The Route So Far - Google Maps

View X-America by Bicycle in a larger map


We are doing this ride to raise money for Research Autism. We are aiming to raise £20,000.
We are supporting Research Autism because my cousin Jamie is severely affected by the disease, and I have seen its effects not only on him but on the whole family." He is 13yrs old, but cannot yet talk.
Just take a moment to imagine not being able to talk.
Imagine understanding everything going on around you, but not being able to comment.
Imagine having to be dressed every morning in clothes you don't choose, and then hurting your parents as you try to tell them you wanted the blue shirt today.
Imagine being swamped by having to hear everything that everyone is saying around you, and not being able to listen to just one thing at once. Jamie loves being in a swimming pool, just floating, legs held motionless by the weight of the water, while he keeps his ears underwater to just relax, hearing nothing.
He understands everything - he appears to have a photographic memory - but can’t get his thoughts out.
Frustration leads to despair, and anger, which is just one of the many things that his family has to deal with.
He has extremely specific eating requirements and requires round the clock supervision. Jamie is at the severe end of the autistic spectrum, but given that one in 100 people suffer from the disease (with varying severity), and that everyone has some autistic traits, it is shocking that so little is known about it'.
Click here to support our cause and donate to Research Autism.
Read the "Meet Jamie" post - the only post in February, for more information about Jamie, and a poem - painstakingly slow for Jamie to type, but ultimately incredible.

Photo Video - New York to St Louis

March 31, 2010

Hampton Court - Oxford 92kms

Driving from London to Oxford on any day is a chore. But at least when you drive, you are sheltered from the elements and can pass the time laughing at the misfortune of cyclists trying to cross the Chiltern's in the pouring rain.

But, today, Alex and I were those unfortunate cyclists! We battled against headwinds most of the way, rain a lot of the way, and I am sure I felt some snow. We are now the proud bearers of a serious tan - not from sun, but from an over-exposure to the other elements.

We managed to cover 92 kms (58miles) in just under 5 hours of riding. I took a couple of photo's, which will appear on this blog in due course although I must say now that the photo's will all just be of the good times - when it gets tough the camera is the last thing on your mind.

To Salisbury tomorrow, 90 more kilometres, but the weather outlook is better. We will sleep well tonight.

March 30, 2010

Test Ride

Having delayed our south west tour of the UK, we had the opportunity to use the day to test out all our new gear. We cycled to richmond park and used the clear roads to get up some speed and really put our bikes to the test! The bikes performed really well with only minor glitches involving the mud guards. Breaking for a hour or so for lunch (and for the torrential rain to pass), we headed back home, whereupon we dried ourselves off and headed out again to do some MORE shopping! This time a camera was on our wish list. After scouting around on the internet we decided to go for a Fuji f72 ( for most people the "fuji f72" will mean nothing but it is a great camera, more that adequate for snapping shots of the statue of liberty and the golden gate bridge!) We managed to bargain a good price and cant wait to start using them.

All in all a really productive day, even if our rapidly diminishing bank accounts have taken yet another hit!


Today was hectic. We started early, and spent four hours in the largest warehouse in Europe - part of Evans Cycles in Gatwick. We bought everything we needed (I hope) from Topeak Mini Morph pumps, to gloves and lycra shorts. We also bought some Ortlieb panniers, which having been designed by Germans, have a guarantee of 5 years and are all but bombproof. These waterproof bags will be our storage for the next 3 months. But as I write, these expensive little bits of cycling kit litter the floor of Alex's sitting room, and if I had bought a camera yet I would snap a quick picture of the "organised" mess.

Unfortunately, because of todays hectic day, we are not yet organised for tomorrow's ride to Oxford, and so have decided to postpone it to Wednesday. Our plan is to hop to Oxford, then pop down to Salisbury, then plod on to Bristol, before a short ride on Saturday to a school friends house in Gloucestershire. We will rest over Easter Sunday, before riding back to Alex's house, via Newbury.

Tomorrow Alex will learn how to use clip on pedals in a safer environment than the long road to Oxford, we will put all our new kit onto the bikes, and we will write a couple of articles about autism and the ride for the local press. I will also buy a camera so you can see what we have spent all our hard-earned cash on.

March 29, 2010


Sunday – What better way to spend your time than on your bike! Alex went off to work – trying to earn his Staff Discount at Blacks where we’ll go tomorrow to buy some equipment (30% off) - while I did a little ride down to Midhurst, to see my grandmother. The bike was great, although the Brooks saddle is very hard still – it is leather and will take some time to mould to the shape of our bums. For now, it is very hard! I cycled 45 miles in 3 hours – 15 miles an hour. While cruising down the A3 I saw a parade of 17 old style mini coopers in a row, as well as flying past an Alfa Romeo as I went at 35mph through a 30mph zone in one of the hillside villages of West Sussex.

We head off on our UK tour on Tuesday, once we have bought some crucial equipment tomorrow.

March 27, 2010

Got our Wheels! (Serious this time!)

We visited a few Evans shops today, for me to test out the bikes. First the Dawes Galaxy, which was a great bike, really comfortable ride in racing green colours. Then the Cannondale, also a great bike, lighter than the Dawes, but a slightly harder ride - the frame is aluminium - so it absorbs less of the bumps.

See my thoughts on the bikes in the post below.

We were still planning on buying the bike on Monday in the Evans warehouse in Gatwick, but then in steps Dorbie! The managing director of the Chiswick branch, a very chatty Greek/Dutch guy (we think?!? - correct us if you also know him) who matched the price given to us for the bike by the Marketing Director in Head Office, and threw in £90’s worth of locks for free to go with it. In return, I halved the balance on my credit card.

