This cycle across the US has indeed lived up to the reputation of the organisers, America by Bicycle (http://www.abbike.com/ ). Their logistical input was top class regarding mechanical support, route directions, motel and meal reservations, support on the road and dealing with contingencies as they cropped up. 10 out of 10.

My worries at the start concerned the day-in day-out cycling; how the body and its parts would cope and how life with this group would pan out.

It was a ‘motley’ group that assembled in San Francisco on May 31…from 9 different countries with ages ranging from 17 to 70. We were complete strangers (apart presumably from the 4 married couples) who were not selected but just presented themselves for this challenge. We would live and rub shoulders for over 7 weeks while on tour. Not only did the group bond into a close unit of friends with each one looking out for the other but our group readily accepted those who joined in at the various rest-days for sections of the trip. Those late-comers commented on this as days went by. The number of e-mails flying between cyclists indicate the friendships that were formed over the 52 consecutive days. As the main group broke up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire invitations to homes, states and countries were issued with heart. So many expressed a wish to come and cycle in Ireland. I’d love to design a 10-15 day cycling route to take in the scenic and historic spots and make it available.

I was lucky that no serious health issues arose over the 54 days I was out on the road. Nothing serious that didn’t clear up in two or three days. Over the first six days my butt was unusually getting progressively sorer. I worried how it would be after seven weeks. But with treatment with hydrocortisone and skin-aid purchased in Wal-Mart in Winnemucca things began to clear up and within 2 days I was as comfortable as if sitting in a car. The slight well-documented problem with my left knee cleared quickly principally by altering my early morning pace. A practice to continue with.Apart from these, nothing. Not even a head cold, thank God. The wettings we got during the last week dried up quickly in the warm atmosphere unlike at home.

I can honestly say that I went to bed each night looking forward to getting up on the bike the following morning. No dog days; no wishing that it would be over soon. In Portsmouth as others were packing up to go home I was lucky on two counts. I had been focusing on two extra days for a long while before and then with Ted and Michael there I never felt alone on the road. From one support team I had just passed into the care of another. As someone said ‘All this long distance cycling is cyclogical’.

Having a reason for the challenge outside of oneself was important. Just doing it for personal satisfaction only left space for disenchantment. Many of the cyclists were on a mission for a cause….in many cases causes that had connection with their own or their families lives. For me, Providence and knowing that the children prayed for Sir Richard at assembly each morning was like a tailwind. If things looked dark, I knew they were with me. I just couldn’t let them down. They were rooting for me. after the day’s cycle into Indianapolis fell through and then the day cleared up I did feel a bit down. That evening when Jay put me in contact with Larry, George and Rick that they were looking for a fourth to go back and do the missed 62 miles on the rest day, I really felt that the day was saved. I would have been so disappointed to have left a gap in the trip. It was the prayers at assembly that put Jay my way that evening. Coming down from Portsmouth to Providence with Ted and Michael, I thought many times that here was three chasing down the east coast of the US all for a small (but so important) school in the north-east of India. The internet isn’t the only thing that connects people.

