Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012


We spent the first afternoon in Florida riding along more beautiful white beaches on the Gulf. We had lunch on one of them. Then rode along a dodgy road to Pescacola and over a big and very windy bridge onto a large peninsula nature reserve where we found a great beach to sleep out on without the tents. In the night a couple came down to the beach for half an hour or so. They sat down within about 5 meters of us and didn't notice us there! They were arguing about something then ran off back to their car!

In the morning we fought a head wind along the peninsula and sand was being blown across the road. The scenery was amazing all day. The beaches turned into a forest full of deer and then lakes with jumping fish. We found a state park that night and slept in a hut on a raised walkway.

Only 6 days left now until the end! We got up really early so we wouldn't be caught in the state park and followed more beaches to the not-very-nice Panama City. On the way out of Panama City we crossed another bridge and saw a flock/herd/school (or whatever) of dolphins. They were having a great time diving and jumping around. I could have watched them for hours. We cycled along a long boring straight road all afternoon and a storm was brewing. It starting tipping it down when we got to Port St Joe. We sheltered in a Burger King, not much chance of finding anything other than a chain restaurant unfortunately.

We asked around and looked miserable for around 1 1/2 hours and despite hinting heavily, nobody offered us a place to stay or suggested anything. Resigned to getting soaked, we had a quick look round and found another hut over the sea. It was perfect and we couldn't believe nobody had told us about it, it was just a wooden platform with a roof but it was dry. I guess fishermen used it during the daytime.

More nice coastline followed and nothing much happened til lunchtime the next day were we walked out along a pier to eat. Some woman stopped on the road and started shouting at us that it was private property before driving off. I don't even know if she owned it! After that, we cycled through a wood all afternoon and passed some beautiful rivers with more jumping fish. In the evening we stopped in a small settlement called Sopchoppy for the night. We found a free campsite at the park and spoke to the caretaker who warned us he'd seen a bear there not too long ago!

We cooked our dinner on the campsite and got our tents up. I picked up all our rubbish then carried it all over to the bins on the campsite. I was almost there and a saw a huge outline of an animal about 5 meters away. It was the bear and it was bloody massive! I retreated backwards slowly while watching it and threw the rubbish away so the bear wouldn't follow me! I got back to the table and was buzzing, I told Harry "I think I just saw a bear!" We both went back over with a bike light and had a good look at it then made loads of noise and it ran away then up a tree. It was so impressive to see something that big move so quickly, it went flying up it and stood on some big branches about half way up. We went backwards and made more noise then it came down and ran off to the back of the campsite. We saw it skulking around there later on and eventually it went away. We went back to the tents and tried to sleep! I didn't sleep well at all!!!

The next morning we had a great breakfast and discussed the bear. It was so good to have seen one. I thought we'd missed our chance and wasn't expecting Florida to be the state where we saw one. The whole of the day was spent in forests. In the evening we met a homeless guy who was living on his bike. He'd attached a cart to the back of it, which he kept everything in. He seemed happy though, he told us he just wondered around the states. We warned him about the bear and to keep his food away from where he slept that night. We also saw a ridiculous truck that had been raised about 5 ft on springs! We got to Perry that night and had run out of money. A really nice Motel owner let us camp behind it, use their bathrooms and gave us 5 dollars to spend on dinner.

A boring morning fighting into a headwind was improved by the brilliant all you can eat roast dinner buffer at lunchtime. In the evening, we arrived at Fort Allute and were given free pizza in a petrol station. We searched the town for a place to sleep, were turned away from the firestation but a guy called Rocky let us stay in his mobile home for the night. We walked the 30 meters or so from his door to the mobile home, Rocky drove in his Chevrolet Silverado Pickup! He opened the door for us then drove back to his house! Lovely guy but unbelievable he drove that distance. It took more time than it took us to walk it! Bacon butties for dinner!

Rocky came round at 7 in the morning with 2 cooked breakfasts for us from the petrol station. They were horrible but again, a really nice thing to do! On the way out of the town, one of Rocky's employees gave us a battered Florida number plate. This was our penultimate day on the bikes, nothing much happened but my excitement of finishing was growing. I was really happy to be near the end. It's been a fantastic adventure but I'm really up for seeing everyone at home again now, and it's nearly Christmas! We arrived at St John's Campground for the evening and I put up my tent for the last time. We had a great dinner and a beer and talked about what to do next! It's gonna be weird to be back in the real word, I dunno how quickly I'll re-adjust to it.

We got up on the final morning and packed up quickly and got moving. We had arranged to meet a guy from, Jerry Everetts, who had offered to put us up at his house for a couple of nights - more amazing generosity. On the last morning we were approached by a journalist on the road - for the first time! She was really interested and told us we'd be in the Daytona Beach News Journal the next day! We cycled towards the coast all morning until finally we climbed up the final bridge and could see the end of the world - Flagler Beach! From the top of the bridge we sprinted down the hill and cycled as fast as possible to the end of the road. I cycled down onto the beach. My amazing bike had made it - it's a bit tired, gears are skipping, the bottom bracket is wobbling all over the place but on the whole it's been perfect.

