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Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Bicycle Diaries & Rowed Trip

by Larry Lagarde

Today, yet another blog (Carfree Blogosphere) posted a book review of former Talking Head David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries. The post didn't have any comments so I figured I'd contribute a small nugget pertaining to David's book signing tour. Here's my note:
A friend of mine attended David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries book signing in Portland, Oregon and told me that it did not go to plan.

The agenda called for a variety of local speakers to introduce themselves and for David Byrne to do a question and answer session at the end of the event. Unfortunately, some of the locals went way over on their speaking time. David waited tactfully but by the time the local speakers stopped blathering, it was beyond the time that had been allotted for the event. So David Byrne stood up, thanked everyone for coming and walked out.

Portland is an awesome cycling town (one of my favorites); however, if there is a Bicycle Diaries Part II, don't be surprised if David Byrne has something to say about pretentious local bicycling enthusiasts.
Another review I read today was Sprocketboy's take on Colin & Julie Angus' newly published "Rowed Trip". Long time RideTHISbike.com readers may recall a series of posts I did of this self propelled, folding bike & kayak adventure from the UK to the Middle East. Colin and Julie got their Montague folding bikes from me so I followed their progress quite closely.

For the record, the bikes performed flawlessly, pulling the kayaks and gear faithfully over a variety of hauls; yet, stowing small enough to be squeezed into the very tiny cargo holds on each kayak. Once the duo reached Turkey, they shipped the kayaks home and pedaled the rest of the way into Syria.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rowed Trip Completed

by Larry Lagarde

Colin & Julie Angus have just returned to North America from their 7 month journey across Europe and into the Middle East by folding bike and rowboat. They bicycled and rowed from Scotland to Syria via Eastern Europe & Turkey. The trip took them through a total of 12 countries.

Sometime this week, I hope to talk with Colin about the adventure to learn more about the cycling portions of the trip. In particular, I'll be very interested in his thoughts concerning the full size folding bikes he used and any tips he has for others looking to journey great distances by folding bike. Meanwhile, here's a link to Colin's Rowed Trip blog so you can read more.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Folding Bike Rowing Expedition Reaches Danube

by Larry Lagarde

Colin cycling near the Danube RiverYesterday, I heard from Colin Angus of the Rowed Trip Expedition. Since March, Colin and his wife Julie have been rowing and bicycling from Scotland to Syria by way of central Europe. They're making great progress and Colin wanted to share how the folding mountain bikes from RideTHISbike.com were working out.

Here's what Colin had to say.
The folding bikes we're using from RideTHISbike.com have been holding out marvelously for our expedition. At first I was a little apprehensive that folding bikes might struggle to pull 18' boats, along with the gear, but these bikes have been great. They fold quickly and fit inside the front boat compartment (along with trailers) while on water, they're comfortable to ride, and best of all they've held up to the rigors.

We've now travelled 3,000 kilometers (almost 1,900 miles), half of it in the water and the other half on land, using the two folding bikes to pull our 500 lbs of gear. We've had no major mechanical issues and are confident that the bikes will make it the remaining 3,000 km to Syria.

All best,

Following is a slide show of some of Colin & Julie's photos of the folding mountain bikes in use on their expedition. To enlarge a photo from the slide show, just click on the photo.

For more photos of the Rowed Trip, visit RowedTrip.com.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

RowedTrip Update - Reached London

London, Unfounded Concerns, Equipment Performance, English Channel & More
by Larry Lagarde

Life has been moving along at a lightning pace these past weeks so it's been tough keeping up with the RowedTrip rowing and cycling expedition across Europe; however, Colin and Julie have made it to London and will soon be crossing the English Channel. Following are some photos and quotes from them that highlight this period of their journey.

Oxford Canal
After many hard days cycling through hilly central England, we launched our boats in the Oxford Canal just south of Banbury. The canal, ranging in width from 30 to just seven feet, passes through rolling farmland of yellow and green fields.

