Calico reading :)


This is from a few months ago (video of him reading), but I am so proud of Calico :)


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Summer break in France, family visits, and my birthday…


Summer break is a new experience for us (since this is Calico’s first year in school).

Generally, we like to travel for a month, but this is the first year we have done it over the summer in peak time. We spent July in Issigeac, France. It is a small medieval village in the Dordogne (see marker below of map).

We got a good deal on an Airbnb with a big discount since we stayed an entire month. It didn’t have AC, but it didn’t get too hot, and we had plenty of fans. The weather in France was remarkably cool, given the rest of Europe was under a massive heatwave.

Mom and Tony visited for over two weeks, which was amazing! We had a lot of fun :)

I turned 42 on July 20th, and it was terrific to have Lindsey, Calico, Mom, and Tony there. That is the first time in quite some time :). We ate Indian food in a nearby town. And, randomly, one of my favorite cousins was on a trip nearby, so we got to have lunch with him and his fantastic family toward the end of the trip.

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France 2023 bike tour summary (blackberry tour) :)


Fun ride! Here is a rough sketch of my blackberry tour.


  • 1,269km (longest ever)
  • ~68 hours of riding
  • 8,064m of altitude gain
  • 21 days of riding
  • Average km/h of 18.5
  • Average ride distance was 60km
  • Average ride length was 3 hours and 16 minutes

This is the most kilometers I’ve done in a tour and the most riding days. I feel good! I always go a bit too fast in the early stages, but it is nice to wring yourself out like a wet towel.

This tour was flat; I didn’t have to do any big climbs. Weirdly, I kind of missed it. I had 8 days in Italy with 700m+ climbs and only 1 here.

The first part from Bordeaux to Paris was very rural and wild. Some days, I was only going 15-16km every hour because of the heavy mud or grass or bike hiking. That was fun in its own way. For my next tour, I want to add more history stops.


  • I could bring only my running shoes next time; then I have more comfortable walking shoes. But I think the bottoms of my feet would be sore, given they are not as tough as the biking shoes. Either way, I need shoes for walking if I want to explore more.
  • I need to include a rest day every 5 or 6 ride days. Possibly with more upfront.
  • I should plan rest days around historical sites if possible. I am thinking about doing a future trip around following the Band of Brothers book from the landings through Eagle’s Nest.
  • For training, I need to do more long rides. This time was better, and by the 2nd/3rd week, I was feeling good about the distance.
  • This tour was wetter and colder than I expected. I am really glad I brought 2 jackets, and wish I had brought my new waterproof jacket.
  • I think I could have done more economic rest days every 5 or 6 days and then ridden the EV1 down the coast to Bordeaux. But I would have been exhausted and needed to push ~70km a day on average.

Ideas for the next trip?

It might be fun to follow the Band Of Brothers from start to finish in WW2. And planning rest days and history tours as some of the key spots.

I am also interested in riding around the Pyrieas mountains, so going across the front and the bike. Lot’s of amazing castles and history there.

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Day 21 of France 2023 (68km)


68km / 3 hours 28 minutes / 416m gain

The trip has ended; long live the trip.

The first half was on back roads through the French countryside under a heavy fog. Then that lifted, and I spent the last half on a beautiful gravel canal route. It was an amazing way to end the trip. It is always bittersweet. My bike and I catch a train tomorrow to Paris and then Bordeaux (tomorrow, I pick up Calico and Lindsey from the airport).

Between days 20 and 21, I took 5 full days off with how the trip played out. That was nice; it gave me some time just to recuperate and have some “vacation” time. I am not riding that far, but doing it every day is a lot as it stacks up. I watched all 3 seasons of Deadwind, which I love (Finish crime drama; it has some insanity, but it is still really good).

Here are some early morning pictures from Mont St. Michel of the flooded road/town. Pretty crazy; I didn’t go into the town as the bike parking was underwater. I was really looking forward to trying this egg souffle thing it is famous for, but having read reviews; I skipped it as the restaurant charges 45 euros and has a terrible rating. Apparently, the family that owns the restaurant bought everything in Mont St. Michel, and now all the food is bad, and the hotels are a nightmare. With 1.3 million tourists a year, I guess they don’t care (the Google reviews are hilarious). I wanted to see the church at the top, but I was so soaked by the time I got there so I skipped it.


