First things first - the UNICEF Haiti appeal. You're probably all aware of the earthquake that struck Haiti recently, causing devastation beyond all comprehension. I guess I don't even need to go into the details here, I'm sure you've heard or read about just how bad it is. And it is bad. UNICEF already have emergency teams out there, but they urgently need more supplies. If you can, either donate directly to UNICEF here, or visit my justgiving site and donate to my trip - that money will also go direct to the charity and the work they're doing.
Now, to much less important matters. Have you signed up to the newsletter? If not, why not do it now! You'll get a fortnightly email with all the latest news on my trip, plus a few other bonuses that'll make it worth your while.
As for me, I reckon I'm now officially a New York resident. I've got an apartment, I go to work in the city every day, I've even got a bank account here. And it's kinda fun!
It's been pretty whirlwind - I arrived in on Saturday night, and took a cab to my arranged-via-the-internet apartment in Brooklyn. Luckily it all worked out okay, and apart from nearly killing myself hauling my bike and bag in and out of the taxi, it was pretty smooth. The area I'm in seems like a good place to be - Manhattan is only 15-20 minutes by subway, and Williamsburg, the new 'cool happenin' place to be' by all accounts, is only a short walk or bus ride away. Once I feel cool and happenin' enough I'll check it out.
I started working in a documentary production company on Tuesday, which is a lot of fun. The offices are in a big open loft space in Midtown West, to my mind quintessentially New York. Unfortunately I'm only the lowly intern, but I have 3 months to make a good impression! Even better, the folks there have been treating me well even before I've had a chance to show my skills at all - I haven't had to fetch coffee once.
So I've got 3 months of this city life ahead, which at the minute seems a fun prospect. When I'm not working I'm going to have to get cracking on expedition related things - the first task is to rebuild my bike! I've taken it all out of the box it was transported in, and it seems to have survived (I'd expect nothing less from the Santos, of course) but until I put it back together again I won't know for sure. So that's first. Then I gotta try and get some sort of profile in NYC, fill out the rest of my kit, and most importantly, get fit again. I still have a way to go with my recovery - I'm not yet in a position where I can train. So here's hoping my body finally gets some good healing time now I've stopped moving around, and I can get back on the bike and in the gym asap.
Finally, from The Big Apple, to a much smaller apple (that didn't really work)...my hometown of Coleraine - check out some of my latest press coverage here, including my feature in 'The Coleraine Chronicle' - I believe you'll find me somewhere after 'Rogue Dog responsible for Sheep Carnage.' I wouldn't read about me over that story either. There's also a new article on road.cc here
Enjoy the first of my NYC pictures, many many more to come!
So I finally made it, through the heavy snow, arctic wind, biting sleet....actually it wasn't too bad, just a bit cold. But I did make it to Lancing where I finally collected my new Santos Travelmaster!
Alasdair and Shelagh at MSG gave me another fantastic fitting, checking every possible variation to ensure the most comfortable ride possible. And what a ride! After all the adjustments, Alasdair told me to take it for a spin down the road. Now, this would have been exciting at any time, but especially so when I haven't set foot on a pedal for over two and a half months since my operation. I was inevitably a little cautious, not wanting to fall off and injure myself all over again, but it still felt unspeakably great to be back on two wheels.
The bike is a perfect fit, thanks to MSG, and the quality is undoubtedly top notch, thanks to Santos. Unfortunately, one day later, I'm now packing it all up again so it can fit on the plane. Still plenty of time to play around in New York. And get training again! I'm still nowhere near 100%, but taking a ride on the new bike showed me that I'm just about ready to start light cardio again. Happy Days.
I'll write more later, but now I have to get some packing done, put the bike in a box, get some dollars, basically all the boring stuff that tries it's bet to ruin travel (it fails) - but for now I'll leave you with the standard 'Look at what I got!' pictures. Enjoy!
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The trip to collect my new Santos bike has become one of the casualties of the current severe weather in the UK. Admittedly this is a minor casualty compared to some of the crazy stuff that's been going on, but it still means I'm 5 days away from leaving for NYC, and minus a bike. With any luck I'll get to Lancing tomorrow to collect it, then I can breathe freely again.
Meanwhile, I'll save you from the boring details of my life recently - it's mainly involved lots of emails trying to sort out somewhere to live in NYC. Instead I'll share another of the encouraging messages I've received recently.
Will Gow worked in the city while undertaking the odd adventure here and there, before deciding to set up the go all Polar - recreating Ernest Shackleton's legendary Nimrod Expedition of 1909 when his team came within 97 miles of the South Pole before being forced back. Will happens to be a direct descendant of the great Shackleton, and the rest of his team were also related to the original members.
I went along to hear Will speak about their adventure as part of the Canterbury Festival, and managed to grab him for a quick chat afterwards. It's always good to talk face to face with inspiring people, because it can really give you a kick up the backside motivation wise. Will was very down to earth, and was kind enough to give me a few words of encouragement about my trip -
"It sounds like you are taking on an amazing challenge. Best of luck –it’s a bold dream, now make it come true!!"
- Will Gow
The title should say it all! But I've jumped ahead of myself. I should start by saying Happy New Year -2010, who'd believe it?! I had a great new year's celebration back in Canterbury. Everything here is starting to feel slightly more special because my departure date is imminent. However, that too is pretty special. Tomorrow marks the commencement of the year in a working sense for me, and I'll have just under 2 weeks to get everything ready to up sticks and move to New York. My main concern at the minute is getting my bike on the plane without having to pay an arm and a leg for the privilege. Talking of which...
I'll be picking up my Santos Travelmaster this Friday! It feels like it's been an age in coming, although I've only been waiting a month for it. That's still quite long though. We all now how hard it is to have to wait for something we really want. Patience is a obviously a virtue I have to work on. Anyway, only 5 days to go. Don't worry, I'll take my camera along.
I'm still looking for somewhere to live in New York City, so I'll need to up the ante on the search for that. Conversely, expedition stuff is coming along nicely. One of the real pleasures recently has been the lovely messages of support and encouragement I've been receiving. They've been coming from friends and strangers alike, and it makes my day when all the boring emails I wade through eventually lead to some kind words. I thought I'd share a few with you over the next few blog posts. For today, I'll share the incisive inspiration of Josie Dew. Josie is an English cyclist and author, and has been touring regularly since she was 15. I read one of her books, The Wind in my Wheels, a few years ago when I was first contemplating my big adventure. Her stories were a breath of fresh air from all the 'serious business' cycling stuff I'd read before. Fun seems to be top of her agenda when she's touring. Anyway, it was great to get a word of encouragement from someone who has had such an effect on my mindset.
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"Cycle and see the world, Leon. There's no better way!"