Clouds, Linings, Etc.
Rarely a dull moment on the WCR Grand Tour. A lot of the news reaching us over the ether this week, however, hasn’t been terribly good. Whether this news is better than no news we can only guess, because a couple of our racers seem to have started Lent a little later than everybody and decided all of a sudden to give up Tweeting, Texting, Posting, etc..
Though nowadays, of course, there are limits to how Dark you can Go, and we’re glad to see via their trackers that the quieter riders like Mike Hall and Simon Hutchinson are still out there gunning for Alan Bate’s record. And so, to our news.
Stuart Lansdale is one of our riders in the wars. Since resuming in India after his Ukrainian Episode, Stuart has been the target of all sorts of spurious (And generally unsuccessful, good man Stuart.) visa shakedowns, but that’s not the half of it.
A recent collision with a wildly swerving motorized rickshaw has meant much of the ground covered by him over the last day or two has been by bus. Relatively unscathed, he has, however, just reached Nepal, where he previously lived for a time. On home turf, as it were, Stuart reckons he should be able to get his bike taken care of and plans with being up and running again very quickly.
Stateside, Sean Conway was involved last week in an accident with a truck. He and his bike came off worse, with the bike no longer now roadworthy and Sean himself having sustained a compression fracture of the spine and some fairly severe damage to his left leg. Astonishingly, while in recuperation he is currently investigating how he can get on the move again, and has been flooded with good wishes from followers of the Tour. Hordes of Strangers have also been scrambling to equip him with a new ride. We gather a new one is being assembled, and that Sean could theoretically be putting down miles again next week.
Some people he never met before are currently putting him up close to the hospital where he is being treated, and a news crew were around to hear his version of events. Watch it here.
Meanwhile, Richard Dunnett rather heroically reached Las Vegas a few days ago, sampling the various all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts that the town had to offer. And well deserved they were too, after the eighteen-hour days which he had, of late, been putting down in the saddle. After Vegas comes… ? Death Valley. Smooth, flat roads, they say.
Elsewhere on the North American continent, we find Jason Woodhouse testing our Brooks Patent KOSometer to its very limits. The Boy On His Bike, you’ll recall, got moving again after a little technical trouble in France. Starting from scratch, he negotiated swarms of angry (and quite possibly Killer) bees and crazy driving in Portugal but managed to make his transatlantic flight connection from Lisbon, sliding Indiana Jones-like through the relevant Departure Gate with barest seconds to spare.
Since then it almost seems he has set up home in Pennsylavania. He’s had a hard time making it out of the Keystone State, chiefly because his path is literally strewn daily with gifts bestowed by local Kind Strangers. Having slept in the beds of various other Friends He Hasn’t Met Yet, Jason told us the other day, for example, that he had been presented with a ticket to go and see Van Halen and Kool & The Gang performing together on the same stage.
When he first relayed this information, we suspected initially that the long days were maybe inducing Saddle Delirium, but our search engine of choice indicates that Van Halen and Kool & The Gang are indeed playing together in Pittsburgh. Dave Lee Roth, in case you’re interested.
Jason says he’s going to recoup the “lost” concert hours on the road by getting up four hours earlier tomorrow. We believe him.
Here’s some more good news. Stephen Phillips is back! In an open letter to the WCR Facebook page at the weekend he told us
I’ve finally been given a go ahead to continue the WCR challenge by my physio.
You may recall that following an accident at Atholl MA. USA, I aggravated my Achilles Tendon which was only just recovering from Tendonitus.
After negotiations with my physio and following a whole range of treatments I’m allowed to take it up again but only after promising to take it easy in the saddle for a few days.
So my plans are, as long as every one agrees, to fly out to Phoenix Arizona arriving there on 29th March where I will pick up my route again and keep to my flight schedule for leaving USA on the 15th April. Following that I intend to make good time through New Zealand, Australia and Asia and once I arrive in Europe I plan to zig zag my way up and down to make up the lost mileage.
As long as everyone agrees! The more the merrier, Stephen.
Second place overall, and close to a third of the way home at the moment is Martin Walker. His surname is an apt one this week, given the top speeds he was reaching while he tackled the wide and, ahem, rather windy planes of Nebraska. He giddily lost count of the number of times said wind managed to blow him off his bike on Tuesday, but the bottom line was, 12 hours later he had another 60 tough miles clocked up. If only he’d been riding in the other direction.
Paul Ashley Unett finally caved in to public pressure and took a shower late last week. Spruced up for all we know with a fresh pair of socks, the solitary hours in the saddle seem to be working wonders for Paul’s vocabulary, if not his sanity. Via Twitter this week, Paul claimed to have learned a new word while engaged in conversation with his chocolate bar -
“Peanutopolis: a state of mind making you feel very strong and powerful, almost mayor-like.”
Mayor-like. Yes, quite. Fans of Brooks England’s subsidiary clothing label can expect to see some garment or other hitting stores later this year as a companion piece to the Criterion Mk.1. Introducing this summer – the John Boultbee Peanutopolis! It does have a ring to it, right?
Niel “The Wheel” Coventry Brown was last heard from in Bolivia wondering whether he should have road kill for dinner (“again”). It seems he got a dose of food poisoning from a pizza lately, so he’d been giving Bolivian commercial kitchens a wide berth. We gather that Niel has also lost his map of the country. But on the upside, his altitude pills have been working a treat.
Downhill all the way from here, sir!