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Sunday 23 December 2012

Table of Contents

Preperation Post Date Mileage Location
Plans and Preparations - My First Post! 05/03/2011
Rough Route & Stops 08/03/2011
Bike Shop & Selection 02/04/2011
Cooking with Nail Polish Remover 05/04/2011
One Week till Departure! 02/05/2011
Day 1 - Leaving Seattle 11/05/2011 39 Camping
Day 2 - A Watershed 12/05/2011 63 Hotel
Day 3 - Heaven's Angels 12/05/2011 64 Camping
Day 3 (Part 2) - Blue Spruce 13/05/2011
Day 4 - White Pass and Over 13/05/2011 73 Hotel
Day 5 - Yakima Lower Valley 14/05/2011 40 Camping
Day 6 - Fire and Rain 15/05/2011 Rest Camping
Day 7 - Into Oregon (through wind and dust) 16/05/2011 61 Camping
Day 7 - A Few Extras 17/05/2011
Day 8 - Nolan Hill 17/05/2011 53 Hotel
Day 9 - Blue Mountains 18/05/2011 59 Camping
Day 10 - 45th Parallel 19/05/2011 52 Camping
Day 11 - Pleasant Valley 20/05/2011 53 Camping
Day 12 - Into Idaho 21/05/2011 88 Hotel
Day 13 - Relaxing in Boise + Equipment 23/05/2011 Rest Hotel
Day 14 - Broncos 23/05/2011 45 Camping
Day 15 - Sawtooth 24/05/2011 61 Hotel
Day 16 - Potatoes 25/05/2011 53 Camping
Day 17 - Craters of the Moon 26/05/2011 37 Hotel
Day 18 - Clocktower vs. Mountain 27/05/2011 69 Hotel
Day 19 - Snowbell 29/05/2011 Rest Hotel
Day 20 - Snake River 29/05/2011 49 Cabin
Day 21 - Wet Welcome to Wyoming 30/05/2011 26 Camping
Day 22 - Grand Teton National Park 01/06/2011 78 Camping
Day 23 - Togwotee Pass 01/06/2011 47 Hotel
Day 24 - Wind River 02/06/2011 79 Hotel
Day 25 - Roadworks 03/06/2011 24 Hotel
Day 26 - Hell's Half Acre 04/06/2011 100 Camping
Day 27 - Casper Quiz 05/06/2011 Rest Camping
Day 28 - Repairs to the Rear 06/06/2011 58 Camping
Day 29 - Gales 08/06/2011 35 Camping
Day 30 - Guernsey Storms 08/06/2011 54 Caravan
Map Update 09/06/2011
Day 31 - Train Racing 09/06/2011 54 Hotel
Day 32 - Smash 11/06/2011 20 Camping
Day 33 - Angry Birds 11/06/2011 63 Hotel
Day 34 - Agincourt 12/06/2011 46 Camping
Day 35 - Half Way? 13/06/2011 Rest Camping
Day 36 - Central Time 14/06/2011 57 Camping
Day 37 - Pony Express 15/06/2011 68 Hotel
Email to Governor Heineman of Nebraska 15/06/2011
Day 38 - 1/750 16/06/2011 41 Hotel
Day 39 - King of Kansas 17/06/2011 112 Hotel
Day 40 - The Pianist 18/06/2011 63 Hotel
Day 41 - Brighton Rock 19/06/2011 64 Hotel
Day 42 - Race Across America 21/06/2011 45 Friends
Day 43 - Home with the Hansons 21/06/2011 Rest Friends
Day 44 - Nearly OK 22/06/2011 65 Camping
Day 45 - Alabamboo! 23/06/2011 70 Camping
Day 46 - Tube Delivery 24/06/2011 61 Hotel
Day 47 - Hanging at the Hyatt 26/06/2011 Rest Hotel
Day 48 - Great Lake Swimmers 27/06/2011 58 Camping
Day 49 - Orzarking into Arkansas 28/06/2011 88 Hotel
Day 50 - Wine in Paris 28/06/2011 56 Camping
Day 51 - Magazine Mountain 30/06/2011 61 Camping
Day 52 - Trouble on a Tandem 30/06/2011 69 Friends
Day 53 - Muskets at Midday 01/07/2011 Rest Friends
Day 54.....and the Tour Begins..... 02/07/2011 Rest Friends
Day 55 - Subway is Somewhere 03/07/2011 Rest Friends
Day 56 - Back on the Road 05/07/2011 55 Camping
Day 57 - Huckabee, Palestine and Racism 05/07/2011 88 Camping
Day 58 - Day Trippin' Louisianna 07/07/2011 87 Hotel
Day 59 - Saxon Tire Barn 08/07/2011 50 Hotel
Day 60 - Police 08/07/2011 84 Camping
Day 61 - Old River Road 10/07/2011 50 Camping
Day 62 - Swamp Home Alabama 11/07/2011 95 Camping
Day 63 - Hiding from the Snow 11/07/2011 57 Hotel
Day 64 - Hot and Spicy Mustard 12/07/2011 Rest Hotel
Day 65 - Gulf Islands Seashore 13/07/2011 77 Friends
Day 66 - Canoe's this in Panama? 14/07/2011 83 Friends
Day 67 - Cats and Dogs in Apalachicola 16/07/2011 87 Hotel
Day 68 - Gilbert du Motier 16/07/2011 87 Camping
Day 69 - BPTSIIASOBS Award 17/07/2011 72 Camping
Day 70 - The Finale 18/07/2011 67 Hotel
Finale Video 14/08/2011
Post Ride
A Time for Thanks! (Take 2) 29/06/2012
Too good... too bad... 29/06/2012
Hints & Tips... 23/12/2012

