USA: North to South, West to East
Leg 1: USA-Canada to USA-Mexico Border
This was not planned to be a world record. I was planning to ride from Seattle to Florida in training for my upcoming ride across Africa but my little brother said I should see if I could make it a world record. After contacting Guinness World Records, they told me they weren’t interested in that ride as it would be a new record. However, there was an existing record I could attempt: the fastest cycle across the USA from north to south and west to east.
So I decided to go for it and change my plans. Originally I had six weeks planned for the 3000 miles… this new trip would be 4600 miles.
I got a new bike for the record attempt. I was super excited; it had di2 electronic gear shifting. I figured instead of having to stop at bike shops along the way and get my gears adjusted; it would automatically be adjusted for me.
I bought electronic gear shifting, the first ever. I was worried about the battery running-out, but I felt like it was worth it. I chose Shamino electronic gear shift, they were the only ones making it at the time and I wanted to test it out. It was a bit of a gamble trying something so new to the market, but I knew it would save me time and energy. It seemed like a more precise system, and I knew it would be worth it.
I managed to persuade my friend Dean to fly out from England and drive my support van along the way. We had a Chevy van turned into an RV with a bed in the back and the trailer to tow the rest of the gear.
The Ride Begins
I started the ride on the Canada-USA border north of Seattle. My plan was to ride 100 miles the first day, 125 the second, 150 the third, and then start the cycle again. I figured I’d have recovery time and give myself some time to do other stuff on the shorter days, and really focus on riding on the long days.
The first few days in Seattle were hot. Really hot. We were inland and I was still getting used to the new bike and a new saddle. I got professionally bike fit, and I was a bit uncomfortable, basically I felt like my whole body was stretching. The pro’s had raised my saddle by quite a lot which felt weird but the riding was pretty doable. We quickly made our way into Oregon when we started some climbing. The record temperatures in Seattle didn’t stretch into Oregon, it was actually really cold when we got closer to the water. The mist of the ocean and the wind made it seriously chilly completely different to the last few days. The road was awesome as it wound along the coast, but the weather made it hard work. Right on the coast was misty cold but then as the road headed inland I would break out into sunshine and the temperature would increase dramatically as the road wound in and out of the mist. I was finding this really difficult with what to wear; I was taking layers on and off constantly.
Regardless of the weather, I was loving the ride. The road was good, the wind was helpful (sometimes) and I got to ride on the type of hills that I love…rolling hills that made me work for an hour but then the reward; the quick fast downhill with the ocean alongside, watching the waves, seeing houses (that I wished I lived in) and beautiful sandy beaches. The view really made the riding go pretty easy. We found a few awesome campsites to ourselves on the ocean road, bought steaks did them on the bbq, and slept very well.
I decided to go for it and change my plans. Originally I had six weeks planned for the 3000 miles... this new trip would be 4600 miles.
This was the first time ever I had rode 100 miles day in and day out. It was tiring but exhilarating to see the ground that we covered. We were moving, scenery was changing daily and we were ticking off states that we had accomplished.
We coasted into California and the temperature was warming up. There was there was less mist and we were on the ocean road again. We headed inland a little bit to ride through the most amazing forest I’ve ever seen! The giant redwoods made it hard to keep up any kind of speed because I was just in awe looking around at these amazing trees.
Riding into San Francisco was the coldest day of the trip. When I went across the bridge the mist was freezing but it was nice to get spend some time in the city. I took a day off from the bike…after I rode up Lombardi Street. We continued south through some rather nice beach towns with the weather improving every day.
Arriving in LA was rather interesting; I got through in a couple of hours but it took Dean pretty much all day to follow me in the support van. The LA traffic was horrible and it was hard for us to stick together. If we did it again, we’d probably try to do it at night to avoid some of the annoyance of all the cars on the road. Just one more day and we were at the end of leg one at the Mexican border. We drove back to LA to get ready for leg 2.
Leg 2: LA City Hall to NYC City Hall
Leg 2 started in the middle of town. As I rode out of LA i rode through some interesting neighborhoods. I’ve been told I probably should’ve felt more unsafe but I did not…people were really friendly and I had a great time in the urban area of this huge city. The next few days seemed like a bit of a slog, I was going slightly uphill towards the Rocky Mountains passing through the four corners. We had a quick detour to go look at the Grand Canyon and before I knew it I was over the Rocky Mountains and heading towards the plains.
Kansas was painful. Nothing to see but is not as flat as you think, instead, it’s slightly rolling all the time. The most exciting part of the trip was a huge thunderstorm moving south. I was riding east but I could see on my GPS that I would turn south in a couple of miles. I was getting blown all over the place but the minute I took that turn I was going 30+ mph without peddling, it was pretty cool. I was cruising and again it was hard to stay together…Dean couldn’t keep up and we had to call each other constantly to figure out where each other were. I was flying without having to pedal much, but the wind was blowing me everywhere. When Dean finally caught up with me it was pouring rain. I decided to have a natural shower…I used the downpour to get clean and refreshed, it was a blast.
During this middle part of the trip we saw lots of strange sites. We spent some time on Route 66 through middle America. It was nice when we start to move into some greener scenery and back to some rolling hills. We were on a roll, peddling everyday clocking up the miles. I was lucky enough to have my mom come visit sometime here in the middle.
My mother, who constantly supports me, made the trip to come hang out with me somewhere in Amish Country. For the last few days I had a few guests; my brother Matthew and my sisters; Marie, Helen, and Anna came to hang out. It was nice to have lunch with someone other than Dean.
The Grand Finale
We plan to finish in 44 days. The record at the time was 444 days, so we planned to break it by exactly 400 days. We arrived just outside New York on day 43. We spent the night just outside of NYC. We found there was a bike path across the bridge, and I could take my time along the Hudson with the vibrant community of NYC. It was fun to take my time and take in the sights and energy of this cool city. I had to come in on a busy road, and was concentrating on the traffic. To my own surprise, I was greeted by a large crew of friend and family. It was a bit of a shock! They were all in matching T-shirts that matched my jersey. Not only were the people closest to me there, but Guiness World Record was there, and I rode through a ribbon to break the old record. It was an amazing feeling to finish with all those people around me, and quite emotional to have such support.
I loved the ride across this incredible country, and couldn’t wait to take a nice break as well.