Monthly Archives: October 2012

I think I’ll go to Boston

Now that I have had plenty time to look back on the trip and appreciate it as a whole, I thought I would write one last blog for my loyal fans.

I can’t quite remember the feelings I had about the trip before I started. I do remember thinking that it would be a lot easier than it eventually turned out to be. I had read a few blogs that all said that the most amazing thing about the this kind of trip is how mundane it becomes, how after a few weeks cycling 60/70 miles a day simply becomes routine. In all honesty, looking back I would say exactly the same thing about the trip. But I think that’s due to the fact that the easier days towards the end begin to cloud the memories of the tough days at the start. As I said before, the first few weeks were the hardest. For most people, a trip like this would be an accumulation of year’s worth of dreaming and planning, a lifelong dream to live on the road, cycling everyday across an amazing continent. The problem for me was that this was a three month dream; I had no experience of cycling for so long and I had (and still have) no love for cycling. I had to grow into the trip; I had to learn while I was doing it. What to eat, when to eat, how fast to go, what distances were realistic. While the bad days may have outnumbered the good ones, it is the good ones that I will remember the most. The people, the places and the experiences are something that I will always remember and it is certainly a trip that I look back on very fondly.

This will be my last post, so before I summarize, I want to take the time to thank all the incredible people that I met throughout my trip. I honestly didn’t give out the details of this site very often, so if I gave it to you, then you really contributed to the enjoyment of my trip and I hope one day I can repay you. Another big thank you to everyone who donated, I was able to visit Rachel House when I got back and witnessed where the money is going and the fantastic work that they do there. And a final big thank you to everyone who posted comments on here. I really appreciated every single comment; they really kept me going, especially through the tough first few weeks.

So here is a final summary of the trip:

Best day: Despite my constant moaning throughout the whole blog, I did actually have a good number of really enjoyable days. However, the best day of the trip decision was quite an easy one. From day one I dreamt of reaching the Atlantic Ocean and on day 69, this finally became a reality. It was still quite a long day, but I don’t think cycling 80 miles will ever feel so easy. However, it wasn’t the cycling that made this day the best, it was the destination. Good Harbor Beach was the perfect ending point for my trip and to have family there at the end made it even more special.

Worst day: To avoid excessive worry back home, full details of this day were not exposed in the original blog.

I mentioned a couple of times that Sundays tended to not be my best days, but one particular Sunday was worse than the rest. It was my first real day in the Rockies and it was bad from start to finish. Mileage wise it wasn’t a particularly long day, but in terms of hours on the bike, I think it was the longest. It started with a second accent of the same hill out of Lewiston, followed by a ridiculous ‘short cut’ through a field. Both of these factors meant that I hit the start of the real climb around midday, which meant climbing right through the hottest part of the day. In addition to this, I was quite low on water due to the shop on my map no longer being in business. In fact this was the only time throughout the trip that I felt low on water. The hill took forever, it was just steep enough to be constantly uncomfortable and the heat combined with a complete lack of shade made it unbearable. Towards the end of the trip, I remember thinking back and wondering if the hill actually was that tough and how I would have handled the same hill at the end of the trip. Irrespective of this, on this occasion, the hill took me around 4 hours to complete. However, if the day ended at the top of the hill, it probably wouldn’t have made this list; the day would’ve been forgotten about just like all the other tough days on the bike. But as I said, today was bad from start to finish. The flat stretch at the top of the hill to the town was a lot longer than I expected, probably due to my snail like pace at this stage and the fact that I was now completely out of water.

Upon arrival in the horrible little town of Winchester, I sat down at the only bar in town to get some food. I can’t actually remember what I ate, but I do remember getting an ice tea, which I definitely didn’t order. After dinner I set about finding somewhere to stay. My maps said that there was a campsite in town, and despite the tough day and the fact that there were a couple of motels, I was determined to start camping more. After a frustrating unsuccessful ride down and back up a hill to try find the campsite and a couple of rides around town, I finally worked out where the campsite should be. I went up a small but quite steep gravel track and arrived at where the campsite should’ve been, but all that was there was a model of a small old western town. After walking around a bit and tripping over a fence (landing face first), I decided to abandon the search and just stay in the motel back down the road.

As I was going back down the gravel track, I began to pick up pace. Wary that the track let directly out onto a main road, I tried to brake a little. As a result, I started skidding and soon came of the bike, hitting the ground hard. Bleeding and bruised, bike broken, I walked over to the motel and went inside. The woman in charge immediately called anyone with any medical experience in town, including a vet!! The police came to make sure that no one was to blame. Still in quite a bit of shock, the ‘paramedics’  did a good job of patching me up, while the motel owner asked me some questions, including one of my favourite questions from the whole trip, “do they speak Russian in Ukraine?”

I was quite badly scrapped, but nothing too serious; my biggest worry was the bike. The handlebars were completely bent out of shape and the brakes were busted, with parts missing. The closest bike shop was back down in Lewiston, and I’ll be dammed if I was going up that hill again. Out of phone signal, no internet, unsure how to fix the bike and pretty sore to boot, it was a lonely worrying night and probably the low point of the whole trip.

The next morning, things seemed better, I was able to fix the handlebars and the back brakes (I didn’t use the front brakes anyway), and despite being pretty sore, my desire to get out of that town was too strong to hold me back. I managed to get the bike fixed completely in Missoula and the wounds eventually healed. Day 10 was certainly memorable, for all the wrong reasons.

Longest day: 20mph winds directly at my back, flat, straight roads the whole day and the motivation that I could get out of North Dakota within the day, day 34 was a day where everything aligned. In addition to this, I was feeling better after struggling earlier in the same week. 135 miles was the total, the only time I went over the century on the whole trip and to be honest it wasn’t even difficult. Physically and mentally day 34 turned out to be a real turning point of the trip.

Shortest day: In total, I had nine rest days and almost all of them were glorious. They included: Pump shopping in Walla Walla, tube shopping in Clarkston, body and bike fixing in Missoula, a very enjoyable day in Lewistown with Jerry and Vicky, recovering in Dickinson, eating anything I could find in St Joseph, stocking up with the parents, a day of eating and watching sport on the banks of Lake Erie and finally a relaxing day after a magnificent Canadian Thanksgiving.

I’m not completely sure what was the shortest day in terms of cycling, I wasn’t really counting the mileage, but considering I reached my destination at 9am on Day 8, I’m going to go with that one.

Favourite state: Quite a few to choose from here. If I had gone east to west, then my feelings towards certain states would probably be different. But in terms of favourite state to cycle through, I’m going to go for Minnesota. Really friendly people, beautiful scenery, wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too hilly and it wasn’t North Dakota. Honourable mentions go to New York state and Massachusetts, but as I say, if I had gone the other direction, I’m sure I would have enjoyed others more (Oregon/Washington).

Worst state: No real surprises here. I was only in North Dakota for about a week, but the constant winds, not feeling very well and the boring boring landscape made it the inevitable choice for worst state. Without the winds, I’m pretty sure that I would have cruised across North Dakota quite quickly and not thought much of it. However, this didn’t happen, ensuring that a return for me to that state is very unlikely. But in a way it lucky it was so unenjoyable, because if it wasn’t my worst state, I’m not sure which one would be.

Favourite daily heading: Being on the bike for so long gives you a lot of time to think, people are known to have had great epiphanies whilst cycling. The only revelation that I discovered is that I don’t seem to have a long enough attention span to reach any life changing notions. One thing that did take up some of my thinking time was the daily headings for this blog. Often they were adaptations of lines from the songs I was listening to (Day 24: Tear up the forecast, cause it’s a bright and blue sky) or simply ways of expressing how I was feeling (Day 31: Pissing in the wind). I liked most of them as soon as I thought of them, but there was one that made me giggle more that the rest. So this award goes to Day 64: Freezing My Tan Off.

Flat Tyres: About 7

Broken Spokes: 0 (Thankfully)

Falls: 3

Rainy days: 3 (And only one was proper rain)

Record Temperature: 44 Degrees Celsius

States: 14

Canadian Provinces: 1

Days on the road: 69

Miles:  3,800 (Approximately, but what’s a few miles amongst friends).

