ROLL OVER AMERICA
This book is dedicated to all those who made „Roll over America“ such an unforgettable experience – the riders, the supporters, the sponsors, the families and friends. Many have contributed in so many different ways to our endeavor that it may seem unfair to single out a few whose contributions have been indispensable in the preparation of this largest and longest velomobile tour ever. Not to belittle the enthusiasm, time and energy that carried us across the United States, without these individuals and institutions ROAM would not have happened: Deutsche Post - DHL – the global logistics company with a ﬁne sense for sustainable mobility, which sponsored a good part of the transportation and logistics costs.
Sponsoring in kind was provided by Schwalbe (tires and tubes) and Cliff Bar (bars and gels). Patsy & Myron Wells – a truly admirable couple from Georgia, who not only ﬁnancially supported the tour generously, but also provided invaluable support as the „ahead team“, transporting the luggage, scouting diners, treating injuries, and riding along. Craig Johnsen – Mayor of LCVMG, the Left Coast Velomobile Gathering, who coordinated most of the American preparations even though he could only ride with us up to Missoula, MT. Tom Breedlove from the Oregon Human Powered Vehicles, who served as the contact point in Portland, OR, received all shipments, coordinated the local support, drove SAG for a number of days; his and his OHPV-friends‘ hospitality made it very difﬁcult for us to leave Portland.
Michael Leipold – velomobile rider from Bremen, Germany, who helped set up and organize the shipment of velomobiles and prepared all arrangements with the shipping company. Volker Mensing – who shipped his restored Dodge truck over to the US and rode the „sweeper truck“ every single day. C Michael Lewis – graphic designer and artist, who created and donated ROAM‘s key visual. To all of them I feel greatly indebted (if that expression could still be used in times of ﬁscal crises). Many others have helped in developing the route, identify campgrounds, make reservations, checked the roads, provided water and assistance. They have hosted and guided us in the urban areas ROAM crossed, some have given up a lot of their time to come and help the tour, like Jacques Spruit from The Netherlands, Nancy Sanford from Florida or Ben Fishback from North Carolina, not to forget Jeff Leach, Lonnie Morse, Vicky Johnsen, Susan and Dale Frederikson. We riders were and still are grateful to all of those named here as well as those who acted like them. In this book I have also used pictures and linked to video shot by others, riders and supporters. I thankfully acknowledge their contribution to keeping the memory of ROAM alive. Not least, I am deeply grateful to my wonderful wife and our family who has given me the time to prepare and ride ROAM even without sharing my enthusiasm for velomobiles.
This chapter talks about my relationship to bicycles and bike touring – the background to the tour.
2011 has been a very special year in my personal cycling history, marking the longest and most intense cycling tour of my 55 year old life – up until then. I have liked traveling by bike for most of my life; would consider myself to be a bike commuter since 1959, when I used to ride over to the neighbors’ farm quite a bit away with my ﬁrst bike at age 3. I guess I would qualify as a bike tourist ever since my ﬁrst longer bike-trip with my younger brother at age 13. I have liked vagabond vacations on foot, via train and hitch-hiking through various parts of Western Europe. Likewise, sailing trips of several weeks have attracted me through many summer vacations. All of these essentially were other modes of touring by bike, going places, spending each night at a different town, place or harbor, enjoying the simple life on the roads, trails and seas. It wasn't so much about arriving somewhere than about leaving, about packing up to travel. Every destination became the starting point of another day of traveling. In reality, these activities have been conﬁned to those precious weeks of summer, off of work, squeezed into a demanding professional life. In my dreams, though, I was traveling on.
Meanwhile, having arrived in my 50s, I had rediscovered the joys of cycling and actively lived my earlier biking experiences as a kid, a young man, a student and as a father of two little kids again. With a life still dominated by work, I chose to integrate cycling into my daily routines, began to ride to the ofﬁce by bike, and – about a year later – found myself to be riding to work always, in all weather and circumstances. On the job, I had my full share of long distance traveling to many places around the globe. So, my own private commute focused rather on the near than the far. I extended my commutes to integrate new routes and more miles, going for the shorter distances on the way out in the mornings, and taking the longer routes, exploring additions and variations in the evenings. Cycling these routes year round had its own rewards, as I developed an intense sense for the changes in weather, the seasons, the smells and sounds over the course of time.
These years I will always remember as a time of balance, much more so than the preceding period in which I sought to combine work and distance running. To me biking proved to be a much more intense sensual experience, so much more to see, the speed to enjoy and still not to exhaust my body – rather to refresh body and mind.
much time for these rides, but the memories of each tour on the HP Street Machine carried me on for quite some time.
Not long until I went for something faster and bought a touring racer recumbent bike. While the touring recumbent got used for weekend rides, the touring racer Before maturing to a true bike commuter, I had discovered recumbent bikes and their comfort. This experience refreshed my desire to go touring by bike. Longer days tours were my ﬁrst step back to the dreams of my childhood, soon followed by rides beyond 100 km, beyond 150 km and into the 200 km range. Not that I had
became my commuter vehicle. With its racing geometry frame the HP Speedmachine boosted my average speeds while a hub dynamo, Rohloff hub, fenders and rack made for a low maintenance all-weather commuter. Probably, the Stelvio racing tires didn't
quite ﬁt my standard routes; they nicely underlined the speed element, though.
days. Felt like a kid again on the trike, loved the looks of a handmade steel frame with its artisan lugwork, the many details, and, above all, with its riding position, being back low to the ground, close to the wheels as I was when I received my ﬁrst bike at the age of three. The trike became my favorite tourer in less than a year, and soon replaced the Street Machine as my choice for the summer bike weeks my family and I had begun to make a regular part of the calendar. Unlike twowheelers, a fully loaded trike still handles the same, rides even more relaxed than even the most comfortable two-wheel recumbent. What is more, on tours a trike becomes the perfect lounge chair for those breaks at scenic spots, on those long and hot riding days.
Beyond such features, to me, traveling on a tricycle expanded my horizon in several ways. Like on a recumbent, the view is panoramic, which can hardly be comprehended in full by the regular bike tourist, who will tend to focus more on his front wheel and the piece of road just ahead the faster he will ride. The trike rider will always see the horizon, enjoy the grand view, and still be in close touch to the small things on the roadside. His view reaches up to the skies while his hands can touch the earth. Trike riding can be at any cycling speed, from competing with the roadies to slowly
The ﬁrst fall and winter season I fully commuted by bike raised the idea of adding a recumbent trike to the stable, just for the slippery part of the year, as I thought. Soon, the beautifully handcrafted custom ICE Trice XL with its narrow track had won me over to the world of three wheels. Winter commutes were a blast; the go-cart feeling ot its ride resembled even more the joys of riding I memorized from my childhood
cruising a narrow streets of a medievial town; trikes don't need to move at a certain pace to be stable. They roll, unlike a bike that needs to be ridden, riders can stop any time to watch the scenery, takes pictures, talk to people, and then go on in a second.
trike opened the door to ride these distances every day. At this point, I should probably confess to not consider myself an athlete, never having participated in any bike races. I did not and do not exercise to gain strength or speed. I just ride bikes regularly, like to go somewhat faster but never push myself to the limits. I am happy to arrive at my destination relaxed, not exhausted, I like the pleasant feel of the body after a thorough but gentle memories attached to them I would not want to miss. On the other hand, none of them has motivated me enough to pay the price of saddle-soreness, a stiff neck and shoulders and numb hands in return for a major touring experience. I like to ride them in their respective habitats, but I also like to get off of them after some 50 km. My initiation to this new to me chapter of touring was a summer bike week in 2008 in which I rode more than 100 km on average every day; a self-supported tour
Trike touring, I have learned to appreciate, can mean to spend the whole day on the wheels. I have not been faster compared to my fast recumbent, but I have never been more comfortable, seemingly riding effortless throughout the whole day. It was on my Trice XL that I discovered a new to me dimension of bike traveling. Instead of those occasional "century rides", the
workout. Also, I should confess that I still own and ride regular bikes, but not much and not for long. Will neither sell my Motobecane road bike, acquired almost 35 years ago, nor will I give up those occasional battles with rough or steep terrain on my mountain bike. Also, the old Danish city bike will stay as long as my son doesn't manage to break or loose it. All these bikes have good
with the trike fully loaded, and some of the days being extremely hot. While my other siblings on regular touring bikes said they would never want to ride such a tour again, my sister, her partner and myself on trikes found that week to be great fun and not hard at all. They felt to have seen enough, not rested enough, and had focused too much on the road, we felt the contrary, how much we had seen during the week, how relaxing it was and how little we were actually focussing on operating our trikes. Evidently, we trike tourers had arrived to a different world. This had not been our ﬁrst bike week on trikes, neither was it the ﬁrst extended trike tour. Rather, our view had changed: After those 750 km over 7 days, a metric century or a century ride in miles had become nothing special, while we very clearly had not crossed the line into road biking, readily loading up our 18 kg rigs with an extra 10 kilos of luggage. Looking back, it likely has been been that trip which opened the door to the
climax of trike riding for me. I had been pondering some time before the summer of 2008 to purchasing a velomobile, mostly for my commutes but with the idea of velomobile touring lingering somewhere in the underground of my consciousness. In January of 2009 I bought a lightly used 2007 "Quest" velomobile with 8.000 km on the clock; at the time considered to be the fastest three-wheeler designed for commuting year round. If recumbent riding and trike in particular could be called a parallel universe to the world of cycling, this holds true for velomobiling. Actually, from the cockpit of a fast velomobile, the entire spectrum of cycling appears to be a world apart. Though somewhat disappointed about the handling and
speed on my ﬁrst real ride in the Quest, I was about to experience human powered mobility in the years to come, riding at a level with those die-hard amateurs and professional roadies that I had never anticipated for myself. Not that I had to become someone else; it's the equipment that elevated me to there.
This chapter speaks about my velomobile experience prior to ROAM, how the idea for the tour was born, and illustrates the many steps in the preparation of our ride, from the launch of the ﬁrst thoughts to the shipping of our velomobiles off to the US west coast.
Since January 2009 my cycling biography has been expanded decisively. Not only have I been even more consistent in my determination to always ride to work, but I also have never enjoyed my commutes more than since then. Once dialed in, my Quest velomobile surpassed all of my previous expectations regarding comfort, speed, weather protection and versatility. Often, I found myself leaving the house an hour earlier to put in 90 minutes of riding before getting to the ofﬁce instead of the standard 30 minutes. Or, I would add an hour or more to the already longer return routes to enjoy. The latter I had done on the Speedmachine or the Trice XL – those evening rides I considered more as exercise. With the Quest, the extra miles rather would count as joyrides. I recall one nice evening about two years ago, on which I left the ofﬁce to ride about 25 km to visit some relatives I had not seen for a while. Stayed for dinner, and left for the 40 km home about 9 pm. Took the route we used on the ﬁrst bike trip with my brother about 40 years ago. It had taken us a day’s ride back then, him being 11 and me being 13 years old. On that evening, I covered the distance in my 38 kg velomobile plus the days luggage, laptop and papers in less than an hour. Admittedly, a somewhat unfair comparison of a 13year old boy to a 53-year old man, but nevertheless a stunning experience.
Since then, the Quest has served me well on longer day rides. Going beyond 200 km a day did not imply previous training. Riding in the rain for over 160 km wasn’t the most pleasant ride but a huge difference to doing the same on a
began to snow. After dinner and a couple of beers, we rode back over a nice layer of fresh snow, virgin snow on the side roads we took beyond town, which helped light up the complete darkness across the country. When I arrived home shortly after midnight, the odometer read over 180 km. To date, the longest ride I took with the Quest on a single day has been 375 km (233 miles); all during daylight, 300 km of which against the wind. None of these I could have done or
Quest in just one. Once, that came to an end, the velomobile always got preference when I had the choice. As with most great things in life, there are a few downsides to velomobiling:
regular bike or recumbent. One afternoon in late December I set out with two fellow velomobile riders to visit a riders’ group in a city a bit further away. At this time of the year, it gets dark about 4:30 pm, and temperatures that day were below freezing point. We went there, received a city tour in the dark while it
would have wanted to do on my recumbents, on the trike, and certainly not on my regular bikes. The more of these rides I gathered, the less my other rigs got used. Within half a year of owning the Quest, bikes and trikes beneﬁtted from the fact that I was then living in two places and could have the
storage and handling can be complicated, given the Quest’s length of 2,85m (over 9 ft) and its weight; transport can be a challenge, and taking it on the train is virtually impossible. Thankfully, none of these constraints applied to me, except for another one. Velomobilists ride in a class of their own, both speed
and riding pattern don’t match that of other cyclists. It’s fun to meet road bikers, but a short-lived encounter as they soon disappear in your rear view mirrors. Other velomobile riders you will rarely meet since there are few, even in my part of Europe, which has the highest concentration of velomobiles worldwide. To see one of these beauties in motion (and you must have seen one rolling along to get the idea), a velomobilist
meetings held on a day or a weekend in Germany and The Netherlands. Here, and only here, there is a chance to see up to 100 velomobiles in one place. Strange enough to the average cyclist, but quite acceptable to the velomobilist, the most popular of those meetings, the annual Oliebollentocht, is always held around the 28th of December, about the darkest and coldest time of the year. Against this background of my personal experiences and those peculiarities of velomobiling, the idea of “Roll over America” (ROAM) was born: to gather a sizeable group of riders and velomobiles for an extended period of time to accomplish a ride that both was a classic adventure and had not been done by velomobile before. It had to have the ﬂavor of the extraordinary and needed to
i.e. they belonged to the ﬂat lands of northwestern continental Europe and were to heavy to climb passes, riders would melt in the summer heat of central North America, riding US roads would be too dangerous for soft-boiled Europeans,
and … the whole plan just was too ambitious to be done. Well , the plan was to ride from Portland, Oregon, to Washington DC over 28 days, including a few rest days, averaging about 200 km (130 miles) every day, connecting one of the major biking cities of the Northwest with the nation’s capital. All to be done in a summer
needs to set up a ride with others. Unlike the cyclists and drivers who will meet him on the road, the velomobilist in his machine cannot see himself riding along. This recognition has been the driving force behind the regular velomobile
be completed over a longer summer vacation. Riding coast to coast across the United States promised just that – a classic cycling tour many dream of doing once in their life, a route that challenged the conventional wisdom on velomobiles,
ROAM. Already by the end of February, the idea had developed into a plan (see the debate here: http:// www.bentrideronline.com/ messageboard/showthread.php? t=57448) . Many of those who chimed in on the discussion were in doubt about the feasibility of the plan. 200 km or more on a day for many days seemed overly optimistic. Other tours across the continent would last for 60 days and more; I had heard about ambitious road bikers who went across on their lightweight racers in 30 days; and there was RAAM, the Race Across America – a strenuous challenge for athletes, which vacation with a group of riders from Europe with as many North American fellow riders we could ﬁnd. Our velomobiles would be shipped across the oceans to the West coast, and packed up again on the East coast for the return trip to Europe. Riders would camp during the tour and be prepared to carry their own equipment. When I ﬁrst launched the idea of such a ride on February 19, 2010, I did not anticipate the immediate encouragement it received among velomobile riders on both ends of the Atlantic. And I had little knowledge of what lied ahead in terms of planning and organization. After all, I had some touring experience myself, but had never done or organized something as big, as long and as demanding as required intense preparation to make the ﬁnish line in only 12 days. Could ROAM be done by the “ordinary” cyclist who primarily had his commute as the principle mode of training? A few months later, ROAM had become a project for the summer of 2011, and I began to seriously ask myself whether I would be able to do the ride that I was proposing to others. No doubt that I
could ride 200 km in a day, even with signiﬁcant climbing. Would I be able to ride such distances many days in a row? Could a group do it? It was about time to ﬁnd out. In May of 2010, after having put in a few occasional long rides over 250 km, I took two weeks off to explore the abilities of my body and the touring qualities of the Quest. In the cold and wet spring weather of that year, I headed out for a big loop around the north of Germany, 2.000 km through the northern plains with its winds, across the gentle hills and the mid mountain areas of the north. According to plan, a friend would join with his Quest two days into the ride. Eventually he made it on the fourth day of the tour, for which I had slowed down and cut short that day’s distance. The ride was self-supported, and I carried the entire camping equipment along everything else inside the Quest. The rig was really heavy, easily some 55 kg. Stop-and-go and building up speed felt hard to do; once I was rolling, the effort
eased. Climbing meant hard work, even gentle hill riding with its steady up and down took more effort than I had expected. On the other hand, we progressed well, limited only by bad weather and my friend’s desire to set up camp before the next rain. I had not planned a precise route, we mostly decided on the day. When I returned home after 12 days, we had covered on
average 100 miles every day without a single day of rest. I had lost some 7 kg of weight, but gained the conﬁdence to be able to do ROAM. Two lessons I brought home from this trip: First, it was essential to have a deﬁned destination for every day. Whenever we were expected to be at a speciﬁc place for the night, we made it, regardless of distance, elevation or weather. When we had none, we would
settle for a nice spot on some lake or river when we passed by, even if it was only mid-afternoon. Second, long day rides beneﬁt from a clearly charted route.
ROAM-like distances. Those went equally well. My body took all these with an ease that truly surprised me, no soreness, never really short of breath (a mixed blessing; it ruined my earlier intention to quit smoking for the tour), some occasional knee stress, though nothing serious. Throughout the year, my body weight remained stable at a level I last enjoyed 30 years ago; I did not regain the kilos lost in May, even though my riding was occasional. That took 7
another 15 kg from my load. In early 2011, ﬁnally, I learned that there was a chance to pick up the new carbon Quest I had on order (had been on the waiting list since the summer of 2009) in time for ROAM. This would scrap an additional 10 kg. So, carrying 33 kg less across America than what I started out with on my tour in May should take me to the safe side regarding ROAM. In May 2010 I had ridden about 40% of the distance in about 40% of the time planned for ROAM carrying about 30% more weight in total. ROAM seemed doable without any extra training. All the essential preparations for the tour were done online. By March of 2010, I had set up a website for ROAM (www.rolloveramerica.eu), which gathered all information on the plan, the riders, the route and related information, while the message boards of the American, German and the Dutch velomobile riders provided the platform for the ongoing discussions. As summer came, a sufﬁcient number of European
Deciding on the spot, searching for a suitable road and seeking a campground for the night took too much time away from riding and sightseeing. Over the summer, I added a couple of self-supported three-day tours, one of which involved a lot of climbing over
kg off the workload for ROAM. Also, the tour would need support vehicles anyway to not get delayed because of mechanical or physical issues of individual riders. If so, there was a good chance that the support vehicles could carry the bulk of our luggage, which would take off
riders had signed up, many of whom I did not know before. Most I had the chance to meet at least brieﬂy before the ride began; with some I even spent a day of riding. On the North American end, riders also joined in. None of them I would meet before my arrival to Portland in July 2011. I had not set any qualiﬁcation requirements for riders to join other than they had to write to me in order to sign up. The choice was to leave it to riders to decide on their physical abilities to do the tour as well on quality and reliability of their rig. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake, since a few riders chose to drop out rather late before the start or rather early after the tour got rolling. On the other hand, my initial choice kept the momentum going. This way, a unique and rather diverse group came together, which contributed much to the spirit and livelihood of ROAM. For reasons of health, time, family matters or job restrictions, 27 riders signed off in the run-up to ROAM; 42 riders participated for parts or the whole of the ride, joined by a couple of spontaneous entries. Until the end of 2010, I had developed a detailed route for every day, mostly online and building on feed back from local riders, longer telephone exchanges with the very knowledgeable folks at Adventure Cycling and extensive email and Skype exchanges with 3-4 US riders and supporters. Successively, all days were put online, as routes became ﬁnal and accommodation options were identiﬁed. Each day’s entry had a brief
description on the speciﬁcs of the routes, a map of the track and details of the accommodation, each was linked to a track created on www.bikemap.net providing a downloadable ﬁle for GPS devices. In the last weeks before the tour, a small team of riders doublechecked all tracks and made sure that they actually led precisely from destination to destination. The reviewed ﬁles were packed and put online for riders. Mapping a route over more than 5.000 km turned out to be a complex assignment, impossible to begin incrementally from the start location. Choices multiply with each next day. Therefore, after some time of playing around, I ﬁrst deﬁned some guiding principles: We would be using secondary highways, resort to major ones or the interstate-grid only where necessary. If we did, we would look for frontage roads as long as they offered halfway decent pavement. Likewise, we would ride county roads to avoid trafﬁc where
possible, mostly for the third tier of the tour, beginning in Indiana. We would look for bike trails where suitable for fast riding and in order to navigate major metropolitan areas on the tour, such as the way out from Portland, the route through the Twin Cities, the crossing of
Chicago or the approach to Washington, DC. The next step was to divide the distance into four packages: The Mountains, from Portland to Missoula; the Grassland, from Missoula to Minneapolis; the Heartland, from Minneapolis to about Cincinnati; the Allegheny for the
remainder of the voyage to DC. Those familiar with the terrain will realize that the labels don’t really ﬁt. For the planning, it was more important to deﬁne blocs of distance, which could then be broken down into days. In the follow-up to this, and as the webpage “The Journey” began to ﬁll, I received lots of input and advice from cyclists following the tour’s development. Sometimes, the attention to detail and the advice became a bit of a burden. Much of it, if not most of it, simply did not reﬂect the velomobile characteristics and the tour’s needs. We had to get from A to B each day, so we had to go for good and fast roads rather than to avoid trafﬁc at the price of gravel sideroads and numerous turns. We still had our share of gravel in the end, enforced by road construction or closures. We were ready to use bike trails where faster or signiﬁcantly shorter, but not as a matter of principle. Cyclists belong on the road and have a right to share it with others. Over the entire tour, we actually
met very few drivers who did not respect this notion. 99% of all, including the big 18-wheelers, gave us plenty of space when passing or stayed behind when we took the lane on high speed descents.
interaction between riders and supporters. The website developed further to include information for media and sponsors. Since the fall of 2010, it displayed the tour visual, created by C. Michael Lewis, who had created among others the visuals for the World Human Power Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nevada – an artist’s anticipation of the tour which would later be used also for T-shirts, posters and stickers. Over the winter and into the spring, a core group had stayed in close contact with me on the details of the planning for ROAM: Craig, mayor of the renowned West Coast velomobile gathering LCVMG, Bill from PA who did great work on the eastward third of the route, Tom and Bill from the Oregon HPV organization, and numerous others devoted signiﬁcant time to the many intricacies of such an endeavor. Without them, ROAM would not have been what it was to become.
By spring of 2011, I had secured sponsorship from DHL, a global logistics company (which helped cover a good part of the shipping costs), also, Schwalbe joined in with a generous gift of tires and tubes, while ClifBar donated 2.000 of its bars and gels. About four months ahead of the start, we switched the primary communication to email lists and Google spreadsheets, to allow for more speciﬁc and uninterrupted
immensely, especially after we lost the initial shipping agent only weeks ahead of the scheduled shipping date. On June 4, about six weeks ahead of the start, European riders gathered in Groningen, The Netherlands, for packing and loading of their velomobiles. I had taken the Friday off to ride up to our partner, the Ligﬁetsgarage Groningen, makers of the Mango velomobile, through which I had ordered. Starting out
By the late spring, riders became active to gather information, making reservations and preparing the media outreach while the core group of volunteers was forming. Volker over in Germany prepared his truck for shipment to the US while David in Texas was converting a friend’s pick-up to accommodate him as well a few velomobiles. Jacques from the Netherlands came on as a driver, Patsy joined her husband with a van as well as
a number of others, thus eliminating the need for costly additional rentals. The two trucks would later perform sweeper duties, while the van would ride ahead with the bulk of our luggage and the other support vehicles would and supply riders on the road. On the European end, shipping logistics were taken care of by Michael, a Bremen based velomobile rider, whose modesty alone kept him from joining the tour. His knowledge of the freight business helped
at the break of dawn, I spent the day riding north, my Quest loaded with camping gear and luggage for the trip – 374 km with most of that against a rather stiff northerly wind, eased by the joy of riding and the excitement of anticipation. When I arrived at the Groningen city campground some time before 6 pm, I found my sister’s tent already set up. The evening went by fast with dinner, beers and a long chat with Nina and her partner Jörg, later joined by riders Markus and Andreas. On the next day, many riders met for the ﬁrst time; some had gathered before on two occasions organized by Dutch riders to bring the group together and to ride out. To all of us, this day marked the point of no return. We had lost a couple of riders from the list as summer came closer, but now the dice had been rolled. A few riders still pulled out when I requested their conﬁrmation before ordering the crates. On the shipping weekend, we packed 23 velomobiles, 22 of the European participants and one we
brought over for an embedded reporter from the US. We loaded a 40ft and a 20ft sea container. The next Monday, containers left for the port. ROAM had begun.
This chapter gives a day-by-day account of the journey from Portland, Oregon, to Washington, DC.
