30 June 2012

cold turkey

I am having insomnia right now, so I just bought my train tickets for the beginning of my cycling journey. I will board the 7:20 train from Dublin Heuston station for Waterford, and change trains there for Carrick-on-Suir, where I will begin my cycle. While the first day of cycling from Dublin to Glendalough is supposed to be fantastic, the journey from Glendalough all the way to Carrick-on-Suir is reportedly pretty boring, so I've decided to cut the first 4 days of the 35 day tour and get started just past Waterford. I'll arrive around noon.

My plan is then to follow roughly the route laid out in the Irish Cycling Guide grand tour, penned by Brendan Walsh in 1991--it came highly recommended by Irish cyclists; here's hoping its not hopelessly outdated!

I will skip the Dingle peninsula, shaving 3 further days off the trip, and Achill island (I've already been, and camped, there!), saving another day. Hopefully I can have a rest day once a week from doing this in order to keep from injuring my weakened knees. I also have physio tape, a bike fitted to me, and will be forgoing my typical clipless pedals in favour of regular shoes that won't lock the knee in place and cause strain if even slightly maladjusted. (I will take plenty of time to find clipless pedals that work for me before cycling across America in 2013, however, as I prefer using them.)

According to the bike fit guy I saw today, who also fits people for custom orthotics, my knee problems are caused by walking, not cycling. I think he's right; my knees only HURT after a 10 day vacation from the bike that involved a lot of walking. Before, it was only strain from overuse. Unfortunately, this means that I will require more physio, and custom insoles for my shoes in the meantime, when I return to the U.S. (as I won't have time for that between now and then... arrrrgh).

Anyway, I'll cycle clockwise around Ireland and then go up thru Donegal and into Northern Ireland. I hope to make it as far as Belfast, then take it easy there for a day or two and take a train home from there.

I may not be able to keep up with an average of 40 miles a day--I may not make it as far as Belfast, or I may feel the need to take shortcuts via train or bus along the way. I'll listen to my body, and my knees, but will not let my weaknesses prevent me from dreaming big and living large.

And my biggest weakness right now? Internet addiction.

Recently I've been consistently staying up till 2 or 3 am faffing about on the internet, usually watching youtube videos or compulsively checking facebook and forums. While there are cool, inspiring people on youtube (if it weren't for wheezywaiter and the vlogbrothers I wouldn't be making videos or blogging nearly as often, for example)--I usually run out of cool people to watch really quickly and degenerate into watching random clips from the "recommended videos" sidebar, jumping from clip to clip looking for my next fix. I'm such a junkie it's giving me headaches, blurred vision--I haven't cleaned my kitchen in ages, I've stopped doing my pushups/situps routine, and my sleep schedule has imploded.

I intend to quit the internet cold turkey on this trip, except for email and blogging.

I might get on facebook once or twice a week, but if it starts to be a daily thing I'll uninstall the app or give it up completely.

Having email on my phone means you can, theoretically, reach me on the road if you would like, either by leaving a comment on my blog posts or emailing me directly (jameverywhere at gmail).

I will be able to post short blog entries via phone as well, and intend to do so every-other-daily at the least.

I think nervousness for the fact that I'm leaving on Monday is part of my insomnia. The lazy me wants to put it off, but I just paid for my tickets, so I can't. I'm in it to win it now.

The sun is rising outside. I'm going to try to sleep again.


28 June 2012

Jam Everywhere Episode 3: Phoenix Park

Meet Aisling! My best Irish friend ever :3

This was filmed and mostly edited too back in May, but due to being sick or on vacation for all of June, I'm just now putting it up.

I will probably also only talk about my UK vacation a month or more after I took it. I do intend to update this blog in real time while on my cycle tour, however! (If you come here through facebook, and are interested in my next month or so of travels, please bookmark and check for updates or find a way to follow me directly from blogger as I will not be posting the links on facebook after uploading new content due to lack of internet!)


26 June 2012

purchasing pain

I think camping and athletics are fascinating. Essentially, human beings participating in activities that hurt them, and paying for the privilege. I just came back from the sporting goods store. I spent over 300 euro there, getting the last bits and bobs for my trip I want to take in a few days (altho 100 of that was provided as a gift from my workplace--thanks so much you guys!!).

(Also, 150 euro of that was an investment in a new goretex rain jacket, since the cheap knockoff I originally bought ceased being waterproof about, oh, three months after I bought it. This is not cycling- or camping-specific gear; it's just for rain.)

Anyway, discussions of my rapidly dwindling funds aside, I think it's funny that I'm paying so much (don't forget the hundreds of euro of gear I've already bought, and my expensive bike to boot) for the chance to live for 30 days deprived of all but the most basic necessities of life--food, water, and the most minimal of shelter. And a bicycle. I include a bicycle as a necessity of life for me.

