Saturday, 14 May 2011

In the beginning

Thanks for visiting my blog!
I’m Michael, I’m 31 years old, and I live in London. I work in an office, I like to go running, watch films at the cinema and going out for drinks with my friends and family. So, all in all, pretty ordinary!
However, over the summer of 2011 I’m planning on doing something a little less ordinary. I will be attempting to cycle over 4,000 miles across America from sea to shining sea, along the Transamerica Bike Trail. The route was first ridden en-masse in 1976, in celebration of America’s bicentennial – the tour was dubbed Bikecentennial – with over 4000 riders taking part and over 2000 covering the full distance. These days it is a popular cycle touring route, and I am aiming to join the band of those who have completed it.
About now, you are probably asking (quite sensibly) “Why on earth would you want to cycle over 4,000 miles?” and perhaps for good measure adding, “Are you crazy?”
The genesis for this quest started last summer. After 5 years at University, followed immediately by another 6 years in work, I was beginning to feel like I needed something a bit different. I had never had the time, nor the money, to go travelling whilst a student (mainly because all my ‘spare’ time was spent working to earn money to pay for uni!) but was beginning to wish I could see some of the world in a different way.
One thing to make clear though: this was never about going on some mystic journey to ‘find myself’ by joining the hordes on a backpacking trip around SE Asia. Nothing wrong with doing that, but it just isn’t my thing. I just fancied doing something which would be a bit of a challenge, and that I could look back on with a sense of pride.
So the search began for something that might grab my enthusiasm. After a bit of searching online I came across the Adventure Cycling Association of America. An organisation designed to encourage and facilitate cycle touring in the USA. They have maps for a number of routes, including the coast to coast Transamerica trail.
The idea of doing this definitely pricked my interest for a number of reasons
  • It would be a tough, but rewarding challenge. I like to keep fit as much as possible – I have now finished 2 marathons and around 10 half marathons. So despite having a weakness for cheesecakes, I have a reasonable level of fitness!
  • I enjoy cycling. Not in a lycra-clad, “must have the latest gear” kind of way. But as an enjoyable activity and a great way to get some fresh air.
  • I really like America as a country, and especially some of the amazing scenery it has to offer. Recently my girlfriend Clare and I have had a couple of amazing holidays in the States. In the first we did a three week tour of California (and Vegas), taking in SF, LV, LA and Yosemite national park. Then last year we went to Yellowstone and back to Yosemite.
When in San Francisco, we did a fantastic cycle tour over the Golden gate bridge, and around the Bay area. So I feel I have plenty of experience of what cycling in America will entail!

In a happy co-incidence, the Transamerica goes through Yellowstone, so I can go back and see this amazing place again. And  also see many, many more Bison!
So the decision was made, and it was on to trying to turn the idea into reality!

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