Tag Archives: america

Cycling For Fun or Cycling to Get There?

With only 500 miles left to ride I thought that I’d use this opportune moment to update you on our trip (just joking, I’ve been passed out again for the past few weeks every day after riding). It’s been a whirlwind of states, roads upon roads decorated with different colours of green, Amish homesteads, broken bicycles, milkshakes, sweating all grinding the pedals round in the bid to reach the Atlantic Ocean.

Some days I ride for that purpose only: to get the miles under my belt and a step further towards Boston, I find myself counting down the miles till the end of the day as I slog up hill after hill. But some days it’s not like that at all – I’m out to cycle to enjoy the feeling of self-propelling my ever strengthening body across a continent or just enjoy a cycle with these strangers who’ve become my friends, my cycling buddies. What we’re doing isn’t really a big deal at all (to me anyway). All we’re doing is pedalling. That’s it. Just every day until we get to stop. This tour has made every effort to make sure that we have optimum energy supplies with all the SAG stops with water, Gatorade and a selection of snacks to make sure we don’t go hungry or thirsty. Each night we sleep in a clean bed and get the use of a good shower. Meals vary from American crap (Perkins) to pretty good food. And you can never go wrong with ice-cream!

The states we’ve recently passed through have been mostly similar: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and now into New York State! I’ve noticed the price rising and the people getting less friendly and more aggressive drivers. Welcome to the East Coast! Having cycled for 40 odd days it kind of blurs into one. Highlights have been setting our hands on fire in a bar in Champaign, Illinois, having met some local students teaching us how to do the Statue of Liberty shot (basically involving lighting alcohol dipped fingers) – then there was seeing some friends close to Erie and spending a rest day with them eating delicious food and chilling out! (Thanks again guys!). Having our first glimpse of Amish living has been interesting – with the kids waving at us asking us questions – they called me ‘lady’ which was pretty funny: ” hey lady! What you doing?” Well.. It’s a long story. Another highlight was being able to visit Niagara Falls yesterday in Canada! We were so close to the border it seemed silly not to. It was spectacular but definitely not as much as the Grand Canyon which seems so long ago thinking about it now.

We’ve recently been joined by a few more riders who’ve started the trips in previous years but not been able to finish it due to accidents. Bob was hit by a motor bike in 2009 and was helicoptered to hospital around 900 miles from the end and has spent 4 years trying to convince his wife to let him finish the trip. And John, miles from Boston last year had a crash with another rider and shattered some bones before spending a good few weeks in an American hospital. It’s so good to have them join us and finally finish the trip. It just goes to show the commitment and sacrifices some people have made to complete this cross country ride.

I think maybe these riders were anxious to see what there was lying on the hard shoulders for the remainder of the trip, waiting to be ridden over. Since LA, we’ve cycled along a fair few hard shoulders – cycling over or past enough tools to complete a pretty good tool kit, today, it was a fishing rod and if you’re interested in taxidermy, you know where to come if deers, tortoises, possums, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, coyotes are your thing. The road kill is crazy. But I’ve learnt my lesson from the cattle trucks in Kansas, not to breathe in (or breathe at all) when passing 2-3 day old road kill. Yuck. Glad to see that America keeps their roads spic-and-span!

Again, I’ve given you a speel of rubbish to read! Apologies. Mind has turned to mush. Must cycle. Cycle towards the ocean.

Catherine xox

 

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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