Dear Friends of the Incidents Of Travel website,
My dear mum died in January this year, peacefully at home and surrounded by loved ones. When she told me before Christmas that she wanted to hear about something I’d be doing in the near future, something that she didn’t already know about, I told her I’d started thinking about a new bike trip, and her eyes lit up at the news. Mum was always the most ardent follower of this blog when a journey was in progress, and was also the record-holder for the most comments posted here, so naturally she was full of questions about where I was going, whom I could see along the way, and suggestions of places I should visit. I must admit that my dad’s initial response was a touch more pragmatic: ‘You must be bloody mad’, he said. Mum held my hand tightly whilst she made me promise to bring these plans to fruition, and that memory is something I will always treasure. This trip is in memory of my mum.
So, this summer I will be setting out on a charity bike ride challenge to cycle solo from the top to the bottom of the United States, following the Eastern Seaboard from the Bay of Fundy in Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a journey of approximately two and a half thousand miles that tracks the historic and fractured Atlantic coastline through two Canadian Provinces and fourteen US States, passing through many iconic locations along the way, from New England, Boston & New York City to Chesapeake Bay, Savannah & the Florida Keys.
I’ll be raising money for the Nobel Prize-winning charity Humanity & Inclusion, or HI, who work alongside disabled and vulnerable people in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster, wherever they are in the world. There are so many innocent victims, particularly of the conflict in Ukraine at the moment, and HI do incredible work to support them at their moment of greatest need. I have set up a brand-new JustGiving charity sponsorship page (click on the box below) where you can find out more about HI and hopefully contribute whatever you feel you can afford, large or small, to support this great cause. Thank you.
The idea for this trip came partly from a thought I recall having in 2017 at Cape Spear on Newfoundland, after completing Canada from coast to coast. Throughout that journey I had particularly enjoyed cycling close to water, from the Pacific Ocean where I dipped my wheels at the start, to the Great Lakes (and the countless smaller ones), the St Laurence River and then finally the Atlantic Ocean. On arrival at the Cape, the easternmost part of North America, I looked out to sea and the distant horizon. Although my first thought was, ‘At last! Home isn’t far away now‘, a few minutes later I glanced south past the lighthouse to my right, and thought ‘Hmm, that’s a nice-looking bit of coastline…’
Picking up almost where I left off in 2017 – the airport in Halifax is less than a day’s cycle from the route I took through Nova Scotia – I’ll fly in and ride to the coast for a wheel-dipping ceremony in the Bay of Fundy, then catch the ferry over to New Brunswick. From there I’ll make my way to the American border and join up with US Route 1, the historic Atlantic Highway which runs the length of the country from north to south. Although this highway and I will probably spend a fair bit of time together this summer, when I’m nearer the big cities it may well be worth avoiding due to heavier traffic, and between New York and Georgia it heads too far inland for my purposes. So the coastline will be my guide as I navigate a path down to the Florida Keys.
The temptation of a route through such a fabulously varied region – and incidentally providing many opportunities for ocean swims and ferry trips as I pick my way through all of the inlets, islands and bays that make up the eastern seaboard (did I mention oysters and lobsters?) – proved to be irresistible. After all, it was those many natural harbours that the first European settlers marvelled at, realising what an incredible country they had dropped anchor at. I’m pretty sure that as they surveyed the view from the deck of their ship, they thought to themselves : ‘Hmm, that’s a nice-looking bit of coastline…’ I sincerely hope that you will feel inclined to take a dip or two with me, and to keep me company over a few 2nd breakfasts once the journey begins in earnest (and not-so-earnest) in late June.
As I write this I’m actually back in Canada for a few days, staying in downtown Toronto but without a bicycle. There’s still a little snow on the ground here and there, and even a few icicles hanging from the branches, despite some beautiful spring-like sunshine, and the thought of dealing with the intense heat of summer down south feels, well, miles away. At least it’s given me the chance to do some pre-adventure shopping, and to pick up a few of my favourite Canadian biking products:
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I thought I might just end by posting one of my favourite poems from my mum’s book, Holding It Together, published last year by Lamplight Press (using her ‘poetic’ first name of Christina). After a life-long and celebrated career in education, she changed direction in her eighties, giving hope to us all for our retirement years, and became a poet. These pictures are from her own copy of the book, used for a poetry reading in April last year. If you enjoy this poem, please do feel free to click on the book title above to find out more.
8 thoughts on “USA Summer 2023: Cycling Solo from the Bay of Fundy to the Gulf of Mexico”
What a lovely tribute to your darling mum, Ben. I feel she will be your inspiration along the way. Sending loads of love for a safe and joyful trip!
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I think so too Miranda. She’ll be there, no question. Love to all Bxx
Blogs back! This is so 2017! For a few months we get to adventure vicariously with you down that amazing coastline. That’s wonderful that your mum was so positive about this trip, as an avid follower of the previous trip I’m sure she saw how much you (and we) got out of it. Crossing fingers that the prep goes well and nobody mention the P word…
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Thanks John! I’d forgotten how much organising went into the 2017 trip, but it’s certainly coming back to me now! Great to have you along. (Ever since I mentioned the p-word superstition I’ve started believing in it more myself.)
I so love what you’ve written and will most definitely subscribe to your dedicated biking adventure this summer.
For every reason imaginable, this is a remarkable thing that you’re doing! Looking forward! 🙂
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Thanks so much for your kind words Virginia, and I’m very glad to know that your positivity will be there keeping me on track!
Wonderful, Ben! Very much looking forward to following your adventure 😀
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Thanks Penny! I’m starting in the area of Canada you know best, Halifax – food recommendations for the waterfront area gratefully received! See you this week I hope. Bx