As I propped my bike against a handy signpost and sat down upon a nearby log to enjoy second breakfast of a muesli bar, some mixed peanuts and raisins, and some chocolate chip cookies, I had a look at my map.  I had started the day just outside Athens, had already passed through London and Jerusalem, and I was less than a day’s ride to Mordor.  It was all making me feel very geographically challenged.  Thankfully I was having a better time of it than Mr Frodo though as New Zealand is a wonderful place for a man in lycra.  The roads are relatively quiet, the scenery is different every day and I wasn’t rained on once since I left Christchurch to when I arrived in Auckland.

When I rode away from Christchurch to commence these final few months of my journey, my bike was in much better shape than me.  For the past six months or so, the furthest I have ridden was the 12km to work on a very old but light and narrow-tyred road bike which I had purchased when I arrived in New Zealand, and the only incline I had cycled up was the one on the bridge going over the railway line.  Not ideal preparation for cycling in a rather hilly country.  My touring bike was looking very sharp however with a shiny re-built back wheel, a new gear shifter which no longer required me to hold it in place to prevent it from selecting gears for me, some brakes which do not require any assistance from the soles of my feet on the ground to slow me down, and some new cream coloured go-faster stripes covering the small patches of rust which were starting to appear.  Almost as soon as I had left it felt like I had never stopped cycling, apart from the tired legs and the slightly tender posterior, as I slipped back into the same old routine, just now with a little more money to make life on the road more comfortable again and a few new songs to add to my singing cyclist repertoire.

It seemed that no sooner had I started riding again, it was time to pack up my bike again and board a flight to LAX (minus my fuel bottle which had been confiscated by security as although empty, still had the slightest whiff of petrol - at least I was heading to LA where I could get a new one fairly readily).  After a short interrogation by a slightly bemused immigration official who struggled to believe that I needed 2 months to cycle to New York, I was ready to become Forrest Gump on wheels.  

I proceeded to bounce and weave my way through the cracked and often potholed roads from the airport into Hollywood, where I was to stay for a couple of days, trying hard to remember to ride on the right hand side of the road whilst attempting to readjust my eyes to the bold and in your face environment I had entered, a huge contrast to New Zealand.  Slightly more adjusted to my new environment, having started to sample some of the many varieties of donut on offer in America and after failing to convince Johnny Depp that he should star as me in the film version of this trip, I waved goodbye to the glamour of Hollywood and today rode up into the hills north of LA.  Having been enjoying the summer in New Zealand it’s time to get those leg warmers back out as I was greeted with sleet when I arrived today in Palmdale and have freezing temperatures to look forward to tonight.  Over the next few days I will have my winter woollies on as I travel through Death Valley, which according to CNN is “officially the hottest place on Earth”, just perhaps not this week.  Hello winter...
9/2/2013 00:03:36

The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.

Phil Richards
15/2/2013 18:34:37

Good to read your update Chris. Not far to go now!


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