Hints & Tips...

So you’ve decided you want to ride across America, your wife / girlfriend has given you permission and for odd reason you’d prefer to spend weeks on the saddle on scorching tarmac instead of lying on a beach in South East Asia. Well it would be only fair and generous of me to offer a few small pieces of advice. Some of this advice will only be relevant to riding across America, other bits might be helpful where ever you are riding. Nothing is more annoying than someone telling you how to plan your trip, so I’m sure you’ll make some mistakes like I did; take them on the nose, improve and write them in the recommendations section at the end of your blog!


I didn’t buy one until the second day, well at least for Washington State. I would strongly not recommend that approach. One thing I must stress is that in at least the Western part of the states all roads that go anywhere will appear on a state map, so that’s all you really need. Any ‘county’ roads not on the map are likely to be gravel and not going anywhere important. I was always trying to plan around 2 to 3 days ahead with my ride. In terms of a particular type of map I’d recommend Rand McNally it was quite a bit clearer than some of the others. Its always worth asking in bike shops for specific bicycling maps, a couple of states had these and these tend to show how busy each road are and the gradients.

Of course you might have moved into the 21st Century and got yourself a GPS. In fact I now have one too, although there was something a little more rewarding by navigating by paper and pen. One thing I did have however was an application on my Android phone called ‘MapDroyd’ which lets you download maps offline (unlike google maps). The GPS on my phone would plot me on the map for moments when my map reading skills masked my glorious history in the Scouts.

Phones & Communications

If you read through the earlier section of my blog, in fact right at the beginning you’ll see the setup of keyboard, phone, batteries and chargers that I bought for the trip. It worked well until I smashed my phone in Nebraska. I then got a tablet and an LG phone, but technology has already moved on.. I brought my unlocked phone over from the UK and put an ATT sim. You’ll be limited to either T-Mobile or ATT if you want to use a European phone as the other networks use a different mobile phone system from GSM. ATT do a good deal of unlimited calls for $2/day and I think I got 500MB of data for $25. Most campgrounds / motels had wifi so I didn’t ever run out of data.