Apart from being in San Jose last August for the birth of Saoirse, this was to be my first experience of moving about here. I was looking forward to seeing the country at grassroots level. I appreciate I didn’t see everything but what I saw really impressed me. California impressed with the high Sierras and my first introduction to the travails of those early pioneers like the Donners. The climbs of California changed to the dry sage-covered deserts of Nevada that gave me new understandings of words and phrases like ‘vast, enormous, as far as the eye can see, straight, flat’. That first view of the salt deserts of Utah from the windy height above Wendover was something else. From Provo in Utah the dried-up lake-bed deserts continued right into Colorado before climbing to the majestic Rockies. At first the green was refreshing before the snow appeared on either side as we scaled Monarch Pass. 11,312 feet. I had never cycled above 2000 feet before this trip. The descent right into Kansas brought on the agricultural element and that was so interesting with grain, feedlots and oil-jacks. And the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene. Missouri was doubly memorable – those endless rolling hills and my visit to Tipperary and meeting Rick Stanford there. The tail end of the flooding in the Missouri and Mississippi was still evident and crossing the Mississippi was the notional half way point. Corn (maize) and soya predominated the scenery through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Now the state lines were being crossed in quick succession and once Erie was reached on the Lake there was a mental countdown in operation. Now it was vines across Pennsylvania and into New York state. Another local highlight on Tipperary Hill in Syracuse. The terrain began to ripple as the trip moved into New England and the Berkshires with their sharp climbs right up to the second last day ensured that we kept our feet on the ground (but only metaphorically). That final approach to the Atlantic at Wallis Beach was charged emotionally and when Ted told me that he had a friend who came along (Michael Ryan walks up behind me) there was no point in trying to bite the lip and hold back. We had joined the oceans. Down the New Hampshire coast with a tailwind was pure pleasure with the Atlantic as a companion.I had a lot of planning done for the trip down through Boston (many thought I was crazy to attempt it) and it went without a hitch. Mostly built-up areas for those last two days and the constant threat of thunderstorms ahead. At the finish it wasn’t ‘Thank God it’s over’ but rather ‘Thank God that I have arrived safely’. It’s lovely countryside with such variety. I really need to scan back over the thousands of photos to relive it all.

The people that I encountered along the way impressed with their genuine interest in what we were doing and full of encouragement. ‘Well, good for you’. Not only in what I was doing but I noticed that Americans among themselves were so positive and supportive with not a trace of belittlement. In all situations, restaurants, stores, on the street and road, asking for directions there was a genuine desire to assist even to go out of their way. ‘Put your bike in the back of the truck and I’ll bring you to the intersection’. When they told you to ‘Have a nice day’ I take it now as more than just a mere formula. My impressions of the American people was also confirmed with my experiences with those on the trip (70%). No one was left to fend for himself. Each one of them so interested and so interesting. My experiences didn’t tally with the stereotyped Yank.

Attracting of funds for Providence, Shillong was the purpose of the cycle. Please God , it will be successful in that regard and the children in Providence will have a better opportunity in life as a result. My thanks to those who supported the cause right from the start and who have come on board along the way. I would only love to be able to get across how much every single Euro/Dollar can make a difference to their chances. And once they have an education, horizons broaden and the sky is the limit not only for themselves but for their families in years to come. A pebble cast into the pond at this stage will send out ripples that will continue right to the most distant shore. Those kids are worth every single mile that I cycled and every foot that I climbed. And they did their bit – their constant prayers were a wind that was always going my way.

I find it difficult and unfair to single out particular high and low points. It was not a continuum but a sequence of highs. There’s no part of it that I want to forget. I’d dearly love to switch on that video camera in my head and relive it all again…scenery, people and experiences.

Originally I decided to keep a blog (my first blog ever) and thought that it would take just half an hour each evening. It took considerably more but the fact that so many were logging on (more than the number of miles that I cycled) made the task one of interest and a labour of love. It was my homework each evening and had to be done. I felt you were with me every mile of the way. I cannot imagine how it would have been if there was no contact with base (and with so many parts of the world) from start to finish. Days would have been more difficult and the temptation to pack it in even for part of a day would have been greater. I’m thrilled now that I decided to do the blog and don’t regret a moment I spent on it. Credit for that is to you. Comments coming in were so positive and they came from all over – Ireland, England, USA, Netherlands, India, Australia and South America. Would have loved to reply to them all but not possible. But they were of as much interest to me as, hopefully, the daily posting was to you.

My thanks to all who assisted me in the various parts of the cycle (on the road, navigation, support, advice, psychological, at the start and at the end) and to those who did Trojan work in the fundraising aspect.

