Tracking progress courtesy of ZeroSixZero, bespoke adventure mapping with a merry twist.
This journey began on 26th July 2019, after I was fortunate enough to spend four days with a global family of community leaders at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California, which I’m really lucky to be a part of thanks to my work with SayYesMore and the YesTribe.
While everyone else headed home by plane and car and train, my escape was made on an AZUB recumbent bicycle, heading east, armed with a pair of legs which were in desperate need of a workout.
With a deadline to reach Memphis by 1st September in time to lead a paddling trip down the Mississippi River, the clock was ticking from the off. Disaster almost struck with heatstroke in the Californian Central Valley, but after a week of recovery I reset the plan with the help of a kind stranger, who offered to drive me to Colorado in an enormous RV
And thus the journey began again, with a new challenge of the Colorado Rockies, the windy plains of Kansas and then the undulating lands of Missouri and Arkansas.
Along the way I met kind strangers at every turn, and interviewed many of them, slowly realising that the political divisions that have split the United States of America in two haven’t changed the way the average American chooses to live. Republican or Democrat, Trump or otherwise, Americans still love their families, appreciate good conversation and food, and are perfectly happy inviting in an Englishman riding a cool-looking bicycle.
I arrived in Memphis on August 28th, completing a 15th non-motorised journey over 1000 miles and leaving just 10 journeys left for Expedition1000. I also found time, with a little help from some friends, to surprise my wife after we’d been apart for two months - if you watch any of the films below I recommend Episode 19, where the surprise is executed!
I choose these journeys for soul food, as a reminder that we live in a world full of good, kind people and majestic nature worth preserving. I travel slow to keep things cheap, but also because a little challenge never did us any harm. In these adventures I’ve found the greatest riches in life and I’ve learned so much from a long ride, pedal, paddle, skate or plod - far more than I ever did at school.
If you ever decide to take on your own adventure, big or small, please do drop me a line if you need a supportive conversation or nudge in the right direction.
In 2017, at the Germersheim’s Spezi bike show in Germersheim, Germany, Emms and I were at the mercy of our Facebook friends, who voted between three different types of tandem bicycle for us to ride off towards the sunrise.
One of those bikes was made by Azub, who are based in the Czech Republic. On that occasion another bike won the vote, but I stayed in touch with Honza, Azub’s marketing boss who has completed some pretty amazing long distance journeys of his own.
When the opportunity for this summer’s journey appeared I wrote to Honza and he reckoned that Azub could help, so they’re loaning me a specially built super speedy recumbent bike, a Max700, for the journey.
Now, having ridden over 1500 miles on this bike, I can safely say I’m a recumbent convert. Riding for a month without a hint of saddle soreness is a winning feeling, and the larger-than-usual wheels elevated me higher than a standard recumbent, offering a feeling of visibility and safety. And even going uphill became less and less of an issue as my legs grew stronger. Yes, it was never possible to use full body weight to generate downforce onto the pedals, but after the first week of getting off and walking, finally I joined forces with the Max 700’s 30 gears and successfully conquered four peaks over 10,000ft on the way to Memphis.