The Breen Machine

The Breen Machine
CyclOcar at the Guadalupe Desert Salt Flats, Texas nearly 2,000 miles into it's 30,000 mile journey. Pedal Power = Carbon Neutral Living

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Waco Road to Waco

Tried to obtain two new front tyres in Baton Rouge but to no avail.  Called ahead to John at Bicycles Outback in Waco, Texas some 450 miles away and was chuffed to find they had three in stock!

They are not a common size so luck must be on my side.  Reckon I should be there in 5-6 days so hoping they hold onto them for me.  Sure they will!

I received a great send off from Raychelle and Shantina and the picture below shows how they would like to have come with me!

Raychelle and Shantina

I am beginning to feel that the hardest part of the journey by far is coping with the roads and trying not to get wiped out by drivers who seem, on the whole, to have no road sense.  I believe that in many States you can get a licence to drive at 15 and it is considered as an essential piece of ID.  I was told that all you need to do was drive between a few bollards and that's it but maybe someone knows better.  If that is the case then I now understand why they don't seem to look further ahead than the vehicle in front. 

 I was lucky enough to be escorted with someone behind me across the Mississippi River and I am really thankful to this anonymous driver for his consideration as there was no hard shoulder.  With trucks and cars bearing down on me at 65 mph plus I think it was tempting fate but there seemed no other way.

Mississippi River

Thank you anonymous driver!

I should call the road Lucifer's Highway as they placed concrete type corrugated 'cattle grid's' every 5 meters on the hard shoulder so that any driver falling asleep would know that they had wandered onto it. Shame that they didn't think through the effect on a bicycle that is basically forced to use this route.  The main problem was that I had to put up with excessive vibration and noise for around 20 miles and, in addition to the broken pieces of tyre and debris, it became more of an obstacle/survival course. 

The corrugated 'cattle grid'

My legs feel like steel and eventually when I cleared the area the road became reasonable again and I was able to cruise at around 15 - 20 mph with the sides up.  I noticed that with the strong crosswind the gusts actually caused me to accelerate to over 20 mph so I was obviously getting the 'sailing/lift' effect.

I stopped at an immaculate 1950's Diner on the way and just had to take some photos.

Before I left Portugal I had a farewell dinner with my good friend Chris and his wife who is Nepalese.  I noticed on their wall a photo of Edmund Hillary and her Sister and we got round to talking about her family and Everest.  It turns out that she climbed several mountains until she broke her leg badly and her sister was the first Nepalese woman to climb Everest.  Her brother is an expedition guide and has climbed Everest eleven times!  Such an unassuming lady and I virtually had to drag this amazing information from her. She keenly offered to speak to him in order for me to join one of the expeditions and I am now beginning to think I might be fit enough to start the advanced preparation.  I seem to be able to scoot along at around 15 mph for 4-5 hours between stops so maybe I could fit the attempt in between touring countries!

I am in McD again but think that I will try sleeping either inside the machine or under it tonight.  It is chilly outside at night now but it will be a chance to try out the three part sleeping system.

Met Deanna from Baton Rouge who loves the Breen Machine and even asked for my autograph.


....and the highlight of my day was a conducted tour around a Port Barre Police car courtesy of Officer Hardy and it was really interesting to find out about the problems and the day to day things they have to deal with. Similar to most countries no doubt with the exception that firearms are more likely to be encountered here.  Brave men is all I can say.

Officer Hardy (sorry about the camera shake - I was so cold or nervous!)


  1. Hi Gerry,
    I am enjoying your blog and travels. My cousin(Brandi) met you in Port Barre and she asked if anyone knew about your mission. I am finding it fascinating. It must be wonderful to be able to go on such a trip and meet all these people. :D South Louisiana is a place like no other, the people are great, but you are right the roads and drivers can be horrible on bicyclists

    It doesn't look like we will be meeting you in person as we are farther North near Memphis, Tennessee. But I have to tell you that my boys and I would have loved to meet you and be able to check out that awesome bike.

    Happy Travels...Cheers

  2. Hi Michelle, Many thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately I only got a small bit on TV and I think that my PR coincided with the mid term frenzy! Like the first woman (American I might add) to fly the English Channel in April 1912 was unfortunately pipped to the post in news terms due to a more important matter - the sinking of the Titanic! If you are ever in Portugal please come and visit. Regards, Gerry