Before the Start
While on the North American end preparations were still in full swing, the European contingent had nothing else to do except to wait for the containers to arrive safely, make it through customs in time for the transport from Oakland CA to Portland. On July 24, the Sunday before the start, the ﬁrst batch of riders arrived at the start, the Day’s Inn on the northwestern end of town, nearby the Portland International Racecourse. Just in time, the two containers had been delivered to the warehouse downtown. The next morning, a group of eager riders was shuttled over to taken possession of the ﬁrst dozen velomobiles. Everyone hoped that there had not been any damage to our bikes on the long trip over from Europe – any more serious issues with the self-supporting shell we would likely not have been able to deal with in the few days left before the start. Our fears were unfounded; not a single one of our velomobiles suffered any damage, even though part of the load had to be unloaded and opened for customs at the German seaport of
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Pictures from before the Start
Bremerhaven. Once the ﬁrst velomobiles appeared outside the warehouse, a
Portland TV station had a crew on the spot to ﬁlm the arrivals and interview riders (see here) – media presence would become a daily routine on the tour. The ﬁrst ride through town back to the hotel was wonderful. Guided by cyclists from Portland we gently cruised the very bike-friendly side streets, resisting the temptation for speed not to risk loosing our guides immediately. Back at the hotel, the big conference room had been designated to house our velomobiles, it would ﬁll up over the next three days with velomobiles taking every inch of the room, spreading into the hallways and lobby. During the days, however, velomobiles were outside in front of the hotel, always attracting a crowd, being ﬁlmed, photographed, touched and even tried out. Riders were zooming all over Portland in their velomobiles, out for some last minute shopping, checking and testing of equipment, or just for the fun of it. Meanwhile, many of the North American riders had arrived as well. The two groups came together quickly. As diverse as we were as a group, we had this one thing in common – our passion for those unique, rare and very different human powered vehicles we were about to tour all across the United States. Portland embraced us with open arms; its bike-friendliness is no myth. Many came to visit, folks all over town cheered us up, and the local bike stores did the utmost to provide whatever service we could think of. Read on: Comments from riders and other folks This, too, would become a steady feature during the whole trip, we could always rely on help and support locally. Of special support were Pat Franz and the folks at Terracycle, not only patiently demonstrating their machines and parts at the workshop but also with helping out on tubes, replacing idlers and ﬁnetuning the gearing.
Jeff Wills writes from Portland: On my way home from work, I took side streets (I-5 was stopped, as usual) and passed this velo heading northbound on Interstate Ave:
http://www.hutchnews.com/print/strange-cycle--1 probably heading back to the Days Inn. Very nice!
Day 1: Thursday, July 28, 2011
Portland OR to Cascade Locks OR, 100 km
Then, ﬁnally, came the long awaited Day One. The ofﬁcial farewell was scheduled for noontime by the fountain downtown. About 50 velomobiles had gathered as we set out from the hotel, nervous of anticipation and relieved because the waiting was over. Gorgeous weather accompanied this last ride downtown. At the fountain, a surprising large group of spectators had gathered which grew by the minute once the tour had arrived. The mayor’s proclamation declaring this day as “velomobile day” for Portland was read and off we went, taking bike trails along the river and then heading northwest out of town. Now, we were really under way. By and large the ride for the day went smoothly. We set out from the fountain, crossed the bridge over Williamette river in a long row of velomobiles, which quickly broke up though, when many riders went north after coming down on the other side where they should have turned south. Shouting and signaling didn’t help, one after the other turned right instead of left. The route lead along nice trails by the river until we reached a construction zone where all was gravel. Lost some more riders there. Via some side roads we reached the rail trail that would take us towards Gresham. Nice and straight, but far too many intersections that stopped our progress for our taste. Finally, over
some hills and down a long descent, we came to Troutdale, crossing the river again to meet up at the Lewis & Clark State Park.
These ﬁrst kilometers were exiting after all that time of preparations, planning and waiting! True, some riders got lost, which wasn’t easy with all those volunteers waiting and intersections and turns to point the way. Once on the interstate, we had agreed to reassemble at a designated spot to wait for a rolling blockade, which would allow us a car-free passage through the tunnel, a few miles ahead of our destination, Cascade Locks. Those miles on the freeway were a spectacle, velomobiles taking
both lanes, the sections on side roads took us by some spectacular waterfalls. We came into camp early, ending a perfect start in the local diners and bars. To most of us, this had been an easy day. For a few, terrain and distance were about the level they were comfortable doing. All of us knew that there wouldn’t be another riding day like this over the next four weeks – all would be longer or more demanding. I had spent 3:20 hours riding in all, at a rolling average of 30.3 kph. The top speed for the day had been 76 kph.
Lee also has the highway on top of his list: My top 10 favorite moments on ROAM: 1: Macdonnald pass descent 2: Highway I84 on day 1 3: Chicago waterfront and swimming in the lake 4: LoLo pass climb 5: Minneapolis trail and bike shop. 6: Tunnels between Sparta and Elroy 7: Sandy creek trail 8: Riding alongside Mississippi river 9: going to machine shop in Missoula, MT
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Greg: Josef, I think this video really captures the excitement we felt having the interstate to ourselves.
10: Seeing Terracycle factory
Larry: That view of Mt. Hood came as a complete surprise to me - it is a sight like that, that really made it clear to me that I wasn't just tooling around my neighborhood. It was similar to seeing my ﬁrst castle along the Rhine, when I was on my way to SPEZI in 2006 (I think it was). Deﬁnitely felt like Dorothy, with that "not in (Kentucky) anymore".
Taylor commented on the video: That's my favorite ROAM video to date. It helps that this section was a real highlight of the trip. We did other interstate riding but this was the only time we owned the road. Some riders took to the left lane just because we could. The ability to spread out made it one of the most sociable sections of the entire route.
Markus: Alternative to the main-group Andreas and I (Thomas and Maarten, too - but we missed their departure) had chosen after the stop at Lewis & Clark State Park the route over the Historic US30 up to Crown Point. Some meters to climb, at some places Mt. Hood greeted over.
And then - a sensational view down into the valley, more than 600ft above the Columbia River. At the viewpoint was another German tourist, and his ﬁrst words: "Man sieht sie ja garnicht, das ist doch gefährlich !" (Trans.: I can't see you, you're invisible on the street - that's sooooo dangerous !") I couldn't believe it, this is the most-heared sentence for german recumbent-riders... Oh, Man - I hate this words. I'd never heard this words from an american on the whole tour, but now... Time was running, we're sure missing the gathering on the I-84 (tunnel passage), but we wouldn't start ROAM with a permanent view on the watch. Volker was on this route, too. So we took the time we need, because he could help us through the tunnel. After Crown Point there was a very, very nice decent with some narrow curves - YEAH ! YEAH ! .... Hey .... where's Andreas ? Of course we took some stops at the numerous waterfalls, and a very long one at Multnomah Falls. A little walk to the cascades, some snacks included. Just hanging around and enjoy the view. Later, on the I-84, there was a man with a reﬂective vest standing beside the road, waved us out. He said, we have to saddle up the velos on the truck. Ok, no tunnel for us this day... Unfortunately I had a bad memory for faces, so I didn't identiﬁed Jeff as one of us. If I had, I'm sure, we had waved back and drove on through the tunnel with Volker's Truck as a rolling blockade behind us (and, let's face it, in a slight, straight descent like the tunnel was we really did't need some help at about 45mls/hr for a 600ft-long passage...).
BentKat asked: Are they off? How many bent riders from the PNW are escorting the velos down the Springwater trail? volaerider responded: Here is link to the start on Portland for ROAM: http://www.kgw.com/ lifestyle/Velomob...126342623.html Jeff Wills again: My wife and I caught up with them in Cascade Locks, at their ﬁrst overnight camp. I took a couple photos- I put them on Facebook. I hope this link works.
I'm sorry I missed the send-off at the Salmon St. fountain. It looks wonderful: http://bikeportland.org/2011/07/28/r...d-photos-57028
Bill Bates had more footage of the send off: I have posted photos and videos of Roll over America (ROAM) to three of my online accounts. At this time I have a few more videos to post. http://www.vimeo.com/mi7d1 http://www.youtube.com/user/MrThedygse#g/u http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/wmbates...7627179668529/ Some of the early videos are blurry. These were low quality for LiveCasting the ROAM event using my cell phone. I was disappointed with the quality and stopped LiveCasting the event on Tuesday choosing to just record video and upload it at a later time. Quality of the videos improved immensely. LayZeeD added: Those guys were moving right along on the trail. There were people everywhere taking pictures capturing the moment all the way along the Springwater Corridor. Thanks for the proclamation video, Bill. Excellent presentation! I feel very fortunate to be part of this unique and inspiring event. I will be following the progress as best I can. I will also post some of the more memorable shots. Here is
Lonnie – a recumbent veteran with coast-tocoast experience who supported the tour during its ﬁrst 10 days – resumed the day on OHPV.org: A few stragglers - gathered them up by trailer - - a couple got lost in the urban section therefore couldn't catch up. Talked to several of the Euro's last night - nice guys, most are serious racers - plenty to talk about in topics. They were impressed with the send off downtown Portland. Once on I-84 things got to cruising - ODOT exited them off 84 at Bridal Veil because of a Hazmat issue. This actually put the tour right were it should have been anyway - "the scenic hyway" and Dodson frontage road. They were grouped up by ODOT for an escort through for the tunnel. ODOT shut down both east bound lanes for these guys - - it was surreal being on this highway with just us for three miles to the tunnel. It was like - where is the motor motorcade for the President? A few velo's came in to camp couple of hours behind the group. All n all it was a good day with plenty of last second changes - drama - - I didn't see any - - Staying at the KOA in Cascade Locks. These Roamies will be hitting the tarmac at sunrise. We have two serious road construction sites today - Hood River and The Dalles. Never the less - these obstacles are not a challenge for the Euro's - they attack with a racers mindset grinning. Comments from Jörg Bammesberger ,Munich, Germany - - "this is just so good" - This group is going to be fun to watch as they "cruise missile" across America Today (i.e. day 2, JJ) will also be "the test" to see if each rider has the metal to be on this tour. It will be warm day to cover 139 miles to Hat Rock Park just northeast of Hermiston OR.
Day 2: Friday, July 29, 2011
Cascade Locks OR to Umatilla OR, 241 km
Indeed, the following two days would become a test of endurance and strength for all. Day 2 would be long, hard with about 2230 m of climbing, hot and busy. It saw us riding on the shoulder of the freeway for most of the way to Umatilla OR. Leaving camp shortly after 6:30 am, Nina and I rode through some beautiful scenery along the Columbia river valley – the sun rising over the big river, mountains, rocks, forest in the mist, a wonderful atmosphere in spite of the distraction by trafﬁc on the interstate (which became much heavier as the day went on). Riders had been advised to bypass road construction by going through Hood River, which we did following the signage for another and much larger cycling group that had also spent the night at Cascade Locks. After stopping for some breakfast and coffee there we went back to the freeway at the other end of town. Further down, there was quite some climbing to do and ﬂying down some of those downhills that can be much fun in a velomobile if not done through the debris of a freeway shoulder. Occasionally the shoulder would disappear ahead of a bridge and we would be forced to cross the rumble strips – not good at speed. It must have been here where Jim, one of our US-riders, lost control over his velomobile and rolled over. He was shocked since it happened so fast, suffered bruises on his forehead and arms, but his Mango was seriously damaged with a
couple of cracks in the shell. Like many velomobiles, the Mango shell is the bike, and not a shell put over a bike frame. Structural damage to the shell thus equals damage to the frame. Jim tried to tape the shell but could not be sure that some safety related parts had not been cracked. He had to give up and returned home after the ﬁrst week. Another rider returned home that day; distance and elevation didn’t match his abilities. Like most other riders, I had not witnessed the accident. From the second day on, riders traveled in very small groups or alone, only meeting others at the designated rest stops during the day, and, of course, at camp for the night. We had opted for this pattern
on purpose to not slow down the tour – after all, when riding in a group, the slowest riders, the ones with ﬂats or mechanical issues, the ones needing the most breaks will determine the pace for all. Temperatures were beyond 40° C around noon and shade became rare once we had progressed beyond the river gorge. I was really happy when I came to the rest stop at Arlington about 2 pm, and found some shade. Nina came in later, equally soaked but in a good mood. I had put on the roof over lunch, however, in the baking heat of the afternoon riding was hard. After another one of those climbs I passed Boardman and soon reached the turn-off to route 730, which would lead us to our destination. Was taking another shade-bath at the underpass to the freeway, as Maarten and Machiel came in sight, stopped brieﬂy and we continued at three.
I liked riding with the two; they always ran a steady and fast pace. Following them, the remaining distance shrunk quickly. We went through Umatilla since our campground, Hat Rock, lay beyond, belonging to the community of Hermiston. We arrived some time after 6 pm. 7:12 hours of riding at an average speed of 33.5 kph today, with a top speed of 81 kph.
Lonnie, reporting on OHPV.org from the road during day 2: It’s 12:00 noon – the noon whistle just went off – I have forgotten my home town tradition of a noon siren/whistle. The Roamers are cruising down 84 like it’s nothing. The trafﬁc is giving them plenty of space by pulling over to the left lane. One rider has completed his mission – Ed Gunderson riding a Alleweder FAW from the Creswell OR area has completed his goal of reaching Hood River. He is headed back home. The roamers have divided into packs just as expected. I have say it is an awesome sight to see these groups of four six and eight moving alone at 30 plus miles an hour. Confusion unfolded leaving Hood River. As the tour was directed into the downtown district to miss the road construction. Coincidentally – Washington Bicycle Ride is in Hood River also as well as Cycle Adventure. Yup three tours coinciding all together in a geocentric centrifuge. Some of our guys got lost following the Washington Bicycle tour and some of their riders got lost following the Velonauts. Fortunately a couple out of Battle Ground Washington “Roam Support” rescued the lost velos and stationed themselves at the confusing corner directing the velos the proper direction back to 84. When I arrived, I noticed some of the Washington Cyclists were following velos. It was pretty dicey with three of us at the corner of Jct. 35/30 separating the two tours by pointing ﬁngers at each rider showing them which way to go all with in local and heavy truck trafﬁc. When we ﬁnally got ROAM back on I- 84 the Guys blasted off down the road at full steam. The shoulder was a bit trashy in spots never the less the Roamers autocrossed down I-84 at 30 mph.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
One of our own “Taylor Wilhour of Velocity Velomobiles” has had a mechanical but was repaired and back on the road.
Talked Tom Breedlove a few minutes ago – he is on the over pass at the Gorge Interpretive center west of The Dalles. “Rocket Man” John Williams is cruising with the fast packs - - He was looking comfy – he had a big smile on his face – he has to be in Velo heaven. I’m currently sitting in a beautiful city park in Arlington that has a river cove swim area. This is the lunch stop for ROAM - - The temp is about 87 degrees and the water looks inviting. I’ sure they will be hitting water upon arrival. Nope - most of the riders opted for a Restruant with A/C. Had a good meal before hitting the tarmac. 2:30 PM - they are just now leaving Arlington - - It's nice down along the river - however - 95 degrees up in the agricultural plains of Oregon. The riders are really stretching out now with a few power riders in the middle of the course. It is a long stretch across to Boardman. The lost rider has been found I believe I remember Tom saying they put him on a trailer to get him back with the group.
Taylor: In my blog I called this day "reality check." There was a lot of SAGging that day, myself included. Some of us had mechanical issues, some endurance and some just couldn't take the heat for that long. Even so, I think several of us expected some early attrition and felt like this day reinforced those fears. In the end, however, only a couple of riders dropped off earlier than they had planned, and one who had expected to pull out halfway due to lack of a velo was able to go all the way. This was the day that a local asked us where we were riding to and I said "Washington", and after a pause, "DC", which got a much better reaction. The rider sitting next to me (Felix I think) asked, "Is there another Washington that's closer to here?" I pointed across the river and said, "Yeah, over there." Harry: I remember very well how hot it was. It was the hottest time of the day and between the hills, sometimes the cooling wind would disappear while we had to climb. I spilled a bit of water on a rest stop and one could see it evaporate on the tarmac. I didn't have the cooling water sprayer at that time. It was hot! At restaurants we could sometimes get ice water. Bless the waitresses who helped us out there...
I remember this day - the Columbia river in the morning light was amazing. Nice temperatures, great view and the ﬁrst day riding for miles and miles without stopping. The temperatures at noon and in the afternoon robbed our strength. As I arrived at Arlington Kirk had cold water on his truck - I was incredibly thankful that he was waiting there for us. Vicky offered me a plastic bag of crushed ice which I put on my head. Couldn't had lunch, it was too hot. So I took a rest in the shade and went on later.
Bill Bates from Portland visited us at Umatilla: I took a 3.5 hr drive out to Umatilla, Oregon yesterday to show my wife the velos and ROAM group. We arrived around 8:00pm. Walking into camp, I learned quickly that there had been an incident with one section of road and a few velomobiles. From what I heard, at one point the shoulder of the road narrowed but the rumble strip
remained. At least two velomobiles were thrown around. I wasn't there so I don't have all the facts. It's my belief that the rear wheels lost traction and slid sideways. Once traction was reestablished, like a motorcycle sliding it's rear wheel, the velo would high side. Two riders were very lucky making it through with just a shake up. A third velomobile had no such luck and it was rolled. The rider didn't come through unharmed. He had several nasty looking abrasions and or lacerations. When I was talking to the rider, the velomobile was at the overnight camp on it's right side. I was only able to see the top and left side. Both had scraping damage and I was both shocked and surprised to see the top side of the velo with substantial scrapes. Besides being rolled, the velo must of slid upside down for some distance. Though in shock of the situation, the rider appeared to be in good spirit while I talked to him and as friendly as ever. I was only in camp for half an hour before starting the long drive back home. I said my goodbyes to the group seeing them for the last time. My wife and I had a long talk about safety on the way home and even though the rider was banged up, he would most likely have been much worse off without the protection of the velomobile shell. The rollover caused by rumble strips triggered quite a debate online which is left our here. Fred_dot_u wondered: I hope that there's a safety ofﬁcer of sorts on the ride, even an informal one, who would notify the other riders of this danger. It's not exclusive to Oregon, I'm sure. There are similar hazards here in Florida, along with narrow shoulders. No snow to push away, so no paved surfaces on which to push it. The only answer to these manmade dangers is to take the lane.
It's sad that the solution to drivers falling asleep is to endanger other road users in this manner!
Bill Bates responded: The riders have a meeting every night. Though I didn't stay in camp to attend the meeting, I'm sure it was discussed. There was a somber mood in camp while I was there. Friday they rode 120 miles with around 110 of those being on the I-84. I notice the shoulder was in terrible condition ﬁlled with all sorts of debris while I drove on out. The day was very warm with them riding the majority of it in the high desert of Oregon with no shade. Today's ride is 152 miles into Hells Gate, Idaho. The name is ominous perhaps a make or break ride for some.
Day 3: Saturday, July 30, 2011
Umatilla OR to Lewiston ID, 238 km
The third day of the tour required still more effort. Except for the ﬁrst 40 km or so in the early morning, we would enjoy no shade throughout the day while temperatures went up beyond 40° C. As we crossed the high desert east of the Cascade mountain range three bigger climbs had to be mastered on our way out of Oregon, through Washington and into Idaho, over 2.000 m of total elevation gain. Thus, rest stops at Walla Walla and Dayton were much enjoyed, and the support folks with cold water became highly popular. Water reserves on board the velomobiles rapidly heated up to what seemed to equal bathtub temperatures. The downhills were demanding as well. Roads were bad or under repair, covered with chip seal over longer stretches. Where the road was good, as on the third big descent, downhill speeds were only limited by the amount of risks riders were willing to take. Paced by a car I later learnt that I was ﬂying down one of these downhills at 65-70 miles an hour. My speedometer discretely quit recording at 83 km per hour, thus not logging any speeds and distances beyond that limit. Nina and I had left camp shortly after 6 am to take advantage of the morning breeze. Riding along the river was beautiful and the road was much less traveled compared to the morning before. Into Washington state and after leaving the river valley the road began to gradually rise. Before 10 am, 1/3 into the ﬁrst climb, we
reached Walla Walla for coffee and some very tasty sandwiches at a nice café, just off main street. After that, it had heated up and climbing meant work, while the downhill on chip seal were rather scary. While I waited for Nina at Waitsburg, I met the couple in the truck again – the man had tried to honk me away from taking the lane going down. Speed limit there had been 35 mph because of the chip seal, which I did but would not want to ride on the side of the road where most of the chip seal was. Told him as we met again he had no reason to blow his horn since I was running at speed limit; he said he didn’t care about the speed limit and I could not ride in the lane with that thing. It didn’t even have turn signals. It does, I replied. “Show’em to me”, the man said, and when I did, he added with a changed voice: “Cool!” Conversation went along friendly after that.
Nina came along and we carried on. Lunch at Dayton became another welcome break well into the second climb; the downhill later being as bad as the ﬁrst one. As I stopped on the roadside to talk with Vicky and Craig by mid-afternoon, Nina rode up. The slippery road at high speeds had beaten her courage and she loaded up. That was the only time on the entire journey this tough woman would give in. The third big climb almost immediately followed. It was long and it was hot. Halfway into the climb I stopped at a gas station in Pomeroy for cold water, juice and wireless service. Miles and Lee came in a bit later, and we rested in the shade for a while. More climbing followed which seemed to not end. It was already 7 pm as I reached Alpowa Summit. The following downhill was wonderful; a beautiful and well maintained road, nice views of the rugged lands to both sides – the longest downhill of the day. I dedicated it to Nina – she would have liked to ride that one. Ultimately, the road left the mountains and followed the Snake river. Only one hour after reaching the summit I crossed the bridge into Idaho. In spite of these hardships, the visual impressions during the day were intense. Very dissimilar to road biking, velomobile riding with its reclined position feels like pedaling in a 3Dcinema. The vistas can hardly be described other than intense, almost overwhelming. The
landscape, its dimensions and the enormous physical presence of the American West took all of us, especially the Europeans. In variations, the overload of images would accompany us throughout the entire ride. A velomobile rider is fast enough to see a different landscape every day, but still slow enough to fully inhale its features. Camp for that night was reserved at Hell’s Gate Campground on the high Idaho banks of Snake river. The sun had set as I came in. For me, this was the longest riding day of the tour; I spent 9:06 hours in the Quest, riding at an average speed of 26.1 kph.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie, again reporting from the road: Hi Sports fans - - sooo - - the Drama begins – yes – we had our ﬁrst crash yesterday - - The velonaut had just pulled on I-84 from the Arlington lunch stop when he lost control while crossing a rubble strip and rolled the beautiful white and gray Mango velomobile. The rider is “pretty banged up” but his positive attitude is still very much intact I asked if he had a game plan – he replied by saying – don't no –I will take it a day at a time to decide what to do. His Mango is a Carbon model hence the structural integrity will be looked into. Though being a hot difﬁcult day – only seven velo’s were sagged in out of 43. One lost, Two mechanicals and Four ran out of day light.
The tour is still working on a ride strategy so to keep the tour closer together. Sag crews drove way to many miles to and fro yesterday. We had Velo’s stretched out for 50 miles and more The idea came at rider’s meeting last night to leave in groups every thirty minutes. This will space the riders out and the slower riders still have someone to follow for turn cues. Today is pretty straight forward – stay on route 12 all the way to Lewiston ID. Our own “Torka” gave a road report last night. The road has vastly improved with plenty of courtesy from car and trucks. It was a laid back morning start riding to a Coffee stop in Walla Walla WA. With dozens of Velo’s parked along the curb - it turned into a spectacle . Down Town Main Street became decorated with colorful Velos, drawing crowds of curious on lookers. Patient riders visited with the locals to explain the event. Everyone was enjoying the new mode of transportation. I’m currently sitting at a Starbucks across the street watching Tom Breedlove give direction to riders for the best way to get back to route 12 to Lewiston. I’m totally amazed at the casual no rush attitude of these Euro Riders with 100 miles to go. Lonnie later added these observations from the road: God bless these guys - - it was another hot one again – 96 degrees – the three major climbs did a toll on several riders. Even Germany's golden girl "Josef's sister" had to sag for the afternoon because of near heat stroke. She made the right choice – she was looking pretty wilted when they loaded her Orange Quest into the trailer. Our own Rocket Man was forced to do the same late afternoon in a canyon east of Pomroy WA. because of the heat. It's hard for me to see these ﬁne athletes suffer from the heat. There is simply no where to hide from the sun.