Regarding ‘blog withdrawal syndrome’ that some of you mentioned I have some possible suggestions for relief:

Using numbers from the cycling totals (adapt the units according to the jurisdiction)
Go for a cycle of 4021 metres i.e 4.021 km ( from distance cycled)
Go for a cycle for 288 minutes i.e 4 hrs 48 minutes (from total time)
Go for a cycle of 25.76 miles. (from height climbed)
Cycle for 11 miles. (from lbs lost)
Cycle for 1300 metres i.e.1.3 km (from number of centuries)
Fix 11 punctures
Cycle through 15 parishes (from number of states crossed)
Cycle through 4 counties (from number of time zones)

You’ll feel the better for it and remember, thank God for the health and thank God for the energy.



Time Zone : Eastern (GMT -5)
Todays Distance: 29 miles
Cycling time: 2 hrs 19 mins
Average Speed: 12.7 mph

Today’s cumulative ascent: 983 ft
Average Heart rate: 114 bpm

Distance so far: 4021 miles
Ascent so far: 129,857 feet.
Centuries so far: 13
Punctures so far: 11
Today’s Profile:

Today’s Route:
There is a double dedication for this special final day.
I cycled in gratitude to all those who have contributed to Providence because of this cycle. Your contributions go in full to the benefit of the children. The fund is still open for others to contribute.
I also cycled for the Unknown Soldier. There are people, I am sure that I should have mentioned. And there are children in Providence who did not appear in the dedications. Do not think that you are not included. You are. This most special day is for you.

Now on the final day. Unbelievable that it has arrived. This day will see the culmination of something that started almost two years ago as a grand notion and aspiration. I knew it would be an emotional one.

I had stayed in Ted’s house overnight and for the first time in seven weeks I didn’t have my bike in the bedroom. Would it be OK and cosy in the garage? Should I drop down during the night just to re-assure it in the early hours? However, both of us got through the night just fine.

Only had 29 miles to do today to complete the challenge. Today would be heavily charged so I was glad I got plenty of mileage done yesterday. Started at 11 am (a late start) on Walpole Road just where we had finished. The weather was fine though the forecast was for trouble. Still on rural roads for the 4 miles to the rendezvous with Bob.

Along the road I had to struggle to concentrate. The occasion was very much on my mind. A lapse could spell disaster at any moment. What a pity that would be. I spotted a number of roads that reassured me and I just knew that they were guiding me. There had been so many Charles Roads back Boston way and one near my route in Pawtuckett. No sign of a Barrie (Barry) Road. I didn’t really expect to see a Sinead Road or a Saoirse Street. As time went by and with Ted and Michael firmly in control of navigation I regained my focus. No call for any heroics at this stage (or at any stage)
We rendezvoused with Bob as arranged at the junction of Washington and Hickory Road just south of North Attleboro. He was going to lead me along a bike-friendly route to central Providence. The skies were inclined to put a stop to our gallop. Motorists at the junction suggested that we take shelter from the approaching storm. A nearby pharmacy was established as base. Very fortunate. For almost half an hour it bucketed and there was no going anywhere. When it had eased off and the lightning had stopped Bob and I pulled out for this stage….a little over twenty miles ahead.

With so much surface water about and trying to keep an eye on Bob there was no opportunity for photos. Puddles of water could be hiding serious hazards. Bob’s route zig-zagged through built-up areas and his flashers were my lifeline. If I lost those I was lost. He excelled by slowing at every type of junction. On the roads we took there was no Welcome to Rhode Island notice for a photo. The rain (eased a little) was another factor against photos.
I cycled through Cumberland and Pawtuckett and down Blackstone Boulevard (with its new bike lane) before swinging in by the Amtrak Station in Providence. The first thing I spotted inside the central concourse was a large welcome sign. I accepted graciously.
Ted had arranged a ‘few people’ for an official arrival at Water Place Park just beneath Rhode Island State House, atop of which stands the Independance Man. It is a Venice inspired area for strolling and for free concerts.
The plan was that I would arrive at 3.20 pm by coming through the tunnel at the far end and cycle around to the right to finish at the covered section. There had been pretty constant rain but it eased off at this stage.

