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It's now been 2 weeks since I've landed in the US. So far I've had a great time. I started off in Orange County with family friends Sue, Bob & Spencer and relaxed, did some shopping, bike riding and learnt the rules of American football. Somehow I've adopted the Packers as my team, but they lost so that's a bit sad!

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Four days later Sue & Bob were kind enough to drive me south to Borrego Springs for a week of training with the UCLA cycling team. It was awesome! I've never done so much climbing in my life, it reminded me of riding in East Timor except colder and the roads were a lot nicer, plus it involved less saddle sores! Winning!

Here's the sort of scenery we got to experience, every day:
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And another:
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My weekly total got to 540.4km, 21hrs 21min, 8,072m of climbing. A nice start to 2014! The UCLA guys are an awesome bunch and I'm looking forward to traveling with the team in Feb to collegiate races. Memorable moments were basically every time we got to the top of a hill, losing Matt multiple times and hearing he had managed to step on a cactus during a ride, watching Blake and Cade jump in the freezing cold pool and learning new phrases like 'swoop swoop', 'duuuuuuude', 'being a Fred' (aka Hubbard) and 'railing'. Riding on the wrong side of the road was sketchy at first and descending was even worse, but I think I've got the hang of it now... Let's hope so!

Matt with his Bruin chips:
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I'm now staying in my main base for the next 9 weeks, which is the Palazzo Apartment complex in Westwood. It's a pretty ritzy place with a gym that has a rock climbing wall and offers classes including yoga and pilates- all complimentary... Yeah life's not too hard!

I haven't got an internship yet, but I'm really enjoying the extra day or two off. Today UCLA cycling buddy Cade was nice enough to take me for a ride around Hollywood and even had the patience to let me take toursity photos. We even got to ride down the main drag past the walk of fame.

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Still figuring out the coffee situation. It's messed up! A standard American coffee is a long black, cappuccinos usually don't have chocolate sprinkled on top, and a flat white is just steamed milk!!! Cade took me to 'Coffee and Food' today which is a really cool, hipster-esque cafe, started by an Aussie from Port Macquarie. I got to meet her & say hullo. The coffee was good, it wasn't the best I've ever had, but it's definitely the best I've had so far in the US!

Some little things I've noticed (apart from the coffee) so far are:

-Americans are crazy drivers. They don't like using their blinkers for changing lanes. We almost got hit 5 times coming back from Borrego Springs... And that was driving defensively.

-Americans are sticklers for rules. J-walking, parking... I feel as though we are a lot more relaxed in Australia. I was told the attitude here is if you break the law someone will sue you!

-Everyone seems to have an opinion, and people really care about politics. I was asked who I support- Abbott or Gillard. My response of 'to be honest I don't really care that much' was greeted by surprise. I also had to google who the current Labour party leader is...

-They don't know much about Australia apart from kangaroos and so-called 'drop bears'.

Drop bears... Seriously!?
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-Filtered water is big here- everyone drinks filtered water. Whatever happened to plain ol' tap water? Also kettles are non-existent. Lisa my roommate has been boiling water on the stove for her morning cup of tea... haha...

-Eskies are 'coolers', take-away is 'to-go' and jumpers are 'sweaters'

But overall they're super friendly and love Australians! That's it for the first instalment. I do miss my family and friends and my dog... But I'm surrounded by such great people at the moment and have already made really good friends, and I'm having a ball! Over the next couple of weeks: Stagecoach 165km century ride with Sue, Disneyland with the Sydney + WA Uni crew, starting classes at uni and starting my internship (company TBC)... Fun times ahead!

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