In 2009 I cycled 5800km across America from Florence Oregon to New York city.
Below you’ll find a copy/paste of the origional blog
For tips and info for others planning a similar trip see click >HERE<
To see some dodgy video’s I made during the trip click >HERE<
So see some photo’s of the trip click >HERE<
Jump on a plane to Portland and pop my front wheel in the Pacific ocean, blast over the Rockies, then if I have a tail wind for a couple of thousand kilometres, 6000km later I’ll pop my front wheel in the Atlantic ocean. Then jump on a plane back home…Simple… Coast to Coast in about 70 days.
For many years I dreamed of travelling around the United States for a longer period of time. In 1987 I saw the film American Flyer and thought wow I’d love to cycle through the Rockies. In 1995 I planned a six week trip doing Planes/Trains and Auto mobiles from New York to San Francisco, but then got send to Bosnia before my departure date. My plans then lay dormant for many years but the seeds had already been sown…….
Despite the option some people have about America and its people I like it and find America a beautiful and diverse country. I’ve already been to alot of places in America on shorter city trips and fly drives, but now want to see the real country the real way (by bike).
The Long Ride:
70+ days in the saddle from Florence (Oregon) to somewhere along the Atlantic coast.
I hope with these pages to give a small insight into this amazing journey.
Day 0 : A day if good omens, plains trains and automobiles.
I arrived at Portland safely and so did my bike and luggage, bonus. But then the luck was all used up, my plan to hire a car wouldn’t work, everything was already reserved….So I had to quickly come up with a plan b, so 2 taxi rides 3 hours in a bus and 180 dollars later I was in Florence, I got a motel for 75 dollars per night for 2 nights, not bad for Florence, and the room wasn’ t as bad as I expected.
The next day was an early jetlag start, huge breakfast, couple of hours sorting my bike out and the compulsory trip to the beach for a foto.
Day 1: Climbing, smog, trucks and a flat tire (105km).
I managed an early start at 0745 (very early for me), a porridge breakfast then on the road. The 126 Florence to Eugene road is not very pleasant. It was busy smoggy full of trucks and had a small shoulder full of glass and stones. 8 Hours later I found myself in Eugene. The only plus points of the day where a great 1000 calorie 2nd breakfast and a warm reception from my warmshowers host for tonight (and use of the laptop!). Min point of the day, was my first and I hope the last flat tire of this trip. Was probably more like a snakebite than a puncture, I’ll have a look tomorrow.
Day 2: Another flat tire more smog and trucks (102km).
The day started with another flat tire, great start! The first part of the ride outside of Eugene was nice but once back on the 126 it was all smog and RV’s heading to the mountains for the weekend. The scenery did improve alot though as the day progressed. And once near Makenzie bridge I was able to get the last spot at a campsite by the river Makenzie, unfortunately in between all the big RV’s which wasn’t very appealing. After setting up my tent I got to work sorting my inner tubes out to find out why they both had slow punctures. The continental turned out to be a snakebite as I expected and the schwalbe turned out to be a leaking valve (not what I expected from a new inner tube). Just as I was getting finished my neighbours from the RV next door turned up feeling sorry for me and invited me for dinner and proceeded to pour cold beer down my neck all night, a big thanks to Rockie and Ren!! After that I slept like the drunken fool I am.
Day 3: A long climb and a long day (115km 1500m+ climbed):
My cunning plan was to sleep in and then cycle to town and have a huge 10 dollar breakfast as a fuel tank for the rest of the day. Well that was the plan!, instead I woke up at 6am with a hangover, so got packed and was on the road by 0730, at Mackenzie bridge there was only a general store (read petrol station with shop) and therefore no huge breakfast, doh!!. So with 2 peanut butter sandwiches and a handful of nuts I started the 4000ft climb up to Mackenzie pass. It is a climb of about 40km and isn’t too steep, but even still its one continuous climb at 8km/h so I wasn’t at the pass until after 1pm. It is a beautiful climb through a pine forest with great views of the lava fields and Cascade mountains.
Then a short fun descent into sisters for lunch and internet…..wrong yet again there is wifi everywhere but if you don’t have a laptop your stuffed!. After that the plan was to sleep in Sisters and take a short (35km) trip into Bend the next day as a rest day. But I got it into my stupid head that it would be a better idea just to push on through to Bend and get a motel for 2 nights then I could have a full rest day and not have to move.
This 30km took me almost 3 hours until I was in my room. It was almost 30 degrees, I had a headwind and had already cycled 6 hours including a long climb. The disadvantage of being on your own at such moments is you really give yourself a hard time. ” I should of just stayed at the free campsite in Sisters instead of having to pay 2×70 dollars for a room” for example. It was a long 3 hours I can assure you, I’m great at pissing myself off and giving myself a hard time.
Once in Bend (which isn’t very big) it still took me almost an hour to get a room (77 dollars for 2 nights so the hard talk to myself wasn’t even needed!!). So I’d been on the road for almost 11 hours in the sun. Luckily for me there was a huge safeway supermarket nearby where I spend 50 dollars on things I thought would be nice , I.e lots of salad,meat, beer and a liter of ben+ jerrys.
Nice idea but I fell asleep after the salad and meat and didn’t get to the good part.
So today I’m resting, eating, resting and eating. My metabolism has finally kicked in (not suprising after yesterday) so I’m eating like a crazy fool today. And finally after several days I’ve found somewhere to use the internet, its a slow connection though so no foto’s yet I’m afraid.
The next week or so I’ll be cycling through the high desert from Bend to Boise with only one city in between, so the next couple of nights I’ll be sleeping in the desert or forest (no ben+jerrys or beer then). So with that and the lack of internet places, dont expect regular update as often as Thailand (the USA really is the new third world country).
Day 4 – Rest, sleeping and litres of Ben and jerrys.
Day 5- Bend to somewhere in the High desert(110km).
Day 6- Somewhere in the High Desert to Burns(102km).
So, about the high desert, well yes its high 1500m (4500ft), and its hot, sandy, barren and the only greenery is small bushes that give no cover from the sun.
The desert is beautiful if like me, you like emptiness and solitude. The temperature was 35 degrees by noon, and only 5 after midnight, so quite a change.
And about cycling in the desert? well basically you sweat alot, drink alot and cycle to the horizon, and once at the horizon drink again and cycle to the next horizon, once you’ve done that about 100 times you look for somewhere to sleep. There was unusually little shade, so there was not much point in stopping for long, otherwise it got really hot. And I quickly learned, if there’s a tree take a break weather you want one or not, the next tree could be hours away. Despite what you might think the desert is not flat, its all up and down all day, when you think your going down hill….your usually not its just an optical illusion (especially if there’s mountains around). If you think your going up hill…you are that’s why your legs hurt and your eyes are stinging from the sweat.
I had seen on the map that there’s about 3 ” towns” (petrol stations) along the way, but I still took food for 3 days and 6 liters of water (just in case). The first town was closed and had been for years, and at the second ” town” (cafe!!) I got some pie and ice cream plus 2 litres more water (it was going down way too quick). I’ve brough a water filter with me for this kind of legs, but hey its a desert so there’ s no water to filter DOH!!!!By the time I found somewhere to camp and eaten I’d used 5 litres and only had 3 left for the next day, so I was really hoping the last ” town” was open or that I found a river……
And about camping in the desert? well that’s not as easy as I thought found a nice spot, but the desert is full of small bushes to make sure you can fit your tent in anywhere, and where it fits there’s lots of volcanic rocks you don’t want to put your nice tent on. And finally you find a large spot of sand and there’s a large ant nest in the the middle. The desert sand is great for cleaning your pots and pans when you want to save water though.
I enjoyed a great sunset and a great view of the stars at night (there’s no light pollution so you see loads of the milky way). And then off to bed, only to be woke up a few times by the baby wolves calling for there mother about 50 meters away (I’m not scared to admit I was shitting my pants when I went for a pee!! at which point the realization hit me that should something happen nobody in the world knows where I am……).