My best advice is if you are traveling overseas and need to stay in contact is to buy a Skype phone number and then have this forward to the ATT phone. This means for $2/day (the ATT fee) and 1p / minute (the skype charge) you can chat to people in the UK. The only catch is they will need to call you to get routed through. It’s a good way to spend a few hours on a quiet back road chatting to one of your good friends whilst burning down the miles. By the way pay-as-you-go ATT wasn’t setup in Wyoming or Idaho when I was there, so you might be on your own there.

Air Mat

Lets face it, once you have been on the bike for hours on end one of the most important things is being able to have a good nights sleep. I did quite a bit of research before making my purchase. I started my camping career with a thin foam mat before upgrading to a therm-a-rest in my teens. I have to be honest both of these really felt like sleeping on the floor with tiny bit of padding, a big stone would easily disturb your sleep. I found a company called Alpkit, they make a range of sleeping mats, quite a few are like the therm-a-rest but the make one model called the Numo:

This folds down to a tiny size to attach to the bike and is incredibly comfortable. I cannot recommend enough. You need to realize that you do have to blow it up (normally takes 3 or 4 minutes).

Rims & Panniers

I learnt this the hard way, strong wheels are good, especially when you are loading them with lots of weight. The Jamis Bosanova I bought came with standard 32 spoke wheels, you’ll find more expensive touring bikes come with 36 spokes per wheel, the standard road bike will come with 32 spokes. You can cycle with 1,2, or maybe 3 spokes loose anymore then you are on the downslope towards wheel collapse. A spoke tuner to try and keep them tight is a good idea. Anyway if you are going to load a bike make sure you have 36 spokes where the weight is.

This brings me on nicely to panniers. After extensive research I settled on some rear Ortlieb panniers. Ortlieb are the gold standard of panniers from my understanding, they are tough and very waterproof. Nobody wants their belongings getting wet. The top of the panniers kind of roll close, I was surprised how simple the closing system was. In addition the material is fairly tough and can take being scratched or dropped on.  The only thing I will say is that you can’t stick stickers to them, they seem to come straight off. I selected only rear panniers as I could get all my stuff in them, I’m a bit intrigued when people have front and rear panniers, maybe if you are cycling across Siberia or Africa but I’m not sure why you’d need them across the United States. I was a bit suspicious of steering with front panniers, I’d imagine it makes the bike less responsive – but I’m only speculating.

One more thing to add – Kevlar tyres. They are great – less punctures, harder wearing, worth the money.


If there is only one thing you take away as a cyclist reading this blog, I hope its this piece of advice. Buy a blinking rear light and use it all the time, regardless if it is dark or not. I’d recommend a specific kind of blinkey which magnifies the flash. My favourite is now the Raleigh Astrum ( I didn’t have this during the ride). The red flash is so bright that even the most day dreaming driver would see you. Pam confirmed this sometime afterwards driving behind me, saying she could see the flashing a quarter of a mile away. It must be said someone crashing into the back of you is unlikely but I’m going to do everything to minimize it. The fact that more people don’t have them on during the daytime (especially when you can disappear in a dark shadow of trees) amazes me. I have to say I felt safer on my ride when I had it turned on, this might just be a placebo effect, it would be good to have some empirical evidence to back it up. Anyway I suggest you ride with one.

Hotels, Camping, Coupons

Somewhere to sleep is obviously quite important when you have been on the bike all day long. Whilst I did have a few nights being a lone ranger engaging in wild camping; lets be honest its nice to have a shower at the end of the day. Roughly I did 60% in the tent, 30% in motels and then 10% at friends’ houses. One website I must mention before going on is warmshowers, sadly I only found out about this towards the end of my ride but basically it’s a couch surfing website for touring cyclists. I didn’t use it but apparently its rated.

