Look mum no hands!

Elly goes west

Old Street chef Elly Watson announced she’s leaving to cycle from New York to San Francisco.

Come again?

“I was sat in the British Library around September last year looking at some obscure Russian art stuff and suddenly thought; “What the f*ck am I doing?”. I felt very much like I’ve been stuck in a library for a long time…. I’d done a four year undergrad and then a Masters. I’m so young and my body is like mush”

I felt like a marshmallow

She went home and spoke to her mum.
“Picture yourself in a happy place where are you?” (Her mum’s a massive hippy)
“I’m cycling Mum...”
“That’s great, where are you?”
“I’m in AMERICA!”
“OK. Go cycling there then.”

A recent graduate from Courtauld, Elly described the other students as high achieving, with an immediate plan once they’d finished. But she didn’t know what she wanted to do. “My lovely hippy mum was like, don’t worry about it, do what you want.”

It was then that she decided to cycle across America. Booking the tickets there and then. Early and cheap. But now the time has rolled around. Leaving on the 1st September until the 1st December.

“It’s quite a long time. I think I’ll need it. I’m not actually that good at cycling.”


Itinerary. In case you were up for a sleepover. #ellygoeswest

A photo posted by Elly Watson (@ellygoeswest) on

The Route

So it’s New York and then going across... seems simple enough she muses. A flaky model friend is joining her. Although, at the moment, the journey is planned as a solo trip (*Edit* She's going solo). A few friends might join in along the way...Which will be nice, variety, the spice of life. Using the American Cycling Association, she’s pieced together five of their cycle trails to create a route. Avoiding super highways.



Miles per day?

Wing it?

“From my google mapping, it told me I only needed to do; three hours a day, for three months, every day, and I’ll make it across. I’m aiming for anywhere between 30/60 miles per day.”

The bike

She’s never cycled on the bike she’s taking…

“It’s my friend Chris's bike. He cycled around the world on it and lent it to me. Dave’s been sprucing it up.” Mechanic Dave (pictured below) has been fixing up Elly’s bike and has been despairing more and more...

“I ask “What about this?” and he’s like “How do you not know?”.
Dace: “Two weeks. Two weeks Elly. I’m just worried about the things you don’t know how to do.”

It’s going to be alright she says, with a chipper smile. I can do punctures and we’re going to do Bike Maintenance 101.

How will it get there?

Virgin Atlantic do not charge for sports equipment! Get in. You can take your suitcase and your bike for no fee. A bike shop will have to help get it reassembled when she arrives.“It’s going to be a steep learning curve. I’m very grateful for any advice - also - I’ll just have to see once I get there.”

I think I’m going to have good days and bad days

Elly’s Grandad does a lot of cycling. She asked him for his number 1 piece of advice: “Pack a snack that you don’t like what it tastes of. So you won’t just eat it because you’re bored and it’s a tasty treat. You’ll only eat it when you’re really starving”

So maybe really dry biscuits or something like that? The aim is to buy food as she travels across.

“I want to eat a lot of cherry pie.”

Eileen Sheridan gave a talk after the screening of “Come on Eileen” at Mare Street and revealed that she ate chicken legs for her slog from Lands End to John O'Groats. Modifying her jersey to carry them while she cycled. Cyclists don’t always want to have to eat energy bars and gels. They can and will eat what they want!

Any plans for when you get there?

“I’ll be really surprised if I make it”.

So if you don’t?

“Ahh I’ll get on a greyhound bus, it’s alright.”

It’s not the end goal, it’s just an adventure, it’s all about the journey.

“I’ll be cheering if I get there…my brother wanted to cycle around the world. He was going to cycle to the Philippines. He made it to Cologne, and just set up shop in a really nice artists residence. It’s a bit of an ongoing joke in the family that he got about 500 kilometres away and packed it in.“

I’m ill-prepared, inexperienced, and ill-advised.

Now the proud owner of an iphone. The first one in her life. Elly will capture her adventure and share it on her instagram account @ellygoeswest
Join us in supporting her and her mad, inspiring, courageous, and inexperienced cycling adventure.

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