Written by Jen Offord


Burn in the USA

Standard Issue’s former couch potato turned sportsaholic Jen Offord has taken her bike Beyoncé on a crackers 2,500-mile ride across the USA. This week in the land of peanut butter, her arse might be sore but her soul is brave.

Jen on her bikeAnother couple of weeks have passed and my journey has been nothing if not eventful. We’ve endured dislocated fingers, minor traffic incidents, trucks that look like Optimus Prime but are considerably less socially conscious, and some quite seriously wrong turns.

America remains strange to me. I’ve discovered I’m actually far more ignorant to its political system, history and general culture than I’d realised. I’m genuinely surprised by a lot of the things I’ve seen, like the level of deprivation in some areas. I’m genuinely surprised when I talk to people about guns (“Perhaps it seems archaic to have access to guns on the basis that it was written into our constitution hundreds of years ago to protect ourselves from our abhorrent feudal overlords [the English]?” Weeeeeell, I didn’t want to say anything…).

sign at entrance to Blue Ridge ParkwaySo far this trip is so many things, and I’ll be honest, not all of them great. And though it is many positive things too, it’s not what I would describe as an outright hoot. So I try to weigh up the pros and cons: I can eat all the things god intended me to: maple syrup; all the peanut butter in the world, and three courses for breakfast (fellow diners actually stare at me, and I’m in AMERICA for fuck’s sake) – I’m not on my mate Nicola’s hypothetical Jimmy Spices dream team for nothing, you know.

On the downside, my arse is almost droid-like: I’ll never be able to show it to anyone ever again because of the leathery bands I fear will be left by the constant wear and tear. Also, my left knee might be about to fall off.

“Among variations on ‘You’re clearly insane’ and ‘I’ll pray for you’, there’s a common reaction to my journey and it’s: ‘You’re brave’.”

I have met some awesome women, though: Mari who co-runs a brewery; Jill who reads my blog and gave us a place to stay in Washington DC; Pat who also gave us a place to stay when her husband found us lost somewhere outside Charlottesville (and then tried to give us all the peanut butter in the world); and Marlyn, a lady pastor in Richmond, Virginia, who thinks Jesus thought women were cool and doesn’t understand why other people don’t, too.

View from Rock Point OverlookAmong variations on “You’re clearly insane” and “I’ll pray for you”, there’s a common reaction to my journey and it’s: “You’re brave”. Again, I don’t know if this is because I’m a woman, but the interesting thing is that another common reaction is, “I couldn’t do it.”

Road sign reading 'Welcome Cyclists'So I’ve decided I am actually quite brave and indeed a bit crazy, because it is hard and it is scary sometimes, but I don’t understand why people keep telling me they couldn’t do it. Let’s be clear: I have never carried an actual human being in my womb for nine months then pushed it into the world through my foof. I have never cared for a poorly relative. I have never been emotionally or financially responsible for another person, small animal or even a pot plant. I have never run a business. I have never cured an illness, successfully campaigned to change the law or hold mega-douche bags accountable for wrong-doings. I’m just cycling up some hills, which really isn’t that remarkable when you think about it like that. So my point is: you’re brilliant – even if you don’t have an arse like a robot.


Jen could gen up on her US politics by reading Hannah Dunleavy’s fortnightly reports on the US primaries: check out Donkeys and Elephants and learn how (hilariously) batshit the whole process is.

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Written by Jen Offord

Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen