Cycling the USA

USA

Day 1 to Tucson 3rd October about 100km
Should have been easy. 100km gradual downhill. Cactus lined freeway was great if you drive a car. Awful shoulder. Bouncing up and down over big cracks. 2 punctures from slivers of metal. A motorbike policeman stopped to ask if I was ok. I wasn’t. I was livid. He said it isn’t really a bike path. No, you’re telling me, but there are signs saying to ride here. That’s just to keep you off the road. So no provision for cyclists who want to go fast then? I fixed my puncture and got off that road as quickly as possible. Arrived late and realised cities in the U.S. Are huge. My host Patricia was out when I arrived but I found a cracking little bar with real ales called Sidecar.

Day 2 Tucson to Phoenix 4th October 195km
Patricia cycled with me in the morning to lead me to the right road to Phoenix. Boring yes, but also with a tailwind, at times it was fast, very fast. Parts of the shoulder were as good as the road, but parts weren’t. I had time to close my eyes at one point and dream of home. The rest of the time, I stopped to take photos with the many cacti. The prickly pear, the classic tall cactus, and the wierd little tree cactus. A couple of coyotes crossed the road. No roadrunners, meep meep.

Rest day Phoenix Monday 5th October
Rested for a day in Scottsdale, Phoenix, walked Mr Fish, her adorable big old dogrode around the many bike paths with Julie, got the gears fixed at Bobs bikes and bought an Arizona bottle and a new speedometer, grabbed an awesome veggie burger at Fate, watched the Seattle Seahawks play Detroit Lions while drinking an awesome selection of great ales, brewed in the USA, many locally. The game was a close affair, and in between explaining the rules, Julie jumped up and down and screamed at the television, “go go go” or “stop him”. Seattle won 13-10 but Slept on my mat on the floor but a super soft carpet meant I was very comfy.

Scottsdale, Phoenix, to Lake pleasant October 6th Tuesday 70km
Leaving Scottsdale, a car hit me with its wing mirror. Not too painful but shook me up a bit. With three lanes to drive in, driving so close to me was simply stupid, and selfish. A bizarre flash flood hit me shortly after cave creek. It was a hailstorm, a deluge of Siberian proportions. Joy rescued me as I stood shivering under the tree

Lake pleasant to Nothing Wednesday October 7th 119km
Strong headwind today. Struggled to get going and not all of the highway was that great. Disappointed with my distance again, but very scary cycling in the dark, so camped off the road. Somewhere before a big climb. Main concern was snakes so kept my shoes inside my bivvy bag. Beautiful stars at night saw three shooting stars. Amazing. Ate nothing so now quite hungry.

Nothing to near Kingman Thursday 122km
Another tough day. Fighting headwind all day and lots of climbing too. Ended lost on dirt roads. Camped with the cacti.

Kingman to Las Vegas Friday 212km
The route I wanted to follow was a no go. Great morning after that once I was on the freeway. No wind and I flew.

Rest day in Vegas Saturday 10th

Pahrump 105km Sunday 11th
One climb and then a super fast descent all the way

Stovepipe wells, Death Valley park, 140km
I saw a real road runner as I left pahrump.

13th Oct. Under the motel sign, just outside Lone Pine, 115km
Leaving Death Valley was tough. There’s more than one valley and reaching Panamint springs involves climbing 1500m. The valleys are spectacular. I saw coyotes

Independence 60km stayed with the wilders. 14th Oct
Decided to rest and recuperate.
Nice family, Norman, Jen, Alison, Autumn and AJ. Super nice. 2 very friendly dogs, 2 llamas, and 17 chickens. Some sheep too. a frame house with a trailer for me outside.

15th Oct 103km to toms place
Woke in the trailer to a big ol storm outside. Next 3 days are going to be like this. Waited for rain to stop and it did at 8am. Rode with a guy called Red. Bought a tent 30 dollars and jacket 5 dollars at bishop. Beautiful climb up lower rock creek
Guys bought my beers and gave me a free campsite.!

16th Oct Yosemite 100km
Yosemite is full of mountains and moraines. The mountains are mostly the remains of volcanoes, but much smaller following multiple periods of glaciers. The smooth polished done shapes of some or the ridges of others were formed as the glaciers receded. And the moraines are the huge masses of boulders and rubble which were carried by the water from the glaciers as they melted. Huge masses of water carried and dumped the rubble. I woke up in the empty campsite, still wet, took my food from the bear-proof box and set out. The sun was out but soon disappeared behind thick clouds which I happened to be in. So it was a bit like cycling in a shower. A very cold one. Then some hail. Ouch. I saw no bears, but several deer which looked exactly like bambi. It was a long day, with the highlight being the steep winding descent from Grovedale? To Mocassin.

Mocassin
70km to Lee Vining where I bought some supplies. Huge climb up Tioga pass. Tough but beautiful. Met some people who were looking for a dog called Achilles. A couple had been coming down the pass and their brakes had failed. He drove into the side of the mountain to avoid falling off the cliff. Both were recovering in hospital but their dog had leapt from the car and was now missing. As I climbed over 300m (9000 feet) it got very wet and very cold. Fingers and toes were frozen, all the campsites were closed, but camped at Tuolomne Meadows anyway. There was nowhere there but I could use the bear boxes. Another night without showering, and now I’m out of clean clothes.