Today was more of the same, drinking, sweating cycling from horizon to horizon, it was very dusty though because they are working on the road, one of the Obama projects to get people to work (rebuilding a perfect piece of road). Water was an issue today, with only 3 litres to start the day I was really on rations by noon. Luckily the ” town” of Riley was open so I was able to stock up when I was down to my last few mouth fulls. So basically I’ve carried my half kilo water filter for the last week for nothing!, maybe Ill get round to using it later in the trip. My stocked up water was also done within two hours when I reach the next rest stop where I could get water. All in all a long hot thirsty day. So I’ve taken a motel in Burns(thanks to the silver spur motel for a great room at a discount and a great breakfast) instead of a campsite so I can cool off a little and do a wash. The next two days is back in to the desert, and the temperature is supposed to continue going up this week. So more horizons more thirst. I cant wait . The last couple of day have been great though now that the roads are quieter.
Day 7- Burns to Juntura (95km).
Hot hot hot: After the 30km straight road out of Burns (and I mean straight). The scenery for the rest of the day was desert with mountains, slight more variation than the last days, and some beautiful views. I was planning on sleeping in the desert again, but after cycling 6 hours with a temperature of 35+ degrees (in the shade, and I wasn’t in the shade) when I arrived at Juntura with only 3 litres of water left and I saw the oasis diner and campsite the decision was easily made, a great meal great service but the less said about the campsite the better. One thing I never really thought about in an oasis: its the only water supply around so guess where all the mosquito’s hang out, yup on my camping spot or my legs. All in all with the mossies and trucks it was a shitty nights sleep.
Day 8- Juntura to Homedale (155km).
Why so far: a) because Im stupid, b) Cause Im stupid, c) well it was too hot to stop for longer than 2 minutes so I just kept on riding (ride forrest ride). Most of the day the temperature was around 40 degrees with very little shade.
How much can you drink in 11 hours during a 155km ride? Well I got through 10 litres on the road and another 2 when I got to my motel. Unfortunately most of the day my water was almost too hot to drink, yuk, but gotta keep drinkin’ .
The descent from Juntura was beautiful, the best scenery so far, but after Harper it got pretty boring, only interrupted by corn fields, Which I’ve been seeing for 2 days now. Once in Vale where I planned to stay I thought it would be a good idea just to cycle on for another hour or so, but that became about 3 hours because I couldn’t find a motel or descent camping spot (everything was private land).
All in all it was a long hard day but hey ho now I’m in Idaho. And there’s something strangely hypnotic about cycling up hill slower than your able to just to stop yourself from overheating or being sick . And the hallucinations are fun too, road signs read rest area instead of chain up area or campsite instead of keep right. Guess I went a little to deep yesterday.
Day 9- Homedale to Nampa (45km).
My warmshowes host Bruce was kind enough to meet me halfway to give me a guided tour of the area. That was nice of him. Now just an easy day in Nampa then tomorrow we’ll see how I’ m going to get to the Teton national park.
Thanks for the guest book signatures, its nice to see Im not writing this all for nothing.
Day 10- Nampa to Mountain home (105km).
I had a great day with Bruce and Nancy thanks guys and thanks for the ” attempt” at a great American BBQ. Bruce guided me out of town and sent me on my way. I had a great tailwind all day and had done my 105km in 4.5 hours. Then had an uneventful day and day off in Mountain home.
Day 11 – Rest day.
Next upday in a few days. I’ve ran out of internet time and need to check outof my motel in 20 minutes and still need to pack…doh.
Day 12 – Mountain home to Fairfield (95km).
Sorry its been a while but I’ve been out in the prairie all week where there’s no internet and no phone signal.
The day started with a long discussion between me and my legs (yup I’m talking to myself already), I was of the opinion that my legs had had a rest day and my legs where not, and where not working very well. This discussion came to an abrupt end after an hour when the climbing started and we had to just get down to work. There was alot more climbing than I had expected and a nasty little headwind on the the flat parts, so I was pretty buggered when I got to Fairfield, where I was allowed to camp at the city park.
About fairfield: Its one of those one horse towns ( I saw the horse too), the whole county has only 1000 inhabitants and the city only about 200 I guess. Downtown is a street about 50m long and it has 3 bars!!! my kind of town.
It had been a hard warm day(again) and I was thirsty so I decided a beer would sort me out just nice, so I popped into the Outlaw bar for a beer where I got a warm reception from the bar staff and the village idiot George( who is a really nice guy and not only the village idiot but also the local cage fighting champion) George was of the opinion that I was the toughest guy he’d ever met, I thought the same of him hehe. After a few beers I just head off to bed to be kept awake all night by the sprinklers in the park. The people in Fairfield where funny though, they couldn’t understand that I was travelling cross country without a gun….you Americans and your obsession with firearms
Day 13- Fairfield to Craters of the Moon park( 115km), more grass prairie and wind.
The city park was nice but the groundsman woke me up at 6am because he wanted to put the mother of all sprinklers on and that would of blown me away, so yet again an early start (which I’m so good at).
It was a long hot day and I’d miscalculated the distance by 20km so those last hours really hurt. The scenery in Idaho is all about flat grassy plains with a mountain background, so nothing spectacular once you’ve seen it for a few days.
After cycling along lava fields for a few hours it was quite nice to get to the campsite and visitors centre and see what its all about, its basically what Yellowstone park will look like in 2000 years, so that saves me a trip there I’m 2000 years early:).
Just as I was paying for my site (10 dollars) I met Bruce and Bonnie who are driving across the country to see their kids in California, and spend 3 months a year doing this every year, nice!!. Before I knew it was dragged over to their Rv, fed and getting cold beer forced into me, THANKS GUYS. And in the morning they force fed me bacon and eggs too, and generally pampered me, thanks folks once again this trip has restored my faith in mankind.
I don’t know what it is, the heat (about 30 degrees all week usually 35 in the afternoon), the altitude ( 5000ft +) or the fact that I’ve cycled 1200km in 2 weeks but the last couple of days my legs just where not playing the game. And I really was not looking forward to the next day which was a compulsory 140km run due to the road running along a nuclear test area so no camping. So in the evening thanks to the efforts of Bruce and Bonnie I had enough food to stick it out at the park for another day, take a rest day and have a look around the park. So thats what I did.
I see my internet time is running out again, so im going to cut this short and continue at a later date…….
…….to be continued
Day 14 Resting and walking around the park (8km).
I really felt the heat and altitude today, just walking around I got dizzy, so I had to walk real slow and drink loads, in the afternoon, shade was a problem so I rigged up something with my sleeping mat. In the evening I had a couple of warm beers with a guy who had drove his car all the way from New York.
Day 15 – The Day I’ve been dreading since the start of planning this trip. Craters to Idaho falls (140km + 10km around town).
So the Deal is I didn’t want to stop in Arco because that would only be 30km and I thought that there wasn’t anything there(turned out to be loads of campsites/ Motels). The next stop is Idaho falls after another 110km because your not allowed to stop in the Desert next to the nuclear power plants. In hindsight I could of probably camped 20km before town because the power plant where long gone by then. But after already cycling 120km on a hot day through a very boring part of Idaho I was ready to push on for a motel, my first shower in a few days, pizza and a couple of cold beers, so that’s what I did. And as usual it took me ages to find a cheap/decent hotel in town so by the end of the day I was around the 150km mark again, and my arse felt like it too. I didnt think I’d be needing nappy rash cream at my age, but I’ve been using it for a week already.
So to recap, in hindsight I could of stayed at Arco or in the desert and could of kept a nice sensible day distance, its great to see that I still have 20/20 hindsight…
Please don’t read my story as too negative. I’m having a great time and meeting great people. Its just that some days are physically a bit tough especially long days in the sun with no shade, so no rest….It’s all my own fault for wanting to cycle coast 2 coast in 10 weeks instead of just cruising around for 10 weeks. BUT….if it wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be fun either, I do love pushing my limits and I’ve done that alot these last weeks, so now a couple of easy days.