Another rider got lost today – this time he was found in Pendleton, OR. I won't mention who it was – you will ﬁnd out soon enough Ahhh the drama We had two contacts this afternoon by the sheriffs dept. One young deputy curious about the tour and later the another that was his boss, the sheriff him self. He also was curious as to what was going on. During the conversation, I ask if they had received any complaints from motorist about our tour. Nope – not a thing - - - YES - - - just the way we like it. He grinned. He ask, how fast "these things” go down hill? After a pregnant moment, one Euro rider said (depending on the country they were in) The Sheriff chuckled with a smile and replied – you know – if I had one of those pretty little machines - - I think I would get it up there on that hill and see just how fast it will go - everybody busted out laughing. He deﬁnitely had a sense of humor. As he was leaving, he said if we needed any assistance to let him know – he has plenty of blinking lights Highlights of the day for me was watching the drag shuts pop out on the fast descents. The velonauts try to keep around ﬁfty miles an hour for safety reasons. I have video of Rocket Man with chute deployed. We "the support crew" saw a gorgeous sunset this evening It was surreal seeing the sun glistening off the velos as it set. I stayed out this evening until the last rider came over the pass – why ? I had noticed one of the velo’s with cords showing in the tire casing. He was about ready to get in his velo for last fast curvy decent. I ask the rider to do a preﬂight so he would ﬁnd the bad tire for himself – he did - sure enough he found his tire totally worn out. He just couldn't believe what probably would have happened on the way down the pass. So - with that little catch I quickly gave a heads up to all the support people to have every rider get out of the velo and suggest they be the ones to visually check their tires for wear and air pressure before these fast descents. Sure enough, another velo needed two new tires on the
front I found out later that Patrick from Creswell OR area had run a tire off the rim on a freshly chip sealed decent. He walked back to ﬁnd the tire but couldn't. When he got back to his velo - the other front tire was ﬂat. He had to sag in It appears to me that velomobiles may be harder on tire wear compared to single track recumbents while touring. Of course any number of issues like alighment probably is the reason. The last nine riders came in after dark. It was fun to watch some of these velo’s with night lighting on. They are really visible. The traditional orange reﬂective tape is like a giant taillight. Currently - I’m sitting in the dark, in camp along the Snake River – absolutely knock out gorgeous this evening. One of those “wish you were moments” It's 11:30 PM - the shower line should be gone by now – see you in the morning.
Later on that day: Somewhere around the Dayton Airport there was a smooth downhill, the Milan blows down for more than two minutes between 55 and 65mls/hr. Very nice... Andreas an I reached Alpowa Summit just a minute before the georgeous blood-red sunset. It was really amazing, the recompense for our efforts, impossible to put into words !! The downhill to the Snake River was a blast, for the 12mls I need less than 18 minutes, including two photo-stops. Darkness had come, but the sky was still burning over the dark hills. Of course the pictures couldn't caught the moment . Another abiding memory from this day: the sense of locality from the SAG-Team, espacially Tom: When we need some motivation on uphill - Tom was waiting exactly at the right point - out of nowhere. We need cold water or some PowerShots ? Aaah, over there - the green truck ! Of course, all the people of the SAG-Team did an outstanding job. But on this special day, for me, Tom was the worthy hero ! Thank you again, Tom ! Tom responded: Markus, it was most deﬁnitely my honor to help you and everyone on the Tour during those unforgettable days of ROAM! And a special thanks for letting me take out the Milan for a spin at the Hell's Gate campgrounds,,,, alas,, I didn't get her over 60mph in the park, I kept it below 50 ! One of the things I was so pleased to see after the event, was the vast amount of pictures taken while on the road. Very nice! I was hoping that the velonauts (and our fellow SAG people) were taking at least a little bit of time to enjoy the spectacular scenary as it was rolling by outside their HPV pods, and not being too overwhelmed by the
Markus: Oh yes, this was the day with the virtual hair dryer mounted in front of my face... Only a slim anecdote: Jörg, Andreas und I had a short shadow-stop at Dixie, not more than 15mls after the stop in Walla Walla. There was a freaky guy bummed around us all the time, an mid-old woman shooed him away. But as soon as Volker with his truck and his nice, long blonde niece Saskia in it arrived, the freak was back in a ﬂash . Saskia immediately went back in the car
tremendous amount of effort needed to cover the days mileage tasks such that these golden panoramas would blur by unappreciated. So good on you Markus and all the others who snapped up a ton of picture memories for us all to treasure. Beautiful!! I also have to say, I really enjoyed working as a team with the other fellow SAG support people. What a hoot! Naturally, my focus was always to think of what the velonauts needed, as a group, or with an individual, and then working with my teammates to see that those needs were met. And that was the super cool part. Our communication between support people and the attention to remedying issues as they unfolded was exilerating! Well, exhilerating and a LOT OF TIME on the phone ! WOW ! As an example, Volker was saying he had about 120 calls in one day ( on the 2nd or 3rd day out of Portland), whereas I only had about 60 calls that same day (sheesh, hardly worth mentioning). Good times good times. I have countless memories of humorous moments during ROAM, and one of my favorites being: when (one evening) gathered around the midnight supper table lights, in the company of Volker, Saskia, Andreas, Markus, and I think Jorg was there too, the topic of langauge and communication came up. Of course, the German langauge would ﬂow forth every now and then between my table companions and that was fun. I don't understand a word they are saying but I know what they are talking about (I think), so I chime in too. Maybe I was completely off topic, eh, so what, I was digging on it! So then I ask Markus if he has any difﬁculty in understanding me or some of the other English speaking folks. He says yes, it isn't always easy to tell what we mean. So, being the kind of guy I am, I take the opportunity to break into my cheesiest, over the top movie/TV horrible German accent, and began to simultaneously slaughter both the English langauge and the German tongue. Markus laughingly assures me he can understand me much better now. Oh man ! Game On !!
Day 3 was most deﬁnitely the longest day for me. I started pedaling out of the campground and realized something was wrong. My rear tire had gone ﬂat over night. By the time I had changed it I was one of the last riders out of camp. On the way to Walla Walla I watched a hawk ﬂying over the river with a large ﬁsh in its talons. The ﬁsh was still ﬂapping around and it was so big the bird was working hard to stay airborne. Walla Walla was surprisingly sophisticated given that all I knew about it was that they grow onions there. The last climb at the end of a long day was tough. The sun was setting by the time I got to the top. At the top I found the SAG crew and the rest of the last group of riders checking tires before the steep decent. I turned on my rear blinker and the new 900 lumen Magic Shine headlight and started down the steep ﬁnal decent. The Alleweder wasn't handling particularly well (I later discovered that bolts that held the steering arm to the bottom of the strut were loose) so I deployed my parachutes and tried to keep my speed down under 50. Just about everyone else from the group went ﬂying past me. By the time I got into Clarkson (on the Washington side of the river) it was 9:30pm and very dark. The SAG crew had informed us that the campground was about 5 miles out of town and I was starving so I rolled up to the ﬁrst people I saw in town and asked, "Where can I get a steak and a beer?" After some thinking they told me there wasn't such a place in Clarkson. I had to cross the river into Lewiston, ID. Fortunately I found the place they recommended and it lived up to expectations. By 10:30pm I had ﬁnished my 5th meal for the day (Just a little 12oz steak, a baked potato, large plate of pasta, salad and half a loaf of bread washed down with a couple of local brews) Then I headed for the campsite arriving at 11pm. Needless to say I slept soundly.
I missed the ﬁrst half of this day at Allegro Cycles (Thanks, guys!) getting a new front derailleur put on. I was having a little bit of second breakfast with Kirk when he got a call from Larry. I may never forget the look on his face as he said, "You're WHERE?" A wrong turn and a dearth of road signs had led our embedded reporter to become unembedded by about 40 miles. Kirk was glad he'd agreed to SAG me to Walla Walla as he suddenly found himself enjoying a free breakfast AND and excuse not to drive to Pendleton. I also remember the last descent and especially the looong gradual taper at the end. I had plenty of battery left so I opened up the throttle a bit and ﬂew all the way to Clarkston in the high 20s to low 30s (mph). That was the ﬁrst of very few times I passed Josef, and he was running hot as well. I'd have made it to camp before dark except for that dinner stop. Bill Bates will be disappointed to read that I got out and sat at a table rather than having the carhop bring it to me and eating inside the velo. Nina: Day 3 - the early morning was wonderful! Nice road, great view all the time, no stops, just ride on to Walla Walla. I don't know what I expected, but the main street of Walla Walla was beautiful. Walla Walla sounded to me like a enclave of hippie apostles, but I found a scenic town. There we got the best coffee of the last days and delicious food too. Leaving Walla Walla, it quickly became hot. At our lunch stop the temperatures had climbed into dimensions that made it impossible for me to eat something. The only thing I would had liked was ice cream but that was sold out and I could only look into Josef's empty cup. The thing I learned: If you want to have a chance to get some ice cream, only follow the blue quest and don't let him ride away.
After the lunch stop in the shade we returned to the hot road. The air was shimmering in the heat. We made the second climb and Josef rolled down. On my way down I started to think about all the things that could happen - suddenly i was so scared that I stopped, got out and wanted to let the brakes cool down. Standing there in the sun on the hot asphalt did not interrupt the bad thoughts. Nobody passed by, my condition got worser and worser. I went on and after a while I saw Vicky and Craig with their van and Josef standing by them. Knocking on my head (that was the sign for "pick me up") was nearly the most stressful thing on the whole tour. I didn't wanted to stop, but I knew that it was the best I could do to that time. Before I started ROAM I had to promise my family that I won't do anything that would place myself at risk, that was determined. Getting a V8 from Vicky, sitting in the cool Van - all these things brought me back into a normal constitution during the next hours. That one of our german riders came along and said "Na, gibst du auf?" (transl.: well, you give up?) is still in my mind. As we picked up another rider later, who was deranged by a sunstroke so that he couldn't ride the other day, I got the feeling that I made the right decision. Slept well that night - in the right mood for the next days. Lee: For me, day 3 was also the longest, one of only 2 days where I arrived at the campsite after sunset (and the other was when my riding partener had a mechanical a few miles before the camp). It was also the only day where the riding time on my speedo was over 10 hours for me (I was one of the slower riders on the trip, josef was one of the fastest). I arrived at Kim's marina at dusk but don't think it was quite sunset. Myself and a few of the other riders also decided to have a third unscheduled food stop half way up the ﬁnal climb. Most other days we only had 1 or two such stops.
bogusgee recalled his meeting with the tour that night on BROL: I got a chance to chat with some of the ROAMers last night at Hell's Gate in Lewiston. Mostly with CiberQuest (Machiel) and Maarten. They also were in the sub 9 rolling time. These guys are bad bad men! With the heat and the climbing I am thoroughly impressed. I brieﬂy met Josef, but did not speak with him much and I saw Pterovelo roll in, but it was getting late and there was clearly much to do (pitch tent, eat, shower, etc). Pterovelo has a very impressive lighting system...it looked almost like it had car headlights. There were still others rolling in as I drove out at 2130. Best of luck on the rest of the journey guys! G
Day 4: Sunday, July 31, 2011
Lewiston ID to Lowell ID, 170 km
With two tough days in our legs, we were not exactly eager for another hard day of again climbing about 2.500 m. Much of the day we followed US 12, the road we would stay on for most of our way between Oregon and Minnesota. Like many others I had put on my Flevobike roof to keep the head in the shade in spite of the somewhat weaker airﬂow around the upper body when running the roof. The day turned out to be much nicer than expected. It was signiﬁcantly shorter and climbing was gentle. The route went uphill all day but at a rather comfortable gradient. On top of that, riding along the Clearwater river provided a cool breeze. The further we went up, the more we left the desert behind and entered the forests, providing for occasional patches of shade, even though the river valley still was rather wide. We were out early, riding back towards Lewiston before 7 am, the velomobiles wet with dew from the night. Heading out of Lewiton, I had my ﬁrst encounter with law enforcement. The ofﬁcer had become curious as he saw groups of velomobiles pass by. I let the others ride on and talked to him for a while, checking if there were any issues or road works further up that could be of signiﬁcance to us. According to him, it would be ﬁne and we would enjoy the ride. In his judgement, highway 12 actually was good for cyclists – contrary to comments I had received earlier, complaining about lack of a shoulder.
To be sure, it got hot in the afternoon again, and we did feel the heat, in particular on those few parts where the road would leave the river for some kilometers. On the other hand, the valley got nicer as we went up, more rural, more mountainesque. In a way, being easier than expected, the day felt short; and it felt long, because there was so much to see, a new mountain river panorama behind every bend. After 5:35 hours of riding time I reached the Three Rivers Resort, our campground for the night – scenically located at the conﬂuence of Lochsa river and Selway river; on the other hand, the most expensive camping night of the whole tour with rather primitive showers. Rolling average was 30.3 kph with a top speed of 68 kph – so there must have been at least one downhill. Also, it was Sunday and the morning trafﬁc was rather light. The ﬁrst hours through the morning were wonderful, nice and cool, with shade from the mountains. By 10:30 Oroﬁno was reached, almost halfway into the ride, and most headed for an early lunch at the “Ponderosa Restaurant”, which SAG folks had identiﬁed as ROAM-worthy. Compared to the past two mornings, this one had been more pleasant and certainly easier to ride. The landscape appealed to our eyes; the feel of the land was West – fresh air, big country, mountain rivers, dark forests, the mountain cliché, if you will.
I saw deer crossing by my tent the next morning, and would not have been surprised if it had been a bear. It probably was that night when a mouse claimed my Quest as its new home and built its bed in the back of the Quest’s trunk with pieces of bubble wrap and luggage bag it had chewed off there. I only discovered this days later at Missoula and may well have carried a blind passenger across the Rocky Mountains.
have their two service vehicles with trailers and a couple of personal rigs. They will be ﬁne. Still - some riders are not leaving earlier this morning. They know it's another challenging day- why are they not getting out of camp Is it they are feeling "day three fatigue" probably. Fortunately they have cooler weather and shade today. Last night gave us light showers for refreshment. We have new riders joining the tour. I spotted an electric assist F-40 leaving camp early; two more velo's - a Borealis and a Rotovelo. I got to test ride the Rotovelo - Damn durable Patrick has new tires and ready to attack the hill. Taylor got the new front derailure sorted out in Walla Walla and rode strong yesterday. The Quest rider #66 "Daniel" who grew up in Battle Ground WA rode very strong yesterday - he commented that maybe his tour in Afganistan may have conditioned him for the heat. I may not be able to give ride reports today for as we will be in the mountains with limited services. Later, Lonnie added this: Day four - piece of cake – no one lost – short mileage today – another warm day of 92 degrees. Riders ended their day camped at the Three Rivers resort under cool shade.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie, opening the comments for the day as he saw it unfolding: Quiet in camp this morning - - I ﬁnd there has been no riders meeting last night - Joesf may be trying to wean the group to be more reliant on themselves. Word is getting out that half of the support crew will be leaving them at Missoula. Yes - we have spoiled them. They will still
I’m no one to stay put for very long so I drove on up to Lochsa Lodge for Blackberry cobbler alamode and coffee. 63 miles of river driving – absolutely gorgeous. This climb of 3-4 % grade will be the ride tomorrow. Riders had a good day – some didn’t I visited for a while with a young Euro rider from Germany who didn’t feel well today. I explained that maybe he was just having an “off day” I discovered this issue while on my Trans Am in 2005. I listened closely as he explained what he was
experiencing – I feel that he is not eating and drinking enough to stay ahead of his game. Tom left today to go back home. Another support person arrived today from California to help out for a while. I hope there will be replacements as the support people sift in and out over different regions of the tour. The riders have been spoiled by the support they have received. I have already talked to a few riders informing them that they need to get used to carring more food and water - sort of semi self contained. The three permanent ROAM rigs simply will not be able to service the riders like they have been with out more help. Three new riders joined the tour today A Rotovelo by TriSled, a Boreallis and an e-assist Lightening F-40. The F-40 pilot has a Quest but didn’t have his velo legs to ﬂaunt himself into the tour. Smart guy – this tour has been brutal even for the well trained. Riding temps should drop tomorrow riding by the river and in partial shade. The wiﬁ band width gets used up with everybody uploading video and pictures in the evening. This entry will be a day late when we get into Missoula. Nina and her brother Josef - - the man that made this tour happen. The Pterovelo has surprised these Euro riders. I heard a comment this evening that the Pterovelo is very hard to catch. Tom who had to return to Portland that morning, wrote as he came back home:
I'm going into withdrawals, the ROAM tour was/is an addiction! I came back yesterday, the day the velo pilots were leaving the Hell's Gate campgrounds in Lewiston. I couldn't take my mind off of the tour and all the intricacies of the events that had happened and everything that was going on as I was headed the other way. So much going on, from so many different perspectives, the drama, the unbelievable fun,
all the new friends, it is overwhelming to try and put it into words. Sufﬁce it to say, it was amazing, it is amazing! I just now got caught up with Lonnie's road reports, great job Lonnie. It is wonderful to see the tour and how it is unfolding through someone else's perspective, and trust me, there are a lot of different perspectives being lived out on the tour right now. But regardless of what viewpoint and experience each one is having, I seriously doubt that anyone would trade the opportunity of what they are going through now with anything else. Some are ﬁnding this is a very hard challenge, but hey, what an opportunity to understand yourself better ! How'd I spend my time? Oh ya know. To sort of sum it up, when Volker ( the tour sweep and super hero) and I were comparing how many calls we did the second day, we were shocked (sort of) at the toll. I was averaging a call every 10 minutes (with however long that call lasted) for every hour we were on the road (which was 12 + hours). Volker was even worse, over 120 calls that day. WOW !! And all about herding cats!!! But like I said earlier, I wouldn't have traded this moment in time for anything else! I look forward to hearing from my friends on the road how this adventure is spinning its yarn. What a ride !!
Craig: One of my recollections of Day 4 was the lovely gentle climb up Highway 12 along the river. The morning had been cool, but as Josef noted, the afternoon heated up and we were all making efforts to ﬁnd shade. As the road wound along, just above the often-tumbling waters, we would see an occasional beach, which often had a small group of locals enjoying the cool waters. The thought slowly percolated through my brain that there really was no reason that I could not also pause to enjoy those refreshing pools.
However, I diligently pedaled on. And I got warmer...and hot...and ﬁnally decided it was time for a pause in the shade. Somewhat like a zombie, I lurched out of the Quest and slid down the river bank to ungracefully ﬂop in the delicious cool waters. Heaven on a hot August day!!! Of course, once back in the velomobile, with only a few more miles to Three Rivers Resort, divine retribution struck with the regrettable reappearance of the p*nct*re fairy, and no spare tubes left. But it was a lovely day on the road, riding a velomobile with friends Markus:
The day's review from the end of the peloton: After a long breakfast at camp we had to say goodbye to Tom, it takes a while. Finally Andreas, Jörg and I start as one of the last from camp about 8.45 am. Along the Clearwater-River all the day, it was simply wonderful. We really enjoy the day. After one hour of riding Andreas was out of humor, because Jörg and I was totally relaxed driving a speed around 40kmh, and he has to struggle not to got lost. So he wanted to drive the Milan for a while, and we changed places. Back on the street I saw Andreas just for a minute, and off he went. I had no chance to follow. Some minutes later I got knee-issues, the bottom bracket was to close to the seat. So I asked Jörg to catch Andreas. He said, he felt very well in the Milan. At the ﬁrst stop in Oroﬁno we moved the bottom bracket of Andreas' Quest about 2cm to the front, and all was ﬁne for the rest of ROAM... The next stop, except for a cool-down-rest in the Clearwater-River, was in Kooskia. Some miles before there was a very short descent, Jörg and I used this chance to speed up and hold the speed in the 50s for the next minutes until we reach the bridge over the river nearby Kooskia. Rolling down the Main Street - Jörg right behind me - and looked out for some other ROAMies.
Suddenly on the right side, behind the cars, there were some velomobiles parking in the shadow on the sidewalk. I set the turn signal and braked down. In this moment Jörg looked to the right side, too... The impact was very loud and heavy, the back of the Milan was out of shape. My ﬁrst thought: That's all, Folks ! I went over to the next shop and bought the biggest ice-cream in town to cool down. When I came back, the Milan was in shape again - Jörg saved his skin Later at the evening I asked Steve Schleicher to have a look at the damage. He said, that I don't need to be afraid of the cracks in the fairing. I could continue our journey to DC, I didn't have to repair the Milan at once. For the last 40km to camp we need less than 70 minutes, where we directly went down to the river and took a bath - there was no time for undressing... The scenery at the camp was astoundingly beautiful. After nearly everybody's sleeping, I had a chance to get some bandwith on WiFi at the camp ofﬁce. On my way back to tent a deer was crossing my way - it was nothing of note
Day 5: Monday, August 1, 2011
Three Rivers Resort ID to Missoula MT, 197 km
As Nina and I left the campground at 6:30 am, once more our Quests (and tents, which was worse) were wet with dew and we saw the mist hanging in the valley between the mountains. The cool morning air was most welcome after the past days in the heat. We knew, however, it would warm up quickly as it did the day before. This was the day all riders had looked at as the true test of the velomobile’s performance in the mountains – and we all left with respect for the ﬁrst pass crossing on this tour, another day with more than 2.500 m of elevation gain. Like the day before, riding the route actually felt easier as anticipated looking at it on the map or the elevation charts ROAM-rider Johan had prepared for every riding day. The incline had become slightly steeper than the day before, but we still following a valley, this time along Lochsa river. It became more narrow as we progressed, and the scenery changed into Alpine of the Scandinavian variant in terms of a European comparison. Mostly, we could still maintain a 30 kph pace without exhausting ourselves. The general preference, though, was to take it easy; so quite a few followed Craig’s rhythm to put in short leg stretching breaks every hour, resp. every 30 km. This way, altering between riding and chatting, the morning went by.
The climb itself wasn’t all that bad, seen from the top; it is interesting to note how much anticipation affects the view. Riding it was an exercise in patience and heat tolerance, all to be done in granny gear as the road headed up, swinging alongside the mountains. It seemed endless, and it got hot under the Flevobike roof (rode with the roof opened for a bit, which would severely restrict my vision), but it did not take longer than 90 minutes. I recall only one spot, which provided full shade under a tree on the left side of the road. None of the riders I saw in front of me or behind failed to take a brief stop there. Then, ﬁnally, the marker for the last mile appeared. At the top, after 125 km of climbing for that day, riders were cheered by By noon time, we had left the Lochsa river to enter the much steeper section up to Lolo Pass. Riders felt ﬁne, so most pulled in to take in a hearty lunch at Lochsa Lodge before the real climb – in hindsight I have to admit that it made the ascent harder, at least for me. those already there and our fantastic support team – time to cool down and check tires and brakes for the descent down into Montana. The remaining 70+ km literally were a blast. While careful brake management was needed for the ﬁrst miles of steeper descent, once the gradient became gentler we were ﬂying into a gorgeous mountain valley with great views. For much of the next 50 or so km, it was just coasting or effortless pedaling in top gear. Down from Lolo Pass has probably been the fastest hour in my entire cycling life as I was following John in his yellow Quest,
Time in the Quest was 7:34 hours at an average speed of 26 kph with a top speed beyond the measurable.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie‘s report from the road on OHVP.org Well the thigh burning saga continues. With courage and planning of one rider - he took off in the middle of the night to get a head start up Lolo pass. He rode until he was done then found a place off road to get some sleep. He was at the Lochsa Lodge when the ﬁrst riders arrived next morning. The planned worked for him now he has fresh charged batteries to get him over the hump. He still had to work hard for as he has a heavy weight velo of 120lbs. Ironically - three of the e-assist velo on tour did not deplete all of the battery life in the cells to the top of Lolo. Smart energy management planning by these riders with a proper balance of human/electricity. So far - I know of four velo's that are e-assited. One Quest with a StokeMonkey - 2nd Quest with a Eco-speed - one Velocity with EcoSpeed - one Allewelder with unknown e-assist - one home built hybrid with a Eco-speed. The good: It was thunder showers last night. Quite a sound with thunder bouncing echoes of the mountainsides. Riders scurried around at 2 AM gathering clothing. The showers made for a cool 68-degree wet start - but what a day to climb the Lolo Pass. Most everyone left early anticipating a rough day. Contraire - it was a wonderful day many rode
trying to get away from me using the greater gravitational impact of his bigger body. Got him at the left turn in Lolo. The rest of the ride was along a much busier highway with a bit of climbing involved. The endorphins from the downhill eased that section signiﬁcantly. I remember zooming by Chris in his Rotovelo (he was riding and SAGing along with the tour for a few days) on one uphill section. Along some major roads into town and out towards the Northwest ROAM arrived at the Missoula KOA with its ﬁrst demanding 1.000 km accomplished, ready for a rest day. We had done it.
at 15 mph going up hill. A much needed surprise as this pass was a worry for most. The road dried off quickly – the sun came out for 78 degree ride to lunch The game plan is to stop every hour to rest and snacks for todays climb.. The plan was to stop at a Ranger station for a picnic. Lunch was a surprise - unknown until arrival was a gorgeous little lodge "Lochsa Lodge” with ﬁne food,drink, and scenery Road construction was encountered with out much delay or incident. Many motorcyclist giving thumbs up and taking pictures. Roam pictures will be posted on a major motorcycle forum some where - I don't know which After a great lunch the velonaunts hit the last 10 miles to attack “the Wall that was viewed on the map proﬁle. The grade increase – then increased more until the last three miles was a virtual wall of 8 -9 % grade. One rider mentioned at the top “that was the hardest 30 minutes of my life” The Bad: Even though warned of no services for 63 up-hill miles – some riders still left camp with out enough water The Ugly: We had a domestic rider so dehydrated he wasn't thinking clearly after taking a break. He was seen heading down hill back to camp – he simply did not know he was going the wrong way. We captured him loaded him up for the rest of the day for rest and re hydration. Once on the summit every one was cheering on the riders as they slowly came into view. Lots a congratulations and hugs were given to each other - Lolo Pass is now past bring on the next one day seven. The riders packed up in threes and fours for the decent - I have video of the fast down hills on Flickr. It was cruise time all the way into Missoula. Oops - right in to middle of 5:o clock trafﬁc. The Velo did a pretty good job ﬂowing with trafﬁc and critical massing when needed to get the KOA. News reporters have been interviewing riders off and on. I met up with our own Dave and Edna "coming home from
Canada". We shared a camp site then had a great dinner to catch up on each of our trips.
