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Bike Europe - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Bike Europe
I'm doing it -- I'm going bicycling in Europe in May! My sister and I met on Thursday and talked it over. We both really wanted to do this, but were unsure of both the money and the time off of work. But signing up now allows us to lock in 2004 prices, plus we had a 10% discount if received by the end of the year. So on 12-31-2004 I filled out the application with shaking hands, wrote out a check, and dropped it all in the mail on the way to my NYE parties.

I can't believe I'm seriously planning on taking an almost-3-week vacation -- since I graduated from college I've never even taken two weeks in a row away from work -- but I'm a-gonna do it! (But then, maybe that's why I can actually afford this trip, given that I've been working my behind off for 11 years practically non-stop....)

Not only do I know somebody who tried and loved this tour group, but their travel philosophy sounds like it lines right up with mine:
Blue Marble's Discovery is a program of cycle voyages for individualistic, curious, adventurous adults, young in fact or young at heart. The pace of a bike trip is ideal for exploration and impromptu discovery. And cycling helps you fend off the thousands of pounds you would otherwise gain eating yourself silly every night.

Our guests are atypical of the world that travels by bike. Not youth hostelers or campers, not your boss on a $600-a-day "adventure" which ends each day at the local Ritz. We travel as Europeans: modestly, weighing the value of our purchases; but comfortably, seeking out the special experiences that make the trip. And we are curious. We don't shield ourselves from European cultures: we seek them out.


So we are going to be cycling for two weeks in France and Italy -- the Lavender & Olive trip, they call it.

This combination of Provence and Tuscany welcomes you to Europe’s oldest civilizations. It is no surprise that these should have formed on the shores of the Mediterranean: gentle climates, rich lands and beautiful scenery are a soothing joy, though most of us live without them in our modern worlds. No need to here! Bask in the soft colors and full flavors of the European south, surrounded by olive groves and Roman temples, cypress trees and stately villas, taste buds tickled by tomato sauces worthy of the name, sense of smell drawn to the sage and rosemary in the hills.

We're also taking a couple of days on either end of the trip in order to travel to/from Europe, plus a chance to briefly see Paris, Florence, and Rome. ("Do you really think we'll find two whole days worth of stuff to do in Rome?" I asked Sis. She just looked at me, and I nodded. "Yeah, I suppose it's fairly famous.")

It should be awesome. It better be! I'd better start bicycling now though, so get myself (and my butt bones) in shape...I don't want to find myself too sore to enjoy myself for the first few days. I wish I had a stationary bike. Maybe I'll join a cheap gym for a couple of months, while it's so cold outside.

I'm pretty overwhelmed, but really excited!
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Comments
sherdeb From: sherdeb Date: January 2nd, 2005 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations! That sounds awesome! I know you'll have an awesome time!
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: January 2nd, 2005 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
oh rock on! that sounds *so* cool!
kivrin From: kivrin Date: January 2nd, 2005 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, that's SO cool! Good for you for jumping and doing it. Congratulations!
lahabiel From: lahabiel Date: January 2nd, 2005 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
That sounds like FUN!

It may have been a joke, but I recall there being something about Bally's giving a low-price or free month in January to diners of certain fast food places as part of a promotion...

Or ... if it's just for a month, Bally's does a 3-day-per week for a month trial membership for $19.
thelifeofbrian From: thelifeofbrian Date: January 2nd, 2005 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
You'll have to fill us in when you get back. If it's as much fun as it sounds, I may try that myself. (Part of my new year's resolution to be a less boring, boring old man).
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: January 2nd, 2005 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Paris & Romee

I'll give you some suggestions of what to see in Paris & Rome having been in both places. You wrote '2 days in Rome', how many days in Paris?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 2nd, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Paris & Romee

We'll probably have 2 days to split between Paris and Nimes. Sure, any suggestions are welcome!
nishar From: nishar Date: January 2nd, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right now, I am green with envy. hehe I hope you have a great time in Europe!!!
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drteeth26 From: drteeth26 Date: January 2nd, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds awesome. Hope you have a blast. Happy New Year, too, by the way. :)
From: ex_erikvolso370 Date: January 2nd, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Time to train and gear up. The problem is you don't have much time to train (and lousy weather to train in.)

What you need is a trainer so you can work out without riding out, but those aren't cheap. (Though REI had a decent one on sale for $129, I think that sale ended Friday.) Ask about, see if anyone has one. Stationary bikes aren't really bikes at all, in many ways -- a trainer will let you build form on a real bike.

