Choose your own (musical) adventure

As a great many people have pointed out, cycling all day every day with just your thoughts for company might result in some serious introspection/boredom/mind-numbing inner monologues.  To alleviate this I’m attempting to assemble some musical distractions. A certain Mr Matthew Armstrong has suggested the following arrangement:

Picture of a guy on a bike laden with speakers

Had to leave the tent behind - couldn't find space for it


However, I think perhaps some of that new MP3 technology might be more appropriate. And that’s where you come in! I know some of you have great musical taste. And others of you, well, you’re very enthusiastic about music. So I’ve created two collaborative playlists (no, I didn’t know you could do that either until tonight) on Spotify that I’m hoping you will all help me with. “Why two?” I hear you ask. Well, one is for when I’m feeling strong, cycling with the wind and/or downhill and everything is hunky-dory. And the other one is for when the going gets tough and I’m struggling with fatigue, saddle sores, long hill climbs, or just bad hair. I won’t provide any guidelines on what genres of music would suit these two playlists -- I’ll leave that entirely up to you. It should be fascinating to see if everyone agrees on a style/mood for each of these playlists. Don’t be swayed by what others have selected!

You know how some albums really remind you of a particular place, because that was where you were when you first heard it or you played it all the time when you were there? Well, what I’d love is to have a bunch of songs that I probably won’t have listened to before that I can play all the time as I’m cycling and, years from now, when I hear them again I’ll instantly be transported back to the open roads of rural America. That’s the vision. But now I need you to help make that vision! Please add as many songs as you want:

Riding free -- downhill Riding free -- uphill

(If you don’t have Spotify, feel free to just post your music suggestion in the Comments section)


Do monks wear lycra?

So the first person to accept the dubious honour of riding with me on the TransAmerica route was Patrick, way back in November last year. As I’ll be referring to my travel companions a lot in my posts, I’m trying to build up a picture of the group we’ve got. And what better way than in their own words. Here’s what Pat has to say about himself:

Hey I’m Patrick! And I’ve wanted to do this coast-to-coast bike since someone told me it could be done seven years ago!  However up until now it was never anything more than something that I thought “would be cool to do” and hopefully I’ll be able to make it all the way to the Pacific Ocean in one piece 😀

Currently on a leave of absence from university, I’m a 20 year-old college student from San Jose, California who is studying animation in Los Angeles and I have just returned from 3 amazing months living abroad in a Nepali orphanage run by Buddhist monks!

Patrick - fully loaded

"Me wearing a silly looking helmet that was given to me for an outing. I always get the coolest things... "


As you can possibly spot from the first photo, Pat’s also got a Surly LHT bike – which makes three of us! At this rate we should ask Surly for sponsorship money…

(Regarding this posts title: Patrick is not a monk – as far as I know. But it got your attention, eh!)


Another Parry in the defence against loneliness

(Sorry – couldn’t resist the pun)

So our little band of intrepid riders has another member: Parry Higginson, a US native. Parry got in touch via my advert and is going to start with us from Yorktown. Here’s what he says about himself:

Hello, my name is Parry Higginson and I am departing on this adventure from Coast to Coast this upcoming summer. I am graduating with a Business and Economics Bachelors degree and will be pursuing a Masters of Finance degree this fall from the University of Utah. 2 years ago I rode my bicycle solo from Canada to Mexico along the pacific coast and had a wonderful time. This time I feel that a ride from “pond to pond” will be an exciting and rewarding experience. I feel that now is the best time as a career in a few years will not allows for a 3 month leave at a whim.

Picture of Parry cycling in 2009

Parry cycling in 2009

Watch out for this chap on the route!


Climb evey Beacon

Here’s Alex’s highlights reel from our Brecon Beacons cycling weekend:



Warm-up: Brecon Beacons Day 2

Having gone to sleep under a clear starry sky it was majorly disappointing to wake in the middle of the night to the sound of rain drumming on my tent walls. The rain continued intermittently until about 7:30am, around about the time I dragged myself up and packed up my kit – in the process of which I managed to slice open the palm of my hand quite deeply when I leant on something monstrously sharp that was lurking beneath my ground-sheet. In hind-sight I’m glad it was just my hand that was punctured and not my (expensive) sleeping mat. But needless to say, cycling with a large cut on your palm is not ideal!


Not a great start to the day!


After a breakfast of a sausage bap, jam on toast and a coffee we set off on the return leg back towards Symonds Yat. The unpredictable weather, the wet roads and my injured hand kept our plans quite modest – but in the end the 40 miles we did was just about perfect – lots of rolling country lanes, some whizzing along river-side roads, and a few challenging hill-climbs for our tired limbs.


Looking back towards Llangorse Lake


What we hadn’t bargained on was being shunned from every village pub we entered in search of lunch. It seems that without a mother in tow, a pub lunch on Mothering Sunday is out of the question. To be fair, if you were a landlord would you bother serving three sweaty, unshaven men in lycra when there are countless families queuing up to eat at your pub? We ended up riding all the way back to Ye Old Ferry Inn at Symonds Yat where Jamie hooked us up with a late lunch at 4pm and let us use the bunkhouse showers before we set off. Top place – definitely worth an afternoon if you’re in that neck of the woods.


After packing the bikes and kit back in the car we were on the road by 6pm – although I wasn’t back home in Cambridge until 11:30. Legs felt like they’d definitely had a work-out but they coped admirably. Now to plan next weekend’s adventures…


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