17th Oct Yosemite to Oakdale 194km
I made oatmeal and lay in my tent for a while. It was still freezing cold until the sun came up. I put on every dry piece of clothing I had, as I knew it would be cold.

18th the crash. Oakdale to Walnut Creek 125km (car ride to Berkeley after the hospital)

The crunch as the car hit the back of me was scary. I felt the impact and saw the sky. In these moment, you feel strangely helpless and wonder, is this how it all ends?

The day had gone well, but ended badly. I remember cycled on an empty highway 4, which was closed for road works, and passing pumpkin patches and canals, as Eagles soared above. A large white ibis took off in front of me and flew gracefully above me while rodents (stoats I think) scurried on the banks of the canals.

A winding climb and descent on mountain creek road, and then a descent were pleasant, with cows and horses and round hills to gaze at as I pedalled on.
At Clayton, I turned onto a main road that would take me towards Berkeley. It was now very dark, at just 5.30pm, and I found myself on a busy three lane road with no shoulder to escape to. The cars were passing me alarmingly quickly.
One shot past to turn right, and I made a bad decision to move to the middle lane.

She didn’t see me. I believe my rear light had stopped working, as I have no other explanation for why she saw me so late. I felt the crunch and heard her brakes slam on at the same time. The front bumper of the car smashed my back wheel and stopped it moving, the momentum took the rest of the bike and me rolling upwards and backwards and I landed with a thump on the bonnet of the car before sliding off to land on the road on my backside.

I immediately jumped to my feet, and my first instinct was to get out of the way of the car in case it rolled over me and to avoid any other vehicle coming. It was pure adrenaline, and my heart was racing. The car had come to a complete stop very quickly, and I was lucky that, at that moment, there were no other cars immediately behind.

I was shaken up, but I seemed to be otherwise fine. Silver clearly was not ok, and at first glance, appeared to be a pile of crumpled metal. The couple stepped out of the car, and the driver, a middle aged lady, was in tears, and seemed more shocked than I was. “I didn’t see you” she said a few times. Her name was marina, and her husband’s name was Rory. He asked if I was ok, and then helped me move everything to the side of the road.

And I was ok, I hugged Marina, and told her ‘don’t worry I’m fine. I guess my light wasn’t working.’ She should have seen me in her headlights even without lights, but I guess sometimes people simply make mistakes. They were good people, and offered me a ride to the hospital to check I was ok. It’s funny that there was never a thought to getting upset or angry. I guess I was just relieved and grateful it wasn’t worse. In fact I laughed as I hugged Marina and repeated that I was ok. Then I explained I was cycling the world, and with Rory’s help loaded the bike and my stuff into the back of the car. The back wheel was now just a mess of twisted metal, but the rest of the bike looked ok.

Flashing lights came up the road. There were three vehicles, including a fire truck, and at first I thought they were on their way to a major accident. And then I realised that no, they were here for me. After a bunch of questions about what happened and writing down our details, they told me an ambulance was coming. I refused the ambulance as I had no serious pain, and shook their hands and thanked them before they left.

The hospital confirmed I was fine, after an x-Ray. One of the girls in radiology asked me where I was from and said she loved my accent. So does my wife, I thought, and wondered how I would let her know I had been in an accident without freaking her out. I sent her a message and a photo (because “I’m fine” could mean a million different things)

My host Clem, and his partner Heather drove me and poor smashed up Silver to Berkeley where after a beer and a burrito, I took a shower, spoke to Paola to confirm I was totally ok and slept like a log. Tomorrow is another day. Another day to be lived to the full, because it can end in an instant.

19th. Rested

20th rested

21st Stinson Beach just 40km although it was awesome to stay with Max

22nd Salt point state park, Timber Cove 125km

23rd elk 85km disappointing but strangely lazy all day! Slept in the post office.

24th Just past Leggett. 115km. I woke up in the morning with the mist. deer stared at me. The deer with the antlers for quite a while. Then his doe ran across the road in front of me. Awesome. And now it made sense. Up and down all day. So many Hawks as I passed the fields. The beaches were amazing. But I couldn’t stop. I felt so tired, and almost fell asleep at a campsite outside Fort Bragg. Then 2 big climbs past the giant redwood trees. Dropped down past Leggett in the dark. Met two guys who tweet as #nakedmenonbikes Sam and Gill. Techies from San Fran.
25th to eureka through Humboldt redwood park 140km
Great couple at a bar told me that my tyres were both flat. I rushed out assuming they had been slashed, and he laughed and gave me 20 dollars

26th to prairie creek 95km but went on a detour at mad river
Good 8 mile track called Hammond trail
Mist but no elks
Fun to talk to other cyclists at the campground, Pierre, John, and Urs.

Pistol river 130km
Urs told me to sing “always look on the bright side of life” if I see a bear. Huge redwood trees as I went through the park.
The coastline was beautiful.

Wednesday 28th Bandon 106km
Another day of great coast and the roads were easier after entering Oregon.
Another night camping.

Thursday 29th Florence 112km

Friday 30th Eugene 106km staying with Carlyn Watson

Saturday 31st Salem 120km stayed with Joni and mark

Sunday 1st Beaverton With Lou. 80km

Monday 2nd Camping in castle rock 105km

Tuesday 3rd Spanaway 135km

Wednesday 4th Seattle 85km

Thursday 5th rest in Seattle

Friday 6th Sudden valley 112km

Sat 7th Vancouver 107km

3618km in the USA

38,781 + 3618

= 42,399 around the world so far