The people I come across are amazed by how little baggage I carry around, for a one month trip. As it’s a resting day, I’ll detail the choices.

I had several options to carry stuff around. That would decide how much I can carry. I still have my trailer, and I thought maybe I could take it, and carry with me everything I would need before moving to Sweden completely. But that meant a lot of things useless for the trip itself – and also reducing the volume to one big box (versus seven sent in parallel to my trip). I thought I could go with back panniers, but how do you carry them around, anytime you park your bike somewhere ? Then I thought I would take a backpack, but having something weighing on my back for one month was a bit worrying. Plus what I wanted to put in the backpack was actually lighter than the bag itself, and was mostly rain shoes.

Having a large front pannier, I tried stuffing it all inside, and taking the rain shoes, and not the baskets. By losing the equipment that was not totally necessary, it would fit. There’s even a lot of stuff that is here but hopefully will never be used.

Clothes : one set of all-weather shoes (like heavy sandals), a cycling short, two shirts, three briefs, and a set of non-cycling shirt and short. A cap and the helmet, glasses. The socks are actually “butt-cushion”

Tools : pliers, a tube sealing set, Swiss Army knife, and a spare screw for the seat post (it broke twice earlier this year – it’s only 7mm thick steel after all – and a screw type that is close to impossible to find btw, I had to go online the last time, with the only shop in paris now closed), plus a spare tube sticked to the bike (and a small pump)

Hygiene : a hotel shampoo bottle, a perfume bar, toothbrush and paste, and skin cream (once again for the butt)

Protection : two pepper spray cans, a fancy kway that is not waterproof, a first aid kit on the bike, plus a whistle tied around my neck, along with the bike lock key

Official : passport, driving license, ID card, credit card, a few coins, pens. I keep all of this with the phone in the belt holder, so that it’s on me the whole time 

Electronics : iPhone, iPod, kindle, plus their charging cables (all different…)

I also carry around a few chocolate bars and bananas whenever possible, plus two water bottles.

That’s about it, and I could probably cut that in half again. I decided to get rid of the video camera (so no movie this time), the iPad (could have replaced the kindle), more clothing, a lot of tools…

This could qualify as ultra light cycling, but the people doing that are completely self-supported, meaning they have some camping equipment (a rain cloth usually, to sleep under). Still, I have like only two kilos on top of the bike weight.
In the end, I’m not really sure that the weight difference is sensible. When the road is flat or goes down, it would be barely noticeable. Is there a degree or two more that I can climb now, that I wouldn’t with a 40-pounds trailer ? Probably, but I’m not convinced. What is sure though, is that now, I can stop, lock my bike, take the front pannier with me, and I can go anywhere on foot in two minutes, and not have to worry much about what’s left one the bike and could be stolen.

Another sure thing, is that you get used very, very fast to live with a lot less. As long as there is a connection :]


Biking Bad : the movie



Well it took some time putting the final touches to the movie 🙂 Especially correcting some audio mixes, adding the subtitles and the english versions. But it’s done ! A 1h40 movie of my bike journey across the US, four months going through the continent 🙂

You can watch the 16 parts in the playlist here :

There are french and english subtitles. The english version is a slightly corrected google translate, so the english level is not really striking, but understandable enough !

Here is a list of the movie’s chapters :

1 California
1.1 San Francisco –
1.2 Pacific coast –
1.3 Big Sur –
1.4 Los Angeles –

2 Around the Grand Canyon
2.1 Road to Vegas –
2.2 Nevada –
2.3 Grand Canyon –
2.4 Page –

3 Utah !
3.1 Zyon and Cedar –
3.2 Grand Staircase –
3.3 Boulder –
3.4 Hite –

4 Going east fast
4.1 the Rockies –
4.2 Middle west and the Appalachians –

5 Eastboard
5.1 Washington and Philadelphia –
5.2 New York –

Long distance biking : Learnings



After four months riding a bike in the US, and a few days being back in France, now is the time to write down what I’ve learned about this unique activity.




The first point certainly is, it’s fantastic ! You discover a country better and more intimately than doing it in a car, or moving from place to place through train or plane. You really get to feel the distances, the ups and downs, the various climates, see all the people, and all in all get more connected with the land. It can also be done by anyone : most people I’ve met on the road were older than me, generally couples, or dads + sons. Quite a lot of groups also. There is a physical challenge of course, but as long as you are healthy, it can be done.

