Tag Archive | ride

Why I Travel Blog

Church of St. Alexander, Warsaw

Church of St. Alexander, Warsaw

There are the obvious reasons why one travel blogs. To share travel adventures, through photos and words, trying to encapsulate an experience to the reading and viewing audience. To imbue in others the same excitement, curiosity and inspiration that the blogger felt whilst traveling. To pinpoint exact emotional exaltation.

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

This is also the general sentiment of why I travel blog as well. The intricacies of it are way more personal. Solo travel for me only started at 24, with a trip to Brno, Czech Republic with a theatre show that ended up, with a very unexpected job in Prague and then a 4-month expedition, tracing my family’s heritage through Eastern Europe. I had never a train before and was thrilled with sticking my head out of the window, letting the wind make my eyes squint, a tornado of my brown hair, like a dog in a car ride. That same trip, I was introduced to couchsurfing. Travel took on an entirely new meaning, where it wasn’t simply placards and buildings and other travelers, it was local people, personal accounts, trans-ocean humour, Ipod music exchanges, one or two dance sessions, a game of golf in Dijon, foraging for dinner in Groningen. All I had read about travel came from books and those books laid out the foundational blueprints of how to travel. Yet there had to be something else, something more expansive and less focused on the MUST SEES and the MUST EATS.

Warsaw Uprising Monument, Warsaw

Warsaw Uprising Monument, Warsaw

So blogs. First big websites like Trip Advisor (which I still use as a base for exploration), then more obscure travel sites like Atlas Obscura (which, if you haven’t checked out, is the best source for Off the Beaten Path travel oddities), to the worldwide blogosphere of adventurers, trippers, dream followers and spontaneity experts. I was hooked to their words, as many of them weren’t simply telling me what they saw, but how they felt, how places impacted them or didn’t. Blogging is personal creative writing, an individual’s take on the world through their eyes, through their pens, through their keyboards. It can be laced with superlatives, poetics, judgment, digressions, failure, no words at all, all visual. I blog, even if only a few read it, to show them my version of cities and towns, of nature and of bike trips. They are my visceral accounts of the world. They are my endorsement of decorative language, trying to squeeze out the true emotion I felt in a singular moment, possibly written days after. I cannot prescribe nor would I ever want to, a reaction to what I write or how it effects where people decide to go. I hope that the few who do read it, have an opinion or an idea that sprouts from it. I hope, as that’s all one can do with putting writing into the public’s glance, that it pushes people to either travel or challenge themselves, ask questions, look unto other blogs to continue planning or imagining a more complete global sphere.

All You Can Eat - Japanese, European and......everywhere else in all time and space? Babalu's in Warsaw. Felt so so so sick after this.

All You Can Eat – Japanese, European and……everywhere else in all time and space? Babalu’s in Warsaw. Felt so so so sick after this.

I frequently embellish memories. I cannot remember exacts, so I shameless fill in the blanks. I blog because I love to write. I love to reimagine what I have seen, to reinvigorate the recollections with verbose imaculations and neologisms (such as imaculations). Though, recent travel, via bicycle gives me the space to write as I travel. I stop where I want and if I feel the urge, I jot down the day, in summation or elongation. I write in a blue tent, where one of the poles is partially snapped due to a crow landing on it, by the waning sun, drifting behind the red mountains just outside of Santa Monica. That is an actual memory. The things that I lock into my brain vault are sometimes obscure fragments. Sometimes, due to my prior habits during travels (drinking copious amounts at night), memories are literally slits of narrow light with broken and blurred images. I write as form of self-preservation, because one of my greatest fears is loosing it all to time. Not necessarily as a legacy of what I have accomplished, but more as something for myself to look back on and simply account for what I have done. Not as somewhat of a CV for pomposity, but more as a timeline that I existed.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

