After 46 days, 11 states and punctures, David Mole is back on British soil after an epic cycle ride across America.
David, from Doddington, clocked up a mammoth 3,500 miles as he went from San Francisco to Washington DC in to raise money for Acorns Children’s Hospice, near Birmingham.
He has hours of stories, from Walmarts with parking for Amish buggies to tornadoes in Indiana and Independence Day in Chicago.
“The Americans were extremely friendly,” he said, “a lot more than I was expecting. And they were very generous.”
But it was not all friendly Americans and beautiful scenery. David had only two rest days and the rest of the time cycled between 65 and 120 miles per day. Sometimes he went 100 miles without seeing anyone else and it was difficult mentally and physically to keep going.
“It was very hard having to get up each day and cycle. Once I stopped, it was hard to get back on. There were very long days. If I hadn’t been doing it for charity, I think I would have stopped.”
David has fantastic memories of his journey but picks one out as a highlight: “I was in Wyoming and I got to a series of mountains called the Sisters. It took me four hours to get up the first one. There were lorries going five miles per hour, that’s how steep it was. I had to cycle because my bike was actually too heavy to push. When I got to the top, it was the best feeling in the world, it was amazing.”
But David’s most humorous stories came from the people he met along the way. He said everywhere he went, people were asking him about Prince William and Kate’s eagerly awaited baby.
“I didn’t really take too much notice of it before I went, but people were asking me whether I knew them. By the end, I was telling people I did, just to amuse myself, and they were asking me what they’re going to call the baby!”
One of the things David had been worried about was getting too close to the local wildlife – namely snakes and bears. He even armed himself with a can of bear spray.
But his fears were unfounded and he only saw one snake. He did spot two zebras, on an estate in the middle of nowhere in Indiana, and there was plenty of roadkill along the roads, as well as huge vultures circling overhead.
As a massive fan of The West Wing, David had wanted to visit The White House when he reached Washington DC, but tours are no longer being given. So he contacted the British Embassy and they were delighted to show him around their Washington base. He met Colonel Fred Hargreaves and the head of politics in the grand setting, although he was disappointed not to get a cup of tea.
David has already raised more than £1,200 and his employer, Aviva, has promised to match his fundraising. He is planning to continue fundraising to reach £3,000.
“I want to give a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me,” David said.
• If you would like to donate, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidMole1