Monday, November 22, 2010

Now a qualified English Teacher!

This blog and the internet never cease to amaze me.  Since I've been back in the UK everyone seems to have heard about my American cycling trip, through either this blog, facebook, or even the old fashioned newspaper.  I've had messages from a whole host of people, ranging from my child minder from when I was 2, ex-colleagues and even an old friend who told me that I'm an inspiration to their life, and have convinced them to quit their bar job!  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it brightened up my day.  The blog's been a great tool for showing people what went on in America and also, and probably most importantly, helping me to achieve my fundraising target of £1,000 for Muscular Dystrophy.  I think I've developed a fairly nice "online persona," or whatever the jargon is, so thought I might aswell keep this updated, the obvious reach of the internet makes it a great way to keep people informed of what's going on, and if they want to join in in whatever adventures I'm trying to plan in the future!

Last night with fellow CELTA people
So, I've just completed a 4 week intensive CELTA course, which now makes me a teacher, of sorts.  CELTA is administered by Cambridge University and stands for "Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults,"  It's one of the most recognised English teaching qualifications in the world, although lots of people refer to TEFL, which isn't an actual qualification.  As I said, the course is intensive, but for a reason.  Despite having taught for more or less 2 years, the amount that I knew, or rather didn't know, was incredible, and the course definitely does what it says on the tin, teaches you how to teach.  Most people on the course were also in similar situations to myself, either having travelled or wanting to travel.  The course is a great way to do this, its worldwide recognition makes getting a job in your dream exotic location much easier than without one.  Being with similar minded people was really refreshing too, all interested in similar things, and all doing the course for more or less the same reason, to see the world, speak a new language, meet new people...make the most of life.  The continual lesson planning and assignment writing was made much more bearable having conversations about where we were all heading afterwards, if ever there was an example of working towards a collective goal, this was it!

There aren't too many places to do the course, I presume that's how they keep tabs on the quality of it, but there are centres in most countries and as it's administered by Cambridge, there are obviously more centres in the UK, than in other places, so if you're thinking of travelling the world, want to work in various places to fund that and are open to the idea of teaching, have a look at this to find out where you can do it.  I highly recommend it.

Colombian Paradise
I've just been on a "couch surfing" holiday to London, staying with a different friend every night for a week, which is a great way to catch up with people you haven't seen for a few years.  I'm now looking for whatever form of menial seasonal labour in the run up to the festive period, and at the same time, planning my return to Colombia in 7 weeks after spending a Christmas and New Year at home in Manchester .  I hope to use my CELTA and teach English again in Cali, although with more authority and knowledge this time round, but it's proving hard sorting jobs out with Colombians by email!  If any of you read this and want to employ me, get in touch!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some final thoughts and stats...

I think this will probably be my last post for a while to do with America, I got back last Friday and am now settling back in, but at the same time very eager just to get out on my bike again, and already thinking of a tour for next year.  Cuba's quite appealing.

Hot and spectacular Utah
It's been a truly incredible summer, I still can't quite comprehend the enormity of what both myself and Andy have achieved, and don't think I really will do for quite a long time to come.  Cycle touring really is a unique way of travelling, you get to see a large amount of a country at a fairly slow, but steady pace, and you meet so many more locals along the way, which has definitely been the best bit about the trip.  I'm a big believer in it not being where you are, but who you're with, for a lot of things in life, and in America this has been just as true as anywhere else.

Perfect evening cycling, Wyoming.
On the one hand, the USA is one of the least appealing or charming countries to visit, with its vast expanses of nothing and "anywhereville" towns, all with the same uniform fast-food places, motels and gas stations.  But this is what for me makes it such a fascinating spectacle.  Somehow, that lack of charm and individuality creates a breed of people that are so, so friendly and welcoming.  Some of them may not be the most world minded of folk, but that's hardly their fault, just the way their country brings people up as a whole, in my opinion.

Stunning skies, Utah
You have to admire the American Dream, Way of Life, whatever you call it.  It's very hard to define, but if that means building the tallest buildings in New York, or perhaps the most outrageous city in Vegas, in one of the hottest and driest places in the world, or giving all the fat people a free "fat mobile" so they can shop, or letting everyone refill their Coke as much as they want, so be it.  In America, if there's a will, there's a way - what a fantastic outlook on life.  It's just a shame that none of it is in the slightest bit sustainable, but it's only one country in the world.  It just so happens it has a lot of people, and money, and is the most powerful one of them all, for now.  America, what a place.  I'll be back one day I think, see these wonderful people and amazing places again, but maybe with the roar of fossils being burnt in my ear on a Harley, that looks a fun way to travel.

Below are some facts I've compiled on the trip from a few sources, the journal that we wrote along the way, our bike computers, the maps, and generally things that have stuck in our memories.  The map has our rough route on it, the black Xs outline where we stayed.

Total distance travelled - 4,075 miles on Andy's computer / 3,953 miles in the journal.  Using the bigger figure for the averages!

Total number of days - 69, Sunday 11th July to Friday 17th September

Rest days - 9

Average distance per day, including rest days - 59 miles

Average distance per day, excluding rest days - 68 miles

States visited - 13, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey.  And also Ontario, Canada.

Highest Pass - 9,600ft.  Route 12, Utah.  21st July.

Central Park, New York
9,000ft Passes - 4; 3 in Utah, and 1 in Wyoming

Biggest ascent in a day - 6,000ft.  Escalante to Torrey, Utah.  21st July

National Parks visited - 5, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Tetons, Yellowstone, Badlands

Century Days (100+ miles) - 2

Longest day - 105 miles, a combination of a very early start and a tailwind.  Trempeleau to Arkdale, Wisconsin.  25th August.

Shortest day - 31 miles due to a constant 15mph headwind.  Brookings, South Dakota to Lake Benton, Minnesota.  19th August.

Earliest start - 5.15am to avoid the heat and be finished before midday.  St. George to Springdale, Utah.  16th July.

Latest start - 1.50pm.  We still did 65 miles, reaching our destination by 7.30pm.  Lancaster to Allentown, Pennsylvania.  15th September.

Latest finish - 10.30pm.  Cold and wet in Tetons, Wyoming after a big 80 mile day.  31st July.

Hottest day - 46oC.  Mesquite, Nevada to St. George, Utah.  15th July.

Coldest day - 12oC.  Cuba to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.  9th September.

Top speed - 45.4mph

Total time spent riding - 320 hours

Punctures suffered - Dave 3, Andy 6

Days lost to injury or problems - 0, the only slight injury we got was our hands seizing up towards the end due to holding the handlebars all the time!