Finally, if you or anyone you know is planning on doing something similar, I would be happy to give some advice on how to survive out there on the lonely road.

Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed!!

Please feel free to come back anytime, I know I will

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I Dream On Two Wheels

So this is it! I woke at 7am for my last day on tour. Despite being my last day, I was determined to make this feel like any other morning. I briefly began to recall all the mornings that I have woken, got ready and set off. That was the routine for the last 10 weeks and today would be no different. Even though this was my last day, I was determined that I couldn’t relax just yet, there would be no emotional thoughts, no reminiscing just yet, I still had 75 miles to cycle today. I dumped any extra equipment and food that I still had that were simply unnecessary luxuries for a one day cycle. I packed my bags, put on the shorts and shoes that I have worn every day so far and wheeled my old friend out for one last time.

The day started like many other, with me immediately getting completely lost. I began to think back to how lost I got on my first day in Vancouver, knowing that a repeat would mean that this may not be my last day. It couldn’t have gotten much worse, but I do confidently feel that my sense of direction and ability to follow a map have slightly improved throughout the trip, as a result, I was soon back on track and headed for the coast.

I knew that today had to be predominantly downhill, any metre I have risen throughout the whole trip has to be lost today, but that didn’t mean that it was all downhill. While yesterday’s hill was possibly the steepest I have ever seen, today’s version was definitely the steepest hill I have ever seen, and there was two of them. Hills aside, I was making good progress, counting down the miles one by one. I even came up with an ingenious (actually pretty simply, but it took me 10 weeks to think of it) method of navigation. I turned the gps on my phone on, put in the directions and then put in my earphone and listened to the directions. One problem was that because I wanted to avoid the interstates, I had to use walking directions. As I was going faster than walking speed, the directions would often be given to me at the very last second. Not such a problem though, especially now that I can signal with either hand. Another problem was that on long stretches of the same road, the gps would not give any directions, this in addition to my earphones being really comfortable meant that on occasions I would forget that I had the gps in my ear, I would however be abruptly reminded when the posh British voice did decide offer some directional advice.

I have rarely felt better on a bicycle, I planned at the start of the day to have lunch in Middleton, and without breaking sweat, I was already almost there. Still, I decided that no period of reflection would take place until after lunch, I didn’t want my brain to arrive at the coast before I did. I treated myself to probably my poshest lunch yet, setting me up well for the remaining 25 miles. Middleton is situated almost exactly north of Boston, but my destination was further east, the stunning destination of Good Harbor Beach. From Middleton, I would head south east until I reached the water and then follow the ocean north until reaching my finishing point.

After lunch, I went outside and got back on the bike for the last time. The next stretch of road was relatively busy, ensuring my mind had no time to wander. The miles were passing really quickly, I maintain that I was feeling so good today that I could have ridden twice the distance. I passed through Danvers and then Beverly and then as I came round the corner, there it was, the glorious Atlantic Ocean, the first time I have seen the Ocean in 10 weeks. It was a really great moment, for the first time, I really began to get excited about finishing.

First sight of the big blue

With a beaming smile across my face, I set off for the final 15 miles up the coast to Good Harbor Beach, where I’ll meet my family; Errol, Marlene and Micaela. I began to think back about my trip, all the amazing people I have met and the places I have been, but again the roads were quite busy, ensuring that switching off completely was not an option. The miles counted down, arriving at the coast 15 miles before I finished meant that my mental focus was gone and for the first time in the day I started to tire. As I got into single figures, I repeatedly reminded myself that I have just cycled 3.800 miles, im sure the last 8 or 9 aren’t going to kill you. Sure enough, as they have done all trip, the legs kept spinning and soon I was into the beautiful town of Gloucester, less than 2 miles from the beach. By now the tiredness had completely gone and once again I felt like I could cycle 75 more miles. Not necessary though because I was there, round the corner and there it was, the sign read ‘Welcome to Good Harbor Beach’.

I wheeled the bike down the path onto the beach and stared out across the great expanse of the Atlantic ocean. In all honesty, there was no real feeling of achievement, no great feelings of joy, it felt very much like the end of just another day. The only explanation I can think of is that for the last few weeks, the thought of me finishing has been become so inevitable that perhaps in my mind I have forgotten how big a challenge this trip really was. Perhaps only when I have more time to reflect on the trip, will I be able to appreciate the magnitude of it.

