4th April – 28th April
So I thought that it was about time that I wrote my first blog post of this next chapter of my adventure! I’d had such a lovely time back England, almost four months which included nearly two months in Spain, so I was really sad to say goodbye to my family again. It’s lucky I had a return ticket as I think I would have kept putting off going back to the states. It’s not that I didn’t want to go back and finish my trip, it’s just that I really enjoy my parents company and hanging out with them, and we still had a long list of things we wanted to do and see together. I got to see my friends and also both of my brothers and their girlfriends too which was great, and we got to enjoy a final farewell breakfast before I jumped on the plane and headed back over the pond to resume my trip.
It was quite weird and surreal flying back and arriving in the states, mainly due I think to the lack of food and sleep (I only got around half an hour the whole time). They questioned me at the border about what I was doing there and how long I required, but feeling faint and shaky with low blood sugar levels it all felt a bit too serious and over the top, but I know they have to do it. Thankfully they gave me the full 6 months, as we all know how useless I am at getting anywhere, and with that I wandered in to the arrivals lounge and saw the smiling familiar faces of Ken and Marolyn.
I ended up staying with Ken and Marolyn for just over three weeks, and being a home away from home I settled in instantly, possibly getting a little too comfortable! They’re such wonderful people and definitely up there with some of my favourite people on the planet, so staying with them was a pleasure.
I spent the time writing, fixing up my bike, hanging out with Ken and Marolyn and my favourite cat Priscilla, getting a tour of the local area along with a visit to beautiful Crater Lake, and also hit the pool and exercise classes at the local YMCA.
My back is much better now and I have a strict exercise and stretching programme in action, to keep my body and particularly my back and core in shape and hopefully help prevent further injury. I’ve had a lot of questions about my back and whether or not I’d be continuing on the trike, but the trike’s only purpose was to get me to the end of the TAT, which it did well, especially considering that it was home-made! The custom swing arm has now been removed and it’s back to being a bike again, much to my relief. The trike certainly served its purpose well and did what it was made to do, but it was really hard work. Let’s just say that I won’t be riding a trike again in a hurry, but Ed did a brilliant job and it definitely added a different dimension to the adventure!
Ed had done quite a bit of work to my bike already (including installing my very own Minion headlight called Stuart!) as he’d flown back to the states just over six weeks earlier than me, but it still needed a good clean and a new rear tyre, and once I’d done that it looked like a completely different bike.
All there was to do then was take it for a test ride, which didn’t go quite as planned. After happily riding down the road and coming to a junction, I noticed that the front brake needed adjusting, so I jumped off, straightened the wheel, and watched helplessly as the bike toppled over and the contents of my top box exploded all over the road. I was so used to having Ed around to pick my bike up for me that I didn’t know what to do at first, and was just about to call Ken to help me when I realised that unless Ken was up for following me for the whole trip in a support vehicle, I needed to sort this problem out myself. Ever since I’d injured my back again I’d been scared and worried about having to pick my bike up by myself, but having recently been given some great advice from a wonderful biker called Belle who also has back problems, I finally felt confident tackling it on my own. Following her technique I successfully picked the bike up without bothering my back in the slightest, and was left feeling particularly triumphant. It was the only thing that I was actually worried about when it came to riding on my own, and thanks to Belle, her perfectly timed advice, and my rubbish front brake, I’d managed to get it out of the way and off my mind before the trip had even started.
With the bike up-righted I continued on my test ride, and with the sun shining down on me it felt like that first day that you ride on your own after passing your test; so exciting! It was so liberating to be back on the road; it’d been so long that I’d forgotten what it felt like. I was beaming from ear to ear, and felt more excited than ever to continue my adventure to Argentina, solo.