You'll want to find good shoes, a good saddle (I can't really suggest anything, being a guy, but Terry is the name in women's saddles (and bike, but that's something else)), pedals that work with your shoes, a good helmet, and good gloves. Jerseys are nice to have, but not required (the pockets are the real win.)

Why bring them? So that you know that two of the contact points will fit you on the bike your riding. They'll be able to cope with this -- many bike-tour operators assume that you'll do this, and pull spares out of you don't.)

Other things you'll need. Shorts, at least two pair. Since this is a supported tour, bring more. Make sure they're dead comfortable -- no seams in bad places. Socks, ditto. A set of leg and arm warmers would be a good idea, since you may start cold, but warm up quickly. Double that since you've got a repaired knee.

Be religous about streching before riding for the day (though, as you build miles, this will become automatic.) Learn to spin, not to stomp (in general, if whatever you are doing puts force on your patella, stop.)

Spend the next couple of months building your form and your miles, and you'll find that when the tour happens, you'll be able to see. Otherwise, you may see nothing but the wheel in front of you, and feel nothing but your, well, butt. Not good.

When the weather gets nicer, if you can, ride to work. Nothing like commuting for training -- real miles, and you have to pay attention to the world.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 5th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for all of the advice! Definitely helpful. A trainer, huh? I've never used one, but the idea sounds good. I sent an email to my local bike group to see if I could borrow one, no responses. But a store-owner did write and say he had a new Minoura tire drive for about $130...maybe I should buy it. Though I did find a free 2-month Bally's membership....

I have a hybrid, while the tour group recommended getting dropped handlebars, because it offers more back positions on long rides. They also say you can bring your own saddle and/or shoes if you want. I actually like the saddle that came on my (Bianchi Avenue) bike, at least so far. I might just bring that; I'll double-check that it would work on a racing style bike.

I own a pair of used "duck shoes" that I wear when I ride the back of a tandem. Don't have my own pedals, though I could get some -- I'm kind of afraid of riding alone with them, for fear that I'd (re)injure my knee if I had to get out fast. Perhaps just paranoia...? I feel trapped. Also it would inhibit walking around and touring along the ride, so I was thinking of just using toe-clips. Is that a bad idea?

I've got everything else you mentioned except leg/arm warmers.... and, well, practice. ;)
magentablue From: magentablue Date: January 2nd, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
that sounds like it is going to be an amazing trip! be sure to see the leaning tower of pisa. it is the funniest thing ever! you should consider going to pompeii as well if you can. just watch out for those italian boys. they are very forward!
(Deleted comment)
mindgames4one From: mindgames4one Date: January 2nd, 2005 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Does this ever sound FUN!

I would have LOVED to do that, when I was in better shape. I used to ride my bicycle EVERYWHERE. Kids nowadays haven't a clue what real bikeriding it... maybe it's just that we live in a big city and there really isn't good places for them to ride unless they are DRIVEN to them, first, but I really miss bike riding. I never did those huge trips (except one 100-mi each way ride when I was a senior in high school, over the 4th of July weekend) but I did enjoy riding daily anywhere I needed to go.

You will have so much fun- I envy you!

My daughter just got a Bally's membership. GO to their website; they offer a 30 days free for you to try them out and decided. You can always do it and decided "no" and it wouldn't have cost you anything.
From: caneprints Date: January 3rd, 2005 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey,that trip sounds totally awesome! Congratulations on deciding to take the plunge and do it!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 3rd, 2005 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)

vacations...


I don't think most of us take 2 week+ vacations up until this point, because maybe we haven't matured enough, gained enough seniority to get the time off, or a bunch of other reasons, but you're at a point in your life where we feel secure enough with ourselves to go explore the world. I'm happy for you, you'll enjoy every minute of it.

The trick is NOT to think about coding while touring the villages.

Me, I'm heading back out the great west the day after my bday in about 6 weeks for a week at vail. =)

btw... happy 24hrs after new years :)

-MJP
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 4th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: vacations...

Thanks! I know it'll be a great trip, definitely nothing like I've ever done before. Happy new year!
matt_arnold From: matt_arnold Date: January 3rd, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Off-topic

Forgive my off-topic post, but I'm told you're the Guest of Honor's Liason for Steven Brust. I'm making the 'Fusion book and don't have his biography. Can you help with that, urgently?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: January 4th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Off-topic

I just sent Anne an email on this subject and used your gmail on the cc list. Let me know if you don't get it....
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