That's what I want to do. Thirty to thirty-five days of cycling the Irish countryside, camping as much as possible. I intend to leave on Monday. I need this, because over the course of my recent gluten-induced sickness I have increased my dependency on the internet to a fully-fledged addiction, which is lowering my quality of life. I spend countless hours sitting on my ass checking about four different sites for updates constantly. I stop doing useful things in the middle to take an internet break. Like a rat in one of Skinner's cages, I've learned that by pressing the lever constantly, I receive intermittent rewards. Obviously the best choice is to press the lever constantly till something happens (?!)

The sites I can't tear myself away from are mostly facebook (obviously), youtube, google reader (where I read all the blogs I follow), and gmail.

And when I run out of things to do online I go crazy and start manufacturing things to do (or playing offline computer games) so that I don't have to, say, get up, or go to bed, or clean my damn flat for once seriously this is gross what is your problem.

I want to give these things up but I find that I can't until I lose access, such as when I went to the UK. Internet costing 1 to 2 pounds an hour in internet cafes, I was forced to use my internet time for more productive things, such as researching things I wanted to do, securing tickets to plays, or actually communicating with people... allowing my last 15 minutes or whatever for entertainment.

I just realised that "internet costing 1 to 2 pounds an hour in internet cafes" is a really strange modifier and is probably in violation of some grammatical rule or other. eww.

At any rate, my knees take to the bike much more than to walking, so I'm doin' this thang. I will be able to check facebook and email on my phone, as networks are available, but will try to keep that to a minimum. Mostly I just want to update my blog daily or every-other-daily with a sentence or two about my progress and experiences. I want to EARN any internet I use by cycling like a maniac. Getting physically fit. Seeing more of this lovely country I have come to live in for a little while.

And when my thighs burn and back aches and knees complain and so on etc, it reminds me that I'm human, that life is good, that I'm still alive and fighting.

In a few days, once I've packed, I'll post a list of kit I've decided to include. This will be a runner-up to cycling across America in 2013. Hopefully I will learn a lot.


20 June 2012

celiac disease can go crawl in a hole and die right now

I have a stuffy headache, my vision blurs easily, my neck is stiff, my muscles and joints hurt, I'm constipated, I can't stop sleeping, and when I am awake I can't move and am groggy as hell, my gums are bleeding, my stomach is filled with gas...

I took a lot of minor risks over my vacation, eating things I ordinarily wouldn't--chomping into an apple without washing it first, for example, or one time eating at a restaurant I didn't quite trust regarding cross-contamination, even though the ingredients were fine to eat. I ate out of grocery stores, but did overdose a bit on gluten-free processed foods, which can also cause problems in high doses like that, or so I've heard from other celiacs (they're required to be < 20 ppm of gluten in Europe, but if they're all hovering at like 18 ppm, they can accumulate in the body till your effed up immune system discovers the trace gluten and goes on attack)

Due to the slight relaxation of my food paranoia, it was inevitable that something eventually take me down. I suppose I should be glad that I'm home and can afford the luxury of sleeping all day and squinting at the internet in bed when not asleep.

I cannot tell you guys how much I hate this disease. I've worked hard to mentally divorce myself from my previous love of food, and sometimes succeed at this. But I can't tell you just how much I want to go out and buy an effing sandwich at a deli and eat it, or chow down on a Starbucks scone. Usually I'm all right, but every once in a while when someone eats something I can't in front of me, I get so jealous I want to cry or throw up. Especially things like ice cream. Pizza. Cheesy pasta with cream sauce.

It's hard to travel and have to forgo all restaurants in favour of potato crisps and tinned fish from tesco. To never eat proper fish and chips in Ireland/the UK 'cause the only places that do it gluten-free put soya flour in the batter. To go on vacation and ask people's advice for what you should do and get endless recommendations for what restaurants you should go eat at, when you know you'd never safely eat at these places in a million years. To stay in a hostel with a free breakfast that consists entirely of cereal and toast.

The world is filled with poison. I'm like a dog who loves the taste of antifreeze. Sweet, but deadly. At least I'm smart enough to turn away and say no--except, despite my best attempts, sometimes a bit of poison finds its way inside me after all, because the world is filled with it and I'm an idiot to think it's possible to avoid every rogue crumb that seeks to do me in.


Fuck you, gluten.

the end.

18 June 2012

back from England!

Just spent about ten days in England, travelling about. Started in a monastery in Essex, near Tiptree; spent four nights in London after that; then killed zombies in Reading; next, went to the spa in Bath; and finally, wandered about Oxford before catching the ferry home from Holyhead.

Originally I intended to go up to Edinburgh for a few days, and also see some of North England (think, York, Hadrian's wall etc), or at least a few more sites in England, such as Cambridge or Dover or whatever I thought of at the time. However, my hamstrings and knees really started to bother me after the zombie-killing, which involved lots of sprinting, including sprinting up and down stairs. Because I want to do my cycle tour of Ireland more than anything else, I decided to come home so I can get some massage, do my physio exercises more diligently, and warm up my legs on the bike for a bit before setting off. Since cycling is easier on the knees than walking, I still think I'll be able to pull the trip off. I may have to cut it off early, but we'll see. Whatever happens, I won't stop travelling.