Julie and I were delighted to find that the narrow locks on the Oxford Canal were without lock keepers, and the system designed to be boater operated. We took turns cranking the sluices open and closed, and then levering the great gates open to allow our boats through. Each lock would drop our boats roughly six feet as we descended in elevation towards Oxford City. The locks were spaced several kilometres apart, offering a pleasant reprieve from toil on the oars. We passed through small villages and much farmland before finally reaching Oxford City at the junction of the Thames. John Scott, a friend of Tony Hoar from Tony's Trailers who built and designed the trailer system for our boat, had spent much of the day cycling on the tow path next to us and also guided us through this ancient university city.
Made It To London
Now we're back where we started, a little fitter and a lot dirtier... we will explore this metropolis from the water before continuing down the Thames and on towards France.
Remembering Initial Expedition Concerns
When we first arrived in London - more than two months ago - with hundreds of pounds of equipment, tentatively awaiting the arrival of our rowboats, we were nervous about the challenges that lay ahead. Would the firths and lochs in Scotland prove too tumultuous to row? Would we be allowed to travel through the canal locks? Would we be able to cycle on narrow English roads towing 18-foot boats?
Performance Of Boats, Folding Bikes & Trailers Remarkable
My boat, Niobium, suffered a few bruises when her bow slammed into the wall of a lock while being towed in and Tantalum also has a few dings from less-than-graceful dockings. The Helly Hansen dry suits kept us safe while we crossed the rough waters of Loch Ness, the Solway Firth, and other turbulent Scottish waters, while their fleece, merino wool, polypropylene, and rain gear kept us warm and dry in what we're told has been an unusually cold and wet spring. On land our folding bikes from RideTHISbike.com and trailers have hauled astonishingly heavy loads up more hills than I thought Britain had. In fact the only equipment problem we had was a stove with clogged fuel lines, which a bit of tinkering fixed.
English Channel
We hope to row across the Channel but that depends on whether we're able to get an appropriate weather window and coordinate the logistics for the crossing. It's the busiest shipping area in the world and crossings by unconventional crafts are highly regulated, requiring appropriate approvals and an escort boat.
To learn more about the exceptional RowedTrip Expedition, visit RowedTrip.com.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rowed Trip Week 4 - England

Winter Follows Expedition Into England
by Larry Lagarde

The crazy winter weather that's been blasting the UK continues to make travel difficult for Colin and Julie Angus of the Rowed Trip expedition. Here are snippets of Julie's comments concerning travel last week as well as a slide show with some related photos.

The morning we left Largs ... we watched the BBC weather forecast with unease - wind gusts up to 100 km/hr and rain all day. The Firth of Clyde ... was turbulent with white caps while nearby trees swayed wildly from the onshore winds. There was no way we could row in these waters and it was a relief to have the option of cycling.

We cycled through horizontal rain and wind gusts so strong that they pushed me off my bike twice ...

(Solway) Firth is renowned for dangerous shifting sands that act like quicksand but crossing it would save more than a day of cycling. While we waited for the high tide to avoid getting stuck in the mud flats or worse, we donned our dry suits. The waters were choppy but the crossing went smoothly and within the hour we pulled our boats onto grassy marshlands.

Mountains, or perhaps more accurately large hills, soon surrounded us ... After another April snowstorm ... the worst in 20 years ... blanketed the hilltops.
Read Julie's complete Rowed Trip blog entry for the week
View all the Rowed Trip photos


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Rowed Trip Week 3 - Near Glasgow

Rowing & Biking from Scotland to England
by Larry Lagarde

When you're rowing in the open sea or bicycling down remote tracks, internet access can be difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, Rowed Trip Expedition adventurers Colin & Julie Angus have managed to communicate at least once a week regarding their progress. This week, I heard from Colin several times. Following are some of his comments regarding the week and a slide show containing photo highlights.

Hello Larry,

I hope all is well. We've just reached Largs, Scotland a few hours ago. The full size folding mountain bicycles have been holding out great, along with the rest of the equipment. We're pleased with progress so far.

Spring has sprung (at least on the calendar), but Scotland still thinks its winter. As Julie and I row and pedal through lashing wind, hail, snow and rain brave daffodils offer the only hint that winter may eventually come to an end...

Our past week journeying down the west coast of Scotland has made us appreciate the versatility of our amphibious setup. When storms threaten while we are on the sea, we scrutinize our maps to find a quiet back road to liberate us from Poseidon's fury. Alternatively, when the road comes to an end at a remote fishing village, we pack our bicycles and trailers into the rowboats and continue by water...

We have travelled about 500 km - about half on water and half on land... We still have over 6,000 km to reach Syria, but are now confident our equipment will endure...

We're off in two hours, and will have quite sporadic communciation over the next week. We expect our update next week will be from England.
To read more Rowed Trip news, visit Colin & Julie's trip blog. A full index of their expedition photos is also available.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rowed Trip Week 1: Duncansby Head to Inverness

Yesterday, Rowed Trip team leader Colin Angus reported in from Inverness, Scotland with highlights from the first week of this unique, human powered journey.

Bicycling from Duncansby Head along remote single track, Colin and Julie covered over 200 km, enduring driving rain, hail and snow generated by the worst storm to hit the UK this winter. At times, they were pushed across the stark Scottish landscape by 80 km/hr tailwinds. Counting their rowboats, gear and trailers, they towed a total of over 250 kg (550 lb) of weight.

