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

April 30, 2010

Up and Down

Today was an extremely up and down day. It started on an up - we were given a tour around and through the "bowels" of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum (Thank you so much Kay) including the new human evolution department. It was great to see the interactive displays, and many Kenyan fossils, all with no-one else in the whole museum! I loved seeing the stuffed brush tailed porcupine - I will cycle a kilometre with no hands if someone reading this has seen a living one in the wild - I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one in Rukinga.

The down with seeing the museum was that we left Washington 2 hours late at Two O Clock, which meant that we were time pressured all the way to Fredericksburg. We aim to get quicker at setting off - we haven't set off on time yet.
We did meet some Brits at the foot of the Washington monument, who were very generous and took some photo's and donated some money - a great start to the day..

The route the whole way to Fredericksburg was up then down (we had no more than 10 miles of flat) - which made it tough going - especially as at the bottom of each down, some genius road developer has put a traffic light! Riding a loaded bicycle is fine, as long as you keep a constant speed - acceleration is a mission. This meant that we couldn't use any of our speed from going down the hill to go back up the next one, which meant that we only got in to Fredericksburg with very tired legs at 7.

But we are lucky enough to be couchsurfing with the Myers family here, and have had a great evening, discussing all sorts of hot topics - Alex and I haven't had a clue about current events so its been great to have an update - especially on the maelstrom that is British Politics - from Steve who runs an internet newspaper:

We have also changed plans and are heading Westwards finally! We are going to go straight to Charlottesville, instead of down to Richmond first (doing one side of a triangle instead of two). We will then go southwest to Lynchburg, along the very scenic route 29 - before cutting Westwards over the Appalachians.

April 29, 2010


As you can see we have worked out how to upload pictures onto an individual post so i have picked out a few which highlight not only today but also Washington DC in all its glory. We did all the touristy bits in the afternoon, having sorted out a GPS in the morning. The GPS will hopefully solve our navigational issues, and preventing us cycling too much further than we already have to go!

Washington is an amazing city, very clean, fantastic architecture and has lots of history behind it. It seems that if anything needs remembering or commemorating it happens here, in the capital. Memorials of all the recent wars in American history are plentiful. Although there is lots to see, all the attractions are based in a small area, so for us trying to do it all in an afternoon, it was great. Its not like London or other cities where all the 'must see bits' are spread out.

We also went to a Bike shop in the afternoon, where they kindly gave me a set of old pedals for free solving the slight problem I had. Tomorrow we start our two day trip to Richmond, virginia. It is a 60 mile ride tomorrow, where we have got a place to stay in Fredericksberg.

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April 28, 2010

We hate fizzy drinks

Yesterday we set out into the sunshine with the intention of riding over 85 miles in the day. We had set a leaving time of 8 , but again this was too ambitious and we ended up leaving at 9. We have discovered that things always take longer than expected, whether it is getting up and going or our estimated time of arrival at our next destination.

At breakfast we really took advantage of the free buffet and were a bit naughty and took ALOT of muffins. However, fueled by this extra source of carbs, we covered lots of miles by lunch, just over 50 i think. It is interesting because although we were riding on very busy roads (3 if not 4 lanes) they all have big hard shoulders, which act as perfect cycle lanes for us away from the traffic. On the big roads, as it is with A roads in the UK, you alawys cover more distance per hours as you don't have as many hills and there are far fewer directional issues. At 1:30 we stopped for 30 mins or so and munched the remains of our cold pizza from the night before...Yum!

After lunch our envelope directions let us down a little (again), but the upside of getting lost is that we can ask the locals for directions, who invariably, after learning what we are doing, use the words 'crazy' and 'stupid' lots, which is always amusing. A kind gentlemen gave us a can of WD40 as well, which was nice. After lunch we also learnt another thing: NEVER put fizzy drinks in our water bottles. One- after about a mile of purchase my bottle exploded from the pressure( i thought my tyre exploded so at least it wasnt that), then a car ran over the bottle which was lying in the middle of the road. Two- it gets very very sticky, which then transcends to the whole bike becoming sticky.