Day 16 – Idaho Falls to Swan Valley (76km).
And easy day mostly along a busy road, the last 20km was beautiful though, I finally got to see the snake river after cycling for a week through the snake river valley.
I arrived in town at the only accommodation in town ” The saddle sore inn” very appropriate. I ordered a beer first so I couldn’t bottle out and keep cycling up the next pass (a climb of 500m). Then I asked what the options are, the answer was ” you can put your tent out back for $10 or take a room for $70″ Well that was the easiest decision this week:).
Day 17 – Swan valley to Wilson (Jackson hole area) 65km + 1500m climbing. Finally a cooler day (only 25 degrees).
I took an early start because I had to do two passes one a climb of 500m the other about 900m (up to 8500ft). The pine creek pass was easy and I was done in no time, Then the real work, Teton Pass. This is a local legend due to the altitude and the fact that it has a gradient of 10%. It took me about 3 hours of climbing at 6km/h(I don’t push my bike!!!!) but it wasn’t as bad as I expected and I was able to do in in 2nd gear, so I still have the granny gear in reserve for the rockies. The descent was beautiful and fast (70km/h+) the film will follow at a later date:). Once in Wilson I cycled up again to my warmshowers address where I got a warm welcome and a tour of the area. And once again I’m being spoiled by the locals. So tomorrow is a rest day here then on to the Rockies.
The scenery here in Wyoming is better already, no more yellow grass, prairies and desert but good old fashion pine forests, mountain rivers and rugged mountains, so the coming weeks will be a lot more climbing but nicer scenery.
Day 18- Rest day in Wilson (28km around Jackson hole).
Just took an easy day, got the website up to date and put some more photos on the website too (most in the wrong folder).
Walt took me out for a tour around town and to see some of his friends that was nice. Walt has been a great host, really looked after me and got me all sorted out for some addresses along the route.
Day 19 – Wilson to Togwotee pass (85km + 10km forrest trails looking for the campsite) 1000m climbing.
This was a nice easy run out of town then through Teton National park (12 dollars ouch). After a nasty rain shower (I hid under a fire station building). Then it was a nice gentle run up to the pass. I camped at a forrest service campsite about 8 km before the summit(at 8500ft). This was great I was all alone at the site in the woods, got a nice campfire started and enjoyed the couple of beers I’d dragged all the way up the hill with me. At night it was around freezing point so I finally had a nice night in my sleeping bag without sweating my nuts off.
When I got up It was pretty cold (2 degrees) so I first got to work getting the fire going again. It really is true making a fire gets you warm three times, 1. collecting wood, 2. the fire , 3 form the hot tea and food you make . While I was eating breakfast I was watching a huge moose with its baby eat in the meadows about 200m from me, that was nice. (saw a Buffalo yesterday too while I was riding).
Day 20 – Togowtee pass to somewhere after Dubois (65km +10km in a stupid pilot truck).
The damn road was getting worked on today so I had to get in a truck and be driven the last 8km to the pass. After that it was a nice 50km descent into town with a tailwind and a nice blue sky. And now today’ s problem, about 12km outside of town there’s an Indian reservation which lasts for almost 50km where your not allowed to camp. So its either stay here in town or nearby, or try and head for Landers (125km) and hope I can camp near one of the petrol stations along the way. So I’m going to do some shopping now then head out of town and see what happens…….Stay tuned.
Update: Considering I’ve spent alot of days in the recent weeks running in the red I thought just for once I’d do the sensible thing and just stay here, the run to Landers tomorrow is long enough anyway. Shame really because there’s a nice gale force wind blowing today and just for once its in the right direction so it will probably turn in the night. So I’ve got a spot at a RV campsite trying to hide from the wind behind a few trees, I just hope my tent holds up.
So now I’ m off to buy some beers, early start early finish:) This is the first day I’ve been finished before 4 pm thats nice, almost a rest day.
Day 21- Dubois to Lander (120km) all Cowboys and Indians here.
All day all I’ve seen is people with Cowboy hats or Indians, guess that’s why they call it and Indian reservation.
The day started nice and cool at about 5 degrees, so I wasn’t to keen to get out of my sleeping bag, but I new it was going to be a long day so eventually got my lazy arse out of bed, once again it was 30 degrees by noon though. Last night was the most expensive campsite so far $21 but also the best bathrooms so far (plus a poor free breakfast).
The morning was blue skies and a tailwind so I was doing really well until my one and only serious climb at about the 75km mark, after that is was mostly flat with a nasty headwind so I slowed right down. But still made it into town by 3pm (6.5 hours for 120km, not bad).
The scenery was great today, well weird really. On my left where the ” painted hills” and lots of canyons which look more like they should have been in Utah or Arizona, and on my right where rolling green Wyoming hills, fascinating to see such a contrast on either side of the road. It was quite warm today but not as bad as last week.
Tonight I’m staying in the middle of town in a little flat owned by Walts friend Jim, so thanks Jim for letting me crash at your place while your out of town. Jim has really got it sorted here he owns the local spit and sawdust bar which does great local micro beer and great bar food, he also has a nice slightly posher restaurant next door.
The next two days are tricky, two more days through a boring desert area with only one petrol station and motel between here and Rawlings. So that’s two more 100km days, after that it’ll be about time for a rest day again.
So far my body and bike are holding up just fine, I feel my knees and heels sometimes during the climbs or if I’m pushing myself but usually they are ok again in the morning.
A few thoughts: During the day I think of so many things I want to tell the world, things like how you feel after cycling four hours to a town expecting a nice diner for lunch only to find a closed down petrol station, things like how important food and water are, and how life is so simple on the road (cycle eat cycle buy food, drink,drink,drink sleep) about what happens when you get to a campsite where the forest ranger has said there’s drinkable water only to find a sign that says this is not drinkable water…. and many many more. But usually when I finally find somewhere to use the internet I’m knackered and really only want to read my mail, then I see all the guest book entries and make the effort to write a story.
During this trip I’ve learned to be very flexible and always have food for a few days with me even if the map says I can get sorted every 30km (maps lie). Water has become an obsession, ” how much water do I have” ” when can I get water again” “how much water do I need before I can get water again” Constantly calculating what I have and what I need(especially in these barren lands). I came to America thinking this is one country where I’ ll never starve or run out of water, how wrong I was, it really can be quite desolate out here.
But at the end of the day the only thing that will kill me (apart from the trucks and RV drivers) is my pride, despite the food and water situatation about 50 cars/ trucks/ RV’s pass me per hour so the only way I”ll ever really run out of water/ food is if I dont have the balls, or I’m ashamed to flag down someone. And trust me I have to be in pretty bad shape before I’d lower myself to ask for help.
I hope one day to have the time and interest to put all my thoughts onto paper/ computer but on the road I really don’t have the time or energy (even to keep my diary up to date). Who knows just maybe one day I’ll take the advise of Isabel and write a book. Any takers? )…. End of my mindless or mindfun banterings….
Day 22 Part I - Lander to Jeffrey City (95km, 500m climbing).
Well the day started slow, my legs where about due a day off and my breakfast didn’t agree with me (or was it all that beer the night before) and it was yet again a hot day. I had been warned by several blogs that this stage is pretty boring, well, it was the most boring ride I’ve ever done with the only bit of interest a 9km climb at the halfway mark. So when I got To Jeffreys city I was pretty much done, tired, too hot and ready for some airco, so I headed to the only motel in town. The next day promised to be equally boring and warm, then she came along…..
Day 22 Part II – Jeffrey City to as far as possible from Jeffrey city.
Jeffrey City was a booming Uranium town in the late 80′s with a population of 5000. Since the mine closed its become a ghost town of 49 people and one miserable bitch.
