So look, you know I said I was going to cycle across America, a while ago? I wasn’t even joking, and shiz is getting REAL in my North-East London bat-cave/bedroom of a small, shared flat.
For a start, I’m not a Civil Servant, anymore. I’m a self-employed freelance writer, which I think would normally mean “unemployed”, but let’s assume that also includes dedicating time to planning elaborate trips for inspirational purposes, which means I’m very much in bidnis, girlfriends.
Just as well, too, because I’ve booked my tickets and I’ll be seeing you (fleetingly) on the 20th April, Boston. This means I’ll be seeing you, HARWICH MASACHUSSETTS, on 21st April, or as soon as I figure out how to get to you from Boston.
I’ve got a cycling buddy, Inspire a Jen mega supporter but medal table absentee, owing to a stint in Brussels, Sophie. She’ll be meeting me around NYC and hanging out for 17 long days of listening to me whinge.
And I’ve also got my very first sponsor, the most wonderful Bella Velo, who are the UK’s first female-specific high street independent bike dealer, and who I also do a bit of word-smithing for. They’re doing brilliant things for women’s sport (and, in case you’re interested are also nominated for Best Female-Specific Retailer of the Year in the Total Women’s Cycling Awards) and I will wear their jersey with pride as I zip across states/sit in ditches wishing I was better at changing inner-tubes.
There are, however, a few things keeping me awake at night. These are: snakes and gators (Gentle Ben – not that bloody gentle, scarred for life); the necessity of signalling with my left arm (balance is still a problem here); and the route.
I really need some kind of route, so I can find roads that don’t have mega-trucks on them, ace ladies, sofas and pals to join me along the and the main issue I have here is: Mississippi or Alabama? The Mississippi route means I get to go to Memphis (I know it’s in Tennessee – look at the post it notes on the picture above and understand my dilemma), where I could eat the kind of burger that sent Elvis shuffling off his great, bejewelled mortal coil and watch the Reverend Al Green leading a church service. But news of Harper Lee’s sequel to my favourite book of all time, To Kill A Mockingbird, has sent me very much into an Alabama-related tizz. In the words of 2000’s tepid R&B one-hit wonder, City High, “What Would You Do?” (No really, I’d like to know).
I had the great pleasure of meeting much better adventurer than me, Nile-walking crumpet Levison Wood, at an event at route-plotter-extraordinaires, Stanfords, to celebrate the publication of his book. When I explained my situation to Lev : “I’m really shit at planning”, I was reassured by his response: “Me too”. So Lev offered me the sage advice “don’t plan too much” – a huge relief.
PS. My Dad wants me to clarify an historic inaccuracy in my last post. Not so much an inaccuracy as he is a pedant, but whatevs. The pilgrims weren’t from Harwich, rather the Captain of the ship the pilgrims were on (so the most important pilgrim, if you will), was from Harwich. If you’re interested in History which you should be because it’s not, as a recent date told me, “boring” (you’re boring, my friend), or boats, check out this super local charity The Harwich Mayflower Project. More about them later…