Warsaw Uprising Museum

While my travels include people and places, I also consciously set quests for myself. I blog to uncover gems, maybe not ones that were necessarily covered by layers of sediment, just ones’ that maybe overlooked, underappreciated, the map to get to them has been used as scratch paper or made into papier-mâché for a birthday piñata (what I am saying is that no one cares where this place is). Blogs and websites are full of hints and my duty with these hints is to test them out and confirm their validity. This description seems quite vague without an example. The city of Xian, China, was the ancient capital for hundreds of years. Tourists flock here to cycle the ancient walls and see the UNESCO approved Terracotta Warriors. What very few people know about, is that at the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, a ways out of city, another burial plot was opened to revealed, miniature terracotta figurines, along with terracotta livestock and chariots. In total, over 50,000 pieces are on display. Along with this amazing experience, is a very beautifully set up underground museum, with large vaulted glass walls revealing the digs, but beside and below you, you are free to trapes around the tomb area, see several of the tomb gates, and watch an AMAZING hologram film about the history of the site (no 3d glasses required). This place is completely under the radar and when I got there, I basically had free range of the place (think Night at the Museum, minus the reanimation of historical items). There were a handful of different directions as to how to get to this place, since it was in an odd location of the highway, leading north of the city. Armed with a few of these Internet found directions, plus the Chinese characters to this place, I ventured out to confirm this place’s existence. Luck had it that the #4, the first bus I got on and was on my list, was confirmed by the bus driver to be the correct bus. For me, that could happen is I end up going somewhere else and possibly exploring something unexpected. So it’s a win win for me.

Warsaw Couchsurfing Dance Party

Warsaw Couchsurfing Dance Party

I blog to interact with people. Blogs are a dialogue, a community of shared experiences and responses, where the responses may come in the form of words or in exploration of what the blogs’ describe. I hope that as this site builds that this dialogue fills the forums and itinerary of the new site (which will be up THIS MONTH) with evolving dialogues and information that result in people testing the waters, unburdening themselves with limits by asking questions and seeing the blog reflect your inquiries, with maybe not always answers, but further explorations, adding points to the map that I will travel to confirm experiences and places or discover errors, saving you the hassle of a fruitless expedition to nowhere. My blogs and my travels will mirror your dreams, aspirations, desires, or highlight your wonderful memories, follow your deep incites, possibly making travel a more tangible possibility instead of something you do on free weekends or something you’ll do when your decrepitly old.

Babushka, Kiev

Babushka, Kiev

I blog, because it makes me feel wonderful. It’s me facing my fears as well. I travel around the world, yet I am scared of publishing my writing. I believe it is good, that it is informative and well written, but am afraid of it being said to be otherwise. This is my version of being bold and it holds more importance that what many would be considered a blip, not part of any creative career. But blips are my greatest assets. Microcosms are my favorite worlds. I am worried about not getting anywhere; I am worried about denouncing things in favor of acceptance.

Orthodox Priest.

Orthodox Priest, Kiev.

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Photo of the Day – Dutch Crash Museum

It's an aviation type of museum. Not as exciting as what my imagination could drum up.

We were rushing for the border. Day 3 and we were crossing from The Netherlands into Germany. And yet, our Dutch friends never ceased to amaze us. This museum sign is literally in the middle of nowhere on some back country road. Since of our hurry we never did get to check it out. Lucky for me, the internet let me have a second chance. PS, my friend biked all the way to Budapest, this being his only faux injury. No poles with museum signs were harmed during the taking of the picture.

The crash museum website:

Crashmuseum-Avog – UK

Photo of the Day – Apocalypse Now San Symphony

Helicopter, constantly landing and taking off

Camp Pendleton, California. America is scared, in a constant state of readiness. The enemy is not an outside virus, but a cancer, unrecognizable deep in the capillaries and veins of the each state. And though, the painting looks unified from a distance, closer up, you can see the harsh hatch work of troops in green fatigues in well drilled marches, odd white bubble satellites  on the side of arid landscape hills monitoring each phone call where Russia is mentioned and Apocalypse Now helicopters, dark brushstrokes in the sky, up and down, every moment taking off and landing. It’s not entirely true and just gave me a chance to be a bit floral with language without getting too abstract, but there is something to it. Why is there this massive base in Southern California? A militarized city in the desert? A helicopter, so big, that if you hadn’t noticed it’s approached, you’d feel it, darken your skin to ash, eclipsing the circumference of the sun.