It can also be done on the cheap. It’s not what I did, mostly going to hotels, but even that can work out if you share rooms in a small group, as the chinese team did. They spent just as much as me on lodging on average, but spread over 4 people. Lodging was probably more than 80% of my budget. Going camping slashes that by ten, and you can get under 40$ a day.


If you ride alone, you will get very, very lonely. I wouldn’t advise it unless it’s a personal trip, as was mine. In any case, people in the US are much friendlier and open than in Europe. Be open to encounters, strike conversation, keep your smile up. It’s easy to talk to most people in most places, even for someone like me, except maybe in large cities. But then again, many places are very empty. The web is the next best thing to talk to people. After that, you can engage a talk with squirrels.

Good maps are critical. You can get lost very easily in a remote place with noone to help. GPS signal, phone coverage are erratic and you can’t count on them, especially in the west. On the east coast, it was less important and I relied on GPS guidance, which is good with bike pathfinding on google maps.

Getting into a routine was very good mentally. Biking alone can be tough in some areas, and knowing when you have to do what, helps settling into an habit and leaving details behind to focus on the trip itself. Checking where to stop the day before, starting and stopping at about the same time was great. You don’t get to think about that anymore.


Climate can be a sizeable force against you. Rain is not a big deal, as long as you protect your shoes, or have a special, waterproof set. Biking under the rain is nice as long as it’s not cold, and if you can change quickly after the ride. Heat can be an issue, but you can ride earlier to avoid it. Cold can be countered with good clothes. Wind is the biggest challenge and wore me down very fast, physically and mentally. I would have stopped earlier if I had the option, whenever faced with a strong headwind.

Drivers in the US are really great, courteous, even friendly. I had ten times more thumbs up, salute, nods, than aggressive honks. And that’s not counting bike riders and other cyclists. Truck drivers also take great care of you, staying behind when necessary, switching lane when possible. That was one of the big surprises of my trip.

Trailer or panniers ? I haven’t tried panniers so I can’t lean on in the debate. I was very happy with my trailer. Easy to fill, close, remove from the bike. I can forget about it while riding : no air resistance, one wheel meaning I didn’t have to care about its own path… It wore down the back wheel fast though : two changes vs none on the front wheel. No issue with speed, except when combining with bumps.


When around civilization I was carrying two liters of drinks and refilling whenever I was going down in the second one. When there was nothing, I would carry three or four. I never got higher than a gallon. Adding sports drinks in the mix quickly became necessary to get those electrolytes back. I was eating bananas, granola bars, snickers… Carrying beef jerky also, but never got to prepare a meal from scratch, I was buying when needed, or going to restaurants or fast foods. I had to eat quite a lot more than usual to compensate the effort, especially meat.

Tech-wise, the smartphone readily replaced the video camera and the laptop. With more battery, it could have replaced the kindle, maybe. The usb plug into the dynamo was a great help, but not totally critical. I simply didn’t have to worry too much about getting everything filled before riding. If I had done more camping, it would have been more essential of course.


Resting regularly was really important, I didn’t do that enough overall. Once every week (at 40 yo at least) seems a good average. It depends on the road difficulty too, getting ten days straight in the Rockies was too much.

I was very selective on what to carry, still, I threw away a lot, and sent back home even more. I suppose that’s typical, in any case you will take more than necessary. Two sets of riding clothes is enough, plus a regular town set. The total weight is not a big factor : I tried skimming away as much a possible near the end, but losing a couple pounds of stuff does not make a difference on the road.

Stretch after each ride, before each ride, use chafing cream, stop regularly during the day… All standard rules, but they make the difference between a nice ride and a wrecked body. Getting in shape before the ride as I did, with a few weeks to reach a regular daily distance, helped a lot easing into the trip. People starting from scratch such a ride had a hard time for a couple of weeks. What I didn’t do though, was stretch my fingers. Ten days after the end, my joint are still aching a bit and snapping to the handlebar position. I should have used a stress ball daily to avoid that.