Here is another shot of the gathering group, getting ready to zoom downhill for miles. After checking tires and brakes, we prepared to stream away. It was an swift and exciting way to cross into Montana as we hit speeds in excess of 50 mph and enjoyed a lovely long downhill ride. Larry:
That ride down Lolo Pass has to qualify as the fastest with the least effort for the most miles, I've ever ridden. And, being a VM newbie, there were times when I braked, and still had an exciting descent! Harry: The morning started out with a gentle climb, but at some point it got a bit steeper and I wanted to shift to granny gear. That was not going smoothly and considering Lolo pass, I really wanted it to work. After half an hour of tinkering with the front derailer I got it in good working order again. Just as I wanted to start pedaling again, I saw David waving at me, but..... he was going the wrong direction. He had made a short stop into a side street and when he got on the road again he mixed up the good direction. I didn't know what to think of it at the time, but since David was going down fast, I got no chance to stop him and ask why he was going the wrong direction. Our sweeper truck picked him up. The climb up Lolo Pass was the big event of this day for me. I was doing that stretch together with Felix and Wilfred. Felix suddenly stopped at a bit of shade at the left side of the road. In hindsight it was not just the shade that stopped him: he had trouble with his achilles
tendon, caused by his brand new cycling shoes. Wilfred and me were on a roll and pushing each other to keep a fast pace without any stop. I enjoyed that pushing of the pedals. I did warm up quite a bit because of that and since I had an EXTRA gallon jug of water with me (no way was I going to be without water) I just poured it over myself as a make-shift shower. After the highest point it was easy. The ﬁrst bit was steep enough to test the disc brakes for real. They had no problem to slow me down considerably in a matter of a few seconds. An enormous difference with the drum brakes that I was used to. I didn't even use the two small air brake parachutes that I had with me. After treating ourselves with some icecream (temperature was 42degrC/107F) at a gas station it didn't take us long anymore to our camp in Missoula. Taylor: There are so many things I remember from this day: ✴This was the ﬁrst time Patrick took off at night and was mistaken for a UFO by some bikers. ✴The toilets were out of commission when I got up. ✴I accidentally did a full reset on my CycleAnalyst, so my mileage reading starts from here. ✴David passing me going the opposite direction. ✴Andreas asked me how fast I was going when I passed him. I said '8'. He said 'I was also doing 8 - kilometers.' ✴There was a badger running on the road in front of me as I started the descent. ✴I ran out of juice on those last 'little' hills into Missoula because I'd underestimated the distance and used too much between the descent and camp. ✴Montana has more casinos than they do McDonald's. Most of them look like a room full of video poker and maybe a cash game in the back.
Markus: Before ROAM I had a view on the track on google maps, so I knew that there would be no very steep climbs on the ﬁrst 100km. The road follows very close to the river and was very bendy, this was what I like most. Started late again, Andreas and I enjoyed every minute of the ride up through the valley. After every turn there was a new scenic view across the river. Because there was nothing but nature we didn't saw any other ROAMies for a while. We had a good breakfast at camp, like almost every day. Most of the other ROAMies had breakfast on the road, so we could close up the lines after less than two of three hours. But not on this day, there were no service stations or roadhouses on our way up. After about two hours Andreas slipped out of the pedal and got a hard and paintful hit on his heel. Not to take a risk, Andreas decided to load up on the truck. So I was alone on the road all the way to Lochsa Lodge, our lunch stop destination. Somewhere on the road Susan, Dale and Lonnie were greeting from the roadside, they had delicious cold water and some power-shots, I enjoyed this stop very much, we had a lot of fun. First of all the climb to Lolo Pass was hot. Just a few clouds, slight wind from the backside - no ventilation under the hood in the Milan. From time to time, when the sun was shining from the front, I opened the hood like a sail. The slight wind helped me a little, and I had a better draft and shadow, too. The downhill to Lolo was too short . So far as I recall, I need less than 55min for the 50km from the summit to Lolo, the ﬁrst 10km I had an average speed of 70km/h... My speedometer listed only 1250m of climbing, 193km, 6:59h, avg 27.6km/h. All in all the day wasn't so hard, but one of my favorites !
Day 6: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Missoula Rest Day, approx. 20 km
Needless to say that this break was welcome: no reason to get up early (except for me having accepted at morning TV invitation for 6 am), and – what was more – no reason to break camp in the ﬁrst light of the day as we would usually do on ROAM. Instead, we could eat, communicate ofﬂine and online, shop, take care of laundry at a rather relaxed pace. On top of that, the morning was crowned with the appearance of a team from the local massage school, setting up some table to offer free massages to ROAM-riders … Later, many riders went downtown for shopping, followed by a visit to one of the Missoula parks where Ethel and her bike alliance had invited to a potlatch in honor of ROAM. It was a real pleasure to meet with many interested folks, chat, and have dinner together. Before the gathering, Nina and I had taken a bit of time to visit Adventure Cycling and got our pictures taken by Greg Siple. The rest day also allowed for a look back. The ﬁrst days and been tough, hot, long, tiring for many, but here we were, at Missoula, right on schedule. Many had warned about the dangers of road riding in America, had criticized our choice of routes with no shoulders. We had felt safe, actually safer on highway 12 than on the freeway with its wide shoulder; drivers had proven to be mostly courteous and patient. Trucks had not been an issue. ROAM was rolling, and we
were getting conﬁdent to follow our schedule all through, possibly biased by the phrase we heard so often: “Oh, it’s all going to be downhill from here.” Little did we know or wanted to know. On the other hand, we had enjoyed much support during these days, had many support vehicles – more than we would have from now on. The sweeper trucks had been busy, probably too busy, with loading up riders with physical or mechanical issues, locating and transporting riders who were lost (which was the case just about every day). How would we manage with signiﬁcantly less support? While the majority of riders didn’t report any problems for the most time, some faced serious difﬁculties. At least four North American velomobiles on the tour had electric assist; only one managed ROAM without any technical issues. For the others, recharging and equipment failure ate up (too) much of their time; the climbs took more juice than expected, and the rather heavy bikes were not suited at all for the mountains when on pedal power. Also, some physical issues had come up, heat being a problem for many of us, knee or tendon pain becoming a serious issue for some. The ﬁrst week had been hard, and we may have pushed a bit too much in the excitement of the beginning. Missoula also marked the point of return for a number of participants. Most had indicated before that their time would only allow going as far as that, others took the opportunity to travel home with them or to end the tour early. I missed everyone of
them; those days in the mountains had created strong bonds among riders. The one I would miss most was Craig. He had been the North American "soul" of ROAM, I enjoyed riding with him as much as I beneﬁtted from his guidance and support in the planning of the tour. In the middle of the storm, he would stay calm and focused. Vicky and Craig had also been a key pillar of the SAG team in those rather busy ﬁrst days. Three support vehicles were scheduled to leave. After Missoula, ROAM had shrunk to about 38 riders.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie, the voice of an enthusiast & great supporter: Sun rose in Missoula with a threat of rain coming from the western mountains. Gazing around the activity in camp I see laundry hanging among several velo’s laying on their sides for maintenance. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with the builder of Pterovelo built in Oklahoma City. I ﬁnd that he and I were in the same camp of thought when it came to aerodynamics. Probably because we are both Aviators. This velo has an abundance of sail plane technology in it I made a comment that if it had wings – it could easily ﬂy. He said that was the idea. I meandered around talked more aero dynamics with the Borealis builder. Again – I ﬁnd that he and I agreed on certain needed
reﬁnements that both of us had observed on different makes and models of velomobiles. For me – this is Velomobile 101 University (Field research on active models in use.) I’m in Velo Heaven. So many discovered elements of design function that I have started a note book so to not forget what I have observed on different velo’s. What better opportunity than to watch all of these different makes/models of velo’s performing with strong riders putting the machine through it’s paces. This data accumulation is exciting stuff for this builder. The Press has arrived and interviewing the riders. (for a TV coverage sample, click here, JJ) Special kidding is going on with one of the Euro riders that found his picture on the front page of the Morning News. Camp has been calling him Hollywood - he will probably be called “Hollywood” for the rest of the tour The Good:
Everyone is in a good mood – Yes – I would be looking for a break also – this is a tough tour. The local Masseuse School is giving free leg massages from the Student Body. Can you say “HAPPY RIDERS?” I went down to visit Adventure Cycling Headquarters – saw a couple of riders there also. Adventure cycle staff inquired about the ROAM group. One ROAM rider had his picture taken to post on the infamous wall at Adventure Cyclist head quarters. Looks like “Crash day one” Jim may be riding tomorrow. Though the Carbon Mango is banged up pretty bad – it must be ok to ride. I told him he should go down to the auto parts store and get some NASCAR decals - then the body damage would look natural - be proud of those war wounds The Bad:
The drive axle of the four wheel velo has broken in half. Efforts are to
have it repaired by tomorrow morning. This will more than likely by an all nighter. The Ugly:#
None – yeah ~ Another F-40 has joined us - - nice guy that ask for advice about the tour. I suggested he not get used to not having sag vehicles convenient for water/food. Check out where the next town is for supplies. There are less support vehicles now so don't rely on us. Second suggestion was to ride his own pace and not get sucked into a group that is to fast you. It's a long way to DC - don't hurt yourself. I shared with him what I was seeing on the tour so far regarding riders riding harder and paying for it in tendon injury and exhaustion. He appreciated the suggestion. He had not thought of any of these topics. Lastly - I shared with him that it has taken a week for these riders to get out of camp earlier. They are ﬁnally getting into a rhythm. Markus: After the potlatch we went back to camp in a group of maybe eight velomoblies (I was the last) and one or two two-wheelers. Somewhere in the evening rush hour, as we rode on the bike lane, I had a look in the left mirror and see nothing but a dark PickUp. I ﬁgured "oh, you're very close..." and at this moment I felt a soft touch from the left side and saw a BIG bumper *very* close to my face... I got away with no more than a fright, nothing was left over but a tire mark on the fairing of the Milan. The car was driving away without any reaction. Lane Coddington, a Missoula resident who met with ROAM at the picknick: I just spent a couple of hours here in Missoula with about half of the velomobilers. It was the ﬁrst time I ever laid eyes on a velomobile and I
got to ride one! Just around the neighborhood, but it was great. Wow, they are cool. Those carbon Quests are unbelievable, and the ﬁberglass ones aren't bad either. I spoke to many of the riders who were happy and gracious to answer all of our questions. This was a little get together sponsored by a local bike advocacy group here in Missoula. We met in a local park and fed the riders. Everyone seems to be happy and enjoying their ride. I was looking forward to meeting Larry Varney in person, but I'm sad to report that he left the ride yesterday or today and is headed home. I don't know why.
Quite a few cyclists following the ride online commented on BROL about the hardships and risks. Here are a few voices after the ﬁrst week of ROAM: George from St.Louis on the risks of dehydration: This is something that has frankly scarred me about this ride from the ﬁrst time I read about the route. I hope Larry and whoever else may be suffering is OK. Desert heat, low humidity, higher altitudes can all combine to make for a very dangerous outing especially doing these long distance rides, velomobile or not, this trip tiptoes on dangerous ground (in my opinion). Fortunately, most of the riders are in exemplary physical condition which mitigates these dangers and I have read a lot of them are hydrating large quantities of liquids. You literally need to force yourself to drink if you are not used to the large quantities because with the dry air, you can fail to appreciate how much you are sweating. I know that to those living out west, this is nothing new, but for people from Europe, and the Eastern States, it is something that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Dinero from Columbia SC on the challenge of climbing with a velomobile:
When I initially heard about ROAM my ﬁrst thoughts were......it's an adventure of a lifetime......it's an epic journey......and it's almost a forced march. You haven't really been dropped until you've been dropped on a transcontinental ride. Also, there is nothing magical about velos when climbing mountains.You're lugging 50 to 70 lbs of weight up long, steep inclines. Gear your velo anyway you want, at the end of the day your body still has the same enormous amouts of watts to replace overnight. Over the entire transcontinental ride the total power expended by a velo rider might be less than DF rider due to the aero qualities of the
velo. But in the mountains, the peak power requirements will be much higher in a velo than a DF bike due to its much greater weight. And on a ride with very tight time constraints you have to make the peak power outputs, the averages don't matter. Anyway, my hat is off to everyone on this ride. In my view, this is a lot more like the TDF than your average "tour". Cornell from Cochrane, Alberta: Sometime ago, I had contemplated joining ROAM in my Strada. However, thinking rationally, I knew that I could do the mileage they had contemplated one one or two days, but not 30 days in a row. In addition, competing with younger riders would be very demoralizing and unrealistic. Coming into camp in the dark and last on every day would me more than I could have endured. This would not have been that much fun. So watching this traverse of the US from the comfort of my computer chair is just ﬁne with me. That can be followed with a reasonable 40 km morning ride in my Strada around my area. Doing that this morning before it starts raining again! Larry Varney, who left ROAM at Missoula, commented on his days on the tour, also on BROL: I'm glad to say that I wasn't the "domestic rider" mentioned earlier - I did a much better job of getting lost on this ride - no one caught me heading in the wrong direction in time! And yes, I am home now, and yes, the heat and distances, not to mention the "hills", were awesome - but I surprised myself by not really having any horrible aches, pains, or anything else from the riding. I wasn't riding as fast as the faster riders, but that didn't surprise me the downhills were a bit twitchy for me, but I got to the point on the
ride into MIssoula of being able to hold it pretty steady at 70 km/hr, though 50 was less tense. Considering my (lack of) training for this event, I am surprised at the distances I covered. Centuries on a velo are much easier than on a non-faired bike or trike, though the weight makes itself felt on the steeper uphills. As for why I left, it was a combination of things, thankfully none of them to do with my health or the riding itself - though I did get some recumb-butt from the hours in the seat. And, that points up one of the issues I had - too many hours riding, with little or no time left to take pictures! To which Dan from Wisconsin who later met the tour in his home state, responded: Larry Glad to hear you made it home safe and sound! This is a fun video of you making it to the top of Lolo pass I believe. Larry added: Yep - and that is one big hill! The worst part, I think, was seeing a sign about marked pullouts for the next 10 miles, and assuming that meant the pass was just ten miles away - only to see another sign, a couple of miles further on, that said Lolo Pass was 40 miles away! Very hot that day, and at those slow uphill speeds, sometimes the best way to cool off was to hang your arms over the rim of the cockpit worked ﬁne, until some big meat-eating ﬂy of some kind bit me! ... In many ways I wish I was still on the ride - I really enjoyed meeting the other riders, and getting the chance to ﬁnally ride a velomobile. But now I'm home, and I'll be like the rest on the forum, and follow along vicariously, cheering you all on to DC!
Finally, Chris Malloy, reporting for RecumbentJournal, summed up the section from Portland to Missoula: Velomobiles with suspension, such as Mangos and Quests, turn out to be extremely sensitive to rumble strips along the side of the road. The rumble strips are apparently unknown in Europe and so were a surprise. In this case a velomobile hit the rumble strips at the bottom of a fast hill. The rear wheel hit the rumble strip and the shock absorber rebound threw the tail into the air. When it came down the velo was pointed 30 degrees off its forward motion and rolled several times. The shell was shattered, the wheels and frame seem to be alright. The owner was abraided on his arms and forehead. In discussions later the consensus was that there is no speed above a slow walk that is safe for Mangos and Quests to hit rumble strips. Riders experimented with hitting them at slower and slower speeds, tried shooting across them quickly or bumping slowly over. At any speed they considered fast enough the rear end shot up and to the right. Another ﬁber crunching accident occurred when a rider braked suddenly and the rider behind rear ended him. The rounded nose of the following velo was cracked. The lead velo had a ﬂat section at the rear caved in and cracked at the midline. The caved panel was beaten straight and doesn't look too bad. At the time of the accident the German rider said he had to go into a grocery store to walk around and "change my brain". He bought some ice cream and calmed down. On the ﬁrst day of the journey the group traveled on the Interstate out of Portland. They had over 35 ﬂat tires. The wires from shredded steel belts are like piranha waiting to eat tubes. There were fewer the next day. One heavy velomobile was moving fast down a hill and tried to turn on gravel left by road work. The wheels turned but the velo continued straight, ripping both front tires off the rims. That rider was done for the day.
Those are the basic disasters of the ﬁrst few days. The point of sharing them is that people should know the trials of this event are more than exhaustion and heat, though they are present. On both the second and third days eight people were brought into the camp in the SAG. Riders become lost and must be fetched. At Missoula most of the SAG vehicles provided by the Oregon Human Powered Vehicle Association will have gone home. That leaves only a couple of support vehicles for 40 odd riders spread out over miles of road. If you want to help you may drive a SAG vehicle, if only for a couple of days. Middle America is a big hot place.
Day 7: Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Missoula MT to Helena MT, 217 km
The seventh day of the tour really contradicted our expectations. Don’t know what it was, but we went into the day without much awareness of its challenges. Maybe, the rest day had somewhat broken the routine, maybe we were overestimating the recreation effect of a day off. The fact that we had decided on a new and shorter route the night before (and would have the advance team to mark the route with colored sticks and spray on the pavement) might also have been a factor. True, at the brieﬁng the night before we reminded ourselves that we had a pass to climb that was higher than Lolo Pass. On the other hand, Missoula being about 1.000 m above sea level, we would come from much higher up. I recall many riders up and busy packing about 6 am, but in the end we didn’t leave really early, given the number of people departing for home that morning. Before 8 am Nina, myself and a small group of other riders had already reached the ﬁrst of the two freeway sections, after having crossed Missoula for the last time and taking the side roads as far as possible. We would mostly be taking side and frontage roads to the left and right of I-90 and turn back onto US 12 at Garrison – instead of the option to ride route 200 and get back on 12 at Avon, a route which Myron took who had not been present at the brieﬁng. When we met later he was still wandering why no one had passed him on that stretch.
The morning went by well, apart from two ﬂats I suffered on the freeway shoulder. The side roads were beautiful and hardly had any trafﬁc, offering nice views over the valley, the mountain ranges to both sides. At times we would be closer by the river, at other times riding up along the hillsides. When on the freeway, there was the option to race the trains, which were slow enough to give us a chance of winning. We lost some time when somewhere up a hill the left crank of Jörg’s Evo R came off. It took him a while to put it back on while our small group could not do anything but watch him work through the glass canopy – without footholes he had to repair the crankset from his seat, bending forward into the shell.
Most of us pulled in at the Country Bumkins in Drummond MT for lunch, quite a sight (as so often at the lunch rest stops), captured nicely in this video by Harry. Waiting for Nina (who did not come because she pulled in for another stop at the freeway) I noticed it was getting closer to 2 pm as I took on route 12 for the ride up to MacDonald Pass. Put in a cruise along Main Street in Avon (unpaved, if my memory’s right) and went on towards Elliston for lunch. After that came the long climb up to the pass, a vertical gain of about 1.000 meters, through a much wider valley than the Lolo Pass road and not quite as steep. Riding up the mountain I was on my own for a while, then saw Steve on his fully faired F-40 in the distance. Steve is a tough rider, light weight with great endurance capability. Gradually I came closer, and he was about 500 m ahead when we hit the steep climbs towards the pass. I would have stopped for a short rest, but he didn’t, so I didn’t. Granny gear climbing now, until I reached the top at about 5 pm, some 160 km into the day’s ride. Bill and his son were up there together with Lonnie. The group had spread out more than on other days; I only saw about 3-4 other riders coming up in the good half hour I spent on the top (Lonnie had said the web cam would take a picture only every 15 minutes, so we had to stand there at least that long), while it seemed that a major hale storm was coming down over Helena on the other side.
Hit a pothole as we came into town and suffered a snakebite ﬂat on the front right wheel, which consumed an extra 15 minutes. I knew that camp was out of town towards the east but somehow didn’t realize what it meant – like many others. We had come about 190 km to Helena, the given destination; mentally, this day was done. It wasn’t. As Martin and I stopped for refueling at a gas station on the eastern end of Helena, a local couple asked about our destination. Oh sure, they would know Canyon Ferry Lake. It was right there, behind those mountains, said the man, pointing to a range in the distance. We had about 30 km to ride, and these seemingly took more effort than the big climb before. Some ﬁerce climbing was ahead It was getting late, so I was eager to ride on. Martin and I took off together. The descent was spectacular, needed some careful riding, but went by insanely fast with top speeds around 100 kph. This and the gorgeous views totally captured my attention – I did not take a single picture from the pass until next morning. The air seemed crystal clear, and the mountain sides appeared in stark contrasts in the late afternoon light, sharply cut shades, rough and less green than west of the pass. Unlike the ride down from Lolo Pass the downhill from MacDonald Pass went on longer on higher grades and continued into Helena, except for some minor climbs – see this nice video of ROAM-rider Lee shot. of us, followed by a steep downhill towards the lake, which beautifully stretched before our eyes. In some light rain we crossed the dam and went right into tough climbs on the other side. Not knowing where exactly the turn off to the campground would be, the downhills couldn’t be taken at full speed, and it didn’t come for a while. Instead, we went across some big rollers. Finally, at Kim’s Marina, we had been assigned the front lawn to set up camp, and some riders had already arrived. By the time I had ﬁnished registration for the group, Nina was still out on the road, along with quite a few others. I thus decided to book a cabin for the two of us to save her the work of making camp when she would come. She arrived well over an hour later
in the last daylight; some others came in in the dark or had to be picked up by SAG vehicles. I could offer her a bed and her personal shower but didn’t have more than beers and a sandwich as dinner for both of us, a shortfall I would regret the next day. At 8:46 hours this would be the second longest riding day of the tour for me, done at a rolling average of 24.6 kph.
with much enthusiasm. You will be able to tell by the Flickr pictures the climb did not dampen their spirits. Today Roamers climbed 13,000 feet by one of the on board GPS - - I’ll bet these guys will be glad to hit the plains soon enough. The down hill was a wide road to ﬂy down hill on. I watched the Milan and others get ready for their decent. I jumped in the car to catch some video of these guys going down hill. Not bad - but then – the Milan absolutely blew by like a rocket. I started my car and took chase not sure I could catch it. When I "ﬁnally" caught him, he was slowing down for one of two tight curves on the down hill. The Milan just hunkered down and carved the turn like it was on rails passing a Quest in the process. Once back out on the open road the Milan started it’s high speed decent once again. This time I veriﬁed his speed by my car speedometer - he was doing 70 mph holding a nice smooth line through the turns. My hat is off to Marcus the rider. This is a #5 Milan that he ﬁnished the velo himself. He did a awesome job of showing what this quick little machine can do Here‘s the downhill video. The good:
The day really never got hot. The breeze was cool for the climb.
Jim got back into the saddle again today in his banged up Mango. He said the velo is deﬁnitely not right so he will not be doing any fast down hills with . The bad:
I found out that the Milan had been hit by a large pick up tire in Missoula trafﬁc yesterday. Of course the rider was quite shaken by the scary event. No tag number or description. Oh well – at least it didn’t do anything but put a black scuff mark on the side of the white Milan. There is a picture on the tire scuff on the ﬂickr link.