I cycled up the the very closed looking motel office, closed. So I cycled around to the garage next door and found a local sitting there doing nothing and asked what the score was with the motel, ” the woman who runs it works in the bar 300 yards back up the road” . So I pedalled back up to the only bar in town and walked into something out of a Hitchcock film. I asked about the motel women and an old miserable prune in the corner grunted, guess that’s her I thought. So I asked in my best polite English accent if I could get a room for 1 night, she waited 5 seconds and answered in a tone as if she had to pay for the room ” wellll I guess so” . There wasn’t much movement so I grabbed a beer and checked out the menu (it quickly become apparent I’d been cooking outside of my room).
So finished my beer, bought some coke and chocolate for later and made a move for the door, she drove down the the motel and gave me a key for room 3 for $47 ( a little expensive but that’s what you get if its the only motel for 100km). She then grunted and headed back up to the bar.
The room 1 : I can live with the 70′s decor and 70′s tv, the bedding could of been fresh I couldn’t tell, I could even live with the old towels and the bin not being emptied. But……I prefer my mushrooms with breakfast or dinner and not coming out of the carpet and floor. So the circus started, back to the bar, grunt grunt and she started to soften up and said she was sorry and drove back down to give me another room key.
The room 2: Same decor and tv, same full rubbish bin, no mushrooms, the bedding was stained and the floor needed cleaning, so I thought fuck this I’m off, I’d rather sleep in the desert with the wolves than here with the flees.
So, I caught her before she drove off again and asked for my cash back ” you damn people are all the same, a pain in my ass, just cos your cycling across the country you thinks you can have everything” , to which I replied for $47 all I want is a clean room. At this point she shoved my money in my hand and pushed me out of the door, hehe. I’m getting the impression its not the first time this has happened by her reaction.
So what do you do?> Shove chocolate down your neck, drink some coke and hope that the sugar rush gets you somewhere nice. It was still too early and too warm to crash in the desert so I just started pedalling. 35km later I was in Muddy Gap (a petrol station and 2 houses). I asked there about campsites/motels between there and Rawlings…..”nothing but you can put your tent up out back for $15″. Like I’m going to pay $15 to put my tent up 30m from a busy road when I can cycle 100m further and set it up for free, $15 is alot of money just to be able to sit down to shit in the morning, Damn capitalists.
So I’d pretty much decided I was going to make a run for Rawlings and just crash in the desert if I didn’t make it but you know me if I set my mind to it there aint no stopping me. So I bought $10 of energy gimmick drinks and bars shoved them down my throat and let the adrenaline, sugar and 1888% of the RDA of vitamin b2 do the rest. I’m a very mellow person but that bitch actually managed to piss me off, so I used this to cycle at about 30-35km/h for the first 2 hours after Muddy Gap getting as far as possible on the endorphins/adrenaline.
After that I was running a little on fumes, by the 165km point I thought ahh well its only another 40km , I cycle that to work with a night shift, if I can do that I can do anything. That last climb 20km from town was a killer but after that it was all down hill in the dark. Luckily the deer saw me first and started moving, so I missed him by about 2m, that would have hurt!!!.
So once in town I grabbed the first motel I saw, a quick shower and managed to get into a bar before they stopped serving food. So all told it was my first really shitty day, but after so many good days and nice people I had to meet a sore head somewhere. But tonight I’m staying with Rufus in Rawlings so that should be a friendly face again, I’ve just had a steak breakfast so things are looking up again, now a few easy days and hope that I don’t pay the price too much for yesterdays stupidity.
All told, 11.5 hours on the road, 209km (125 miles in old money), 900m climbed and all at 2000m+ elevation ohh and it was 35 degrees most of the afternoon. I’m not proud of what I did but its still quite an achievement all the same. I’d like to see those tour de France monkeys cycle 200km with a bike that weighs 45kg instead of 8kg .
Day 23 – Rawlings, hanging around in the wild west.
I dropped my bike off at Rufus’s house and took a walk around town, steak breakfast did laundry and all that. Then took the prison tour which was quite interesting.
I had a great night with Rufus, he’s a really interesting guy, he did 15 years fishing in Alaska (like the discovery program deadliest catch, he told me stories those guys wouldn’t want on tv:)). He was also a prison warden here in town for 6 years so I heard story’s which you don’t get to hear during the tour. We had a great night and enough beer:)
Day 24 – Chill day with Rufus.
I’ve decided to hang around with Rufus for another day, Meeting people like this is much more important to me than getting to the other coast, but an extra day off after that 200km run is probably a good idea too.
Rufus and I had a great day, we drove up to the reservoir nearby (dumbass here forgot his camera), then we did some shooting (I haven’t lost my touch after 10 years), and after that we took it easy and got smashed and talked about our mutual interest in military history. Rufus is the nicest, smartest Dumb redneck grunt I ever met, thanks for having me mate!!!
I drank a few beers with a guy who owns the company who did the design work on the Salt Lake city winter Olympics, quite interesting really, I wonder if he’ll give me a job as widget designer for him:).
Day 25 – Rawlings to Riverside (100km).
The first hour wasn’t much due to cycling on the motorway, after that it was just another 5 hours fighting the wind at 15km/h or slower. The lazy acre campsite in Riverside was nice though, finally a campsite that charges a fair rate($9).
Day 26 – Riverside to Walden (80km).
Started the day feeling sick so took a way too light breakfast. Then six tough hours fighting the wind!!! A damn hard day at 8000ft. Then a night in a motel not much better than that one in Jeffrey city.
Day 27 – Walden to Granby (92km).
Started the day feeling sick again ( don’t know if I have a bug or problems with the altitude or something), so once again a light breakfast and planned on second breakfast at Rand, only to find Rand closed through the week (yes the whole town). So finished up my tortilla’s with peanut butter. Today was also a fight against the wind almost all day (except for the climb up the pass). Once at 9600ft started feeling sick again.
My legs are telling me that I’m due a day off but my agenda doesn’t agree, but with the next stage being through Rockies national park with 1500m climbing in the next 100km it may be smart to take one. Plan b is to take a short ride up to the first campsite in the park tomorrow. So I’m going to rest the remainder of the day and see how I feel tomorrow. But the last couple of days have been tough with all that wind!!!
Day 28 – Granby to Grand lake (25km).
My knee was pretty stiff this morning despite my icing efforts last night, so I took a really slow ride up to grand lake. It’s very touristy here so I was planning on getting an expensive $28 campsite instead of a $100 room, but when I asked at the tourist information for directions (during a thunder storm)the nice lady recommended a youth hostel in town for $ 25 SOLD!!
I have a beautiful view of the lake and Rockies from the reading room, so I’m going to feed myself up today rest and see what tomorrow brings, maybe a rest day, I wont get a much cheaper, pleasanter place to rest up for a while I think, and it’ll be nice to enjoy the last couple of days in the mountains before the 2000km of flat boring country.
Today is the end of week 4 almost 2500km done and just under 4000km to go with about 6 weeks left, if the wind doesn’t get too bad it should be doable, but time will tell.
Time for steak, beer and ice cream, laterrrs.
Day 29- Rest day at Grand Lake.
Yup just for once I’ve done the sensible thing. It’s such a beautiful spot here so I’m making the most of it and having a nice day reading and stuffing my fat face, I’ve lost some weight in the last week or so, so I’m going to try and catch up a little today. Then tomorrow it’s the big climb up through the Rockies national park, its about a 45km climb to the top from here so that’ll take me about 5 hours, then its all downhill for about a week . After that it gets real flat and boring.
This was this closer that made me book the extra night here, who wouldn’t!!!
Day 30 – Trail Ridge road and beyond : A day cycling the highest highway in the US.
Two words……Bloody Awesome
Part I – The Climb (45km 1500m climbing). The best day cycling of my life.