Some Photos From Colin and Julie

Colin writes ...
After pedalling about 200 km we reached the head of Dornoch Firth, an inlet on Scotland's east coast. The weather had calmed significantly, so we packed our bicycles and trailers inside the boats and continued by water towards Inverness. Our vantage of Scotland from the sea was a stark transformation from the rounded lines we had become accustomed to. Wave-carved cliffs and giant sea arches provided shelter for thousands of screeching seagulls, cormorants, and other sea birds. We shared the waters with seals and porpoises as we propelled our boats southwards.
Once Colin & Julie depart Inverness, they'll row through the Caledonian Canal system to Loch Ness. Nessie lookout!

More from the Rowed Trip Expedition Journal
More Rowed Trip Expedition Photos


Monday, March 10, 2008

Rowed Trip Day 1: Cycling From Duncansby Head

Yesterday, Colin and Julie Angus began the Rowed Trip, an epic rowing and cycling journey from Scotland across Europe and onto the Middle East. Colin wrote...
After almost two years of planning, I didn't expect the expedition to begin with me getting my bike trailer tire stuck in the mud, but that's exactly what happened. We were at Duncansby Head, which is three kilometres east of John o'Groats, making it the most north-eastern point in Scotland. We were on our bikes with the boats in tow instead of rowing because today a 20 to 30 foot swell hammered the coast and tomorrow gale force winds were expected. So instead, our journey began at a beautiful sandy beach that faces out to the wind and wave battered Orkney islands, and after I pulled my wet foot from the mud we pedaled off the grassy knoll and onto the quiet country road.
Photo Slideshow Of Trip Start (Photos courtesy of Martina Cross)

Today, Colin & Julie are cycling west to Bettyhill and then south along a single lane country road that's part of the national bike route. When they near Inverness, the trailers will be unhitched and backed into the water. The full size mountain bikes they're riding and the bike trailers will be folded and placed into watertight compartments on their row boats. Then, they'll row down the Caledonian canal system to Loch Ness.

Learn more by visiting the Rowed Trip Website.



Friday, March 07, 2008

Rowed Trip Begins Sunday

I received a brief note this afternoon from Colin Angus concerning the Rowed Trip Expedition. They're in northern most Scotland and the expedition will begin on Sunday.

The weather is cold, very windy and stormy; thus, for safety, they'll be cycling south for the first week, pulling a row boat behind Colin's SwissBike LX and Julie's Montague CX full size folding bikes. Coling promises to send some photos soon.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rowed Trip Expedition News: Folding Bikes In London

Here's the latest on the RowedTrip.com Expedition (a journey across Europe and through the Middle East by row boat and folding bicycle).

Expedition leader Colin Angus has notified me that they and all their gear (including the full size folding bikes they'll use to pull the boats over land) have arrived safely in London.

Currently, the row boats have yet to make it through customs in the UK; however, Colin expects to clear this paperwork hurdle and be on their way to northern Scotland in a matter of days.

For more about this unique husband and wife journey, visit RowedTrip.com.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rowed Trip: Seeing Europe Stroke By Stroke

A 4000 Mile Journey by Rowboat & Folding Bike
by Larry Lagarde

Julie Angus conducting a sea trial of the row boatA Canadian husband and wife team are about to do the Rowed Trip, a 6,500 km human powered expedition from Scotland through Europe to Turkey and onto Syria. For transportation, they will use two, custom built, single person row boats designed by Colin Angus.

Starting from the northernmost tip of Scotland, the pair will row south in the open sea. When conditions are too dangerous or a portage is needed, they'll tow the boats with folding bikes and trailers that are otherwise stored on board.

Colin and Julie's ocean going row boatThe team is composed of National Geographic Adventurers of the Year Colin (the first person to circumnavigate the globe only by human power) and Julie Angus (the only woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland to mainland).

A unique component of the expedition is the School Rowed Trip, an interactive and free program that promotes physical activity by challenging school aged children to match Julie and Colin's physical output. Educators and students are invited to participate in the initiative and over 20,000 students are already involved.

Colin and Julie seek to inspire youth to embrace active living, environmental stewardship, and rediscover the outdoors. To learn more or to register for the School Rowed Trip, visit RowedTrip.com.

Row boats become a catamaran for sleepingBy the way, the bicycles being used are full size folding mountain bikes from RideTHISbike.com. Colin will be riding a flat black SwissBike LX; Julie is riding a baby blue Montague CX. The bike trailers have been specially fabricated by Tony's Trailers. At the end of the day, the two rowboats are lashed together into a catamaran using the frames from the bike trailers to form a platform for a tent.

Go team go!


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