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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!

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