I wanted to give up 20 times.

Collado De Ason, Cantabria, Spain
Location: Santander, Spain
Ride day: pictures here/video here
Ride profile: here

I felt horrible this morning. Too much dairy. Too much milk and cheese and not enough salad and fruit. I don't know if it's just because it's off season or because of my special needs but I seem to have a hard time finding the right kind of food at the right time all over this world, not just Europe.

I understand now why people take fully supported tours, although I wouldn't be caught dead in one. I like the fucked up parts. Like tonight, where after my ride (48 miles and 5700vft) and hungry as hell I decided to walk to a restaurant I found online (which costs $20 per day for the internet at this particular hotel). Half of the hotels have free wifi (which is slow slow slow) and half have pay-per-wifi (which is slow slow slow).

Ahhh, so nice to be home in Spain.

Location: Viveiro, Spain
Ride Day: pics here/vid here

I had a rough one out on the road a couple of days ago, eh, I pretty much had a rough couple days in general.

What? Can't control the world? Thought I had heard that one out of my mouth a couple of hundred times....

And I'm not a big believer in horoscopes, unless they are accurate, and in my inbox I got a pretty good one: "Fun may be your main focus today, especially if recent experiences have been filled with challenges." So I decided to just have fun.

I decided to just kit up and go for a ride and also pick the first hotel I came across and the first restaurant someone suggested and not to try and plan so much. Granted, I'm moving pretty quickly here and you could spend weeks in just one city I've been in and not get to all it's little crannies.

But I'm seeing more on my rides than most tourists will ever see, so I keep that in my pocket, and try not to sweat the fact that I'm not seeing "the" cathedral or "the" bridge or "the" monastery. After dinner last night I drove down to the beach and sat there in the dark and it was one of those moments that I knew would keep itself right up front for quite a long time.

The fantastic bottle of wine that I had with my massive veal steak was a large contributor to this feeling, but the 75 degree weather, the perfect ride, and the sound of the waves and the brightness of the stars, well, that all played a part as well.

And my hotel might have just been built yesterday. It's gorgeous and modern and my balcony overlooks the Atlantic and you can hear the waves breaking. And it's cheap as shit, as is most everything in Europe at the moment.

Viveiro is gorgeous from A to Z. It's my favorite city so far next to Puerto Banus. The ride was hard, for sure. 49 miles and a tad over 6,300 feet of climbing. Hurtful. Glorious. Absolutely pushed my limits.

Making the decision to take the Exodus may have been my best ever. It's been a real, honest adventure and a serious test of my patience and mental strength.

And I have to say that I really, really, really, really, love riding my bike. Cobblestones and dead-ends and massive, painful ascents included.

Portugal has no smooth finish.

Date: Fucking February 22, 2012
Location: Fucking Portugal
Fucking Ride Day

So fucking Portugal did not leave a nice fruity taste in my mouth or mind. But a new day is a new day and since I am writing this on the new day, I happen to know that it's true.

Since I spent time making this, it's worth the time to post it. Although, fear not, a positive follow-up is hot on the heels of this disparaging account of the day..

Cavar um poico mais.

Somewhere NW of Coimbra, nice and high. 
Location: Porto, Portugal
Pictures: here
Video: here

I owe Portugal an apology. Won't be my first to a place, maybe my first to a country though. Six hours (literally) north of the town of Porgatorio, things have a bit of a different tinge to them. A beautiful, orange, warm tinge.

I think I'm pretty good at adapting, and I like mysterious things, I like the unknown. I like not knowing where I'm going or where I'm riding or sleeping, but I guess I can get pretty easily frustrated too. So, Portugal, I'm sorry.

1st haircut in 5 weeks...
I combined the drive yesterday from Lisbon to Porto with a ride in the middle. I rode from Coimbra and into the mountains through these ancient little towns.

You go through them in maybe less than a minute. And in that minute, there might be an old woman asleep on a chair under an umbrella outside of her door, but there will be groups of men sunning and drinking coffee and beer at the only cafe, and the youngin's will be kicking around a soccer ball and donkeys and cabbage patches and clothes drying on the lines.

And always, there is a woman sweeping or tending to a garden. No exceptions.

It was a gorgeous day with beautiful views, and I'm fucking sacked from the ride and my (driving/walking/sitting at cafe's/sampling ports) tour of Porto today. And I'm tackling some pretty big ones tomorrow, so I'll leave you with the video.

From it, you can probably tell I got the hop back in my step. Back to Spain tomorrow.

Portugal sucks. But the riding is insane.

Location: Lisboa, Portugal
Photos: here and here

Two days ago, I was in a hyper-super-shitty mood. I pried myself away from Puerto Banus, with all kinds of thoughts on my mind. It was at 8 times fast forward and nothing I did, or tried to do, could slow the mind down. I really didn't want to go, but I couldn't stay either.

I was nervous for making the decision to U-Turn and head to Portugal. I was feeling very pissed off at the car for shifting so slowly from 1st to 2nd gear. I was upset that I had not a single piece of civvie or bike clothing that was clean. I was pissed of at Gibraltar for being such a dumb, stupid rock. 

I was confused by the Portugese language and all of the dush-kush-dush. I wanted it to be more like Spanish, which I could process. I went through five tolls wondering why there was no one collecting money before I realized I had to pay in advance, which means five very expensive bills waiting for me at home.

And the hotel I choose for two nights in Quarteira, well it is right on the beach, but its an old folks home. Thats not the worst of it. Its an old folks home for fat, white, British people. And I like British people, but I wasn't going to be talked into liking anybody on this day. 

The field moves through Stage 3
of the Tour of Algarve. Ben King in
the Trek uniform with USA accents.  
Everything I got was a no. No, no ice. Maybe a cup. Ok, ten cups then, please. No, not possible.

No, not open. No, kitchen is closed. No, nothing is freshly prepared. No, we don't have fridges in the room. No, the WIFI is not free. No, we don't have that available tonight.  No, no bike shops. No, no english. No, no espagnol.

And you know what? They know that I know that they speak Spanish, and probably English too, and they probably have ice, they could just give a shit. And I get it, this place is very depressed, financially and otherwise. I'm not walking into a steakhouse asking for sushi here, I just want some ice and a bite to eat.

Me on the same mountain and
about half that speed. 
I make my mind up, in order to rationalize this, that Portugese people just aren't very nice. After all, I'm getting no waves in response, no smiles back at me. The drivers are fucking horrible, super fast and super unkind.

And I was thinking it was just me, and then an Italian guy I meet on my bike made me feel a little better about it. "Yes, different than the Spanish," he says.

I thought I was going batshit or something, but it's not me after all. And take it with a grain of salt, too, because I'm talking about 3 days in this country in the middle of winter. I'm actually quite shocked to see so many restaurants open, but with no one in it.

No wonder they have nothing to serve you...what would be the point of stocking anything?

My spot for Stage 3 of the
Tour of Algarve. 
And I really did need something substantial to eat, so I walked a total of about a mile around Quarteira, and was unable to find anything suitable, so sputtering a bunch of fucks and shits, I walked back to my hotel and into the buffet and all there was was a sea of elderly. And I couldn't do it. I just could not do it.  

So I ate the two bags of peanuts and a banana, that I had in my bag. It reminded me of the time I was broke and sleeping on a bench in Australia when I was 19, and eating sardines out of a can. At least this time I had a bed.

And then I decided just to go to sleep, eh, maybe finish off this bottle of wine first. That's never bit me in the ass. Tomorrow would be better. 

And the next day, I realize I was right. I woke up early, got some solid eats, and discovered that there was a bike race here, in this very province! And not an amateur race either, one with names I know and follow. So I decided to ride up to the race route and cheer them on. (2012 of Algarve)

Espresso and chocolate milk
and chocolate crossaints. 
It was an amazingly sunny, beautiful day and was all the reset I needed. I just got south Portugal at the wrong time. I keep forgetting it is winter. And then I realize my level of selfishness. I can't expect winter to be anything less than winter just because I stroll into town. 

I once traveled through Turkey in January. No one does that. 

So rode about 60 miles and got a bit of a sunburn, which is nice to feel on the skin. Stopped at a nice little cafe to wait for the peloton to come through. Little, fat, chocolate-hued old lady made me a espresso and I had a crappy, dry, croissant while I waited for the boys to come through.

I was very thankful since I was the only customer for the entire hour I was there, although she seemed very put out by it all, to be honest.

And today, I woke up, and did it all over again. Went up to a place along the route, rode the bike for as long as I thought I had time for, and then got some great pics of the peloton coming through what was a really super hilly ride.

Sky protecting Boassan Hagen
Shouted out as they came through "Tejay Van Garderen!! Where are you?" and right when I said this he was about two riders in and said "Right here, man!". And I yelled back, "The cougar tamer!," which is what he calls himself on twitter.

And he tweeted to me after the race was over: "Thanks for cheering!". And that's just nice to be acknowledged, even though those guys aren't really supposed to acknowledge fans except in private.

And then, when it was all over, and because I could not help myself, I took a crap by the side of a long, deserted dirt road in the Portugese countryside.

Yes, I had wet wipes. No, no cars had come by me in about 30 minutes. Yes, I dug a hole. No, haven't done that since I was camping as a kid.

It's actually a very nice experience, but only with wet wipes. Otherwise, not advisable.

I covered it all up with rocks, although I can't tell you the point of that. Just thought it was polite to make a little rock formation rather than leave a heap of shit.

And then I drove to Lisbon. Holed up in a five star hotel right in the middle of the action. And guess what else? They deliver ice to the room, for no charge.


Never park a car hungry again!

Location: Puerto Banus, Spain
Ride day: here
Pictures: here

It's not like I didn't expect this to happen, but I'm getting pretty lonely. Lil bit, lil bit. I'm not saying I'm lonely in the sense of needing a woman, its just lonely in the sense of not having someone to turn to and say, that was fucking incredible, wasn't it?

So I end up talking to myself a shit-ton. And I do make myself laugh, so thats a plus.

My first time traveling long term, I was 19/20 years old and staying in hostels. I met people along the way, people who spoke English or maybe didn't, but we were all sort of surfing that same wave, and we could latch on to one another.

There are not 39 year old single people traveling. So there is no latching. And in the states, it was never that bad because the language was common, and I could have dinner with people, I could make funny with people, and I didn't feel so out in the cold.

Although my Spanish is sufficient at this point to have a conversation with someone who speaks no English, I do not know how to be sarcastic in Spanish, and sarcasm is mostly 80% of the shit that comes out my mouth, so I feel, I guess I feel not myself. Because I'm literally not capable of it.

If you can make a joke in another language, to me, that's being fluent.

Although some funny shit does occur as a result of my self-teaching. Like yesterday when I asked the girl at the front desk where I could park my car. I do know how to say this in Spanish but I guess I put the wrong inflection on the word "aparcar" because she went in the back, and of course I'm not sure why she is doing this, maybe to get a map or something, but she brings me a bag of popcorn.

I take the bag of popcorn. I wonder why I have a bag of popcorn. And then I realize when I said "park car" she heard "pop corn." So now I know how to ask for popcorn, which may or may not come in handy.

I do love the tiny adventures I'm having:
  • Took a cab over to Gibraltar when I was in Algeciras and had a nice long talk with an English bartender there. She was 18 and she had NEVER been out of Gibraltar. Not once. This is a place about 4 miles wide by a single mile long. It's weird how the U.K. held on to tiny little enclaves of an empire. 
  • While there also got my ear talked raw by an English born Indian who was/is a Gurkha. He is a very fucking angry Gurkha and fucking hates every fucking country and especially the fucking Queen. 
  • Went to my favorite strip club in the world last night in Puerto Banus and it is still my favorite strip club in the world. 
  • Every single cafe con leche or cortado in the sun is euphoric. 
  • Went for a ride today up a very large mountain. One of the top 5 most enjoyable rides of my life.
  • Staying at a stunning hotel for super cheap, because it's off-season and also Spain is having a bit of financial trouble that you may be aware of. 
So, in general, things are going down that are blowing my mind. I just wish, kinda, that I had someone to smile about it with. Maybe I got one out of you. 

How the hell did I end up here?

Location: Sevilla, Spain
Pictures: here
Video: here

No words today. I can't think straight. I have so much Spanish/English/French in my head I don't know who I am anymore.

See vid below...

Titulo de la entrada.

Walking towards La Puenta de Romano
Location: Cordoba, Spain
Ride: here
Pictures: here

I think my Spanish is getting better and then I take it outside and people talk so quickly that I revert to retarded Spanglish and then it disintegrates into miming and then, as soon as I give up and am walking away, I remember how to ask what I meant to ask in almost-perfect Spanish.

My front door (blue on right)
And no one hear speaks English. Not even the young kids. Or the owner of my apartment. At least I am making a concerted effort. She just talks at me in fast forward Spanish and when I dont understand, she says each word that I dont understand really slowly. I say "Lo siento, pero no entiendo." And she says it again. I say "por favor, sea paciente, y habla mas despacio."

It wasn't until yesterday we realized that we both spoke French pretty well. So now all is good and I have trash bags and I'm not putting salt in my coffee anymore. So that's an upside.

Cordoba is unbelievably gorgeous. Im thankful to have a good internal compass because it's easy to get lost, and I'll admit I've made a couple crop circles. Went for a little walk in the morning because I got up at 7AM since I believe I am still jet lagged. Went out for about 3 hours and got some great pictures(here). It was very quiet on this Sunday morning.

Then, I suited up for my ultimate purpose here, which is montando mi bicicleta. I haven't ridden in Europe since I was 15, so this was a big event. It was cold, and windy, and hilly, but it took my breath away. Most of it was into the mountains on a service road, you know the type: what you would consider a one lane road with no divider and white lines on both sides.

Got up to around 2,000ft and caught some beautiful views down onto the city. Did I mention it was cold and windy? Did I also mention that somehow, in 7 days with no miles, that I got out of shape?

Off to Seville today. Short drive. The sun is warming up and hopefully that cold front has passed.

I guess just being here for a couple of days already I realize why most Americans don't travel on their own, meaning why they take tours instead of just winging it. Its because it is not easy. It just isn't.

As in if you are a vegetarian, you will die very quickly in Spain. And if you don't make an effort to learn the language, all you will be doing is pointing at stuff and getting exactly what you don't want. And you will be pissing people off.

The key is to blend in. See what other people are wearing, and wear that. See what other people are ordering, and order that.

Imagine waking up one day and no one understands a word you say. You learn fast. Well, you had better.

This is more like it.

Location: Madrid
Pictures: here
Video: here

Woke up a little giddy yesterday morning, because I woke up in fucking Spain. Bike made it over in a few pieces, but no more pieces than it was in when I packed it, so that’s a major relief. Had to go a find a bike shop to put it back together, and I only had one day here in Madrid so I had to be hasty.

I did pick out a store but I also just kind of drove around aimlessly, as I like to do. The upside to doing that in Europe is that you run into cool shit consistently. The downside is that sometimes you up in a plaza where cars aren’t allowed, which also happened to me and got me a little conversation with the policia.

Although it was a conversation where we both laughed. And there were no injuries.

It is fucking cold as tetas here, however, so I had to drop some cash on some warmer stuff, since I was counting on 60’s, not 15, which it was last night.

Today, I’m meeting some friends from Philadelphia who happened, completely coincidently, to be traveling to Madrid. To further that coincidence, they are staying in a hotel about 2 blocks from my apartment. (Update: waited in a famous puerta for 45 minutes; they never showed)

After that, I’ll fire up the Picasso (my car) and drive about 400k to Cordoba. It’ll be about 4 hours if I take the fast route, 5 if I go scenic. Guess which one I’ll take…

And since I was so happy, and because everyday I am more and more convinced that floating about is my destiny, that I let my thoughts float around a bit and they ended up here:

Adios. Plane to Spain.

Last minute sewing. 
Five hours until take off and just now I'm starting to get pretty hyped up.

The bike packing didn't go quite as planned, meaning that all of the bike didn't fit in the bike box. I'm glad I started a couple of days ago, because if I hadn't, the bike wouldn't be making the hop.

The end of a long story is that the wheels had to be packed separately. In two rolls of bubble tape and a padded wheelbag.

Yeah, I'm more nervous for my wheels than I am about the plane going down. That is how unhealthy my love is for my wheels.

Traveling lightly. 
Kinda nostalgic today. I think I'm gonna miss it here a little bit. Which is also a reminder that you don't know what you have until it's gone.

I don't think there will be anyway for anyone to get in touch with me, if you are one of those people who normally does. Except for this blog, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, IMessages, email, and Facetime.

Other than that, I guess I'll mostly be off the grid.

See you on the other side.

My baby all bagged and gagged. 

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