Monday, 31 December 2012

So long 2012

Wow, what a year.

The bike ride seems like a distant memory, but what a memory!  I have spent tonight looking through my photos and the journal I kept on the road, reliving the good times and glossing over the bad days.

The start

I never got round to blogging about Holly's journey home, but it took her a staggering 27 days to make the journey from Miami to Bristol.  After sitting uncollected in a Miami bike shop, she was then held in customs for several weeks as she was missing the correct paperwork.  Thanks TNT!  

The finish
I would be lying if I said I didn't worry about her, but she's back safe and well and rebuilt with nice shiny new tyres......after Schwalbe heard about my puncture free journey, and the money I raised for charity, they went me a complimentary pair of tyres!!  Thank you Schwalbe.

Holly's undignified journey home

So what is like being back?
In the states I seemed to have the same conversation with everybody, about where I had cycled, where I was from etc.  Well, since being back in UK I have been answering one question: 'How was the USA?'.  I have found it an incredibly difficult question to answer, how do you sum up three months of travelling into a sentence!?  I tend to just go with 'yeah, it was good thanks', but it doesn't really do the USA justice.

What has changed?
I was expecting to return from the USA a changed man, but within 2 days of being home, it felt like I'd never been away.  There has only been one noticeable change in me (apart from the tan lines) and that has been how miserable I have been in coping with the British winter (and the non-stop rain).

I have spent many a night at home, looking out the window longing to be outdoors in my tent staring up at the stars.

So in summary, don't cycle the USA, it makes you miserable afterwards!

Richard the Conqueror

The Good?
Obviously, I'm not that miserable and I have a head full of good memories, but nothing will beat the feeling of knowing I have done something to help.  £7,203.79, to ShelterBox is far beyond my wildest dreams and it is a fantastic feeling knowing I have made the slightest of difference to those in need.  But ultimately I just rode my bike; for that reason I must end my blog with a MASSIVE thank you to all those that donated to ShelterBox.  Nice one.

Oh, and for those I met in USA who I told my plans for after the ride.........she said yes.  :)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Who Knew!?

I'm not back in the UK yet and people have already asked me how I've changed, and what I have learnt about myself.

Well a week on from finishing the ride, I have learnt something about myself.  I am a natural born Turtle Hero!  I have previously blogged about how across the USA I saved numerous turtles from being squished on the road, so imagine my surprise when I found myself in Costa Rica, again being a guardian angel of the Turtle!

Walking down the beach we came across a nest of turtles hatching and running for the sea.  I do not believe in interfering in nature, but I found myself staying with the little guys to ensure the birds around didn't have a late lunch.

So an unexpected lesson to learn from cycling for 90 days, but there you have it.  I am a Turtle Lover!

My Turtle Clan

A bit dazed and confused

This guy was named Mo

Friday, 2 November 2012

Job’s a Good Un

So I’ve done it, I have cycled diagonally across the USA! 

The journey has been fantastic and, the roads of Florida aside, I have enjoyed almost every minute of it.  The bits I didn’t enjoy have been character building, so I have also developed my persona into the bargain.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about finishing the journey, I guess it is a mixture of elation and sadness........

I am obviously elated to have completed my journey, (on time and within budget);  I am excited to be reunited with loved ones and do all the things I have missed whilst in the USA (e.g. drink tea and eat proper cheese!) plus there are certainly things I will not miss at all (e.g. packing up my campsite each morning, cooking on a camping stove and, of course, my saddle!!).

However, it is with genuine sadness that the journey must end and I will leave the USA to return home.  I have seen some great scenery and met some amazing people, memories of both will stay with me forever.  I will miss the star filled skies at night, the daily campsite lottery and believe it or not I will miss having the same conversation with every single person I meet.  It may sound tedious, but I have loved telling people where I am travelling and why, despite doing it around 4-5 times a day.

I should admit, when I left the UK I was terrified at spending three months on my own, but my fears never materialized.  My fears were augmented by friends and family predicting all the awful things that were going to happen to me (despite good intentions).  So if you ever hear of anyone planning any ‘crazy’ journeys, tell them to go for it!

I have spent a handful of nights on my own with a book, but I have met so many people that these were welcome moments of solitude, and despite one incident I have met nothing but good, nice, generous people.

I accept bad things do happen, but it is not a reason to shelve your plans.  I have met a number of long distance cyclists on my journey and all have said that cycling the USA is a fantastic experience.

I recently read a tweet which sums it up my journey:

Take risks. If you win you will be pleased, if you lose you will be wiser.