Three velo’s came in after dark tonight. Greg:
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie, who served as MacDonald Pass cheerleader and rode along on the downhill: My gosh – where has the time gone - it has been a week since these velonaut’s pulled out of Portland. Wasn’t easy getting out of Missoula by directions. There were three possible ways to get lost going to coffee at Drummon MT – we tried them all including yours truly Never the less we all ended up at the same spot. Montana is a beautiful state to travel in. Lunch was at Avon MT – a little café out in the middle of no where – good food, service and pie alamode yummmeeee Today's climb was Mc Donald Pass - - the temps were cool with a threat of thunder showers. Cool crisp air made it right for the climb to 6300 feet. It was fun to be caught by our own "Bill Bates" back in Portland who was watching us by weather cam right across the road. He called me to tell me he could see me. He also emailed me a picture of myself standing outside my car. The riders soon started arriving
The last 30km from Helena to the the campground were very tiring especially since they were not what we were mentally prepared for. We thought that when we got to Helena we were basically done for the day. Surprise! I remember Harry telling me that at the end of the day he couldn't produce more than 50 Watts as measured by his power meter. Harry: At ﬁrst the ride to Kim's Marina seemed to be no real big problem. I had to let Wilfred go on the climb up McDonald pass this time, but after a bit of a rest on top I felt just ﬁne. In Helena I had problems with the dropping chain again. It seemed that the 10-speed chain was so narrow that it got caught between middle and granny ring. Only by stopping with pedaling immediately could I stop the chain from getting seriously jammed between the rings. (It was not until the Appalachians that I found a trick to avoid this re-occurring problem: I would ﬁrst shift up to the big ring and then in one smooth movement shift to granny ring) Because Nina had courteously waited for me until I got the chain back up, I waited for her to get her tire ﬁxed when she got a ﬂat. A little later she had a ﬂat again and Nina told me to go on. I guessed that it could not be much longer since we had already reached Helena. Oh boy, was I wrong there. The hills we had from there on were short but pretty steep, which made it impossible to get into a rhythm and I stupidly overexhausted myself. On the ﬁnal climb (which of course I didn't know that it was the last) I indeed only managed 50Watts. Interestingly, even at a very low cadence and dito force on the pedals some progress can be made, so I ﬁnally made it to the top and wanted to jump to the next. Wait a minute, is that ﬁnally Kim's Marina between the two hills? Well I had a nice speed from the downhill and didn't want to give up momentum, so I pushed on up the next hill and check my GPS there.
While doing so a man in a pick-up truck told me that I had just passed Kim's Marina. I was very happy with that news, since the next hill seemed pretty daunting. In camp I gratefully accepted some boiled eggs and potato chips. I was NOT going back to Helena to ﬁnd a restaurant. This was the second time I didn't get a proper meal after an exhausting day's ride. Eating in the last bit did not appeal to me, since that meant making camp late and possibly climb on a full stomach. There must be a better way..... Taylor: This was the low point of the tour for me. I had a brake issue at 50 mph on the descent with Volker behind me. Then, knowing we wouldn't make camp before the store closed, Merrill and I stopped for dinner. Thinking we were 5 ﬂat miles from camp, we didn't bother to recharge and thus provided ourselves with a learning opportunity always plug in when you stop. The next morning I had to ﬁx the brake (a screw had pulled loose) and was having problems with the charging connectors on my batteries. Still spent from the day before and not knowing if I had a full charge, I crept out of the valley of the lake of woe and began a mid-morning gel shot hapbit. Even so I soon was far enough behind that when Volker suggested I SAG to lunch I quickly agreed. After lunch I felt rested, had two good climbs and descents and all was right with the world again. I didn't have any serious problems for the rest of the tour. Merrill added: I'll second Taylor's description that the end of this day was the low point of the ride for me as well. We rode 145 miles from Missoula to Kim's Marina outside of Helena. Included in that distance was 6300+ feet of climbing. The biggest problem though was not understanding that the Marina was 19 miles on the other side of Helena with 1372 ft
of climbing in between. We had fortunately been told that there wouldn't be food any where near the campground so Taylor and I stopped for dinner in Helena. Had we known how much further we had to go we wouldn't have been as picky about where to eat. The service was slow at the restaurant so we got back on the road around 8:45pm. By the time we were doing the ﬁnal big climb it was pitch black, our e-assist batteries were virtually dead and to add insult to injury the local sheriff pulled us over on the incline to tell us we needed to get off the road. In his words, "Look, this road is really narrow, its dark and people do 70 on this road. Is there someone you can call to pick you up?" Needless to say the SAG crew wasn't exactly thrilled to get our call at 10pm. Eventually I limped into camp, set my tent up in the dark and crashed. Nina:
Riding on the side roads was really nice. Nearly none trafﬁc, nice scenery, cruising slightly uphill. On the top of the pass we checked the tires, talked to Volker and the guys in his truck and started the downhill. The downhill from the MacDonald Pass was great - as I was riding down to Helena the next mountains were good to be seen. What most of us didn't knew that we had to go up in these mountains again to reach our campground. The highway out of Helena was small and there was much trafﬁc. I rode on the sholder while at the ﬁrst long climb I got a ﬂat tire. One mile further on was signed "attention glas" - too late for me. Harry waited for me while I changed my inner tube. Just two or three miles further on the same tire was ﬂat again. So I stopped and changed it again and told Harry that he should go on. Checked up the tire to ﬁnd out if something was sticking inside but found nothing. Volker came along - his truck looked very funny - many velomobiles upside, many riders inside. I told him that everything was ok with me
and he went by. The steep downhill to Canyon Ferry Lake was very nice - amazing view on the lake amidst impressive scenery - another ﬂat tire (same tire, had to patch now). I watched the sun sink lower, the lake was smooth and I knew, now it would not be very far. One mile in front of Kim's Marina I had another ﬂat tire. Millions of mosquitos surrounded me while I had to patch my inner tube. I was rather annoyed with me, because of this puncture again. Why didn't I change the tire earlier? OK, mosquitos need blood to stay alive, but I could ﬁnd no other reason for this last stop. Patsy and Myron came along to look for me, I think Harry must have been in camp for longer time. I loved to see them, they told me that the marina was not far away and waited at the street to show me the way. It was nearly dark as I ride into the marina - that my brother has booked a cabin was very comfortable. But he forgot: to this delicious beer and the sandwich we also had a mango. All together not more than a starter, but we had to be satisﬁed with it. Markus: the evening before we decided to start earlier, so we didn't have to chase afterwards our fellow riders again. Easier said than done Again we had to say goodbye to some embosomed faithful companions: Vicky and Craig, Susan and Dale, Jeff, Steve, Johnny Rocketman, Larry, Aaron, ... (anybody else ?) Craig took a test-ride at the very last minute (all other riders were already on their way...), and I had a short but awfully nice powwow with the breakaways At the edge of Missoula I closed up to Andreas, Maarten and Machiel. Ok, this promised to be a fast lap... but only for 10 minutes. Andreas got his next puncture, and the dutch speedster ﬂew past. Later we closed up to Mike and Bill, and a few minutes later Mike had a puncture. Some riders drove by (I remember the dutch express and
the british gang), but we'd saw them all again up the road, when they got their own ﬂats. After a rest stop we continued riding with Felix, even for some minutes: puncture at Felix's Quest... But of course, the ride along the Clark Fork River was compensating almost everything. The Lunch-Stop-Cafe at Drummond was crowded and promised a long time of waiting. So Felix, Andreas and I went on to the next gas station and fueled up. Shadow on our way up to McDonalds ? Next to nothing. I recall only one or two trees on the next 40km standing next to the street, don't risk another ﬂat by leaving the paved road. We came in time to camp, but Volker didn't. He had a lot to do on the last miles. So we had a very late and spare dinner, but the mosquitos had a banquet. Bill: And yet another view of Day 7 and an example of the daily ebb and ﬂow of ROAM: I woke that day in Missoula determined to get an early start. On the previous riding day (Lolo Pass) I had ridden the entire day without seeing another ROAMER. My son Nathan, who lives in Montana, had met me in Lewiston, ID and was providing me with a personal support vehicle and sometimes riding companion for 5 days. As a treat we had not stayed at the Three Rivers campground, but at a highly recommended bed and breakfast about 10 miles downstream from Three Rivers. Despite negotiating with the hostess for an early breakfast I ended up doing the normal B&B breakfast/social hour thing and didn't get on the road until almost 9:30. With a 10 mile and 3 hour headstart ROAM stayed far ahead of me all day. Because I riding a bodysocked Ti Rush and not a velomobile I had found that it was very difﬁcult to ride with someone for any length of time. But I preferred being able to ﬁlter back and forth through the
group during the riding day and socializing at the rest and meal stops. Thus, I wanted to make sure I wasn't the last one out of town. In addition, Nathan's wife, Ali was to meet us in Helena where we would get together for dinner etc with long-time friends that evening, so I didn't want to arrive in Helena late in the evening. We had not stayed at the ROAM Missoula campground, but at the home of a friend of Nathan's in another part of town so I had no idea of how early people were breaking camp. I delayed departure 15-20 minutes trying to determine if the thunder cloud overhead was about to release a downpour. I ﬁnally left in the raindrops and at the intersection of the ROAM route there were no velomobiles in sight. But within 5-10 miles I caught up to a group that had stopped for coffee. Then once on the interstate I began to pass a seemingly endless number of velomobiles temporarily disabled with ﬂat tires. Despite stopping at each repair site to say good morning, I eventually moved ahead of quite a few of the riders. A few miles later I caught up to Steve on his F-40. Steve had just recently joined ROAM, so I introduced myself and we rode together for 15-20 minutes talking. As Steve's pace seemed a little slower than what I wanted, I explained my need to hustle to Helena and went ahead. I arrived at the "breakfast/lunch" stop in Drummond (~50 miles) not too far behind a group of 10-12 riders. Nathan arrived with his truck shortly, and we decided that he should drive to Helena, park his truck and ride back to the top of McDonald Pass so that we could ride together from there to Helena. In the next stretch I caught and passed Steve again. He obviously hadn't stopped at Drummond. I also remember passing Markus and Andreas resting in the shade of a tree for probably a cigarette/photo stop. This was memorable to me because I usually only saw them on the road as they were ﬂying by me. I got to the "second lunch" stop (90+ miles) in Elliston and found only a few riders there ahead of me. As the restaurant was not yet overwhelmed by ROAMERS I was able
to get my order, eat, ﬁll up on water and be out in less than the usual hour or more. A few miles up the road I passed Steve once again! He was about to leave a gas station/food mart which had been more time efﬁcient than the restaurant. As the uphill slope began to increase to about 3-4 % I pulled away from the few riders that left lunch before or near me. At the beginning of the 5-7% slope, I dropped into my granny gears and spun carefully up the pass, trying not to aggravate the knee tendonitis problem I had developed a few months earlier. At the top I found Nathan with his bike and Lonnie (one of the support team) waiting by his SUV. We spent some time taking pictures and talking to Lonnie. Then Josef arrived and after talking for a while and ﬁxing my bodysock, Nathan and I started the fast downhill 15 miles to Helena. As we were riding the congested streets of downtown Helena I spotted an F-40 about a block ahead. Getting closer I could see that Steve had gotten in front of me again!!! He must have slipped by me unnoticed on top of the pass while I was talking or messing with my bike. Before I could catch him, he turned left for the route to the campground while Nathan and I made a right to our dinner meeting. The rest of that evening I relaxed, having a very nice visit with family and friends and ingesting excessive amounts of beverage and food, not knowing that most of my fellow ROAMERS were working through an unexpectedly tough end to a long, mostly uphill day.
still some climbing to do.
Another long hard day!!!!...... but the prairies await them. Bill Bates added: I've been watching the Mac Donald Pass web camera all afternoon. As soon as Lonnie arrived at point position, I called him on his cell phone letting him know he was in a good spot for pass cam photos. I imagine it was rather strange for Lonnie as I described what the color of clothes he was wearing and where he was parked.
On their computers, cyclists followed the tour checking the webcam on MacDonald Pass. Dan shared pictures from the wecam on BROL (sample below): MacDonald Pass webcam photos.
They made it to the top of the pass!
Time looks like around 5:00 to 6:00 pm. They still have about 45 miles to go. Mostly down hill (or do you say down mountain?), but there is
Day 8: Thursday, August 4, 2011
Helena MT to Harlowton MT, 203 km
This last day in the Rocky Mountains turned out to be the worst day for me, and at the same time I remember it to be one of the best days of the tour. What sounds like a paradox will likely be familiar to many distance bike tourers. The day itself appeared simple: We would ride south along Canyon Ferry Lake to get back on 12, simply follow the road, climb up some 600 meters, ride some big rollers, stop for lunch, climb up some more before rolling down towards our destination. Average length and with less than 1.400 m of climbing not nearly as much uphill as the day before. Apparently, this plan wasn’t challenging enough for some riders – instead of turning right at the campground exist to go south, at least two had turned left and went back into Helena across those crazy climbs of the day before, to turn south there and head east on 12. Not having had much of a dinner the other night, and with a few nuts and a bar for breakfast, Nina and I headed out only some time after 7:30. The cabin beds had been comfortable, and packing up didn’t really take less time than on those mornings in camp.
Turning right, we went right into the next steep climb, followed by an even steeper one. Gorgeous views over the lake and the mountains to the West, but not exactly welcome to our tired and underfed bodies. Further south, the valley widened and the road evened out into some rather gentle long rollers. I was happy, though, to be able to stop every once in a while to wait for Nina. We were in search of a breakfast place, but there wasn’t any and there would be none. As a matter of fact, I did not feel strong at all. Pedaling took effort and I felt much more tired after a night in a real bed compared to the previous camp nights in my little tent. Riding on along this very quiet road I had little to distract me from the thought that this could a day I would not been able to complete under my own power. At the intersection with highway 12, we rode up to a few riders chatting with some local folk. We joined, me glad to be putting in another stop. Hearing about my fatigue, Merrill kindly offered me a peanut butter sandwich, which I thankfully refused, peanut butter not being part of my preferred diet. Munched on another Clifbar instead. The man we talked to about the tour and all that, ﬁnding out that one in our small group was from Austria, explained he had a nephew named Hammersmith who went to school in Austria for some time many years back. He was convinced that our Austrian rider would know him, Austria
being a rather small country after all. Well, he didn’t, but I could help out, assuming that this would be Dale, who with his wife Mary were going to be our hosts in the Minneapolis area. Out there in Montana, we had accidentally met his uncle; well not quite accidentally, since he had seen us on TV and had been looking for us. Some 15 or 20 km on, as the road began to leave the high valley and wind up into the mountains, we took another stop at a farm to get some shade under the trees. The family kindly offered to reﬁll our water bottles and I was beat enough to accept Merrill’s repeated offer to share his peanut butter sandwich with me. As much as I disliked the taste of it, this turned the day for me. The following climb was slow while steady uphill, I felt better and my conﬁdence resurfaced. What started out as a pain, developed into a nice day, the heat being moderated by the mumblings of a little river that the road followed. We were back in forests as usual on the western slopes. Here, they were not thick – actually we rode through whole areas destroyed by wildﬁres – and didn’t shade the road much but made for a welcome change to the grassland valley we had passed through before. About 12:30 I reached the top of this morning’s climb. In front of my eyes a wide valley opened surrounded by mountains, grassland with a few small trees here and there, and some homes scattered across the land to the right, while in the very far northeast, hiding behind a series of long and gentle rollers I
assumed to see a settlement cluster, which would be the lunch destination, White Sulphur Springs. To me, this spot by the road, on this day, given my uncertainties earlier on, appeared to be one of the most beautiful spots so far. Great views, big country, a nice cool headwind, the climb done, lunch somewhere in front, and I was feeling well. Lonnie had piles of bars and gels in his trunk, and we chatted for a while, took pictures with the locals and enjoyed this moment on a great day.
ﬂying by Merrill, his Alleweder shining in the sun. Lonny, following for some time in the car, paced me at 55-65 mph on this ﬁne section, slowing down to about 30 mph on the uphills. The sensation to ride this part was beyond expression, endorphins kicking in, probably ampliﬁed by the pessimistic mood I had been in during those ﬁrst 40 km of the ride.
A quarter to 2 pm I arrived at White Sulphur Springs, about 120 km into the day, and stopped at the diner where everyone Needless to say that the ride into the valley was pure joy – velomobile paradise with longish gentle downhills, followed a shorter and not overly steep uphills before road would head down again, wide and gentle curves. No need to pull the brakes. I recall seemed to go, judging by the number of velomobiles already parked outside. More would follow soon. Meeting up for lunch has always been special on ROAM, big hello’s, sharing stories and impressions, consuming large amount of ice tea or lemonade
alongside a hearty meal. Those to come in ﬁrst had a chance to get their meal within decent times; quite often the kitchen seemed overwhelmed by the cascades of hungry riders rolling in. We didn’t really mind, more time to talk, and joke and enjoy the rest. More uphills followed after lunch, the terrain changed with grassland, small patches of forest and rock formations in our view. The ﬁnal downhill towards Harlowton turned out to be less exiting than I had expected; the hills just gradually gave way to open but still hilly grassland, the road heading slightly down in some parts, evening out for a bit before another gentle uphill – no way comparable to the rides down the pass roads though it had looked a bit like it on the elevation graph.
The afternoon sky had turned grey and some big cloud formations were ahead in the East. At times the black clouds appeared to be unloading in front of me any moment, but it stayed dry until I reached the small community fairground at Harlowton, our destination for the day. Mark had organized showers in the local high school, and the day ended with plenty of pizza and beer on the terrace of one of the few main street diners of this little town. At a rolling average of 28 kph I had spent 7:16 hours in the Quest, the top speed naturally exceeded the speedo's capacity again. ROAM felt so good: Rockies ticked off, on to the Prairies.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie, summarizing the day: Kim's Marina is a beautiful place to spend the night. Once again the ROAM tour was featured in the local newspaper “Montana Independent Record” More climbing was in order for the morning. It was a beautiful climb, low trafﬁc along side of a small mountain river that ran in the ditch of the road.. Lots of curves framed road side basalt cliffs. Low trafﬁc allowed the locals drive along side of the velo for chat "what was going on". I was pulled over at a bad place in the road when a young man had left his ﬁeld work to see what was going on.
Once the Roamers got to the summit the view of miles and miles of open range was spectacular. Snow could be seen on a near by mountain peaks indicated that summer had just begun in this part of the country. Josef and sister Nina rode at the back of the tour today. I noticed the riders had changed tour placements. They were riding at a slower pace. I know some are nursing tired legs and tendon stress. I followed Josef today down from the pass. The blue Quest whizzed right up to 65 mph before braking for a curve. The real show later in the afternoon as we entered a perfect range of Montana rollers thus allowing Josef to maintain a speed of 40 – 50 mph for many, many miles. He was like a Rocket Sled on wheels reeling in the pack. It was good to see many of the other Quest using the roller hills in a similar fashion. There were two Montana State police in the area today. One of them drove along side of a couple velos observing. One rider said that they drove along a side of him for a while watching him ride. Once they realize that the velo’s were pedal power, they smiled, waved and drove on. We arrived in good time in camp today. Staying at the fairgrounds of a small community of Harlowton MT.. Lots of citizens taking evening walks to see their park full of colorful giant easter eggs. A local gun slinger "wearing two pistols” came down to the park to welcome the velonauts to Harlowton. He is a competition fast draw competitor – I enjoyed chatting with him about the sport as I have a friend who also does fast draw. Showers for the guys was up at the highschool to make it a pleasant stay.
Riders recalled the day in their own way. Here‘s what Harry said, commenting on the climbs immediately following the exit from the campground with a video link: Good start of the morning, a steep climb. Markus remembered: This day is fresh in my memory, because it was my worst: In the morning I was tired, I slept bad. Needless to say, we were started late and as one of the last - I think only Taylor was still at camp. Contrary to my expectations my legs was working well, in no time we crossed the hills and run out in the beauti- and peaceful valley. The range was amazing, but there was a tiredness in my head. Maybe I
need more change in the landscape, but there was no. I very nearly fell asleep. After two hours, at the intersection with US12, Volker told aus that we were about 15km behind the last riders. No surprise, there was no reason for the others to stop, because there was nothing - absolutely nothing but nature since we left camp. In good condition this was uninteresting, nothing special, this was fact on many other days at this distance travelled. Another point: I didn't know, that we would soon came up into the mountains again. This would be a good self-motivation for me. But so we had decided to load up. When our velos was loaded, a yellow something came up on the western horizon, from Helena... We were waiting a moment, than we recognized Bert in his Mango. He took the loop over Helena, he was late, but he wanted to rode on. Taylor was still behind us, we drove some km back to pick him up, too. With three velos in luggage, we reached the intersection again more than one hour after the ﬁrst time. In this time, I should have had a coke and some power-shots and pedal up the next hill. One hour ! We could nearly reached the summit in this time, at least the most ! From a present-day perspective deeply bothersome, but back then seemingly without any alternative. I laid down at the cargo area and slept in less than one minute. At White Sulfur Springs we were back on track, I was well rested and ready for race The next miles we went on with Marc in his Borealis. On the slight downhill (2-3%) from the next summit Marc clap spurs to his velo, with schlumpf drive he padeled up to 90km/h ! The Borealis - this wall unit ! (sorry, Steve ). Corresponding cadence was out of reach for me, but in
this lee side the Milan could follow on its own. I got a nice video from this chase maybe in some days I'm able to post.... On top of a little hill, perhaps 30km before camp, we had a last rest. Jörg and Andreas had spoken about the Schlumpf Drive of Marc's Borealis. Andreas asked: "How does it work ?" Jörg, in his own inimitable way: "good... !" A few minutes later (in the meantime Greg, Marc, Marcel, Rob, Lee and Miles arrived, too) a schoolbus with mennonites-children inside stopped beside us. The driver stopped the engine, and at once all children jumped to the windows in our direction. As by a miracle, the bus had not fallen... I was not sure if taking pictures of them was conform to etiquette, but a second later they drew their iphones and snapped us on and on... Benjie, looking back on the Rocky Mountains and ahead into Montana, wrote (he has a dislike for captal letters – I respected that here, JJ): Being an austrian, i didn't ﬁnd that ﬁrst climbs very hard. if you are riding in the alps, total elevation won't be much higher, but you'll be restricted to smaller, steeper roads. so i had no problem steadily pedaling up those mountains. downhills were a blast: no narrow turns, good visibility, perfect view on oncoming trafﬁc. so we could go down at high speeds. i remember meeting airmoose john on top of Mt. Lolo pass, and while checking brakes and tires we were reassuring ourselves that we were mature guys, we didn't have to proove anything to anybody, and better safe than sorry, then we hopped into our quests and down we went, hah! john's gps read a maximum speed of 74 mph. half way down, we wanted to stop for a view but i realized that my brakes would not slow the quest down enough to get into that parking lot. i had to rebuild the complete braking system after
that ride, one drum brake was completely toasted (david made a picture, somebody has it?). those montana days were my personal favorites on the whole trip. they don't call it the Big Skies for nothing. riding on that high plain, surrounded by the most beautiful mountains and with the eagles soaring above us ... just to think about is so great. harlowton was a special place, too, in many respects. it was not really a campground were we were based, more a parking lot with a couple of hand-written signs which would state not to park your cattle here seems to be a frequent problem in that area. when that guy with holsters and guns showed up, we were thinking somebody did call the sheriff, but learned that he was just a guy dressed to go out in the evening. then, on the next day, i was having breakfast at the one cafe in town and talked to the waitress, a local high school girl; she told me about her plans to leave town in october and to participate in a school project in mozambique. so much for prejudice about the narrow horizon of those montana people ... i ﬁnd myself thinking about her sometimes, she should be in a totally different world by now, and no, she has never been outside of montana before.
Day 9: Friday, August 5, 2011
Harlowton MT to Billings MT, 151 km
Well rested, Nina and I started into the day around 8 am. I felt very sorry for John, who had troubles with his rear swingarm the day before and had spent a good part of the night to take it all apart and put spare parts in. Fortunately, we had taken along a number of essential replacements supplied for the Quests by velomobiel.nl in Dronten and for the Mangos by the Ligﬁetsgarage Groningen. When I got ready to depart, he was already working on his Quest again, making sure that the repairs made at night were done right, his hands and arms all black with grease. This was to be a short day, and one with signiﬁcantly more downhill than climbing. Nina sensed at the ﬁrst gentle climbs that I was eager to push my Quest a bit and told me to ride ahead. I did and it was a great ride along 12, through the rolling grasslands of Montana. I could see the mountains we had crossed in my rear view mirrors, a nice contrast to the hills to the left and right in front of me. Their shape, clearly visible as covered by grass alone, reminded me of large ocean waves rolling onto the shore. I had taken the roof of; the day was supposed to be cooler than the previous week and I welcomed the unrestricted view from the cockpit. The road was excellent: no shoulder, little trafﬁc, while the pavement was a bit on the rougher side. Riding was fast – it took me less than two hours to cover the ﬁrst 75 km. By 10 am I had arrived at the turn-off towards Billings and went into the road house right by
the intersection. It was so dark inside, that one could barely see if the light of the fridges behind the bar would not have shed their low cold light on part of the room. At the counter I chatted with two locals sipping their morning bourbon and coffee, keen to get out into daylight, where some other riders and the white van had arrived. Patsy drove the white van. She and Winda were our guardian angels on the tour, always in a good mood, helping in an unmeasurable way. Patsy, the sweetiest southern lady I have ever met, acted like a mother to us riders. She (and here husband Myron who was also riding) supported us without ever complaining, dealt with the luggage, treated wounds, and drove out in the dark to ﬁnd the last riders somewhere on the road. Winda kept the Holland Express going, with a freshly cooked meal for the whole Dutch gang every night. And, she looked after the captain, handing me a cold beer on many a day when I rolled into camp, with a smile and the words "captain's beer". Every day, some time in the morning, Patsy and Winda would pass by and wave. Seeing them I would know that everything had gone well at camp. On many days we met them at lunch; they had identiﬁed a place to eat and waved riders in as they arrived. Every morning, the last group of riders at camp would help load our luggage into the van, Patsy and Winda would drive ahead, meet us at the lunch rest stop and then travel on towards our
destination, where the van would be unloaded, with the help of those already in. The Quest had felt somewhat slow for the last 10 km. As I got ready to go on, I noticed why. One front tire had lost much pressure, one of those creeping ﬂats. I changed the tube, found the small piece of broken glass that had worked its way through the tire. By the time I was getting ready again Nina had arrived, so I waited for a few more minutes. In a small group we took off to look for an early lunch in Lavina, just a few kilometers down the road.
