We caught up with Pauline Symaniak for a follow-up article to May’s interview, detailing her travels in North America with her riding companion, her bike Shirley. Previously Pauline had described being caught in an earthquake in Chile, the parades and festivals on the streets of Bolivia and, of course, the arduous task of crossing South America on a push bike.
Pauline spent five years raising the necessary funds for the trip and is being sponsored on her journey with the proceeds going to Oxfam. You can donate here. She is now travelling the USA with Shirley and friend/base camp manager, Graham.
Graham explained her route from her current position in Michigan, where she has just boarded the steamship SS Badger to take her across the Michigan lake:-“We are roughly travelling the Trans America Northern Tier cycle route to Seattle, Washington”. This means dealing with six other States including the Rocky Mountains in Montana and Idaho.
From there it’s a flight to New Zealand for the final leg of the journey some time in September, and a chance to return to Edinburgh to reflect on her long but unforgettable journey.
Pauline said:- “I still love every day, I am never weary of new places and new people.” Over the routes Pauline has covered, new people are one of the greatest points of interest. Of course it is, many travellers would argue, the only way to truly get to know a country.
When asked what the best thing about the adventure was she replied:- “The discovery of the overwhelming kindness of strangers, and that most people in the world are good people: the strangers who put me up for the night, the people who stop for a chat or come over to say hello, the well-wishers every step of the way. We see so much bad stuff on TV, but I feel I’m finding the good stuff in the world.”
Pauline remarked on how both North and South Americans have been incredibly supportive so far:- “I think the Argentinians and the Americans are waging a contest to win the ‘nicest people on the planet’ award.”
The change between the rough but unspoilt roads of South America with the paved highways of the USA was a notable one, but each brings their own set of pleasures. “I miss the camaraderie of the road in South America, the friendly toots from truck drivers or a wave from a motorcyclist.”
However North America’s roads offer something very different; with Pauline describing it as “a milkshake opportunity at every junction.”
Pauline still has three months left of cycling across the US but remains upbeat, and despite enjoying herself too much to miss Edinburgh, she says she does think of home a lot. “I imagine the day I roll back into town, maybe go for a ride to Holyrood or a walk along the beach. I’ve cycled in three continents, in ten countries, but there’s no place like Portobello”.