I’d recommend when staying in hotels or campsites that you negotiate, with my key bargaining point was that I was riding for charity. The average motel was around $40-$50 and camping was $15 a night. I was generally getting a discount of around $5 when camping and $10 in motels. Occasionally I’d be allowed to camp for free or asked to donate the fee to charity. With hotels I had two other tactics: the first was to find coupons in coupon magazines from gas stations usually for motel 6 or super 8. If I was looking for something up market then I’d go for priceline, ‘name your own price’. You select a city, a hotel rating and make an offer at a given price. You can typically stay in a 4* hotel for half price (you just don’t know exactly where although you can specify an area).

Be aware that not all campsites have moved into the digital era. Some of them don’t have websites or aren’t on google maps. There are a couple of good RV park review websites floating about which have a pretty comprehensive listing. I also had a few stays at KOA (kamp grounds of America), these were a mixed bag as they could be expensive for what they were. That said my favourite camp ground was a KOA in Wyoming.

Friday 29 June 2012

Too good... too bad...

Great things about cycling across America:

45th Parallel  - it never occurred to me at any point that I’d be crossing this line so when the sign appeared out of no where it was a great surprise. It kind of made me feel like I was on an intercontinental journey. The 45th parallel is in between the North Pole and Equator. Interestingly my parents house in the Pyrenees is right next to the 45th.

Continental Divide – if you are going West to East the continental divide is great, it means you are halfway but yet you have only cycled a third of the way. The climb to the continental divide was epic but from this point onwards I knew generally it was downhill towards the east coast.

State parks – and to be fair Federal Parks are one of America’s greatest treasures. A camp spot, a clean toilet, running water and a socket all for $5 a night with amazing scenery and polite neighbours. Most of the state parks I stayed in were beautiful places; Lake Perry in Mississippi was one of my favourites.

Swimming Lakes – after a long hard day in the saddle nothing is better than a swim, and if it’s a wild open water swim all the better. I only got to do this on a couple of occasions (Lake Perry was sadly filed with gators).  Cove Lake at the foot of Mount Magazine was amazing and I nearly had it to myself. In fact whilst I’m at it I’ll add in the whole of the Ozarks to my highs!

Bike Shops – one thing about being a cyclist (and a touring cyclist especially) is a sense of community and looking after one another. Whether it be a free inner tube, a cycling map or some sage piece of advice cycling shops felt like a safe refuge of calm. Also an excellent place to accessorize and make repairs.

Oklahoma Car Drivers – the cyclist / motorist debate needs to stay closed, I hear so many lies and misunderstanding on either side. BUT I will stand up for Oklahoma Drivers who on many an occasion checked to see if I was alright. I remember three different drivers stopping when I had a flat on the way to Tulsa and had run out of inner tubes.

Wildlife – now I have to admit I am no biologist and not a great animal lover but I did see some cool things, deer, zebra, turtles, bison. Loved seeing them in their natural environment even if they refused to be filmed. Sadly missed out Yellowstone, but next time.

Food – I loved using my micro stove, I felt like a real pioneer when I did this (even if I was cooking beans). I loved being cooked for, fresh fish out of the lake was amazing and also dining in random restaurants and finding strange food in gas stations. But yes I drank too much mountain dew – sorry.

Coastline – getting to Florida was a weight off my shoulders, seeing the sea meant I wasn’t too far away from completion. Riding next to the sand, smelling the sea air and cycling next to the tourist resorts made the cycling easier.

Meeting Friends – after miles and miles, many chats to strange people staying in unknown campgrounds in new states, a friendly face was one of the most welcoming sites. My stays with the Hansons, the Gillums and the Leachs were amazing and homely – I had great stays with all of them and I want to thank them again.

Bars and Beer – when friends aren’t around there is nothing like a beer to help you find new friends. A wander into a new bar would always result in a great chat with someone, a game of pool or even some karoke. Thank goodness prohibition is over. Be warned however once you venture onto the spirits or wine you are bound to be limiting the next day’s cycling.

Military Hardware – you can’t question America’s military might unless of course you are a member of the North Korean Government. Once you have a military that big you’ll have a lot of old tanks and missiles to dispose of and what better way to get rid of them then put them in a park or on a podium – brilliant.

