35 year-old photographer, Micah from Edinburgh is undertaking a cycling challenge of a lifetime, with the aim of raising £15,000 for Anthony Nolan – the charity that saved his mum’s life.
I became aware of Anthony Nolan at the age of 15, after my mum was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLC). She battled through eight years of chemotherapy before Anthony Nolan found a matching stem cell donor in 2006, which saved her life.
Six years later, I lost a close university friend, Tom, to leukaemia. Despite having an identical twin, he was unable to find a match and died at the age of 30.
Tom’s loss, after my mum’s survival, was extremely difficult to deal with. His death was perhaps instrumental in my forming a deep association with the charity.
As a huge fan of outdoor adventure, I am also always up for a personal challenge and so last year I decided I would embark on my biggest adventure yet – to cycle west to east across the USA to raise £15,000 for Anthony Nolan.
Riding for life
The TransAmerica trail was formed in the 1970s to encourage exploration of the country on bike, and has recently developed into a long-distance endurance race, the TransAM, which takes place in June. The race runs from Astoria, OR and finishes in Yorktown, VA, some 4228 miles later. Passing through the Rockies, it routes through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, including the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, the Great Plains and the Appalachian Mountains.
I am following the route and aim to complete my ride in around five weeks, cycling 120 to 150 miles a day.
Like the racers, I will be doing this route unsupported, carrying everything I need with me on my bike. I plan to camp most of the time, staying in campsites where possible, or out in the wild when safe. The hardest part has been getting used to the repetitive long days on the bike in spite of arduous preparation training in Scotland.
I began my journey on September 3rd and hope to be finished around mid October. I was very apprehensive about what lay ahead, knowing that I was about to do something life-changing that I would remember for the rest of my life!
From the road
I write this having completed 19 days of my great adventure. The first week took me from the Pacific across the flat farmlands of Oregon and into the Rockies and Hell’s Canyon, which was pretty apt owing to the stifling heat. There I spent the morning with 1,500 road bikers who were enjoying Oregon Cycling’s annual weekend away – it made for some nice company.
During my travels I’ve seen some beautiful sights and met some wonderful people. I have also been tested to my physical limits, battling head winds and heat. The trail through the next state, Idaho, proved to be as demanding as Oregon, including a 10 mile slog of 7% gradient but the views of the rolling countryside and the extent of wilderness were amazing.
On Day 11 I made it into Montana with good weather although this was followed by a thunderstorm the next day! Montana is stunningly beautiful but three passes with an ascent of 1,674m took their toll on my legs, so I had one short day to rest up. Just as well, because the next day I battled strong headwinds but the amazing views were a welcome distraction…..and so on into Wyoming!
Sometimes the passes can be easier to tackle than unrelenting headwinds, again encountered all afternoon whilst making for Jeffrey City, but that half way marker is getting ever closer!