"If you have a dream, no matter how far-fetched or
outlandish, please try and do everything in your powers to make it happen!"
It won't be easy to put into words what the last eleven weeks have meant to me.
I'll begin by saying that this bicycle journey was a huge leap of faith, both physically and psychologically,
and I'm so proud of myself that I came through! On the physical side, although I trained as much
I could, I still had never cycled 50+ miles in two consecutive days.
So, I hurt at first, but each week I noticed that I grew stronger.
On the psychological side, well, common to every member of the human race, I have many faults.
Among them are: I'm a born worrier, I panic too easily, oh, and I'm not very good at reading a map!
I'm amazed that, knowing those facts about myself, I decided I was capable of attempting this journey.
I've learned that, when times get tough, I'm a much stronger, more resilient person than I thought I was, and that's a great feeling!
As to the journey itself, America is an astoundingly beautiful country.
I've been privileged to witness that beauty in all its different forms
- the rock and sand of the Californian desert, the bleak barrenness and vast horizons
of the mountains and plains of Arizona and New Mexico, the gente rolling green hills
of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the wonderful woods and steep valleys of Tennessee and Virginia.
There were so many highlights along the way!
The UFO based kitsch of Roswell - a bit cheesy, but a lot of fun!
The down-home Texan charm of Amarillo. Memphis, with the mighty Mississippi River and the
different but in their own ways culturally significant attractions of Graceland and the Civil Rights Museum.
Nashville, the good-time, always rocking party town! And the many charming,
friendly small towns in between. I could go on and on.
As to the bad times, they really were few. On the whole I was very lucky with the weather.
I only had a couple of wet days, which was better than I expected.
The worst moment of the whole trip was undoubtably the final night in the tent,
east of Roswell. A front blew in overnight and the temperature plummeted.
Strong winds all night meant that I barely slept a wink.
The next day the temperature barely rose above freezing, with wind and icy drizzle. Never mind
counting down the miles that day on the bike, I was counting down the tenths of miles!
It's funny how these things go though, because, exactly when I needed it,
that night was probably the best night's accommodation of the entire trip -
the fantastic Almost Home B&B in Portales with the charming and welcoming host, Gary.
Along the way, I've chuckled at shops called
'Toad Suck' and 'Piggly Wiggly' and towns called 'Bald Knob!'
I've met fantastic characters, such as George, the old hippie who runs
the bike shop in Socorro, and Kermit, the grizzled old ex-miner in Virginia who fitted
me a second-hand bike chain. I've been repeatedly touched by the kindness of strangers,
amazed at how unexpected good fortune suddenly fell in my path, and marveled
at weather that can drop 40F overnight. A lot seemed to happen in the world whilst
I was away. Mrs. Thatcher died. A terrorist attack and deadly tornadoes happened
in the country I was visiting. Oh, and my favourite band split up.
That one was good timing, for if it had happened at any other time I'd have been really upset,
but the fact that I was in the middle of such an incredible adventure certainly softened the blow.
My favourite random moment of the whole trip?
One day I was in the middle of rural Arkansas,
when a car pulled over and stopped in front of me. My first thought was
'They've got some complaint about the way I was riding and they're going to have a go at me.'
Instead, the driver gets out and hands me a large bottle of cold Powerade!
She says 'I thought you looked rather hot and sweaty and could do with this!'
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask her name and ask if I could take her picture for my blog,
but all I could manage was to stammer 'thank you, that's really kind of you!' before she got back in and sped off!
One final thing I would say to is this: If you have a dream, no matter how far-fetched or
outlandish it seems, please try and do everything in your powers to make it happen! The feeling that you'll
have when you've managed to make that dream a reality is the best feeling in the world!
Kidlington, Oxfordshire UK
Contact: Chris on Facebook