Saturday, 16 October 2010

That was our blog!

Wondered what we rambled on about most on our blog? Check out this word cloud which gives greater prominence to words that appeared more frequently - JUST MILES CAFE by the look of it!
Wordle: Cycle America Coast to Coast

Friday, 27 August 2010


Friday, 13 August 2010

And so we reach the Pacific Ocean... !

Alsea to Florence, OR (and the Pacific Ocean!)

We all agreed that it would be a good idea, and the right thing to do, to meet at a cafe 4 miles from our final destination on our final day; no speed demons and no slow tortoises to be seen, but instead we would cycle the final 4 miles to the ocean together, just as we started in Yorktown, 83 days ago.  Now, in an ideal situation, we would have all timed our departures perfectly so that we arrive around a similar sort of time, so as Mike and Jeff are not waiting for everyone for 3 hours. This worked rather well as we agreed to meet at 10.30am, however, unbeknown to us, this little cafe was thriving; full of hungry customers and with one waitress!! After an hour of waiting for our breakfast, we finally all set off for the ocean, some of us more ready than others, with Mike waiting in the cafe for 2 hours!

As we rode our bikes for those last 4 miles, it was as though every one of us was in a state of complete bliss; forgotten were the hard times and the controversies and even the heat, the hills and the mosquitoes. All we could do now was to embrace our last miles together in the realisation that this was ending and that we may never see these wonderful, amazing, brave, strong people again. The people that have belonged to our group for 12 weeks, through thick and thin, who have experienced the same things but in different ways and whom all have the uttermost respect and gratitude for each other. We have achieved something outstanding together and many tears of happiness surfaced in those last few miles, amongst all of us. Doing the TransAm is a Love/Hate kind of relationship. At times I really wanted it to end but now I felt as though I was losing something; losing these people and friendships I have built.

Before we reached the Ocean however, we rode along the Alsea highway, thick forests carpeting the hills on either side. And then came the cyclists best friend, something we have encountered several times in our travels and somehow managed to come out unscathed, just. Chip and seal. Basically when the yellow coated transportation departments chuck a load of tar on a seemingly serviceable road, and then a thick layer of gravel and give it a little press down just enough to pass for a road again before leaving. So then comes little old cyclist. Clouds of dust spew up, gravel mounds to sink into, and missiles flying up at your face as trucks hurtle past!  Seven miles is a long way. I guess it made the sight of a tidal river, and then the smell of salty air and then the glimmer of the wide bluey green Ocean even more special.

The Pacific Ocean is not quite what we had imagined. Hawai's palms, cocktails and flower garlands are a world away from the clouds, cliffs and spray of the Oregon coast. Beautiful though and the wide white pristine sandy beach felt good between our toes as we held our bikes aloft and then dipped our wheels in the water. Unfortunately it was not just our wheels - Robin in his excitement had put his bag down just as a wave pummeled the beach - cameras and salt water do not mix. Coast to coast - every inch. DONE!

It felt as though a weight had been lifted as we headed down the coast to Florence to enjoy our last meal together and engage in our favourite conversation... "do you remember where that [insert tale or event] was??..."
(our group, photo by Greg Siple of Adventure Cycling)

Some things we learnt cycling the TransAm:

1) Kansas is windy but Wyoming is even windier.
2) There are 4 types of potentially deadly spider in the US; 2 species of black widow and 2 species of brown recluse. ALWAYS, check your shoes.
3) DO NOT underestimate the force of mother nature and her wild weather systems; do not try to beat it but respect it because it IS stronger than you.
4) 'RESTROOM' is the most appropriate term to use when asking to go to the toilet in the US, although the Americans agree that you certainly do not 'rest' in a restroom.
5) America is NOT, I repeat, NOT flat, at all.
6) Cycling gives you strange tan lines.
7) There is always someone who is doing something far more extraordinary than you are.
8) There are hundreds of nasty dogs in Kentucky and they WILL kill you given half the chance. Carry pepper spray.
9) Missouri has a great deal of vineyards and wineries. Drink wine and be merry!
10) In 1997, Washington DC's christmas tree came from Walden, CO.
11) 50% of North America's antelope population live in Wyoming.
12) There is absolutlely no Net 10 mobile phone network in the whole state of Idaho. And some of Oregon too.
13) Robin and I can spend all day every day together on a bike and not come home divorced! 
14) And most of all, anyone can do anything if they really want to.