Check your bike often, don’t trust any mechanic. I carried a pair of spare tubes, which was enough to get to the next shop to replace them. Self-sealing, extra thick tubes are great, they took me through most of the trip, and probably through all of it, had I been wary of the back tire. The trailer wheel can take a lot, I think I was really unlucky in getting two flats in two days. The back wheel, with the trailer weight, is the weakest. I learned how to replace a tube but was not proficient with that. I should also have learnt how to tweak the gears switch, this was a constant trouble. In terms of tools though, I had all that was necessary : a monkey wrench, a swiss army knife, a few tube pliers, and a set of allen keys. Plus of course a pump.

Prepare entertainment too. Unless you go for a fast ride and want to be on the bike 8 hours a day, you’ll be resting a lot, which means a lot of time staying in the same place. I’ve found the Kindle to be great, lots to read, long battery and minimum weight and space. I decided to go without any doodling material, but it could have been worth it. I should probably have prepared more games on the iphone. And chosen a bigger one too, I quickly ran out of space simply because of pictures. Taking photos is fun too, and you’ll always wished you had more. Music is of course another critical source of entertainment, and here also, 2000 songs was just not enough. Accessing the radio was a good bonus.


The biggest learning though is… life is short, and easily wasted. Time flies by like a hummingbird. Don’t wait ! Get prepared, get set, and leave ! Finding enough free time is always the biggest deterrent to do such a trip. But time is the only commodity we all have, but that noone can buy. Use the time you have to the fullest.

Go figure



Finally a post with some numbers. I love numbers 🙂 Aftermath, there is always math 🙂 Plus some notes. A lot of notes really.


I biked 7362 kms, which is just one ride around Paris more than twice the length of this year’s Tour de France. That translates to 4606 miles, and amazingly, that’s also a bit more than twice the Tour ! Going coast to coast directly from SF to Washington was 3800 miles – that’s what the OneWay team did.

Days. I did that over 110 days, 111 counting day 0 in SF, just like Bilbo’s birthday at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings (yes, that was planned). That includes 19 days of rest or visits. The longest stretch without rest was Kansas in 11 days, then Utah and California’s coast in 10 days. OneWay did the coast to coast in 61 days, with no rest – except when driving the car 😉

States. The 92 days of riding are split among 15 days in California, 13 in Utah, 11 in Colorado, 9 in Kansas and Virginia, 8 in Kentucky and Arizona, 6 in Missouri, 3 in Illinois and 2 in Nevada and Tennessee. And then one day for each of the six states on the east coast 🙂

Distance. Over 92 days of riding, I did an average just below 80 kms, or 50 miles.
17 days were over 100kms or 63 miles, with the longest being Leoti to Ness city, 130 kms/80 miles, when I caught up with the Chinese team. 5 out of these 17 days were in Kansas – not a lot of options but to go on :))
8 days were at or below 50kms or 30 miles, including one to accommodate for the world cup’s quarter final (the next day I compensated with the longest ride :). Three of these eight were in Utah, where another four days were below 60kms or 36 miles (out of a total of 10) Short, brutal rides in this state.
I was closest to the daily average during my detour from Kentucky to Virginia : all days but the first one were within 10% of 80kms.


Speed. The average speed was 19kms/h, or 12mis/h. That includes quite a bit of walking up mean slopes at 5 or 6kms/h. Fastest speed was 60km/38mi/h, going down from Monarch pass.
The fastest day was Barstow to Baker with a speed of 27kms/h or 17mis/h, with a long great ride down, and a long great ride up the next day ! I had seven days over 23kms/h or 14mis/h – two of these days happened in Kansas (including the longest ride), none after that. Not enough slopes to go fast.
The slowest day was the ride up to Point Supreme in Utah, at 8kms/h or 5mis/h. I had ten days at or below 16kms/h or 10mis/h, half of them were in Utah, and the only one after the continental divide was the ride up the Blue Ridge. Not enough slopes to go slow 🙂
Strangely enough, the ride down the Blue Ridge was not very fast : the slope was mean but short. All in all, after Kansas I stayed really close to the average speed, which didn’t change after California anyway.


