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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!