So, we have our bikes! We took them on a brief 6 mile spin today, and I will ride 80miles (round trip) to have lunch with my Grandmother tomorrow. Monday we will buy all the rest of the kit, and Tuesday, off we go! Almost-fully loaded.

If anybody has any tips on ultra-light tents, we would love to hear them.

Dawes vs Cannondale

The Dawes was more comfortable, but needs a few tweaks to make it into the real deal. The tires, the wheel hubs or spokes and the saddle need changing, and we would need to buy racks.

The Cannondale was a good bike, and it comes with everything a touring bike needs. Schwalbe tires, Tubus racks, and a Brooks saddle, as well as stronger spokes. These are all top of the range, and somewhat surprisingly they are touted almost unanimously by experienced touring cyclists despite their notoriously contrarian views.

Another clinching factor is that if something were to break spare parts of the Cannondale should be much easier to find because Cannondale is made in the US, while Dawes is a small English company.

March 26, 2010


Today we bought a bike - A Cannondale Tessoro 2010. Now ardent followers of this blog would think that we bought two bikes yesterday and one today, which, if they had a background in accountancy, makes three bikes. We plan to buy another bike on Monday. Four.

"2 boys, 2 bikes, 5000km, £25000" is the mission brief. So, something doesn't quite add up.

To clear things up, we didn't buy two bikes yesterday, although we did order in two Dawes Galaxy's to test ride. Today, Alex took both the Dawes and the Cannondale on rides, and concluded that the Cannondale would be better to go for because we would have to change many things on the Dawes - such as the spokes and the wheel hub. We would also have to change the saddle, and add some racks. This would make it a great bike, but it would cost more than just the arm and the leg that the Cannondale costs.

We understand that we need to get fit for our mission, so we have decided to minimise the number of limbs we lose in the shops. Despite Dawes' efforts to entice us - they sent us water bottles, T-Shirts and reflective strips, we will go with the Cannondale.

Because I need a large bike, or indeed perhaps an extra-large, I could not get my bike today, but will collect it on Monday from the biggest bicycle shop in Europe - just south of Gatwick - where we will get all the kit we need to start our mini tour of southern england.

March 25, 2010

Got our wheels!

Today we bought our bikes, which is arguably fairly vital to our trip! We have both gone for a Dawes Galaxy 2009 tourer. They cost us an arm and a leg but I am sure they will warrant their pice tag in the long run. We also have acquired 500 business cards, which we will hand out to all and everyone! If you see us before we go, you will no doubt be given one!

March 24, 2010


The last two days has been productive! Yesterday we bought a few vital bits and bobs like sleeping bag and torches. We were also lucky enough to have a meeting with two guys who work at S.A.B Miller, involved in the marketing and IT department of the firm. They gave us lots of great info on how to raise the profile of what we are doing and why. All in all progress is being made!

ESTA authorized

We are now officially allowed to enter America, having received our ESTA authorization. Our flights are booked, and the only slight thing preventing us from cycling across America right now, is that we have no bikes! But progress is being made on that front - negotiations are under way with leading cycle firms in the UK, for some serious discounts.

March 22, 2010

Preparation for Pedaling

Will touched down in the UK on the 15th of March, to begin the third and final stage of our planning. The first stage: vague planning, involved spinning enough of a story together to convince our
respective parents and two very generous travel grant committee’s that we were serious, and not just mad (which many of our friends in the last 2 months have suggested is the case).

Memorable quotes include:

An astounded friend - “Why don’t you do that when we run out of petrol?”

And when asking advice about which exact bike to get from a bunch of weary, even more mental cyclists at the halfway stage (in Nairobi) of their 12,000km Cape to Cairo mission, receiving the unanimous answer “motorbike”.

The second stage involved a lot of faffing around for many months – we had to decide where to start and where to finish. We have chosen to go from New York to San Francisco, which means temperatures in the Rockies will be bearable, and that we will ride with the sun at our backs in the morning, but that we may have to contend with more energy-sapping, mind-draining head winds.

So to the third stage - Doing the rest! Flights need to be booked, bikes need to be bought, our butt’s need to be hardened up, our tent and sleeping bags and clothes and cycling shoes and insurance and and and…. need to be bought. And all the while, continuing our fundraising efforts for Research Autism. Please help by visiting:, and spread the word to all your friends.

Flights have been booked through Virgin, I will fly out to arrive in New York on the 13th April. Alex will flight out to meet me on the 20th, and we will fly home again, knackered but fulfilled (we hope) on the 1st July.

We have been going from one bike shop to the next, absorbing all the information we are given by tolerant sales people, and trying to come to a decision over which bike to get. Steel bike? Aluminium? (steel is stronger, and gives a softer ride - it absorbs more bumps). Which seat must I spend the next 90 days glued to?? What pedals does that bike come with, does it come with panniers and racks?

We have chosen which maps we need from the adventure cycling association, and are now planning a route for our mini-tour of the UK, to see what long-distance touring is all about. Has anyone in southern
England got a sofa we can sleep on along the way?

Thanks for following us,

Alex and Will

March 4, 2010

Message from Jamie

Hi William and Alex

I just wanted to thank you for your charity work. You are very brave and adventurous in my eyes. I am sure it will help all autistic people around the world. Well done guys! Maybe we will catch up in the States!

Lots of love from