I took five days off and continued to glue tinsel to my crown in the big smoke. Vancouver hardly felt like a big city though, more a steady paced network of very liveable suburbs. It was great to have my first real night out in what felt like a lifetime, laughing with new friends and acting the goat. Ironically I watched a London band I’d been wanting to see for a while. I should probably get my self a Union Jack and get on the English breakfasts, though people seem to be amusingly disappointed that I drink coffee over tea. I had a visit from my Ma who was making her way over to Toronto. She booked us an air bnb pad and we spent a pretty chilled few days taking in some museums, gardens, gentle hikes and of course consuming lots of food and the impressive array of beer on offer. I was happy to connect with my dearest mother, she even indulged me in her selfie debut…

I took the scenic route out of Vancouver and headed back to the island. Right off the ferry I met Kerr who was playing some awesome tunes from a stereo on his bike, I asked if I could join him for his soundtrack and we chatted the whole way down to Victoria. He was a successful academy footballer who was destined for success but had a series of awful knee injuries leaving his knee looking pretty mangled and ending his career before it had really started. This seemed to have been a real difficult thing for him to get over but had founded a passion for yoga and was now a touring yoga teacher. We stopped and chilled, talked of football, girls, getting over his injury and his interest in bike touring. After just a few hours I felt like we’d pretty much put the world to right and he hooked me up with a yoga studio in Seattle and I hoped I’d inspired him to start travelling with his bike. Making such an immediate connection was such a special thing about travelling this way but it was also a shame these connections were so short lived. He invited me to stay but I had already made arrangements. Jean put me up whom I had met on the road a month earlier, I was delighted that she had been following my plight and invited me around. She took me on a great whistlestop tour, thanks Jean, of Victoria from where I could see the Olympic peninsula of Washington under the clouds. I passed back into the states with the friendly welcoming of U.S. customs. Without asking an officer pulled off my bags and acquainted himself with my meagre possessions as I bit my tongue . I continued down whidbey Island, notably drier than the other islands and beautiful despite being dominated by the presence of the American military. Anita adopted me and a Swiss family who were ever so impressed with my Bern velokurier shirt, a gift from Tyler, Howdy and Taro.

I was excited to hit Seattle, a good friend lived there and It’s home to my favourite singer songwriter, setting of the greatest bromance film and Fraisure of course. Apparently cycle friendly I got stuck on the highway heading into town and my experience of American drivers did not get off to a good start. A guy in a huge truck towing a boat, cap flipped backwards called me a dickwad for passing him. I laughed so hard as he pulled off bemused at my reaction. Moments later I couldn’t believe my eyes as I caught sight of Mt Rainer hovering over the city, an unreal sight which had me struggling to keep my eyes on the road. My friend Emily showed me around town and we had fun by the water, chatting away and playing in the park. I stayed with Lucie, a best friends sister on the otherside of town, who tried in vain to get me on the local news. She put me up with the hospitality I was getting used to and it was great to have some off road connection. I enjoyed the hills, water and parks of the city and wanted to stay a while, chill, catch some films, hang in the bike kitchen, check out some record shops, stalk Jurado and play some football.

A cycle tourer I had met days earlier said we were a lot like fish. Awesome when fresh but started to go bad after 3 days. I wearily endeavoured to move onwards but for the first time felt somewhat empty about jumping from place to place, making connections and leaving again. After having a great time since my trip started this hit me out of the blue. The suburbs of the city didn’t help, dreary and lifeless, devoid of energy or friendliness. A dog chased me and snapped at my ankles and I felt a distinct longing for the comforting arms of the premier league, a metaphor for home. Despite being a lover of city life and the amenities the coldness of it felt apparent. The nature of city life doesn’t lend itself well to bike tourers absent of plans, two hour impromptu conversation and gentle reflection I had been enjoying with country folk over the last two months. I started to wonder where I would find the energy to propel myself after trying and failing to leave town. I figured I needed a proper break, find somewhere for more than a few nights, recharge and pursue other things. Fortunately Portland seemed like it would suit me just fine and was just three days away. After my first attempt to leave failed, Emily picked me up and brushed me down. I then caught up with the Villa in an Irish pub, buoyed on by fellow claret and blue shirts, our upbeat reaction to a narrow loss, a unique attitude here. The ability to find positivity in defeat reminded me of what I was good at. Irish pubs. Never a first choice, nothing to write home about but impeccably solid and dependable. What a humble, great global institution.