It’s been a month since I announced my plan to cycle across America, all 4,500 tortuous miles of it. I thought I’d let you know I’ve decided it’s a stupid idea and I’m not doing it anymore, why would anyone want to voluntarily put themselves through something like that?
Just kidding, unfortunately for my body the bike ride is still on and I’ve had a busy month of preparations and form filling. I’ve applied (and been accepted) for the ESTA which is compulsory for anyone travelling to America. This is a straightforward online application, confirming I have not been affiliated with Nazis and paying $14 for the privilege.
The flight from Los Angeles to Wellington is booked for the 27th July, giving me 89 days to complete the trip. The 18 hour flight cost £650. I’ll be flying Qantas, transferring in Auckland and making the final leg to Wellington with Air New Zealand where Charlie will be waiting for me (with any luck!) holding a witty sign and a monkey!
More equipment buying…
The bike has received some TLC recently, a spring clean, new brakes, new bottle holders and a good ol’ greasing and it’s running sweetly again. It still doesn’t have a name, feel free to come up with a suitable name in the comments. All name’s will be considered apart from anyone called Carl. I feel it needs naming as I’ll be speaking to it (read: cursing) quite a lot on the trip. A bike computer has just been bought so I can keep track of my mileage and speed. That will be installed when it arrives!
I have bought a couple more base layers and cycling boxers for more protection of the derrière. For riding I will typically be wearing; a short sleeve base layer shirt, a cycling jersey, cycle boxers and bib shorts. Body temperature has been fine during practice runs so it should be fine a few degrees warmer across the pond. After a while the arms and legs just end up numb from the wind, as long as you can’t feel them they’ll be fine.
Eating will be important (I’ll be burning around 5,000 calories a day) and I am very excited about my purchase of a Jetboil and a titanium spork. Minimal, lightweight but efficient cooking. Perfect for pasta, soup, beans which will be the crux of my food intake.
For the times when I will be stealth camping I have; a fine one-man tent, sleeping bag and 3/4 Thermarest (still to buy). Carefully selected because they all offer the best weight to warmth/usefulness ratio for the temperature. Minimum night temperatures will be around 10°C in May, 14°C in June and 17°C in July – A tad warmer than the lovely British climate.
I will hopefully try to do a bit of couch surfing if the lovely people of America will put me up for a night. This means I get to shower, stock up on water and meet the locals, the latter being the part of the trip I am looking forward to the most.
If I have been camping for a few days in a row (read: exceeding acceptable levels of odour) I will be booking into a motel and spending a few dollars on the luxury of a bed, a shower and breakfast! Mmm, breakfast…
Other preparations include reading up on how best to avoid bears and what to do if one happens to take a liking to me. I think I can recall one blog preaching about the necessity of “protection”. I shall take a Durex with me just in case.
What’s left to do…
I don’t need a visa to get into New Zealand, in fact you can be there for up to 6 months with a UK passport, but I am going to apply for a work visa before I leave. Hopefully this will enable me to look for a job when I get to New Zealand or start doing contract work.
On the list of things left to buy are; a 3/4 Thermarest, a solar charger, a new SD card and some titanium tent pegs. As you can see I’m very nearly prepared! My next blog post will include a few photos of the kit I’m taking with me, and anything else I can think of.
One last thing before I sign off, Happy Birthday to my little bro Jack who’s 15 today! Here’s to following your dreams and doing crazy stuff just because you can. Love you bro.