The Biggest Challenge of My Life

Our new guest blogger, Richard Boxhall, is preparing to cycle 5,000 miles across the USA to raise money for ShelterBox UK. Read the first of a series of blogs from Rich in the lead up to his challenge. 

In August, I will set off on the biggest challenge of my life, cycling 5,000 miles solo and unsupported ‘Corner to Corner’ of the USA. Before I leave I thought I should share some of my thoughts, fears and expectations.

The Beginning

The idea of an epic bike ride came along before the idea of the states.  Like most of my great ideas, I am sure there was beer involved in getting my creative juices flowing, but the bike ride remained as a mere seed of an idea for a year or two; as I entered my thirties it struck me that the opportunity could easily pass me by so, in the spring of 2011, I decided it was now or never and decided to take the plunge.
I soon decided that the USA was my destination.  
I chose to support the charity ShelterBox in their disaster relief efforts.  My aim is to raise sufficient funds to donate 10 complete boxes; £5,900.  ShelterBox is a charity whose work is close to my heart and values.  They provide an instant response to disasters worldwide, providing emergency shelter & lifesaving supplies to families at a time when they need it most.

Pre Match Nerves
Despite all my planning and preparations, the moment this trip really started seem a reality was when I booked my flight to Vancouver.  For me, from this point onwards there was no backing out.
When I booked the flights the only emotion I felt was excitement.  I have to be honest as time has passed by there seems to be an underlying feeling of fear and panic that is slowly growing (and every now and then rears it head…..normally when lying in bed at night!).  Is this normal or have I really bit off more than I can chew!?
Being an engineer I thought this was best presented as a graph, which shows how I expect to be feeling by 7th August!

Great Expectations

I am frequently asked about what I expect from life on the road.
The things I am looking forward to:  The food, the people, the scenery, the hills (yes, you read that right!), the freedom and watching my fundraising total creep up to my target of £5,900.
The things I am dreading: The saddle, the heat, lonely days, Kansas.
In my limited experience of travelling, cycling in particular, there are peaks and troughs.  A good day on a bike can take your breath away and leave you with a smile that will stretch from ear to ear.  However when you’re exhausted and you take a wrong turn before  getting a puncture  just as the rain starts falling you can feel like crying.  You just don’t get that emotional roller coaster on a more conventional trip and I can’t wait to get onboard.
Life on the Road
I have never done a journey of this size, the longest I have ever spent cycling is two weeks.  This time I will be spending nearly three months on the bike.  On top of that, on previous trips the short duration meant that if the going got tough then a hostel or B&B has always been an option.  A good nights sleep and dry clothes can suddenly make the world seem a better place.
In the states, I will not have the budget to dive into the nearest motel when there are a few spots of rain.  I will be camping wherever possible with cheap accommodation in the places where camping facilities are not available.
Another difference will be food.  I will not have the budget for fine dining and due to my daily exertions I will need to consume a whopping 6,000 calories a day (the average person consumes 3,000 calories per day).  I will be cooking my own food wherever possible and also stocking up on plenty of dry stores for quick and easy meals on the road.  I quite enjoy cooking, but I do not have many camping meal in my repertoire……I may be sick of cous cous by 31 October unless I get thinking!
I will be blogging on how I get on with cooking, camping and, of course cycling! Please follow my progress at or read my blog at
You can also help me hit my fundraising target for ShelterBox by donating online at

Support Richard Here

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