The gradient of the road was a maximum of 8% which made climbing fairly easy at 8-10km/h, well for the first 3.5 hours anyway, even the hairpins were not too steep (unlike the 18% things in Thailand). Up to Milner pass (10,700ft) went ok but unlike most other roads, when you reach the pass on Trail Ridge Road your not at the top yet!! Just before the pass my other knee had started to complain (probably because I’d been trying to save my right knee). So the last 1.5 hours up to 12,200ft where pretty hard and pretty sore, not only because of my knees but my legs where also pretty tired especially with the altitude.
It was strange to see more than 50% of a pine forest to be brown/grey as if it was autumn, but this is due to the pine beetle attack the last couple of years which has killed off most of the trees in the national park.
The scenery once above the the tree line was awesome and probably the best I’ve ever seen. The altitude and 5 hours of puffing and panting does strange things to a person though, before you know it your crying like a baby just because of the beauty of the scenery, this happened a couple of times so it must be the oxygen starvation, or I’ve turned into a big girl during this trip:).
Part II – The descent and beyond (92km 2000m descending).
The descent was not only beautiful but good fun, and I only got held back by a car once. After about 25km I left The Rockies mountains national park and had to start pedalling again. My knees where really in bad shape but as I’d been suffering from light altitude sickness for a couple of weeks I had pretty much decided to get as far as possible down hill in the hope of getting under the 6000ft mark at Loveland. From Estes Park to just before Loveland was also beautiful though different, it was about 30km along the (small)Big Thompson River through really rugged canyons, this was more the scenery I’d expected in Colorado than the stuff I’d seen on the west side of the Rockies.
Finally in Loveland I stayed at a way too busy state park at the lake, all in all a long hard but beautiful ride, A ride that will cause many days suffering:). Trail ridge road is the start of Highway 34 a highway which I’ll be on for the next 1500-2000km that makes navigation easy:)
I’ve been very lucky so far with the weather, every high pass I’ve done has been a beautiful day, so I got to see the views, climbing trail ridge road in the rain and only seeing mist at the summit would of been bad news. The day after the climb the weather closed in and has been raining in the Rockies ever since……
Day 31 – Loveland to Greely (37km).
So, of course the day started overcast, gloomy and my knees where killing me!!! But the last place on earth I wanted to spend a day was at the Boyd Lake state park. So what do you do, pack up get moving and hope they warm up to the idea of another day of cycling. But as I expected things didn’t get better, and at about 11 it started raining, so I quit while I still could and was in bed iced up by 12 in a nice motel. A nice motel that was 100m away from a bar + grill with good food and 30 draught beers, needless to say I got by for the rest of the day.
Day 31 – Loveland to Fort Morgan (90km).
The idea was simple, a shorter easy day to get my knees moving without killing them. The theory was about 50-60 with lots of breaks then a motel or campsite and an early night, nice theory!!!
The day started overcast, which was ok, my knees where alot better but far from 100%. After about an hour the sun came out, nice you think? wrong! The guy that turns the sun on usually turns the wind machine on too, and of course it was pointed in the wrong direction. And shame about getting yet another puncture, damn continental tires.
So once again an almost 8 hour day of hard work and I couldn’t find a motel until Fort Morgan, doh. So, as this is the last piece of civilisation for the next week or so I’m taking a rest day here (sometimes I can be smart and look after my body!) There isn’t much here but its the biggest town I”ll see for a while. Ironic really, this place was once built to keep the Indians out now its full of Mexicans.
Day 32 – Rest day in Fort Morgan.
Just a pretty boring day hanging around, doing laundry and some far overdue maintenance on my bike. And I got a $10 haircut and beard shave by Sweany Todd, but like my dad says the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is 2 weeks growth, at least it is low maintenance again.
Day 33 – Fort Morgan to Yuma (102km). Its all corn fields and cow feeder stations from now on!!
Well a days rest did my left knee wonders but didn’t do much for my right one, this could become a problem, its not getting much worse but its certainly not getting better, So I need to take it easy for a few days instead of blasting out the 120km a day I was planning from now on through this more boring part of the world. Maybe when I get to a big city I’ll take a couple of days off, but for now there’s nowhere I can see myself being entertained for two days so I’ll just keep plodding on, who said living the dream would be easy anyway. Apart from that there’s not much going on, just cycling, watching the corn fields, watching the cows and squashing thousands of grasshoppers(the roads are full of them).
Day 34 – Yuma to Benkelman of all places ( 115km). Welcome to Nebraska.
Tip of the day: don’ t eat at a Mexican place if no Mexicans work there, I only noticed just after ordering and new I was stuffed, but what do you do you have to pay anyway and I need the calories….so I just shoved it down.
At the 75km point I’d had enough of fighting the wind all day and my knees had really had enough, so when I spotted a nice camping spot in the trees near the road I thought ” that’s my place for the night”, but just as I pulled of the road I looked at my water bottle and saw I only had 1/2 a litre left DOH…Because the towns are closer together now I’ve become less obsessed with water….mistake….So, what do you do, just back on the bike and suffer a thirsty sore 2.5 hour ride to Benkelman of all places. Its funny that its still almost 25 degrees most days here, because in a month there’ll be 6ft of snow on the ground.
After not being allowed to sleep at the city park last night I thought I’d better ask around in Benkelman if it is allowed there, the sheriffs office was closed so I went to the next best thing in a town of 300 people, The Bar!I decided to sit in the smoking area as that’s where all the action usually is. My question of ” are there any women in town or is this just a gay bar ” went down well with the local country boys, and instead of getting beaten up I got offered a couch for the night instead of sleeping in the park ( and no it wasn’t a gay bar!!!!) Dave, TJ and their 2 builders are doing up an apartment block and sleeping in one of the apartments, so I crashed there with the 4 of them and helped them drink some beer while they did a live music show, it was all kind of weird but also fun in a way, this sort of thing usually only happens when your travelling alone.
Day 35 – Benkelman to McCook (85km).
After a short nights sleep and an early start it was just pumping out the km’s into the wind to get to McCook, I guess all that Doctor beer helped my knees, they were not so bad for a change, once in town I got a crappy room in a motel.
Day 36 – McCook to Holdrege (120km).
A very sore start, with my knees crying for a rest day, I was pretty much planning on pushing on a couple of days then taking a big rest.
Today was just another long boring day with rolling hills, and yet another puncture, I did meet a cyclist going the other way though, and he said its great here the hills are starting again, which pretty much means its going to get even more boring for me:).
Once I hit town I headed for my warmshowers address. I thought it would be nice to use warmshowers again to be able to talk to some other cyclists again, the last couple of days where pretty lonely on the road with only 4-5 cars an hour going past (most of them did wave though which is nice).
Tim and Bev were not home but they’d left a note ” Tim will be home at around 7, your room is there, there’s cold beer in the fridge”, That’ll work:)
So I had a shower and went into the garage to hunt for some beer, got distracted for 10 minutes by their bikes, then found the fridge.But it wasn’t a normal beer fridge it was an Aladdin’s cave of home brew and good beers, So that’s me sorted!!!! And unlike the home brew my dad made years ago, this stuff is nice.
Day 37 – Rest day in Holdrege.
Once again I’ve found great hosts and they are letting me stay for a rest day with the intention of helping Tim get rid of some of his beer collection this afternoon during the big football game Nebraska vs……..somebody, like I care:). So tomorrow on to Hastings and who knows after that. 3000km down, 3000km and a bit to go, Hopefully the wind will start blowing the right way some time soon, I’ve pretty much had a light headwind for 2 weeks now.
So while Tim and Bev where out this morning winning a triathlon, I got my website and photo’s up to date, enjoy!!
Day 38 – Holdrege to Hastings (98km). The night of a thousand bites.
