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).

Wildlife

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!

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