Camino!

We are so way off track it’s not funny! We were “supposed” to be doing one of the Camino walking tracks on Daisy through the north of Portugal and Spain on this, our #SevenFerries trip. We hadn’t locked in anything yet other than Ferry number Five from southern France next Tuesday, but we had a whole ten days to look around the place and work out which tracks were actually ridable and find some we could manage on Daisy (and I could manage with my health).

We stopped in Porto for a couple of nights and had a blast. I still need to blog about that I think, but I’m too busy living, writing, and hanging out with him, that there just isn’t enough time. Not that it’s all a bed of roses mind you, we are working our butts off on writing/publishing, we’re working on the stuff we’ve taken this two-year sabbatical to do,  and we’re working on our plans for our Second Half which is set to begin, God willing, towards the end of next year.

We thought we could see the world (or at least much of Europe) in these two years but we’re nearly halfway and we haven’t even begun!! Anyway, I digress (much like this trip) and one last minute decision after another and we found ourselves in the south of Portugal with not enough time for Caminos in the north, pouring rain (so no riding) and trying to find the fastest route to our next ferry port in France yet desperate to get in at least a few days riding!

And that’s when we discovered the Camino Natural Via Verde de la Sierra. Vias Verde are green belts across Spain which are disused train tracks of varying lengths which have been restored for walkers, cyclists and travellers. Much like other Caminos or trails, they are tranquil and beautiful, but unlike many of the older paths which now run alone roadways, these are void of all motorised traffic, and they are wide and flat (both in width and inclines and declines – because that’s what trains do).

In true Spanish style, the rules about no livestock, no vehicles, no animal poop are thoroughly ignored, and I look forward to putting up some videos of us riding through a herd of newborn lambs, one with a death wish.

Yesterday, we rode the Sierra route which is 36 km long, but because we always have to land up in the same spot, we had to ride it both ways! It was the first time I’ve covered over 60km (we did 74 in the end) first time I’ve climbed over 700m in height over a ride, and the twice as long as my longest day with four and half hours in the saddle! We also rode through 60 train tunnels!!

That shows how easy it was and reminded me to dig out my very first Pino ride to show you how it works. (I’ll post both videos on my Facebook author page too)

Anyway, I’m way behind on Why We Don’t Tell which has to go to the final editors in a couple of weeks, so this is a brief catch up.

Tonight was our first sunshine in a week and we’ve moved camp to the edge of this olive grove that reaches as far as the eye can see in every direction… A new via verde tomorrow and then we have to zoom north as fast as we can. And somehow I’ve got to find the time to write!!

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Perth Catch Up!

The short version of Christmas is we arrived safely, and had a mostly happy Christmas.

The long version is it was a loooong, stressful journey of three completely separate international flights with a broken website (so no checking in online) and wrong details appearing on check in and at every leg. The trip was characterised by long layovers, grumpy staff, and a broken bag on arrival. We’re still debating whether it was “broken” accidentally or tampered with. I’m certain of the second option for a number of reasons but it arrived totally unzipped and wrapped tightly in rope! If it was damage, the numerous glass gifts inside would be broken for sure. Annoying at best but yet again …. another close call!

We arrived at night to thirty six degrees (Celsius!) and so while exhausted we didn’t get a lot of sleep.

For the first week I felt totally out of control, puffy from the heat, sore from the trip, bad sleep (from the heat) and no turning of my legs yet (waaay to hot to even think of bringing Daisy out), but we set Daisy up ready for when the evenings cooled.

That first fortnight, even once the heat backed off a bit, was just a fog of exhaustion but I tried very hard to remain enormously thankful for unexpected chill times with all the babies, including the youngest who is busting to come out I’m sure. It’s hard not to wish he’d come early and join us!

With too much time lost to sorting things out, I had no spoons, and major brain fog. So it was survival mode for much of the time and a plan B kind of a Christmas; I just wrapped what we had and forgot about what’s missing, slept on the couch, shopped for curtain rails instead of gifts, salads instead of roast veg, threw the roast on the bbq instead of in the oven, made jelly instead of plum pudding….

But the bottom line is: planB is waaay better than all the worse options, we were ALL here for the first time in years, the company was the best ever, and I have so so very much to be thankful for!

And now we’re settled somewhat and finding our rhythms, we rode 237 km this week!! I’m soooo proud of me! He’s lost weight, I’m gaining !!! And I’m not impressed about that at all! But apparently my muscles are getting stronger.

It’s a strange combination to be able to move so freely on Daisy, but I still can’t walk any more than usual… but maybe that will change…

Anyway, sorry for a long, late, rambled catch up, but I needed to do that before writing about anything else…

See you tomorrow with the more relevant stuff soon 😊👊🏻

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Updates:

On writing… not as much as I’d like, but certainly having a “Writing Buddy” helps and I’m way more organised. Watch out 2018…

On Unpacking… getting nowhere but oh well, there’s always next year…

On Daisy… we’re doing great! Today was ride number four and not only have I done nearly a hundred kilometers already, but many of them have been uphill (a few times with only me pedalling I might add… to see if I can).

We had our first fall today, a slow one where we took off and immediately toppled right over (into a parked car which was thankfully so bashed and scratched it’s hard to tell if we damaged it). Many people have questioned why I have my harness and today reminded us why as it earned its keep forever. Without it I’d have been sprawled across the road (at best), but instead, apart from some scratches and bruises, I stayed firmly in my seat.