Time. That translates to more than 387 hours on the bike, or 16 full days, or 48 working days, almost 10 working weeks with week ends 🙂 In total my trip spanned over 16 weeks, shy of four months. What have I done with these 6 extra weeks ?!
387 hours over 92 days means an average of a bit more than four hours a day. It’s a nice duration that I quickly felt comfortable with. I usually take a quarter more to stop or rest. That means by leaving at 7 or 8 am, I’m done by noon or 1pm.
The longest ride was, of course, the nightmare to reach Kanab, with seven hours. I tend to put this ride in Arizona but I was actually entering Utah 🙂
The shortest ride was going down from Cedar breaks to Panguitch, four rides after Kanab, a little over two hours. I had to stop to find a doctor.
I guess I spent about 10%, or 40 hours, actually walking and pushing the bike, and not riding. That includes 3 hours for Cedar breaks, 2 1/2 for Monarch pass, 2 going up after Boulder, and a bit more than one for the Blue Ridge and Big Sur. I never walked in Kansas, and a negligeable amount after the Blue Ridge. That leaves 30 hours over the other 68 days, or about half an hour per day, which seem about right. That’s a lot more than that for Utah. The other days probably fall down to about 15-20 minutes, enough to walk up a mile or two kilometers.


Weather. I had only three days of rain, with the meanest in Illinois right before entering Kentucky. Then one later on in Kentucky, and one in Virginia one day before Washington.
I had no really hot day, especially as I stopped early in the day. Hottest day was Kingman to Peach Spring, where I started late and ended around 38C/100F. I actually crossed Nevada and the Midwest during exceptional temperature drops.
I avoided tornadoes and flash floods (although had warnings for both). No earthquakes or fires either.
Strong headwinds ? Sure, on the two days before Kansas mostly. The road was flat, easy, but I was shouting at a 30kms/20mis/h headwind. There was another day later on in Kansas with headwind, but I wasn’t riding alone and that made it easier. And of course, during the whole Hite hellhole in Utah.
Tailwinds are not felt as strongly 🙂 Though going to Morro Bay with Greg and Daryl, we were carried by an express wind going south all the way 🙂 Overall, I had planned the trip to benefit from dominant winds but I didn’t really feel that. They usually change over the day anyway.

Roadkill. I almost never mentioned it in my posts, but it was a constant experience in my trip. Not a day without a few of them on the road : there is a lot of wildlife in the US, especially in rural areas of course.
I mostly saw squirrels and rabbits, small birds, at least 20 of each. Then turtles, armadillos in the Midwest, snakes, polecats, deers (including half ones) all over, 10-12. Muskrats, rats, raccoons, badgers, carrion crows or equivalent, 7-8. Cats, foxes, 3. Cows, 2 (early on in Kansas). Dog, 1. Grasshoppers, that one day in Kansas : legion. Caterpillars : apart from one day on the Blue ridge, NONE. They are small but I was intrigued and focused after some time. This leads me to offer the hypothesis that caterpillars are prescient and know when to cross the road.


Technical. I had a lot of technical issues. All in all 7 flat tires, 2 for the trailer wheel (in the first two days in Arizona), and 5 on the back wheel, including an explosion. 2 of the other four flats happened over three days, a week after said explosion, probably my lack of technical know-how 🙂 And the first one of these five, two days before the trailer flats :p
Another regular issue was the trailer axle getting loose. It happened four times, generally after some riding and then some walking.
I saw five different mechanics over the ride, once every three weeks. Not bad for a brand new bike. Still, two of them were unable to tighten the axle well enough, and another one didn’t notice the back wheel totally worn off. Bicycle world in Kingman Arizona is the only one who did great.


Body. Biking hours every day has some consequences 🙂 I lost about 8-9 lbs or 4 kgs in the first month. Then I realized I should eat more to accommodate for the 2k or 3k calories the ride alone was gobbling. And I stopped losing weight :p
I trimmed my beard a bit but it grew almost 2 inches, or 4-5 cms over four months.
I was lucky in getting no serious condition overall. Still, stress got me coughing for more than a month, until the middle of the trip. No medication helped.
I had no serious cramp. I was very careful about that, as a serious injury would mean the end of the trip.
My butt started hurting a lot and got black right before Kansas, but applying Vaseline and equivalent before riding made the problem disappear.
I now have funny tan line, with the darkest tan I ever had on face, legs and arms, but with no tan on hands or above mid-thighs or mid arms. Would make it very practical for Dexter.
And finally I started breaking my back right at the final week when my seat post tilted 😦 Still hurting.


