Rhino Cam 18: USA (Albuquerque, NM to Tampa, FL)

We are nearly there! Less than a week to go to Miami and life on the bike is pretty relaxed at the moment. Florida, ‘the sunshine state’, is really living up to its name. It comes as a welcome change from a relentless schedule that took us from Albuquerque, all the way across Texas and into the Deep South. We’ve been chased down the road by polar vortexes in Texas, navigated the swamps of Louisiana, nipped through the conservative heartlands of Mississippi and Alabama and finally come out the other side on the warm, sunny coastline of Florida.

With short days and long nights, our routine has at times been a struggle. Cycling non-stop from dawn till dusk for weeks at a time and enduring the long cold nights with little more than a service station and a Pizza Hut for entertainment has really tested our team spirit. However, when we have escaped the fast food outlets we’ve discovered some lovely people serving up the best food we’ve had on the trip.

Texas was bitterly cold at times and some days we literally couldn’t stop for a break because our core temperature would just plummet. It was a relief to get to Austin where we sheltered from the cold and the wet and explored the thriving music scene, coffee shops and bike shops. But as soon as we settled, we were off again on a week long mission to New Orleans, where we did our best to stay awake long enough to see the best of the infamous music/party scene. Since arriving on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, winter has gradually receded and we’ve been whisking along white sandy beaches with alluring turquoise waters.

In Florida life on the bike has been improving by the day. The coastal scenery of the Florida ‘panhandle has been beautiful and it’s been a pleasure to see so much wildlife that is actually alive rather than a squishy mess on the side of the road. We’ve swum with manatees, leapt into fresh water springs and gazed in awe at the enormous pelicans cruising along inches above the surface of the water.

The american hospitality has ben second to none. Nick took us to see our first american football game in Tallahassee (Seminoles vs The Gators) and Tom and Cheryl picking us up in a bar to take us out on their boat to swim with manatees. Both experiences we won’t forget in a hurry, so thank you.

As Johan has already mentioned, our heads are all over the place at the moment with the end of the trip in sight. We’re so excited about the prospect of completing this challenge, but at the same time wary about what happens next. I currently struggle to envisage life out of the saddle, as I have become so used to this routine and enjoy the simple feeling of hopping on the bike and heading to the next port of call, where ever it may be. But it is definitely time for a change and I cannot wait to get home for Christmas. I look forward to seeing many of you shortly.