A rest day and Tim’s beer got me sorted out again for a few days, I hardly have any knee problems at the moment. I had a great day with Tim and Bev, thanks guys.Just maybe you’ll see me again one day;)
The wind was supposed to be a south easterly but was more like an easterly storm!!!, damn wind when am I going to get those westerly’s I was promised!! The scenery was once again corn,corn,corn with the occasional silo and water tower to break up the horizon.
According to my map the campsite just after Hastings had “primitive” facilities, so I thought great a nice quiet campsite without kids. But it really was primitive, the water fountain had been removed and there where no toilets. I didn’t see the point of cycling back to town to get a motel so I just knocked on some ones door, asked for some water and enjoyed the campsite for myself and a thousand mosquito. I knew it was time to get into my tent when I saw about 30 of them flying around my feet( guess they don’t have a sense of smell). In the morning I found about 20 bites on my shoulder and another 20 around my body….itchy times ahead.
Day 39 – Hastings – Crete (120km). Scared for my life!!
For the first time during this trip I really was scared for my life. The day started rainy and the road was producing alot of spray, I knew that whenever a truck went past I was invisible in his spray to the next truck/ car. A few days ago I lost my mirror so I cant see behind me, which can get tricky on these roads, and to make matters worse this road had a rumble strip in the middle of the road as well as on the hard shoulder, so every time I heard the rumble I didn’t know if it was a truck giving me room or someone sleeping. All in all a damn scary hour until the rain stopped…..
The city park in Crete was ok and even had a free warmshower, and more free mosquito’s. So it was an early night for me.
I really wasn’t sure what to do after Crete weather to head east onto the smaller Highway 2 or stay on the larger highway 34. But after this mornings experience I decided I’d be staying on the 34 because of the larger shoulder it usually has and the fact that once off the 34 the towns would become even smaller and fewer, and I already find them small enough.
Day 40 – Crete to Lincoln (45km) Crazy blind truck drivers.
Only a short run up to Lincoln in preparation for my rest day. This short run became a run the gauntlet run along a county road with no shoulder, it was also quite busy with trucks because it connects Crete to the motorway. So it was a case of watching the trucks, diving into the grass or getting forced off the road by trucks that wouldn’t give me room. So the decision is definite I’m staying on the larger roads for now, those county roads are lethal…
Day 41 – Rest day in Lincoln.
Chilling out, eating lots and probably a trip to the cinema later ( I want to see inglorious basterds, it looks great).
Day 42- Lincoln to Plattsmouth (100km).
The rest day was nice, they had nice beer at the microbrewery in town. The film wasn’t as good as I’d expected, too much story and not enough scalps.
The road once again was too busy but there was a hard shoulder but too many trucks. But then I stumbled on a cycle path that seemed to go in a similar direction so I took my chances and got off the main road. The path turned out to be a converted railway line, which was nice. However the fun only last an hour then the path stopped, then I was in the middle of nowhere and had to zigzag back to the main road along dirt roads for about 2 hours, it was good fun but cost me alot of time. After that the roads just got smaller and busier with trucks.
I had planned on cycling further but due to my detour I’d had enough once I got to Plattsmouth. Unfortunately the only accommodation in town is a $100 B+B, so I opted to ask around to try and sleep in the park (I’m really starting to feel like some kind of homeless person now, having to ask if I’m allowed to sleep in the park). At the local bike shop a guy called Lee who is a part time fireman phoned around all the town officials (about 5 of them) and got me permission to sleep in the park (no toilets). After that the police woke me up at 9pm and drove past about 3 times in the night shining their headlights onto my tent, bastards!. So at 8am I was on the road again, strange though a town of 7000 and only 1 B+B and no motels or campsites.
Day 42 – Plattsmouth to…….
This morning It all went wrong, and my tight schedule has just become very tight. This morning I’ve spent 2 hours cycling along a road with almost no shoulder, and with trucks screaming past at 100km/h within 1 meter of me, with a nasty little side wind. So needless to say I’m not happy, one of the aims of this trip is not to get flattened by a truck, so my plan to follow the 34 for the next couple of weeks is out the window, together with my chances of getting to the other coast in time……
So now I’m in a library somewhere (don’t even know what its called here) and I’m trying to find a way across the state on converted railway lines. I’ve found a route for most of the next week, but it means a big detour south then east to St Louis along the Katy trail.
I’m not too happy about this but it’s slightly more important to stay alive than to make it to the other coast, but this is a real downer on my day, and also means by the end of tomorrow I’ll be 30km away from where I was 4 days ago…..DOH. But safety first right…..stay tuned….
I made it to Coin along a converted railway line, which was nice and quiet and truck free, but all the same hard work on a grit path.
Day 43 – Coin to Maryville (80km).
Yesterday really was the lowest point of my trip so far, a lesser person would of just sat down, cried and gave up, which I felt like doing, but I’m a little too stubborn for that, and my moto for this trip has been to stay flexible and that has worked so far so I have to keep it up. I was lucky to run into a library in Malvern within minutes of leaving the 34, so I was able to get a plan b sorted out within an hour.
Plan B. Head south until I find a road suitable to head east again, if I don’t find one by the time I get to the Katy trail I’ll take that across to St Louis, then who knows.
Day 43 started with a rainy night, and rainy start which made the last part of the Railtrack down to the state border quite hard going in that boggy gravel. After that I just zig-zagged down through little roads, gravel roads and tracks, all hard going with those ” rolling hills” which are pretty steep on those country roads.
I stopped at a little cafe ” we still do old fashion good portions for a good price” in Burlington junction, where a lady gave me the standard thousands questions, and while I was eating said ” I’m sorry but your not getting out of here without a hug”. Which was funny, but then when I was ready to leave she paid for my lunch….nice one, guess thats worth a hug, so now I’m not only a homeless bum I’m also a gigalo:)
Once close to Maryville the road(71) improved and I had a proper shoulder again, I was also able to get a mirror there, so at least I can see the truck before It flattens me now:).
Day 44 – Marryville to Hamilton ( 140km). Down but not out.
The weather forecast said strong SW wind moving to a NW later in the afternoon. So I waited until 11am to leave, plodded nice and gentle into the wind for 4 hours trying to save my energy, Then bingo just after my lunch at 4pm the wind was a strong westerly, just as I moved onto the 36 and started heading east. So I did a nice 3 hour sprint to get to a nice distance. Hamilton is the birth place of J.C. Penny, and I can understand why he/she doesn’t live there anymore:)
I couldn’t find a hotel and it was getting dark, I did however find a RV trailer park (complete with trailer trash) only 50m from the main road:(, they where not set up for tent tourists so had no toilets, but the guy let me camp for $7 and let me use his bathroom for a nice shower (his bathroom wasn’t any nicer than some of those city parks though).
Day 45 – Hamilton to Macon ( 140km). Finally justice…..The storm I needed.
Yup a gale forced NW wind, So I did a 6 hour sprint to Macon, I would of liked to push it for another hour or two, but I knew at after Macon there’s no big towns for 100km, and I really wanted a motel, and my cloths are due a spin in one of those machines that make them smell nice again hand wash just doesn’t work that well when your cycling in the same shirt/ socks everyday.
So 3800km down about another 2000-2500 to go and a maximum of 30 days (using up my reserve week) to do it, despite my detour and the various other problems along the way, its still possible to make it if I get alot of help from the wind, but it will be damn close. Lets just hope I don’t need to make too many more detours to get onto safer roads, I guess that’s the risk you take if you want to avoid the tourist route. The forcast for this week…? Light NW tomorrow then I’m in the shit again from Wednesday onwards….Easterlys are back in town….bugger.
Day 46 – Macon to Hannibal (108km). Bmx racer.
So I left town expecting the good shoulder and wind to continue, wrong, just outside of town was the start of 80km of roadworks with two lanes closed so all the traffic from both directions was on one road (so no room for a good looking cyclist). The first 20km wasn’t too bad because the new road was almost completed so I just rode on that and had a whole road to myself.