Subway Footlongs eaten - Dave 43, Andy 42

Total length in metres of Footlongs eaten by us both - 26m

Combined money spent in Subway on footlongs in US$ excluding tax -  $425, not including Cokes or Cookies.

Fellow tourers seen - 20

Grizzly Bears seen - 2, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Number of nights camped - 39, includes 1 night on a park bench and 1 night sleeping on the streets

Number of motel nights - 10, seems a bit excessive in retrospect!  At the start in Nevada we had to stay in motels as it was too hot to sleep.

Free accommodation nights - 22, a combination of Warm Showers people, friends and people who rescued us in one way or another.

Meals eaten off the floor - 2, we each dropped one out of the pan

Best summer ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coast to Coast of the USA by bicycle...done!

Arrival, Washington Bridge!
So, the moment arrived.  At about 5pm last Friday afternoon and after 4,075 miles in just under 10 weeks of cycling, numerous 9,000 plus foot passes, 45 degree days in the desert, 100 plus mile days, grizzly bear filled campsites etc etc...we rolled over the George Washington Bridge and entered Manhattan, New York, the final stop of this monstrous tour.  It was a momentous feeling being greeted by the Manhattan skyline with the sun shining again, knowing that we've crossed the third (or fourth, depending on what you read) biggest country in the world, just about all by our own two legs.  More or less as the script was written I suppose.

I said last week how we were glad to be finishing on the East Coast, as opposed to the West.  The same goes for New York too, ending in LA would be a bit of a let down I think.  This is my first time in New York, but it definitely lives up to the hype, the city that "never sleeps" feels so different to the rest of America, but yet underlines so many of the original American ideals which make this country so "great."  If you were trying to invent a city with diversity, originality, attitude, and the general hussle and bussle which all big cities have, New York would probably be it.  This place also has a fair amount of history, even by European standards, and is in a pretty spectacular location, and all these factors combine to make the "Big Apple" what it is - a better finishing point that LA, but a bitch to cycle into!

Enjoying New York
We did the trip from Lancaster in 3 days, which included a stay over at Heather and Gregg's in Allentown, who were friends of Willa from Pennsylvania, and also a stay in a motel about 50 miles from New York.  Thank God we stayed in a motel aswell.  We'd heard about storms being forecast for Thursday afternoon, and seeing as we got just about as wet as we have done at any time on the entire trip, they definitely arrived.  For us however it was just rain, but in New York, particularly Brooklyn where we're now staying, there were severe winds, and even a reported tornado, which has left parts of this neighbourhood with trees scattered everywhere and roofs ripped off.  I think cycling into that may have been a bit awkward.  Luckily though, the skies cleared for cycling into the city, and we've had fantastic autumn days ever since.  We more or less immediately bought some normal clothes after arriving, and so have been able to blend into society and enjoy the delights of this city with Andy's friends, who came over from London, and Lauren who lives in Brooklyn, great fun.

I think I've covered a lot of topics in this blog to do with America, cultural, political, social and environmental things.  They're all just my observations really, not out to offend in any way.  Apart from seeing a country, doing a trip like this lets you meet more people and pick up on more of the domestic and worldwide topics that spark interest.  I'd have liked to have mentioned more about the healthcare system here, which thankfully hasn't been used by us, but creates huge divides of opinion with people all over the US.  The same with guns, education, religion, and even fairly menial things like tipping, all very interesting topics that I've just never got round to writing about, so for that reason, I'm considering putting everything together and writing about the whole trip, in the form of...a book!  Mine and Andy's journal notes are pretty comprehensive, so I'll have a bash at it and see what is churned out, it'd be a good personal memory, if nothing else.

Manhattan Skyline, the bikes, and us.
When I'm back in England on Friday I'll put the last few weeks of photos up, aswell as making a post with a lot of relevant facts about the trip, which maybe boring as shit for some of you, but very interesting to those with (or without) a cycling interest!  It's been an absolutely incredible trip, definitely the most memorable summer of my life, probably Andy's too.  It's already rather strange looking back on it, not really been able to comprehend what we've done in a way, but there's already a niggling thing inside me urging me to do something else (money and time permitting!), any ideas for the next challenge?!

P.S. Here's the link to the photos. and if you'd like to sponsor me for doing it, you still can do!  All money goes directly to Muscular Dystrophy, so a very worthy cause and all donations are very much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Home Straight...

With less than 200 miles to go until we reach our final destination, New York, I think it's fair to say that we're well and truly on the home this should be the last blog until then.

Niagara vineyards
After our week long jaunt over the border, we re-entered the US last Tuesday, but not before visiting a few Canadian vineyards for some wine sampling and purchasing, and of course visiting the mighty Niagara Falls.  Instead of being lured into the many money extracting commerical ventures on offer next to the falls to all the gauping tourists, we chose to drink a bottle of wine that had been purchased at an earlier vineyard.   A fine vantage point to sip down a splendid bottle of wine, albeit in paper cups from Tim Horton's, (Canada's answer to Starbucks) what a wonderful afternoon in the sun that was.   I've since learnt it's illegal to drink in public in Canada
which makes it even more wonderful in my eyes.  The falls themselves are not as high as most people think, being around 50m high, but that doesn't detract from the spectacle of an incredible amount of water pouring over the edge every second, generating huge mist clouds and a relentless rumble of thunder.

Maiden of the Mist, Niagara Falls
I mentioned the deteriorating weather in the last blog, and how autumn was obviously on the horizon.  Well, I can definitely confirm that autumn has now arrived.  In the last week we've had more cold days than warm days, and more rain than sun, which is a bit shit to cycle in.  The temperature dropped to a balmy 12oC last Thursday and wearing all our clothes on the bike makes us realise how far we've come in time and distance since those days 2 months ago in Nevada and Utah when we couldn't cycle past midday due to the oppressive heat.  As Andy has lost a considerable amount of his clothing along the way, he has had to buy some rather interesting new leggings from Walmart.  New York state and Pennsylvania now have a leopard amongst their local population.  An upside to the dimishing temperatures is that we're now starting to see the leaves change colour on the trees to beautiful golden reds and browns, and they're now being scattered allover the roads, which makes a very pretty sight, when we're not cycling in the rain.

Steep and fast descents
Pennsylvania has meant the long awaited return of the hill to our daily ride, and the hills here, whilst not being especially high, are definitely very steep.  This means some slow ascents for a few miles, but some very fast descents on the other side.  I equalled my top speed of 45.4mph the other day, and was a bit annoyed not to break it but seeing as my tyres are more or less on their last legs, and my brakes are pretty much gone too, best not to push it too much.