Today we can rest, clean off our sticky bikes, take in DC, and it will give me the opportunity to go to a bike shop and fix my pedal which is slightly broken.

Washington, D.C

We have been 290 miles over the last 4 days, going between New York and Washington D.C. It has been long – averaging over 70 miles a day – and tough; instructions on the back of an envelope, rolling hills, and all the while riding on the wrong side of the road.

Today was the longest day either of us have ever cycled: 90 miles. We woke early, dominated our motel’s complimentary breakfast as well as taking 12 extra muffins for the road, and were on the road by 10 to Nine. We cycled continuously until 2 in the afternoon, stopping only for energy bars, muffins and loo visits. At two we stopped for a picnic on a quiet road, to eat our leftover pizza from the night before in Pizza hut (those who know me may not remember the last time I failed to finish one – especially after a tough day, but these Pizza’s were massive!). We then cycled for another 4.5 hours to Washington, mostly along highways.

Along the way, we passed through Aberdeen and Glasgow as well as Essex (not a usual combination for bicyclists!) and took some photographs at the World Trade Centre... (in Baltimore – now 30 stories taller than the New York variety) – and even saw a submarine in the Baltimore marina.

Tomorrow, a much needed rest day, for Alex to check out the sights of Washington, and fix some issues with his bike. We will also buy a GPS and make some plans for the next few days.

We put some thought today into what we miss most from “normal” life, and came up with 3 things – knowing where we will sleep at night, beer (the adverts along the roads are tantalising), and driving cars!

April 27, 2010

Bad things come in three's...

..Is something my god-mother likes to say. Today, if you completely ignore the rain which only stopped for ten minutes (all taken up fixing a puncture), we had three bad things - a silly error with directions added 10kms to the route, Alex then took a tumble on a hectic bridge, and we followed this up with a puncture each. The clouds are still inches above our heads - we haven't seen the sun for 2 days - but we are well nonetheless.

Having vowed last night not to ever have another "cheese steak" (Pennsylvanian delicacy), at lunch we came to the little known town of Hook Marcus, and went to Connolly's Pub, where it was the only thing on the menu! Luckily, this was far better than the Philadelphia variety, and lifted our resolve enough to face the pouring rain once more.

Along the way, we rode on the Rosa Parks memorial highway and past a former house of Marrtin Luther King (we think) - but did not stop as we could barely see through the driving rain and were on a low after our second puncture.

We reached Perryville at 7.20, which put us 2 miles away from Havre de grace - our aim - but then we came upon a bridge which was illegal for us to cross whether walking or by bike. We asked around for an alternative route, and found one - but the small matter of it being 23 extra miles was an issue. We were searching for a place to camp in Perryville, with limited success, and so found a pick-up to take us the 2 miles to Havre de Grace. We figured that the extra 10 mile square we completed earlier was sufficient punishment for this short cut, and it also means that we should reach Washington tomorrow - 85 miles away.

At the bottom of the right column is the beginning's of a stats table if you are interested.

Tough Day

Having had a nice rest and sampled the local delicacy of a philadelphia 'cheese steak' the previous night, this morning we set out a little later than planned at around 11. As we left it was fairly cold and spitting rain...not the nicest weather to set out in, with the intention of riding 75 miles in the day. So far we have not used the Adventure Cycling Association maps which we purchased as they suggest more senic routes, avoiding the busy roads, however this comes at a price of giving a much longer route, and since we are still heading south to DC rather than west we have renaged using the maps for now. However this has left us with a slight problem of navigation. After the past few days we are contempating buying a GPS in DC. Today was a prime example of where one would have come in very handy! To the dismay of parents, we have up until now being writing our directions on the back of two envelopes (pictures of our envelope directions will be put up). This moring, suprisingly(or not), we got totally lost and ended up going 6 miles or so in a big circle...very frustrating.

