Tour of the USA – Final Reflections (Part One)

My final update on my once in a lifetime cycling adventure reflects on the highs, lows & challenges we experienced, as well as answers to the big questions. Trying to pick out a few moments to summarise 93 days of cycling (plus another 30 rest days) has been more difficult than I expected, as there were so many highs.

The adventure began when we boarded the Bainbridge Island ferry in Seattle on 30th April & ended when we dipped our wheels at Maquoit Bay, Maine. We needed thick rain jackets to keep the cold wind at bay in late April, but by the time we reached the East Coast, we had shed weight as well as our jackets!

National Parks

When we first floated the idea of cycling coast to coast, we both wanted to ensure we experienced as many areas of outstanding natural beauty as was possible. We each purchased an America The Beautiful annual pass which gave us unlimited access to all the National & State Parks through the USA. Without doubt, the best $80 we spent on the entire adventure.

In order, we visited the following National Parks (NP) & State Parks along the way – Glacier NP in Montana, Grand Teton, Yellowstone & Devil’s Tower NPs (all in Wyoming), Mount Rushmore NP, Custer SP & Badlands NP (all in South Dakota) & Niagara Falls (New York).


We both had a wish-list of wildlife we would like to meet along the way – in spite of having high hopes, we didn’t expect to see the huge variety of animals who wanted a look at two crazy Brits on a cycling adventure! We were visited by a menagerie of animals – pretty much the only animal on our list to elude us was a moose, although seeing a golden eagle swoop over our heads on the way to Rexford more than made up for it!

Our wildlife show began on our 2nd morning when we saw a pair of bald eagles perched on the mast of our ferry. I’ve included a few of my favourite photos below including an eagle with her offspring, terrapins, deer galore, a black bear cub, alpacas, elk, bison, a snake, pelicans, heron & turkey vultures.

Hydration Strategy – aka the beer count

Several people got in touch early on to ask whether I was on a cycling adventure or a booze cruise! I promised that I would report back at the end, so they could decide for themselves – here are a few of my favourite photos.

  1. Toasting our first day on the road in Port Townsend
  2. Celebrating after summiting Stevens Pass in Leavenworth
  3. Cheeky beer to recognise crossing from Idaho into Montana
  4. We may still be in our cycling kit but that didn’t stop us being pampered by Misty & Tina at The Pioneer Bar (our first night camping too!)
  5. Enjoying a beer after a rest day in Lincoln
  6. Relaxing after a 6 day block of riding into Helena
  7. Contemplating the news that Yellowstone NP was closed due to flooding as we reached West Yellowstone
  8. Looking smug after completing our longest ride of the trip (104 miles) into Cody
  9. Surrounded by money on the walls in Hill City on Independence Day
  10. All the gang at The Wagon Wheel (equal favourite watering hole with The Pioneer Bar)
  11. We’ve made it to Minneapolis – the first big city since Seattle (11 weeks ago)
  12. Afternoon drinking at the Fremont Hotel
  13. Toasting our 75th day of riding in Defiance
  14. Enjoying the last of the summer sun on the Erie Canal at Brockport
  15. Toasting Dave, Ruth & Sienna who kept our adventure on track in Ticonderoga
  16. The end of the cycling adventure as we celebrate in Brunswick

I notched up 72 different varieties of beer on my travels – mainly IPAs & only one mass produced beer on the entire trip. I started with a Pike Place IPA in Pike Place & along the way found some unusually named brews – Dutch Girl Blonde, Jackass, Neon Bear Hug, Sodank, Falling Knife, Chaos Pattern, Great North Moose Juice & Mind Haze. I ended with a World Gone Hazy in NYC!

My final update will focus on the people we met, the mountains we explored & the cake we ate!

USA, Coast To Coast – the final stopover

Friday 2nd September

Although our cycling adventure ended in Brunswick, Maine on 30th August, it wasn’t the end of the trip – we had a few days exploring The Big Apple planned! We took the 11am train from Brunswick to Boston North Station, enjoyed a final 3 mile ride across the city & then caught another train from Boston South Station, arriving in Penn Station just before 8pm.

I’d booked us into The New Yorker Hotel, on the corner of 34th St & 8th Ave, which had a spectacular view across to the West River & uptown towards Times Square. After dropping off our kit, we headed out for a bit of a wander – we made it one block before stopping in The Tailor to take the edge off our thirst & we ended up staying there reminiscing about our adventure until about 1am.

Anyone who knows me well will be aware that NYC is my favourite city. I’m fortunate that many of my friends have joined me on one (or more) of my trips – my first experience of New York was in 1990, when my cousin kindly put me up for several weeks & I learned to navigate without a map! Since then, I’ve returned to meet up with friend Jo when she was Au Pairing in 1994 (just before I started work at Bank of Ireland) & again with my hockey friends Dave & Michelle in 1997.