There are also lots of Amish families around here, which I didn't really know anything about before.  They are basically families, generally of German origin, that have shunned modern technology and try to live as they did 100 or so years ago, before the mobile phone, car, fridge etc came to exist.  I say that, but there are splits within the Amish community, and some families have indeed welcomed certain inventions into their daily lives more than others.  If they need to go somewhere which maybe a bit too far for their horse and cart to go to, or they don't quite have the time, they'll call a non-Amish person up (presumably on an iPhone), and arrange to get driven there.  Make of that what you will.  This got me thinking of just how the respective communities decide what they will and won't allow into their daily lives, I can just imagine the meeting of the Church leaders, looking through a catalogue, or maybe even on a computer projector, and them speaking to their congregations afterwards,
Amish Farms
"This year the Amish leadership, after a long, passionate and protracted debate, has reached the difficult decision that our way of life would be untendable without this new invention, and we have therefore reluctantly decided to allow...the iPad onto our list of approved items for daily use."
That would all be in their Pennsylvanian-Dutch dialect, but you get the idea.  In a way, with them having all the modern technology, it just makes it more like a big game of fancy dress really, but they see it as necessary to preserve their "way of life" in the long run I suppose.  It does however make our day more interesting when instead of being overtaken by a pick up truck, we're overtaken by a horse and cart, and then having to weave our way round lots of horse shit on the side of the road.

We've also been encountering some fairly angry dogs over the last week.  I'm not sure what it is about being on a bike that dogs don't like, or that arouses their attention more than at cars or motorbikes, but as soon as we cycle within 50m or so of a house, the dogs are up straight away barking at us very aggressively.  Maybe they're hungry and want to eat us, or they like the look of our bikes and fancy a ride, or we're the only people that travel on these rural roads and the dogs haven't seen anyone for days, I don't know.  Amish families do seem to have more than their fair share of wild dogs however, which do also have a tendency to chase us.  This has led to some interesting episodes where Andy maybe ahead of me, I see him suddenly speed up, and realise that's because a big alsation is at his legs, and then have the conundrum as to what to do I wait for the dog to go back to the garden, or try and go super fast and catch it unaware, but being only a few metres away from me.  The adrenaline gets pumping I can tell you, and dogs run fairly fast aswell.  My legs are still attached to my body, upto now.

Washington DC
Once again, the hospitality and kindness we've received in Canada and the US has been overwhelming.  Tim and Linda near Niagra Falls, and Tony, on the American side of the border were both on Warm Showers and put us up for the night.  At the weekend, we stayed in a valley near Penn State University at Willa's family's farm, who I met whilst she was on her year abroad in Leeds, and we're currently staying with Tom and Anna-Mary, some bikers we met whilst in Wyoming.  They gave us their details, and as we're a bit ahead of schedule, we came to Lancaster to see them.   They used to own a restaurant so have been feeding us like Kings, and very kindly drove us to Washington today. We've had a wonderful day walking round the sights and trying to spot Barack and Michelle, we think we saw his helicopter fly over.  Whatever people around the world say or think about Americans, one thing you cannot doubt whatsoever is their friendliness and generosity, a true credit to their country in every sense of the word, and I cannot emphasise how much more enjoyable and entertaining they've made this trip for both myself and Andy.  Wonderful, wonderful people.

So, this should be the last post before I can look back on it all and feel bloody proud of myself!  It's been one hell of an adventure, and we're very nearly done.  It's good to be finishing on the East Coast as opposed to the West I think.  Everything on this side is a bit more familar to us, as it was obviously settled more so by our European ancestors than by say, the Hispanics in California.  So it's nice to see place names such as Lancaster and York, red brick houses, and older buildings in general.  There's just more of a historic feel to the place, which when coming from England, is something you don't appreciate when there, but as soon as you leave, you realise how old our country really is.  I'll be back there before too long though, next Friday in fact, not really looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canada - The Real World

Toronto skyline from the University
We're in a different country!  Andy and I crossed the border into Canada on Tuesday and boy, does it feel different.  It's unbelievable what a few miles and a rather impressive bridge can do.  For a start there are lots of slim people, and all of a sudden these slim Canadian folk like to walk around on pavements, not seen too many of them for a while, or they ride bicycles, or drive normal size cars, as opposed to gigantic waddlers in humongously sized pick up trucks and SUVs.  After just about 2 months in the States, what a wonderful feeling it is to be in a normal country that is trying to be sustainable with progressive attitudes to the normal everyday issues that normal people all over the world are facing.  Normal is fabulous.  Obviously not all of America is quite as bad as I'm implying, but going through the places we've been, especially so in the last month, it's refreshing just to be in another country.

Enjoying a proper nightclub!
So, we've been in Toronto for the weekend.  A very impressive city with lots of large skyscrapers, and the big CN Tower of course (the world's 3rd largest free standing structure at over 1,800ft), rather spectacularly overlooking Lake Ontario.  I've also been treated to the wonderful company, guiding and hospitality of Kat, who I met whilst at Leeds University.  She's been our personal chaufer, guide and entertainment provider for the weekend here and taken us around all the sites.  I may have possibly been sick on her driveway in the early hours of Saturday morning, but I couldn't possibly verify this as she's too good a friend to do that to.  It did feel very strange however going to a proper bar in a big city, with lots of attractive people in cool clothes, after being in the middle of nowhere for a long time, it definitely takes some adjusting to.  Andy and I did look rather trampish, Andy a bit more so than me in his rank board shorts and baselayer (had to slip that in!), but when out trip song came on, it was a memorable moment!

Lake Huron
There's more Warm Showers luck to write about.  Upon entering Canada we were put up by the lovely Ned and Cary on the shore of Lake Huron, and were first of all greeted with an incredible view, and then the possibility to swim in one of the Great Lakes, it would have been rude not to take it up, especially with the water being so incredibly warm due to the summer sun having been on it for the last few months.  A truly spectacular view and location.  They then very kindly set us up with their daughter and son-in-law in London, that's London, Ontario, not London, England!  Cary and Dave gave us a brilliant tour of the student packed bars and we saw a mini-Covent Garden, Hyde Park, River Thames and Tower of London, a very odd experience for Andy who lives in London on the otherside of the pond.  It is really nice however to be in a country with so much heritage that is familiar to us, be it for whatever rights and wrongs of the past.  Queenie looking at us on the notes and coins, very British architecture all over the place and even nice little shops selling Yorkshire Tea...lovely stuff. 