I won.  Which sadly means I finish this trip no wiser, despite the beard!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Since leaving ShelterBox HQ in Helston, Cornwall on 1 August 2012 I have recorded 5,645.1 miles and spent 510 man hours on my bike (Holly).

Today at 3pm (ish) I completed my corner to corner cycle of the USA.

Get in!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Team

Just before the end of my journey, I'd like to take a quick moment to thank the team behind my ride.  At times it may appear to be just me out on the open road, but there is a support team helping me along the way:

1. Holly

I never thought it was possible to love an inanimate object, until now.  Holly has been my best bud on the road for three months, and what a pal she has been.

I have not mentioned Holly's performance until now (for fear of jinxing it), but on the eve of completing my journey I can proudly say that Holly has travelled over 5,500 miles without so much as a puncture!  That's right, this entire trip I have not had a single mechanical issue.  Holly hasn't had it easy either, I have cycled most of the time on hard shoulders which are littered with nails and glass and every night when I was in my tent Holly was out in the open air, being hit by rain, hail and sub zero temperatures; Holly even survived being hit by a car with no damage!

I guess a little thank you to Thorn Cycles for giving birth to Holly too.

Holly, you're one in a million. xx

2. Kelly

My girlfriend Kelly has been manning mission control in Bristol, checking weather, routes, camp sites and all sorts of other things along the way.  At times I think she has been working harder than me, whilst also holding down a full time job!

So thank you Kelly for your selfless act of support.  x x x

3. Taunton Leisure / Easton Mountain Products

Before I left, Taunton Leisure and Easton Mountains Products joined forces to provide me with a tent to take on my travels.  The tent was an Easton Mountains Products 2P Kilo, and what a piece of kit it has turned out to be.

I have slept through thunderstorms, high winds and even a Coyote attacking my campsite, all safely tucked up in my tent!  The tent has been flawless and thrown into the bargain the guys have offered me massive support along the way; I was even treated to coffee and croissants in the Taunton Leisure store on my UK leg!

Thank you.

4. Simpkins Edwards

Simpkins Edwards helped make the Corner to Corner challenge possible, my regret is I found out the day after I had my cycling jersey printed!  Simpkins Edwards provide accountancy, business advice and tax consultancy services to a wide variety of businesses and individuals.

Cheers Guys

5. Marx Away

If you need your carpet cleaned, give Marx Away a call QUICKLY!!  Marx Away have generously donated to ShelterBox on behalf of my challenge the whole time I have been on the road; as well as religiously liking or retweeting all my posts.

Nice one Marx.


So, I am now nearly finished cycling the USA.  Just a few more miles on a big wide road, with plenty of room for cyclists.

But it hasn’t all been this way.  The low point of my journey happened a few days ago…….I was hit by a car.

A lot of people have been asking me which is was the best and worst state.  The best state is a tough one, Oregon and Colorado win for scenery  but Kansas and Missouri had such fantastic people, Alabama had such crazy accents, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons were stunning (Wyoming) and Kentucky had the best looking women.  But the worst state?  Without a doubt Florida!

Don’t get me wrong, Florida is a nice place overall and has plenty of good points to it too  (I had a fantastic time in St Augustine and met some great people), but as a cyclist Florida has been horrendous.  Mainly because of a combination of narrow roads with no shoulder and a handful of awful drivers. 

So a few days ago I was cycling on a typical Florida road when a car brushed into me and Holly.  I was knocked wildly off course, but luckily the car was not travelling too quickly so I managed to keep the rubber down.  The driver of the car didn’t even realise he had hit me.
I managed to catch up with the car at a junction just down the road, and to my disbelief the driver didn’t hear me shouting from about 2m away* as his music was so loud.  I had to bang on his car to get his attention….which probably got me more attention than I wanted, but he certainly needed to know that he had hit a cyclist.

Thankfully modern cars are smaller and softer than this!
In the end, no harm was done to me or Holly, but the incident left me shaken and with an all new high heart rate from all the adrenalin pumping through my veins.

Maybe this incident has left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but I was certainly relieved to get past Miami and leave the busy Florida roads behind me!

* I am not an angry cyclist, I was just shouting to get the guys attention to let him know that his driving had just nearly caused an accident.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Celebrity Encounter!!!

Today I met Michael Gregory.  "Who?" I hear you cry?  Watch this and you will see!  

Lets hope this one remains less dubious than my previous cycling/celebrity encounter!