I was immediately met by Errol, Marlene and Micaela. They had suggested this perfect finishing location and having family there to meet me at the end was incredibly special. I wheeled the bike down towards the ocean and on the 17th of October 2012, at around 4pm, I dipped my front tyre into the Atlantic Ocean, officially ending my 3,800 mile cycle across the USA.

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Day 68: Long Haul Trucker

Once again my host had to leave early for work, so again I was out the door early again. That was not a problem, I had a long day planned and an early start was necessary. After Chris helped plan my route for the day, I headed off for hopefully the penultimate day.

Chris planning the route

The day started with a nice bike trail out of town and through the next the next town. Along the trail I chatted to a local guy who works at one of the colleges and cycles along to path to and from work everyday. The path was nice but due to the time of year, it was covered in leaves that made any holes or bumps very tricky to avoid.


Chris had shown me the elevation profile for today’s ride and once again, knowing what was coming was a big help. Once I was off the bike path, up and up I went, then down and down I went. The route was pretty quiet except when passing through towns, one town I did pass through was the nice little town of Ware, known nationally as the town that can’t be licked. I had prepared myself for a really tough day and in the end it was no where near as tough as I expected. At one stage, just before lunch, I went up possibly the steepest hill I have ever seen. It was laughably steep but fortunately, no more than a few hundred metres long. By the time I hit my lunch spot I had been climbing for quite a while and over lunch, I managed to work out that I was currently at the highest point remaining on my trip. It was a nice feeling, especially because I knew that the rest of the day would be predominantly downhill. Unlike yesterday, the afternoon elevation for today was exactly what I expected. Lunch was followed by a very steep downhill, made particularly unenjoyable by the horrendous cross winds.

Despite Leominster not being a particularly nice place, cycling into town felt really good. I had reached my destination leaving a very manageable 70 miles to the coast. I went in search of my final motel, which proved a little more difficult than I hoped. About 30 minutes after I expected to arrive, I finally reached the Motel 6 and settled in for my final night. I headed across the street where I had a plethora of fast food restaurants to choose from. I ended up buying spaghetti bolognese and a salad, meaning that for the first time on the trip, I had purchased pasta for dinner!

After dinner, I settled down to watch some tv, I watched a bit of the US presidents debate and started flicking through the channels. There was quite a poignant moment when the film ‘the descendants’ came on, it is the same film as I watched on the plane over. It really felt like the trip had come full circle and I enjoyed the whole film once again.

Today’s title is dedicated to my Surly Long Haul Trucker bike, it has been an incredible bike. I’ve mentioned before about my lack of bike maintenance knowledge and how much of a disaster any problem could have been. It really is remarkable how well the bike has held up and tomorrow I will finally get to dip the front wheel of my trusty friend in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Day 67: I rose and I rose

David, Anne and the kids are early starters, they are all out the house by 7am, which meant I was as well. I arranged last night to stay with Chris, who I met way back in Missoula Montana. Chris was moving back out to Massachusetts and used the opportunity to drive cross country with his friend Pete. He now stays in Northampton MA, which made for a nice manageable distance for the day. Northampton is only about 45 miles away from Pittsfield, so despite there being a couple of substantial hills in the way, I was scheduled to arrive nice and early. This was not a bad thing as there was thunder storms predicted for the afternoon, so arriving before that would be preferable.

Stopped in for a little extra “confidence” before taking on the mountains. (a little cycling joke for you there)

It was barely even light when I set off, so I decided to stop in at a cafe to get some breakfast before tackling the hills that David warned me about. After almost an hour, I set off again and was almost immediately climbing, once again the Berkshires were in my way. This time though I climbed with ease, it made a huge difference knowing that the hill was coming and how long it would last and most importantly, that it would be mostly downhill to Northampton after the initial climb. The hill was not easy, but compared to a very similar hill yesterday, it really wasn’t much trouble. A long, very enjoyable downhill followed, probably the best downhill so far. I still don’t really enjoy going downhill, but this one was pretty good. After this, google maps said that it was almost completely flat the rest of the way to Northampton, with small sections of downhill. Looking at the road ahead, this was difficult to believe. I was still very much in the mountains, surrounded on all sides. But to my surprise, it was right. The road followed a river through the mountains, and while it wasn’t completely flat, it certainly wasn’t hilly.

