Trouble with Homeland Security

My first run-in with the police was before I even got to America. I was awoken at 8:30 with a prod from a copper. Apparently it looked like I was a hobo just staying the night in Gatwick Airport. Not far from the truth, but I explained my story, he wished me luck and went on his way.

Since I was awake, I went and found a box for my bike. 17 bloody quid! That was a whole pound more than it cost to stick the thing on the plane! After I recovered from the shock I went off to take it apart, just the wheels and mudguards needed removing.

Bike boxed up

After the mammoth 14 hour wait in Gatwick I was relieved to finally board a plane and try to get more sleep. I would say that I was trying to prevent the impending onset of jetlag, but the truth is I just like my sleep. Thankfully there were no dogs on the plane to fart on my foot and the transfer in Reykjavik was smooth and painless.

Whilst waiting to board the flight to Newark we found out the the plane we were flying on had just been used by Iron Maiden on their 2011 World Tour, and as such was decorated in their own gruesome style. According to one kid the custom paint job meant that it “had” to have TV’s inside: I think that kid’s been watching too much Pimp My Ride.

Plane to New York

The landing in Newark was fine so it was time to breeze through passport control. Maybe not. Since I didn’t have my ticket to New Zealand printed and I was “suspisciouly close” to the 90 day stay limit I had to be processed in Secondary.

This meant sitting with a load of Mexicans and Brazilians in a dinghy back room. I was a little apprenhensive and the guy (named Jones) who got around to questioning me just kept calling me crazy. Apparently no-one can cycle across America. He wouldn’t let me access my email to prove I had a return ticket, citing: “What do you think we are, an Internet Cafe?” At which point I should have just referred him to the sweepstake (make your bets soon!) but I just explained what my plans were for the first week.

I had to take another seat and wait for “Jones” to mull his decision over. A few minutes later I saw him stamping furiously on my customs form and in my passport: I was in.

Luggage collection next, and it was time to build my bike back up again. Simple enough except a screw had gone missing during the trip and as a result I couldn’t put on my rear mudguard. A little engineering meant I could still carry it easily on my bags but I’ll have to find a screw for it soon. I then ditched my primula discreetly because I didn’t quite fancy an on the spot fine for smuggling cheese into the country.

New York was still 30 miles away and it was 22:00 at this point. I got the train which took me to New York Penn station and began my search for a map of NY. I found one in 10 mins and figured out the rough direction of my hostel. I braved the streets after observing a few cyclists and it seems there are pretty much no rules for bikes. Since it’s predominantly a one-way system cyclists are on both sides of the road and traffic lights don’t seem to have any meaning. I even saw a few cycling against traffic! Crazy fools.

I arrived at the hostel at 23:30 after an hour of cycling. It took 45 minutes to get to the front of the queue and another 15 minutes to be processed. I quietly crept into my room which I am sharing with 3 other people, set my alarm and crashed out. I am in America.

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