Eats. I ate most often at Subway 🙂 With the specials of pulled pork and avocado being my favorites. After that, I was in Sonic, Wendy, Taco Bell, McDonald or Burger King quite often. That meant a lot of French fries :p I also tried Denny’s or Ihop for more variety. But you can’t beat the subs for balance and low risk 🙂
En route, I started eating granola bars after a month, and switched to milky ways and almond snickers the last month. That’s just better. I also had a lot of bananas after I discovered it’s the perfect treat to carry around.
I drank a lot of coke initially, then switched to Gatorade orange, and that helped a lot. On average I drank a liter per 20kms or per hour, which is the recommended amount. I ended up riding with a liter of water and one of Gatorade. That was when civilization was around to refill regularly. On one day in Kansas I had 5 liters of Gatorade, 2 of coke, and 2 of water !
By the way, the price I paid for Gatorade varied from less than one buck (walmart, dollar general), to 1,50 when getting a promotion for two bottles, and up to 2,29 or 2,39 in some gas stations. Plus tax, of course…

Entertainment. It seemed like I went to the movies a lot. I saw Budapest hotel, Railway man, Xmen future past 2x, Godzilla, Maleficent, Dragons 2, Edge of tomorrow 3x (can’t find it here in NY), Dawn of Apes, Gardians, Lucy 2x, Hercules, TMNT, Expendables 3, Sin city 2. 18 showings in 16 weeks, plus there was no theater from Montrose to Christiansburg (7 weeks). And I usually had too much popcorn covered with butter. But that’s America !
I also read a lot : Le père Goriot, Jane Eyre (up to the half of it where it becomes ridiculous “yes I love you even if I never said or did anything to hint at it !”), Drama by John Lithgow, All you need is kill (the novel behind Edge of tomorrow, great to see the adaptation), The road. I also read for the 5th or 6th time the 3 novels of Lyonesse and the 5 of the Demon princes by Jack Vance, and the 5 of the Hitchiker’s guide to the galaxy. I read all that on a Kindle, and the transition from books was really easy.
My music playlist was of course ready before leaving, with 2000 songs. Mostly best ofs, from Madonna and Michael Jackson to Brassens, Prodigy, Renaud, U2, Daft Punk, etc, although my iPod seemed to prefer Elton John. Most representative song was “Wherever I may roam” by Metallica, followed of course by “Going the distance” by Cake.
I started to get bored after Kansas though, and tried listening to some local radios from time to time.


Seems like the end of the post !
A couple last figures though. I took close to 2700 pictures now, of which I posted probably 400 or 500 on the blog. The rest will be in Picasa albums later on. And I recorded 50 go of videos, around 7 hours, to be edited and trimmed down to an hour or so, whenever I can :p

Among these pictures, yesterday I was happy to replace my locked screen image with my own photo 🙂

Image bank


Photo 🙂


Santa Cruz



Second day riding, but first complete day of the adventure : after crashing for 9 hours of sleep, I was on the road, to finally go from here to there ! The objective was Santa Cruz. I don’t know why, but this name rings a bell.

The road keeps along the Pacific Ocean, and the views left me gobsmacked. I thought this part of the trail would be quite common, but it’s far from it. Lots of small or larger beaches, cliffs, fields or rough terrain, and always the rolling, clear blue ocean until the horizon.


After Half Moon Bay, there isn’t much in terms of city except for Davenport, but the population is less than 400, so it’s a small village. I stopped there for lunch. On the way I crossed a large number of bike riders, solo, duo, and up to three. I also encountered quite a lot of short but steep slopes, and I walked most of them. At this stage I’m going very cautiously.

I planned a solid 80kms until Santa Cruz, but I ended up doing a very strong 100kms ! That was because of chance encounters. Entering the city I met once then twice John, riding a nitro-powered electric bike, who sent me up to New Brighton State Beach, past Capitola, the city after Santa Cruz.


