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.