It was an amazing, emotional feeling to have made it. A bit of an anticlimax - I felt lost. What an earth do I do with myself now - the routine of waking up, eating, packing up, cycling 70 miles, searching for a place to eat, setting up camp, eating, sleeping had become my life. It's an easy way to live, a really simple life and has brought fantastic experiences to me. I was ready to finish but also sad that it was over. We still have a couple of days in Florida though and I was determined to make the most of them. Harry and I put the bikes down on the beach and ran out into the sea! I put the piece of driftwood I'd picked up in San Francisco the Atlantic Ocean. We took photos, then went up to a cafe for a celebratory beer.

After a beer, we managed to hitch a lift to Port Orange, where Jerry lived. We had a relax that afternoon, talked about America with Jerry and his wife, found some boxes to take the bikes home in and got an early night! The next day was great. Jerry took us shooting. We went with a group of Jerry's mates and fired a great variety of guns: Pistols, including a magnum which had a ridiculous recoil, a few 2.2 rifles, an assault rifle, a horrible little sawn-off shotgun which could have blasted a hole through a wall and last of all an 18th century British rifle! It was great fun, but a little disconcerting to see a group of men whooping and cheering as they fired entire magazines from the pistols while drinking beer! We went to an absolutely rammed gun shop afterwards - Harry bought a pocket knife.

On the way home, we went to a convenience shop and bought the Daytona Beach Journal to read the report about us. It was rubbish, we'd been misquoted but it was cool to be in the paper! As we were buying it, the following conversation took place:

"You guys have a great accent, where are you from"
"I love England, so where did you learn to speak our language so well?"


Anyway we went back to Jerry's, got everything packed and watched a film. The next morning Jerry very kindly drove us to Orlando Airport, we checked our bags in, the American customs confiscated my stove which really annoyed me and we left America! I'd made it round the world and completed my dream.

Thanks so much for all the support, to everyone who's sponsored me and everyone who's given me personal donations, to my amazing support team (Mum, Dad & Laura!) and most of all to all the incredible families who've helped me out around the world. The Orthodox Christians in Georgia, the Muslims in Tajikistan, the Tibetans in China and the Republicans in Texas as well as all the other fantastic people. I've spent nights in peoples houses all over the world, eaten amazing food, been given clothes, seen photos of USSR soldiers in front of statues of Stalin and everyone who helped me along the way made this trip possible.

This is the end of the story - I intend to write a book and do some presentations on the trip, so if you're interested, contact me. I'll put details up on my website/twitter/facebook. Any more donations would be greatly appreciated - more info at


Daytona Beach Journal Report:

Monday, 6 February 2012


We fled into Alabama with our stolen number plates! Alabama was beautiful. We passed through coastal swamp land with houses on the water, people fishing and loads of wildlife. It was peaceful. After a pizza, we cycled out into the sea along a series of long bridges and islands to Dauphin Island. We arrived there just in time to get the last ferry of the day over to Fort Morgan. It was a beautiful sunset over the island and there were loads of oil rigs, lit up in the dark.

There was nowhere to buy food when we got off the ferry, except for a very overpriced and tacky restaurant. We got some food and started speaking to some of the locals. A lovely couple said we could stay in their holiday home that they usually rent out because it was empty that night. We cycled ahead and they met us at the house 3 miles down the road. It was amazing - the guy who owned it built it himself. It was on stilts for flood protection and triangular shaped with a huge glass front and a big ship steering wheel. There was a huge TV + surround sound and really comfy sofas. It was a bit different from what we were used to!

In the morning we got going at a good time. It was hard to drag ourselves away from the house. The coastline was amazing though, white sandy beaches along peninsulas. More big bridges across estuaries linked the peninsulas, we had a headwind but made good progress and by lunchtime we'd reached the end of Alabama. Now we're at the last state of the USA, Florida! I really felt close to the end now.

Friday, 27 January 2012


We arrived in Mississippi late in the day and it was almost dark. I'd stupidly forgotten to charge my bike light up in New Orleans so I followed Harry's rear light along the side of the road, dodging potholes and bumps by trying to follow his line exactly. We went to a Wal Mart and ate a roast chicken on a bench in the entrance and had a chat with a complete nutcase who had obviously taken a few too many chemicals in his lifetime! We camped around the back of Wal Mart.

The next morning Harry had a really bad migrane and couldn't cycle. We managed to pack up and cycle to a McDonalds at around 1 and stayed there til about 3. While we were there, I listened to the radio. Man U got knocked out of the champions league, unbelievable! If we had more time, we'd have taken the day off and found a hotel room where Harry could recover. Unfortunately time wasn't on our side, so we got going at 3 and managed almost 40 miles that evening which was a great recovery. There were loads of floating casinos in Biloxi. If they're on the water (offshore), they get past the Mississippi gambling laws and it was like being back in Vegas. We cycled straight past them and over a long bridge over an estuary to Ocean Springs.