And on the way there I happened onto Joe, the guy from yesterday who dragged me uphill to Devil’s Slide ! He was lost and was also going to New Brighton. We ended the way together and met for a beer in the evening, also with his friend David. They were camping in the state park. As for me I preferred resting in a bed once again – I’ll add camping to the challenges just a bit later 😉


Who said road maintenance people didn’t have a sense of humor ? 😉


Field trip results


I came back yesterday at noon from the first test with all the equipment. As expected, the weather was a bit crappy, but quite ok (cloudy, no chance of meatballs, little rain). I’m still sick, probably due to the mounting stress, but I survived 🙂 I didn’t go very far though, but I’m happy to have maintained an average speed above 19km/h, or 12m/h. That was unexpected.

Adding the trailer, with almost all of the equipment (missing a couple kilos only) was the main test. The trailer itself is already 6 kilos, and the equipment about 12, by the last count. That’s a lot of weight to drag on the road ! I was quite apprehensive of the result in this area. The first couple hours were tiring for sure, and I could definitely feel I had to put in more power to progress. But I was able to make it through the few slopes I encountered, by changing gear often enough. Then, after this initial period, it was much easier. On the second day, I was accustomed to the trailer and its weight, and the increased effort it was requiring at all times. However, I’m not ashamed to say I will walk up the bigger slopes ! 🙂

Another point on the trailer is, as I’ve read everywhere, you forget about it while biking. It doesn’t affect the bike handling, the air resistance, or the balance. These were the main points that made me go against the panniers. It also doesn’t change the width of the bike, and you can go through the same places.

I had already tested the bike a bit the previous day, but this time I logged 120kms / 80 miles in a couple of days, and I went through all kinds of roads, including a forrest path and a busy, albeit large, road. I have a few quirks to correct by going back to the shop, especially on the gears switch, but it’s going quite comfortably. The butterfly handlebar also needs some getting used to, as it’s much lower than the handle on my previous bike. I sold said bike yesterday afternoon, and using it again was feeling like riding a wooden horse toy ! This new bike is definitely higher quality.

A point I didn’t expect to encounter is that the U-lock is almost useless outside of a city. I need to have the bike close to a thin post to use it. Trees don’t fit that description. So, I guess I’ll have to carry the older chain I have on top of the lock. Maybe I’ll get a newer one in the states.

Another point I tested was of course camping ! I have done no camping in the last 25 years, and boy did it evolve ! Here I am setting up the tent :

As far as I can remember, setting up a tent in the 80s was a pain, it was complex, and very long. Now you can do it, very quietly, in less than 10 minutes, without even thinking about it. Well I still have to progress though, as I’ve put the tarp cover upside down, and probably didn’t fasten it correctly. Still, the tent was up, and I was able to sleep in it 🙂

Putting everything back in the trailer is a bit longer, of course. It took me about one hour to roll everything back into place, in no hurry. It can probably be reduced to half an hour, maybe.

But mostly, I was happy to ride in this field test, as I was finally going from point A to point B – even if the next day I was coming back to point A ! It was more interesting to push forward, even getting lost along the way, rather than going around in a circle 🙂

Field test with final bike & trailer !


bike1 (1)

This is it ! I got the final bike, a Vision trekking bike lent by Gitane through the Vélo&Oxygen shop at Porte Maillot, in the west of Paris. I have a very short week to get used to it now 🙂 It’s got a butterfly handlebar, which looks sexy but that I never used before, and a 30-speed shifter. And it’s produced in France, which was part of the sponsorship deal I was looking for 🙂 I also searched for a similar deal with Air France, but they have “very limited funds”, poor they :p

I got it yesterday morning, and of course, two minutes later, I almost got bumped over by a taxi who absolutely wanted to pass although the street was clearly not wide enough :p But taxis are the masters of the road and they are always right ! And they will tell you so very politely !

I bought the remaining stuff while going back home : a Bob Yak trailer, which is one of the biggest costs of the trip, but comes with a huge bag that should handle all of the stuff (hopefully), a handlebar bag for important material that I will always carry around, bottle holders, a top-of-the-line U lock (with its 15/15 security level clearly underlined by its massive weight !), a rearview mirror (I broke the one on the previous bike, but it’s clearly a life changer), a pump (thought the Vision was provided with one…). I also bought a waterproofer can for my shoes – they were supposed to be waterproof (Gore tex treatment), but they clearly are NOT ! Next time I’ll try pouring a bucket of water on the shoes inside the shop.