After that the fun started, changing lanes, partially completed roads, machines, work parties (they where all Mexican though so couldn’t tell me to go away:)), dirt roads, rocks, broken up old road etc,etc. So I spent 60km cycling as if I was on a bmx track, which was kind of good fun and a nice change from watching corn fields but not the quickest 60km I’ve ever done.
So now I’m in Hannibal, home town of Mark Twain, and dozens of tourist shops, museums and other crap, I even stayed at he Mark Twain campground. I got chatting to a guy last night at the campsite, and I mentioned that I wasn’t pleased that the campsite was so far from town because I was too tired to cycle back to get some beer…….So once again I got pleasantly surprised by the kindness of the American people, he offered to go get me some beer while he was in town later, but then later he invited me to dinner with him and his wife in town. Just to make the evening complete Jim and Linda paid for dinner too, Thanks guys…
Day 47 - Rest day in Hannibal.
After six days in a row with an average of over 100km a day, my legs told me this morning it was time for a rest day, so here I am, time to play tourist I guess, and I need a new book so why not a classic while I’m in the authors home town. According to google/maps its a little over 2000km to go, so who knows it could still me an open game, shame the wind has changed and the rest of the week will be rain:(, I have been really lucky so far though, only 3 half days of rain in 7 weeks, but autumn is coming….
Day 48 - Hannibal to Pittfield (60km).
Thanks to the weather channel I could see exactly what time I could make a dash for it between the two weather fronts, arriving just in time after 4 hours of headwind, just before the storm started (they forcasted golfball sized hale which never came). A motel seemed a good idea due to the storm but there wasn’t much choice, and what there was wasn’t very nice;), so I did the only thin you can do in a town like Pittsfield, hunted the bar down. After a few hours of talking to farmers and a WWII veteran (96years old) it was time for bed.
Day 49 – Sick day in Pittsfield.
Note to self: don’t play drinking games with farmers and take their nasty cocktails………..that was a hangover that fell into my top 3 in the last 10 years, that’s impressive but not very pleasant.
Day 50 – Pittsfield to Kincaid lake ( 135km).
A nice run and found a nice place to camp just outside of town at the lake, once again got woke up by the police patrol in the middle of the night. I’ve been thinking about sending my water filter home for a couple of weeks now, pleased I didn’t though, once again to proved invaluable (well saved a $55 motel anyway). If I hadn’t had it with my I would of had to end in town and not at the lake.
Day 51 – Kincaid lake to Charlston (120km).
The last couple of days have been great cycling, nice quiet country roads that are in great condition, and a couple of days tailwind. Today also was beautiful weather , so at lunch time I took a long break and put my tent up to dry off, because I knew I’d be in a motel tonight. Just another day of wind please and I’ll have caught up the time I lost being pathetic in Pittsfield.
Day 52 – Charlston to Rockville ( 110km).
Just another beautiful autumn day cycling through the corn fields. Its interesting to see that the further east I go the closer the towns get to each other, the roads become more narrow and the people wider..
Day 53 – Rockville to Crawfordsville ( 67km).
Into my forth time zone now, my first day in Indiana started with the pitter patter of rain on my tent, so I went back to sleep for an hour or two, by which time it was a downpour. So packed up my wet tent and got on with it, one of those day where I really couldn’t be bothered and the wind and rain where working against me. I’d been wondering for a couple of days how to get around Indianapolis, but pretty much all roads lead there. My solution to a few problems that day came at the junction of the 231 which headed north, So I thought do I a) battle on for another 2 hours into the wind to do the 30km east, to the next town(motel) or b), head north and cycle 30km to the next town in 1 hour, and then the next day head east above Indianapolis, so the rest as the say is history and it was another short day for me. But I’m trying to get a move on because I’m meeting some friends in Ohio at the weekend.
Day 54 – Crawfordsville to Pendelton (105km).
Day 55 – Pendelton to Greenville (115km).
Guess autumn is here, just had two more days cycling in rain, funny really 50% of the rain of this whole trip so far had been in Indiana.
Day 56 – Greenville – Columbus Ohio.
Got picked up halfway by zack though…he was thirsty and didn’t want to wait for me any longer.
A well deserved rest day with lots of food and beer with a couple of friends. It ‘s been funny the last couple of days nobody can understand me because I ” talk to fast” , it turns out that Zack and Steve have the same problem and they’re from Minnesota, they talk reeeaaalll sloooow around here, and the people are wierd too. Talking to a woman in the bar she wouldn’t believe I’m cycling cross country, SO in the end I gave up and said I’m a porn star, strange thing is she believed that more than that I’m cycling cross country….wierd people in Ohio…..
So tomorrow or the day after (when I sober up enough) I’ll get cracking on the last couple of weeks of this trip, hopefully the cornfields will stop soon and some nice scenery will start again, I’ve really seen enough corn the last 2000km. My only big choice now is weather or not to get to New York(or somewhere else) via Niagara Falls or just to make a run for the finish and catch up some of the time I’ve lost along the way. I’ve pretty much had enough now, and I’m ready to go home, and the weather is going down hill quick, so that’s it just about 2 weeks to go and this thing is done then its back to getting on with my life instead of just bumming around on my bike all day:))
So fans…. start getting used to the idea that nothing much will be happening here by the end of the month, go find something else to waste away your time with than following my adventures (not that there’s been much adventure the last couple of weeks).
Day 58 Columbus to 45km NE of Columbus.
So, there I was on a beautiful sunny day enjoying the fact that I was getting closer to Pennsylvania so there was less corn fields and more trees in their autumn colours then….my crank and bottom bracket(trapas) started getting all wobbly, so I though shit I’ll have to find a bike shop tomorrow and get that sorted. But I didn’t get that lucky, within a couple of km’s I couldn’t cycling up hill any more so had to start pushing and coasting, so I phoned Linda to check Google and find out which town to head for with a good bike shop and motel. So then with 25km to go to Mt. Vernon my bottom bracket started spitting out ball bearings, shit now I’m fucked I thought (just what I needed with only a couple of weeks to go).
So what do you do on a Sunday afternoon when your bike dies……stick your thumb out, start walking and hope for the best. So after a couple of kilometres of pushing my bike I got lucky, a hill billy hippy rocker by the name of Henry and his wife Sandy picked me up drove me to Mt Vernon and even let me sleep at their house and generally looked after me for the night and even dropped me off at the bike shop in the morning, THANKS so much guys for saving me a loooong walk.
Once again on this trip I’ve been saved by a random act of human kindness, the world really isn’t as bad a people think, there’s still alot of nice people out there, its just that the media concentrates on the crappy stuff because that sells.
Day 59 – Mt. Vernon to Millersburg (60km).
So Henry dropped me off at the bike shop at opening time, the guy there helped me get my bike sorted, and luckily he had a bottom bracket in stock which was close enough to use for a couple of weeks (its 5mm too long, but will get me home).
So by lunch time I was on the road again. It’s getting pretty close to winter now, it doesn’t get warmer than 10 degrees through the day now, so I’ve sent some camping gear home and plan to use motels the rest of the way now and just keep my tent and stuff for emergencies, like when I get stuck near crappy towns that don’t have motels .
Day 60 – Millersburg to Carollton (96km).
Brrr, its getting cold here, and the only motel in town is $85, at least it means a clean motel for a change;). One bonus here, the steakhouse across the road has a all you can eat buffet for $12, so after 3 plates of steak and salad plus some chocolate cake I’m done for tonight. Tomorrow on into Pennsylvania only about 1000km to NY now , I’m going to rent a car later this week and drive back and forth to Niagra falls, that saves me about 5 days and I still get to see the falls:) nice compromise I thought. Then once I’m back at my bike I’ll do the last ” sprint” to NY and be done about the 25th.
Day 61 – Carollton to Pittsburgh (115km).
