January 2017. Whilst in Calpe on a cycling camp with my friends I got a text from my Espresso Mafia àBlock teammate Miqui. It read
“Do you want to ride from New York to Miami after RedHook Brooklyn?”
At this point I had never even met him, but after a few minutes thinking I replied “Yeah sick!”
We started to plan the trip little by little. I didn’t want to take two bikes with me so suggested we do the ride on our race bikes. He said yes, sorted!
No brakes. No gears. Riding around America on a track bike. Sleeping in bushes.
Sounds like a plan!
Day One – 180km
We left on May 2nd. Bags loaded and route planned (the night before).
Getting out of NY and through New Jersey was a nightmare, we even got stuck on a Truck only highway! That was a scary start, the bags felt heavy!
It was the first time riding all loaded up, we cycled all day stopping for lunch and updating our Instagram stories along the way, by the evening we had reached a little town and in a small bar we found some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, offering us places to sleep, money and free drinks. They all wanted to hear about our trip! Crazy we had only just started!
Day Two – 170km
We decided to sleep outside the first night. After all, we did bring the kit, so might as well use it! Smashed out a big breakfast we were off, entering Maryland it became much more open. We were loving it!
One thing about the countryside was that everyone seemed to own a dog and they loved chasing us! And some of them meant business. We had survived the second day, another night sleeping outside we were getting the hang of this.
Day Three – 140km
Miqui had come well prepared with a tent, sleeping bag and mattress. Whilst I had gone for the more laid back approach, with just a sleeping bag, so the sleep wasn’t the best. Not to mention we were seriously starting to stink by this point!
Back on the road. After a few hours we saw a great Antiques shop and decided to stop. The couple who owned it were super kind, showed us around, offered us lunch and chatted for ages. They told us about a bridge that was coming up and that we would never be able to get a across on our bikes, it was 5 miles long and no cycle lane, they said they would give us a lift to the other side and we accepted greatly!
Once across we got back to it!
Today we were hoping to find a hotel at the end of the day for a much needed shower, some good sleep and a chance to wash our clothes. We found one using the money we were given on the first night. We checked ourselves in. Lovely! We got to work using the café WiFi.
It was heaven!
Day Four – 100km
Good thing we got a hotel!
We woke up to a massive storm. A weather warning on the news telling us to stay inside. There was a hurricane a few hundred km away by the sound of it!
We gladly took the chance to lay in. It finally passed and we checked out at 12.
We had decided that Miami was to far and plotted a new route. It took us to South Carolina where Miqui knew a couple who he had met a few weeks before in Spain. They owned a bike shop and were happy to have us. Sounded good to me!
The sky was black all day so we needed to find somewhere decent to sleep in case it rained but we had no such luck. We were directed to a church by a gentleman who informed us how amazingly lucky we where and we had just missed a massive storm! Phew. Then, just a few minutes later as we arrived at the destination the heavens opened. Hiding under a picnic table we wondered what the hell we were doing!
The storm continued for a good couple of hours and we were now sitting in the door way of the church keeping dry by the skin of our teeth! Accompanied by a army of frogs singing non stop!
We had One long night ahead!
Day Five – 180km
I think we were glad just to get moving! Setting off at a good pace we rode for a good few hours before we saw anywhere we could have breakfast. Virginia is empty!
One of the most tiring days of the trip. We thought it would never end, thinking about how I would much rather be at home.
But it all turned around when we finally reached our goal for the day. A town called FarmVille! It was a dream. The coolest place I’ve ever been! We arrived on a day of celebration they had bands playing, food stalls, the whole town was out and so friendly.
What a place! After a few hours relaxing we headed 1km back out of town to a church that we had previously seen and set up camp for the night.
Day Six – 120km
After soaking up more of Farmville vibes. We took advantage of the local bike shop and amazing pancakes and coffee on offer.
Virginia continued to be weirdly empty. One thought we both had at this point we had been on the road for a week and still had not seen a single cyclist.
The end of the day came and we found a motel, on the side of the main road. It was like something out of a movie.
I just taped it in to Google Maps and we could find whatever we wanted. I could not of done the trip without my phone that’s for sure! So it’s a good thing that only the screen smashed when I dropped it riding doh!
Another day done and according to the lady at the pizza place that night, I looked “Hella Tired”
Day Seven – 150km
We headed off! McDonalds it was. 12 pancakes and I was ready to go, it’s worth mentioning that it is very hard to find good food! And fruit is hard to come by. Or at least we found it was. Miqui said that when we saw a skinny person we had to ask them where they shop! Aha
We passed the border in to North Carolina and straight away the scenery changed! Best state yet. After being chased by another 20 dogs we set up camp outside a swimming pool complex. By this point we were getting pretty confident about sleeping out at night. We headed to a bar to charge our phones and Garmins before calling it a night.
Day Eight – 130km
Woken up at 6 by rain. I hid under a tree for shelter. Before heading out at around 8am to Subway to get warm and fuel up!
With only a few days left we really wanted to get to the bike shop now!
We waited out the rain for a good few hours, chatting to the staff about our trip. Everywhere we went they wanted to know what we were up to and they always recognised the English accent. I had a shave in the bathroom, filled up our bottles and we were off. At the end of the day we stopped at a gas station and got chatting to the guy inside about traveling. He was actually from New Jersey, the first state we had gone through on this trip, he offered us a place to stay and let us take as much free food as we wanted!
Another one for the list of great people we met our way!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay. We still had a few more hours of light!
It was starting to get a lot more hilly and when you’re on a track bike loaded up with bags this was not a good thing!
That evening we met a lady out waking her dogs… well she was in a golf buggy, so technically only the dogs were walking. Anyway, she was kind enough to let us sleep in her garden so we went down the road and set up!
This would be our last night out! Tomorrow we planed to make it to the bike shop.
Day Nine – 190km
Woken up early by the dogs barking, we felt it was going to be a hot day! We said goodbye to the kind lady and got going.
40km in, we found a cool looking place where we stopped for breakfast. We were both feeling pretty rooted!
I ditched some clothing in the bin in a bid to make my bag lighter, we carried on our ride but not before I had dropped ice cubes everywhere in the attempt to get some cool water in my bidon.. it was HOT!
Gas stations were few and far between so we stopped at everyone we saw to refill our bottles. We entered South Carolina almost there!
The hills were killing us on our bikes. They seemed to be never ending! It was well past closing time for the shop so we headed to the home address of where we would be staying, a few wrong turns later we arrived!
Greeted by our host at the top of the hill. We were well and truly wrecked!
Cycling – 9 Days
Distance – 1360km
Pancakes eaten – 26
Punctures – 0
Dogs that chased us – lost count
Gear ratio – 46/16
Times we got a background check from the police – 1
Times Miqui swore at me in Spanish – 1000
Lifts from cars – 2
Times we wished we could freewheel – everyday
States visited – 7
Storms slept in – 1
Near collisions with deers – 1
Showers – 2
Finally massive shout out to:
Grasonvillie Antiques shop
Ben, Tiana and Benchmark Bicycle co
Sammy from Beavers Gas Station
The O’fowley’s crew
Glory days Antique shop
AmQuip Crane Company
By Liam Yates