3/4 done!
The end of this epic adventure nears ever closer, there's now siginficantly less than 1,000 miles to go, and that means well over 3,000 done.  Signals such as the changing weather, shorter days and much cooler mornings and evenings show that autumn is well on the way.  The recent bad weather may or not have something to do with Hurricane Earl on the East coast, but I don't really know too much about that.  Anyway, when people now ask us where we're going, New York doesn't really conjure up much of a response, but saying we've come from LA, certainly does, "You guys have biked from LA?!  What the fuck?!" 
And then there's our bodies.  We haven't really had any physical problems, but my left hand has started to feel numb with occasional bouts of pins and needles from holding the handlebards all day, every day for 2 months.  I don't think the human body let our hands evolve with that in mind.

Hot, flat, and pretty monotonous
We're going to head to Niagara Falls today, or tomorrow, depending on Andy's hangover!  And then we'll be back in America, and all that that entails, free refills at Subway and free fat mobiles at Walmart.  We weighed ourselves last week for the first time since we set off.  Rather believably I've lost 10lbs (5kg), but Andy has rather unbelievably put on about the same amount, fattie, although he assures me it's all muscle!  What's interesting though is that this is with eating more or less the exact same diet, and doing the exact the same amount of exercise.  The only slight difference is my bike is slightly heavier, and Andy enjoys his refills more than me, so that could be it, or just being a bit older than me.  I'm definitely feeling the weight loss though, it's noticeable on pictures and Andy says I get drunk more easily now, so there you have it, if you want to lose weight, get on your bike for 3,000 miles.  Who'd have thought that hey?!  Exercise and weight loss are linked together, and not some fancy, pretentious and expensive diet promoted by magazines and the media.  Wait till we get to New York though and have 5 days of feeding our expanded stomachs, living to excess and doing no exercise, I'm sure we'll pile the pounds back on, so hopefully I shouldn't waste away.  That'd be impossible in America.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eastern Lands

Heading East
The miles keep ticking over and we keep heading eastwards, and have now crossed the huge barrier that was Lake Michigan. OK, so we may have cheated by going on the ferry but we didn't fancy cycling through Chicago and Detroit, and it would have pushed us for time. So we're now in Michigan and our fourth and final time zone, Eastern time, woohoo!

  Walmart, with a person on an electric powered buggy
I was thinking the other day that although I often talk about the large number of fatties in America, I haven't talked too much about the food. I think me and Andy have both admitted to ourselves that if we lived here, we'd be considerably fatter than we are. Food is just so cheap and plentiful, at first the portions were a struggle but we're now eating our way through anything America can throw at us. Footlong subway every lunch time, easy, large Pizza Hut pizza, easier, large Dairy Queen ice cream, far too easy. With tea out of our diet, it appears to have been subtly replaced by Coca-Cola, and with refills, it's also very easy to drink a litre or so of that a day, it's like a whole new drug that we're hooked on, and the rest of America aswell.
Of course a lot of Anericans also find these things easy to wolf down too and they're not doing much exercise which is the problem, not even walking as there are barely any pavements to walk on which is very bloody frustrating. I was thinking however that the positive side of this is that if any country can eat its way out of recession, it's this one. I wonder what the economists think to that. Forget the recovery program, just supersize your way out and deal with the consequences later, that's how everything else seems to work here.

The language is something I've never really mentioned either. We may share a common language but that doesn't stop confusions arising. We've actually got quite good with the lingo, "utilizing the rest room" and not the loo or the toilet, but lunchtime at Subway is a constant source of entertainment. When we're choosing our "veggies" we always say "tomatoes" with our British accents, and not tomAtoes as it's said here. This generally leads to a look of sheer bewilderment on the spotty "sandwich artists" face, (Subway tranlations in brackets)

Me- "Can I have tomatoes, please?"
Subway - "ya me leddice?" he'll reply. (You mean lettuce?)
Me - "No, tomatoes."
Subway -"Ar righ, arlives?" (Ah, right, olives>)
Me -"No, tomatoes, please" and we point at the round red things.
Subway - "Ah, tomAdoes, ya guys speak differen, dontcha?" (Ah, tomatoes, you guys speak differently, don't you?)

I just can't bring myself to say it like they do!
Another episode was in Walmart, which was a smaller one than we've become accustomed to. When I asked if there was a deli counter I got a strange computer look from the machine like woman, and was then marched by this employee eager to help to the...Sport section. She had obviously heard "pedi counter", I was too busy laughing to try and tell her I wanted food and not the pedometer that she handed me saying, "There ya go." Very funny.
Andy also got told yesterday, "I love your accent, are you from Belgium?". As an English teacher, these things are all very amusing and it just goes to show that sharing a language only gets you so far in communication with people who are generally idiots or from another place on the planet!

I mentioned last week about the person that drove passed us and called 911, presuming we had bothdropped dead on the spot, without stopping to see if we were OK. Well I've since heard a possible explanation for this outrageous act - fear of being sued. This makes me irate just thinking about it, and come to think of it, we've seen loads of examples like this on TV, generally regarding pharmaceuticul drugs. It goes something like this:
"Have you suffered from a headache in the past 5 years and taken paracetomol? You may be entitled to some compensation."
Now, honestly, what a load of shit. These adverts, whilst maybe not being quite as stupid as that, aren't far off it, and just encourage people to sue the shit out of each other. The UK isn't much better nowadays I suppose, but all this originated here. What a rubbish export, it just makes life so much shitter for everyone else, everyone afraid of being taken to court by a "no win, no fee" lawyer and having their livelihoods ruined if they acted in a slightly incorrect way, in spite of their best efforts or good intentions, all so someone can make a quick buck, I'm no fan.

Kathy from Warm Showers
The last week has definitely been brightened up, and cheapened up too, by the advent of Warm Showers which I mentioned briefly in my last post. It's basically a Couch Surfing network, generally of cycle tourers, and can be a little erratic, but when it works, it's fantastic. Three households have now hosted us for no cost, just offering a bed or tent space for the night together with fine hospitality and friendship, and it really makes the trip much more enjoyable, not least because it's nice to be clean and cooked for! It's fantastic too to meet people who are very enthusiastic about what we're doing and also very friendly. The further East we go I imagine we'll need to be a bit more reliant on it as camping becomes more difficult and occasional motels more expensive. I think it exists all over the world, so if you're thinking of doing a cycle tour, check it out! Thanks to Bob and Kathy, Allan, and Joyce and Roger for putting us up so far.