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Day 20 of France 2023 (51km)


52km / 2 hours 35 minutes / 154m gain

I made it to Mont Saint-Michel today!

It was a very easy day as I had a rest day yesterday. I am now at an Airbnb to chill, catch up on work, etc.

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Day 19 of France 2023 (62km)


62km / 3 hours 14 minutes / 393m gain

Great ride beautiful rail path that was surreal. I do not have many other notes as I forgot to write this a few nights ago.

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Day 18 of France 2023 (54km)


54km / 3 hours 0 minutes / 674m gain

Easy ride today, although more up and down.

The geography has changed to more frequent hills and forests. The last 20km was through one of the most beautiful forests I’ve been in. It ended in this magical spa town with a lake that might be where Lancelot was born (per Wikipedia and per one version of the legend). This spa town feels special and has a special feel to it. Very quiet and peaceful.

I had an amazing rhubarb pastry for breakfast. And when I walked into the bakery, they had a 3 pile high of American-style burgers; super weird, but I had one, and even though it was cold, it was delicious. For lunch, I found a Moroccan place.

When I get into my accommodations every day, the first thing I do is wash my riding clothes out in the sink. If I can, with hot water and soap. Then, I hang them up to dry for the next day. And then, when I do a longer stop for a few days in an Airbnb, I wash them in a washer.

Notes for future trips:

  • The jackets were crucial even in summer. I would be so much colder without them. I had to put one on today.
  • The bivvy might have been worth a pack; small chance I got stuck somewhere cold with an injury even in August.
  • Only one pair of athletic shorts is just fine. I don’t need to bike in them if needed.
  • 3 pairs of socks are nice; if I must, I could do 2. They dry super fast.
  • It would be nice to look at a Patagonia snap-up shirt. I am not sure they fit me, but something like that would be a good replacement for my t-shirt.
  • I really want some shoes made for walking/hiking on my trips. Especially for historical focus. Maybe I can try some really light Nike ones and see how they feel. I think I can fit those in my bags and not add too much weight.

Weather is crazy good this week :)

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Day 17 of France 2023 (61km)


61km / 3 hours 3 minutes / 237m gain

Really beautiful route today; everything was a converted rail route. The last 10km was a rainstorm. I read for a while under a church awning until I could check-in. Easy ride today. I only have a few days left.

It is nice to be in an apartment so I can cook some Ben food.

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Day 16 of France 2023 (62km)


62km / 3 hours 5 minutes / 526m gain

Today was mostly road, not too many cars. The last 7km were beautiful gravel bike path and I am looking forward to doing a lot more of that today.

One of the “hot” days. Today hit about 86F; the ride was fine, but I’m roasting in an apartment right now. I got some veggies, which was exciting as I’ve been missing greens. Cooked some zucchini and ate a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower.

I had to chase a bat out of my room last night. I had all the windows open and it flew right in after bugs and got stuck imI think. Finally got it out and drew some blinds.

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Day 15 of France 2023 (74km)


74km / 3 hours 38 minutes / 392m gain

Good ride today, mostly road, with a little bit of river trail in the middle. Staying in a very weird and dead town, it seems. But managed to get some provisions for tomorrow.

I had a nice stop in Chartes, I hope to come back at some point and see the inside of the churches.

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Day 14 of France 2023 (69km)


69km / 3 hours 29 minutes / 502m gain

This is day 1 of the route from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel. It was a beautiful ride and a mix of trail, bike path, and road.

Some of the roads were pretty busy, but French drivers are so great with bikes that it always felt safe. And 90% of the time, I was on a dedicated bike lane, given this is a route they are developing.

I like being back near cities, I was able to stop at a bakery and get a sandwich, quiche, and two loaves of raisin nut bread (so good).

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I want to give my son the gift of will, space, and energy.


I want to give Calico the will, space, and energy to figure out himself and his life. If he has these things, it is much easier to create a meaningful life.


The inner drive to dig into himself and figure out his shit so he can go in the direction he wants.

I want to make sure he doesn’t lose his will to look around, make sure he is in a good place, and if not, figure out why and make changes.

I am not sure how I can help instill this trait. It is something I think about a lot.

At his current age, Lindsey and I try to help him slow down, listen to his emotions as an advisor, think things through with his head, and figure out what he wants to do and why he wants to try that.