Well that was the toughest day I’ve had in a while, the combination of cold (5 degrees), lots of busy little towns and loads of cheeky little hills(most 10% gradient) made it all into a long old day, 8.5 hours to do 115km, ouch just as well I have a couple of rest days now.
Once in town a rented a car for two days and the nice people at Enterprise are letting leave my bike with them (hope its there when I get back….) . So now I’m on a two day road trip up to Niagra falls, after which I’ll pick my bike back up in Pittsburgh and crack on with the last run to NY which I hope to get done in 8-9 days.
Its wierd driving a car again after two months, everything goes so fast its scary …….
Day 62, 63 – Roadtrip.
So with a little detour it turned out to be 1200km, ouch. Seven hours a day in a car is harder work than 7 hours on a bike I can tell you. But the falls are pretty impressive, 2.5 million litres of water per second go over the horseshoe falls, strange to think they still have deserts in this country….
Day 65 – Pittsburgh to Indiana (120km). Winter is here!!!!
So that was 8 hours cycling in the wind, rain and snow, not much fun really, especially when I spend an hour cycling round town looking for a motel that wasn’t fully booked. To make things worse, they have wierd beer laws in Pennsylvania, you can’t buy beer at the supermarket or petrol station like in other states, and as I was miles from the nearest bar or beer shop, I might as well of been in one of those dry counties I’ve been trying to avoid:)
Day 66 – Indiana to Altoona (90km).
It was slightly warmer today and luckily the snow melted during the night, that helps. My knees aren’t too happy about this weather, but its tough shit for them they only need to work for another 6-7 days then they can have a couple of weeks off. I’m into the Appalachian mountains now which is nice, finally a challenge again instead of mindless hundreds of miles through corn fields.
The Appalachians are like a toblerone chocolate, not too big but steep and when you get past the first one there’s still a whole row of them waiting for you, great for the knees I can tell you, so its painkillers all the way to NY now I guess:(.
Thanks for all the guest book entries everyone, I’m almost there now, should be finished just after the weekend….finally.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I started this epic voyage. It’s been fun but I’m ready to go home now.
Day 67 – Altoona to Lewiston (128km – took a wrong turn).
You’d think I’d been used to long days by now but 128km still kills me especially with 1000m of climbing hills…
Day 68 – Lewiston to Selingsgrove (75km).
This weather is weird, today it was 15 degrees again, so I made it a short day to give my legs a break, I dont want my memory of the last week just to be pain and suffering, I’m going to take it easy the last couple of days. Its only another 3-4 days cycling now, and the warmshowers guy that I’m going to stay with in NY has given me some handy instructions on how to get into town.
Update for Henry
Yup Henry found me 2 minutes after I took this photo I was more interested about the fact I was leaving Licking county than being on Vance road (Henry’s surname), If only I’d known all that time I’d been in Licking county………Maybe that was the lucky charm,,,,,,,
Day 69 – Selingsgrove to Hazleton (95km).
A beautiful day in the sun (20 degrees), I cheated a little by following the river for 60km then cutting across this meant an extra 10-15km but I only had two Toblerones to climb instead of four.
So it’s looking like I’ll roll into New York on Friday evening or Saturday morning( oct 24th), after just over 10 weeks and just under 6000km I’ll be all done, not bad for a pig farmers son!! Stay tuned for the final photo.
Day 70 – Hazleton to Portland (115km).
Another beautiful day in the sun, and probibly my last warm day of cycling this year, from now on its all winter work. There where alot more hills than I expected so it was another 7.5 hour day which was a little tough , I’m about due another rest day but will take that one at home:). Unfortunately the motel in Portland (Columbia). Was pretty crappy but I didn’t have the legs to cycle on any further, at least the sheets where clean and there where no mushrooms!!
Day 71 – Portland to Caldwell (75km).
The penultimate day. Tomorrow morning I roll into New York, will stay the night at Staten Island then Sunday take my first shot at getting a flight….
Day 72 – The End!!
After 10 weeks, 2 days and 1 hour I finally arrived at the other coast with a grand total of 5841km (3629miles)
Now that I’ve been home for a few days and had a chance to get re-acquainted with my home and Linda, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my trip.
I’ve just read my complete blog for the first time, wow what an adventure. It was only 10 weeks of my life but felt like a lifetime, and I have enough memories of the trip and people I met to last a lifetime.
Just like most people who start a trip like this I was quite naïve as to the magnitude of the trip and how big the United States really are. Some states really do need almost a week of hard cycling to get through and not just the day or two you might expect when your looking at google maps in your nice house with a cup of tea in hand.
For me it was a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions, that went from extreme to extreme. The wonder, beauty and open space of the great deserts, but also the hardship to get through them. The beauty of the Rockies, but the problems of many days waking up feeling sick from the altitude. The vastness of the midwest, but the utter boredom of cycling for weeks past cornfields with a headwind. And finally the beauty of Pennsylvania coupled with bad weather and the wish to just be done and dusted and back home.
It had been a dream for many years to travel coast to coast and in the end I not only accomplished this dream but did it on a bike, which really is quite an achievement by anyones standards, even my own.
Would I do it again? No way, because I wanted to get to the other coast within my deadline I often missed out on nice campsites and parks. I often found a nice spot during the day but had only cycled 50km so had to continue to get to 80+km and as luck would have it there often wasn’t a nice spot to camp at my chosen night stop. I found the Midwest really a big waste of time apart from the few nice people I met there, and can think of much better ways to spent 3-4 weeks cycling.
But, had I done my original plan of just cycling around National Parks for 10 weeks I would probably of become bored too, I’m the kind of person who needs to work towards something. So, for my next long trip which won’t be for a few years, I intend either not have an end destination or an end date, this removes alot of pressure and gives alot more freedom to stop at the nicer spots.
I generally enjoyed myself and the freedom of the road, but it was alot harder than I expected, largely due to my knee’s not working at 100%, more altitude issues than most people get and I was fairly unlucky with the wind. I was however lucky with the rain, only getting about 8 days in total, and for all the high passes I had clear sunny days.
About my route? I chose to make up my own route and avoid the published ACA routes, basically because I try to avoid tourist routes whenever I travel. This had a couple of disadvantages, it was generally guess work if a town had a campsite, motel and shops. It did however have many advantages, I was very flexible and at some stages could adapt my route to avoid the worst of the wind, I had alot more fun chance meetings with people who’d never met a cyclist travelling cross country and I got to experience travelling the “old fashion” way where your alot more dependant on yourself instead of a guidebook or internet forums.
My warmest memories will always be of the kindness people have shown me along the way. People who invited me to dinner at campsites instead of having to eat pasta again. People like my warmshowers hosts and Rufus who let a complete stranger into their home and offered great hospitality. And of course Henry who rescued me at the side of the road when my luck really had run out.
As a final word I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to encourage me along by signing the guest book and of course Linda for giving me the freedom and financial support to do a trip like this.
Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way.
My trip has come to its end, my weblog is updated and finished including epilogue and more photos. So I thought I’d just take a moment to thank of all the people that have helped me along the way.
Thank you all for taking an interest in my trip and reading my blog be it as a casual reader, visitor or die hard fan,and taking the time to make a guestbook entry to cheer me along.
Thank you all the people who helped me prepare, financially and otherwise. Thanks all the people that helped me along the way with a meal or a beer when I was stuck at a campsite somewhere without a shop, especially the Dunhams.
Thanks to all my warmshowers hosts (Robin+Wayne, Bruce+Nancy, Walt, Tim+Bev and Nick) that were prepared to allow a complete stranger in their home, with a warm welcome and great hospitality. And of course to Rufus for doing the same.
Thanks to Henry and Sandy for saving me at my darkest hour, when my bike let me down in Knox county of all places.
And of course thanks to all the other people that helped me along the way.
Last but not least Linda, for giving me the freedom and financial backing to undertake this adventure, while she stayed home alone for almost 3 months.
Take care, stay warm and drink beer.