My mum always tells me, "the mind is a powerful thing and you can overcome anything if you work with your mind to help you accomplish it". Even pain, my mother says, can be diminished, just by thinking that it's just not hurting. This is the best thing my mother has ever said to me because this is how I can accomplish these amazing things.

One other lesson I have been taught, is not to underestimate yourself. If someone close to you believes in you, then it makes it all the easier. Just give me a break please Mike, before you talk me into signing up for an Ironman.        

Thanks so much to all who have donated to

Monday, 9 August 2010

Western Oregon - the last leg!!

Well the time is amost here for us to say goodbye to our bikes and I have to be honest, I've loved this experience but I'll be glad to see the back of them (the bikes that is, not our fellow cyclists!). We have arrived in Alsea today, just 30 miles from the coast, although tomorrow will be approximately a 66  mile day as when we reach the coast, we then cycle another 30 or so miles down the coast to Florence, our final destination. Today we came just 50 miles from Harrisburg. The original plan was to stop over at Colburg last night in the Truckers motel, but we ended up cycling a furhter 12 miles onto Harrisburg when Steve arrived in the van at the Truckers Motel and saw what we would be staying in. His words were 'it's a complete dive'. Anyway those extra 12 miles were worth it as we ended up staying in a rather nice hotel/resort type place with a pool and hot tub. Well we have a fair amount of money left for accommodation so we have to spend it some way or another!

Two days ago, Jeff's son Eric joined us from Anchorage (Alaska), where he has been living with his girlfriend for approximately 18 months. He is cycling the last 4 days with us and has fortunately had one of the most beautiful rides ever with us (2 days ago-Redmond to Blue River). We had the McKenzie Pass to climb at 5,500 ft which was beautiful.

North and Middle Sister
Originally uploaded by Oregon Hiker
North and Middle Sister volcanoes in the McKenzie Pass region of Oregon. The McKenzie Pass region is lava and volcanoes in all directions as far as the eye can see. At the top we were surrounded by hundreds of years old volcanic rock which had at one point been hot lava flow. We could also see the snow topped three sisters mountains in the distance. This was followed by a descent which was seemingly endless through forested narrow switch back roads! A little scary coming down but lovely! The Cascade mountains included a 4000 ft descent - dry desert scrub to bleak snow capped peaks and lava fields to lush green soaring forests.  I have ensured Eric though that we havn't always had this type of luxury on the TransAm so he shouldn't give his dad a hard time about 'living it up'.

Fundraising News
Just been told that our cycle ride is slightly further than the distance from London Heathrow to Delhi, India!! America is a big place! Oh and we've raised a little over 30p a mile, so far. If you would like to support us, please just click on Thanks so much.

Fundraising News News
Just found out that we've made the South Wales Echo!... How exciting!

Friday, 6 August 2010

John Day to Mitchell to Redmond (yes these all sound like people's names but in America they are places)

These past three days we have climbed over 5 mountain passes and cycled around 220 miles so they have been difficult. Eastern/central Oregon is kinda desert like with little greenery; very hot and dry, especially in the afternoons when most of the hills seem to appear! I've lost track of which mountain range we are crossing currently and I'm not sure that I really need to know the names anymore, I just do it. Apparently tomorrow is our last big climb...well I've heard that one before but with just 3 days left after tomorrow, maybe there's some truth in that. We have to start going down at some point surely to reach the ocean!

On the ride into John Day we passed a mammal fossil museum (which I might add involved an extra 4 MILES to get to...the things we do for our loved one hey!). Robin really enjoyed this, being a male and all interested in fossils and stuff so it was well worth the detour of course!

In Mitchell we stayed at the Sky Hook Motel which as you might guess from the name, was up on a hill and  had a fantastic view of the little (very) town. It was mine and Jeff's turn to cook so we decided we'd all go out. There was one cafe in town which we learnt from Mike (speed demon and therefore killing time around town until we all arrived) was shutting at 7pm because the owners dog had just come out of animal hospital. Oh and they couldn't serve 14 of us all at once so we had fun trying to all get fed by 7pm in relays! In addition to this drama, we had further panic amongst camp that night. The 'supermarket' had shut down and the nearest place to get a pint of milk was 47 miles away. The shoppers (me and Jeff) concluded therefore that we had an Apollo 13 situation ("Is there anything you have in the aircraft that you can eat?"). "Houston, we have a problem"; we summised that we would have a 'scrounge' breakfast (basically eating anything you can find in the van to keep you going for the first 47 miles tomorrow morning until we get to civilisation and a decent sandwich). With proper 'food police' control, this operation this morning turned out to be a sucessful one! And you'll be pleased to know that we are all now fed and watered appropriately and hopefully this 'rationing' will not need to happen again.

