“3,454 miles, 15 states, 90,039′ of climbing, 2 oceans, 4 new tyres, 1 new chain, 25 punctures later and we’ve cycled across the USA!!”
WE MADE IT! Sorry for not posting since reaching the beach last Friday, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. Dad’s flown home and is back to work and I’ve made it up to New York City to explore. I even got to cycle my bike right past Times Square yesterday in the attempt to get my bike from the Upper West Side to Mineola. The short 3 mile ride was interesting – in stark contrast to the past two months there was so much to look at and without my orange flag fluttering from the back of my bike I felt much more on edge. Luckily I managed to cycle bits and bobs with people on these new city bikes that the city has just implemented. Now THESE people are the ones to look out for. Crazy people.
Riding through the city for that short amount of time forced me to think back along the two months of cycle. Absolutely NOTHING compares to the Big Apple. You wouldn’t think that these tiny towns in the Mid-West shared the same country with NYC, it’s just smack bang in the face big and shouting which is what I used to think America is like. The Dairy Queens and Denny’s were nowhere to be seen on Manhattan – in their place, delicatessens and neighborhoods of delicious international food.
So reaching the beach on the last day was fairly emotional. The weather was so grim that we couldn’t see the Atlantic Ocean until we were about 50m away from it. But that sight was wonderful! Relief set in, mostly that we had no more miles to cycle and also that we’d made it, mostly in one piece. My bike started skipping gears on the last day and I just willed it to hold out until the beach.
Upon leaving the hotel for the front wheel dip way back at the start of May, dad got his first puncture (and tyre replacement) of the trip. As we’re in a bigger group of riders (about 25) we agree to cycle together at the very start and end of the trip. We joked that dad would get a puncture just before we reached the beach, meaning that we’d all have to wait until it was fixed before cycling to the ocean. And guess what? He did! We were about 100m from finishing the 3,415 miles and I heard a hissing noise coming from his bike. Sod it. He rode the last part of the ride with a flat tyre, ready to throw his ill-tempered bike into the Atlantic Ocean, never to ride it ever again.
Just joking. We only dipped the front wheels in, got our photos and were met by family and friends. Thanks to mum and Elizabeth for being there! I was less emotional than others I think. To me, this wasn’t a life changing trip but merely a fun experience and a good way to spend time with my dad and see America.
What I’ve learnt from this trip is that you really need to take care of yourself physically. We had women aged 69 on his trip and men aged 76 – yes they were a little slower than the rest but the bottom line is – they rode their bicycles across a continent. These people keep fit and eat well and I imagine they will go on to keep completing similar feats like this. Seeing them has made me want to take care of myself better. At age 70 I could either be contemplating moving into ‘an old folks home’ or rowing across the Atlantic. I’m aiming for the latter.
The people and staff on this trip have been superb! If you’re considering riding across America, I seriously recommend Crossroads Cycling Adventures, no matter what age you are they work so hard to getting you across safe, happy and healthy. It’s been great to spend this amount of time with dad – it might never happen again. It got a bit too much at times but I’m sure it would for many people sharing a room for 7 weeks with their dad?
Thanks to you reading this blog and for those we’ve met along the way. Support is always appreciated. It got tough sometimes and it was nice to know we were cycling for a cause and people had our backs.
Oh and the verdict on East vs West. I’m going to have to say the West. They have the Pacific Ocean and therefore lots of cool sharks so it’s a no brainer really. What’s next for us? Dad’s back to work and ever active with cycling in Scotland and I’m off to Bangor University in September to do a MSc in Marine Environmental Protection. So absolutely nothing to do with this cycle – which is perhaps a good thing? Time to expand my horizons a bit further than the United States of America again. I think it’s time to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
All the best,