On June 5, Martin Valldeby was standing on a beach in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, dipping his rear wheel on his bike in the Atlantic. When he dipped the front wheel of the Pacific Ocean in Florence in the state of Oregon on August 19, he had cycled 650 miles across the American continent. Four time zones, 15 states, 76 days of cycling.
Of course, not every cyclist gets off to cross the United States. Martin Valldeby has cycled many long trips in Sweden and Europe. He is extremely well-trained, knows what equipment is needed and is adept at navigating. Nevertheless, the so-called Murphy's law reminded me fairly promptly. The law that says if something can go wrong, it will soon do it. At that point, not five punctures were the worst.
- Already on the second day I got so bad in the left knee that I had to take a rest day. It obviously felt a little disturbing, but quite quickly I realized that I would lower the saddle slightly and vary more with which leg I shot from when I started. The evil disappeared completely after a week and then did not come back on the whole trip, says Martin Valldeby.
Cows enjoy watching cyclists
In turn, he cycled through 15 states on his journey west: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. An excellent opportunity to deepen their knowledge of US geography. Sometimes it was uphill for a day and a half.
- Ohio was one of the states I liked best, it was a bit backward and reminded some of Sweden. Colorado was nice too, it was special to see fork antelopes. It was mountainous too and picked me up at the highest point of the trip which was Cameron's pass at 3100 meters, says Martin Valldeby.
He also learned that classic wild west Kansas doesn't just consist of vast plains.
- Northern Kansas was pretty fun. Another thing I learned there was that there are a lot of cows and that cows enjoy watching cyclists.
48 degrees warm
The bird path was the journey 400 miles, in practice 650. This means that he cycled on average about 85 kilometers a day for 76 days. Don't you get a little tired of cycling this far? Especially as many of his pictures from the trip show naughty roads that fade away on the horizon.
- Towards the end of the trip as I approached Oregon I had a sinker. Then you have cycled very far and are getting a little tired of it, while still having quite a long way to go.
He almost did not drive at all and did not need to starve even though it could be 10 miles between the eateries. He slept in campsites and motels for the most part, but also in a few churches that were open to overnight cyclists and occasionally in the wilderness next to the road. The air-conditioned motel was a necessity several times because the temperatures were so high that it had not been possible to sleep in the tent. High temperatures are tough during the day too. It takes the energy to cycle for several hours in 48 degree heat. He had to wash his clothes every other day for about a day.
Considerable American motorists
In fact, there are bike paths in the billing USA. About ten percent of the journey was on car-free roads. Of course, there were also worse conditions with non-existent roads and iron railings.
- But the American motorists were quite considerate, almost better than the Swedish ones.
The powers of nature were a greater challenge. Occasionally, heavy rainfall occurred and at the beginning of the trip, downed trees over the bike path in Maryland were a significant problem. Martin Valldeby saw dwelling houses and barn buildings that had gotten rid of the roofs in the storm. He was also visited by a hungry raccoon in the awning.
- It went well anyway, they learn to be good at tearing up bags when they feel the smell of food, but my bags managed. Then there were campsites in, for example, Colorado where big bears were warned and then it was forbidden to have food or anything else that could attract inside the tent.
Martin Valldeby is back home in Sweden, back in everyday life and the Swedish autumn. He says it will take time to digest all the impressions of the trip and that it feels fantastic that he has completed the huge project. How eager is he to embark on a new bike ride of 650 miles?
- Not particularly the craving right now. But I feel myself, it will be time again soon.
Who knows, maybe the cows in Kansas will have another chance to study the sympathetic supercyclist from Lidingö.
The straight stretch of the top image is about 15-20 miles east of Sterling, Colorado. All pictures are taken by Martin Valldeby.