Sleeping like tramps in Ludington
3,000 miles have now passed since we set off seven weeks ago on a scorching day in California, seems a long time ago, and we're just a day or so from heading into Canada.  I'm not sure how different it'll feel but it'll be a change of scenery and attitudes I imagine, if nothing else. Subway will still be as prominent as ever which is all we need really. We don't even need campsites anymore, we actually took to sleeping on streets in Ludington. With a thermarest it's surprisingly comfy, shame on us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Photos!

Rest day in the library again and 2 minutes until closing so here are...


And please sponsor me!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mid-West Monotony and Madness

This week's post comes from Wisconsin, in the heart of America's mid-west. It's also known as America's "bread basket" as a lot of food is grown and produced in this area, but as 300 million people live in this country, and a lot of them eat more than the average amount of food, it makes this "bread basket" a bloody big one, and so it takes a long time to get through it!

Notable events of the last week do not really include much to do with the landscape, as all we've really seen are corn fields and flour mills, and the occasional hill. Small town America is also pretty dull with regards to what's there, the usual fast food places and not a lot else, apart from antique stores funnily enough, some towns with a few hundred people in have 2 or 3 of them! We have however discovered the wonders of Dairy Queen ice cream parlours, and also had a return of "Hospitality Friday," as Andy and myself christened it whilst we were in Utah.
With camping options looking limited in the small town of Sleepy Eye and the Friday night closing in, we thought we'd head to a bar to mull our options over a cold beer. Well we bought our first round and from that moment on, we barely had to take our wallets out. People kept coming upto us, obviously recognising the loaded up bikes outside and 2 hairy creatures sat at the bar, they'd put 2 and 2 together, we'd tell them what we're doing and then the offer of a beer couldn't be turned down! A guy called Troy then offered to let us camp in his garden, where we met some of the town's local talent, who invited us to the next bar down the road. The pattern continued, with more beers and even a quadruple shot of Tequila. I woke up in the tent fully clothed at 9am on Saturday morning, not really remembering much of what had gone on.

That night itself was very noteworthy, but Saturday afternoon's happenings were even stranger. Being very hungover we quickly realised our planned 90 mile day wasn't going to materialise, so were taking things rather leisurely, which included a 30 minute or so nap at lunch. We set off again, and a few miles down the road a police car and ambulance pulled up next to us to ask if we were OK and if we'd been by the side of the road earlier. We said we were fine, the guy looked a bit pissed off, and then they drove off. It then dawned on us that a passing car had obviously seen us by the road, not bothered to check if we were OK, but call 911 instead, probably saying, "There appears to be 2 dead cyclists on the side of the road.". I mean, thanks for calling the emergency services to check, but you could have just stopped to ask if we were OK, or maybe think that these 2 dead cyclists have both managed to park their bikes very well considering they've both dropped dead on the spot! Very funny really as it all was because we were hungover, I just hope that ambulance hadn't been diverted from a real emergency.

We've also pretty much left all remnants of tourist activity, Minnesota was all very agricultural, as is Wisconsin really. This means we're encountering less RVs, (basically caravans), and this is a very good thing, as the people that generally drive these things do so, for want of a better phrase, like dickheads. In England when people get old and become a hazard for the majority of road users, I like the way we offer pensioners free bus passes, or encourage them to take the train for cheap so they can still get around. In America, not only would this not be possible as the public transport network is more or less non existent due to the car being king and the size if the place, but the complete opposite happens. It's great that they can travel around and see the country but they're all encouraged to buy these monstrously sized RV things, which are literally the size of commercial coaches in some cases, as in, they could fit 56 people in them but instead there is normally a retired American couple inside.
So, you have people whose senses have seen better days, who already probably can't hear the traffic around them, or see it for that matter, or barely even manoeuvre a milk float, driving something that is about 50 foot long. Oh, and they are usually towing a 4 wheel drive SUV behind for good measure for when their coach doesn't fit through the drive-thru. What a bunch of morons. You might sense that I nearly got killed by one of these blundering idiots and their mobile building the other day as I cycled along about 1m off the road, which meant the RV was probably about 90cm off it. It was probably an RV driver that called 911 yesterday too.
I don't know if these people have to pass a test to drive such ridiculous vehicles, but I presume not as they'd all fail, and then this country would have less people to buy endless amounts of cheap gasoline to help prop up the economy!

Me and Andy have also been fairly shocked by the American TV we see every now and again, generally when we treat ourselves to a motel once a week. There's the "Weather Channel" which should be called "Scare the shit out of you TV", honestly the amount of programs they show which make The Exorcist look tame...death by hurricane, death by lightning, death by freak God. This week is "Hurricane Week", which again involves showing endless shows about hurricanes all over the world, now I completely understand that people need to be aware of these things, but this is just scare mongering. I'm surprised I've not yet seen "Atomic Bomb Related Weather Week."
And then there's Fox News, which I'm not sure deserves capital letters in its name. Someone once told me that this Murdoch run channel is the only source of news for a third of Americans. That is a scary thought. It speaks to people like they're idiots, which they may well be I suppose, but worse than that, basically just tells people what to think with the most outrageously opinionated presenters just shouting guests down live on TV. If you think Sky News is bad (also Murdoch owned), watch this. Thank our lucky stars we have the BBC back home.

I suppose this point of the trip was inevitable where you get frustrated with certain aspects of the culture and daily goings on in a country, and you could be forgiven for thinking that we're not enjoying ourselves, which thankfully couldn't be further from the truth. The Minnesota landscape may have been a bit drab but we're now doing longer days, we broke our "100 miles in a day" duck last week and have since done 105 miles in a day. This means we're getting some idyllic evening sunsets, and as we cycle off into the east with our outstretched shadows in front of us, there isn't another thing in the world I'd rather be doing, or another place I'd rather be. After crossing the mighty Mississippi river, we stayed with Bob and Kathy from the Warm Showers network for bicycle tourers, a bit like Couch Surfing, and experiencing genuine friendliness and hospitality from people like them makes things such as not shaving for a month and only doing laundry once a week worthwhile. This really is the best way to see a country such as the US in my opinion, allowing us to meet wonderful people and see beautiful places, and it all makes the prospect of going home in just over a month to all the worries of normal life rather daunting in a way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Half Way Point...

This blog comes at rather a momentous point in the trip, and is being typed in a typically strange location, the toilet block at Murdo campsite, South Dakota. We have now been on the road for exactly 5 weeks, which is half way in terms of timing, and also half way in terms of distance, as we've passed a few psychological barriers, the 2,000 mile mark, the big mountains and today the next time zone, so we're now in Central time as opposed to Mountain time!

