East London Photographic Studio

We love cycling here at Motel. Our cycling team does regular rides around England and abroad (In fact some of the team are riding in Majorca as I type!) as well as the daily commute to the Motel office. However, Peter Gorman took it a little further than the rest of us. After deciding it was time for a challenge, he set himself quite the target. I'll leave this image below to illustrate just how much of a challenge he gave himself...

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And for those of us who sometimes forget just how huge the US is, remember that the total land area of the UK could fit into the US around 38 times. 38. A serious undertaking for someone who wasn't a full fledged cyclist before starting. On September 12th, Peter finally completed his massive undertaking after clocking up a massive 11,447 miles over a year, and we've been following his journey through his Instagram account @400closeups. He's been pumping out beautiful and inspiring images, which have made us want to trade our London commutes, for the stretching roads around the US.  So now he's got used to not having to get up everyday and blast through landscapes, I thought it was time to ask him a couple questions about his trip.

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Why did you decide to do this trip? How long did you plan, and did you find your planning worked out in real life?

This is definitely the most common question I'm asked, and the most difficult one to answer. I can say that I've always wanted to cross the country by bicycle, and my life got to a point where I was ready for a challenge and adventure. I brought this crazy idea of a one-year bicycle trip up to some friends and family, and they were all supportive. That's when I decided to just go for it. 
I only gave myself six weeks to plan, which was a crazy, hectic time. I actually stayed pretty close to my route outline, but my daily mileage was way more than I had anticipated.

What was the hardest part of the journey? Be it physically or emotionally...

My biggest challenges were all mental. You have to learn how to deal with loneliness, because it's pretty common. You have to learn how to be comfortable around strangers, and even ask them for help, because the trip will be pretty miserable otherwise. You have to become OK with uncertainty, like not knowing where you will sleep every night. It took me a while to realize that all these challenges were the most valuable parts of the trip.
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What were the obvious culture changes between States?

I didn't experience major culture shock, but there are some small differences, mostly regarding friendliness, warmth, sarcasm, etc. The funny thing is that everyone says, "Watch out for people in the next state."

What were you're top three highlights of the trip?

This is tough, but off the top of my head, I'll say Washington State, West Texas, and the province of Quebec.

Why did you decide to document your trip through close up photographs on instagram?

I wanted a simple way to share the trip with people who wouldn't necessarily be reading every single blog post. The "closeups" idea was inspired by a conversation with my sister-in-law. She thought I should photograph one specific thing all year.
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Were there any unexpected problems/ What would you do differently next time?

During my first few weeks, I struggled a lot with bike mechanics. I actually didn't know anything when I left -- not even how to change a flat tire. After days and weeks of riding, though, I ended up learning a lot, and actually swapping out some of my tools and equipment for better stuff.

What bike and equipment did you use? What was the most useful?

I rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker (named Franny), and all my gear was stored in four Ortlieb panniers. My tent was a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2, which left me enough room to store my belongings at night. I couldn't be happier with all of it.
The most useful piece of equipment I picked up was a frame pump. I bought it in the fourth month, and I can't believe I lasted that long without a solid pump.
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Whats the routine day to day when riding that far? How many hours riding etc

My typical routine was to wake up early, eat breakfast, blog about my previous day, and then hit the road by 8 or 9am. I'd cycle about 5 or 6 hours total, with one or two (or three or four) meal breaks in between. I never ever biked after dark.

Advice for people who want to do a similar trip?

Just go for it. You won't regret it.

Whats next for you? Are you planning anything similar?

One of my favorite parts of the experience was blogging every day, so I have an idea for a new blog that I'll launch within the next month or so. Once I settle somewhere, I'll become a host for other travelers using Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. And I'll keep biking
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Well it's quite the trip and I'm sure he has plenty of stories to tell for years to come. We hope this has inspired you to get out on your bike, even if its just around your local park. Thanks to Peter for taking that time to answer these questions and we wish him all the best for his future plans!

To read and see more about the trip, visit his website here.

All images courtesy of Peter Gorman/Pack & Pedal

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