Photo of the Day- Apocalypse Now Sans Symphony

Helicopter, constantly landing and taking off

 

 

Camp Pendleton, California. America is scared, in a constant state of readiness. The enemy is not an outside virus, but a cancer, unrecognizable deep in the capillaries and veins of the each state. And though, the painting looks unified from a distance, closer up, you can see the harsh hatch work of troops in green fatigues in well drilled marches, odd white bubble satellites  on the side of arid landscape hills monitoring each phone call where Russia is mentioned and Apocalypse Now helicopters, dark brushstrokes in the sky, up and down, every moment taking off and landing. It’s not entirely true and just gave me a chance to be a bit floral with language without getting too abstract, but there is something to it. Why is there this massive base in Southern California? A militarized city in the desert? A helicopter, so big, that if you hadn’t noticed it’s approached, you’d feel it, darken your skin to ash, eclipsing the circumference of the sun.

Photo of the Day – Beautiful Foliage

San Diego Bushes

The exact point of change seems to not exist. Maybe it happens in minute evolutions, so pint size that only if you were paying close attention and knew what to look for you’d see it. Trees in the north, grew even larger by Northern California and transformed into mammoth sequoias, muting the light from the sun, a natural roof of green and brown. Wild flowers were more colourful in So Cal, yellow, purple floral lining between the road and the endless stretch of baked white beach. Even bushes, one of the most unrecognized plant for it’s beauty, now grew up the side of steep inclines, A Van Gogh of dotted, precise colours, that as that landscaper could tell you quite frankly, needed constant maintenance or it would burst forward, a continuous growth of foliage, enveloping all living and inanimate things in it’s path, a picturesque, less gelatinous blob. Kudos California bushes, Canadian bushes….take note, that’s how you get attention, not by being prickly.

Photo of the Day – The Legend of Crenshaw Blvd

Crenshaw Blvd. Recognize.

Growing up as a big fan of hip hop I recognized the name Crenshaw Blvd as I pulled into the parking lot of a small strip mall on the corner containing a bank, a Chinese restaurant, a KFC and something that was either a laundry mat or an old folks home (hard to tell). The street’s name was synonymous with gangsta music to me with images of 2pac riding by in a Cadillac, screaming profanities at the 5-0 and Eazy-E playing bones on the corner with his homiez. I didn’t relate to that life style, no, and never tried to emulate it all too much (I did have a FUBU shirt, that was multicolored and glowed in the dark…I wore it once). I admired the spirit behind the music, the unabashed enthusiasm, a window into a world I didn’t know. I wasn’t interested in “the struggle”, “the hustle”, “the grind” or anything else political, economic or social relating to the music, I was infected by the fat beats and the stories from a place that was as far away as Mars.

So here I was. After biking through the pretty arty streets of Malibu, and catching the Bohemian vibes and reefer induced rhythms of Venice Beach, 20 minutes or less away, I was smack dab right in the middle of my musical oasis, something I had heard of countless times, but had never thought would ever live up to it’s hype. But with everything, that music describes no just a place, but a time, and a right exact time to be exact.

I had met up with my friend in Santa Monica and she was showing me around the city for a few days. Chance had it that I really needed to use the restroom. My friend spotted the random parking strip and pulled in. As I stepped out into the humid air, the glint of the blue, swinging sign with white lettering above the intersection caught my eye immediately. BAM. There I was. Crenshaw. I took a deep breath. My friend waited in the car, gave me the thumbs up. I looked around. Just an average intersection in a big city, nothing too special. My first choice for bathrooms was the Chinese restaurant.  Nope, no English and no bathrooms for non-patrons. Wasn’t too keen on entering the non-descript purpose buildings, men stood at the window staring out like inmates shoved into a holding cell that was too small to do anything but be squeezed against the caged walls, eyes bulging towards a dissipating freedom. So it was KFC.

And how gangster a KFC was it? It actually was! I entered into a stark room. There was no open counter, no waiters with smiles to greet you, just a two way glass wall with small slots in it. It felt like I had entered the visiting centre of a prison. I approached the glass, not knowing where I was to address, I started into my own reflection…..”Hello?”

“Hello, welcome to KFC, can I take your order?”

“I just need to use the restroom, please”

Click. Click. Clackity. A door, appeared out of no where.

“It’s unlocked”

“Thanks”

I braced myself, I expected a flickering fly filled single florescent bulb highlighting all the murky, gut wrenching details of all types of matter. Quite the opposite, I could eat, say, a popcorn chicken, off the ground it was so clean. Crenshaw, a real mind fuck it was, but I am so glad that the bottomless Mimosas had kicked in and I had to stop and see this shit hole to most, but this childhood fairytale to me.

Part Deux – A Very Biased Opinion on What to Bring on a Long Haul Bike Trip

With GPS, I would have never found this random Church!

 

So GPS, is a nyet for me. So what should you bring on a long haul bike trip that I think is vital for survival and sanity? Alright, here it is, I can do this…Two more things to add to your bike list

With all of the following stuff…make sure that at least the bike repair stuff is new. The paniers, the bike, etc etc can be hand me downs, but if you are even thinking about replacing a shotty tube with it’s equally as shotty brother, you are going to hulk smash something or someone sooner rather than later.

1. A Bike Pump – This is one of those things, along with a Patch Kit that you most definitely cannot skimp on. A friend of mine learned that the hard way. Pop goes my wheel and my friend offers me her handy dandy, generic, completely made of plastic pump. The purpose of a pump for this cyclist, in layman’s terms, is to fill my tube (inside you wheel) full of air and make my bike happy to ride again. Well, for with this little blue devil, being a helping hand was not in the cards. POP! Part of the bike pump is launched into a German cornfield, almost making it’s way directly into the noggin of an unsuspecting cow (or maybe it did suspect something, I think it’s just in their demeanour to always look lost). Make sure you know what your tube’s valve (the metal part you attach the pump to) type is. There are a few types, which I shall explain later in Numero 2.

A patch kit is also a very important thing to have with you. While there are many ways to jerry up a substitute (with pieces of rubber, glue…twist ties…I’ve heard many interesting inventive choices) nothing beats the actual thing. It’s the choice between tobogganing in the snow or tobogganing down your stairs. The end result with a real patch is lasting results and no surprise ending. Also patch kits come with everything you need, including the sandpaper and the adhesive, so you don’t have to play Inspector Gadget. Both a pump and patch kit can be bought at pretty much any bike shop or Canadian Tire.

By the way. This is not a bike pump, this is a pumped bike:

2. Xtra Tubes – That’s just an extra tube…I’m trying to be cool with the kids (last time I was cool with the kids, staircases was a rad type of haircut). First off, with the tubes and wheels that on your bike currently, there are a few things you should know. These are basic, kiddlings. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t know about ’em either. Puncture Proof. Know if your tires are puncture proof. If they aren’t, I would highly suggest you pick up a pair of puncture proof tires. Just go into any bike shop and say that you are going to do a bike tour and they will say the same. Unless you have a fetish for patching tires, sitting on the side of the road, ear to your tube, trying to hear air escaping above the sound of whizzing cars, then please, please, please get puncture proof tires.

Okay. Now that I got that out of my system. I can get to your tubes. Make sure your bike tube valves match your bike pump. Some bike pumps can pump numerous types of valves, but some do not. I recommend getting the multiple system pumps, just in case you find yourself on the road with the other option as your only replacement. Here are your options:

Schrader Valve

Presta Valve

Learn these well, the names are quite universal. Also, dependent on what country you are traveling to, one valve type may be more common than another. Just do a quick search on the inter-ma-nets and stick with the most popular valve type.

3. Paniers – Do not try to do a bike tour with a backpack, please, or by the end of it you will be as bent over as that perverted old man in Family Guy (talking about his physique, not his perversion). I did the backpack thing and could barely lift my head while riding to see straight. I looked like a reject costume for the Rocketeer movie and was in constant pain.Each person has their preference for paniers and their setup. I am a big fan of zippers (even though they break) and only doing back paniers, because for me, less room to store stuff means less crap I decide is necessary to haul along with me and weigh me down. Lots of compartments means more places to separate things into some form of organization, but it also means that banana you forgot about two months ago may be the culprit for why your panier smells like a dead or dying skunk. Whatever setup you try, test it out before the big send off day. While wear and tear is a way of life, starting off on the wrong foot can be avoided.  Make sure the securing system to your rack, actually secures the paniers. All you need is one of them to fling off, mid pedal, into traffic behind you (or into that unsuspecting/possibly suspecting German cow).

More to come with Part Trois!