We are today, in Redmond, a town of 7, 000 people so we again intend on eating I have not lost any weight cycling 60 miles a day for 3 months!

Very excitingly (!) we have crossed the 4000miles pedalled mark today - that's a very long way!

We have uploaded a few more photos...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Yesterday saw us cross yet another time zone, 3500 miles, thousands of ft of climbing once again, and the border into Oregon!! I can't quite believe we're in our final state with only 8 days left! The past two days we have been cycling through Hell's Canyon, which begins in Idaho and goes into Oregon. Despite it's scenic beauty, we were both glad to leaving it behind today; after 2 days of the same scenery, extremely hot weather (as there is no breeze down there in the canyon) and loads of hills,it all got a bit too much! Glad to report though that today we have arrived in a city of 7,000 people, and have the luxury of a motel and rest day tomorrow. Perfect. I thought that as time went on I wouldn't need my rest days as much but it seems as though just as you're conquering one aspect of suffering, so another one comes along, and you are therefore ALWAYS in need of a rest day.

Two nights ago we camped in the grounds of a motel and RV park in a town called Cambridge. This was fine, despite the huge RV next to us whom had a little yappy dog that decided to bark until all hours and poop all over the lawn we were camping on - when we arrived there were sticks poking out of the ground about every 2 metre square where the early arrivers of the group had scouted out dog poop! After about 20 minutes of Robin and I 'debating' where the tent should go (we always spend this long 'debating' as we have different criteria; I like it flat as I cannot sleep whilst rolling down hill and Robin likes the ground soft so it doesn't bend the pegs. We both agree on the fact that it should be in the shade which helps but trying to find all criteria on a ground full of dog poop is quite trying! We finally get it up just in time for dinner (luckily we were not cooking!). The highlight of this town was the ice cream/desert/cafe we went into after dinner. All 10 of us ordered different varieties of desert or ice cream and we all waited about 10 minutes per ice cream cone (which is a long wait when you're thinking about getting your beauty sleep for tomorrow's ride), except for Robin's 1 scoop huckleberry ice cream in a waffle cone, which seemed to be special in that it took about 40 minutes to arrive, in which time, the waitress had served the table next to us 3 1 scoop huckleberry ice cream's in a waffle cone. Much to the group's amusement and Robin's distress!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

White Bird to New Meadows to Cambridge, ID

Yesterday we cycled from White Bird to New Meadows which was a 61, fairly hilly ride through pretty much similar scenery as the day before (winding roads alongside river, with trees bordering), with some small towns on the way to stop at for breaks. Riggins was one of these towns whereby we pulled up outside a nice looking cafe for a mid morning coffee and Robin noticed that his spedometor was reading that we were travelling at 95mph. Well I can tell you we certainly were not. After thorough exploration as to the reasons why this may have happened (on Robin's part as he was highly distressed by this inconvenience. All I wanted to do was get my coffee!), Robin discovered (or rather thinks that he has discovered) that the cause of this were some radioactive rocks that were in a truck we parked next to!! Hmmm, I'm not so sure. Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that the spedometer is now in full working order and clearly displayed that we were going at 12mph today in the wind (thats more like it)! Last night we stayed at a hot springs camp site with a lodge type place attached to the hot springs pool, which was thriving in the 1950's (there are old photos everywhere). The decor hadn't changed much either but was very cosy and we spent an evening playing air hockey in the games room trying to escape from the heat outside.

Today we travelled from New Meadows to Cambridge and besides the last 20 miles of head wind, the 51 mile ride has been very pleasant, after yesterday's climb, today was mostly downhill with no major dramas!

We are beginging to think about our plans for the end of our cycle tour now as we have 11 days remaining and will hit the border of Oregon in just 2 days time-how exciting! We are also trying to make sure we spend all of our group budget remaining so a few motel nights will be coming up which will be great for the end of our trip! But lets not dwell on the end too much for now as we still have the whole length of Oregon to travel.