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News > OB News > Just a small bike ride....

Just a small bike ride....

US Transamerica bike ride, Spring 2022. A great effort Tudor.
5 Sep 2022
Written by Huw Richards
OB News
Tudor J O Morgan (SHB, 83-90)
Tudor J O Morgan (SHB, 83-90)

Riding across the Great Plains of central USA in 38degC with 25 mile side wind felt what I could only imagine it would be like to be inside a tumble drier, my mouth was permanently dry, felt dehydrated, holding on to the handle bars, keeping the front wheel straight and pushing hard with the legs. Then a big cattle lorry comes towards you, a moment of reprieve as it breaks the cross wind then bang the turbulence hits you and you have to hold firm to avoid getting thrown into the verge.

This was not what I had envisaged as an old friend over a few beers said fancy riding across the US, it is only 4300 miles, riding on a set route designed to commemorate the establishment of the USA in 1776, small country roads, avoiding cities, taking in the best of the scenery. I was all in and luckily work agreed to give me the time off. We did some test rides with saddle and frame bags for our kit including a 7 day tour of Wales and decided if we could do that then we could do anything!

We set off from Richmond Virginia in early May, going lightweight on road bikes, staying in motels, Airbnbs and whatever we could find. Following the set route gave us the information we needed of where we could find places to eat during the day. We booked our accommodation approx. 5 days ahead depending on our progress. The simplistic view is you ride from the coast over the Appalachians across the Great Plains up over the Rockies and down to the West coast. What could be simpler?

Our average daily mileage was 90 miles and due to the availability of accommodation the longest day was 135miles and we did a few shorter days when we had lots of hills to climb! And there were lots, in total over 210,000 ft of elevation. We took 7 weeks and only had 1 day off, we had originally thought that we would take more time off but found we were happy in the daily routine. In all we rode through 10 states. The route linked up numerous historic trails including the Lewis and Clark Expedition route and Oregon trail. So at one point we were less than 100 miles from the Canadian border.

Every day was different and seeing the scenery change and unfold in front of our eyes from the speed of the bike was a feast for the eyes, I was really impressed by the wildlife especially the diversity of birds, the history of colonisation and abuse and decimation of the native Americans is sickening.

Of course there were highs and lows, I have learnt from my years of working in the Polar regions and expeditions that mental strength is very much a key to success and on days in the Great Plains with the cross winds then that was tested. Getting into your head that all you need is forward momentum whatever speed you are riding and to be fit again to ride the next day are the most important factors to making it to the other side.

We were lucky that we did not have any mechanical issues to deal with other than punctures. Our bodies held up. We ate a lot, but we were burning in the region of 6000 calories a day. Food was a challenge, getting anything other than 'traditional American food' was hard, but burgers, chips, fried food and buckets of soda were probably what we needed, but when we found some fruit it was a treat! The crazy wild, what seemed massive dogs chasing us in Kentucky certainly got the heart pumping!

Across the route temps varied from 38degress down to minus 2, we rode under clear blue skies, torrential rain and a blizzard. Be prepared for anything!

When we finished at the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific coast in Oregon it was a bittersweet feeling, one of achievement, that we made it, but what next and breaking that daily routine that I had got so used to.

Now back at work I still can't believe I did it, there is still a lot to process and take in.



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