And For My Next Trip…

It’s announcement time! In a few short months I’m planning to take a bike trip through a nation that’s permanently in the headlines, but which I — like most of us here in the U.K. — know absolutely nothing about. That nation, of course, is the United States of America.


This instantly sounds like the most unadventurous place to conduct a bike tour. I’m probably not alone in having a lot of preconceptual baggage about the States. A big version of Britain with added guns, accents and waistlines. That’s the essence of the image that pops into my head. What could there possibly be across the pond that I haven’t already seen?

I’m incredibly fond of phrases which start with the words “if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my travels…”, so here’s another one: If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my travels, it’s that whatever you think you know about countries you’ve never visited is wrong. Mark Twain once said something very similar. Why should his homeland be any exception?

So that’s one reason for going. What the hell exactly is this thing called America? Who are Americans? Can these questions be answered? Do they even need answering? Does a place’s familiarity make it less interesting, or is interestingness more a function of perception?

Reason number two — and the main reason for the trip — is that I’m long overdue to go on an adventure with my younger brother Ben. We’ve hardly seen each other since I left home to go to university a decade ago. It’s about time we got to know each other a bit better as adults, I reckon, and I can’t think of much better ways than this.

Conveniently, Ben lives in Vancouver — which just happens to be a perfect starting point for the quintessential American West Coast road trip experience.

Blogs? Photos? Videos? Maybe. Maybe not. Watch this space.

Comments (skip to respond)

14 responses to “And For My Next Trip…”

  1. We loved cycling down the Pacific Coast Highway (except from L.A. to San Diego the roads get cramped/traffic-laden and camping options dwindle). If we had to do it again, we may have gone inland around that point.

    Can’t wait to read more of your travel blogging. Have fun!

    1. Hey Sheila — that’s a good tip, thank you. We’ll look for alternative routes, although from what I’ve heard about the US/Mexico border, it’ll be ‘interesting’ whichever way we go…

  2. I did a similar route but South to North (Starting in San Diego and Ending in Bellingham, close to Vancouver BC.

    Suggestion: PLEASE take the time to ride around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It’s a slight detour but It’ll take you straight down to the 101 which will go onto the rest of the coast. It is beautiful: the only rainforest in the continental US. And way more appealing to the eye than the suburbs of Seattle, which only allow you to look across Puget Sound at the dazzling Olympic Mountains.

    1. Bang on, Chris — that’s exactly the route I’m looking at. My brother’s already mentioned the rainforest, which it would be silly to bypass. Thanks!

    2. Chris, yes that is definitely on the agenda without doubt, I’ve heard great things about that area.

      Incidentally, the start of this really can’t come soon enough — I’m currently sitting at work in downtown Vancouver and slowly working my way down the west coast, on Google Maps.

      Roll on April.

  3. Tom

    I’ve been thinking your blogs, and I wonder if a factor for you might also be that English (of a kind) is spoken in America. I felt keenly your struggle to engage at a personal level on your previous tours.

    May I add that this has to be one of the most presumptious emails ever, and I do not mean to cause offence.
    I hope you and your brother have a great trip.


    1. You’re absolutely right, Dave. I feel like my ‘naive wandering’ stage has been well and truly flogged to death — at least in terms of human journeys. So language is fundamental both to the America trip and the one I’m planning for later in the year. Spot on.

  4. Thank you Ben for confirming there will be blogs! My brow went from a furrow to raised in moments. 🙂 Photos would be lovely too, thanks. Yours and Tom’s take on our crazy country will be devoured by this American!

  5. Brother,

    Don’t think I can possibly look forward to our adventure any more than I am now. It’s been far too long coming, and finally it appears that we both have the time to get this done.

    Also living more of a simple existance will be a good change for a while!

    There will be blogs!

  6. Nigel Francis avatar
    Nigel Francis

    Look forward to hearing about the journey.



  7. Sean Janson avatar
    Sean Janson

    Harry Kikstra did the coast route 2 years ago. I love his photos.

  8. Awesome, glad to hear you are coming to the States! If you come through Georgia, let me know. I can offer you a place to stay for a night or two if you need it. 

    Admittedly, I find it a bit difficult to see adventure in traveling through the States, but I was born and raised here, and know only the south. I’ll be watching to see what you discover!

  9. This sounds like a great choice Tom. Of all blogs about the states, I especially like the stuff that Time Travel Turtle has written about his tour of the Southern States. Maybe it’s worth checking it out for ideas on where to go! Good luck, Fabio

  10. Susan Gardiner avatar
    Susan Gardiner

    Tom I think you’ll love it and if you ever find yourself in Huntington Beach I have friends there who are cyclists and are very hospitable. Good luck

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