gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

A Gradult Abroad: Cycling the USA

For the first in our series 'A Gradult Abroad' (click here to see the introduction), Dave Procter writes about his time in America:

'Gradult life for me started in 2009 graduating with a 2.1 in Spanish and Geography. The ability to speak a language and having already lived abroad in South America during my degree, combined with a dwindling supply of jobs in a recession hit Britain proved the perfect combination for my next adventure. I decided to return to South America with the British Council Language Assistant scheme. I worked in CalĂ­, Colombia’s third city, famous for salsa, a perfect climate and best of all, beautiful women, but also and rather unfortunately, drugs. When my contract expired in June I had a plan to cycle through Central America to the USA, but that fell through for a variety of reasons. The substitute? Cycling coast to coast across the USA instead.

Before I knew it, I was with a friend in Los Angeles, dipping my feet in the Pacific Ocean, nervously excited at the prospect of 4,000 miles of cycling ahead of me, and nonchalantly failing to think about my one 40 mile “practice” ride in the Peak District. Not to worry I thought, being 23 and fairly fit. My memory then skips to the Sierra Nevada Mountains outside the sprawling metropolis of L.A cramped over my handlebars, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. I was no longer under any illusions as to what lay ahead of me, it was the hottest US summer on record, I’d spent the previous month on the sofa watching the World Cup, and I was about to cross the world’s third biggest country on a push-bike.

What was to follow is impossible to condense into a few hundred words, but our route took us through the Nevada Desert (with a stop in Vegas…), and then to stunning Utah and the Rocky Mountains, before heading east. At times, we were cycling in 46°C heat and having to drink 15 litres of water a day, whilst passing through deep canyons and up 9,000ft passes with 40 mile ascents.

Eating being a very social occasion in America, and having to eat 6,000 calories a day, provided ample opportunity to meet these people, so often derided as fat, ignorant and stupid. Fat they maybe, but I cannot begin to put into words how a nation of people won me over. Friendliness and hospitality that you could only dream of provided us with food, shelter and even alcohol in every one of the 13 states we passed through, come rain or shine, all from complete strangers.

Americans are vehemently proud of their country, and so they should be with the sheer scale and beauty of national parks such as Yellowstone, and the obvious obstacles overcome when settling in harsh environments such as the Wild West. After 10 weeks of averaging close to 70 miles a day and with most of my body weight now in my calves, I cycled over the George Washington Bridge to see the New York skyline. I felt my achievement matched the end location, a place that defines so many of the founding principles of this divisive, but never the less, spectacular and awe-inspiring country.

I’d met Americans of all dispositions, just about all wonderful people, and seen more than most of them will ever see of their own country. Put simply, I’d had the best summer of my life. Looking back now, if Britain had been booming in 2009 with jobs aplenty, would I be sat in an office being barracked about achieving company targets? Or would I be planning my return to Colombia with the memories of a lifetime, and a real achievement to put on my CV? Who knows…'

To read more about Dave's adventures, click here, or visit

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Dave, Just read some more your blog, brilliant!