I suppose it's quite good to reflect on the trip upto now in a few ways. The continuing changing landscape and climate has meant we're never really sure what to expect on the road. You can generally guarantee 2 things on American roads; one is roadkill every few miles, anything ranging from a squirrel, a snake or even a deer! The other is blown out tyres, thankfully none of ours so far! The past week has also intoduced us to the grasshopper! Eastern Wyoming and South Dakota are teeming with them by the sides of the roads, very nice at first with them jumping in and out of the spokes as we cycle, occasionally hitching a lift on the bike, but rather annoyingly nipping at our legs constantly as we go! The grasshopper is definitely lacking a bit in brain power though, as they appear to like just sitting in the road, cars come and squish them all, so we're regularly squishing all the dead ones some more, grasshoppers definitely lacking a bit of evolutionary survival experience it seems.

Another feature of the trip has and will always be the people we meet along the way, there's a small but steady stream of fellow tourers on their own various routes across the States, or on bigger things. During the last week we've met Katy from Seattle, who's heading to Chicago on her own, a very brave thing to do. There's also been Brent from Atlanta who quit his job and is travelling all over the States, and also Edoardo from Switzerland who's nearing the end of a 2 year tour around the whole world!
What is very nice is that even with these small "communities" of people word of mouth spreads about us, people, where to stay, what to do etc, so much so that as we rolled into a campsite yesterday we heard, "You must be the 2 Brits!". This got me wondering as to how myself and Andy are described, maybe the 2 guys that are travelling super lightweight with gear, everyone else has much more stuff than us, we met a fellow English tourer, Sam, who started off with a pannier full of just books! Or maybe we're known as the guys who like to get trashed every now and again in various bars, or possibly even the tourers that did barely any planning and have no idea about their route. Bearing in mind my preparation for this trip involved booking flights, buying panniers and one 40 mile ride in the Peak District, it is a miracle that we've ended up travelling with America's prevailing winds behind us! We're flying across the Mid-West! Anyway, as I've said before, the people are a much more vital component to the enjoyability of this sort of trip, much more so than any National Park or pretty picture, and it's definitely ringing true.

As I said, we're now, according to America's timezone, officially out of the mountains! It feels a bit strange, by no means on the home stretch but our biggest obstacles are now behind us, no more 9,000 ft passes! The last week's biggest obstacles have been bikers however. The Sturgis festival was in full swing, and this meant everyday we have had our ears constantly blasted by Harleys tearing passed us all day. All super friendly people though, one biker today even shouted as he passed us, "You guys are the real bikers!". It was a lovely compliment and I felt very proud in a way, considering it came from a real biker in my eyes.

We should be out of South Dakota in a few days, we'll be crossing the Missouri, one of the biggest rivers, and then into Minnesota. Flat flat flat. That probably means a few more nights getting drunk to keep us entertained. We've actually managed to hook our travel speakers to Andy's bike, he has a dynamo that he can charge whilst cycling. This means we're now riding with music blaring out and is a welcome distraction from constant day dreaming and roadkill counting. If you want to feel like you're cycling along with us, our song of the trip is probably Usher's OMG, love it! We're also both reading Bill Bryson's excellent book about travelling the States, The Lost Continent, very amusing.

I think that'll do for now, if I pass by a library and have a spare moment I'll try and sort pictures out again, they're proving very popular on facebook. Also, if anyone knows anyone high up in Subway, can you tell them about us! We think we'd be fantastic marketing material for them, and it coukd save us lots of money as we're having lunch there most days.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I've been in a library in Rapid City, South Dakota, on our day off uploading pics, and I've got 5 minutes until it shuts! I would like to go through the posts and edit the blogs with them, but don't have time! So here is a link to the pics on facebook, that anyone can see, I think. These are all the pictures off my first memory card, I've got about 100 more but will upload them in a few weeks, or when I next get the chance.
P.S. Just about half way now, 1,900 miles done, 2,000 to go!

Here they are, Photos! Also, keep the sponsorship coming on Justgiving!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Wild West!

We're in the Wild West, yeeha cowboy! After most of the last week being spent in Yellowstone, which is beautiful but very expensive and rather like a big safari park, it's quite sad but in a way reassuring to be back on our Subway lunches and breakfasts in Walmart car parks!

Yellowstone is probably the US's premier national park, being the first ever one in the world (established in 1872) and it certainly felt like an important place. Impressive aspects were things such as the excellent ranger talks held nightly at each campsite on a whole range of topics to do with wildlife, conservation and history of the park, all given by very knowledgeable and enthusiastic rangers. It's obviously a privilege being located at Yellowstone and they all take huge pride in their jobs. It did however feel rather tame, despite it having lots of grizzlies! As I said, it's just a big Safari park, people drive round in their huge RVs and SUVs, stopping to take pictures everywhere with little kids all saying, "Mom, it's so cute, can we get one?", about a big grizzly bear or 1 ton bison! The park is also heavily designed around driving, and is also very expensive, which although a shame, is to be expected. All the main "sites" are layed out in the same way, with a limited and pricey shop for food nearby, obviously most people just bulk buy at a supermarket before entering the park, unfortunaty our bikes didn't allow that. Overall as a park, very pretty but lacking in charm compared to British parks with their country pubs and distinctive villages.

We have been having a few experiences with the sense of humour over here. I've always heard how Americans don't take to sarcasm as we do back home, and I have to say, it's true. On our rest day in Yellowstone we hired a rowing boat out on the lake, all very serene to begin with, but after we'd gone several miles away, we noticed the huge storm clouds approaching. Sure enough the storm was massive, chucking hailstones at us almost an inch in size. Meanwhile all the cars on the adjacent road ducked under trees for cover and were signalling to the two stupid English guys (us) in the middle of the lake to check we were OK, we responded by holding our beer up. We braved it out, got back to the hire place and when the guy asked if we we'd been OK in the monsoon, to which we replied we'd been holding our "help" sign up that they gave us for 2 hours and were shocked nobody had come. It flew completely over his head and he probably feared for his job for a few moments before he saw the empty beer cans all over the boat.

So, as I started off by saying, we're in the wild west! It's just like all the Clint Eastwood films, no shooting upto now however. The weather definitely lives upto the wild name, the other day we were fortunate to outrun a storm by being breezed along by a 25mph tailwind that it was generating. Today, we basically had the opposite, so a very easy 83 miles yesterday and a very arduous 71 today. These storms are something else however, it's like Independence Day meeting Armageddon, it all goes black as hell and we've seen some incredible lightning strikes.