Before I go, I need to figure out how to best update this blog and/or youtube on the road and buy some more kit so we'll see about that.

in August I plan to visit Cardiff for the Doctor Who experience that just opened there, perhaps kill more zombies in a different experience in Manchester, and if I have a few days go see more of Wales or Scotland. It all depends on when my family intends to visit me, because of course I want to show them all around Ireland--but they'll only be here say for 10 days or so.

I'll write up some posts about my travels in England soon. I have tons of pictures and snippets of footage. Sorry for the delayed reports; one thing I definitely need to work on is reporting on things as they happen rather than weeks later... but better late than never, so they say.


11 June 2012


Well, right now I'm in an internet cafe right outside Earlscourt station in London. I've checked into the youth hostel in Holland Park, which is actually really nice I think, for the next four nights. Tomorrow I'll get up and do a walking tour of London to get my bearings... I have an oyster card already, and a seven day pass for the rental bikes, so I'm all set for transport. On the 15th I'm heading up to Reading for the zombie experience that I booked, and then from there I intend to travel north up into Scotland, do some kind of tour of the highlands, fly out of Edinburgh (I have a return flight out of Glasgow but I might just ignore it altogether since it was so cheap and I may want to stay on longer), or something...

London and Dublin have a lot of similarities, and the tube reminds me of the trains in Japan (so weird to see mostly white people on 'em), so I feel at home here. I just wish I knew what I wanted to do with my time, y'know? I'm really bad at vacations. Like, really bad.

The weather is pretty miserable so I'm probably not going to do much today. Rain rain rain. Apparently there was some flooding in Essex last month. After weeks and weeks of drought warnings. Gotta love mother nature.

Everything's really expensive in London, whoa. I think it would be gas to live here though. I'd apply to Oxford or Cambridge or something but no way I could afford it, like. How can you squeeze a city like this into four days? That's what I wanna know.

My internet access is gonna be really spotty from here on out but I'll try to post updates as I can I guess?


06 June 2012

i'm too zen for this

in which Jam explains why vacations make her anxious.

seriously. for a nomad, the idea of spending two weeks in a foreign country makes me all kinds of nervous.

it's not the "foreign country" part that gets me, though. it's the "two weeks" part.

what I like to do is live somewhere different. have some time to settle in. I hate feeling rushed, y'know? and while I like to make plans, making tons of plans to stick into a short span of time is too much for me. so, I loved moving to Ireland for 12 months, and later on I'm gonna try to do the same in New Zealand. but when I'm visiting places, I prefer to go with people (say, mama and daddy for example) who know what they want to do, when they want to do it, and I can just follow along.

tomorrow I leave for the UK with some friends. I'll be with them till the 11th, when they'll go home and I'll venture forward into London on my own. I have absolutely nothing planned except one event on the 15th, and an early flight out of Glasgow on the 21st. Everything between now and then is completely up in the air. . .

so, this is what I'm going to do. I'm bringing a backpack full of clothes, my wallet, and my camera. I'll buy a map or something once I alight, and each morning when I get up, I'll decide what I want to do that day or the next day. I'm gonna be as low maintenance as possible, and take each day as it comes. if I hardly get to do anything cool, or if I accidentally end up missing something I wanted to do, I can plan a proper trip later, in August.

i like to move slowly. i'm much more of a backpacking/camping kinda person than a busy city girl. large crowds of people make me feel strange and out of place. like a fish flopping about in the bottom of a boat.

i don't get back to Ireland until the 21st, so you may not hear from me until then, although i will probably find and get on the internet periodically to research things i want to do or how to get to places i want to go. when i get back, all my energy will go into planning for my cycle tour and making it a reality.

right now i'm just barely getting over my headcold, and walking outside, it's like everything is covered in a layer of molten glass, turned slightly sideways and pushed out farther from me than it used to be. i don't think i'm even mentally capable of making plans at the moment. i'm not even capable of capitalisation any more apparently.

peace out and i'll see y'all on the flipside.

04 June 2012

sickly jam

So, yeah. I'm sick today and it sucks.

I did the Tour of Louth yesterday though. The weather was absolute rubbish, which is especially sad because today is a BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY and it's like the universe hated us. We even cycled in a big circle but the wind was in our faces the WHOLE TIME like it KNEW where we were and wanted to spit at us...

I only made it on the 50 km course and didn't continue to the 100 km because I didn't want to die. However, I did that 50 km as fast as I could and am proud of myself for that, especially considering it was my first sportive and all.

I would have brought my camera or video camera to the event, but there was no point because of the rain and wind--you wouldn't have been able to see or hear anything anyway.

I'm not sick because I went cycling in the rain, by the way! First of all, it's an old wives' tale that wet/cold can make you catch a cold or flu. Second of all, I was already sick before the cycle. Just a bit of a masochist and did it anyway. My head was so stuffed up, I couldn't hear anyone out of my left ear... DX

Anyway. Have a click below to listen to my sickly rambling.