Organising the cycle across America – Part 2

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.

Sleeping arrangements

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.

Planning a bike trip across America

Well I guess this is actually happening, I may actually be stupid enough to cycle my way across America. New York to Los Angeles baby!

I set off on April 29th from Gatwick which is just under 3 months away, and I wanted to give you an insight into the type of planning which I’m having to do for the trip (It might even come in handy for anyone else mad enough to do it.) Anyone who’s lucky enough to know me will understand how much I don’t do planning but doing a trip like this requires a little forethought.

Flights and staying in America

I’ll be in the USA for 90 days. This is the maximum amount of time you can spend in the country without the need to apply for a travel visa (you still have to apply for ESTA regardless of how long you’re there for but this is all done electronically now so is fairly straightforward.) I have booked my flight to New York (£168 bargain through Iceland Express!) and need to purchase my outward bound flight before I leave so that I can prove I’m not going to be loitering in the states!

Travel and medical insurance is a must have. Even I’m not stupid enough to chance this. Healthcare costs in America are extortionate. As Brits we take free healthcare for granted but you don’t want to be caught with your pants down over there! Travel and medical insurance came in at £100 for a 3 month trip. It could have been a little cheaper but I paid extra so I don’t have to pay any excess if I do have to claim. Insurance was bought through “Insure my Trip” who search through insurance companies to get the right insurance for you, remember you probably need Travel AND Medical cover.

Planning a cycling route across America

I’m the type of person that wings it as much as I can but if you’re going to cycle over 4,500 miles you need a rough route. To figure out mine, I took a list of places I wanted to see and joined up the dots in a semi-logical order. Here’s a Google Map of my very rough route (it seems to take a while to load, be patient!). The main highlights are:

  • New York City
  • Washington DC
  • Chicago
  • Salt Lake City
  • Try to avoid desert
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Cruz / Barbara
  • Los Angeles

I had originally wanted to go up to Vancouver as there are some lovely people up there, but after much deliberation I’ve decided it just added too many miles, nearly an extra 2,000 so that’s going to be a separate adventure!

Stay tuned for the next blog post about planning the trip. It will involve getting my bike across the pond, the equipment I’ll be taking and all the little things which still need consideration before I leave!