Well it’s Christmas Day 2014, 501 days since I set out from home and a 135 since I was sat in Xi’an, China thinking about being on the road for a year. Now I am getting closer to home and I only have 30 days before I fly back to Europe from Miami. I’ve now ridden 20,000 miles(32,186km), which is further than the distance required by Guinness to actually ride around the world which is 29,000 km. I have not gone the most direct route, or at the same time by any way the long way round. I’m also about 400 days too slow to break the record and a few lifts off as well but hey as long as I make it!
I’ve ridden across parts of the developing world and am now in the United States of America: the richest country in the world. Surprisingly here I’ve probably had more non weather related problems than anywhere else on the trip. I’ve had more punctures and even had a Schwalbe tyre ruined by road debris; a brand of tyre that I’d ridden 18,000 miles across the rest of the world with nothing but a few punctures troubling it. I’ve also had another bottom bracket fail here and had to ride 150 miles before I reached somewhere with a bicycle shop. America is also the only country where someone has a pointed a gun at me or where a dog has actually managed to attack my bicycle. It is also the only place where I’ve had an accident that has left me feeling physically battered. So all in all, just because you are in the richest country in the world it doesn’t mean it is the safest for cycling!
Before the USA, after finishing riding the Silk Road at Xi’an I made for the coast of Qingdao in China near where I had my second accident of the trip. This saw my front fork bent, something that was only fixed when I reached Seoul in Korea where there were some of the keenest cyclists I have seen in the world. The ferry from Qingdao to Seoul effectively marked the crossing from the developing to the developed world. Running water was now a given as were many other things I had taken for granted when I lived in England but had become luxuries since crossing the Caspian Sea.
Nutrition was now something that was easier to deal with. In Korea, Japan and the USA finding foods to support a hungry cyclist has been much easier. There have also been more healthy options and I can easily eat foods designed for athletes if I wish.
Everything though comes at a cost and while the standard of food and accommodation has increased so has its price and I have actually been spending far more nights under canvas since I left China and cooking far more.
Luckily one thing has remained constant throughout the world and that has been the kindness of people. In Korea, Japan and the USA people have been as helpful and kind as anywhere else in the world. From those people who offer directions or water to those who have opened up their homes to me, be they Warmshowers.org hosts or kind strangers I’m continually humbled by how incredible people have and continue to be.
I’m still enjoying the trip more than I can say. Being in America bring its own challenges but it also brings new types of experience, not least because I can communicate in their first language with the majority of people.
I was worried that once I left America it would feel like less of an adventure, this hasn’t been the case. It just feels like I’m riding from one movie to another, sometimes ones I’d rather watch than be in!