In Cody, Rodeo Capital of the World, we decided to go to! Very entertaining. We also discovered why there are big groups of bikers everywhere on Harley Davidsons, they're all heading for the Sturgis Festival in South Dakota. A million people are expected this year, which should make camping interesting. Looks an incredible way to travel though and they all look the same with their bandanas, leathers, tatoos, shades and handlebar moustaches, and as we've become used to, very friendly! We've got a few offers from bikers to stay with them when we pass through their town or city further down the line, couldn't ask for more at all.

So we'll be leaving Wyoming tomorrow and heading to near all the bikers and Mt. Rushmore (mountain with the Presidents heads engraved into it) It'll be incredinbly busy so we could end up camping in a park like we did a few days ago. We woke up and realised that we'd pitched our tent next to a tramp, after having to move it at 3am due to it being on top of a sprinkler that came on for nighttime watering. We think we'll then stay north ad opposed to going south through the corn belt, it could get a bit boring we think, so we may even end up going to Canada for a few days. Hopefully I'll use a library computer to upload some pics too over the next few days!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Navigation, Hospitality and Yogi Bear

I'm writing this in a laundry room, of all places, in the Tetons National Park, in between Jackson and Yellowstone. This room seems like a weird Internet cafe with lots of washing machines, a very strange place.

We've had a shorter day cycling today after a few very big days since Salt Lake City, we did nearly 300 miles in 4 days with a lot of climbing involved, that we were generally unaware of before, which is one of the reasons for this post. Andy's iPhone had been our main method of navegation, until his water bottle killed it last Thursday, and since then our already ad-hoc navigational techniques have become even more basic. American road maps are quite frankly crap for cycle touring, generally in a far too bigger scale with no detail of any relief or amenities whatsoever, which to be honest makes them useless for every usage, not like OS maps back home with every single pub marked on. For us this means we basically have to guess our distances, look at the shape of the road and the boldness of the text used to sort of plan our way through rural America and it is here where we tend to come unstuck!
We've now had a few days where we look at the map at 4pm, think that must be about 20 miles max, and then cycle round the corner to find a road distance sign with our planned destination and generally a distance next to it of roughly double what we thought. "Oh fuck," normally comes to mind straight away, followed by thinking do we have enough water, and then a massive hill upto around 8,000 ft. We do it, finish in the town and if that was in Utah and on a Sunday, everything apart from Fast food chains is shut! We did meet an American tourer who had all these specialist cycle maps with topographic views, services in each town etc, but we both think that that will put more mental challenges in front of us, and also, where's the fun and adventure in that?!

Where we are now is big bear country, so all the campsites have special bear bins and advice everwhere, which generally runs along the lines of don't feed the bears, makes you think what some people must do. All very beautiful though and we'll have some rest days in Yellowstone to visit the various hot springs, waterfalls and expensive and showerless campsites on offer. A big place though, one guy told me today it was a "milion square miles, or acre, I ain't sure.". Fairly sure it was the latter as we weren't talking about the Pacific Ocean.

The fine American hospitality has continued. We stayed in the guest house of a New York family's ranch on Friday, and they even let us ride their quad bikes up the hill behind the place the next morning, in the middle of a thunderstorm however. Jim, a lovely guy from San Francisco has just taken us out for dinner too after striking up a conversation outside the laundrette, so many lovely people everywhere. In a way, the people we meet make our trip much more enjoyable than the places we visit, all very entertaining characters and genuinely friendly people. As goes the phrase, God bless America!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week 2 and a bit - Utah, lots of Subways and Canyons


So we're now over 2 weeks into this mammoth trip, and are currently in Salt Lake City where we've had our first proper rest day since starting. We've now travelled over 800 miles since LA, and still have over 2,500 to go, so just less than a quarter done, but moving in the right direction, both metaphorically and physically! Utah has been an interesting state in many aspects, but I think it's fair to say we're looking forward to getting out of it, but anyway, more of that later!

From scorching St. George we headed east to pretty Springdale and the Zion Canyon, which is an incredible canyon, unsurprisingly, sided by very steep red cliffs, and a river running through the base. Very spectacular it has to be said. A few big climbs were then in order for us to reach Bryce Canyon a few days later, which again, is very impressive. We gradually climbed upto around 9,000ft in the National Park, obviously most Americans then drove to the same height, but were then greeted with views as far as the eye could see, with not one bit of visible civilisation. Views such as these make you appreciate the vastness of this country, the third biggest in the world, and makes you think of all the bloody hard work that must have gone into settling it! We can vouch for this, as all this is cowboy (and previously Indian) country and we've had some fairly strong headwinds to power through, so I can't imagine being much easier over 100 years ago on a horse blazing trails!

I mentioned in the last post how the vast majority of people we come across are incredibly friendly, but on occasions we do encounter some random aggression, which we're never completely sure why we receive, apart from taking pictures of fatties I suppose. Most American drivers tend to be very sympathetic to cyclists, generally giving us a decent amount of room as they pass at 60mph...apart from one truck that is between St. George and Springdale. We were on one of the typically straight, empty and featureless roads they have here, when a truck driver's mate (so he wasn't even in the driving seat), went to the effort of winding his window down, removing his Cowboy hat, making the angriest face possible towards us and shouted "Get out the fuckin' road, assholes!" We weren't even in the "fuckin' road", instead on one of the generally very wide hard shoulders they have. Andy has been teaching me to greet these gestures with a sarcastic and happy wave back to the driver, as there's nothing they can do in retaliation, and it can only make them yet more irate. Probably the quote of the trip so far.

However, the friendliness of people has more than made up for moments like that, especially in Utah. These Mormons, or LDSers as they like to call themselves (Church of Latter Day Saints), may be a bit out there on a limb in some aspects, but they have definitely been helping us out! On Friday, after descending a 9,000ft hill to the heat of the semi-desert again, Andy got a puncture which had come about from a repaired patch peeling off his inner tube on the hot roads. This was going to prove very problematic, being miles away from the nearest town and campsite. Never fear though, some LDSers pulled up to check out our problem, swiftly whisked Andy off in their car to the nearest bike shop and sent me to their house to watch TV with the husband. This was fantastic in itself to get into some air con and out of the heat but within a few hours, we'd then had pizza bought for us and been offered a bed for the night! It then turned out the following day was the 24th July, Pioneer Day in Utah, celebrating the first settlers to the State some 150 years ago and so the family also took us to breakfast with the local Church group.
We then realised that Utah is one of the most Republican states in this country, as a man was walking round with his brand new purchase, a 6 foot shotgun, that he was using as a walking stick, and obviously he had another shooter on his waist.
However, the generosity continued all day, we arrived in a small village at 6pm to find a man giving hot dogs away. He stocked us up, gave us a drink and in spite of him introducing us to his grandson as "these guys from Paris", he was again, incredibly generous, even going to the effort of cooking us steak and potatoes and sending it round to where we were camping in the local park! Unbelievable!

