and place there was ANY size of this Oak growing, the loggers worked all around it without disturbing it. Within less than a year the whole area has been terraced on steep hillsides, and trees are once again planted covering and protecting the soil from erosion. And the cycle begins yet again.

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While Jermiah, and his Surly bike rolled thru eastern Portugal, south of Subragal, it became very evident that the hills were getting far larger, far steeper, and poochy maggie there are a bunch of them to contend with. After Subragal, the open fields, stacked rock and farming give way to quite heavy forest cover. The forest looks to be mostly planted Pine and Eucalyptus. Huge stands of it ranging over hill after hill. It appears to be harvested at a very young age, the trees are maybe 8-12 inch diameter when you see them being hauled. It would be my guess that they go into paper production, since they are so small and cut in what looks to be 6 foot lengths.

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Quite a bit of the ride was over this rather hilly tree covered countryside, so it was not all that scenenic since immature forests are hardly magnificent. topped off with heavy fog till 10 or later in the morning and you are left with nothing to do but peddle. The hills of Portugal, while nothing in height nor magnitude when  compared to the mountains that Pine and I have conquered earlier in our RTW journey, were non-the-less almost my undoing. I would guess its the combination of steepness along with the sheer number of climbs all stacked onto rather tired legs. I would place the day before Lisbon’s entry as one of the toughest 5 days of the trip thus far, yet I know that there are many more that lay ahead in crossing USA.

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Second from last day, and near the end of the day. I took a turn into Salvatorre da Magos, not even sure why except maybe to take abreak. Idling down the main street of this small village, at town center stands a huge bronze which lionizes the art of Portugese Bull Fighting heritage. A magnificent piece by a talented artist, fully capturing that tension between the tip of the piquet which is centered on the bulls shoulders, and the fierce look in the eye of the bull in his determination to win his way thru in this fight for life.  It’s a great bronze too walk around, you can almost hear the crowd cheering, sense the intermingling odors of sweat, sand and blood as the epic battle takes it’s course. Somewhere to the far end of the main street I pass a small store front with a SADDLE………. I said a saddle. Yes indeed, sitting out front the store. Naturally, Jeremiah had to go in and check things out. Its contains some really classy leather as well as clothing items, all of which invoke the Portugese style of horsemanship and horse culture. The smells of leather and fine woolen wear greet me as I enter thru the doorway, a firm handshake and an amiable smile, again of the Portugese manner. Hooks on the walls hold handmade bridle headstalls, handmade half leggings etc, and mannequins sport all manner of traditional rider accutrements made of wool and leather. The saddler, Marco Pimental, the store is “EquiUSA”, Marco is an acfable fellow who does really fine work, I invite you to check him out on Facebook.

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Its my guess the word was out, theres a biker in town. Only a few minutes into my visit with Marco, and an excited, fit, elderly fellow shows up, speaking rather rapidly to Marco about something but I know not what. Marco then explains to me after Senior Oliviera takes his leave, that Senior Oliviera is plus 80, and rides 30km everyday. I am impressed without knowing anymore, but I would later meet him again on the street before I got out of town. He wanted to show me the carbon fiber steed ( a beautiful Orbea cycle) that he rides each day, and to have a picture with me and my all steel ashphalt tractor. Just a few miles from Salvatorre, I pulled over for the night to make camp. The next day would see Jeremiah and the heavily loaded Surly roll into downtown Lisbon. It seemed that it took forever to get into town, heavy fog till well after 12, busy roads, and essentially flat till you roll into oldtown. I have an apartment in very traditional San Bento district in Lisbon. Very narrow streets, all cobble and super steep streets. My family arrives late the evening of the 23rd, we will celebrate Christmas in Lisbon and Morroco. I look forward to riding thru southern USA and on to home. My thanks too all of you for your constant Prayers during this portion of the RTW thru Gods Creation cycle trip, and I would ask for your continued support thru our America’s till we can wrap this entire trip up.

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Blog44-Burgos, fighting bulls and pigs.

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Seems like ages since this guy has been alongside of me, its good to see him.

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While in Burgos, laying in a dry bed and thinking of what lay beyond in Gods creation, trying to decide a route and permitting sleep too overtake my eyelids. It wasn’t until the following morning while Jeremiah sat astraddle his Surly bikes crossbar that an escape route was actually formulated. Small roads, almost impossible to see on Google maps due to the poorly chosen color scheme they use, would wind there way south towards Salamanca and beyond. My only real Prayer that previous night was, Dear Lord, if yer really there and listening, then please put all these rain clouds over California and give me a little sunshine!

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I should explain this image, no ticket, just that every person in the station came to my aid in finding a car wash to clean my pedals. The young lady, Patricia, walked me around the town.

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I would be remiss to say that I woke to  beam of sunshine poking thru the hostel window. quite to the contrary, it was foggy, dull and ominous looking. I was dressed to get wet, and mentally prepared for the worst. Burgos, lay along the banks of a slow meandering river, skeleton trees lacking the splendor of autumn leaves,  brush, wild berry vines line the rivers banks. Forming a near impenatrable wall along the cold unwelcoming waters edge. My Surly bike, is pointed almost due south, taking me up and over the first major ridge. Churning thru the thick grey mire of fog, Jeremiah began to see a certain brightness under the cloud in front. Funny how a little Godly optimisim can give one extra pedaling strength. The fog soon lifted, and by 10am and just a few ridges I was stripping off Showers Pass gear to ride in a wind breaker and my cycle shorts. It was glorious to have sun washing over me rather than rain. My mood was ebulient.

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Noon on days such as this, will find Jeremiah pulled over, among young olive trees,grapevines, or grazing pasture, making a cup of tea and enjoying a cheese sandwich and my favorite rich Spanish Chorizo. The vista before me is huge blue sky vault and beautiful Spanish countryside. I realize that much of what is the beauty of Spain has slipped past me, shrouded in the fog that is Spanish winter. Its a beautiful country, with splendid huge vistas, and rich ranching and farm ground in every direction. For the next 3 full days I would be given sunny clear skies underwhich to ride and enjoy Spain. Somewhere along in this row of undulating hills there is a wine growing region that encapsulates the city of Villadolid. I was enjoying the crisp clear morning aire while churning the cranks of my Surly, noticing to my left a vehichle much to nice to be field hand, obviously an owner out checking his vineyard. Well, me and my big mouth and small brain, as I ride by I see tbe vehicle owner walking up to his car……..I holler “Drink California Wine” as loud as I can. The recipient of my misplaced humour, yells right back “Alto mi Amigo”. Now surely after yelling something like that to a total stranger, he deserves a chance to defend himself eye to eye with his eristic assalant.

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Would he understand if I told him that I was simply giving him the advice of close friends Walter and Jim…….both producers of fine California wines…..no, I doubt it. So, taking my lumps is in order and I turn around to face the fellow. As I roll up and even before I can tender an apology, he (Valantin Daniel Olariu), offers me 2 bottles of HIS wine from his back seat, and kindly recommends I try this before shouting California obscenities. What can I do, or say, he is so gracious in defeat. Turns out my new friend whom I know will someday drive into my yard, is a wine grape specialist from Romania. He is one of only 3 people in the world who is licensed to perform a very special type of grafting procedure. I think the most ironic twist in the whole story is when with a huge smile he tells me, “you are partially correct about one point concerning California wine, this grafting procedure was developed in California and is indeed revolutionary within the wine industry”. I leave thankful,”burdened and blessed” with 2 bottles of wine to carry to Lisbon and enjoy over the Christmas Season with my family. Burden, is wieght. Blessing, is a gift.