We found a wood to camp in and set up the tents. Unfortunately, somebody had seen our torches and called the police - it was an abandoned bit of land so very strange that the police responded to a call about two torches in a wood! Anyway, they came and were really suspicious. They warned us to keep our hands where they could see them and made us tell them where our ID's were in the bags because they didn't trust us to get them out ourselves. We were being treated like suspects to a crime, it was way over the top. Anyway, after they'd run a criminal record check on our driving licenses, they started treating us like humans and let us stay in the wood, assuring us that if any crimes happened in the local area, we'd be prime suspects - nice!

We left early in the morning and had breakfast in a Burger King, pretty good and cheap syrup pancakes. The manager looked up the ferry timetable that we needed to take later on that day. Not much happened for the rest of the morning. We saw a bike which had been converted to be driven by a petrol engine! It went about 30 mph and did 150 mpg. I want one!!

As we were approaching the Alabama border, we found a huge scrapyard - a number plate goldmine! Harry asked the owner if we could have a couple and was told he wasn't allowed to give us them. We took that as an invitation to help ourselves so we left with a Mississippi and Alabama plate each and feeling a bit like thieves!!

Only spent a couple of days in Mississippi, the coast was very nice but a bit touristy. A short spell in Alabama next then, the last state, Florida.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Finally out of Texas, the first thing to notice about Louisiana was the mosquitoes. Every time we stopped, a swarm appeared around us! We crossed into Louisiana on the interstate and then followed 'Old road 90' through the swamps. It was amazing scenery, with a lot of wildlife, mainly large birds nesting in the swamps. Back on the interstate, we found a state information office and acquired a couple of maps. We cycled late that evening, trying to make a big day, despite the headwind. We illegally crossed a motorway bridge, which had a closed lane for roadworks and whizzed down the other side into Lake Charles. We experienced our first cajun cooking at a gumbo restaurant. Gumbo is a delicious spicy stew/soup served with rice. That night, we asked a couple of dog walkers for a place to stay and they gave us their workshop in the garden.

It took a while to get going the next morning and we were both getting tired, trying to get big miles in every day was taking it out of us. Just a couple of days to New Orleans though, then after that it should be more relaxed. That day we cycled along a small country road in Cajun country. It was beautiful, very flat land but historic towns, much more interesting than Texan countryside. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch and were given alligator by the friendly owner. It was delicious and tasted a bit like chicken with the texture of fish.

We reached Franklin that evening and camped in an RV park. A drunk living there, David 'helped' Harry put up his tent. He was a nice guy though and very lonely so we talked to him for a while as we cooked.

More headwind the next morning so we were destined for another struggle! Most of the day was spent on the US90 dual carriageway. It was mainly through swamp again. We saw a group of alligators sunning themselves on a rock and then swimming through a swamp. There were turtles in there too. Not much more to report that day other than a good place to camp around the back of a Shell garage, we could use their facilities. Bloody shattered!!

The next morning we set off for New Orleans on the 90. The heavens opened and we got absolutely soaked within a couple of minutes then dried off by the powerful sun over the next hour. We arrived at the bridge that took us into the city and were told we couldn't ride over it by a policeman. It was monitored both ends so there was really no way around it. The other option was to take a ferry across the river further east and we reasoned that getting a lift over a bridge was no different from taking a ferry and it was also free so it didn't count as cheating as there was no other option! We cycled to the traffic lights and asked a guy who looked like a rapper if we could throw the bikes in the back of the truck and get a lift over. We put the bikes in and were in the back of the truck when the lights changed. He revved the engine and shot off with us standing in the back of the truck! Nutter. We lay down, trying to hide from the police and he drove very fast over the bridge with us in the back. He stopped at the lights on the other side of the bridge and we jumped out, thanking him! It was very funny.

We cycled along the storm levies that protect New Orleans from floods (it wasn't these ones that failed in 2005). The huge pumping stations along them show the engineering effort it takes to keep the city from flooding, although unsuccessful during Hurricane Katrina. We continued to the French Quarter and had a drink at a Parisian style cafe on the side of the street. It's a beautiful place, with load of atmosphere.

As we cycled through the city to Louis' house, a guy we me through, I didn't notice any affects of the hurricane, except the appalling road surfaces. Some neighborhoods didn't look the safest though. We met Louis, had a beer and some excellent home made pizzas, then drove round in his vintage BMW. We drove through the neighborhoods that haven't been redeveloped since the hurricane. There are whole blocks with ruined and abandoned houses and some plots of land with no remnants of a house at all, they were simply washed away. Some neighborhoods have been forgotten about, some have people living there still and some are being redeveloped with fantastic new eco-homes, which are really interesting architecturally.

We went to a bar with a live blues band, which is what New Orleans is famous for. They were fantastic and we enjoyed a few local beers before heading back to Louis'.

As part of his job, Louis designates cycle lanes in New Orleans. We followed one of them out of the city, over a load of bridges through the swamps and past lots of buildings on stilts to protect them from high water. After a few hours riding, we reached Mississippi.

Despite only being in Louisiana for a few days, I'd really liked it and would love to come back. New Orleans is a fascinating place and well worth a visit and the local french food is delicious.