Edit: This blog documents my 2010 cycle across america tour. If you enjoy this you may be interested in also reading my 2012 tour across Europe, USA and NZ which resides here… http://www.lifeonabike.co.uk
I’ve been home a couple of weeks now catching up with friends and ready to start work again next week. Whilst I’ve been back most people have asked me similar sorts of questions about the trip so let me start by giving you my brief overview of the ride.
Number of States: 10
Favourite state: Montana (Friendliest people, best scenery and some nice long bike paths.)
Least favourite state: Colorado (The state I was most looking forward too let me down. Don’t get me wrong, there were some incredible towns and great days riding but the town of Hot Sulphur Springs, the horrid Colorado cop from Day 47 and the terrible roads from state line to state line let it down.)
Number of flat tyres: 2 in Kentucky and 1 in Montana.
Number of broken spokes: 6…I think, genuinely lost count!
People I met on the road (in order): Cooper, Terry, Joe, Eli, Wim, Jessica, Stefaan, Sieman.
Total miles: 4,500 (after riding to the festival in Portland and back I was just shy of this so I rode around the city a little more until it was on the dot).
So since my last post when I officially finished my ride me and Wim spent several days staying with Stefaan and Tara riding into Portland several times before going to a music festival which we rode about 30 miles each way to get too, didn’t seem like much after crossing the country. When we returned to Stefaan’s after the weekend of music, food and beer it was time to say goodbye to Wim whose journey now continues for a couple more months. I was left with a day to then say my goodbyes to Portland before flying home myself.
The flight back across the US was humbling taking only 4-5 hours to in a plane. I had a long layover for my flight back to Manchester so spent the day outside in the incredible humidity which I hadn’t experience since back in Missouri. Arriving back in the UK it was strange to hear the accents again, the buildings, the vehicles, everything seemed so alien but obviously so familiar.
Thinking back to earlier parts of the trip feels like a lifetime ago. The people I met and the towns I went through almost feel like surreal parts to the story. I have the pictures and the vague memories but because everyday was a long adventure I will need to read through my own blog just to refresh myself.
If you are thinking about doing this trip I can’t recommend it enough. It will take far more commitment, sacrifice and a general positive attitude than physical strength to complete. I hadn’t cycle toured before and turned up not knowing what to expect. Having read blogs similar to mine I had an idea of what I would encounter but once I was out there the experience was completely different. This partly explains why I have found it very difficult to relay stories to people back home. Its impossible. If you haven’t experienced bicycle travel before there are so many elements that you will miss in the stories.
I’ve travelled the US by car and it was great and will know doubt do it again, but seeing a country by bike is so much more engrossing. For a start your outside 24/7 at people level which means you are always speaking and interacting with locals and most people that pass rather than been switched off in a car with your music, pointing as you fly past a nice landscape. Averaging around 12mph on a bike you not only get the spectacular sights, but you have time to study them, feel them as your ride through, hear the sounds from the forest and roadside as you pass and smell the flowers, trees and towns you go by. People in cars don’t speak to each other. Cyclists come across as vulnerable and non-threatening to locals which I believe explains how much good fortune and great hospitality I received over the course of the ride.
I would finally like to thank everyone of those people who helped me out or offered me food and a place to stay. The generosity of American people was probably the thing people commented about the most over the course of the blog. I’m certain if I started the trip all over again I would encounter the same kind people over and over again, it happened so frequently and other riders shared the same experiences it was impossible to be coincidence.
Its very easy to settle back into regular life, unfortunately I can’t just live on the road forever and I’m actually really looking forward to working and programming again once I’m home. I’m just glad I took the leap and went for it because I got to experience a level of freedom and adventure that most will never have the chance too. I had thought about the ride for years before doing it and now I will remember it everyday for the rest of my life. I may not seem to have changed too much in person, but inside I feel strong and content with my accomplishment. In the first few days of riding I was still doubting myself, now I know I can probably do anything if I really want too. Thanks for taking the time to read, this will be my final post but I will check back from time to time to see any new comments and probably in a few months to sit down and read through myself!
Remember, take chances.