September 16, 2016
The wind changed today, it swapped sides and blew in my face from the right, making things difficult and pushing me into the road. I cut today’s ride short as it’s the only day where all 5 of us can be together and have a good time. I purposely left short days at the end of the trip so I can make miles up, it makes sense to suffer more then. Instead of talking about cycling today I’m going to talk about America.
It is massive. As you’ve probably seen from my photos there are huge open spaces with one road running through. Of course the cities are densely populated but to be honest there’s not much in-between! You get small towns with populations of maybe 10-10,000 but they’re often very limited in supplies and resources. I’m a little unsure what these people do for a living, there is literally no industry for 100+ miles in some towns, I’ve no idea what they do.
There are some lovely houses, stuck in the middle of nowhere, my guess is that they own the farms. There are also some proper shacks, I have no idea how they can live in those conditions but they seem to! There are also so many properties/sheds/shacks/vehicles that seem to have been deserted. Like villages which haven’t been touched in years, or a car garage with rotting cars outside. It’s crazy to think they must all have packed up some day and left. Another thing I’ve noticed is that so many houses have RV vehicles. I guess they don’t leave America much but these vehicles must cost a fortune, the one we’re in now must be about 50 grand.
In addition to the country being massive so too is everything else. You get massive hardware stores that sell almost everything. They are as big, if not bigger, than the big supermarkets in the UK but they’re catering for a village of like 2000. I guess the price of the land must be dirt cheap but I still can’t get my head round how they are profitable.
In addition to buildings and spaces, everything else is also massive. Trains, cars, burgers, trucks, people, hills, farms, tractors, sweets, tinned food, RV’s, bridges, everything!
The roads are generally really good. They’re pretty big with plenty of space for 2 wagons and then big hard shoulders at the side. When available, I always ride in the hard shoulders. However there are these dints at the side and in the middle of the road, they are shocking to ride on. I had no idea what they were at first but I later found out that they’re to alert drivers should they fall asleep at the wheel and veer off their part of the road. If these things are in the hard shoulder I have to ride on the road.
For most part the drivers – especially wagon drivers – have been really good. However occasionally you get these huge wagons which could be up to 100ft in length, they have the whole road with no oncoming traffic, but yet they drive about a meter from me. Jordan was behind me one day and he said a wing mirror was around 5 inches from my head, it would definitely kill you. I can only guess that they don’t want to drive over these dint things, they make a bit of a racket and I guess they might damage the suspension.
The roads are patrolled by the police, who drive around in vehicles that wouldn’t look out of place in a action film. We’ve been asked to move on twice as blocking roads, but they’ve been fine with us.
We haven’t had as much downtime as I thought we would have as the riding has been tough! However the people we have met seem pretty friendly. Once we tell them we’re cycling across the country they’re generally quite excited. I’ve had a lot of funny looks or giggles when in my cycling kit from a passing car, or in a shop. I guess it’s not a sight they see every day! I get a lot of waves from vehicles and a few have stopped when I’m pulled over to ask am I ok. It could honestly be a matter of life and death on these roads, sometimes I haven’t seen a car for half the day. I often think back to the bloke who was walking coast to coast, it’s so dangerous on those isolated roads. I guess that’s life out here, most people in the UK would freak out if they lost mobile signal.
It’s hard to say if I like America or not right now. It’s hard for me to really experience American culture when riding a bike for 10 hours. It’s definitely different to the UK, one of the first things I noticed was the very poor diets, especially when out of the cities. It’s all deep fried, probably frozen, foods. They have stop signs at junctions and by law you have come to a halt. I might be 2 miles away, with nothing else around, but I still see the cars stop dead before turning. That impressed me as it shows their respect for the law. There are signs everywhere stating how dropping litter is a $1000-2000 fine, I bet they’re keen to enforce it too!
They say America is the land of opportunity and you can’t really disagree with that as there are so many places to go! I wouldn’t say that opportunity is easy to find, but it’s so big that there must be loads of it. I remember Carson City, we were in the middle of the desert with nothing for miles, but it was totally bustling with life, industry and people!
However I think no NHS is a negative and the people of the UK totally take it for granted, what an amazing service it is. When we took the RV they advised us to get extra insurance as “everyone sues everyone here”, they went on to say “you brush against someone and they’ve a bad back for a year and you have to pay the bill”. I haven’t witnessed this first-hand but it sounds pretty scary!
I’m loving the experience though and looking forward to the next two weeks! I wish I had more images to demonstrate my thoughts but I’m tired and need food!
Night from Kansas City!