The Clocks Have Turned May
The clocks have turned May, and that means one thing: by the end of this month, we’ll be in New York. We’ll spend a week there eating cheesecake, mostly, before heading south to New Jersey to begin the early legs of our TransAmerica tour.
Training has been great. Hard and great. Really hard, and really great. English spring is a wonderful thing: first the creamy blackthorn blossoms push you along – their cloud-like blooms from winter-dark hedgerows promising life where none else appears. Within a couple of weeks you get the young shoots on beech branches, lime-green, naïve and infantile, but by early April you’re plunging through bluebell forests, pedalling past patches of fragile white wood anemone and pungent wild garlic, and the heady (may I say almost sweaty?) scent of Britain’s newest cash crop: oilseed rape.
We’ve done a few great rides: London to Cambridge with a tailwind – the easiest, flattest 50 miles you’ll ever do. Bristol to London: 140 miles over two days with full pack weight and a chilly zero-degree wild camp next to a cricket pitch. Hertfordshire hills, Oxfordshire hills, Surrey hills, Highgate hills (eighteen different ascents of the posh north-London outcrop suburb before breakfast on Sundays), any hills we can get our legs on, really.
It’s a revelation, riding together. I tour on my own a lot, and get used to my own rhythms, but the shared encouragement of a two-person ride is something I’m learning to love. The best part is that Amy’s finding her road form at an alarming rate. Gone are the days when I’d stand at the top of a hill waiting for a glimpse of her neon helmet – now I’m toiling hard to keep pace with her, huffing hard as I press on the poor pedals of my lowly three-speed, wishing there were maybe just one more merciful fourth gear for those sixteen percent slopes.
But I’ll have gears galore in a few weeks. Our Surly Disc-Truckers are bought and paid for, ready for collection from Sids, in Brooklyn. We’ve got a gorgeous new camera and stabiliser to make regular videos as we go (stay tuned!). The flat’s let out, the cat’s let out, and we’ve quit our jobs. Savings? You can run, but you can’t hide.
Here’s what’s great. For Amy, each time we climb off our bikes there’s an -est attached, which makes them all special. Longest, steepest, highest, even longer-est…but of course, nothing will compare to the real thing. We’ll only get a feel for that once we’ve picked up our bikes and set off from NYC for the first few of our 6500 proposed miles. But we’re ready, I think. I think we’re ready. I think we are. We’re ready. Definitely ready. If I say it enough, will it be true?
Oh…I forgot to say…The Floor is Lava.