The road then wound away from the river, which by now we all know means bad news for cycling. Sure enough, the road began to wined uphill, with no end in sight. By this stage my phone maps were almost useless as they were saying that the elevation was still flat. Just like yesterdays unexpected hill, this one was a real struggle. I have been telling myself the whole trip that any foot I go up, I am eventually going to go back down. This thought was more prevalent than ever in my mind, as any foot I went up today, I simply had to lose within the next few days. I eventually reached the top, pretty grumpy and tired. But I now had a long downhill, followed by a really short flat period until I reached my destination and it was still only 11am.

I arrived in Northampton at around 11.45am, I wasn’t to meet Chris until 5pm so I had some time to kill. Fortunately, Northampton is a really cool town. It and the two neighbouring towns are all college towns, with a total of five colleges located in the small area. This meant that there was plenty of cafes and restaurants that I could effectively hide out in until the evening. I managed to find the Haymarket cafe and happily spent the rest of the day there.

After meeting Chris, we headed to a local pub for dinner. I had an excellent burger, probably the best burger so far, and I’ve had a lot of burgers! Chris is a big bike racer and has lots of crazy bike stories, including the story of the world record for cycling across the states. One man completed his 3,200 cycle across the country in 8 days 9 hours, putting my effort really to shame. Chris then helped me plan my route for the next day. I initially planned to take three days from here to Boston, making it exactly ten weeks for the whole trip. But after agreeing a destination for tomorrow, it turned out that it was only a further 70 miles to the coast. The 70 miles also had to be predominantly downhill meaning this would be a complete waste of time to take two days to do and was very manageable in one day. So the arrival date was changed, providing a make it to Leominster tomorrow, I will arrive at the Atlantic ocean in two days!!

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Day 66: State of Massachusetts! (the promised land)

Almost everyday so far I have, some nights literally, dreamed of arriving at the Massachusetts state border. I thought of how magnificent the border sign would be and planned all the elaborate poses I would do in front of it. However, by the time I reached the miserable looking sign, all I could do was curse at it, take a quick picture and carry on slogging up the hill.

The day hadn’t started like this, in fact I had a very unique and enjoyable morning with Carrie, Sean and Alyssa. Carrie is a yoga instructor and takes a Sunday morning class. Yesterdays big mileage meant that today was to be a short day and as expected, the weather was pretty bad early on. So the decision was made that we would all go to Carries yoga class, which would be my first ever yoga class.

I would like to say that I immediately set the yoga world on fire, but unfortunately my first foray into yoga was a mixture of confusion and as much guile as a baby elephant. I did improve, in my mind at least, as the class went on, but there were still some poses and stretches that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do, not in this lifetime at least. The last section of the class involved us lying on the ground in a comfortable position while Carrie played very relaxing music, definitely something I could get used to. Relaxed and now well fed, I headed off with Massachusetts the destination.

Alyssa, Carrie, Sean

With only around 40 miles to cover today, I was expecting an easy, enjoyable day. What I had forgotten was that today was a Sunday, from past experience, things don’t go well for me on Sundays. The weather had cleared slightly by the time I left and I was excited about reaching my final state. This excitement soon disappeared and suddenly, Massachusetts seemed like a long way away. Carrie and Sean had warned me about the bridge going out of town, they said that due to the construction on it, it was now very cycle unfriendly, and suggested that I take the side walk if possible. Approaching the bridge, I could see why they had warned me, but I couldn’t see any way to get onto the side walk. Fortunately, definitely more by luck than judgement, I ended up on the side walk that was caged in, away from the traffic. The side walk was not wholly pleasant but it was certainly far more pleasant than cycling on the bridge would have been. Once across the bridge, things got even more unpleasant. If you asked me what are the worst conditions to cycle in, I would say; busy, fast, single lane roads, with no shoulder. Wind in your face, uphill and raining. For the next 8 or 9 miles, I experienced all of these combined except the rain, which managed to hold off until the last 2 miles, it was horrible. Finally I was out of the suburbs and things began to quiet down, I began to dream of Massachusetts once again.

