Update on Alex Halliday, William Duffy and James Howard who are currently Cycling Across America!
Since the last blog we have moved through Missouri (the ozarks - yes another mountain range) and have started to storm through Kansas. The terrain has changed drastically allowing us to average over 15mph on the first day, whereas previously we were averaging 11-12mph through the mountains. Kansas is very flat, however this flat land has brought yet another element into play...the wind! On the first day we were cruising at 15-17mph and we thought to ourselves what a piece of cake, we shall smash this 800 miles of flat land and wind up in the Rockies for a nice cold beer with some time to kill. How wrong we were. The wind has shown its full force over the last few days, with the three of us battling very strong headwinds, at times reducing us to depressingly low averages per hour. A further challenge has been the heat and the scorching sun. These roads in Kansas are long - yesterday we did not make a turn for 38 miles. This not only means we had a headwind for 38 miles, but we also forgot the heat from the sun, the wind tricking you into thinking it is cooler than it is. To add to this trees are few and far between meaning shade is a rarity. All this considered we have been getting over 90 miles in a day, but due to Will and I not feeling too great after so many hours in the sun, we have taken the decision to ride at night for the duration of the flats. Not only is it cooler at night, but the wind drops considerably making life much more pleasant.
It is now that I must confess something slightly embarrassing and something which I am sure many of you will not be surprised to hear. Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen many a cyclist going from the West Coast to East Coast, yet have met only one other cyclist going the same way as us. It was only the other day that we were told why people with a brain start from the West coast and finish in the East. It seems the prevailing winds in America blow from the west, meaning the flats of Kansas become more of a pleasure and the wind more a help than a hinderance. We have therefore, due to reasons I can only describe as naivety, opted to make this already difficult challenge even more difficult!
Having spent the first 1500 miles without any punctures, our luck has finally run out in this department. We had three punctures in the same day; two for me in the space on 10 minutes and one for James, a teasing couple of miles from our destination. To make matters worse in the same day, Will somehow managed to snap a few bolts in his seat, leading to his seat flying off on the move and nuts and bolts scattered all over the road. Thankfully what could have been a nasty incident was instead turned into a bit of a treasure hunt for the lost pieces.
There are a couple of things which I would further like to make you aware of which have shaped our experience of much of America so far. The first of these is the lack of fruit and the hardship of finding even a simple salad. Many of you may read this and disagree with me, however you must remember we are not travelling through highly populated cities with big supermarkets. Having cycled over half the country, we have found fruit on only three or four occasions and when we do, we go downtown. People sort of look at us and think we are mad when we ask them if they have any fruit or salad. To my dismay they point at some fruit pastels and smile!
A second thing we have picked up on is how Americans love to mow their lawn. Every state we have been through, they cease to amaze me. Never have I seen so many people mowing their lawns, waving on their tractor-like mowers as we cycle past. We are however very thankful for these crisp lawns as they are rather nice to relax on during our breaks!
For those of you that have been asking, to this day, we have covered 1747 miles. It seems just yesterday that we started, and looking back at the maps it is quite strange to see how far we have come.
I must again thank you all for the kind donations and I shall continue to bombard you all with the web address: www.bmycharity.com/transamericacycle