Ride The West 2019 – Final Thoughts

After nearly 4 weeks on the road it was strange this morning not to have to get up early and prepare for another full day of cycling.  I didn’t get to bed very early last night having spent a couple of hours boxing up my bike and doing the last bit of packing for the journey home. I managed to bin a lot of bits and pieces that I had accumulated over the past month which certainly helped make a lot of extra room in my backpack!

I went down for breakfast at 08:30 and most of the riders were already there. Dom had left at 05:00 this morning to drive the van all the way back to Seattle (rather him than me) and he had dropped Steve off at the airport on the way through. There was some good banter around the table this morning about the trip and about returning home to our family and friends.  We got picked up at 11:00 and after dropping Chris and Eric in downtown San Diego we headed for the airport. I am now sat in the airport minding bicycles and baggage and thinking how best to pass the next few hours until our flight back to London at 20:45 this evening.

So what are my final thoughts on this trip? Well, I basically had 3 main requirements when I signed up with Bike Adventures to ride the west coast:-

– I wanted to ride from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and Bike Adventures was the only company I could find who rode from border to border.
– I needed someone to transport my luggage from hotel to hotel each day.
– In the event that I had a major mechanical I wanted backup to be there to help me back on the road.

The support I received from Bike Adventures fulfilled each of the above requirements enabling me to focus my effort on riding my bike each day.

So what about the route?  In places, the scenery was simply amazing, the Oregon coastline, the Redwood forests, The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco and much of Southern California, especially the area around Big Sur. I enjoyed the days where I just rolled along at my own pace, head up and taking in the views that were around me. Seeing seals, pelicans, dolphins and even whales in the natural habit was simply stunning. The roads in places were quite busy and there were times when the shoulder was non existent although for the majority of the ride, one felt safe riding on the shoulder with the rumble strip between us and the main traffic stream.

There were 14 of us on the trip, Dom who drove the van the entire way and 13 riders. Chris was the designated mechanic and was called upon several times to assist with repairs. The main issues were broken spokes and gear cables although the occasional tweet of the gears was necessary to keep things running smoothly. I had two main issues, I broke my saddle a couple of days from the end and had to buy a replacement and my left pedal decided to disintegrate on the final day, giving a loud cracking sound every once in a while. I think the bearings are shot but I’ll take a closer look when I get home. Other than that, my bike performed well and was a pleasure to ride. The riders were a very friendly bunch, all Brits apart from Michael and Eric who were both from Australia. We didn’t see much of Eric, he was an early bird and left at the crack of dawn each day to ride at his own pace and Michael who was a fast rider who passed me early on most days having left a long time after I had started.

It was great that along the way I was able to meet up with Jim and Kevin, two riders with whom I had ridden across the USA with in 2016. It was great that they joined me for a few miles on the road on my final day and I thank them both for the friendship and companionship. It’s now over 3 years since we completed our cross country adventure but the friendship between us all remains strong and I am looking forward to our next reunion in just a few weeks time. American people are some of the most friendly people I have ever met, they are interested in you as a person and I enjoy being amongst them whenever I travel to the US.

I have been wanting to ride the west coast for many years having driven it on several occasions with both Sarah and Ben. Now I can proudly tick the box and put this one to bed although I am sure that I will be back again before too long because I simply adore this area of America. We cycled just over 1,700 miles in 4 weeks and climbed 82,000′ and initially I found the riding tough each day until I rode myself into shape. I now feel a lot fitter and I think I may have lost a few pounds which wouldn’t do me any harm anyway.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog, I’ve enjoyed writing it each day and as the years pass it serves as a reminder to me of the pleasure and enjoyment I have got out of cycling over the years. Thanks also to those who have followed me on Facebook and have given ‘likes’ and have left supportive comments. Knowing that people are interested and following my journey motivates me to get up each morning and hit the road. The biggest thanks goes to my wife Sarah who has encouraged me to do the things that could have so easily been put on the back burner and to my son Ben for his support in posting my blog each day ably assisted by his fiancée, Laura.

I guess this then is the end of another great adventure and thanks for coming on this journey with me. Most of my long distance rides have started as just a dream and ‘Living the Dream’ became a catchphrase that first came about on my cross country ride in 2016 after a particularly hard couple of days. Those 3 simple words mean a lot to me, so much so that they have been engraved onto the crossbar of my bike. Life is all too short to keep putting it off until tomorrow because sadly, one day, tomorrow will never come.  If I have inspired people to do something they have always wanted to do then the pain and suffering on the hard, wet days has been well worth while, to those that are still thinking about it, – go live the dream.