KOA Douglas – this campsite wins my award for best campsite of the trip. Firstly they only charged my $5, secondly they had a great swimming pool and thirdly the campground was absolutely immaculate. Douglas, Wyoming really is in the middle of no where so this campsite is a gem in the wilderness.

Cars which go on Train Tracks – I thought this was just Back to the Future, but no it actually exists in real life, even if the flex capacitor doesn’t!

Bad things about cycling across America:

Route over cascades – don’t follow google bicycle maps
Rear wheel – how many spokes can one person break?
Losing things - ( 4 pairs of sunglasses, helmets, rear lights, tshirts) - where is that white helmet now? surely its been removed from the vending machine where I left it! I always wonder looking at this photo how I got anywhere, why is my sleeping bag on the outside?!!

Gatorade offer – the offer of 2 bottles for $3, when I could only ever carry 1 at a time, ever so annoying..
Wind in NOK – blowing for days on end in my face, not as planned..
Chucked out of mcds – this was a low point of Oklahoma..
Miles in Florida – this state is really wide, and a lot of the middle of it is really boring
Poverty in Mississippi – well I didn’t get mugged, but some of the scenes were third world and pretty sad
Man-flu – cycling with man-flu is not fun, and no amount of ibuprofen is going to make this 60 miles any shorter
Dogs -  more than enough has been said about my opinions on wild dogs, I didn’t use the bear mase so I guess that’s good
Cateye sensor – that bloody cateye computer not working.. grrrr…see video!
Gaps in shoulder NE – never got a letter back from Governor Heineman – booo!
White bicycles – no one likes a dead cyclist
Mileage slippage – I’m sure some engineer out there is having a laugh over that cheeky extra mile he popped on a sign (you’ll need to find the relevant post in Arkansas for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about)
Phone smash – try not to cry, it happens!

A Time for Thanks! (Take 2)

** Updated - sadly it seems I missed some people out of my thank you list, and they obviously failed to read my second pps... I can only blame this over sight on the Excel for Mac. Whilst being some what of a self certified Excel genius, the shortcuts which I have learnt over my many years excelling Microsoft seem to have totally abandoned on the Mac. This turned the whole process into a labourious track pad clicking mess during which various names were deleted from history. So I transferred the date to my PC and viola, hopefully all the names!**

What is this you may well be asking? Surely not another sea2jax post… Well my last entry on the road promised four more posts including a thank you list, highs and lows, recommendations and some wedding photos. Well it’s nearly a year later and I still haven’t written any of these posts! This task has been sitting at the bottom of my to-do list all this time. Something always seemed to be jumping in the ‘to-do’ list queue.

I’m on holiday with my parents in South Korea and promised myself time to write this. So most importantly I want to thank all the people who helped me be it sponsorship, accommodation, food. I’m sure there will be people I have forgotten but I have done my best to make the list as complete as possible.

So firstly I’d like to thank my sponsors. What was interesting when I was compiling this list was that a few of you tried to be sneaky and be anonymous, however I could see who you were. One person however managed to remain truly anonymous – well done you! A special note to Clare Hughes who actually sponsored me twice, once at the beginning and once at the end.