On the subject of food, we've now realised why there are so many fat people in this country. We had been buying very poor quality bread, ham, cheese and tomatoes for lunch everyday, and making very sub-standard sandwiches as a result and this was often coming to more than $10. Then we realised Subway sell footlong sandwiches for $5! This has now meant we are basically planning our route on where Subways are, generally 60 miles or so apart in rural areas, which is perfect for our lunches. The same also goes however, for breakfasts and evening meals, it really isn't that much more expensive to eat out and get an outrageously sized portion of food. For us cycling over 60 miles a day, that's fine, for your average American going from drive-thru Subway, to drive-thru ATM, all with a refillable Coca-Cola at your side, it isn't hard to see how the pounds get piled on.

Utah has been very insightful. An incredibly beautiful state with scenery that changes every 10 miles or so, canyons to forests to deserts, it has it all. What it doesn't have is much fun however, which Salt Lake City more or less epitomises. It feels like a cross between a SimCity computer game and the Truman Show, all very artificial and serene. This undoubtedly comes from laws such as making all beer in shops a maximum of 3.2%, and Walmart being prohibited from selling vodka! I have never been greeted with such a look of disgust when I asked an assistant where the Spirit section was! All very ironic for the country of "freedom".

We now plan to move North into Idaho briefly, drink some proper alcohol, and from there cycling upto Wyoming where Yellowstone National Park is, grizzly bear country! Andy's iPhone didn't take kindly to his water bottle leaking on it, so he's lost his photos and it's proving rather awkward to get mine onto a computer, so not sure how I can get pictures on this, but a solution will hopefully be found! I'll update this as soon as possible! Please remember why I'm doing this, and sponsor me too on my JustGiving Page, it's looking a bit bare at the moment!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1 week in, hot hot hot...

I've now been in the States a week now and all is going very well up to now! I'm updating this blog from my new iPod touch (had to get with the culture over here), but it is a bit awkward to type lots of stuff on, and also to upload photos, so will try and sort something out.

So, LA then...huuuuge, noisy and a nightmare to cycle out of normally but being on the ball we chose to get out on a Sunday. After a few days of being a tourist around Santa Monica, Venice and Hollywood, we dipped our feet in the Pacific and set off on our way. We eventually managed to get out of the sprawling metropolis and after 55 miles and some 1000m of hot uphills, reached Acton. A typical American town in a semi-desert with the greenest grass imagineable and some big scavenger weasel type creatures that robbed our food! A campsite with lots of massive pick-up trucks, Winnie bagos and an adult room too. All very new to me, and very American, big and bold!

A day of tailwinds took us to Victorville, our first Denny's Diner experience and then to Vegas! Quite simply the most outrageous place I've ever been to. Extravagant, morally corupt, engineering triumph...lot's of different opinions, but it's bloody good fun I can assure you! Walking around 40 degree desert heat inbetween Parisian and Egyptian themed air-conditioned super casinos, being handed flyers for strippers, is what Vegas is all about! Cheap booze, food and accommodation is plentiful to encourage gambling, and it's fair to say it had the desired effect on me and Andy.
We also got into our first American argument. Now I have to emphasise that almost every American we have met so fat has been incredibly helpful, supportive and friendly, and we probably shouldn't laugh at all the obese fatties around, but occasionally it's unavoidable. So when we saw a gigantic family waltzing out of an all-you-can eat, 3 of them on fat mobiles, we took a picture. We were then "chased" by someone with a face morphed into their own neck asking us, "ain't you got fatties in your own country?, I said not like you and then she asked if we thought they were funny?". We said yes and refused to delete the photo that is now on facebook. Should have offered to delete it if she beat me in a race to be fair I suppose.

Anyway, we're now in Utah after cycling 55 miles from Nevada, through Arizona and into Utah, the state that discourages alcohol consumption. We'll be here for about 3 weeks which should be interesting then, we haven't seen one bar yet. Luckily the scenery is incredible, as it had been all along the way since LA and through different types of desert. The heat is incredible though, today we were cycling through 44 degree heat, which was the joint hottest day in history in this part of the world! Needless to say it is very tough cycling in that heat and so we're setting out at 5am before the sun gets up to make it as easy as possible. We're now heading to Zion National Park which should be equally as stunning, and hope to be in Salt Lake City in a week or so, approximately 300 miles from St. George. I'll try and get some pics up on here to make you all jealous and if you'd like to sponsor me, check out the post below with info on how to do it by JustGiving, spread the word! Another post soon hopefully!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coast to Coast of the bicycle!


This blog sort of fell by the wayside whilst I was in Colombia, but never fear, it's back for a new adventure!

On the 8th July, I leave Manchester for Los Angeles, where I'm collecting my bike from a friend, to whose house the bike was sent from Colombia. A bit of a complicated and long winded story, but from there, me and Andrew Kenny are setting out to travel all the way across the States on our bikes, to New York! We've given ourselves just over 10 weeks to do it, and our current route has us passing through Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park, and then we'll hang a right, and roll into New York some weeks later...hopefully!

We'll be encountering intense heat through the Nevada Desert, some high altitude roads through Yellowstone, and possibly a grizzly bear or two, although I'd rather that not happen. There'll probably also be some McDonalds on the way of course, with a fair few fatties thrown in for good measure who'll probably get in our way. On a more positive note. I'm also hopeful that we will meet some super friendly people, who don't have a clue why we're doing what we're doing, but will no doubt wish us well, and maybe even take pity on us and give us some food or shelter.

I'm doing all this for a reason of course, I'm cycling in aid of Muscular Dystrophy as I have a very good friend who suffers from this degenerative disease. I have a JustGiving page for donations. It's super easy and safe to do, and any donations or any amount are welcome and received gratefully from myself and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

I'll try to update this every so often so you can see where we're upto, what we've encountered and how big my calf muscles are getting. I'll try and stick some pics up too! I'm not sure if I can wish myself the best of luck, but I'd like to...we'll probably need it.