Adventure: it's like riding a bike

2013-02-15 12:47

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Sean Hutchinson is a cyclist who seems to enjoy the sport to a rather large degree - proven by a pedal across most of the US and a successful attempt at riding the Cape Argus, on a BMX no less.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of getting into some extreme travel let his most recent 3 500km cycle trip from Yorktown, Virginina to Puebl, Colorado be the Jeb Corliss soundtrack to grinding your cycling adventure.

The inspiration

An adventure racer since 2006, with his longest race being the 7-day non-stop Bull of Africa in 2008, Sean is the first person to admit his sporting aspirations often take on I-am-a- bit-of-an-idiot proportions. Who does a marathon in a jean pant? Sean does.

But if anything his nomadic lifestyle is never dull.

Having moved to the US in May 2012, a flight back from South Africa dished up a huge serving of inspiration in the form of the Ride the Divide documentary. It’s about a mountain bike race traversing the US from the north to south, through the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains.

“When I moved over things didn't exactly work out as planned. I was meant to live in New York City but instead I ended up moving up to northern Vermont and found a job at a seasonal holiday resort. While I was up there the urge to explore the rest of the country grew.

Gearing up...

Sean decided to put his own spin on the Ride the Divide race when an opportunity to visit friends in the skiing town of Breckenridge in the Colorado Rockies came up.

“As a joke I said I would ride my bicycle over to visit them. This idea took and after a bit of research it became feasible. It also meant I’d get to spend the winter learning to snowboard.

For Sean he route decision was an easy one. The Adventure Cycling Association of America has documented various routes across the USA and they sell maps specifically for cyclists.

“The Trans America bike route, took me near my destination, although I did deviate from the route a fair amount.

Favourite pit stops along the way

“The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is an amazing high-level road with spectacular views. It is on the Appalachian Mountains and the Appalachian Trail crosses it a few times. I also got to camp on the Appalachian trail.

“Bardstown, Kentucky, the home of the Bourbon Trail. Let's just say the following day was a really tough ride.

“Cape Girardeau, Missouri was another highlight. It's a college town on the Mississippi River. Here I ended up couch surfing and having a pretty good unexpected party on Halloween.

“Wichita, Kansas: We stopped here after a 250km day on the bike and took the following day off and explored to city with some local cyclists.

Allen keying the specs

As with any kind of extreme sports attempt, training and the equipment is essential. Not to mention that all important saddle.  As a regular cyclist he already puts in a lot of weekly time on the bike.

“Ahead of a big trip I recommend upping your mileage and carrying extra weight with each training session.

“It’s important to be specific when it comes to equipment. I had a fair amount of stuff already from my previous adventure racing, but with the help of an awesome sponsor, I was able to put together the stuff I did not have.

If you’re just starting out check Sean's blog for a rather final and fairly comprehensive adventure cyclist's kit list.

“Most cyclists would say my choice of bike was very silly. I used my dual suspension mountain bike with knobbly tyres. Most would use a road bike or touring bike with skinny tyres and no suspension. However, I have no regrets. I didn't have one puncture and I was comfortable the whole ride. Saddle choice is pretty important, I used the saddle that I have used for three years, which is the same saddle I have on three of my bikes. As skinny as it looks, it is really comfortable for me.

Is bespoke adventure cycling for you?

The most important thing is a sense of adventure and a strong mind when attempting something like this, according to Sean.

“I ended up staying with a bunch of people along the way who have done similar rides. Every single person had amazing things to say about their ride. I guess there were a few times on the ride where it took a lot to push through the day.

“Essentially, you don't need to be an idiot and ride across a country like me. Go for a day ride near your house– who knows what you will find.”

Currently living in Dubai, Sean s next big adventure is a 4x4 trip from Cape Town to London – Subscribe to his blog to keep up to date.

Read more on:    adventure  |  cycling  |  travel international

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