Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conclusion: Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps

I had fun, I had a lot of fun. Kekoa and I both had a lot of fun. Despite losing all my biking gear the first day, I'm glad I bought all new gear and got my butt on the saddle for the next three weeks. While writing the trip reports, I also realized how much I already want to go back.

There's something very different about bike touring compared to normal "visit a big city" traveling, I felt that I had a lot more freedom bike touring. I could get from point A to point B without help - unless I wanted help via public transportation. I felt a strong sense of independence associated with pedaling myself from place to place. I was on nobody's schedule but my own (or the group's). I also really enjoyed the fact that we could find a hotel and/or restaurant every few miles (at least in Switzerland, with the help of our maps), which meant we weren't going to starve or freeze to death :)

Everyone was also really nice, it might have been because we were traveling by bike. But every time I asked someone for help, they were very eager to help (with directions, finding a book store, and so on). The stays at every hotel, meal at every restaurant were also wonderful. I really enjoyed the breakfasts with lots of meat, cheese, and bread. The large and plentiful dinners. The ability to eat whatever I wanted. At Rosenlaui, they even started breakfast earlier for our group because we had a train to catch. Once again, German beer is really really yummy!

Compared to the US, the drivers were also much nicer. We got honked at a total of 4 times (not including Innsbruck, where we got honked at about 5 times in 2 miles there). Twice in Switzerland and twice in Italy. That's not bad for 2 weeks of riding. The drivers themselves were much more polite, I rarely felt unsafe with the cars around me. The same cannot be said for the roads around Northern California.

Switzerland was extremely beautiful, and the climbs were gorgeous. I now miss hearing cow bells during my bike rides. A lot of folks have asked me what my favorite part of the trip was - for me it was just the being there, biking, feeling like I could be anywhere I wanted, and experiencing every day. (God that sounds really cheesy, but it's pretty true!)

If I had to make a list...

Least favorites - Losing all my shit and having to pay really expensive German prices to replace it. Having a hard time finding things my size because almost everyone is taller with bigger hands. Crap weather the first week (if only we flew into Europe one week later...). The freezing cold descents the first week.

Favorite things - The climb and descent of St. Gottard and Sustens pass. The cool looking hairpins on Splugen pass. The stay at Rosenlaui. The food (lardo, pizza, pancetta), the beer, the wine! The sound of cow bells. The many waterfalls. Having someone to help block the wind.

Looking forward to going back!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps, Part IV

Time for the fourth and last part of our cycling trip report. This is the part where Kekoa and I tried to chase Piaw et al down, and it took until Rosenlaui.

Here's part IV of the trip report.

I still have a conclusion, maybe tips & tricks, and gear review to write! Hopefully those will be easier.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps, Part III

Time for the third installment of our cycling trip report. This is the part where Kekoa and I took off for a few days to climb more - in super hot weather.

Here's part III of the trip report.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps, Part II

Time for the second installment of our cycling trip report. This is the trip report of the freezing climbs :) Which ends in super hot weather.

Here's part II of the trip report.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tour of the Mostly-Swiss Alps, Part I

In 2010, Kekoa and I, Piaw and Lisa, and Phil Sung bike toured in the alps. The original plan called for touring the German Speaking Alps, but due to weather constraints, we ended up touring mostly the Swiss Alps.

Here's part I of the trip report. This included how we attempted to outfoxed the weather from Munich to Innsbruck and then to Bludenz.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Funny things we saw in Europe

Since I'm quite delinquent in writing my trip reports, I'm going to start with the funny signs and things we saw in Europe.

No Smoking Ashtray?

No peeing standing up?

Very Exotic Sauce



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Road rash fun

What better blog post than to write about road rash.

Given that I had a fairly fun (NOT AT ALL) crash about a week ago, I feel compelled to write about road rash and treating it. Let me say I got most of my information off of xton's very helpful post on the same subject. I just wanted to elebroate more on the bloodiness, of course. :)

First off, if you aren't up for cleaning the wounds yourself. Go to urgent care the first day. Not the second... I did a shitty job the first day cleaning my wounds. The next day, while the wounds were happily oozing black/brown dirt, I got freaked out thinking I might have broken something, and decided to go to urgent care. Needless to say, they took one look at my wounds, and decided to tear off all my expensive tegaderm, and re-scrub everything. OWWWW. The nice part about urgent care - they do put lidocaine on your wounds to numb it before they scrub. The bad - they only put it on the deep ones (too much lidocaine is apparently bad for you), and it's topical, so once the top of your wounds gets scrubbed off, it starts stinging pretty bad. If you are ball-sy enough to clean it yourself, drugstores also sell this 2% lidocaine solution that should help numb wounds, which I've heard helps.


The whole new moist wound care stuff is really awesome. I was told to use Tegaderm and then some folks recommended Duoderm. After a bit of research - I realized Duoderm / Tegasorb (not tegaderm) / Hydrocolloid are all pretty much the same thing. All this stuff is a bit expensive (Tegaderm is $3.75 for a 4" x 4 3/4" patch at drugstore pricing and Hydrocolloids are $3 for a 3" x 3" patch at drugstore prices) with the hydrocolloids being a bit more expensive. I recommend buying what you need for the day and then buying in bulk from some online medical supply store, even with the expedited shipping it's still cheaper.

