Back when music was good and thoughts of nuclear annihilation was dinner party conversation, there was progressive rock and concept albums. I have a sneaky suspicion that the average attention span was longer back then. A three album live offering featuring tracks that stretched close to 20 minutes did not feel too taxing for my teenage self. You set aside close to 2 hours whilst you did your chemistry and physics homework, and away you went on a musical journey.
Now one of the things that you will notice on those live albums, in between the 15 minute drum solos, is the crowd. You had sleeve notes and artwork with these vinyl masterpieces and the mob going crazy is in New York. American crowds did that, and still do that. There would be a couple of guys shouting ” Albatross ” in reference to a Python sketch on the tracks recorded in London but that would be it. America does enthusiasm, and has a limit set high on self-conscious and embarrassment that makes the rest of the world look reserved, timid even.
After nearly 27,000 miles on the road we are tired. That is 31 rides Lands End to John O’Groats back to back for goodness sake. We needed people pulling over, getting out of their cars and shouting ” Your awesome!!! “. It had to be a ride back in the USA for our final year, we needed an American crowd this time.
The bikes have had their brushes with baggage handlers and scrapes down gnarly brickwork and looked tired. Bits that go round had been doing that for ages and needed replacing. The Big Agnes tent was showing it’s age, waterproofs and tyres were on their last legs and other things we were just bored with. Almost everything we needed had changed in the 3 and a bit years we have been on the road. Shimano does not produce the gear system and hubs we set out with and Schwalbe has dropped the tyres and even my favorite underwear is different now.
The geese started to fly north in wide V-shaped skeins as the days lengthened and temperatures picked up. It snowed again. We tried out new bits of kit and some of it worked. We renovated things and washed and dried everything that did not have a care label telling you not to. Some new things worked – mud flaps for the bikes, and some we could not work with – Quietstove. Lots of our kit is still with us just to see how long you can use it before it falls apart. My Rapha shorts have exceeded all of my wildest expectations and are still on the team.
So, it is time to ride out of the garage here in Catonsville and down the coast to pick up the Trans-America bike route. We have been guests of Amy and Jerry Newman who have treated us like family and are now very much part of ‘ Team Sportswool ‘. If you want to see what it is like to ride across the USA, then join the blog by clicking on the button towards the top left of the page. If you have been with us before, you know the routine.