The village didn’t have anything on offer so Nina and I decided to continue without lunch. Down the road waited a couple of climbs, followed by some nice downhills (most of today’s about 400 m of climbing were to be done on this stretch). We had to pass over the divide between the Musselshell river system and the Yellowstone river. As I stopped to wait for Nina I enjoyed the splendid views to the North, a great panorama of hilly grassland stretching all the way to the horizon. This is a picture Markus took later; Benjie and Nina looking back like I had done before:
The view stayed for a while because the hills kept getting higher. Weather had changed and I hit some light rain on one of the uphills, and had to go through a small hale storm shortly before reaching a plateau. Within 30 seconds my chest was covered with pea-size ice balls. As I was climbing rather slowly, I shoveled them out with my hands, determined to put the roof back on at the near top. By the time I had arrived up there and the roof was on, the storm had passed on. By 2 pm I had reached the ﬁnal downhill into Billings, a rather steep descent into the Yellowstone river valley, which beautifully lay below in the sun under a dramatic formation of clouds. The ride needed attention and care. More trafﬁc than before, a steep downhill with intersections and trafﬁc lights at the bottom. Shooting down into Billings I was lucky to catch some green lights before getting stopped by the red ones downtown. Billings KOA was located on the other end of town, So, I went through the city, crossed the river and then reached the turn-off to the campground past the inter-state. This day had passed fast. By 4 pm most riders had arrived, tents had been set-up, we had had our showers, done our email and blog duties, and were all getting ready for a relaxed afternoon with BBQ and beer when a big thunderstorm broke loose, forcing us to seek shelter in such inspiring places as the shower hut until the storm had passed. The evening turned out to be very nice. I
had spent 4:13 hours riding at a rolling average of 35.7 kph, top speed was beyond speedo recording capacity, obviously.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
ran for cover when the 60 mph wind came in dumping sheets of rain followed by hail After the passing of the storm Phoenix based Quest rider John Abby made a comment to a new Euro friend “a little taste of what the Euro’s will be experiencing across mid America”. It was fun to watch everyone back at their tents staking extra guy lines to the tents. Yes – I think the message was taken Little did we know that "the real storm" with tornado warning passed near by later After getting squared away I was given an opportunity that was the high light of the tour for me. Marcus graciously offered the Milan Velomobile to me for test ride. Not just around the park – but take it out for a while on the road. I was almost speechless. Of course I took him up on his offer. Lucky for me – I had thrown my riding shoes in the car just before I left on the trip. What a little Rocket This is a wonderful handling Velo. It felt as if had a similar air coefﬁcient of my Varna Streamliner. A very solid stable feel. I didn't want to return it – the thought had occurred to just keep riding it west back home to Oregon – yea-rite. Thank you Marcus for the offer. While at riders meeting this evening I was given special recognition for helping out with ROAM. They gifted me a ROAM poster signed by all the riders. What nice thing to do. I had given notice to the riders that I would be returning to Oregon on day ten. This is a great group of people to be around. The international mix of riders is just awesome. To see the passion and abundance of humor made it a day of none stop laughing. I will miss this in the coming days going home. The velo count is down to about 30 now. Many domestic riders have returned home. The Good:
The weather was absolutely gorgeous today. Cool – cloudy – tail winds both directions. The Scenery was outstanding - - Montana is a vast country for sure.
Lonnie shared these impressions from the day on OHPV.org: From the Rodeo grounds to the open road – cool weather – cruising at 30 mph. Tail winds and good road made a lasting impression on these guys. It is surreal to see sleek velomobiles parked in numbers outside a Montana Bar. The Bars are manytimes the only food and water resources across the vast plains of Montana. I’m sitting in a tiny city park writing this – watching ROAM quietly go by. With the 1 – 2% grade – the velonauts are cruising between 30 – 35 mph. It doesn’t take long for them cover the miles Gotta go before they get to far ahead. I'm back - - - Lunch stop was at Cozy Corner north of Lavina MT. This nice "clean" large bar has live entertainment twice a month. Owner was glad to have the business and served the food by himself. He was ﬂattered his establishment was chosen for the a Lunch stop. Beautiful entrance into Billings from a view of the whole city from the 500 ft bluffs east of town. Thunder storms just south of the city made for a dramatic entry. I happen to be lucky enough to be video taping when three or four lighten bolts made an appearance. It will be posted on the ﬂickr site. The tour arrived early into the Billings KOA only to be greeted by the same storm I was watching from the bluffs above town. Everybody
Descending into Billings down from the Bluffs was dicey. On my way to camp I received a call from one of the riders. He had just come down the 8% grade and almost lost control when riding over a sunken grade road surface 2/3 of the way down. Then - to add to the thrill - he could not stop in time for a stop light that is hidden by trees causing a blind curve. He called me to warn the remaining riders of this hill. I returned to high ground and stopped everyone to explain the downhill in front of them. A couple of the riders thanked me later in camp for giving them the heads-up. The Ugly:
I found out this morning that three Euro Rider are nursing knee problems One is going to see a Dr. to decide what to do. Hopefully – he will be back in the saddle with on road treatment. I wish them well. There are two Americans with tendon issues also. A good thing is the Americans are closer to home. Nina: I stopped at Lavina and talked to two ladies. I asked them where in this town we could get some coffee, but they told us how sad it would be that there was no such place in town! But they had been really interested in what we were doing, enthusiastic about our route and nearly speechless as I told them that we had started in Harlowtown that morning. And they told me about the millions of grasshoppers we would meet further down the road. Many blind passengers on our way, the came in through the footholes and tried to reach out to the top... :-) Harry:
I found an unpublished clip of this day on my desktop, with Velox Incendia, the Mango from Wilfred. The sky is dark and later on it almost started to rain while ﬂashes lit the sky. Close to Billings I was
stopped by SAG to warn me about the very steep road with a "wooptiedoodle", a bump in the road which almost threw one of the riders from the road. Another rider was not able to stop in time because of his high speed and the enormous gravity pull of Earth working towards Billings ;-) He blew right through the stoplights, but he was lucky. I took it very, very easy down that slope. When I wanted to set up my hammock at the oldest KOA of the USA, all of a sudden gusts of wind were pulling at the rainﬂy and big drops started to fall from the sky. I didn't hesitate and ripped the hammock away from the trees, put it in the Mango and closed it up. Then I took my backpack and ran towards the BBQ to ﬁnd shelter. I was just in time. The downpour and gusting wind was a nice spectacle from under the BBQ tent. When it was dry again, I could set up camp without hurrying. Apart from the huge branch that was ripped from a tree and the wet grass, nothing reminded of the downpour. Bill: I left Harlowton that morning between 6:30 and 7:00. It seemed that most of the others had looked at the rather short (95miles) and easy day as an opportunity to sleep in and set a more relaxed pace for the day. I saw the day as a chance to ﬁnish close to noon and have an unplanned 1/2 day for rest and errands. I was looking forward to riding rt 12 again. I had driven this road a number of times and had always thought that it would be a great road to ride, so during ROAM route planning I had recommended it to Josef as a nice way to cross central Montana. This morning it was everything I had hoped for---Big Sky country, quiet, no trafﬁc and the weather was perfect--- calm, cool with a scattering of clouds. The road appeared ﬂat to slightly rolling and I could cruise at 25-30 mph almost effortlessly much of the time. In fact, the elevation drops almost 600 feet in the ﬁrst 30 miles east of Harlowton for an average slope of almost 0.5 %. That doesn't sound like much, but it makes you feel like you have a free turbo boost.
At mile 30 I stopped at the town park in Ryegate for a breakfast out of my panniers and to make a video to send home. By 9:30 I had arrived at the intersection of rt 3 that led to Billings. While resting there I watched two velomobiles speeding towards me on rt 12. The ﬁrst velo was no surprise; it was Frans in his Pterovelo, but I was surprised to see that it was Felix in his Quest that was almost attached to the Pterovelo tail. Felix was a stong rider, but I had only seen him in his "tourist/smell the roses" mode before then. He explained to me that he wanted to get to Billings early where he would have cell phone service and could call his girl friend back in Germany at a reasonable hour. Staying with Frans was an excellent plan to get to Billings fast. Eating at the bar at the intersection didn't appeal to any of us so we set off to Billings. It was fun and interesting to yo yo with Frans and Felix in the hills for the next 20 miles--catching them and passing on the uphills and their returning the favor on the next downhill. Soon after the bottom of the last downhill, they ﬂew by me and eventually disappeared on the horizon. A few more ROAMERs passed me at rest or on the road before Billings, but I was by myself arriving downtown shortly after noon. I quickly found a great Chinese buffet and had one of my best lunches of the trip. Hasse provided two short clips shot with his phone outside the Cozy Corner. Here‘s one, here‘s the other. I found two clips made by Hasse outside Cosy Corner. Bill, also on Cozy Corner: Over the next couple of days I heard a number of glowing reports about the dining experience at the Cosy Corner. When Frans, Felix and I were there, it was not open yet. Someone said that they were cleaning up from the previous night. Before we left, 3 or 4 people came out of the bar to see the velomobiles. A woman who seemed to be the leader, said that they didn't serve breakfast, but she listed the
things that they would be glad to make for us. After an admittedly , quick evaluation of the Cosy Corner staff, I decided that I wouldn't feel good about any of them being anywhere near any food that I was going to eat, and I would keep with my original plan of eating in Billings. Benjie, in defense of Cozy Corner: I want to make a statement in favour of the Cosy Corner. visiting places like that was one of the main attractions of the tour, in my opinion - places where you would never drop in, but worth knowing. i almost tried the Rocky Mountain Oysters there. well, alas, i didn't. another very memorable experience was waiting for us in billings that evening. volker made friends with a guy from oklahoma (?) - guess what, they were talking about volkers truck - who brought two bulls for the professional bull riding competition that day. of course, some of us would go watch it. it was SO american: a prayer to start the show, the anthem (saskia would sit on a railing while the anthem was sung, we had to pull her up immediately or she would have been shot - of course, the men came with their guns), a display of agricultural machinery, clowns, and a bunch of stupid guys waiting that a fully grown bull would kick them into their balls. we left before the end of the ﬁnals and had trouble ﬁnding volkers car. it was the smallest one in the whole parking lot. Greg seconded the defense: I agree with Benjie that Cosy Corner was a very cultural experience which I deﬁne as anything very different from home. The bartender was more than happy to start the the JingleJugs doing their thing which gave all a great laugh. This the ﬁrst time I have ever seen Rocky Mountain Oysters on a menu. It seems like a excellent price given the sacriﬁce! Lee:
Day 9 was a good day for me and I arrived at camp at about 2pm which was the earliest arrival of any day on the tour. Many of us stopped at a cafe called Cosy corner which was very good. Chickin strips and crinkle fries. After the cafe it was over a few miles of rolling hills and then a long straight ﬂat section next to a railway. Then a few more rolling hills, here I got caught in a rain shower for about 5 mins, and after the rain had stopped I realised I had a ﬂat. Being able to look down on the city of billings from the ridge was a fantastic moment and then rolling though the city to the campground. The campground was one of the best on the trip and they put on a nice BBQ for us. This was the day that Martin did something with his ankle and had to stop riding for a week or two.
Day 10: Saturday, August 6, 2011
Billings MT to Miles City MT, 248 km
This day would be one of those long ones. Nina and I left camp early at about 6:30 am. Unlike the Dutch riders who would all have breakfast together each morning – a major social event in the middle of our small tent city, which also made sleeping impossible for anyone but the most sleepy souls – we would normally leave camp without breakfast and stop somewhere for coffee and a meal. We cruised around town for a bit but did not ﬁnd a place that was open. So, we headed out on the planned route hoping to ﬁnd a diner there. We did not and thus stopped at a gas station and store to get coffee and the pre-packed stuff that was usually offered in such places. At least they carried a good selection of juices. Sitting outside in the morning sun, we saw a few riders passing by, saw John turning off into a wrong direction (he didn’t hear us shouting, though), stayed on for a cigarette and a restroom stop, before following the other early birds up a small hill that lead out of town. Soon, the hill turned into a chain-wreckingly steep climb. We were riding the “Yellowstone Trail” out of the river valley – hard work on the ﬁrst kilometers, before 8 am. Eventually we arrived at the top and continued on a scenic side road with some bigger rollers. As usual, I would go ahead after some time, being able to climb a bit faster in my carbon Quest than Nina with hers – its weight exceeded mine by a good ten kilos.
Waited for her at a downhill bottom sharp turn, actually an Tcrossing where we had to turn left, watching for trafﬁc so she could take the turn at speed when she would come down the hill. More rollers before the road leveled out somewhat. We were north of the interstate now, and ﬂat sections were repeatedly followed by some hilly parts while the interstate to our right had been leveled. Looking back, on these miles we really rode the ﬁrst truly ﬂat roads, running straight for quite a while. Later, the route led out of the river valley across some very quiet side roads, alongside interesting rock formations. The day had become rather warm and the pavement was rough, but riding through this landscape
was undisturbed and pleasant. The land appeared quiet and peaceful – an atmosphere that touched my mind. Somehow we met John again and he seemed to enjoy the ride just as much. The lunch break was scheduled for Custer MT. I missed it because the route at that point went north of the interstate and Custer was located south of it. I was focusing on the road instead, which made a left turn and went downhill towards the river, over a bridge and uphill, before turning onto a smaller road, which was beautiful to ride. No trafﬁc, lots of countryside off the freeway.
Some time later at almost noon, after crossing the river again, I approached the village of Hysham MT, spotting Patsy and Winda waving me in on main street. The village farmers and ﬂea market was just closing. I stopped by a diner which caught my eye because of an old carriage they had put outside. Right next to it was a shady place, most welcome in the heat of the day. As usual, within minutes local folks would gather to raise all kinds of questions about the velomobile. Then, Nina came in and stopped at the diner, elevating the rural excitement to a higher level. One of the Elders of Hysham, an educated woman by all means, came to shake our hands, and declared how privileged
the town felt about our arrival. She seemed overwhelmed when we said we were expecting at least half a dozen more coming in for lunch over the next 30 minutes. Our tour had been reported in the papers, and now we were really there. Indeed, more riders came in, but not more than announced since most had been hungry enough not to bypass Custer without noticing like I did. Beyond Forsyth, the frontage roads remained closer to the freeway and the terrain was mostly ﬂat. The afternoon was hot, as I reached the bridge at which we would enter the freeway for the last 30 km to Miles City. I waited for Nina on the bridge counting the huge construction trucks passing by me as they exited the interstate. Riding the interstate that afternoon wasn’t bad at all, not much trafﬁc and a rather clean shoulder, but some bigger rollers that had to be climbed in low gears. At the ﬁrst of the Miles City exits, we had to get off for the last few km towards town, past the Cowboy Museum and two left turns to the Miles City KOA, our destination for the next two nights. The next day would be a rest day, our second and the last true rest day for the tour. At a rolling average of 29.7 kph I had spent 8:21 hours riding. Once again, my top speeds had been beyond 84 kph, as it had been the case on all but 3 days on the tour so far.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Lonnie Morse, whose comments have brought the tour alive so well, had to return home from Billings to Oregon that morning. Here is his last comment: It was a somber day for me – I will be leaving this exceptional group of ROAMer’s to return to Oregon. I have had enough “Road and Track” and looking forward to the slower pace of the up coming “Recumbent Retreat”. One of the American Riders made a comment to me that this was very much like RAAM. I agreed with him and thought to myself – I am glad I am on my own timetable. This tour is more of a Cannon Ball run across the United States. Why? The vacation window of the Euro riders. The mileage of 120 miles a day is manageable enough in a well prepared streamlined velomobile. Yes – the physical conditioning is important. Again – like RAAM – the day after day ride is what takes a toll on the body. The good thing is – unlike RAMM – there is a night of sleep every day on non moving solid ground. There are a few velo’s that stand out as optimum Velomobile’s for this tour. One is a well-maintained Quest with a Stoke Monkey e-assist. This U.S. rider originally from Battle Ground WA “Daniel” #66 is a lightweight 165lb. rider of ﬁtness. His comment that perhaps his tour in Afghanistan had conditioned him for the heat is likely correct. To my knowledge, he never depleted his batteries even on the most difﬁcult of climbs all while cruising at a moderate speed. I could tell he is riding "his ride" for he was riding lone wolf most of the time. A couple of riders mentioned they always knew it was Daniel reeling them in on a climb when a yellow spot in their mirrors kept getting larger. Daniel has an eye for detail. I began to rely on him for route directions as he had every ride day already down loaded on his ipad. Fun things to recall - Euros asking – how far is the next village? A Euro ask “What is livestock” pointed at a “No livestock” sign at the fair grounds camp area.
“No Parking” signage at a large pull off meant for parking at the top of a hill? Meaning - no parking at night. This one even got me? Do Montanans have their own language? My last morning with ROAM is like seeing a movie ending, knowing there are sequence's to come. It is probable that I will never see these Euro riders again regarding this passing friendship created by a common interest. With sincerity, many of the riders went out of their way to ride by me as they left, shaking my hand and thanking me once again for my support As they rode off into the sunrise, I walked over to help load the gear into the Mercedes Sprinter van. I ask what needed to be done ﬁrst? The heavy bigger bags were ﬁrst – then the lighter smaller bags, approx. seventy tires/tubes assorted velo parts, etc. After the load was secured – A shinny yellow Quest was carefully slipped in on top of the luggage so the driver/rider could access his velo to ride when he felt like it His wife would then take over as driver to deliver the gear into camp ahead of the earliest of riders. I will miss kidding around with the young German girl “Saskia Feldkord” who came on this trip to learn to speak English more ﬂuently. Also her uncle “Volker Mensing” who swept the road every evening with his Dodge Pickup that he purchased in America a couple of years ago then took it to Germany. It will be shipped back to Europe after the tour. There is a concern to ﬁnd proper tires for some. Taylor Wilhour and I drove to two ﬁne bike shops in Billings last evening to ﬁnd not one 406 or 16” tire that would ﬁt a velomobile. I suggested to promptly contact Coventry Cycle Works back in Portland for replacement tires to be shipped up road for pick-up. Hostel Shoppe will be another resource further up the road. Alignment is critical with velo’s. The excessive tire wear I have seen is related to improper alignment issues. The infamous weak point
“steering block” in the Quest is already starting to surface. The tour is only approx. 25% done - - ? One Quest I checked over had at least 4 mm slack in the steering, meaning the rider will be always over steering and will not be able to hold a straight line. Not a good thing at any speed let alone a fast down hill. Most concerning of all - there are several riders suffering from tendon issues. Much so there was not enough space for the velo’s of the injured riders to be transported this morning. There may be a need for rescue – but from who and how? The two violent thunderstorms already experienced by ROAM has given our Euro riders the experience to be alert of more violent weather ahead. Most American riders are aware of the danger that is present in these storms. Awareness and caution should be in thought daily for the rest of the tour Enough of the melodramas. What did I learn? I am so glad to have taken the opportunity to travel with the tour. What I learned by leap frogging food/water from my vehicle is unsurmisable Observing the many velomobiles I ﬁnd every brand has its pro, cons., and quirks. I recall vividly a comment made by a small Euro rider - Jörg Bammesberger, touring a racing version of the Go One Evo R – (it is not about a popular brand of velo - - it is what is proper for the rider.) He is so right. Just like recumbents – it is what ﬁts the rider that counts. His sleek little streamlined Evo R looked like all it needed was wings to ﬂy. It was the lightest “70 lbs.”of all the velo’s on tour. Couple that with a rider of 165 lbs. makes for a nice performance package Many riders this size have difﬁculty ﬁtting into a Quest because they are too small. “Josef’s Mission” - to expose America to this new form of pedal power is deﬁnitely working. My heart is with him to the end at DC. There were motorist constantly stopping at my support stop asking questions that we recumbent riders are always asked – “you know the drill”
cost, weight, why, comfort, etc. Some even drove back home to get their cameras. Josef had a dream, and he is making it come true. My hat is off to this ﬁne German Gentleman who knows how to get the best from his Quest. Now that I have been gone from the tour a few days – I still think about them and hope they can work through the challenges with out undue difﬁculty. This will be a lifetime achievement for these riders. I spoke with a wounded rider to think about pulling back a cog and cruise in a safe zone. Also, recheck your x-seam now and then as you will loose some weight. He thanked me because he had not thought about the x-seam issue. My favorite velomobile was the Milan. I was not alone – many Quest riders also fancied the Milan. Why? – The Milan builder used to have a Quest. He felt he could make a better Velo. My observation is – he has. I will go over the details in another posting. Over All - - this will be one of those tours that will go down in history as a ﬁrst regarding a new category of pedal power. As I explained to Ethan “a 16 yr. old ranch hand” These machines may not be practical out here in Montana with your ranching operation. But, with this demonstration of riding across America in a short time window will. It illustrates that Velomobiles will ﬁnd a niche with in the Metros much like in Europe. There are more and more thoughts that keep emerging. I appreciate the kind words of encouragement of my postings. It is not easy covering an event like this in detail. Many postings were condensed because “lack of time” and a decent internet connection. The bandwidth simply evaporated when ROAM riders logged in to their blog sites at camp. Stars Bucks and McDonalds were my strongholds along the way. Even at that – the picture uploads were three times longer than home.
Now - to have my signed ROAM poster mounted.
A spectacular crash from my camera (I dropped it) while I was ﬁlming Bill on his bodysocked Easy Racer titanium Goldrush Later on we achieved high speeds because of favorable wind and probably the road was going down a bit (although I could not see that). After a while we saw Patsy and Winda (in the small village of Hysham) who seemed to be hungry because they carried a big sign with "FOOD". So we offered them some ;-) The riders also tried to ﬁnd some food. The restaurant on the shady side of the street seemed the most appealing but it was closed. Well closed, it was only open to regular customers (errrr, what?). So we went to the one across the street in the baking sunlight. Not the best locale, but I was willing to eat anything. Once arrived in Miles City at the KOA, Mark set us up with steaks and corn form the cob. I think I had 5 cobs to make up for the fact I got only half a steak :-) Bill: Day 10 was an up and down day for me. I left Billings that morning riding my TiRush among 5 or 6 velomobiles. I was on a two wheeler because the velomobile I had been planning on using for ROAM had not materialized. We were riding on a street or frontage road near the interstate that looked like it had been repaved recently in concrete. I hadn't looked at my speedometer, but since the road was ﬂat, but we were just warming up, we were probably doing around 20 mph. Suddenly with no warning I felt as though a giant hand pushed me over left to right. Within a split second I hit the pavement and I was sliding on my right side down the shoulder which had a rough textured ﬁnish and in a washboard pattern, like an inverse rumblestrip---not conducive for smooth sliding. Surprisingly, hitting the pavement didn't hurt too much, but I felt like I was sliding a long way and towards the end my right foot and ankle went numb.
Nina: I think that was the day I decided not to have breakfast at a gas station. The uphill after the special "gas-station-breafast" was not very funny. Josef, you carried me up that hills - I tried to follow the blue Quest. It wasn't easy some times. But it maked me very happy to see you after the downhill at the turn waving at me, so I could keep up my speed for the next climb. We saw a few eagles circling in the air, followed the yellowstone valley, arrived at Hysham with Patsy and Winda waving and the sign "food" beside the road. The spirit of the wild west hung in the air all day through. Harry: By this time I had become very good friends with my little camera and the trial and error of the previous days payed off. So I made many clips: Breaking up camp. We started cycling as a rather large group going through Billings and crossing over Route12. Loooooong clip with the scenery on the Yellowstone trail, where my chain dropped from the front chainring. Greg was so sympathetic to ALSO drop his chain. You can skip 4.30 to 8.00. Felix was also there, so there is also some German conversation. Our ﬁrst encounter with enormous amounts of grasshoppers that jumped into our velomobiles – if you jump to 2.05 into the clip, you can avoid my rambling about eating, drinking, General Custer and Forsyth Saga (what?).