Personally I used Tegaderm for the first few days, until the wounds started oozing less and moved to a hydrocolloid bandage. One thing to note about Tegaderm: if you are oozing a lot (yellow ooze is OK), do clean/replace often, else your skin might get irritated and itch a lot and add insult to injury. The ooze also smells really bad, it kind of smells like someone sweaty who hasn't showered in while... The wound can also ooze a lot and the ooze can "spill" out and seep through the edges of the Tegaderm, so definitely bandage it in with gauze so it doesn't leak on your clothes. You can leave these on for a few days. Until either the wound looks healed or the ooze has taken over so you have to change it.

Hydrocolloids are a bit more expensive than Tegaderm, but they are a bit nicer. The nicest feature is that it absorbs the ooze, so it doesn't leak everywhere easily, and just grows larger... it sort of looks like a GIANT whitehead. It does eventually ooze tho, if the bandage cannot absorb anymore. You can leave these on for ~7 days.

Anyhow, the best part about both of these is the ability to shower with big wounds over your body, with no pain as it keeps the water out. For the more surface type wounds, it took about 1 week for the oozing to stop, for the larger wounds, it looks like it's going to take 2 weeks... Moist healing also lets you completely bypass the "scab forming itchy" stage, and having no scab to pick on is wonderful. I didn't feel any itching besides from the ooze irritation (ew). I do believe that the moist healing thing works faster tho. I had similar sized wounds on my leg and arm, on my leg I chose to let it scab over and on my arm I put a hydrocolloid bandage on. Result at 1.5 weeks: arm has new skin already, leg is still scabbed up and itchy.


After a while, it won't be the bloody wounds that hurt, but the stupid bruises from falling and your body hitting random parts of the road! Icing within the first 24 hours is KEY. This will save you a lot of pain down the road (and make healing a lot faster). ICE A LOT (I wish I iced more...)

Moist healing is awesome. No more crashing for cyn.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: Zero Days by The Real Life Adventure of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly, and 10-year-old Scrambler on the Pacific Crest Trail

I just finished Zero Days: The Real Life Adventure of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly, and 10-year-old Scrambler on the Pacific Crest Trail in one day. This was a fun read! If you have done any backpacking at all, you'll find many parts of this book where you just can't help but laugh in agreement because you've felt the same thing before.

This book is about Nellie Bly, Captain Blight (Barbara Egbert and Gary Chambers) and their 10 year old daughter Scrambler (Mary) backpacking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). The PCT is a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada. According to the book, less than 100 people finish each year, and finishing with a 10 year old is just plain nuts. The book is organized by theme
"Togetherness", "Trail Angels and Demons", "Food and Water", ..., which I found made for better reading than I imagine a chronologically organized book of a family doing the PCT. I mean who wants to read "Day 1: We hiked X miles", "Day 2: We hiked Y miles", ... That said, each chapter touches some insight or experience about their journey. My favorite parts of the book were the parts were I TOTALLY knew what the author was referring to when she was talking about the happy/frustrating moments about backpacking (although I'm guessing her feelings were more intense than mine...), and it was also gave enough insight that one would know what to expect doing such a long thru-hike.

Personally, although the PCT sounds tempting, I think I'll try something shorter first. Most likely it'll be the John Muir Trail, or England's Coast to Coast first!

A bit weight weenie-ish...

Warning: Very dorky post below.

I'm trying to find a pair of lightweight hiking/trekking/traveling pants, since every ounce ends up counting (I have to carry it), the lighter the better. Annoyed by the fact that most of the manufacturers don't actually post the weight of their pants on their websites, I took a scale into some stores today.

My drill went like this: Pick out a few pairs of potential pants, take pants into dressing room. Try pants on, if I like the pants, also weigh them in the dressing room. Result so far: I could not find a pair of long pants lighter than half a pound.

That's how I spent a few hours of my Sunday afternoon... I'm almost ashamed to admit.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pigeont Point Lighthouse overnight trip

Kekoa and I joined Piaw plus many others on an overnight trip cycling to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Trip report here.

Summary: Awesome trip, awesome hot tub :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bangkok thoughts...

K and I spent a few days in Bangkok in the middle of our Hong Kong trip over Christmas/New Years last year. It feels weird using the term last year, since "last year" was just two weeks ago.

Food: The food was awesome, I had the best Hainanese chicken rice for 30 Bhat (which is less than a dollar), the thai food there was awesome, we had this awesome afternoon tea which included 10+ items that cost very little. I have lots of food recommendations if anyone ever wants them :)

Thai massage was awesome too, but that said, it's still expensive to fly that far for the food and good/cheap massages. The sites itself weren't too interesting, but old temples/religious monuments really don't do that much for me. The shopping was OK, it was cheaper by a little. Sadly, given the globalization of stores, it's really the same stores over and over again, which is a bit boring.

I guess looking back, I wouldn't fly all the way from North America to Bangkok for a trip, Bangkok itself isn't really worth it. Sure the food was wonderful, but the touristy sites itself weren't that interesting, and it was really too hot in Bangkok itself to do much besides eat, shop (indoors), do massage/spa related things. A lot of folks from Asia fly to Bangkok for a shopping/eating/spa trip, which is more worth it, since it's close by (2-3 hour flight).