I transferred some items to the new bike too : the cyclocomp of course with its sensors, the safety flag. It should be complete now, with all required items. Oh yes, and I have to place some stickers too 🙂

So I got all of this ready yesterday, and today is perfect for a field trip : I’m kinda sick, tired, and the weather is crappy 🙂 I’m going to move away from Paris about 60kms, stop at a camping, try out all of the camping equipment (I tried setting up the tent beforehand though) under a rainy weather, and come back tomorrow.

I tried buying the plane ticket for the trip this morning, which is the only remaining item along with the insurance, but I maxed out my card with the stuff I bought yesterday – I’ll have to try again tomorrow. Unless the ticket price bumps again too high, I’ll be leaving next saturday ! Then I’ll be ready to depart San Francisco a few days later, after coming back from the jet lag, and setting up a few things like local bank account and mobile deal. Last time I was in SF was ten years ago.

Now that the apartment is empty, and that I cleaned it thoroughly, it really feels like the departure is looming ! I would be glad to sleep a bit too, but the pressure is becoming intense 🙂

My life in a box



I’m trying to insert a gif today, see how it goes 🙂 I moved all of my stuff into the storage unit I rented a couple weeks ago. Took me the whole day, but everything went fine – now all of my stuff is stored for at least six months, and probably more.

It’s a strange sensation in the appartment now. It’s almost empty – I’m keeping the bare minimum to cook and dress for one last week, plus of course the material I’ll be flying with. But it doesn’t really feel empty, probably because all of the furniture is still there. But each and every closet is empty now, and when you open them, you feel like being in a demo apartment, to be visited before getting your version built somewhere else. On the other hand, all of the stuff was in boxes for one or two weeks already, so it also feels like I’ve been doing some cleaning (which I still have to do, by the way).

Filling a small truck, and then a storage unit with boxes like that, for a geek like me, is a lot like Tetris and some great fun 🙂 You have to take many parameters into account. Not piling up too much stuff (although the resellers say you have enough space to make pile of 7 or 8 boxes, but it sounds way too unsteady), keeping fragile wares on top, piling in order of weight in general, making piles of the same boxes so that they support each other, putting piles close to each other for the same reason… And prior to that, making boxes of a regular weight, labelling them…

After all this work, I’m content to have passed an important step towards my plan, even if only a practical one. Maybe it’s also the feeling that all of this stuff will be safe for the coming months, and that I can count on that. With that done, I have removed a few more post-its from my todo list. Tomorrow morning, I should finally get my hands on the final bike, and then buy the trailer, both of them to be tested extensively in the remaining days !


Coming back to the previous post, I did make all the calls I wanted to make. I phoned 70 guys with the exact same name as my father, throughout France. I got almost all of them on the phone (ten of them didn’t answer), or their wife, or their widow. But I had no luck in finding the guy I was looking for – I wasn’t too hopeful anyway. A vast majority of people were friendly, some just cold, and a few downright paranoid (“why do you call”, “what do you want”, “what is your name” ??? – these are ready for NSA surveillance). I had a few who were teachers, like my father, but not in the correct region. Strangely, many of these people are in La Réunion, an island off Africa, close to Mauritius. I suppose it’s a great spot for retirees.

So, no luck with the phone calls. I sent a letter to the academy rector, who manages all the teacher in the region, asking to waive confidentiality or at least point me somewhere. They should have records and an adress. Don’t know if that will bring anything. Last resort when I come back, is finding a detective, but I don’t see what he would that I haven’t done yet.

Map route


US_Route   Ok this is one pretty big image – 20k x 5k pixels ! It’s the precise route I’ll be following in the US, or as precise I could do, setting one small bit after another in google map. Then cutting all parts and putting them together in one big image. That should do nicely along with the street view video from the other day. Not sure how the image will download and open up though 🙂 It’s 14mo large ! Now that I have the course plotted, along with possible stops, motels, hosts, etc, that’s one big chunck of the preparation done.