I arrived to a welcome by the Mayor of Providence, David Cicilline, members of the India Association of Rhode Island, Michael Ryan, Pat Dalton (Golden and Providence) and many friends of Ted and Karin. It was emotional to finally complete but also to be received graciously. Michael and Ted had a Welcome banner up with the Ireland and India flags. In time the wind vented its anger on the same banner.
The mayor congratulated me on the achievement and presented a beautiful Citizens Citation. I was chuffed. I thanked all for their welcome and for being there and spoke of today as the culmination of an undertaking that was almost two years old. It was always going to be for the benefit of Providence from the start. The 4000 miles had been cycled; the USA had been traversed; the 54 days finished and the challenge complete. Thank God there had been no ill-effects or health issues. I had been so lucky.

Last night Ted and Karin hosted a reception in their beautiful home for friends to mark the conclusion. Was thrilled to meet so many genuinely interested people and relax in a friendly atmosphere.
Thank God for the health and thank god for the energy.

Distance cycled: 4,021 miles. (6721 km)
Hours of cycling: 288 hours.
Feet climbed: 129, 857 feet (25.76 miles or 41 km)
Calories burned: 252,509 calories.
Average Heartbeat: 109 beats per minute.
Average Cadence: 75 revs per minute.
Number of lbs lost ; 11 lbs
Centuries: 13
Punctures; 11
Days: 49 days cycling; 5 days rest.
States crossed : 15
Time Zones: 4

NB: There will one more general posting to the blog in the next few days. Thanks to all who kept in contact by means of it and to those who contributed comments.



Time Zone : Eastern (GMT -5)
Todays Distance: 86 miles
Cycling time: 5 hrs 47 mins
Average Speed: 14.9 mph
Today’s cumulative ascent: 3161 feet.
Average Heart rate: 108 bpm
Distance so far: 3,992 miles
Ascent so far: 128,874 feet.
Centuries so far: 13
Punctures so far: 11

Today’s Profile:

Today’s Route:
Dedication: Today my cycling was dedicated to my older brothers Sean, Eddie, Nicholas and to my sister Mary. They toughened me up in the early days. And for my deceased mother and father…from my father an athletic interest and from my mother good nourishment. Thank you all.

A special day of cycling – had to build own cue-sheet, new support team, through a major city and travelling south for a change.
For me it was alarm, breakfast and loading as usual. At the same time twenty of the other cyclists were checking out and loading all their gear onto the shuttle for Boston Airport. Another round of farewells and photographs. Never would our unique group be together again, but I know that we’ll be in contact
Ted and I went over the route one more time in the lobby. Cue sheets checked, maps highlighted and suggested stops marked. This was the first such day on this trip. ABB weren’t there should things go wrong.
I started out from Wallis Beach where we dipped our wheels in the Atlantic yesterday. At this hour of 7 a.m. there was no problem find parking space. Bike reassembled and ready to hit the road. Weather conditions were a mixed bag. Scattered rain in the morning with the threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon but a north-east wind. I liked that idea.
For a change I was heading southwards with a light north-east wind in my back. Was lovely to have the ocean there on the left and I was getting use to that sea smell again. Not a hill in sight till after Boston. I was beginning to miss those climbs!!
Navigation for the first 20 miles was very direct. Stick to the coast. After that it would be more of a challenge. But, I like plotting out routes and drawing up a cue-sheet. (I never used a cue-sheet before this trip but I see their advantage now. I hardly looked at the map today.) When hill-walking with the O’Dwyers, Brownes and Kennedys I always liked depending on the compass to follow a route and preferably with a little fog. Getting through Boston would be a challenge that I looked forward to.
The early miles passed through Hampton. A busy resort by the looks of it. Some fine residences about, but on the main strip it gave the impression of a Bundoran. At this hour the only movement was people off to restaurants for breakfast.
I was disappointed that there was no notice that I was now entering Massachusetts with a welcome sign. I went back and enquired. Even locals couldn’t help. On the far side facing the other way there was a welcome to New Hampshire. Had to be satisfied with the notice that I was entering Salisbury, the first town in Massachusetts. Utah was the only other state with no Welcome sign as we entered at Wendover.
On Ferry Road before Newburyport I had a touch of the rural. A nice road with bulrushes on both sides at one stage. There was a detour from our planned route because of a bridge being out. It didn’t add many extra miles or cause difficulty.
While on the detour I spotted an interesting WANTED sign. I think I have a few addresses from Illinois and Indiana that I can supply. No dogs at all entered the picture today.
Coming into Salem (of the witches) brought me over the massive bridge and I continued through the road construction (resurfacing). Support staff had to do a bit of a round and fell behind. Saw a number of ‘witches’ walking about who were tour guides or hostesses in restaurants. Enquired about the location of the courthouse (where we arranged to meet) to be told that there were three along the street. “Which one would you like?”