As we headed out of Phili, we went over a bridge, which, to put into perspective was like the M25 with no hard shoulder. Not a nice experience. Just at the foot of the bridge the other side, I thought it would be a good idea to fall over. So there I was spread eagled over one lane. But dont worry avid fans, i came away with only a couple of grazed knees. 3 miles later Will got the first puncture that we have ever had together, mind you, we are due for one having done over 1000km collectively. So we fixed that one but then a short while after i got one as well. So there we were, in the rain, fixing our second puncture of the day. We were told by someone who had already cycled x-america that 90% will be awesome, but 10% will be character building. I think today we used up a few percent of that 10%.

Once out of the suburbs of Phili we made good progress and have been on the same stretch of road for quite a while, so that solves our issue of navigation and also we get lots of miles under our belt. Our aim was to be in a place called Havre De Grace by tonight, however at about 7:30, as it was getting dark we came to the bridge leading into Havre De Grace, which was forbidden to pedestrians and cyclists. So we did the unspeakable and hitch hiked over the bridge to get into Havre De Grace(the only other option was a very long way, miles from our planned route). However we are staying in a nice motel with two comfy beds and a warm shower, and have just consumed our own body weight at pizza hut, so a good end to a hard day. Tomorrow a 85 mile ride to DC, so we will be up early!

April 26, 2010

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We have been into 3 States out of a probable total of 14, so we are doing really well! The catch is that we still have over 3000 miles to go. We have done just over 120 miles in the last two days, a tough 78 miles yesterday down to Princeton and an easier 45 miles today.

We spent the morning in Princeton, and in fact only left at 2 in the afternoon after a pile of PJ's pancakes. We stayed last night with two friends from our year at school who are now working with the Princeton choir, thank you again to James and Alex for having a space for us and thanks for the pancakes. This morning we sorted out the route to Philadelphia (there was no sun at all today - too cloudy - so we couldn't just make a general heading). We didn't have a printer to print out the Google maps, so we wrote down a long line of street names that we would have to follow on both sides of an envelope. I will take a picture of this primitive route planning and put it up soon. Bear in mind when you see it that it got us here!

But, despite our success on the back of an envelope, when we get to Washington we will invest in a GPS so that we spend less time getting lost. A GPS should mean that we get to see more of the places that we stop in, although it will detract from the fun of asking for directions. It is amazing the different answers you get from people in the same place, and it is fun to ask people, as you get a short snapshot of the community they are from - although in many of the area's surrounding New York the people couldn't help us because the only language spoken was Spanish!

We have sampled Philly's local delicacy; the cheese steak - lots of Steak and lots of Cheese in a baguette! It was good, but not special and I think tomorrow we will be back to Burgers!

We are staying with Anthony, who we found through, and having a great time... we are yet to decide where exactly we are staying tomorrow but we will let you know!

April 25, 2010

Morning of day two

Now we are rested I can go into further detail of our exploits of day one! To be expected our departure time of 8am was far too ambitious, the last minute packing and organising took a long time. However at around 10 o clock, on a gloriously sunny day, we finally set off on our epic adventure. Getting out of New York and across the Washington Bridge, is far more complicated than one would think. Although NY is very regimented in the way it is set out, it is not the most cycle friendly, however after a lot of 'direction asking' of the locals we got out of New York and headed south to Princeton. It was very interesting how as we went through the different boroughs how the race changes and in some cases completely dominates the area. For example as we rode through Union city, just south of Newark airport, Hispanics dominate the area. We stopped to ask for directions several times, and yet most people we asked barely understood English. Also there were areas completely dominated by the black community.

As we started so late in the day and we had had problems with navigating our way out of NY, we were making slow progress, by 5pm we had only covered about 45 miles of the 75 we needed to reach Princeton. We forged on seeing how far we could get by 7pm, however come 7pm, we still had about 20 miles to go and it was getting dark. We were looking for a place to stay for the night, as Princeton seemed too far off. However as the area we are in is still fairly urban, stealth camping is fairly difficult, and there is a surprising lack of motels. On the cusp of darkness, we quizzed a local to see if it was viable to go all the way to Princeton and he pointed us onto a road that would take us directly there, so we decided to brave cycling in the dark and went for it. At roughly 9pm we arrived at Princeton where we had a bed with two fellow OE's, who were kind to put us up. It was a very long day but we covered a good distance, and all our preparation is finally being put to the test, so all in all a good first day!

