On a long trip like this not every leg can be fantastic and so it will not come as a total surprise that these last 5 weeks of cycling have not exactly been the highlight of my trip. My personal conclusion is that the US is not the greatest country for cycling. I have cycled several months each over Europe, Australia, NZ, Japan and Korea and each country has been better for cycling than the US. Why? Let me explain my evaluation:
On this bike trip in the US I faced two situations:
|Sign on Hwy 50|
2. You are in a more populated area with busier roads (like California): The traffic is really bad here, basically because the average American driver is not used to cyclists and has no clue what they are doing. Nobody looks over their shoulder when doing a turn to look out for cyclists. People do not know the dimensions of their vehicles when they pass you on a narrow road. Especially dangerous are seniors in their oversized American RV's pulling their car behind them and double-trailer mining truck who pass you at 70 mile per hour. Most young drivers think it is fun to honk or yell obscenities at you while they pass you. Also the camping situation gets really bad once you are out of public land. Everything is fenced in with hundreds of "No trespassing" signs making camping a real problem.
I have experienced bad traffic in other countries as well but I have always felt that it is "worth" it - like in Japan where I cycled from temple to castle and even the little villages where fascinating. Here there was not really much to "see" en route. The scenery in the Great Basin was fascinating, but did not change for days... and the towns were pretty desolate. In Europe or Japan there were all these nice little stops to check out a church or interesting building - but here there was only sagebrush and fast food restaurants....(Ok, I might be exaggerating a bit here....Salt Lake City has definitely been a highlight.) Also, as I have written in an earlier post the combination between cycling and hiking did not work out very well either.
But before I start my next outdoor adventure in Australia I hope to spend some leisurely days in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sydney.