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.
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.