First sign for Boston

At this stage, I am now relying completely on my gps on my phone to get from one place to another without getting lost. Unfortunately, as I approached the Mass border, my phone lost signal (which is not uncommon), rendering my gps useless. Fortunately, knew that I had been on the same road and needed to continue on the same road the whole day, the only problem was that I had no idea how far along the road I was, which was frustrating. After a while, I decided that I must be no more than 5 miles from the border. 5 became 4, 4 became 3, three became 2 and my excitement rose. For the last while I had seen in front of me a large set of hills, that I would inevitably have to cross. I therefore had been expecting a bit of a climb, what I was not expecting was a 4 mile climb up the steepest gradient I have ever cycled. When the hill started, I laughed to myself about the gradient. 4 miles later, I was no longer laughing. The worst hills are the ones that you don’t expect, the ones that you don’t know when they will finish. I was knackered and I hadn’t even reached the border yet, which I thought was only 2 miles away. Eventually there it was, the unbelievably anticlimactic sight of the Massachusetts state border sign. The sigh offered very little encouragement as behind it the hill continued to wind up through the mountain.

The hill continued, the trick is to find a ‘comfortable’ gear and stay in it until the hill is over. That’s what I did and that’s what happened. It wasn’t until what turned out to be near the top of the hill that I saw a sign explaining that this was the Berkshires. The Berkshires are part of the Appalachian mountain range, I knew I was going to cross them at some stage but I didn’t think it would start today. It was actually quite a relief to realise that these were actually mountains and not just small bumps that I had made to seem bigger in my mind. The downhill that followed was fun, and I allowed myself to listen to the Boston natives the Dropkick Murphys for the first time on the trip. As I was approaching Pittsfield, my destination for the day, I phoned David (my host for the day) to confirm his address. It turned out that he lived on the other side of town, a bit frustrating today but it does mean less miles tomorrow. David lived in a cool house just out of town, worryingly down a big hill which I would definitely have to go back up tomorrow. David and his wife Anne have done a lot of touring throughout the states and across Europe and it was nice to hear their stories. We had an awesome dinner, where they insisted I finish all the food, because they didn’t want leftovers, I kindly obliged. Downstairs they had a really cool cinema room, equipped with lazy boy chairs. Naturally, that is where we spent the evening. A good end to another tough Sunday, but very happy to be in Massachusetts.

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Day 65: Right foot, followed by your left foot

I realised last night that the reason that the bike route 5 signs had stopped was because bike route 5 had actually changed roads without me noticing. Instead of following state route 5, bike route 5 now followed state route 5s, got it? After realising this, I made plans to get onto state route 5s and therefore back onto bike route 5. The plan didn’t take too long as all that was required was to follow the 169 out of down, across the river and onto route 5s. The morning was cold cold cold again. Unlike when it was hot, where the winds created by cycling would cool me down, cycling makes the cold feel even colder due to the same winds. I know it sounds like I have gone soft having spent too long in the heat, but it really was cold. The picture below shows that there was frost on the ground. Fortunately, the route out of town was mostly uphill which certainly got the blood going.

Soon I was onto route 5s and sure enough, there returned the bike route 5 signs.The nest section of riding took me inland a bit, away from the canal. In previous experience, any time the route detoured from the canal meant hills. I did have the option of following the path along the canal, but on close inspection, it was not good quality and would have probably slowed me down more than any hills, so I stayed on the route and faced the inevitable hills. In all honesty, I didn’t really mind the hills, they were not difficult, there was no wind, it wasn’t 90 degrees and climbing was a good way to warm up. What did worry me was the painfully cold descents. I was slowly climbing up a large hill when I car came passed really close and then swerved away from me. It was the closest anyone had come to hitting me the whole trip and I certainly made myself known as they drove off. Still cursing away, a few minutes later the driver came back down the hill, stopped beside me and apologised.

