California came on a bit strong, to be honest. As soon as I'd crossed the state border I was faced with a huge climb into the belly of the Redwoods. Luckily, it was beautiful and I admit falling in love almost instantly. It was unfortunate that my infatuation caused me to get distracted from the task at hand, and I was to be punished for ignoring my warm ups and warm downs. Constant pedalling up steep grades was taking it toll on my body, and while I felt fine about it, my left knee decided it wasn't quite so happy. It began with a slight ache, but each hill and subsequent day without rest inevitably aggravated the problem.
Again I've fallen behind with my blogging! Let me quickly fill you in - since my last post from Oregon I cycled south through Northern California, arriving a week later in San Francisco. I'd been having problems with one of my knees, so an extended rest was needed. 8 days of recuperation left me raring to go, and I have now pedaled from the Bay Area down to Los Angeles, arriving today exhausted and smelly. But it doesn't finish there! Not any more. Being so close to the border with Mexico I've decided to bike further south to the end of the USA and cross into Tijuana. I had wanted to spend more time in Mexico, but taking so long off in San Francisco put paid to those plans.
Anyway within the next few days I will upload the blogs and photos for the Crescent City to San Francisco section and the most recent leg to LA. There'll also be a blog due for the final segment to my North American journey - from here to Mexico, but I have to actually ride it first...
Anyway, blogs, photos, info, maps and updates on the fast approaching jump to New Zealand soon. Thanks for checking up on the site!
'In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks'
So says John Muir, and he's not wrong - my last few weeks have been spent in cahoots with the delights of the wilds and I cannot say I am unaffected.
I left Portland on a dreary Sunday morning, feeling like I'd had too much beer and not enough sleep. I actually didn't have very much beer at all, but because I indulge so rarely in anything with alcoholic content these days it hits my cycling-specific system a little harder than perhaps it should. And three hours sleep never did anyone any good. But I'd had a blast in Portland and experimented with a regular lifestyle for a day or two, so the trade off was fair.
An extract from my journal from some of the areas I wasn't able to blog about at the time. Today - The ride up the Big Horn Mountains
"Matt, Andy, Morgan and I slept longer and better than usual, and upon waking took our time over breakfast. This was not a day to be underfed or sleep deprived. We'd been warned about the ride over Powder Pass in the Big Horn mountains ever since we entered the state of Wyoming, and now as we camped at the base we finally began to believe the hype. The road wound north west through the low tree cover and disappeared into the folds of the mountain. The earth looked deformed; rising so suddenly and dramatically that the trees grew at bizzare right angles out of the side. Never before have I had such an imposing backdrop to my egg sandwiches and oatmeal! We'd made the decision to eat as much as we possibly could without bursting in order to power us up the climb, and it was a task we all took very seriously. Consumption took well over an hour, and digestion the same again. Sometimes eating is my favourite thing.
I did it! I finally made it out of Seattle, and escaped the grip of having a cosy house and warm bed to stay in. After the unplanned extra days off, I was punished by one of the worst weather fronts of my entire trip. It rained hard, and it rained long. All day I pedalled through a heavy, thick downpour. To begin with I was a little perturbed, but within minutes I was so wet that I literally couldn't get any more so without becoming a liquid myself, so I just got used to it. And once you're past that stage it's all good. I began to enjoy cycling alongside Lake Union, watching the rain bounce off the surface and gradually add to the water level until it climbed dangerously close to the road.
This time last week I was preparing to leave Seattle. Right now, I'm doing exactly the same thing. My little jaunt to Vancouver was very much a loop that has left me in the same place where I started. Having come across the country by a extremely circuitous route and always up for a detour to view something exciting, I was happy to take a week out to head north. I guess this is why I found myself surprised at just how reluctant I was once I got going.
It's strange battling with yourself - there's no-one else to blame anything on. The only person to benefit or suffer from the decisions is....well, me. I knew I would regret it if I left the Pacific Northwest without visiting British Columbia, but it felt counter-intuitive to be heading north when my next 'destination' was south. Nevertheless I persevered and, surprise surprise, was very glad I did. Riding out of Seattle was miserable - I covered 40 miles before I started to see greenery and open spaces. There's nothing to kill motivation quite like slow inner-city riding, and my spirits lifted considerably north of Everett. The sun began to shine, the traffic thinned and I remembered why I love this life. The wheels started spinning more easily, the saddle became more comfortable and the wind rushed by whispering secrets of the road ahead. It was beautiful.
The time for napping in parks during the day and staying up late to watch movies is over. My mini vacation from the bike has ended and I have returned to Seattle - back to the grind, as it were. Luckily, I can't imagine a better grind. A few logistical issues to iron out, a firm strengthening of my resolve and I shall be back on bike. Rest, recuperation and relaxation have been plentiful recently and I'm mentally and physically ready for the next stage.
Meanwhile take a listen to the interview I gave on the BBC - Alan Simpson's weekday show on Radio Ulster. I believe if you fast forward to 1:21:50 you can jump straight into it.
The link is
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!
Well, then. Here we are. I'm in Seattle, and you will have no idea about the journey that brought me here because I have neglected to post as frequently as you deserve. Struggling to find wifi connections, and then to combine that location with the time, energy and correct camera cables to post photos and write an update has led me to re-think my whole strategy for this project. It's already become very clear that the video aspect hasn't quite worked out as planned. As disappointing as that is, I've managed to find the silver lining hidden amongst the failure. The first leg from New York to Seattle was always going to be tough - it was long, unpredictable, and, most importantly, a brand new experience for me. I feel that the lessons I've learned from the first seventy days will stand me in good stead for the rest of the expedition. Let me explain.
Communication is becoming much harder at this stage of the trip. Much of last week was spent in South Dakota, and the Badlands and Black Hills have directed me eventually into Wyoming where I am now.
Just over a week has passed since the last post, and as is becoming a pattern recently, it's been a rollercoaster. A great rest day in Sioux Falls with Jason and Paul was followed by possibly the lowest point of my journey so far. As to why it was quite such an emotional crash, I can't truely say. However, in part it was probably due to unwinding a little too much with the guys in Sioux Falls, and perhaps letting myself think of home a little. Despite resting and eating better than I had in over a week, as soon as I hit the road on Monday morning things just didn't feel good. The wind was strong, the road empty and scenery bland. It reminded me of those old platform videogames which only had a couple of seconds of backdrop that kept regenerating every few frames. Cycling out Highway 42 wasn't much different - corn, corn, beans, house, corn, corn, beans, house....cow....corn, corn etc.