So it has actually been a while since I have written a post detailing what is going on in my life and what my current plans are moving forward. This is primarily due to the fact that the past few months have been monumentally busy for me. Medical school has really stepped up a gear and rather than spending time checking twitter and other blogs I find the majority of my time is spent in lectures and writing thousands of words in essays for my tutors. However whilst I haven’t been publicising my activities on social media this does not mean that I haven’t been active. I have been out exercising almost everyday, either cycling to lectures and classes, doing weights in the gym or out on the river rowing. I am feeling the fittest I have ever been and this is good as I have my heart set on accomplishing a very tough goal this summer.
This summer along with my good friend Tom, who cycled with me around Europe, we are aiming to become the youngest people to cycle the entire West coast of the USA unsupported, from Anchorage in Alaska to Imperial Beach on the Mexican border. It will be a mammoth cycle tour of over 6000 kilometres that will undoubtedly be the hardest thing I have ever done. We will cycle the vast emptiness and mountains of Alaska passing up the AK-1 and 2 then entering Yukon Territory in Canada. From here we will cycle over 2000 kilometres through the impressive landscapes of Canada down to Vancouver. Our final leg will take us from Vancouver down the West coast of mainland America through Washington, Oregon, and finally California
Since returning from our 3000 kilometre tour around Europe Tom and I have both wanted to venture further afield, increasing the challenge and pushing ourselves further. We also learnt a lot about cycle touring on that tour in addition to learning a lot about ourselves, so hopefully we can enter this expedition feeling more prepared about what we are about to undertake. We both know that we can work well with each other over long periods of time and under the intensity of life that you experience during an expedition. However the vast amount of cycling coupled with the fact that we will be away for about 2 months will undoubtedly make this a mental as well as a physical battle.
The key driving force behind us doing this gruelling expedition is that we aim to fundraise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. Mind is a charity close to our hearts. Tom’s girlfriend has suffered from anxiety and eating disorders from a young age; and through my medical university experience so far the high prevalence of depression and other mental health issues has really stuck with me. Therefore as Mind is a leading charity aiming to improve the lives of people who suffer from mental health disorders, as well a charity acting to improve the public understanding of these disorders, it seemed like the natural choice. Through our cycle we are hoping to raise, as well as a great deal of money, a great deal of awareness to help remove the negative stigmatism that seems to exist around the topic of mental health issues in our society. We hope that through press coverage of our cycle in both local and national media outlets we will be able to raise awareness and get people thinking about mental health issues. How they can affect everyone, and how they are often severely debilitating and therefore need to be treated with the same respect and care as any physical ailment. Furthermore through our Europe cycle and subsequent book we were able to raise £5000 for the MS Society our aim is to double this figure for Mind and raise over £10,000.
We will fly out to Anchorage, Alaska around the 8th July, spend a couple of nights in Anchorage re-building up our bikes (as we will disassemble them for the flight) and getting adjusted to the time difference. We then will begin the cycling with some big days. There are long stretches without any villages in Alaska so we will have to carry most of our provisions with us. These first few days will be a huge shock to our bodies and some of the hardest of the trip. However after 4-5 days of circa 100 miles/day we will enter Canada. In Canada we are hoping to continue to capitalise upon the long daylight hours so that we can push big miles whilst seeing the scenery at our own sedate pace. Also we are hoping that getting in big days during this leg of our expedition will enable us to take some days off when we reach bigger cities such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. We will then hug the coast following this bike route all the way to Imperial Beach. Then on around the 10th September we will catch a plane back to the UK just before we have to start university.
Not everyone has the time to do something like this and I am very grateful and excited at the prospect of doing this cycle tour. I hope that through undertaking this expedition Tom and I will be able to help many people in the UK suffering form mental illness. I am excited at what is in store however some more planning, medical exams, and training are required before we finally depart so it is likely to be a very busy few months. However I am going to try and keep the blog updated throughout this process with updates on our preparation and planning. I am also looking into doing some blogging from the road during our journey and writing another, and hopefully much better book, when we return.
Lots of plans, lots of ideas, hopefully they will all come to fruition, and this will be an amazing summer. It will be tough but I am excited!