Saturday, 13 February 2010

Why and How

The first question I suppose is, how did I get the mad idea of cycling 3629 miles in 50 days.
I was working in an office in Harrogate, playing a bit of touch rugby and football in the evenings when a friend, Andrew Perry, cycled across the USA from San Francisco to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My father had been a keen cyclist in his younger days and had once cycled from Edinburgh to Nice but I had never been really interested. Andrew's blog enthused me so much that I went and bought a second hand racer and found that it was a great way to exercise and see the countryside properly. I decided that I wanted to go on such an adventure and, upon retirement in April 2009, went to Bob Jackson's cycle shop in Leeds and had a bike made to measure. For those of you who are interested, it is made of Reynolds 853 tubing and has a Rohloff rear hub which contains the gears (a bit like an upmarket Sturmey Archer). It sports butterfly handlebars, a lovely old fashioned leather Brooks saddle and is shod with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres which should keep me mostly puncture free. It is a joy to ride and, a bit like me, is built for comfort not speed!
I have been trying to do as much mileage as possible, winter weather permitting. In early September I cycled from Newcastle to St Andrews and back as far as Prestonpans when the weather finally beat me. Still, I was quite happy with 275 miles in 4 days and no real aches and pains as this was the first time I had done 4 days serious mileage in a row. A picture of my bike on the Forth Bridge is displayed above and another better close up.
Despite the cold weather, I need to be building up from 150 miles per week to 300 per week between now and June 17 when I fly to Portland, Oregon to begin the trip.
I am travelling with a company called America By Bicycle. We begin in Astoria in Oregon, go West to dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean, then head east (hopefully with the prevailing winds at our backs!) and travel through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York State, Vermont and finally New Hampshire. We climb the Cascades, Grand Tetons, Black Hills and the Appalachians so there should be some spectacular scenery and sore legs. Last year there were more than 50 riders on the trip, the youngest being 18 and the oldest being 80.

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