"You're doing what!" "Should a man of your age be doing this?" is the usual reaction of friends when I tell them. Yes that's right. On 29th April 2011 I'm setting off to cycle 5000 miles across America and I've signed up for the trip, somewhat impulsively I have to admit!.
And then the next question is usually "So are you getting a free holiday out of this?" And the answer is
"Absolutely Not - I am fully funding this trip myself so every penny that I raise will go to Shelterbox".
The first big decision was whether to travel alone, as many people do, or join a group. I've decided to do both as I fancy some camaraderie on such a long trip. I also don't like the idea of cycling alone and being chased across Kentucky by a pack of feral dogs, which apparently happens quite a lot!.
I will be doing most of the trip with the American Adventure Cycling Association joining a multi national group of up to 14 people.
For the final 700 miles I will be cycling alone up the Pacific coast finishing in Vancouver, Canada.
So if everything goes to plan I should be flying home on 25th August, and hopefully not in an Air Ambulance:-).
This is a camping trip, with everything carried on the bike. There will be a tour leader, but no support vehicle and the group will be responsible for buying food and doing all the cooking. So this is by no means a luxury holiday although we do have the occasional rest and recreation day:-) On average we will be cycling 50 to 60 miles a day, which is more than enough for me with a fully loaded bike!.
Weather conditions will range from hot and humid with temperatures approaching 100F, to sub zero temperatures and snow in the Rockies. And of course lots of hills and headwinds which are mandatory for any cycling trip:-)
I have to confess that I have done this kind of thing before. In 2007 I cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats with an old school friend Ken Guest. It was a mere 1200 miles though and we didn't go anywhere near a campsite:-) A great trip with a fantastic sense of achievement but when when we got to the end we were kind of disappointed - we really wanted to continue cycling but the North Sea was in the way !!!
Big thanks to my friend Ken though. If he'd been able to make the New Zealand cycle that we planned after Lands End - John O' Groats I probably wouldn't be doing this! I am however working on him to join me for the last part of the trip.
So there we have it. There's no turning back now!