I know, I keep saying it, but it’s true, I’m cycling around America, H-Town (Harwich) to H-Town (Houston), in LESS THAN A MONTH on a senselessly-complicated spiritual journey of awesome lady empowerment via the medium of Beyoncé (the bike AND the person).
Things are coming together nicely, albeit alongside waves of panic and/or nausea when I think about my lack of understand anything about map reading including how to decipher the code of big roads and little roads, and bears, which I’d forgotten about until the other week and have subsequently used to project all of my trip-related anxieties onto, so humour me for a moment.
The annoying thing is, every state I’m travelling through that isn’t a “gator state” is a sodding bear state. Black bears, not grizzlies, thankfully – black bears being the “gentle” alligator to the grizzly’s bastard croc. The advice for dealing with them is much the same: keep your head down, but if they come for you, open that proverbial can o’ whoop ass and, additionally, give them a dousing of bear pepper spray – yes, that’s a real thing, apparently. But that’s only if you don’t scare them off first by “making yourself big” and shouting at them. I have tried to imagine what I might shout at a black bear, as it raises itself on its hind legs, ready to tear me limb from limb. So far, all options have seemed, at best, futile and at worst, just humiliating.
The other thing I’d forgotten about, linked to the bears, are mountains. There are a shit tonne of mountains in America. In fact there’s a massive mountain range, the Appalachians, quite early on in my journey. I’d feel better about this if I’d done loads and loads of training, but I live on a flood plain and have been spending quite a lot of time drinking cider pretending none of this is happening, just lately.
There’s no way of avoiding them unless I want to forgo Nashville and indeed, Dollywood, in a town called Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains, and I’m not prepared to sack off either – Dollywood is self-explanatory and Taylor Swift lives in Nashville FFS. So my travelling partner for this stretch of the journey, Sophie, and I, having spent a good few hours agonising over this, ultimately took the decision to figure it out when we get there. It’ll be fine.
Further into my journey, however, I have changed my route on account of the mountains and hills and stuff. I just couldn’t be arsed with the prospect of more, so I’m ditching Alabama and following the Natchez Trace Trail through Louisiana instead, before breaking off to go hang out in New Orleans for a couple of days. Cheers Dale, from the Smoky Mountain Wheelmen, for the tip.
Other than all these geo/biological nightmares and my aversion to proper training, things are ticking along. More excellent brands are coming forward to give me shiz, making at least one aspect of my journey easier and I’m particularly lucky that they’re brands I actually like. Step forward Vevie, a British-owned women’s activewear brand which I also do a bit of wordsmithery for, who are sponsoring my fitnesswear. The Vevie ethos is all about being healthy rather than killing yourself on a treadmill (I hear you), looking good and feeling confident enough in your kit, which won’t be found in a range of colours aimed at Disney Princesses, and will even have a pocket for your keys. Result.
Alongside Vevie, sponsoring my cycling-specific kit is Specialized, who make a ruddy lovely bike (Beyoncé is, afterall, a Specialized) and a damn fine pair of padded shorts, the shorts of my dreams actually, compared to the spoony old pair I got for a tenner from Sports Direct (When it comes to padded shorts, in the words of Important OCJOG Lady, Ruth, “don’t be tight – it’s your undercarriage!”).
What I do still need, however, are amazing women and Beyoncé mega fans – happen to know any in the Massachussetts/Rhode Island/Connecticut/New Jersey/Pennsylvania/Maryland/Virginia/North Carolina/Tennessee/Mississppi/Louisiana/Texas area? Hit me up, innit: firstname.lastname@example.org