Pam Mick
Carol and Vince Mick
Dennis Amari and Tony Mick
Stephen Fleming
David Terrace
Anupa Purewal
Pete Hartwell
Zoe Henshaw
Danny Anders
Mary and Jeremy Burtel
Clare Hughes
Chris Harragin
Lynne and Andy Marshall
Todd and Kathy Prough
Andy Pariser
Christie Meehan
Tim Nicholson
Deron Johnston
Oli Bliss
Brian Guinn and Emily Tan
Laura Jordan
Helen G
Nick Collinson
Jen Gillet
Amy Berrett
Tom Worvill
Andy Hardingham
Richard Gallagher
Jane & Michael Merman
Alex Thomas
Adam & Tanya Carter
Sara Jung
Ed Garner
Frixos Kaimakamis
The Zboril Family
Matt Barry & Marnie Dudek
Claire and Alex Brown
Brian & Liz Peers
Megan, Brett, and Tatum Mahle
John Iceton
Emma-Kate Nelson
Mark & Kathy Leach
Alan and Cheryl
Mark Lovatt
Tyler Flamank
Mike Murrell
Veronica Davies
Andy Broome
Paul Delfgou
Nick & Brittany Evans
Kathie Keizner
Mary Renneker
Patty Crysel
Matthew & Sarah Thomson
Rachel Stanley
Matt Pickard
Dominic Bliss
Rose and John Allkins
Mark Wheeler
Al and Alison Hollingsworth
Bill and Shannon Brady
Tom Smith
Joe Myers
Adrian Farrington
Tim Palmer & Sarah Wright
Mary and Gary Cane
Kevin and Rhonda Lurkins
Sharon McGeehan
Suze Stevens-Wood
Gill Evans
Violaine Ludwick
Amy Boehnert
The Dicksons
Mike & Sue Gallagher
Debbie Grelle
Clare Hughes
Karen O'Connor
Shant Oknayan
Damien Homer
Jason Knoy
John Hayden
Tim Jarrett
Starbucks La Grande
Deborah Rowley
Okatoma Resort

Next I’d like to thank the following people for accommodation or food or general hospitality:

Steve Whipple & Family – for accommodation in Seattle
Post Lady of Ravendale – for the camping in her garden
Pizza Hut Lady in Kansas – for the now famous pizza coupons
Ontario Scouts – for feeding me in Oregon
Cyclists of Boise – for guiding me through their city
Jen Meehan – for acquiring me a North Face Tent at cost price
Boise State University – for letting me on their football field for a photoshoot
KOA Mountain Home – for upgrading me to a tepee
Verdell & Lisa – for blueberries and other food
Roger & Family - for Fish at Gelncoe State Park
Melbeta Shop – for a free can of insect spray
Everyone who clapped on beach – and thanks to Pam and Christie for organizing
Gemma and Dan – for meeting up for dinner on their world tour
Ethan and Katie – for giving me a bed in Wichita, KS
John  & Jim Gillum – for the huge amout of hospitality in Little Rock
Cowie Wine Cellar nr Paris – for wine tasting!
Casey and Dina - for lunch cycling in to Little Rock
Saxon Tire Barn in Mississippi – for repairing my rear wheel for free
Kim – the lady who drove me to Saxon Tire Barn
Wisteria Inn – for a huge discount and free beer
Gary (Jehovah’s witness)  - for cooking fuel
Patrick (Ironman) – for cycling with me in Florida and inspiring me for my ironman!
Leach Family – looking after me for a night in Florida
Carla and Patrick – staying in an amazing house next to the sea + dinner
Wakulla Spring State Park – very discounted accomodation
Dave and Dale – giving me their gloves

I’d like to thank the following bike shops for keeping me on the road and the various freebies that I received. Special note for Travis who worked for free fixing my wheel, I hope he has managed to re-plan his Transamerica ride..

Bikesport Seattle - Seattle, WA
Mountain Works Bike Shop - La Grande, OR
Fitzgerald's Bicycles - Jackson, WY
Patty Cyclesport - NorthPlatte, NE
Travis Ragged Edge Sports – Casper, WY
JR Sonnys Bikeshop - Scottsbluff, NE
Coopers Cycle Centre - Stillwater, OK
Hattisburg Bicycle - Hattisburg, MS
Cyclesport Pensacola - Pensacola, FL

Right I also promised some wedding photos, so here are four of the best. After this I’ll be doing one more post on the highs, lows and recommendations. By the way the photo at the top is me cycling in South Korea – had to fit a cycling photo in somewhere, sorry the narcissism of this blog will end soon…

p.s. a special thanks to my lovely wife Pam for letting me do this trip and being so understanding. I guess it will baby time soon :)

p.p.s. super sorry to anyone I forgot, compiling this list was a nightmare!