The road wound back to run parallel with the canal again which once again gave me the option of taking the canal path. This time I decided to take the path, by now it was mostly paved with some sections of light gravel that was still fine to cycle on. I was making good progress, so I decided to aim for Albany, which would make it an 80 mile day. Its longer than I needed to go, but with bad weather expected tomorrow, I thought it best to push on today.

I left the path briefly in search of food in the town of Amsterdam. Despite being quite a big place, Amsterdam was really short of places to eat. The only suitable place within distance was a crappy looking Chinese restaurant. I went in and ordered, the woman said something, I asked for a repetition, she repeated, I agreed. No idea what she said, but looking back I can only assume that she asked “do you want the horrible, cheap version of what you’ve just asked for”. I haven ‘t had great experience with Chineses so far, but this was definitely the worst.

Despite lunch, I continued to make good progress and confirmed that I would be able to reach Albany today. I phoned Carrie, a warmshowers host, to ask if I could stay for the night, she agreed to let me stay. I followed the canal down to Scotia where I parted ways with the canal for the last time. Then it was the tricky task of manoeuvring Schenectady whilst trying to remain on the bike route. surprisingly successful, I was now on my way to Albany, the capital of New York State. Carrie lives on the west side of Albany which meant that I didn’t have to go through much of it to reach her place, therefore Albany was much easier to navigate than its size might suggest. Carrie and her partner Sean work at a local bike rescue centre, where they restore old bikes. They had a friend Alyssa staying with them, and they were all immediately very accommodating. After an excellent vegie meal, we gathered round to watch skins, which I recommended, forgetting how inappropriate it is.

This was my last full day in New York State, right foot, followed by my left foot I suddenly find myself running out of country. Tomorrow I will enter my last state, Massachusetts!

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Day 64: Freezing my tan off

Really heavy rain to start the day. It rained constantly from 8am until I was done with breakfast. The forecast was for rain until around 11am, so I made the decision to just hang around the motel until then, with a short day of only around 50 miles today. The late start meant that I was able to make a second trip to the breakfast buffet. Right on queue, the rain stopped, the back tyre seemed to be fine now, so I headed on my way.

I have found in the past that short days tend to be the hardest, mentally I think I have arrived before I have even set off, but in reality, 40/45 miles still requires 4/5 hours worth of cycling. Today proved to be no different, especially with the late start, it was sluggish riding from the start. The sun was out, but it was still bitterly cold, especially in the shade. But once again, this meant that if I did stop, then I didn’t stop for long. I really have gone full circle from the start of the trip where I would jump into any shade I could find and hide there for as long as necessary, now the sun has become an allies. The first part of the day saw me follow bike route 5 back up north to rejoin the canal.

The rest of the day followed bike route 5, which has now joined state route 5. This is a larger road, but with this increase in road size also came an increase in shoulder size, initially at least. The next part of the day was forgettable, very forgettable in fact. But then came a period of about 10 miles of roadworks. Roadworks are usually bad news, not only because the road quality decreases, but also because, more often than not, the first part of the road to get sacrificed is the shoulder. As usual, this was the case and what followed was a long spell of high traffic, with no shoulder on cycling bad quality roads. I don’t know if it was a case of the grass being greener, but the quality of road did genuinely seem to be better on the other side. If the roads weren’t so busy, I may have even considered driving on the left hand side, you know, the way god intended. This stretch of cycling also strained my relationship with bike route 5 even further. It seems that the signs just stop on occasions, usually when the road quality decreases, almost like they are embarrassed to call these sections bike routes, so they just stop advertising it.

About two miles from Little Falls, the roadworks ended and despite the relatively short day, I was definitely ready to stop. Its difficult to know what a place is going to be like before arriving, sometimes they are a pleasant surprise (Medora) and sometimes they are not (Circle). Unfortunately, today was one of those that was not. I went straight to the motel, got dinner in the motel and spent the whole evening in the motel, apart from a brief trip to the neighbouring dollar store to get some supplies (sweets). At the store, I witnessed probably the most blatant act of theft I think I’ve ever seen, I decided to pay for my goods and headed back to my room. Hoping to take a big chunk out of New York state tomorrow.

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