It's fast approaching the end of August, and after a couple of weeks off the bike I've had a little time for reflection on the first few months of this journey. It's going to take a lot more than that to fully comprehend everything I've experienced and learned, but it's a start. Definitely worth mentioning straight away that I've discovered just how big America is. It's HUGE. I mean really huge. And it's absolutely full of stories. Whether fast-paced city or tiny truck stop, busy sidewalk or every deserted boardwalk, the places and people I encountered had history, a present and a future, and all these tales are worth of retelling. It's impossible for me to do that, but I feel honoured to have heard them, and I look forward to sharing some of them with you in the upcoming documentary.
So here's where I'm at right now. I've cycled about 3,500 miles from New York to Seattle. In a few days I'll hop back on my bike and pedal from Seattle to San Diego. From there I'll make my way to New Zealand and ride North to South. After that it's the East Coast of Australia, and then finally South East Asia; Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it is, that's for sure. However distance wise I've made a pretty good start. 3,500 miles is probably about a third of the overall distance I plan to ride, give or take a few pedal strokes.
I'll use this opportunity to give new readers and old a quick reminder of what I'm trying to achieve.
My passion is the documentary. I'm aiming to make a film combining my personal journey on the bike with the stories of the people I meet. I'm especially seeking to highlight individuals and causes that are working to try and make a positive impact on the world we live in. To donate to the cause for the documentary, follow the link to the 'How can you help?' page or click on the button below:
The other consequential element is that of the charity fundraising. I'm endeavouring to raise £10,000 ($15,000) for the children's charity UNICEF. They work around the world to deliver health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, and rely on voluntary donations. If you are interested, inspired or moved to donate to their cause I would be delighted, and you really would be making a huge difference. You can do so by clicking on the UNICEF logo below
That's all for now - keep checking in regularly for more blogs, photos and videos. I'll be back in the saddle within the next few days, so log on then to see how the next stage of the journey goes!
Don't forget there's plenty of info all over the site to read and enjoy, including the snapshots I've taken so far here, so have fun navigating around!
I've spent much of today re-watching my favourite travel and adventure documentaries, in search of some inspiration for my own trip. As a big fan of the genre, I've grown up loving everything from Michael Palin's endearing supported-trips to Benedict Allen's eschewing of any crew, and from Werner Herzog's beautifully mad portrayals of peoples and cultures to the even more obscure expeditions that have only been shot on amateur cameras.
Undoubtedly though, my favourite documentary of all time is Cannibals and Crampons. For those of you that don't know it, it charts the expedition of two ex-army officers as they try to climb the south face of Mt Mandala in New Guinea. One is the adventurer Mark Anstice, and the second is explorer Bruce Parry, who went on to greater fame in the BBC shows 'Tribe' and 'Amazon.' Why's it so great? Well it's just a proper, proper adventure. They set off into deepest Indonesia, without permits, any form of support or any real knowledge of what might face them - just armed with the little research it was possible for them to do (given the lack of exploration of the area) 90kg packs of gear each and a heck of a lot of spirit. They film it themselves, and trek through the jungle for months before finally climbing the mountain (without any ropes.) They face, and overcomes things you wouldn't even dare to imagine, and to me they embody what true expeditioning is all about. It's very, very different from my trip obviously, but I hope I can draw some inspiration from their remarkable achievement.
So that's my favourite, a hard choice to make in such a exciting genre. What's your favourite? Anyone agree with my choice?
Today Im sending off my booking form to attend the Royal Geographic Society's annual expedition and fieldwork planning weekend. 'Explore 2008' was definately of the highlights of last year for me, providing unrivaled lectures, seminars and chats on the logisitics of planning travel, plus just some great company of amazing people. Hanging around with explorers chatting about expeditions to remote parts of the globe over a beer or two - surely every boys dream! So I could barely be more excited about 'Explore 2009', and November 15th-17th cannot come quickly enough. Details on the conference and some info from last year can be seen here:
When I wasn't day dreaming of adventures that took me away from my life of working and packing my stuff to move house (surely theres few less enjoyable things) I found time to watch Michael Mann's 'Public Enemies' last night. What a film. Honestly, it was fantastic. I don't have a problem with Michael Mann - Heat was superb, Last of the Mohicans was a childhood favourite of mine, and Collateral, The Insider, Ali - they all have their plaudits. But I didn't enjoy Miami Vice at the cinema - I really didnt. Public Enemies however blew me away. Johnny Depp was inimitable as always, inseperable from his role as John Dillinger. In fact, all the performances were spot on, even if a lot of them didnt stretch the actors too much - Christian Bale's Melvyn Purvis for example. But the film just looked incredible. The colour, the depth, the framing - the atmosphere was created from the opening jailbreak scene and didnt drop till the end. The handheld camerawork kept us up close and personal with the characters, not allowing breathing space during the intense scenes. I felt physically tired after a couple of lengthy exchanges involving Dillinger. On top of that, there was the gunfights and car chases, which are most certainly Mann's speciality. 8/10 I reckon - some of the characters were a little undeveloped and there was a bit of confusion as to who was who in the supporting gangsters. However, the important things worked - great film. If you havent already - go see it!