Today we will ride to Philadelphia, which is roughly 45 miles, so a more relaxed day today(but it is dark and raining outside as i write this!).

Long Ride

Safe in Princeton, NJ, after a very long first day. More to follow.

April 24, 2010

The Day Before...

...We leave tomorrow morning, early. We have done a lot today, we now have a "Patsy" tent - the 2 man MSR Hubba Bubba, weighing in at 2.3kgs. It is named "Patsy" after its generous benefactor. There was a lot of thought that went into buying the tent, which is why we ended up buying it the day before we left - procrastination of the hardest tasks seems necessary. We are thankful to EMS for their generous donation.

We had to choose between 2 man and 3 man tents - 2 man tents fit just that, and 3 men tents could fit our kit as well. We went for the lighter option of a large 2 man tent with large vestibules on the outside for kit storage, resulting in 1kg less pain for each of the 5000kms.

This is the last night staying with my cousin's in New York, and we are very thankful to both Jamie and Nicky for putting up with us for such a long time. It has been crucial to have a base in New York, without which we would have spent half of our budget already.

We also had our bikes fitted, which was very useful for me - less useful for Alex - his bike fits him well already. My fitting was more difficult - the Large bike I went for is not Large enough, but the Xtra-Large was too big, so Kurt from Bicycle Habitat did well to make the large bike feel bigger. We flipped the handlebars (ask if confused!) and moved the seat up and forwards as well as other more minor adjustments.

We tried to get sim cards for our iPhone's, but failed on this front - America is remarkably backwards in the phone markets, and the only options were $80 a month for unlimited text, calls and internet (which they weren't sure would work). This seemed a bit excessive - we would only be using them for sporadic texting and maps, so we will instead use one cheap phone sparingly (supplied with the help of Nicky and Jamie), and old fashioned but dependable paper maps.

SIGHT-SEEING: We went to the "Top of the Rock" as well as the Brooklyn Bridge, for Alex to have a whistle-stop tour of New York, and to take some photographs. The "Top of the Rock" is 70 stories high, at the top of the Rockefeller Centre - offering great views of Manhattan Island. We will put up pictures to the picasa site as soon as we can.

Tomorrow, to Princeton, the next day to Philadelphia.

Setting off into the unknown is unnerving, but we've been looking forward to it for a long while - so off we go!

April 22, 2010


Alex is through security, I have found a place to get a bike fitting tomorrow, and the weather is nice!

We leave New York on Saturday.

April 21, 2010

No Mate, ready to get going yes, bored no. Played footy in the park with the sun going down, then pints and a kebab afterwards....perfect afternoon!
See you tomorrow!


The original plan was to leave tomorrow. But plans change, and volcanoes erupt. This particular volcano means that Alex is stuck in London, getting more and more agitated and more and more bored. I am having a good time in New York and had a great time in Washington, but am raring to get started. The last few months have been a lot of talk and not much action, and now the time has come for action, we have been stopped. It is tough for both of us – each day we lose now, means more riding per day when we do get going.

I have been familiarising myself with the Adventure cycling association maps that we are planning on using; these maps are widely touted as the best available, but at first glance, they are incredibly confusing. It seems that the toughest part of the ride – in terms of picking the right route, will be the New Jersey section. It is a maze of complex roads through a very urban region (which as we know from getting lost in Bath and Bristol, are the tough bits). So, tomorrow, I am off on my bike to have a look round and see which way is a good way to go.

April 18, 2010

America is Huge!

I fear this title could be a recurring one.

On Friday, I took a 5 hour bus trip from New York to the American capital – Washington DC.

And one of the things that dawned on me is that America is Huge! I will put up a map with the comparisons on it – I travelled 233miles, a tiny percentage of the American coastline, but equivalent to half the way across Kenya, and all the way across England and Wales. We have our work cut out!

The Capital is an interesting place – with an absurd number of American flags – it seems that patriotism is measured by the size and quantity of them – round the Washington monument, there is a flag every 3 metres. I walked with my cousin around the Washington mall – from the White house to the Houses of Congress to Abe Lincoln’s memorial throne. The other thing that sprung out at me was the size of the war memorials. The Americans love their armed forces (and get in quite a few wars). This love for the forces was confirmed at a baseball match that we accidentally ended up at today.

We were on our way down to the Potomac River to see some ships, when we saw crowds headed to a baseball game. On the off chance of some cheap tickets, we popped in and got lucky!
The baseball was interesting – I’d love to play. The underdogs and home team won 8-0 in a massive shock victory, but the biggest cheer and a very moving standing ovation was saved for some returning soldiers getting drunk in the VIP box.

Back to New York tomorrow, to await Alex’s arrival.

April 16, 2010

New York

New York is a great place, which I thoroughly recommend. I have walked many miles, seen many things – from an awesome acrobatic street group, to the skyscrapers in the business district. I had a great time playing Frisbee in Central Park, and met a very kind attendant on the Staten Island Ferry who gave $10 to me when he heard about the trip.

I have been on the subway and seen Times Sq, as well as found a good tent. I will go down to Washington DC tomorrow – by bus, making the most of the time before pedal power takes over and one day jaunts are 80miles, not 400.

Donations are coming thick and fast – we have raised 5400 pounds, with lots more in the pipeline. Themed bonus donations are much appreciated – if you are feeling inventive – 5 pounds extra donation for every puncture is one idea [thank you to the Mortons]; and every entertaining idea makes our pedaling faster, and our fundraising easier.

April 14, 2010


I am now in safely in New York. The flight was a good one, and the bike, which was in a thin cardboard box surrounded by bubble wrap and kikoi's, survived! I was full of nervous excitement on the plane, and although I didn't get upgraded (despite a lot of talking to the check-in lady) and wasn't allowed to have them raise money for me on the flight - Virgin have their own charity, it was a good flight. The security and baggage collection at the other end were a breeze - despite my fears of being questioned at length about my Kenyan residency and dodgy looking huge box.

I will be doing a lot of sightseeing, before visiting Washington for the weekend. We start our ride next week, and blogs will be intermittent until then. If anyone knows any must see things in New York - just write a comment.

April 10, 2010

Ready to go!

Today we collected our boxed up bikes, ready for the plane. We also bought a new computer - tiny, bright white, and weighing in at only 1.3kgs this will be our one lifeline to you from the middle of nowhere in America.
We have spent loads of time and money getting ready for the trip, but we are very nearly there. Only a few days until Will goes off to NY and I will be hot on his heels on the 20th. The only thing left to get is a tent, however we believe that we will get a better deal out in the states. Our depature gets closer and closer and we are both very excited about getting going!

April 9, 2010

Awesome day!

Today was the warmest day Britain has had for the last 150 days, and we were stuck inside looking for a computer. It was a pity that when were were cycling, it was the coldest weather England has had in 150 years (forgive a slight exaggeration - just agree with me - it was cold)!

We took the bikes back in to Evans Cycles to have them serviced and boxed up. Ready to go! T-Shirts will be with us by Saturday and I promise photos will be up soon!

April 7, 2010

And Home.

From Marsh to Molesey, a quick flit - 70kms down big roads. This brings to an end our practice jaunt around England. What we have done - 530kms in the last 8 days (give or take a couple of kilometres - our bike computers don't quite match) is what we will have to average per week in America.

This was a successful first outing - no problems at all with the bikes, and good distances covered in unfavourable conditions. We both have a couple of niggles (excruciating pain) - presumably to do with how we sit on the bikes - Alex under his right knee, and I on my left shoulder, and we will do our best to fix them.