Shortly after I stopped sliding, Greg was there to help me out of my bodysock. Probably full of adrenalin and not feeling any major pain I walked back almost immediately to the spot where I fell. Sure enough there was a concrete seam at least 1 1/2 inch wide with no ﬁller, running with the travel lane. With the low sun glaring in my glasses and concentrating on the velos around me I hadn't seen the seam and at least my front wheel must have fallen into it. The damage to me and my bike was amazingly light. My carbon front fairing had one small scuff mark, although the head of one of the nylon mounting bolts was partially scoured off. The right side of the bodysock was dirty, but only had a couple of smaller holes near the handlebar. I had one road rash patch a little over an inch in diameter on the outside of my right knee . The right shoulder seam in my jersey was torn, but I had no road rash there. I had a sore spot in the upper muscle of my right leg, not my hip. My ankle felt ﬁne. The front fairing, chloroplast skirting below the seat and the 1/2 inch PEX tubing that I used as framework for the sock and went from the back of the rear tire to almost the front fairing had kept most of my body and the actual bike a fraction of an inch off the pavement during the slide. Benjie did some ﬁrst aid on my road rash and after a quick check of the bike again, we were off. I was a little shaky, especially on the steep downhills for the next hour or so, but then felt back to normal. I had lunch at about mile 110 with about 45 miles to go to Miles City. When I stood up from the lunch table I realized that I had really stiffened up with some new pain spots, the most noticeable on the inside side of my right knee where the end of my handlebar must have jammed it. I decided to SAG in from there. With the next day a rest day I hoped to be ready to go the day after, and I was. The road rash was never a problem. The only real pain was that spot on the inside of the knee which lingered for about 6 weeks. When I had been falling and sliding during the accident, I had feared the worst and expected the bad. But fortunately I got the bad which was not so bad.
Greg commented on Bill’s slide:: I was right behind Bill when he went down. He could not steer when he got caught in the rut and fell over like a dead ﬁsh. I was really woried because it kind of looked like he passed out and fell over. It was amazing how fast our group mobilized to get bill back on the road. Benjie was doing ﬁrst aid while others were checking the bike over and getting tools out to make minor repairs. Bill was very tough and just kept going. Merrill added I was a little behind you Bill when you went down. It was one of those times I was glad I had three wheels under me. When I got to camp Mark drafted me into riding shotgun in his little Miata for the run to the grocery store for steaks, corn and beer. Somewhere in the process we forgot about details like plates. Miles City (the following day, JJ) was our last real rest day and a bunch of us decided to do front end alignments. As I waited my turn to use the tools I noticed a loose bolt. I proceeded to check the rest of the bolts I found a lot of them were loose including the two connecting the steering arm to the strut. That explained why the Alleweder was handling so poorly. I put everything back together with a little loctite and the alignment turned out to be pretty dead on. Bill responded: Yes!!! It would have been most welcome to be on three wheels then. I would have liked to be on three wheels on many of the high speed downhills, also. Never a daring downhill rider, I usually began using my brakes when reaching between 40 and 45 mph. I think I only let myself reach 50 mph once. The stability of three wheels certainly can better handle some of those "unexpecteds" (loose gravel, bad pavement, debris, wind gusts etc) that you can challenge you on a high speed
descent. The superior aerodynamics of velomobiles compared to my bodysocked bike seem to really begin to kick in between 35 and 40 mph and especially above 40. And by braking I increased the difference in our descent speeds, so I would often watch velomobiles passing by at probably 55+ while I kept "poking" along at 45 or so. I think two wheels was an advantage some times: I could use a nice strip of shoulder pavement to the right of a rumble strip that was too narrow for three wheels. And I think I could more easily cross back and forth across intermittent rumble strips. I think I noticed a rolling resistance advantage at lower speeds on really rough pavement. And I could take advantage of the lower rolling resistance of a "sweet strip" that sometimes appeared in the road surface like a strip on the shoulder that was not tar/chipped; the wear strips in the travel lane from vehicle tires; or even the painted fog line. Fewer ﬂat tires?? I had one ﬂat (eastern Ohio) despite riding narrow (23mm) high pressure tires. The back was new, but the front probably had at least 3000 miles of wear when leaving Portland. I hate ﬂats. Taylor: Riding the interstate that afternoon wasn’t bad at all, not much trafﬁc and a rather clean shoulder, but some bigger rollers that had to be climbed in low gears. Nick managed to keep up with me on one of those uphills before we got to the interstare and I was so impressed I asked him what kind of motor he had. He said he didn't but he didn't think he could chase me like that many times in a day. There were four or ﬁve of us riding in a group when we hit the interstate. Somebody had a ﬂat and Mike and I went on. He had had some leg pain so I offered to pull for him - to go in front so he could draft me. It was a nice idea. As soon as we hit that ﬁrst downhill I
looked in my rear view mirror to see the red nose of his Quest getting bigger and bigger. I was doing 30+ already and gunned it but I just couldn't go fast enough to keep him off of the brakes. Then we hit the bottom and started up the other side. Soon he was a speck in the distance. I waited at the top and let him start the downhill ﬁrst. It was my ﬁrst game of velo leap frog, one that was repeated several times on the tour. Markus recalled, illustrated by a fewof his shots: This was the day Lonnie had let us down... The evening before, he had taken a lap with the Milan. After what seemed like an eternity, I was sure I saw him never more and have to continue the trip to DC in his car. But then he came back with shining eyes like a child on christmas morning . "Wooooow - what a ride !!! "
The steep hill after Billings made me doubt if my gps track was correct. I wanted to turn back, but Jörg and Andreas have stopped me. Good thing, otherwise I would have missed the great views down into the Yellowstone Valley. In the ensuing descent, we could see once again Patrick's Blue Raven standing on the roadside, he waited once more for the broom wagon ... After the stop in Custer we rode along this beautiful sandstone formations with thousands of nests in it. Pavement was very rough regardless, so we had enough time to admire.
rumbling disturbed the idyll: Volker roared down the road with his pickup truck ... On the hills between Hysham and Forsyth every now and then we have inserted a short stop to take a look at the Yellowstone River, it was pure pleasure.
In Forsyth, we had a very long stop. Earlier that day, Thomas ﬂooded his Leiba in front of the store in a big puddle, because it was a tiny weeny bit deeper than expected. Does anyone have pictures ?
On a secluded cemetery a few trees attracted with shade. A tree porcupine thought the same and joined us. Not for long, and a
Day 11: Sunday, August 7, 2011
Miles City Rest Day, approx. 10 km
Among the plentiful advice I had received before the tour, Miles City had been earmarked as a place for which it was deemed advisable to have a book to read. True, it turned out to be a rather pleasant little town with not too much to do. On the other hand, Miles City demonstrated in several ways what we were to experience over the days to come: First, it wasn’t really as quiet a one would think. All night, and through a good part of the day, we were entertained by the sounds and sirens of the freight trains passing by near the campground. Trains were and would continue to be our steady companions along ROAM. Seeing, hearing and racing these seemingly endless rows of cars rumbling along the tracks, pulled by two or three big diesel engines became one of the truly reliable features of our nights and days. Secondly, the local folk, who could hardly be called bike-afﬁne, euphemistically speaking, demonstrated an enormous interest in our strange mobiles and the tour we were on, cruising slowly around the campground in their cars and trucks to take a look, many coming over to speak to us and to help if need be. The local bike shop would open on Sunday, just for us. In other places, stores had extended their opening hours learning we had come to town. At the local diner we were treated like celebrities when a number of us came in for breakfast on rest day morning.
of it I never saw, only heard of by phone or alongside the Apart from these distractions, the rest day went by quietly, riders would sleep, chill, update their blogs and send email around the world, do repairs on their velomobiles and begin a procedure which would last until the end of the tour: To my recollection, the rest day at Miles City started the series of evening parties with plenty of beer, sometimes wine, and long talks into the night. That evening also saw the ﬁrst ROAM-Steak-BBQ, initiated and supplied by Mark, one of our admirable volunteers. evening’s riders meetings. Together with Jacques, Volker was the sweeper team, unlike Jacques, who would drive ahead once his truck and trailer was loaded, Volker was always supposed to clean up from behind, pick up all those who were lost, had broken down, were suffering or otherwise not able to ride on. At times this involved searching them, on most of the days it would mean that he would get to camp last. When late riders came in after sunset, Volker would come in in the dark, the very last velomobiles stripped to the roof. Granted, he did not have to leave as early as many riders did, but his evenings in camp were either very short or went on long to give him some time off duty. I much admired the patience and determination that Volker and his niece Saskia showed on the tour. They were truly indispensable to ROAM. Probably, the generally good mood was fueled by the fact that a good third of the distance was behind us now, that third we all believed to be the hardest of the entire ride. This would prove to be a premature assumption but looked certainly true at the time. The days since the Missoula rest day had also demonstrated that we could do well with less volunteers and vehicles. Somehow the routine had sorted out the problems we were facing in the beginning, we were less riders, and had found our ways to keep the group together. The problems of the electric-assist If I’m not mistaken, one of those who enjoyed this rest day most was Volker. He did all the hard work on the rear of the tour, much velomobiles continued, though. Patrick had experienced serious malfunctions, and had to temporarily leave the group after Billings
to get replacements. He rejoined a few days later and could carry on all the way. Other riders had developed physical issues that kept them from riding, at least temporarily.
By and large, though, we were doing ﬁne and I had stopped asking myself whether our plan, drawn up thousands of miles away and half a year earlier, was realistic. It had been so far, and would be for what followed. At Miles City MT, the last true rest day with two thirds of the way to go, we were right on schedule and would remain on schedule until the ride into Washington, DC. I only went out by velomobile once on this day, to check out the place and ride to the shopping mall on the other side of town.
Day 12: Monday, August 8, 2011
Miles City MT to Bowman ND, 205 km
Nina and I started the day early; we were out on the roads after having sort of a breakfast at the downtown gas station (Nina began to grow a thorough antipathy to those locations for the ﬁrst meal of the day) at 7 am. After a few km in the valley, next to the railroad tracks, highway 12 turned east, passed I-94 and lead us out of the valley via a ﬁrst longer climb gaining about 240 m, which provided a grand view over the valley in our rear view mirrors. A number of riders were out already, so the ride never became really boring. Still, the landscape east the ﬁrst hill predominantly offered grass covered hills. Often, smaller patches of forest would cover the hilltops. Beyond another sort of ridge running north to south, almost 40 km into the ride, the terrain evened out, and by 10 am we were riding through a treeless sea of grass, although a greener grass that we had seen the days before. Some 60 km later, shortly before reaching Plevna, I had to stop for another ﬂat right front tire. It didn’t bother me much and soon I went on. Riding went well, the day was sunny and getting hot, and progress was impressive, with no turns, no stops really, no need to check the track on GPS. Next to the ride to Billings, this was to become the easiest day of the tour so far. Before noon I had arrived at Baker MT, the designated lunch rest stop at 120 km. The ﬁrst few riders had already come in, parked their velomobiles by the one diner
More of the same terrain followed. An hour later I came to the state line with a few other riders, and miraculously, the pavement turned super-smooth with crossing into North Dakota. Five riding days we had spent in Montana alone, covering a distance longer than the stretch between Flensburg and Munich in Germany.
and went to eat at the other one across the street, which I found unfair. So I went into “Thee Garage Bar” where everyone seemed happy to see the ﬁrst rider parking there actually stepping in. Being the ﬁrst customer for lunch, I made my choice quickly, knowing that the hungry bunch was just a couple of miles west of Baker, and soon groups of riders would be pulling in. Gave an interview to the local paper – as so often over lunch –, ate, and got ready to go off again by 12:30. In the meantime, most tables were ﬁlled with ROAM riders, and our usual upbeat mood had transformed the place to the amusement of the local customers who were all sitting at the bar. It was only now that we realized how rough route 12 had been over the past days. After riding even rougher roads through the mountains, it had not felt that way. If that was to be North Dakota, I had a new favorite state. It wasn’t, though, not yet at least. 30 minutes later, the road had disappeared completely because it was under total reconstruction. We had enjoyed the ﬁrst section that had been ﬁnished; now we would ride on sand and dirt road
for miles, sharing it with oncoming trafﬁc of big trucks of the construction company. Swallowing plenty of dust, the ride was awful through the sand, better on the parts that were packed. Some downhills on gravel were fun actually.
just ﬁlling in a slip, add the money, and all went into a letter box by the exit. The plan had promised this to be an easy day, and easy it was. I spent 6:13 hours riding at a rolling average of 33.1 kph. As on the mountain days, the top speed exceeded my speedo’s capacity of 83 kph, which only goes to show that while the route seemed ﬂat, it wasn’t all that ﬂat.
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All things must pass, fortunately, and by 3:15 I was pulled in at the Bowman gas station for refueling with water, energy drinks, and some beer since the campground was located a few miles east of Bowman, right across the “Butte” mountain – the only hill of signiﬁcance in this ocean of grass. Rode back into town with Nina later for dinner, we cruised around town only to ﬁnd a rather obscure diner – nice people but the food wouldn’t bring it any international recognition. Campground registration was easy –
I remember that day being quick for me, If I remember correctly there was a very strong following wind that day. Thee Garage was another great stopping point for me, we got some soverneers too . The campsite was one of the more basic ones, with only 2 showers consisting of a shower head attached to a toliet valve. It was also one of the cheapest at 2 bucks per man including the shower. Harry shared a clip that is illustrative of riding the Yellowstone valley; he said: Nice descent and passing some relaxing riders.
Markus recalled: Cannonball Run ...
The scenery of the landscape in the ﬁrst two hours of the ride was one of my favorites on the hole tour.
This was not Andreas‘ day: his ﬁrst puncture he had after only 45 minutes, the next one about 2 hours later. The next pump-stop followed one hour later before he had to change the tube after another 30 minutes. The whole morning he had some stomach problems, so he was a bit discouraged and kept a lookout to Volker. Most recently started, we didn't had to wait long for him, and Andreas broke off for today. With a large distance at the end of the ﬁeld, the Milan got the very long leash. For the 30km to Baker, I need less than 35min. It was a hot ride, absolutely awesome ! After a quick lunch, I was able to drive the next 30km with an average speed of 53km/h. On the border to North Dakota, I ﬂew past Wilfred and Harry, also to see in one of Harry's videos at 1:10
Shortly after the bridge over the Little Missouri I caught up to Benjie, and we traveled together up to this great and long construction site . There was a large group of riders waiting at the lights. The pavement in the site (next 10km) was gravel and very bad, but it did not matter, the marathon+ did not care. For a while Merrill in his AW could follow with electric-power, ﬁnally at some point he had also disappeared from my mirrors. The ﬂight time for the last 25km to Bowman was 26min, an average of 57km/h. This was my worst speed frenzy ever Taylor looked back on the past four days: Some memories from the Billings-Bowman days: ✴Looking down into the basin Billings is in while waiting for a T-storm to cross the road ahead of me. ✴Running for cover at the KOA a couple of hours later. ✴Thee Garage. Inside joke: "I don't like dogs." ✴Finally getting my steak around 10 PM, picking it up with both hands and eating it cave-man style with the juice running down my arms then washing it down with some lovely Moose Drool. I don't eat many steaks and this was one of the all-time best. PS-Mark, if you're reading this I never got to pay you and I'll be glad to. ✴Walking into Bowman with Martin for groceries and talking the whole way about stocks, politics and other worldly topics.
Day 13: Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Bowman ND to Mobridge SD, 267 km
Looking back, I ﬁnd it strange that this was a day of which I don’t have a vivid recollection for the ﬁrst 200 km, no images or associations of about ¾ of the riding distance, whereas for other days my recollection was very much alive, even months after the tour had ended. I don’t really remember whether I had breakfast at camp or not, if I stopped for coffee in Lemmon or had lunch at McLaughlin. I suppose I did, but cannot picture the location or context. It puzzles me not least because this was in its way a special day of ROAM, the one day with the longest daily leg of the tour. The night before, at the riders’ meeting we had had a bit of a discussion on this, given that a number of riders had never covered such a distance before. To me, riding 270 km was neither new nor special – all we would do was to turn left at the campground exit and stay on 12 until the turnoff towards the campground east of Mobridge. I had done such days before, but they were in a densely populated environment compared to the Dakotas, with many turns, urban passages, lots of trafﬁc and other obstacles to smooth and steady riding. It’s those circumstances that require effort and endurance, much more than just riding down the road. Anyway, I don’t remember so I turned to my pictures to refresh. All I see from those of that day’s morning is the road and grass, grass, and grass. Granted, it looked a bit more agricultural, irrigated and fertilized at times, more cattle out on the grass
than before, but essentially it remained grass. The route was rather ﬂat, some light rollers, some smaller hills to the sides, some of them appearing almost artiﬁcial. I met some long and gentle downhills, very good for riding, though the pavement was concrete at times, not bad to ride except for the regular bumps of the seams between the pieces.
around a bend at high speeds, across the water over a dam and a bridge and up the hills again only few km later.
Hilly it remained, but the varied terrain with the prospect of more river views to come made the effort seem less strenuous. After a while and another bigger climb, the view opened across the big water. It seemed like the road would lead right into the river, it At some point beyond McLaughlin, my memory sets in. The terrain became it bit more hilly, some shorter hills to climb up around the 205 km mark before the road dropped into a wider basin of grass and offered a ﬁrst glance at one of the shallow side arms of the grand Missouri river. I went ﬂying down the hill and turned right though and lead towards the dam and the big bridge over to the other side where Mobridge lied in a short distance. At the bridge, there were road works going on, so I had to wait for a while in line with trafﬁc, a biker on his bubbling Harley right next to me. We spent the time chatting, and to my surprise we passed
the bridge together, because trafﬁc seemed rather slow. At least, I could follow easily, even at the end of a long day. Beyond the construction zone, up the hill that followed the bridge, I came to understand why, passing Myron in his Quest as he made his way up the hill. Stopped for refueling in Mobridge (you never know about supplies at those out-of-town campgrounds), saw Myron rolling by and followed him in some distance. A ﬁnal turn off highway 12 and down the hill to the Indian Creek Recreation Area, nicely located on a peninsula – one of the nicest campgrounds we met in the West east of the Rockies – and the day was done. Another
state ticked off the list. Beer and pizza for dinner on a beautiful evening. Leaving the campground in Bowman around 6:15 am I arrived at our destination shortly after 5 pm, having spent 7:15 hours riding at a rolling average of 36.7 kph (which made this day my fastest day on the tour). It goes almost without saying that the top speed had been well over 84 kph again.
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Bill: This was my longest one-day ride ever, by a few miles. Like Josef I don't have any strong memories about the day except the river views at the end. I remember little about the riding itself except that at midmorning I looked at my speedometer reading of around 65 miles traveled for the day and thought, "Ahh, just a century to go now." By this time in the tour I think most of us (at least non metric-thinking Americans) considered the unit of 100 miles an easy distance or almost a partial rest day. I've ﬁnally gotten around to looking at some of the stats I wrote down from ROAM. For this day my total time with stops was 10:45 with a rolling average of just over 20 mph at an average heart rate of 114. My
concern back in Portland was that once past the Rockies I would be sucking velomobile fumes the whole way to Pennsylvania. As it turned out, my pace outside the mountains was certainly not enough to keep up with the fastest velos, but adequate for staying within the ﬂow of the pack.
On the approach to Missouri River:
Markus comments with pictures:
In my view there were no special news for this day. But I can contribute a few photos: Because their batteries were apparently empty, Merrill and Taylor maybe don't remember the lunch at McLaughlin too. But I can help them:
On the view across towards Mobridge:
Hasse and Benjie in Mobridge from Greg's view:
pedaling fast enough to be going 27 miles an hour. Just then as I was writing off another cluster of broken down buildings and farm equipment as another us been town, I spotted a hand written sign for a restaurant with a neon "Open" sign. I hung a quick U turn and went back to a little dive full of locals. Coffee in hand, I ﬁelded the usual, "What do you call them there little buggies?" When I asked how much I owed, the owner said, "That will be 50 cents, no you only had one it's on the house. You have a safe ride." Later in the day we stopped at the Prarie Dog cafe where they had a map where patron could stick a push pin in to their home town. For you dewing the blog with my location shown on a map its clear, but for us riding through the endless hay and wheat feilds, it was quite a revelation that we are now almost half way across the country. Mary, who rode a rental truck from Minneapolis west on Hwy 12 to meet with us and to check road conditions, noted on our luck with the weather on BROL:
Merrill wrote on his blog about this day:
Today was a 160 mile ride from Bowman ND to Mobridge SD. It was generally down hill, the temperature a perfect mid 70's and partly cloudy. With the exception of a few miles of road construction the road was smooth with a car or truck passing every 5 or 10 minutes. In the morning we were blasting along at 25 to 30 mph with a tail wind. After 50 miles we had our coffee break and I joined a bunch of folks for an early lunch. 15 miles later I started wishing I had coffee instead. 70 miles into the ride I was gettring distinctly drowsy. I kept hoping that over the next hill there might be aa town big enough to have a place to buy coffee. At one point I found my self with my head resting on the inside of the roof ﬁghting to keep my eyes open. I looked down at the speedometer I saw that even on the verge of falling asleep I was still
Concern about weather was our reason for extending the rental of the truck for a week past the Midwest Recumbent Rally. We used it to transport 5 trikes and a couple other bikes to Stevens Point, Wisconsin and back, but there would have been room for at least two more. We ﬁgured that South Dakota weather is easily capable of killing people, and it would be good to have a back-up. It looks as if the weather will actually be perfect -- unless a storm comes up out of nowhere (which they sometimes do) or the predicted high temperatures turn out to be too optimistic. I just can't believe how lucky this ride has been. If you look at the North Dakota Dept of Transportation map, there are ﬂooded-out roads all over the state -- except in that little corner where ROAM is crossing. They had considered the Northern Tier Adventure Cycling route and had gone for Highway 12 instead. What a good choice! They are out on the road in August in South Dakota. The temperature could
be 110 degrees F. It isn't. There could be tornadoes and thunderstorms. The wind could blow the velomobiles into the next county. It looks as if those misfortunes are avoiding ROAM. Now, if we can just get enough DEET around the tents to keep the ticks away, and teach 23 Europeans how to recognize poison ivy, we should be set.
Day 14: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Mobridge SD to Aberdeen SD, 199 km
Two weeks on the road, ROAM was about to complete the ﬁrst half of the tour, time wise. It would be another hot day with somewhat higher humidity than we experienced while higher up in altitude. Everything had been wet with dew as we got out of tent on the morning before; today it was better, but the moisture could be felt in the cooler morning air. Shortly before 8 am I headed out of camp with a couple of riders, up the hill towards highway 12. We already knew that a detour was waiting ahead; Mary from Minneapolis had joined us with a rental truck the night before. She had worked out a way around the road blockage on 12, which would be shorter than the designated detour. Once on 12 and into some hill climbing I found myself alone with Frans in his Pterovelo. Frans had been a very strong and fast rider throughout the entire journey – his daily riding times would certainly be shorter than mine. He always left early and at times he would deviate from the “ofﬁcial” route to stay on larger roads with better pavement, due to the lack of suspension on his homebuilt velomobile and its smaller front wheels. He would suffer today. We were not actually racing but I was keen to see whether my old and smoky ’56 engine could keep up with his, him in the fully enclosed Pterovelo and me in the “head-out” Quest. He would pull away on the ﬂats with his higher top gears, while
I would get closer on the climbs, when he would loose in aerodynamics with the cockpit open for better ventilation. Eventually I went past him on one of those climbs and managed to stay ahead on the following downhill and the ﬂats. I could see that he didn’t want me to get away while I remained determined to stay in front – a bit like John and me racing along after the downhill from Lolo Pass in the ﬁrst week. None of us wanted to go full speed, though, mindful of the miles still ahead of us. I believe we hardly if ever really did go full speed for longer distances; you would not want to on a long tour like ours. My rule on the tour was to never lose breath on any uphill, and to never ride as fast as I could on the ﬂats.
After pulling each other along for about 70 km we turned in for coffee at the roadside gas station and store in Bowdie. Frans said he was glad to see me pulling in, and I was at least as happy to take a break from our little race. We could afford a somewhat longer rest with everyone else behind us. Once more riders had come in, we set out again to go north on the alternate route Mary Arneson had worked out after inspecting the roads as she came out to meet us. It was a side road but the pavement was brand new and smooth. Turning east, the smaller road got rougher and I lost Frans on one of the rumble sections, which my Quest would take at ease, while he was risking to loose his eye balls. We met again as I was searching for the turnoff north we had to take before we would go east again. After marking the turn with arrows and one of the yellow bandanas we received at the campground the night before, we continued and also marked the turn to an even smaller road heading East. Shortly after, the pavement turned from rather rough into loose gravel, and I lost Frans for good. His 16 inch front wheels would dig in, and riding was painful without suspension even when the wheels were rolling. I later heard that he pushed his velomobile over these 8-10 km. Others, who came in later, took advantage of Mary’s big truck and loaded up for the gravel section – not a bad idea, because there was some heavy truck trafﬁc on that section, hauling grain from the thrashers working on the ﬁelds to the left of the road.