I should also get my old bike back tomorrow. It took Decathlon a full couple of weeks to repair it, not really a record. So I’ll be back on the road very soon now. But I had a lot of things to do in these two weeks anyway, that would have had to be done in any case. Most of my stuff is now packed and ready to be stored. I’ll be coming along at 10 large boxes of clothes / kitchenware, 3 large ones of DVDs, 10 small ones of books, and almost 25 average ones of comics. Plus a few assorted boxes for papers, bills, stuff like that. I’m not keeping any furniture, still that’s a lot of stuff accumulated over the years. And I’ve thrown away, sold or given perhaps the equivalent of all that already over the last few weeks. I guess my next home will try to be more zen 🙂

Among these two weeks, the last two days have been intense 🙂 I signed my departure from Ubisoft yesterday. That’s the final, official step when leaving a job. I paid a visit to former colleagues, collected all papers and was off. With this step behind me, I thought it would be a good idea to officially announce my travel project on facebook, and so this post will be the first one to be published there 🙂

And today, after a visit to the bank to plan things ahead, I signed in the first step to selling my flat. I’ve found buyers a week ago, and now we started the administrative process of the sale itself. That’s one of the three big changes I wanted to complete before leaving, along with quitting my job and concluding the divorce. So all will be done before the end of the month, and that’s a great relief. I will be completely set on the journey itself from early may. I still have a few quirks to iron out, but that’s completely secondary to these three points. I’ll come back on these subjects during the trip, of course. That’s the “spiritual” part of the journey itself, among with other subjects.

What do I still have left to do in the two and a half weeks left ? Getting the final bike in a week max, buying a trailer and trying all of this on the road, including a few trips of a couple of days. Getting some bike maintenance lessons. I have to get plane tickets, an insurance, settling a few administrative details, and then moving all of my stuff. I had a lot of postits on the wall but now it’s mostly done ! And a good thing as time is running out ! Just as in life : you start with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of skill, and the goal is to fill your bag of skill before you run out of luck 🙂


Packing roundup


It’s been almost a week now since my accident, and that’s one week without any cycling at all :p That will hurt my weekly average a lot 🙂 I’m supposed to get my repaired bike end of this week, or early next week. I’m also waiting for the final bike, which will come very late… But more on that one later.

So, no biking as of late. In the meantime, I’m checking my packing list. Almost everything is accounted for at this time, apart from the bike, the trailer or panniers, spare parts, security stuff, food & cleanliness items, & payment methods.

All of the rest is already quite a lot of stuff !

stuff_roundupHere I have all the camping equipment on the right, clothes in front, electronics & maps on the lower right, and tools & first aid kit on top right. In terms of volume it’s already quite a lot. And it ends up just a bit below 12 kilos. That’s including the clothes I’ll be wearing, which I did not count in the previous post on the subject, but also missing some critical elements, notably a few liters of water.

So, at this stage, three weeks before departure, I’m still not completely decided about going with trailers or panniers. I’m edging towards a trailer. Once I get my bike back, I’ll go back to the shops who carry one and decide there. That’s a major weight on top of the current one. But to me the pros of the trailer outweigh the pros of the panniers.

Spare parts, I’ll decide once I take a couple classes on bike maintenance. But I need a bike for that 🙂 There are a few classes around here, once or twice a week.

Security stuff will also be a huge weight. I’ve found very nice & strong (and expensive) U locks, but they’re above a kilo each.

Food & soap and all, I’ll buy when I start. It should also be a huge weight with at least 3 liters of water.

Payments methods (a credit card and a bit of cash) should be very light on the other hand 🙂 But that requires a trip to the bank, planned right after mid april, when I’ll have my departure from work signed.

So what am I doing these few days ? Resting from the crash first, I have very nice bruises on both legs, on top of the small brush on the knee. The back of my right calf is almost green :p I’m also gathering boxes for moving my stuff out, and have started packing my comics. Half of them done, 15 boxes already. On top of that, I’m selling some leftover items, like a dvd player, wicker chairs, my old PC that I refurbished from scratch (and was still working flawlessly after three years in the basement – so long, old friend ! 😉 ), a lot of cables, etc. Finally, I’m almost done on “google map route”, where I take screenshots along the road I’ll be following. It’ll make a very nice movie, that I should post during the week end.

It’s impressive how much you got to do when you’re not working 🙂