Paul: D’ya fancy a bike ride Terry?
Terry: Sounds good. Short? Long?
Paul: Quite long.
Well, that appeared to be all the details sorted then.
The rest was just kit …. new bike (none of the other five quite fitted the bill), four panniers and a barbag full of stuff ….. oh, and a dog dazer. Job done.
It seems such a long time ago now when Paul first suggested the four and a half thousand mile jaunt coast to coast across the States. Several months, a tad more planning and a lot of yacking about it later, May 3rd is approaching fast and we are now soooo looking forward to the time when we can say “ it’s brilliant/tough/hot/wet/hilly/sweaty ….” rather than “it will be brilliant/tough …..”. We just want to get on those lovely, new, shiny, expensive bikes and give them a darn good thrashing.
I know we will have actually started the trip when I remember which bit of kit I’ve forgotten …. doesn’t everybody forget something important? On my first trip to Peru and Bolivia …. the overnight bus taking me to the airport had just pulled out of Norwich and suddenly an image flashed into my head …there were my pedals ….. sitting neatly on the bench in the waiting room. I had to take them off at the last moment to appease the driver. And they were brand new too. Blast. I hope they went to a good home. Scooting my laden bike from Cuzco airport the five miles into town was fun, but a quick stop in the local market and in my best Peruvian … i.e. pointing and smiling …. the finest resin pedals available were purchased and I was off; over the mountain and into the Sacred Valley on my way to Machu Picchu. The pedals lasted two days! Tel’s top tip: don’t cheapskate on the essentials. (I did visit the proper bike shop in Cuzco on my next visit though, as my front wheel rim exploded, luckily only a few miles out of town.)
Many cycle trips and magical times later ….. seeing trays piled high with huge fried tiger-eye spiders in deepest Cambodia, picking my way along a dried river bed in a ravine in the High Atlas, watching condors drifting just below me in the Colca canyon, camping in the Arctic Circle in Norway in 24 hour daylight, and cycling into a remote military training camp in Vietnam whilst taking a ‘short cut’ (not our best idea), instantly surrounded by excited young soldiers waving rifles bigger than them (never a good combination) …. I feel ready for all that the good ol’ US of A can throw at me. Except the dogs. Not sure how that relative cycling virgin travelling with me is going to cope though. (‘relative virgin’? Is that a bit like ‘almost unique’?)
And talking of virgins (contrived link number 37) I’ve never been to the States before so this is new territory for me so it seems appropriate that we’re taking the settlers’ route from east to west. We’re going to have a whale of a time. How can we not? There’s so much to take in …. from the culture of the capital city to the endless views of the mid-west to the wow factor of Yellowstone, the pain of the Rockies and then the first view of the Pacific some 10 weeks later. And it’s going to be sunny and warm every day and I’ll find lots to eat (I’m a vegetarian) and everybody will be helpful and smiling at us mad Brits. And there’ll be no dogs. And then I will wake up. We’ll get what we’re given. There will be days when I’m struggling behind Paul and yelling at him into the teeth of a gale “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time from the comfort of my edit suite!” and on really bad days “Tell me again who’s f***ing idea this was!”. Bring it on.