Lately, much of that process is spent trying to understand social situations and kids at school. I especially want to ensure he knows he is not a bystander in his own life. That doesn’t mean he always needs to take action, but I want him to know he is allowed to react. That is something I wish I had learned sooner.


Having the freedom to live, think, and figure stuff out.


The strength and vitality to sustain physical and mental activity.

Space & energy are a big reason why I want to live in Europe.

In Europe, I think my son has a much better chance to have the space and energy to enjoy life, explore life, and figure himself out. And he is around people who also have this chance because, unlike the U.S.A., Europe tries to create this environment for all its citizens.

Europe does a much better job of balancing life and work. They provide real vacation time and real health care and generally try to create a good environment for their citizens (food quality, environmental protections, ability to pursue higher learning, low crime, and general quality of life).

Is Europe perfect?

Fuck no, there are problems with any system.

But they are doing about 100x better than the U.S.A. in this regard. The U.S.A. has given up on trying to improve the lives of its citizens.

Is it possible to achieve a good life in the USA? Sure, but it is much harder given the entire system is working against you. The U.S.A. has created a Hunger Games society that breeds a sick winner-takes-all mindset where the only goal is power and money. I want to live somewhere where people want everyone’s kids to succeed and have good lives.

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Day 13 of France 2023 (33km)


33km / 1 hour 50 minutes / 224m gain

Today was an easy day. And I finished my route from Bordeaux to Paris!

Paris is so huge! Lots of cars today. The bike lanes were pretty good.

The last 2 days, it was nice being in towns. I had Indian for lunch yesterday and Pakistani today.

This route was beautiful and wild. It was great to get so much time on gravel, grass, and dirt. I didn’t realize quite how much it would avoid towns, and next time I need to play how I am going to find food. It all worked out, even if I was eating canned fish sometimes.

I like pilgrimage routes as there is so much history along the way. And then go through towns that have been there for thousands of years. It was nice to have so much wilderness on this trip, but I want to do something more historical next time. Maybe a route tracing the reverse of the Cathar crusade, the D-Day invasion, following the Band of Brothers inland, or maybe Napolean’s march to Moscow.

When I start biking again on Monday, I start the Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel cycle route. I think I only have around 7 days left. Then a big break out by the coast before I take the train back to Bordeaux to pick up my family.

I think there will be a lot of small towns along this route.

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Day 12 of France 2023 (56km)


56km / 3 hours 11 minutes / 293m gain

A very easy ride today. I am near the bottom of Paris. The first 30km was a beautiful bike path, I decided to keep following that and go a bit off route. The last 26km were all suburbs and busy roads. Not as fun, but glad to be here.

I was in such need of a warm meal, I had amazing Indian food for lunch :). I

Tomorrow I have a super easy ride, and then 2 days rest in an Airbnb.

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Day 11 of France 2023 (53km)


53km / 3 hours 35 minutes / 346m gain

Today was magical.

It was also hard, the trail was incredibly rough, and I only made about 15km in the first hour. I was biking through deep grass, which requires twice as much power for half as much distance. Then I hit deep sand. Lots of fun :)

The national park in the middle was AMAZING!

Huge rocks and boulders jutting out of the ground; it was a magical place. I had to bike hike some of it as it wasn’t ridable. Fantastic day.

I think I accidentally killed a little snake yesterday. I was on a single-track trail and saw him at the last minute. It was a little baby black snake. I instinctively shouted, “Oh shit, sorry, bud,” as I rolled over his head. Which I felt was a weird thing to say.

I tried to avoid him, but when my brain realized I couldn’t, I decided to roll over his head. It was insane how fast my mind told me it was better to roll over his head than the tail so he doesn’t whip around and bite you. There is a small chance he was already dead. I didn’t stop. He might have had friends. I apologized to the forest, and I slept easy, knowing that I probably helped the snake population from an evolutionary standpoint, as you can’t freeze as a snake on a well-ridden trail. It does bug me that I am improving their tactics from an evolutionary standpoint though. How many millions of years until they are dropping from every tree onto bikers?

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This is bwb’s personal blog, so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up to, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean (although mostly at sunset, as I’m a ginger). I love to travel, eat exotic food, do long bike rides, read, and use my imagination. At some point, I decided it was better to be a pirate captain than an admiral. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).