Support staff today (Ted and Michael) had a hard act to follow after the performance of ABB over the last seven weeks. But they turned up trumps in all aspects. Had a green shopping bag tied to the roof-rack and I could spot it in the traffic. No missed turns and at all landmarks on or before schedule.
Here was the three of us chasing down the east coast of USA and the common link between us was that we were at this for Providence and its team. Those kids deserve the best. They’re worth it.
Just after noon as we passed through Everett, the downtown of Boston appeared on the skyline. Everett had all the services of an active neighbourhood including its Credit Union. I did notice that some few motorists were a little more impatient than in other states. Pulling out in front of you thinking that cyclists move at walking pace. And cars reversing out onto busy roads. I can’t say that there was real danger but it was different.
Entered central Boston after crossing over Charlestown Bridge. Was a tad underwhelmed by the said bridge. For some reason I had expected it to be an architectural gem.
Boston was lunchtime. We had arrived at 1 pm, a half-hour ahead of expected time of arrival. Pulled up at Quincy Market and there was only one place that I wanted to eat…Dick’s Last Resort where you got to eat with attitude. Had the Wednesday Special… ‘Dick’s Big Pig’. Even got crowned by the waitress.

From Dick’s Last Resort I wanted to ring Sinead (she worked there in summer 1998) and t’was then I found out that I had lost the phone. Had neglected to zip up my trunk bag fully after leaving Salem and there were many bumps along the way. Tried ringing it and went into voicemail straight away. At this stage it’s in smithereens some where along a Massachusetts road.
All morning had been fine with a slight tailwind but rain appeared as I restarted after lunch. Raingear on as I cycled up between the towering office blocks in downtown. Made great headway by cycling right up to the red lights and then first away. State Street and left onto Congress, over the bridge and right onto A Street. By the time I was halfway down Dorchester the rain jacket was off again and it stayed off for the rest of the day.
Dorchester passed through south Boston which has strong Irish connections. At one junction there was the large church of the Blessed Mother Teresa parish. Dorchester went on for miles in a straight line till I crossed over the Neponset River.

In the mid afternoon a severe storm warning was issued although it was still dry. It was moving north-eastwards from Providence. Even at 3.30 pm it was unusually dark but I was keen to cycle on till rain arrived. Just after Sharon heavy drops began to fall and I knew this was it. No point in getting soaked unnecessarily when a major part of the journey to Providence had been covered.
No sooner had we packed in the bike but the heavens opened. I was just 4.5 miles short of the best scenario that I had planned out for today. 86 miles done and just about 40 for tomorrow. On the Interstate back to Providence traffic almost came to a standstill with the lack of visibility. In Providence itself near Ted’s house there was plenty of debris (including heavy branches) along the roads and streets. At 8 pm tonight there was another vicious thunderstorm with the heavens bucketing down. Hope the skies are fully drained now.

Tomorrow is the last day of this adventure. I can’t believe it. Leaving San Francisco this day seemed a thousand years off. Now it is here. Only one more effort to complete the challenge. Incredible. And I don’t feel tired nor jaded nor exhausted.

A very successful and exciting day for so many reasons. I cycled as strong as ever and enjoyed every single minute of it. Pity about the phone.
Thank God for the health and thank God for the energy.