Catherine’s First Update on Day 16

Bula,
 
It’s me Catherine – I thought I’d wait until the 1,000 mile mark before I updated you. Just joking, that’s a total lie. I’ve pretty much passed out every day that I’ve got in from cycling – enough time to wake up, get some food and attend the daily ‘Route Rap’ which is basically a meeting warning us of the delights of the next cycling day.
 
So yeah, cycling is fun (well the downhill bits). America is mostly fun. And I said when I was back in Edinburgh when it was freeeezzzing that I could wait to be cycling through the desert, sweating like a mad woman. Well, I did that. A lot of that. We’ve cycled in temperatures up to 42 degrees C and it’s mostly sustained around 20-30 degrees C, resulting in some rather fetching cycling tan lines. Way worse than rowing ones that I used to get, I mean who has white hands and tanned arms up the mid bicep? Oh yeah, that would be me and our cycling companions also doing the same trip. 
 
There’s around 25 of us cycling together across the country with people dropping in and out along the route. I am the youngest of the riders (by a significant margin) so I get to spend most of my days riding with these absolutely amazing mostly retired characters. I mean, think about it. Boring people don’t tend to just ride across America. I think the oldest guy is around 77 and that’s not even the guy who was the oldest man to climb Everest (before the Japenese guy did it). I love them, they’re super fun and have made the trip pretty awesome so far. One guy, Brick (a retired lawyer, named because he was supposed to take over the family building business) held a Yoga class the other day. Brilliant. 
 
Shall I mention the cycling then? Or the food. Yes, let’s talk about food first. Well American service is “outstanding” – super fast and they sure are a fan of their burgers etc etc. to be honest we haven’t eaten at the best places but I’m enjoying eating and drinking as much as I fancy having burnt around 4000-6000 calories each day. On a side note, who puts M&M’s in trail mix? The Brits would surely not approve. Oh yeah and what’s with the 17 of so options I need to decide on when ordering a meal? Literally: side orders, sauces, ice, straws, temperature of food etc etc. Thank god it’s fast. This girl is hungry!
 
Ah, yes the cycling. Well it’s mostly been okay. It’s just the weather that makes a day difficult. I hate head winds. But have got very good tucking in behind a lovely old man or something like that. Drafting has become the norm daily. I cycle mostly with a Northern Irish guy, Ricky (he’s 28 and not retired) and have had lots of practice of this. Apparently, when done effectively, it’s takes about 40% of the work load off the legs so team work really is beneficial for this cycle. Occasionally we pick up other riders which normally picks our speed up quite a bit as we race to keep up with each other. Body wise I’m doing okay – parts of my body hurt in turn but nothing too bad. Dad didn’t do too well with the altitude and is recovering now but missing a few days to do so which is a shame. 
 
Geographically we have ridden from LA (which was horrible cycling) across the desert into Arizona which is geologically a beautiful state – we even got a quick visit to the Grand Canyon when mum and Elizabeth came to visit. That was breathtaking! So vast. From Arizona we went into New Mexico which is where we are now. Lots of different terrain. Definitely wouldn’t want to live in a few places that we’ve been though. We’ve cycled along the interstate a fair bit (motorway for you Brits) – riding on the hard shoulder, which has the most amazing amount of crap there! Loads of old shredded tyres and what not. Puncture central due to tiny pieces of wire which come off the shredded tyres. I’ve had 12 flat tyres so far and have thus decided to replace my tyres in Santa Fe to gatorskins. I’ve decided that I’m not getting any more from now on. Although Ricky and I are mega fast at changing tyres now – so the skills have improved! From the interstate we moved onto the infamous Route 66 which is incredibly cool at parts and incredibly sad at other parts. A lot of it has been deserted once the road was decommissioned and the interstate was built. Lots of motels and shops just abandoned – although parts have been restored and made super touristy and shiney. I like the small roads due to lack of metal that is out to get you. 
 
Flicking through my Garmin (cycle computer) I’ll give you a few stats about our rides so far. 
 
Ride days so far: 16 
Distance covered: 1,128 miles
Ride time: 71 hr 11 min
Average speed this far: 15.8 mph
Maximum speed: 50.99 mph
Fastest ride: 93.29 miles with 1,250 ft of ascent at average speed of 19.4 mph
Longest ride: 116 miles
Total ascent: LOADS.
 
It’s been a pretty awesome trip so far except dad having to stop for a few days. Our support by CrossRoads has been amazing. I look forward to every single SAG (rest stop) mostly for food but to see and chat to other riders. FYI whoever invented these ‘gels’ can we have other flavours rather than anything resembling medicine. I’ve steered clear of those but CLIF, you dude, your energy bars are top stuff. Staying hydrated has been a challenge, especially through the desert where we were literally having water poured over us every 20 miles or so and our camel baks on our backs were for drinking and the water bottles on our bike was for pouring over our arms, legs and head to keep cool whilst cycling. 
 
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and think of something better to write for next time I muster enough energy to blog. A quick big up to my mum and Elizabeth for coming out to visit in Flagstaff, AZ and following us through to Grants, NM! That was definitely a highlight! 
 
Thanks for the comments and message of support and the donations towards WaterAid! Link here: https://www.justgiving.com/twobikesacrossamerica Hopefully dad will be back on his bike in no time and hopefully I won’t die/ get any more punctures. I will attempt to upload photos to this website shortly. And by shortly I mean before I reach Boston. Sadly the photo idea has gone to pot, especially of us as dad and I ride very differently. Ie. he is an absolutely train on the flats and downhill and not so much on the climbs and I ride pretty much the same pace throughout the day due to my massive thighs. For that I blame fixie riding and rowing. Yes, always blame the rowing. It’s not got a patch on cycling.
 
Texas tomorrow and Oklahoma the next day. Wish us a tornado free passing!
 
Catherine xox

 

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4 thoughts on “Catherine’s First Update on Day 16

  1. Martin Sproul

    Catherine,
    I’ve just sat and read this and thoroughly enjoyed it. I could actually visualise some of the places and experiences you are talking about. It’s seems like one of those adventures that would be amazing fun to plan with a group of people, hellish to complete but epic to look back on in years to come. Completing small challenges is my goal at the moment but I have no idea how I would manage a long distance challenge since eating enough calories will always be a challenge to me now. Your dad’s experience and surgery is what drew me to this blog and I may confer with him once he returns to temperate Scotland.
    Please keep the updates coming and when you get a chance you can read my blog at http://cyclingable.com
    Best wishes,
    Martin.

    1. ollie9999 Post author

      Hey Martin,

      Thanks for following us, your blog looks equally as challenging, if not more! Well, you should give everything at least one go I think, step by step! That’s pretty much what we’re doing at the moment. We just take everything day by day.

      All the best,
      Catherine

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