Time to box up the bikes, and buy a computer.

April 6, 2010

Sherston to Marsh 110kms Monday

From one tiny village to the next, this was our longest ride since a crazy ride we did in Kenya a while ago. But despite having done 400km in the few days leading up to this, this was in fact quite an easy and uneventful day. We left relatively early - hitting the road at 8 - and made good time, with a helping wind and a straight road. We managed to cover the 50 miles to Oxford by 12.45, which is 20 miles further than we had got by that time on all the other days. The 20 miles down to Princes Risborough were also quick and uneventful - once we had navigated the Oxford bypass safely and in the right direction.

Contrary to the consensus of most people I know we find that it is easier and indeed safer to ride along small 'A' roads, rather than small 'B' or indeed unnamed roads. This meant that we spent a long time on the A420 cruising along at 35kph.

500kms of experience, for our bikes, our panniers and our legs. Now we just have to ride back to London, and send our bikes in to be boxed up for the plane. We also need to find a laptop so that we can keep you updated along the way in the States. Can anyone recommend any of the notebook computers? All going according to plan otherwise. It would be great if you could all keep spreading the word to widen the sponsorship base.

April 5, 2010

A "shorter" ride - Saturday

Cycling from just south of Bristol to a village near Malmesbury was meant to be 30 easy miles. We had done nearly 60 miles on each of the previous days so this ride was meant to be a relaxing one. But we didn't cater for the bamboozling roads of Bristol, or the large quantities of hills. However, despite these difficulties, we did succeed in reaching Shepton village, near Malmesbury, exactly at the agreed time (in order to watch Chelsea beat Man United) and we even included a trip up and over the Clifton suspension bridge.

All in all a successful day, and we are now looking forward to the rest day that Sunday will provide, giving our legs a chance to rebuild themselves.

On Monday we will ride from Shepton, to Princes Risborough - A village east of Oxford.

Happy Easter!

More Hailstorms - Friday

In cycling, there is either an atrocious energy sapping head-wind, or you are having a good day. Friday was a good day. At least it started well, going at an average speed of 30kph for the first hour. But then, the rain came and we got cold and wet. The issue with testing out our kit for America by bicycling around England is that the kit you need is different. If I was touring around Britain, I would invest in some leggings and some full length gloves, as well as a raincoat that is rain proof.

As it is though, our fingers freeze, our legs are tanned deep brown through over exposure, and we got extremely lost because the maps were all wet despite the supposed safety of my raincoat. Luckily in America, it should be warmer - the tan will be from the sun not the cold, and the maps (by the Adventure Cycling association) which we will be using are waterproof.

We stopped for lunch after 55kms and had a large burger and some soup, before setting off on the next 40kms through Bath and Bristol. Despite our navigation errors and the intervention of mother nature once again, we found our way to Backwell town by 5. This hailstorm had much larger iceblocks than the one the day before but luckily we found shelter in a petrol station, not a prickly hedge.

315kms now covered, in the past 4 days.

April 1, 2010

Hail in April!

Today we cycled from Oxford to a small village on Salisbury plain - 83kms in 5 hours of cycling. The morning was cold, but clear which made cycling much easier, and meant that I got the camera out a couple of times - to photograph interesting road signs - the photo's will appear some time next week. We had a good pizza and a long lunch in Hungerford, before setting out on the last 20 miles.

I cannot remember the last time there was a hail storm, let alone in April! After trying to outride what can only be described as a "severe" storm, which was an inevitable failure, we dived towards shelter on the side of the road in the form of a very prickly bush! After the storm had subsided and the hail had been replaced by rain, we set off again.

The last 20 miles, excluding the hail storm, was tough. A fairly strong headwind really took its toll on our usual "blistering" pace. Going the wrong way a couple of times over the hills of the south west didn't exactly help our cause. However, although it sounds as though we had a torrid time, all in all it was actually a good day. We got some good miles under our belt and tested all our gear to the max.

Tomorrow we will ride on to Bristol.

Alex and Will