April was my last month in Australia. Having travelled across barren, dry landscapes in March, I found the further east I got, the more green and the more populated the countryside was( So from seeing 5 people a day to a whopping 15…!). One of the biggest challenges on the home run to Sydney was crossing the Dividing Range. These mountains were pretty tough as I lugged me + 40kg of luggage up 2000m climbs with some 10% gradients. It was made even tougher by the subzero temperatures. (The days of rain
as I left Melbourne put to bed the stereotype that Australia is always sunny and hot!)
The kindness of strangers continued throughout whether Warmshowers hosts, friends of friends or just people taking pity on the crazy bearded English person who’d cycled across places they daren’t go by car. But mostly I was pitching up my tent in campsites, parks, sports fields or cricket pavilions with kangaroos, koalas and the odd wild horse for company.
Time on my own is spent reading, eating, sleeping and now also as an amateur tailor. After 8 months of just 1 t-shirt, 1 Lycra t-shirt, a shirt, 2 pairs of shorts and a pair of trousers, my clothes have started to split and tear and so have been subjected to with my – now expert – needlework skills.
May took me over the Pacific to the US. I had decided against spending time in New Zealand, as flying is a lengthy, let alone costly process, for a touring cyclist. Any flights carries risks of transportation as well as the loss of precious cycling days when packing up.
The only item I have lost this year (touch wood!) was when the Australian customs confiscated my camping stove. Although I already had a bad track record with them as they confiscated (read: “ate”) the cream eggs from a care package sent over to me in Oz from the UK.
So California’s coastline. What a way to start Stage 4! I landed in LA and quickly headed up the famous ‘Highway 1’. I’m sorry Australia, but after 7000km travelling along your Southern Coast, I have the authority to say the Big Sur is more spectacular (at least for a touring cyclist!). On my way up to San Francisco, I cycled past coves, stacks, virgin white beaches, whales spouting and beaches of elephant seals, whilst camping on windy cliffs or under giant redwoods. This bit was made even better by Highway 1 being a favourite for cyclists, so for the first time in a while I had company on the road.
Eleanor joined me in San Francisco and took on the role of support car, providing bananas and cold water at all the right times. It was also time for a little rest for me, as I did 650km in two weeks – a distance I usually cover in under a week. Together, bike and car, we headed inland across California’s dust bowl, typified by 40 degrees heat and dry yellow landscapes, to Yosemite national park. From there we cycled/drove through vineyards up to the stunning, peaceful high-altitude Lake Tahoe.
California turned out to be a state of everything – beach, mountains, desert, forest, drought, snow and of course some wine. All made better as we chanced on a heatwave, which was lovely for Eleanor in her nice air-conditioned, but not so great for me and my 150km days.
After Tahoe Eleanor left and was home in 18hours; it was going to take me another 3.5 months! So off I headed across Nevada on the old ‘Pony Express’ road. It was a really tough end to May, as I crossed maybe 12 mountain ranges on a very sparsely populated stretch.
I’m now in Buffalo, having crossed 4 more states, experienced a pre-tornado, spent a few days enjoying Chicago and 2 weeks cycling with my bro.
As always, I appreciate your support and I look forward to hearing from you, so please drop me an email.
From Peter in Buffalo