Getting Started (Ep 1)
When we step out of our comfort zone we are reminded of our innate ability as humans to adapt. My first bike-packing trip and my first solo camping trip were both exciting and yet daunting pursuits at the time, but these experiences gave me the confidence I needed to attempt my first ‘long’ bike-packing trip.
After a few weeks in the saddle what felt strange at first, soon became the norm. You enter into a routine and a rhythm to the extent that you feel as if you could go on like this forever. Of course there are certain arduous and uncomfortable factors - like bad weather and particularly tough days of riding - that make you long for a home-cooked meal and a warm comfortable bed, but you learn to take everything in your stride, (or stroke in this case) one day at a time. While the challenges were present they were far outweighed by the innumerable and daily rewards: the starry night skies, the sunrises and sunsets, the incredible vastness and variety of the awe inspiring landscapes, and not forgetting: the friendliness of the people.
I began my Trans-America journey in Astoria, a port town situated at the mouth of the magnificent Columbia River at the most north-westerly point of Oregon. It is perhaps most famous for being the setting for the 1985 film ‘The Goonies’, but more importantly, in 1810 it became the first permanent settlement on the Pacific coast; five years after the famous Lewis and Clark expedition ‘The Corps of Discovery’ arrived there on their quest to find safe passage into the then largely uncharted, and wild North West.
Brought up in a small village in Lancashire, I had some apprehension for the unfamiliarity of what lay ahead: the wild expanses, potentially dangerous animals, and the Americans enthusiasm for bearing arms. Thankfully, these anxieties were overshadowed by a good omen on my very first day of riding; an encouragingly crystal blue sky and bright golden sunshine.
It was to be one of few days over the next two weeks that the sun would grace me with her warm and comforting presence. Western Oregon is known for its moist weather and it did not disappoint. Overcast skies and persistent precipitation characterised my time throughout this region. My waterproofs became like a second skin and my shoes would frequently serve as an involuntary, and completely unnecessary emergency water supply. The odour that ensued needs no description.
Before ‘officially’ beginning, I decided to take a minute to embrace the moment and the task that lay ahead: closing my eyes; I felt the suns warmth brush my face, as I inhaled a deep, succulent breath of Pacific Sea air. I then proceeded to turn the first of many pedals, on what would be a 4,500 mile journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic.