Monday, 9 February 2009

On cycling styles and plans

I had my annual check-up last Wednesday. My doctor is a nice guy who is a member of the Library where I work. I would say it is a small world except that reality makes it more probable than not that my doctor would also be a patron of the Library. I was referred to him by James, who is very anglo. Consequently, my doctor is also anglo. In addition, there is very probably a statistical correlation indicating that Jews are more likely to be doctors than the population at large. At least in Canada. (I have no proof of this.) Therefore, it is not improbable that my doctor is Jewish. As my doctor is anglophone, Jewish and lives on the Island of Montreal, it therefore relatively probable that he would live in Côte Saint-Luc, where my Library is located, which he does.

What is somewhat surprising is that he is a fairly hardcore cyclist, albeit of a different variety. The year I biked with Margo and Chris from Seville to Santiago, he biked around Ibiza.

During the check-up, we chatted about biking. This is not entirely unrelated to medicine as it is part of his way of grading my mental, as well as physical, health. He asked me about the Newfoundland trip, including the weight of the luggage I was carrying. I shrugged and I said not too much, afraid to admit I had never weighed my load. I tried to justify my lack of knowledge by saying something along the lines of provided it is not too heavy, who cares? His response was to say that in his cycling circle, every gram mattered. Of course, his circle are amateur roadracers, and therefore it is possible that their bikes weigh half the unladen weight of Leonardo! ;-) We obviously have very different cycling styles!

The downside of the check-up was that it turned out that I have higher than normal cholesterol levels.


I have been pondering what this year's major cycling trip will be for some time. The ideal trip would be to meet up with Margo and Chris on the final leg of their epic voyage (say about Marseille) and go with them to London. Unfortunately, as they are moving target, it is much harder to dream about such a trip.

Not that has stopped me from poking around the internet to see how it might be done. I discovered today that Air Transat (or Air Transplat to the Mole) flies directly from Montreal to Marseille, a distinct advantage given the relative paucity of direct flights to less European cities from Montreal. What is more, I found out that the flight to Marseille left on a Friday and could combined with a flight back from Gatwick on a Sunday for a very reasonable price particularly given that Air Transat doesn't charge for bikes (go, Air Transat!). Unfortunately, there is fine print in the deal. The flight from Gatwick to Montreal is operated by Thomas Cook Airlines who charge about $100 Cdn for bikes. Admittedly, the overall price is such that it is still a significantly better deal than, say British Airways, but it is something of an annoyance. Also, I have flown with Thomas Cook Airlines and wasn't terribly impressed with their service.

While it is much too early to start making reservations (apart from Margo and Chris there are work considerations), part of me would to say, come hell or high water, I will bike from Marseille to London starting the last week of August, with or without Margo and Chris. Actually, the real thing that would be holding me back (aside from issue of vacation period approval at work) would be not that Margo and Chris had given up in Tajikistan, but that they were still in Sicilly and would only be in Marseille in another week! Food for thought.

I was perusing Namibian sister site of this blog when I finally saw the name of the town where my sister is living in written down, along with the suggestion of a warm welcome. Nothing loath, I looked up where exactly Khorixas is, including its relative location to Windhoek. According to Alice, it is a 5.5 hour drive from the latter. In North American biking terms, this equates to about 5 or 6 days of cycling. I tried to use Googlemaps to find out the distance, but it seems that Googlemaps has yet include Namibia in their distance mapping software!!!

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