Alex Halliday, William Duffy and James Howard have taken on the epic challenge of cycling 3,400 miles across America from Richmond Virginia to San Francisco in support of Help for Heroes. See the first update from Alex Halliday below:
To kick off, we started our journey in Richmond, Virginia and we were immediately hit by 40 degree weather. The heat and humidity during this first week of cycling has been relentless, dropping below 35 rarely and constantly drenched in sweat. We are drinking around 6 litres of water a day and eating more candy and sweets than ever before!
On leaving Richmond, we encountered problems straight away. James, had his back wheel bent during transit from England, as well as problems with his gears. A couple of hundred dollars later and time that we don't have lost, we were on the move. The first couple of days we were just finding our feet and getting used to the weight of the panniers which we greatly underestimated!
We were up every day around 5 30am to avoid the heat and catch the cooler mornings (I would love to say this has continued but tiredness has taken its toll and we would rather sleep in and brave the heat!)
The kindness we have experienced has been incredible. We have hardly had to pay for water, constantly asked if we are ok and often people have allowed us to camp in their gardens. In one town called Catawba, Virginia, we knocked on the church door to ask if we could camp in the grounds. On meeting the pastor, he thanked God for bringing us to him and prayed for our safe passage. This kind man fed us, put us up and let us shower and it is kindness such as this which we have experienced ever since. In addition, we have had lunch bought for us by policemen, money off hostels and motels and many other acts of kindness.
On the cycling front, I would be lying if I said it was a walk in the park. Making our way through the Appalachians has been mentally tough as well as physically. When you have a map which informs you that you have a 20 mile climb, climbing to over 3500 foot, your heart drops. However, the feeling when you reach the top and have dragged yourself, your bike and your bags is something that words can't describe. It can take you hours to get up these mountains and just 10-15 minutes to get down them. Some days we are making our way up and down six or seven mountains and hills...spending up to 8-9 hours on the bike.
We are currently following the 76 bike route across America, going through places such as Christianburg, Elkhorn City (state border Virginia into Kentucky) and now in a place called Berea. We have tried to stay in motels where we can, but we have had to camp a couple of times. As you can imagine, camping is not my speciality or preference, with the added problem that I don't like bugs...though they seem to love me!
For those of you who have donated and supported us, thank you very much and for those of you who haven't www.bmycharity.com/transamericacycle is the place to be! All donations are welcomed with opened arms. Although it is hot, humid and draining we never forget the charity we are doing this for and it is your donations that spur us on during the hard times.
Check in again soon to see another update from the team!