I returned to NYC for my 40th birthday in 2004 & I was fortunate enough that about 15 of my friends joined me & then joined Bob when he celebrated his 50th birthday in 2007. Sean & I have previously visited too, at the start & end of a cycling trip from Albany to Niagara Falls & back in 2007

I then visited twice in 2014 – firstly to celebrate Mum & Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary & then again for my cousin Chelsea’s wedding. In short I’ve shared many wonderful moments with friends & family, hence me wanting to finish my adventure of a lifetime here!

Saturday 3rd September

We began the day by dropping our bikes off at Liberty Cycles, so they could be prepared for their flight home. Our plan for the morning was to stroll along the western edge of Central Park on our way to the National History Museum on 79th & 8th.

Pretty much all the major tourist attractions required booking in advance, a hangover from Covid restrictions earlier in the year. I won’t bore with what we did & where we went, I’ll just let the best of the photos tell the tale.


The Tropics

Sharks & Dinosaurs


Artifacts from ancient civilizations

I had an appointment in Central Park with one of the kindest & most generous people I know – my lovely friend Shada. I thoroughly enjoyed showing Shada the sights of Central Park, including Strawberry Fields & a wonderful view towards The Dakota Buildings.

Central Park is an oasis of peace & quiet amongst the hustle & bustle of New York. In one direction was the Boating Lake, with terrapins sunbathing on a rock, yet by spinning 180 degrees, we were looking back towards The Plaza Hotel & 5th Avenue. All too quickly my time with Shada was up, but it’s a moment in time that I’ll look back on fondly for a long time to come!

I just had enough time to get back to the hotel & get changed, before meeting up with Sean at 7.30pm. We’d intended to have a fairly quiet night, but that wasn’t quite how it turned out – we started with dinner (washed down with a couple of pints) in Smith’s Bar on 44th & 8th. We then headed to Hells Kitchen on 9th Avenue – we’d built up a thirst on the 10 minute walk, so stopped in Mercury Bar for a couple, before moving on to Rudy’s Bar for a couple more.

All would have been good if we’d gone back to the hotel at this point, but we didn’t! We walked to the Printer’s Alley bar on 40th & 7th, where we continued to test new beers until just gone 2.30am…..luckily my only photo of the evening was taken just before our dinner arrived!

Sunday 4th September

We met up at 9.30am, both feeling a little the worse for wear, but keen to do some more exploring. Once we’d had some breakfast & recovered our energy levels, we headed to Grand Central Terminal & then on to Times Square.

We stopped briefly in the Levi’s Store & both of us stocked up on jeans in our new slimmer sizes! We made our way across town to The High Line at 30th & 10th. This was once the main raised railway line for freight into NYC, but it eventually fell into disrepair until the local community persuaded the city to turn it into a green space.

After taking in the views across to New Jersey, we followed the High Line as it headed downtown. We’d arrived at lunchtime & things were a bit busier than expected – I’ve since learned that we should have done this early in the morning, before everyone else arrived. There were numerous sculptures & art installations along the way & this is somewhere I’d love to come back & visit again.

It was time for some serious shopping, so I headed to Macy’s for a couple of hours of retail therapy – a pair of jeans, a few tee shirts, boxer shorts, socks, a belt & a wallet later, I headed back to the hotel, totally shopped out (for today at least!). We collected the bikes from Liberty Cycles, as planned then headed out for dinner, a couple of quiet drinks & then a stroll to Times Square.

Monday 5th September

We had a tasty breakfast in Skylight Diner, then headed to Macy’s to buy a suitcase each – when we travelled from London to Seattle, we jettisoned our very old suitcases, as they were then surplus to requirements. Luckily it was Labor (sic) Day bank holiday, so there was a big sale on & we were both able to pick up a relative bargain. This also meant I now knew how much room I had for clothes & I bought another pair of jeans for myself, as well as a pair for a Christmas present for my brother.

We dropped our purchases off then set off for the main event of our NYC stay – I’d managed to get some baseball tickets for us to watch the Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins (we passed their stadium when we passed through Minneapolis). Believe it or not, I’d got two $72 tickets for $36 from Stub Hub.

The Yankees were the team to beat in the American League East (they eventually won the division, before losing the championship to the Houston Astros). Our real interest was watching Aaron Judge bat, as he was on his way to setting an American League East record of 62 home runs in a season. In line with our luck throughout the entire adventure, we saw Aaron Judge hit a home run!

In the end, the Yankees were far too strong for the Twins, which the result all the home fans (& us) were hoping for.

We took the subway back from Yankee Stadium (in The Bronx) to Manhattan & headed out for our last night in The Big Apple. We returned to Hell’s Kitchen for food & a few more celebratory beers as we took turns to go through our favourite moments from the last 21 weeks.

Tuesday 6th September

The last day of our adventure was spent doing present shopping, as well as stocking up on a few essential clothes – I had room in my case, so it would have been rude not to fill the space!

Leaving the hotel, I took one final look at the Empire State Building, as we headed for JFK airport & our flight back to Heathrow.

I’m planning one final ‘Reflections’ update tomorrow evening – I’ll share our favourite places & best moments as well as answer the all important questions regarding beer, cake & ice cream!