“I’m going to tell all my friends at school about you”, said the round faced boy proudly with a trace of a Mexican accent.
He couldn’t have been more than 12 years old but he’d been confidently peppering us with questions throughout the short train ride from the border town of San Ysidro to San Diego.
The boy’s enthusiasm for our journey was a welcome tonic to the wave of exhaustion that had taken hold since we finished our 2,000 mile bike ride down the USA’s Pacific Coast Highway just an hour earlier.
Each answer we gave about how much gear we carried, what we ate, or how far we’d cycled was met with gasps of wonder and translations into Spanish for his little sister.
“So why did you want to ride your bikes so far?” The boy said with yet another big grin.
It was the inevitable question I (James) always dread when speaking to strangers on this journey because I simply don’t have an answer. Usually I just make one up.
“Because I wanted to ride my bike everyday,” I lied. The boy seemed happy enough with the answer and a translation swiftly followed.
Pierre and I had cycled more than 2,000 miles, crossed three states and conquered one country, all without a single puncture between us thanks to our Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres.
Together we’d worn through one set of break pads, broken a wheel rim, busted a saddle and punctured an air mattress, but apart from that, we and our gear were intact.
Our memories are a patchwork of mountain passes, screaming downhills and awe-inspiring scenery, all stitched together by the steady rhythm of turning pedals and spinning wheels.
From the towering Avenue of the Giants to the golden beaches of Los Angeles, we found ourselves cycling through some of the most beautiful and fascinating places in the world.
The kindness and generosity of the American people has overwhelmed us at times, whether it be an invite to eat dinner with a family, an offer to sleep in a stranger’s home, or simply directions and words of encouragement from a passerby.
And it was the fellow travellers and new friends we made along the way that truly enriched our journey, whether they were cycling or not.
Unforgettable moments like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, battling the infamous Leggett hill or simply sharing stories and laughing at the end of a hard days ride were made 100 times more enjoyable thanks to the people we shared them with.
But now we are at the end of our journey. After saying goodbye to the round faced young boy on the train from the Mexican border, we cycled to the HI Downtown hostel in San Diego feeling tired, hot, but full of bravado.
And that night we celebrated late into the night with new friends we’d met in Los Angeles a week before, who were also in San Diego. We embraced the bright lights, sounds and energy of the buzzing Gaslamp Quarter which acted as a sensory overload after weeks of away from a city.
The following morning our bikes were broken down into boxes and it was soon time to catch our British Airways flight home. We’ve arrived in London thinner, fitter, happier and proud that we’ve accomplished something a little out of the ordinary. We’ve brought home with us cherished memories, new friendships and a fresh outlook on the world that will hopefully enrich our lives.
We’ve returned to cycling in London traffic, the tent is tucked away in a cupboard and the suit and tie will soon be brought out of hibernation as we resume our normal lives.
Well, that is until the next big adventure!!!!!
Thanks for reading
James and Pierre