Celebration of 6,000km for Camfed and another bike ride

I’m sort of back in normal life, but as that includes joining the VeloVixen team for the London Nocturne this Saturday dashing round Smithfields I guess my normal includes biek crazy.

Last donations are coming in for Camfed, which is great and my faithful steed Sisu has been turned over to the guys at Giant, Twickenham for major reconstruction works…

And the celebration/return party has been planned, if you are in London on Saturday 15th please join me in the Roebuck on Richmond Hill from 7pm.

Best,

Monica

Image

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

And finally

Today I polished off those last kilometres to bring it up to 6,000km.  So now its truly done. I feel elated, exhausted, cycled out but willing to go again.  I managed to grab a couple of photos..

image

And the view at 6000…

image

image

Sisu…all done in.

And ones from the ride with Mel on Sunday.

image

image

image

We’ve now raised enough money for 268 girls to go to School. 

In London on Saturday 15th there’s a little welcome home party – more details on the Facebook page.  I look forward to seeing you there.

M

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 2 Comments

I can see Lisbon!

On the ferry from Almada to Lisbon.  My journey nearly at an end.

image

From Cais do Sodre in Lisbon I turn west along “the Marginal” to Cascais…
Thank you Mel for cycling this bit with me. 

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 2 Comments

The best of times, the worst of times

I’m struggling to get my head around the distance I’ve covered and I thought picking up the best roads and worst moments might help.  I still have 80km to go.

Greece… Take the road from Polydrossos to Lamia…. You pass by the temple of Hercules and get a cracking downhill.  The Hotel Archontiko in Metsovo was wonderful.
Do not, under any circumstances, take the mountain road I took from Metsovo – a bad moment for sure.

image

Albania…. Despite the horrendous condition of the road, going from Gjirokaster to Fier was a good day.
Not sure I have a bad moment.

image

Montenegro… Take the road to Kotor from Podgorica… If you’re a cyclist or a photographer you’ll love it.  Worst moment…continual rain and blind descent in a cloud. 

image

Croatia – its all beautiful, but the road to Makarska is good.  You can see if that picturesque toilet is still there, plus you get to be in two countries in one day.  So that ticks off Bosnia too.
Worst…the road without food to Sibenice.

image

Slovenia – the guest house Pod Slavnikom in Podgorje – thanks again guys.

Italy – not a road, but an experience – Nabucco’s chorus of the slaves on my headphones.  Almost overwhelming it was so good.  Worst – the rain & then the rain and a fever.

image

France – best and worst together – cycling around the river Var and the Grand Canyon of Verdon. 

image

Monaco.. Nope still nothing good to say.

Spain… Although hitting 70 was pretty awesome, the best cycling for me was in Andalusia; stunning.  Worst – the wind without a doubt.

image

Portugal.  Best cycling is around Monchique and to the coast from there.  Best day might well be today, my last day, but let’s see.

image

In Comporta, waiting for Mel, so we can do the last bit together. 

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

266 girls

We raised enough for 266 girls to go to school.  That’s 266 girls who will have a childhood rather than be working, a chance to learn and play rather than be married at 13.  If you wanted to make it 267 girls…
http://www.justgiving.com/monica-piercy1

image

Thank you.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

All the single ladies

My first solo cyclist I spotted in Italy.  A woman out on her mountain bike.  The next was in France, hooray, a woman out touring, spending a week camping in France.  Then in Spain a road cyclist out training and in Portugal the same.  Also in Portugal I met with a German hiker, laden down with rucksack and tent, she was on a three month trip walking and camping.  Obviously these were not the only female cyclists or backpackers I saw and I’m not saying they were single, but they were travelling solo.  Why only six of us in 6,000 kilometres? 

My message girls…Get a bicycle.  Get two.  Get geeky with it and have one for commuting and one for the weekend.  The freedom is immense. You’ll see things and meet people you just don’t have the opportunity to in a car.  Great for toning the legs too.

But you don’t have to go out by yourself.   Join a club (where if you are single there’ll be lots of guys, just watch that they don’t spend more time on their legs than you & you might need to develop a conversation around the relative merits of campag and shimano).

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

One final drama

Maybe I’m saying this with the rose tinted glasses of finishing tomorrow, but I’m eally loving cycling in Portugal – except for the wide variety of insects that want to eat me its pretty much ideal – rolling hills and some harder climbs, beautiful scenery and I sort of understand the language.
If you’re on a busy road then you have to get off it quick as the Portuguese are aggressive behind the wheel and you do have to deal with a prevailing headwind if you’re going my way, but apart from that, its all good.
So crashing off Sisu, luckily into sand, was a bit of an unexpected drama towards the end of my day.  I hadn’t seen the sand when I braked, hit the patch, skidded the back wheel out, fell on to my side, hip, knee and wrist taking the impact.  I’m fine, I’ll have a bruise to show for it tomorrow.  Sisu has lost the middle gear range, just doesn’t seem to click in.  But with one day left I can crawl along in the low gear if I have to.

I did manage to take some photos before my fall. 

image

More from Milfontes above and yet another off road route below

image

And here is a very big cycle lane…

image

Tomorrow my journey ends… I’m feeling very strange about that.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

Tomorrow, Today

I have five draft posts, all trying to say something special.  Its not working so let me just say, tomorrow I finish in Lisbon (well we will go into Cascais actually, but what’s another 30km between friends?).
Mel Newton, who has been raising money for The Girl Effect, is joining me and we’re going to roll in about 6pm  – feel free to join me for a celebratory drink.
And we can also celebrate that 266 girls will go to school because of your support. 
Yesterday I wasn’t in the mood for Monchique, not sure what I was worried about – its just a cute little hill with great views.  I turned left to Aljezur – which is one of the nicest and most enjoyable routes I could have chosen.

image

image

image

From there I headed up the coast to V.N Milfontes.  Again I haven’t stuck to my route… But today I’m planning a bit of a circular ride to get back on track.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

From Monchique to the coast

I cycled around Monchique in April 2012 (really??? Feels like longer) and I was hoping that it wouldn’t feel too bad a hill this time round.  Well whether the sun, trying to climb at the end of the day or for whatever reason, whilst other cyclists nipped past me, yesterday I toiled.
So I’m not really looking forward to the first 3 km of today, all uphill… As I’ve moaned about before it takes me 10km for the various body aches to quit complaining.
My poor bike is also clicking and creaking – I’m slightly worried I irreparably damaged the frame. 

So today – Monchique to Aljezur, then north towards Sines.  My plan is to potter, so that I’m refreshed for Sunday & Lisbon.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 1 Comment

Time to reflect

So close to the end of my journey, its about time to reflect.  We have raised  £3600 for Camfed – you can still donate http://www.justgiving.com/monica-piercy1

I think without the knowledge that friends, family and indeed strangers has sponsored me, on the days when I didn’t want to cycle again I would have rolled over and gone back to bed.
So you helped – thank you, I needed you.

I dispute the line “if you think you can, or think you can’t, you’ll be right”.  I thought I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, or might not.  It is 6,000 windy, mountainous, rainy, bone jarring and achy kilometres after all.  But I thought I’d start and see how far I’d get, just taking it one day at a time. 

As I’m 50km from Calcados de Monchique and I’m pretty certain that this approach will get me all the way to Lisbon as scheduled, barring theft or natural disasters. My cycling technique still sucks.  However I’m good enough to join a cycle club now. Do you remember the film line “there was that one time, on band camp” that’ll be me about this trip and the other club members will probably get a bit bored.

And I’ve met some lovely people along the way.  Just today I met Paulo – a policeman at Faro airport.  He coached me up a couple of hills on his way to work.  And so I decided to squeeze in a few more.. Tavira to Loule via s. Bras de Alportel, then north to Alte, lovely roads all the way. 

image

image

image

image

I’m sure I’ll have more reflections later.  For now, time to move on.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 1 Comment

More about cycling to Tavira

Coming into Portugal yesterday was such a good feeling. To be familiar with the language (well a little) and the area reassuring.
I used only the second ferry of my trip to say goodbye to Spain.  But before that I saw ship building in Huelva

image

A remarkably low river, floodplain and salt hill (I think)

image

And then the ferry

image

And the crossing

image

image

 I decided to potter for a bit and ended up chatting with some other cyclists – geek talk about garmin and what bits of my bike need fixing. 
I also popped into the Eurotel Altura for lunch… A hotel that I stayed in with the Lisbon Hash last February?  Feels like much longer than that.

image

I didn’t use their pool, although I was very tempted.

And finally thank you to Manuel Trindade and his mother who hosted me last night, I hope I didn’t break anything. 

Today I’m going to base my cycle route on the maps I shared before and the feedback I got (thank you) and end up in Monchique. 

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 1 Comment

Final stage

Thanks to the headwind forcing me to change my route and my 150km ride yesterday I’m in Portugal a day ahead of schedule.
I know its Portugal as I was momentarily floored by the amount of Russian I was hearing, until I slid back into the accent and language and heard it as Portuguese. 

image

I used the second ferry of my trip, crossing into Portugal via Ayamonte.  I took the A492 road from Huelva, then the N431 and they are great for cycling – not too much traffic, rolling ups and downs – well not even hills really, nothing above a 100m and a nice wide hard shoulder which isn’t strewn with glass. 
So now I have to catch up some kilometres… I might circle round a bit, otherwise I’ll be rolling into Lisbon a few kilometres short of the “6000”….

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

Photos from the triumph, detail on the fail

Almonte dressed to impress…

image

image

image

image

image

image

And my evidence of 150km…

image

And what did I do wrong… Oh yes, left my passport in Mollina. That’s 250km away and the hotel is not answering the phone.  Hmmm. Not quite sure how to handle this one.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 3 Comments

A triumph and an epic fail

Triumph first.  These last few weeks have been the toughest for me.  At the beginning I set my expectations low and feared I wouldn’t make it.  I left early each morning with no small amount of trepidation. 
But as soon as that magic 3000km kicked in I thought I was on the homeward straight – nothing could be as bad as nearly falling off a mountain or the overwhelming paranoia of the first few days.
Most likely because I didn’t have my expectations set appropriately as the last couple of weeks threw their obstacles at me I have had less and less will power to meet them.  Only my obstinacy kept me going when I didn’t want to.
This morning I could have stayed longer with the parents of a friend in Arahal.  Could have had more amusing, although somewhat complicated conversations with two people who are convinced I speak Spanish (!).
Instead I pushed on and set myself a challenge… If I could get from Arahal to Almonte by 5pm then I could go further –  to San Juan del Puerto – a 150km ride.  Well I did it.  I’m rather pleased and perhaps have recovered the mental focus I need for the last 5 days of cycling.
My route as usual had its off road moments – I think my bike frame is damaged as it makes an awful clicking sound when under pressure.
And on the way I went into Seville – a confusing route through retail parks and industrial estates and unfortunately the motorway in places too. 

image

image

Cute shop by the ice cream parlour I stopped at in Seville.

Then on via olive groves towards Almonte.  My satnav took me on another unfinished motorway and I had yet another Spanish 28 days later experience…

image

But no zombies 🙂

Then I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of two fiestas and saw Almonte at its best.

image

image

And in Almonte…

image

image

image

image

More pics in the next half of the post… I haven’t told you the fail yet…

Posted in Camfed and cycling | Leave a comment

Photo time

I am now in Mollina making my way towards Seville.  I finally hit the 5000km marker sometime yesterday, but was so focused on the wind I didn’t celebrate.
Coming in land and going slower has helped me to recover… I’m worn out, physically by the distance.. its a long, long way… And by the routine and the loneliness of my trip.  I’m ready for the final leg, ready to come home.

image

5000km marker.

My route from Malaga was circuitous – found by following other cyclists.

image

And took me into some great hills.  Over the day I climbed to 600m three times and was in and out of olive groves. 

image

Although this photo seems to show parking lot.

image

This road really deserved a mountain bike, but I took it anyway for the promise of an outstanding view…

image

Promise delivered…

image

image

And then I did ten km more of mountain bike trail…. No one else around for miles…

image

Watching the wind and the rain coming towards me

image

But I managed to get off the mountain with an extremely rapid, bumpy descent….
Which killed my glasses, but not my bike.  Today’s mission will therefore include going to an optician.

Posted in Camfed and cycling | 1 Comment