World record fastest cycle across USA North to South, West to East
North America World Record Cycle, 20…
This trip was not planned to be a world record attempt but instead, an endurance training session in preparation for Paul’s upcoming ride across Africa. The route was originally intended to be from Seattle to Florida. It was his younger brother, Matthew’s idea, to see if it would be possible to break a record, thinking this would help with sponsorship and fund raising. However, Guinness World Records weren’t interested in that route but suggested he could attempt to break an existing record, cycling north to south then west to east across the United States.
It sounded like a challenge. Paul had allocated about six weeks for the initial 3000 miles that he’d been planning. This new trip would be about 4600 miles in the same timeframe. There was a lot of planning involved: setting up a website for donations, organizing sponsorships, and logistical preparation.
Paul had a new bike for the trip and was super excited. He had researched electronic gear shifting and had his bike fitted with Di2 gears, hoping this would save time and money on such a long journey by eliminating the need to have his gears adjusted along the way.
He managed to persuade his friend, Dean, to fly from England and drive the support van. It would be an adventure. They had a Chevy van with a bed in the back and a trailer to tow the rest of the gear. The van looked really professional, as sponsorships had funded wrapping it with the details of the record attempt.
Paul departed from Banff on the border of Canada and the United States with a send off from the mayor and a group of children from the local Boys & Girls Club. He was not used to such attention. Dean was his public relations manager and the driver. The plan was to ride 100 miles one day then 125, followed by 150 and continue this rotation. The first few days were really hot. He was still getting used to the new bike and new saddle. It wasn’t too long before they crossed into Oregon and headed for the coast with much cooler weather. Dealing with extreme changes in temperature was one of the challenges he’d learned to cope with as the reality of long distance cycling sets in.
Paul was loving the ride and the terrain. Rolling hills rewarded him with fast downhills while enjoying ocean views, watching the waves and dreaming of living in one of the beachfront houses. He and Dean felt they had the ocean road to themselves and discovered campsites on beautiful sandy beaches. They bought steaks and grilled them on the BBQ. This was a great ride.
Paul was now gathering a following of supporters through his Facebook page, many of them via the Lupus Foundation, which was the main charity he was promoting. One couple opened up their coffee shop for him, treating him to dinner and offering accommodations and encouragement. A friend of theirs joined Paul on the road to take photographs and wrote about the endeavour in the local newspaper. Dean was doing a good job with public relations.
Once they reached California, they were back on the ocean road again with warmer temperatures before heading inland to ride through the most amazing forest that Paul had ever seen. It was difficult to keep up any kind of momentum because both boys just wanted to explore the giant Redwoods and enjoy the area.
Riding into San Francisco was the coldest day of the trip. Paul cycled across the iconic bridge in the freezing mist. They then enjoyed doing some sightseeing. On Paul’s day off the bike, he cycled up Lombard St. just for fun.
Their journey continued south through some beautiful beach towns with nicer weather everyday. Arriving in LA was rather interesting. Paul managed to cycle through the city in just a few hours, while it took Dean pretty much all day. Another day found them at the Mexican border. The first leg of their journey was complete. They drove back to LA to get ready for the second stage.
Paul was loving the ride and the terrain. Rolling hills rewarded him with fast downhills while enjoying ocean views, watching the waves and dreaming of living in one of the beachfront houses.
Following Guinness World Record guidelines, the second leg of Paul’s ride started in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Cycling through some interesting neighbourhoods, Paul continued to receive lots of support and encouragement from interested observers. The next few days seemed like a bit of a slog, continuing slightly uphill towards the Rocky Mountains and passing through the Four Corners. Cycling through Death Valley was an experience in itself. Paul remembers his water suddenly becoming hotter than he likes to drink his coffee and feeling light headed. Fortunately, Dean stocked up with ice whenever he could. They made a quick detour to visit the Grand Canyon and before they knew it, were over the Rocky Mountains and heading towards the plains. Kansas was painful. Nothing to see, but not as flat as you think. The most exciting part of the trip was when a huge thunderstorm was moving south as Paul was riding east. He could see on his GPS that he would turn south in a couple of miles. He was getting blown all over the place but the minute he took that turn he found himself speeding along at 30 plus mph without touching the pedals. A pretty cool experience.
Traveling through mid-America, they saw lots of strange sights and met some wonderful people like a guy who was going in the opposite direction crossing America on horseback. There was a sheriff who allowed Dean to park the van outside his station and gave them a tour and a contemporary sheriff’s badge. One family drove over 30 miles from their home just to meet Paul and take him and Dean out for dinner in appreciation of his work raising awareness for lupus. They spent some time on Route 66, which was good although a little frustrating because one road Paul was following simply came to an end, so he had to backtrack. When they moved into some greener scenery and rolling hills, Paul was on a roll, peddling away furiously and clocking up the miles. He was getting closer to the finish.
For the last several days, they had a few guests. Matthew, Marie, Helen, and Anna flew to the U.S. from the U.K. It was nice to have a meal and conversation with someone other than Dean. The plan was to finish in 44 days (the previous record had been 444 days), so they all stayed just outside New York on the forty-third day. The next morning Paul cycled over the bridge along the path down the river to the library. It was a bit of a shock as he approached the finish line to be cheered by a gathering of well-wishers, including friends and family. He and Dean were presented with their World Record certificate on the steps of the New York Public Library. What an incredible experience and achievement.