Ride across America

Friday, December 12th, 2008 @ %I:%M %p | Cycling

dussel.jpgThis used to be a longtime dream: cycling from coast to coast. A discussion on BikeJournal.com brought it back to mind where “CyclingRev” posted that he was about to complete his 2nd crossing of the year and his 16th in total. This crossing he rode from Seattle, WA to Washington DC or 4023 miles in 62 days. A local newspaper along the way gave this report: http://www.times-news.com/archivesearch/local_story_231095336.html.

For years I dreamt of doing this once and here is this person posting he’s about done with his second this year and the 16th since 1993 and so I posted in the discussion thread that “I am completely impressed.” And I am. I can imagine one year doing this but as “sbrstlouis” posted: “Crossing the US is a great feat, but once you’ve done it, move on.”

Anyways, this all did drag me into some wonderful daydreaming. I first heard about, read about cycling across the US in 1983 when at the Technical University Twente in Enschede, The Netherlands. On campus was a tea-cafe with a small library where I spent many evenings reading through their cartoon collection. One evening I stumbled upon a book by Wim Dussel, “Wat heb ik nou aan m’n fiets hangen?”, an account of his participation in the Bikecentennial in 1976 celebrating the USA’s 200th anniversary: “The adventure of six Dutch, five American and three Australian cyclists from a group of 2000 who trekked by bicycle nearly 7000 kilometers through ten of the united states of America.”

Years later I re-found this book in a secondhand store. It has been one of my favorite ones since having read it about 5 or 6 times. I just brought it down from a box in the attic and am happily leaving through it while writing this entry. While it may be hard now to find a print of the book, the web functions very well as historical archive and this site has many great photos from the 1976 ride: http://www.pbase.com/digitales/bikecentennial.

The 1776 event spawned some businesses. American Cycling Association now yearly organizes this ride and one of the Dutch participants, Gijsbert Valstar, founded the Fietsvakantiewinkel through which Joan, Eric, Wouter and I arranged some of our cycling vacations in the 80-ies.

In 1993 I came close to venturing on the trip. I was mentally tired from the engineering projects at KPMG Peat Marwick, my employer at the time. I negotiated a four month summer leave with plans to ride coast to coast. That year the chance to fulfil another dream offered itself at the same time; actually it combined two: to work abroad and to work for Apple Computer. March 1993 became a head scratching month: do the trip or go to London to join Apple? It became Apple – the computer harder to resist than the bicycle.

 

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    2 Responses to “Ride across America”

    1. Gijsbert Valstar Says:

      en dan kom je opeens de cover van ‘wat heb ik nou aan m’n fiets hangen’ na meer dan 30 jaar weer tegen…..

    2. onno Says:

      Ik hoop dat het niet een te grote schok was!

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