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Spain is gradually flattening out under my Schwalbe tires as I roll south towards Salamanca. The day I actually arrive in this small Spanish city on the countries western edge, it is raining once again. Cathedrals and interesting town squares make up the center most region of the city. Salamanca, resides along one of the Pilgrim routes to Santiago de Campostella. The Gothic Cathedrals within Salamanca are quite simply huge and grand, but not a single one was open for me to view insice. This is a pnenomenon that I have found within Spain almost everywhere, the churches are closed up…..period. My camp for the evening was at the outer footings of one of the Cathedrals that lay along the rivers edge, tucked between a hedge and 800 year old rockwork, I would make a simple supper and then go for a walk up among the Cathedrals in the evening. Feeling pretty safe to leave my camp for an hour unattended since i could barely refind it myself upon my return.

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From Salamanca south towards Portugal lies the the country most known for producing Spanish fighting bulls and the black pigs known for producing thier local favorite “Pata Negra Jambon”, ham made from the leg of a black pig…….not just any pig mind you. Just this one special Iberico breed of pig. It was along this trek thru the countryside that I sought to learn a little more about the pig since there seemed to be a ham producer in almost every village. These oinkers, are raised much like cattle, meaning that they run outside year around. They live in fields that look manicured with lush green grass and well groomed Oaks overhead. The Oaks are important within the whole storyline, as they play heavily into the flavor of the pigs meat. The heavily groomed or pruned Oaks produce abundant numbers of acorns due to the pruning. The only other food given the pigs, is a warm mash made of locally grown garbonzo beans. The sows, during farrowing season, are run in lots with large doghouse looking affairs. Each sow takes on one house, has her piglets and raises them till weaning time. The odd looking solid black pigs, with thier very small snouts and huge rear ends, still graze as a pack undisturbed for a full year before the “Grim Reaper” comes to call.

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Here is where it all got much more interesting for me. The hams seem to range from expensive to costly, yet every family has one thru this festive season. The simple family hams (jambons hung for approx. 6 months) are about $40.00 € euro per kilo. The hams are hung, only lightly salted, in special underground rock rooms where they can slowly dry for as long as 20 years. Those hams that hang for multiple years are the premium jambons and only procured by the wealthy. They are collected and sought after very much like aged wines, with certain ham producers conditions allowing better drying and flavor, as well as color and texture. Nothing is wasted from these pigs and thier production. At one stop, I had a local favorite, which consists of pig snout and lips in a stew looking consistancy made of local red peppers. It was indeed good, once you got past the rather rubbery, squishy texture. At yet another little village cafe, I had a small plate of deep fried bacon and jambon ends, these were especially good with a local hard sheeps milk cheese and a piece of bread. Spain came to and end under an umbrella of puffy cumulus clouds enveloped in azure skies and sunshine. The open road west now leads me into the eastern frontera of Portugal.

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Blog43- Ice challenge gone wrong

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The “Ice Challenge”, it seems to be the latest cause du jour, and for that purpose it has done well. My own ice challenge has gone on for now…..5, maybe 6 days. No, not the usual 3-10 seconds of cascading ice over the head. This is pretty much an all day affair, no kidding. You can say that the fun has wore off completely. Some of you will notice that there seems to be about a week of Jeremiahs life missing since he arrived in Bilbao. The reason is, I was back in China doing a little work that had to get done or else we would have bigger issues to slay when I finally do get home.

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Ever since we climbed out of Bilbao on those steep roads which take you further west, it has been very heavy overcast and dreary. First day out was 3 hours of heavy rain and the higher I climbed it turned into ice pellets as they pinged off my steel framed Surly bicycle. Somewhere along the route I had to stop and buy some food for that evening camp. I took advantage of being able to buy a newspaper and got some extra plastic bags for my feet. By the time I got moving again, well everything was trying to sieze up, no joint wanted to move. Just too darn cold. All totaled that day we hit 61 miles and were on our way towards Parc de Europa. Camp that night was by God cold. REI, states quite clearly…..NEVER LIGHT A FIRE INSIDE YOUR TENT. I understood the dangers, and did it any how.

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Like most everynight this last week, I have been in the sleeping bag by 6pm…….and shivering. No sitting outside by the campfire cause there ain’t one to sit by. I use an alchohol stove to cook with, it is very efficient for a one burner affair, but thats the extent of it. My day starts and ends pretty much the same way, wrap the feet in newspaper…..I try to find pages of Obama news, wrap my feet with 2 or 3 sheets and slip on my socks, followed by a plastic bag or 2, followed by my rain sodden cycle shoes. Long johns and my Showers pass rain suit and then hit the open road with a seriously forced smile. Yes, I know, there are things called hostels and hotels, but some of this trip has to have an edge to it. I used to put all my riding clothes down inside my sleeping bag on just cold dry days, but now that the clothes are soaked thats a different story. I know just enough about cold weather survival to know, you do not want a damp, wet sleeping bag. So I came up with a different alternative, its does nothing for drying anything out, it just leaves you with clothes a little warmed up. I use my compression sack for the sleeping bag filled with the wet clotbes as my pillow. They are a little bit warm when you put them back on with great reluctance in the morning. I am so glad I finally decided to bring my pistol along after all, cause I dont think I could/would put those clothes on without holding that gun to my head.

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Not alot of stops being made thru the day, my photo count has dropped right off for instance. Couple of reasons, the sky is so low and so heavy that it renders most images pretty useless. But to a greater extent, my darn fingers are so cold I just dont want to bother with getting it all out waiting for fogging to quit, wipe the lense, keep it away from your face because the diopter will fog……..OMG, by then the fingers are really shaking. I also dont stop very often thru the day for coffee or to talk, for the very same reasons, plus if you step inside and have coffee…..at least for me, I am about done. Everything just comes to a halt when the body is allowed to cool. Starting back up can be a real struggle.

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As you read this blog, understand 3 things…….yes, first off I am complaining……I signed up for a bike ride……no where in the tour literature did it mention an uncomfortable bike ride. Lesson two, you will look at the images and say to yourself……..what the heck is he talking about……..the sun is always present. Correct, in the images it is,  but over this however many days, I really doubt there have been 4 hours of sunshine/bluesky total. Every other moment is iether dark of night, or foggy rain soaked days with strong winds to make it all the more pleasant. And third, there is no place flat in Spain…….and that came as a surprise to me, also not mentioned in the tour the world literature.

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This is what it looks like warming wet feet over stove.

My route to Parc de Europa, which is a must see…….some other time for me unfortunatley, the park is a jewel among the Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. It is the home to the Basque people, they were the first people group to make a stand against the Muslim hoarde’s invasion. From this region and its strong will to fight, it was passed onto other regions to do the same ( only Obama seemed to miss the message) but that momentum began right here where I am. “Sorry Senior, but dee park is no bueno for jew I tink. To mucho mas cloud and too mucho dee snow, plus dee hills Senior are mui more dificile”. This was a real common piece of advice that I was hearing as I asked about my route in that direction, several people told me the same basic thing, and combine that with a ten day forecast showing heavy rain and snow as what I had to look forward to…..gott’a rethink things. Somewhere north of a Soncillo, I climbed one ridge at 17%, and when I topped out I could not see more than 100 feet in any direction……thats it, I lost it officially. No, no, not that bad. I didn’t break the tissue out or nothing. I just made the choice that with the current weather scenario, I could ride right thru and yet not see a thing. I rode right back down that same steep SOB and never thought twice about it……once my mind is made up, not much alters me from my course.

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With my Surly LHT, pointed south by south west I fairly flew…….till the next hill, which wasn’t very far away. It has been a steady routine of climb and coast,climb and coast. The coasting, because you just can’t take all the cold air coming at you right after a climb, at least I sure can’t. And my climbs now are broken up, I climb for a while, then get off and push. We changed things up so as to keep the hands and feet warmer, its the only way I can figure to keep enough blood moving to make everything else work as it should. In the end it still comes down to one simple fact. You can ride as hard you wish, you can boast of conquering a very steep grade the likes of which we never see at home. But within 2 days, everything you own is soaked, and you have no way of drying anything out……..none, zip, zero, na’da…….and you are done. That simple, the body will not work frozen.

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The climb out or over the Cantabrian range going south takes me into a deep gorge, imposing rock walls corridor me towards a tiny village called Villarcado. Home to maybe 300, and as I go thru I realize, YUP, you done it again JW, left it till to late in the day and nothing is open in this sleepy little town. Its not like other days inwhich I literally had nothing including water. But I was low on a few things essential to make a meal, apart from tea, water and sugar and a half a stale loaf of bread and half jar peanut butter……..so, now you also know what supper consisted of as well. The climb out of this berg was a beast, partly because I was cold, but also its just a long steep slog. As I ride the last few ridges, it is apparant that the trees faded away several miles ago and have been replaced by thick manzanita and a little sage in spots. The wind is howling, I can see snow on the very top of my hill I have to get over. I make the climb, nothing pretty, no pro-teams have tried to sign me up, but I did make it without the aid of any drugs as well……more than alot of them can say.

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“What the heck……..did you see that………..can’t be……..those are only in the remote parts of USA.”, I even rode back to make sure it was what I read. Sure enough it said “next services 61km”. Well, on I go for the briefest moment actually down a gentle grade, but am soon climbing again after having topped the pass. As I will soon come to know, its is a huge treeless mesa, undulating at times thru deep gorges. But nonetheless a huge plateau. The wind is fairly ripping across from my right to my left on the diagonal, the clouds are heavy and dense with …….snow…….theres some more. Its builds up to maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the ground but is melting equally as fast……it is snow though. Let me see……..treeless……..windy……..wet………cold………dang, a person will have to pay attention to his dwelling place or one could end up in trouble. Not sure, but maybe a little over 5 miles later I ride past a small old rock barn right beside the road and decide I had better check that out. Upon doing so it does not take long to figure out that God himself put this thing here just for me. After clearing aside alot of plain junk, then a couple inches of sheep dung aside I had a resonable place to throw down for the night. Just a mat and the bag was all there was room for, I was in the bag by about 4:15 and shivering. Sure enough, about 9pm it really started to pour rain and I found my roof had a few……many, leaks. So, I dug out my rain fly and threw it over my sleeping bag.

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Up and riding by barely 7am, almost too dark but couldnt sit any longer…..or lay any longer for that matter. Official sunrise here is 8:10am. Real steady diet of decent and climb, just not as steep as the mountains I had come from a few days past. To the south, I can see brightness within the heavy cloud convincing me that maybe the sun lives down that way, we shall see. Onward thru a tiny Spanish ghost town, repleat with an old church and many stone houses and barns. Nothing stirring but dust from the frigid wind sweeping thru vacant windows and doors. Rolled into Burgos about 2:15pm, hit a store and bought a few groceries for the evening. There is an outstanding Cathedral in town, I seen its beautiful Gothic Steeple on the ride in. I took in the cathedral and left to the west on a tiny road. Right along side my road was a park of sorts with many benches. The sun had just broken thru for the very first time this day. Nothing like a little sunshine to dry things out, so I took everything I had and tossed it over benches to let sunshine and wind do thier job. Heavy cloud threatened to close down my drying episode, that was easy to see. I was just trying to time things to get maximum exposure and drying, the rain began and with it so did my race to get it all packed back up.  All in all, I was doing pretty good really…….or thought I was. I began with my tent parts to my right, not knowing that the wind had whipped my sleeping bag off the back of the bench……..MURPHYS LAW # 212 came into effect. There I was, rolling my tent ground cloth up, and looked to my left to see my bag, upside down in a dang puddle……soaked. I mean really soaked.

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As I type this, the sleeping bag hangs over a vent on the room heater in the Hostel. For $18.00, yes, I will splurge and take a room. We can conquer the beasts of cold weather and solo cycle travel on another day, for now I have a dry room and better yet a dry bed for the night. Good night to you all and may God indeed Bless those less fortunate.

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