The other fall came at the end of the ride. It’s hard to explain my difficulty with walking yet ability to ride, but in Daisy my seat is tilted right back and my feet are raised. I can turn the pedals without putting weight on any of my joints. At the end of a ride it’s so easy to forget I can’t walk. But worse, my joints have moved into “riding position” which for me is not the same as “walking position” and I can’t get up off the bike and certainly can’t walk till my joints resettle. Today I forgot. Yes, I gingerly climbed off (no chance of getting off any faster), waited a few seconds, took one step towards the curb, and just like that both my legs folded under me and completely collapsed.

Thankfully I was unhurt, but it was a little embarrassing fully slumped in the gutter at my front door. There was no way I could get up again for a while either… hence no photos other than once I was on my feet again.

The scenery in Malta never ceases to amaze me, even though there’s rarely anything close to flat or smooth. Apparently this is good training for me!

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Meet Daisy!

Today we took Daisy for her a maiden journey! Yes, she’s been around the block a couple of times, once when I collected her from Tom, and last night after dark once we’d put her back together again.

But today we really put her through her paces and she was everything we’d dreamt of and more! She loves the Malta roads and countryside and I’m confident this’ll strengthen my muscles and give me some level stability back.

Here I’m getting used to setting up Strava on my phone. This will be a big part of keeping track of what I’m doing. As fun as this all is, it’s my rehab, and will become the most vital part of my strength and health rebuilding.

My captain and champion! On every level, I couldn’t do this without him. I have to fully trust him in every ride, in every way. my job is to pedal … and trust.

The countryside around our small town is just beautiful!

We’ve swapped hippo signs for hedgehog signs!

Watch this space, as it’s only a matter of time before someone has an accident staring at us. Talk about making ourselves stand out!

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Thanks!

Truly, deeply, thank you!!!! -to Natalie, EDS-UK Danny, Linda, Roger, Tom, Nige, Michelle, Phoenix, Cat, Sue, Steve, Anne, Majka, Roger, Ashleigh & Lauren ….for putting up with this sore-sorry-for-herself-sad-sack the last 16 days!

I’ve had an almost endless supply of hot water bottles, cups of (hot-of-course) tea, warm beds, wonderful chats, warm meals, the odd snack, two AMAZING roast dinners, and most everyone has done all the thinking for me through the brain fog!

I hope I haven’t come across as too unappreciative! Because I truly truly am so very thankful! You’ve all, one way or another filled my love tank, gently pushed me on to the next step… and now, just a little way to go and Daisy and I will be home in Malta!

Thank you all!!

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The Pino Outcome:

I love this photo!! I look so normal! But here’s what it doesn’t show:

  • That I couldn’t walk at all! We’d ridden for over an hour. My leg muscles are amazingly strong considering how little work they get to do in real life. But it was lunch time so we stopped for a break, he helped me get off, and that was it… In the photo I’m sitting on the side of the bike because I couldn’t go any further. Yet I was able to get back on again (with help) and ride another hour!
  • The photo also hides my sore face. I smashed my face a few days ago and have a fat lip etc.
  • This is ALL I did yesterday. He let me sleep in as long as possible and got ready for the day without me. He woke me late morning in time to eat then we drove to the Pino, we rode, then I barely made it back to camp again for a shower and bed. I was in bed again by 4pm and didn’t even have the energy to read.

So…. don’t confuse my ability to ride with my ability to walk, and don’t forget this took all a day’s energy to do and there was nothing left.

Now we’re in the process of trying to buy one. This is a game changer for me and in a completely different way, a game changer for him. It’s my only option for keeping strong right now. It could take months to get one, but we’re praying hard for another Pino Miracle and that we’ll have one well before the end of the year! So watch this space!

(In the mean time, it’s back to a few short metres of heavy crutch walking a day and that’s it… it’s very difficult to be given such freedom then having it taken away!

Pino Pain!

This is going to be a long and interesting journey! It’s the bike for us for sure, and we love it. But it’s also a bit of a relationship tester. It’s like putting everything under the microscope and baring it all!

The littlest frustrations, the things that make us feel safe (or not), the communications, the listening, the understanding, the patience, the “assuming” or jumping to conclusions.

Let’s just say we stopped and spent a while sitting by the beach redefining the rules somewhat, ….and that Uber may or may not have been mentioned (or threatened) as alternative ways to get home. Other stuff may or may not have been said too.

Thankfully we’re grown ups and we were ultimately able to get our stuff together enough to have a great ride home. As always, when we’re in synch we rock! I’ll leave it at that…

On another note, I managed to get a couple of photos before we set our, of me actually sitting in the stoker seat of the Pino and a few other things:

I need to get some decent shoes and my own helmet and so on, but thankfully I don’t need those Lycra pants with a mattress sewn in the crotch! My seat, thankfully, isn’t anything like your average bicycle seat. I would not be able to manage a bike seat with Bertha at all!

I took all these this morning with the same Paola lemon 😊 (his bike seat at left and mine at right).

We rode nearly thirty km in four hours (less than two of them actually riding), climbed nearly 250m and went as fast as 42kmph !! (Not all of us were entirely happy with that speed on day two of my riding career… but now we’re home again to Molly for home made paella thanks to Lorna’s recipe, and what a success it was.

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