In small groups, riders came in after some time, dust covered and not amused by the gravel section, to disappear into the diner, while I stayed outside. A group of women walked up to us, led by one who seemed really exited to see us. She told her friends that we were the folks in those strange vehicles that she had seen when visiting her husband in Montana a couple of days ago, where he was working as foreman at one of the road constructions. “I can’t believe it”, she said, “I saw you out there and now you’re already here!” Obviously, the ladies wanted to know all about us and the tour, a job that we had developed quite a routine for after two weeks on the road. The remainder of the ride was as uneventful as the landscape – I was relieved to get back onto a paved road, waited on Frans or whoever would emerge from the dust ﬁrst for a while, and then continued, into the sun now. The terrain was mostly ﬂat with some minor changes in altitude, and a bit of a curve every 8 km or so. The next town, Ipswich, was visible from many miles ahead. Here we would turn back onto highway 12 to continue on the original route. Once I got there, it seemed to be time for lunch, and I stopped by a Subway close to the intersection, to make sure that riders would not miss the turn (like at least one did earlier in the day at the split of highways 12 and 20 south of Selby). For myself, I got some fruits and juice from the supermarket close by. though I admit to have a liking for these wide-open plains with its big ﬁelds, farms here and there. It feels a bit like being out at sea, seeing just water all around me has never bored me really. At the campground, Patrick was already there almost by himself, a good opportunity to settle the differences of judgement that had emerged after his machine broke down on the Yellowstone Trail out of Billings. I had recommended him to seek local help and to return home mostly because his rig had repeatedly failed, while he felt betrayed for not being picked up every time he would have needed to. With some help, replacements and a trailer he had managed to keep up, because this tour was very important to him. We agreed to disagree on some issues I will not discuss
here, and settled our differences. Patrick stayed on and managed to ride along for the rest of the tour. It really meant a world to him to be part of this; in the end I was glad that he was there to make this dream come true. I had spent 5:32 hours riding the Quest today at a rolling average of 36 kph, with a top speed of 81 kph.
hoped to join the group at the campground in Aberdeen but couldn't due to a wake or wedding rehearsal? By the way, I have now purchased a second trike. Trice T. Who knows, maybe I'll own a velo some day. I have really enjoyed reading this thread. Here's a long distance Blessing! Ps - sorry the ﬁrst blessing only got you to Chicago! Mary, who had joined us the night before to support us with a rental truck, commented: In the summer of 2009, we toured 1000 miles, including some of the routes used for ROAM. Because we had encountered the problems ourselves, we were worried about road construction zones with no place for cyclists, long detours, bad road conditions, ﬂooded areas and other hazards that could turn a difﬁcult riding day into a nightmare. The South Dakota online construction map showed two road closures between Mobridge and Aberdeen, and we knew from driving Highway 12 in Minnesota earlier in the year that there might be problems there, too. We had rented a truck to take several trikes to the Midwest Recumbent Rally in Wisconsin the weekend before, and we still had several days left before it had to be returned. I decided to drive out to South Dakota, check the road conditions, and make sure the detours were safe. It was amazing how lucky the ROAM riders were! A section of Highway 12 in Minnesota that had been completely full of potholes in June had been patched. Another section through a low-lying area had water almost over the pavement (and no rain predicted). There was only one road closure on Highway 12 between Mobridge and Aberdeen, and there appeared to be a fairly short detour available. (Truck and car trafﬁc was being sent 50 miles out of the way to the south.) Sundown stopped me in Aberdeen, so I couldn't check the
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Funny incident that day: i met two catholic priests within a few hours, one of whom was a recumbent rider and wanted to check out our bikes, together with some boys from his parish. (i'm catholic myself, and i teach religious education.) they gave us (my quest and myself) a blessing, of course. it lasted until we reached chicago where the evil potholes had their triumph. it was also one of these days that proved the quest to be the top of velomobile evolution (IMHO, that is). straights, climbs, decent pavement, gravel - the quest ﬂotilla took it all. that i recall day 14 as one of the harder days might be a consequence of celebrating the longest leg of the tour the evening before (we started the celebration rolling down from mobridge to the beautiful campground, coasting totally relaxed with the ﬁrst beer in our hands ... it felt SO good. one of the best budweiser i ever had). To which „Padre ice“ responded on BROL: Greetings! I remember well your travels through Ipswich. I was the one (the second Priest you met that day) who gave you the blessing. I had
detour until morning. The shortest route turned out to be under water, and the next-best route had a gravel section that was not going to be pleasant for velomobiles. My GPS and detailed maps didn't show anything better, so I hurried onward to meet up with the ROAM riders.
I parked the truck at the beginning of the gravel section, thinking that riders would want to accept a lift, but only three of them chose to be carried across the bad road. Trafﬁc remained light on Highway 12 into Aberdeen, where a treeshaded campground full of RV's (including the biggest, most monstrous "recreational" semi-trailers I'd ever seen in my life) awaited us. We camped in a pleasant grove of trees, and I enjoyed conversations with the riders whose stories I'd been following online for the past couple weeks. CW5RLC from Pennsylvania wrote on that day via BROL:
I'm looking forward to viewing these amazing athletes and their machines in PA when they pass through. Is there some kind of protocol here on the visits? From what I read they get up early and arrive late and are fairly rushed at night. Are visitors welcome in the campgrounds or a nuisance? Is it best to ﬁnd a spot outside of the campground for the start or a spot near the end or just catch them on the route? And is all the sagging set for PA?
The road closure had diverted the usual heavy truck trafﬁc far away from Highway 12, so the velomobiles had the highway mostly to themselves. Frans and Josef were in the lead, followed at intervals by little groups of riders. I stopped to talk with David Eggleston and Jacques Spruit, who were in one of the support vehicles, then joined a group of riders at a gas station before the detour to make sure that they could ﬁnd the route.
Day 15: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Aberdeeen SD to Benson MN, 248 km
Another long riding day this would be, on which we would leave South Dakota and cross into Minnesota. It started out nice and cool. Nina and I left the campground shortly before 7 am, riding along the little lake at the park as the sun came up in the East. I always loved those early hours (though I did not like much getting up before dawn – packing up at dawn wasn’t exactly my preferred morning routine). The ride would be mostly ﬂat, perfect velomobile terrain, only about 320 m of climbing, according to bikemap.net. And so it was, rather quiet roads, quite often with a wide shoulder not covered by too much debris, so riding progressed well. The landscape had truly changed into farmland now, as far as the eye could see the land was being cultivated. If I remember correctly, I rode alone for much of the day, leaving Nina at some point beyond Bristol, but I would meet her and several others a couple of times during the day. Some 60 km into the ride the terrain changed into some very gentle hills, sometimes I could see lakes to the left and right. There were many more, but they would hide behind those little hills. Pavement got quite rough, concrete surface, often better to ride on the shoulder. Arrived at Waubay by noon, 90 minutes later I had reached Milbank SD, the designated lunch stop. At the end of the second climb (of sorts) for the day I had
passed the village of Summit (nomen est omen) and went along a nice and gentle downhill towards Milbank. I left highway 12 to ride down Main Street, where I found a pizza place which met my needs: they would have a buffet with cold salads, noodle salad, potato salad, and even tomato salad. The day was too hot for hot food. Since I didn’t want to spend my rest times in super markets any more than necessary, I had missed fresh vegetables over the past days – if there was salad on offer in most restaurants, it was just lettuce; no cucumbers, no tomatoes, onions. This one had it all, and also offered free wireless.
Milbank’s newspaper ofﬁces were located just across the street. Soon, I wasn’t alone any longer – gave an interview over lunch before riding on. At a quarter past 2 pm I had come down another little downhill to cross into Minnesota, entering Ortonville to climb out, the ﬁrst climb of Minnesota. Rough concrete for most of the afternoon
with those unnerving regular bumps. In the meantime, Minnesota farmland displayed its characteristics. Every farm along the road would be surrounded by its own small forest of trees and bushes – a protection against the winds and snowstorms, I presumed, welcoming the somewhat more diversiﬁed views as I pedaled
through the afternoon heat. There would be occasional shade along the road (which would mostly run straight for miles and miles), and I even found t-mobile service out there. Although it had been a long day, most tents were set-up at camp in Benson before 7 pm. I believe this was the campground that didn't charge us at all; people were just happy to have us there.
why it wouldn't heat our meal while melting the pavement. Some riders were kind enough to do beers runs into town. I had spent 7:00 hours riding today at a rolling average of 34.8 kph; top speed had again been beyond 83 kph – aaahh, you gotta love those gentle rollers in a velomobile.
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In the morning, Mary was out to check on the roadsas she recalled her ﬁrst day with ROAM: Yesterday was my ﬁrst day with ROAM as a support person. I was too tired to write about it last night, but more importantly, there was too much else to do -- people to meet and talk to and velomobiles to look at. First impression : they are fast on the road. Even uphill, riders were maintaining speeds in the twenties. Downhill, they just rocket on past. The velomobiles are holding up well. They look fresh, and they never fail to draw a crowd of spectators. The rider patiently answer the same questions at every stop. If I bike a hundred miles, that's not going to be a day with time for socializing, but even the slower riders were stopping to chat, and everyone was in camp well before sundown. There are a few Americans riding, but the largest groups are from Germany and the Netherlands. Kids along the way are amazed to meet foreigners.
If I'm not mistaken, we were the only guests at that point, though it became quite busy in the early evening hours, with people coming by, taking test rides on the loop around the park; Nina and I burning tar by placing our burner (newly acquired in Portland and now used for the ﬁrst time) upside down, wondering
Typing this on a Droid keyboard in a tent while waiting for sunrise is pretty slow. I'll have to save the rest for later. I got up early this morning and started scouting alternate routes past some road repairs that had closed highway 12 near Roscoe South Dakota. The ofﬁcial detour was far too long and probably full of big trucks. After one gravel road ended in a ﬂooded out area, I backtracked and found a way around. On the other side, I started seeing velomobiles.
There may be fewer now than at the start but it is an impressive sight. Nina wanted to know:
Was that the day with all the bumps in the road? Lee commented:
I did not ride that day but for me the next day was to be one of the most bumpy of the entire trip. There were grooves accross the road pretty much the entire day. I responded:
It sure was one of the rougher rides on ROAM, see the concrete pavement in South Dakota (west of Summit SD) in the ﬁrst picture, transformed into the seam bumps on Minnesota roads (east of Ortonville MN) in the second.
Harry recalled: Can't ﬁnd a video on my hard drive from this day :-( but it seems I made a little vid with my iPhone and put it on YouTube: Coffeestop at Waubay. Of which place I remember having some kind of sausages and buying myself a small adjustable wrench which indeed proofed to come in handy later on. One-stop it was, food, gas (not needed, but it was there) a small supermarket and a lot of agricultural, hunting and ﬁshing tools.
Day 16: Friday, August 12, 2011
Benson MN to Maple Plain MN, 174 km
Not sure where it was, but I believe it was here where Nina’s dislike for gasstation-breakfast choices and the omnipresent railroad line led us to have breakfast at a downtown diner built to look like a railway saloon car. The menu was hearty and the folks at the other tables were clearly eating more than we did. By 8 am, Nina, a few riders and me were out on 12 again on our way east. The day was overcast like no one before on this trip and temperatures felt pleasant. In terms of landscape, there wasn’t any detectable change compared to last afternoon, farmland, lakes, some gentle hills under a big grey sky. Perfect velomobile weather, and progress was ﬁne. About 9:30 am we had already done about 1/3 of the day’s distance, gathering at a milkshake place east of Wilmar for the coffee break. We should have left highway 12 to go into town; this place at least was closed. I didn’t want to leave to not loose the others riding a few miles behind. So, we just stopped there, chatting instead of having coffee while our group grew in size. Leaving the place, the line of riders would soon break apart as usual. We had become used to riding our individual speeds or group in rather small numbers. Some time later I found myself riding behind Maarten and Machiel, both were running a good pace as usual. On the occasional climbs, however, I felt they were
a bit slow, forcing me to shift down earlier than I would have done otherwise. Went along with that for a bit, became somewhat impatient, though.
enough roadies out on America's roads. I stayed in their back at some distance, sometimes more, sometimes less. The assertively slight wagging of their velo-tails told me they were pushing it; and so we were ﬂying towards Litchﬁeld, halfway into the ride, for lunch, arriving almost an hour before noon. The remainder of the ride I recall as uneventful, kind of nice countryside but sort of boring, until the turnoff towards the lakes around Lake Independence where out campground was located. It became somewhat hillier with forest areas as we approached Maple Plain and navigated out of town towards the lakes. The area seemed to be breeding ground for campgrounds; signs to places and resorts were everywhere. We passed a few bigger ones until we came to a dirt road that would lead to “our” place for the night, a camp more on the primitive side. When I arrived with a few other riders, about 2:30 pm, we actually were the ﬁrst, not even the luggage van had arrived. Passed the time with the obligatory arrival beers, unloaded the van when it came in, raided
On the next climb, I decided to stay at my pace, passed them and continued the gentle uphill, putting some distance between us (which I felt obliged to extend on the following downhill and ﬂat), letting the Quest run at a longer leash. Not for long, however, and I saw them coming, an armada of 4-5 velomobiles, Maarten, Machiel, Greg, Andreas and Jörg, if I remember correctly. They were on the hunt, so I pushed it a little bit, but not too much, so by the next hill they were there and went by, eager to widen the gap between them and me. That was great fun. There just weren't
the fridge of Greg’s camper when Saskia and Stephan had arrived and made camp. Later in the afternoon we were treated to a snacks and beer reception by Mary and Dale – our wonderful hosts for the Twin Cities – over at the bigger campground a few kilometers down the road, where we met with other riders from the area; and where there were showers we could use.
It had been an easy day for me; the hardest part being all the beer that was on offer. I had spent 5:05 hours of riding and at rolling average of 34.2 kph with a top speed of 64 kph
last minute. We could sees the lightning, but nothing happened in camp. There is another storm behind it, but that one looks as if it may be splitting, too. I am a bad camper. My tent is set up in the back of the support van that I've been driving. The city manager stopped to chat while I was directing riders away from rush hour trafﬁc. He once biked across Germany himself (it was smaller then, though) and he was doing everything he could to make the passage through Benson a safe and pleasant experience. The town has been welcoming. Many local people came out to the campground to look at the velomobiles. A couple of old friends from the trike and HPV world showed up and had a chance to ride around the campground. It's terriﬁc fun to hang out with so many riders, many of whom I have known only via the internet. Bram Smit, who developed the Yepp trike for kids with no arms (Flevo steering and lots of adjustability to allow for growth) told me that he has built ﬁfteen of them. The group is likely to start arriving at the Baker Park Reserve shortly after noon if the weather is good. They plan to sleep a little late on Saturday -- maybe to six -- then start on a leisurely ride into Minneapolis. They will stop at the Midtown Bike Center on the Greenway and have some lunch at the Sheraton or the Center. Then on to St Paul, along Summit Avenue and out to St Croix Bluffs Regional Park. Harry comments with video links:
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Mary, looking back to the night before, and ahead to the day wrote on BROL: Weather could have devastated the ﬁrst half of the ROAM tour, but they have had astonishing good luck. Tonight I watched a big storm head straight for our campsite in Benson, Minnestoa, then split at the
In the morning, riding with Mike and Greg. http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=NkhO-4JuobQ At the (closed) Dairy Queen, riders gathered: http://youtu.be/ fxSPc_gCP5k Beating the train: http://youtu.be/bXZqVjvsIJQ
Cycling past a ethanol plant: http://youtu.be/MroQv7IZr8Y I don't approve of ethanol plants....... Not ﬁnished talking about ethanol: http://youtu.be/Lq2L725Jom0 Irony on a billboard. Not quite ﬁnished yet about the ethanol: http:// youtu.be/qt1TShfba94 The road has terrible seams and the shoulder is even worse: http:// youtu.be/-7Vhc2p7_fM Having a bit of fun, while Mike and Nina hunt for coffee or icecream?: http://youtu.be/G0c28_dWixo Discussing the route with Nina: http://youtu.be/j7oC8I2WKR4 Sirens and road getting busier: http://youtu.be/1xsM_I5TCzc Shoulder is bad again, but we're sticking with it. Closing in on David: http://youtu.be/8NCl3rjDobU People in a car ask Nina if she's tired: http://youtu.be/KoHkgQf9oOA Free Wiﬁ, we love it: http://youtu.be/6cU9ImbBK50 Greg is talking about racing against other riders and the speed boost that "da Hood" gives him: http://youtu.be/S69ydan9dFY Delano, we have gathered in a group of riders: http://youtu.be/ GSb56WFGE8I Group has grown considerably, now with John ;-) http://youtu.be/ klnIGyZ9OZ8 Cutting into the lane: http://youtu.be/RqkiqLsYkkg Almost at the campground, wrong turn and turning back: http:// youtu.be/4vUXjszjn9o
Wow, a real cyclepath and wide to boot: http://youtu.be/bPDCMgC2TE The cyclepath. Away from busy trafﬁc and almost in camp: http:// youtu.be/2YEfFzJFayg Rolling into camp, but ﬁrst climbing on gravel: http://youtu.be/ EO4RwJ_-ofk Talking to Frans at the real campsite: http://youtu.be/t25fBO6sHwY Riding back to the "sub-camp" and talking to Mark in his sports car: http://youtu.be/DZUDeqWZcaI Taylor noted: This was the day I went looking for a laundromat and maybe a hotel in town, failed, and wound up hiking double-time from one campground to the other in the dark, trying to beat a storm. I just made it. Camp was dark and quiet when I arrived so I set my bivy up away from the group so as not to wake anyone and climbed in just minutes before the skies opened up. With apologies to the good people we met in Minnesota, it was my least favorite state to ride in. The poor condition of US 12, bumps every couple of seconds and little or no shoulder, was much of the problem but the drivers were also among the worst. I was honked at and passed unsafely more times on the ﬁrst Minnesota day than I was through all of Idaho (my vote for the second unfriendliest state of the tour) and then some little old lady ran me off the road. It was a place where there was no shoulder and she passed me while there was an oncoming truck. There were inches between my wheel and hers so I veered off into the loose gravel and grass and held on. If she ever did see me, which I doubt, I'm sure she was oblivious to my shouting or one-ﬁnger salute.
Minnesota was the last of the lower 48 states that I hadn't visited and I complained (mostly internally) the entire time. In trying to give the beneﬁt of the doubt I hoped that Minneapolis would be cool enough to make up for the rest of the state but I had to get a part replaced on my Ecospeed system so all I really saw was Calhoun Cycles (very cool) and several stores that wouldn't accept my last $100 bill. Harry, commenting on the rain: And that was about the moment I got out of my hammock. I was counting on a dry night and had not installed the rainﬂy. It's a very nice feature of the hammock that you can sleep under the open sky with only the mosquito netting in place, but when it starts to rain I'd better hurry and get the rainﬂy out. I had it under easy reach and it took just a few minutes to set it up. When I got back in the hammock, the few big drops changed to downpour. Taylor, seconding Harry‘s observations: Yeah, we got dumped on that night. While I feel very fortunate that the majority of storms came while we were in camp, the persistent dampness of gear and clothing was a nuisance for most of the trip. I dried several articles of clothing with hand dryers that month. Markus: When I was looking out for the coffee-stop in Wilmar, I saw Patrick standing close beside the road taking pictures of passing ROAMRiders. Next to him there was a *very* large puddle... But I was a coward ! Of course not because of Patrick , but because I did not know how deep the puddle was and what might be hidden in it. Anyway, it was so invitingly. Perhaps I should have...
Day 17: Saturday, August 13, 2011
Maple Plain MN to Hastings MN, 101 km
FIRST ROLLING REST DAY
On paper, this was to be the third rest day of the tour. Since we had arrived to the Twin City metropolitan area we could have bypassed Minneapolis and St Paul, missing the opportunity to seeing places and giving some visibility to velomobiles. Instead, my choice had been to use the rest day for an urban cruise and heading out to camp on the other end. This way, the next day would not begin with a tiring ride through the city’s morning trafﬁc. Rather, we would be out of town into the direction of our next destination. On top of that, the Twin Cities seemed attractive, given their reputation for bike-friendliness. So we left camp for an extended breakfast at a diner in Maple Plain, which in itself was more rest day-like, to then approach Minneapolis via bike trails. First, however, some road riding had to be done, at which I missed a turn off highway 12 and got us onto a section which soon developed into a full-ﬂedged freeway. Should have zoomed in more on my GPS … the small group I was heading thus had no choice than to stay on until the next exit. Got off and back on track and soon reached the trail we were supposed to have entered much earlier. Mary and Dale had worked out a route for the day that would keep us away from trafﬁc as much as possible (which was welcome in the morning but had a downside in the afternoon to which I will get later).
Riding through forests and along lakes in a group was slow but pleasurable. Our arrival seemed to be known, at quite a few turns there were people waiting to take pictures and cheer us on. Eventually we came into town without really having been in any sort of trafﬁc and found the access point to the Greenway, a converted railroad track running right through the city.
We put in a longer stop at the cycle shop and café on the greenway – a good choice. Many people there participating in or watching a 24h race that was going on. When Nina and I left to ride on some time after 11, there still was a good presence of ROAM-riders at the café. Leaving the Greenway we found that the Twin Cities were somewhat hilly too, like the forest-land we had been riding through earlier in the morning. These hills seem to hold the Mississippi in its bed. We crossed the “Mighty River” for the ﬁrst time when we entered St.Paul – a symbolic crossing for us, leaving the West behind now. We had made it all the way to the Mississippi, the third major milestone of ROAM next to the Rockies and the Missouri. The bridge itself did not provide the adequate spot to celebrate our achievement, so Nina and I just went on, more focused on the next turn than on the history of ROAM – the real Mississippi feeling with all its symbolic associations we kept for the following day. Through St.Paul we played tourists for a while, visited the cathedral, cruised around the State House before heading down
Since it is built below street level, riding the greenway was uninterrupted by intersections, while highly popular among cyclists and runners.
to the river and out. Soon the trail would leave the river and head into the hills of the east side. We had eaten a bit at the café earlier – out where we were riding now, we would have much welcomed a lunch place, alas, there wasn’t any.
The side roads were beautiful and very quiet, we saw lots of countryside and many apple-trees, but not a single place to stop, not even the infamous gas-station for cold drinks and a snack along the entire rest of the day’s ride. It had warmed up, the ride was hilly, and we were thirsty with not much water left. On the other hand, it wasn’t that far to the campground.
In the evening, Wilfred and Patrick lectured a crowd that had gathered in camping chairs around them about velomobiling, ROAM, and related wisdoms of life. Stephen had left the tour at Benson to ﬂy home; Wes had joined in Minneapolis ﬂying in from California to ride on in his Go-One velomobile Nick had piloted all the way from Portland. Since we had a Mango without a rider, Nick took it over – he thus became By 5 pm almost all were in camp, tents were up and BBQ ﬁres were burning. Those still out had some memorable encounters, such as Harry and Benjie who came across a wedding party out in the country. Bride and groom showed interest and stepped into the velomobiles, all dressed up for a most memorable wedding picture.
the only rider to complete the entire tour without much previous experience, riding two different and new-to-him velomobiles. It was a relaxed day – a rest day, after all. I had spent 4:14 hours riding at a rolling average of 23.8 kph with a top speed of 65 kph.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Benjie: Yeah, that was the day harry and i met the wedding couple ... we saw a fancy bus standing in the countryside and hoped for some ice cream, but instead crashed into a wedding party ... well, we explained that marriages are made either in heaven or in velomobiles, so they just had to take some of their "ofﬁcial"
The track through Minneapolis was not really really suitable for fast velomobiles with large turning circles. Sometimes we had little routing problems. At one intersection we met some cyclists, they told us we would have to turn left on the bikeway, some others said right - and the track was straight on the road up the hill. After a while of confusion there came a team-kettwiesel, and the two riders led us to the bike-shop (ﬁrst right and later left...) After the stop Andreas and I spend a lot of time and took a loop through Minneapolis, along the river and through downtown, where we had some pizza. Later, in St.Paul, I had the ﬁrst trouble with the rear-derailleur. A thread was destroyed, the bad roads exacted their tribute, and I couldn't shift on the largest two or three sprockets. I had to adjust it several times (sometimes at intervals of a few km), in hope to reach the camp without major repairs. But the hills put a spoke in my wheel Shortly after leaving St.Pauls I was mad at it. With the help of some screws and nuts out of the racing hood, I could ﬁx the derailleur in a well working position, and we could ride on. But we lost another 40min, it becomes late, and there still remained 40 hilly km. Yes, we became very hungry and thirsty on this last stage, too. And purely by chance we have yet found something. At one intersection close to Cottage Grove I saw something red and green shining through the bushes beside the road. We ﬁrst move on, I needed a moment to decode this colors. And yes, there was a gas station at some distance - and behind it one in recent weeks cherished subway restaurant - and all was well. We reached the camp about 7 pm.
photographs inside our stinky vms. some pics earlier, i had talked harry into posing with his mango on the mississippi river bridge. it was fun, although when we had the mango on the railing and harry was balancing it, i was really hoping that there would not be an unexpected breeze to ﬂip the mango over - although, on the other hand, this would have been good for some AMAZING video stuff. Markus:
Harry refering to his video memory: http://youtu.be/tbXGxsm7Qfs with Benjie in my wheel on the cyclepaths of Minneapolis. http://youtu.be/PSLtGuuWwuQ wooden cycle bridge http://youtu.be/FHB-1_6V2_8 navigational problem http://youtu.be/-YmZRTc6IKE dedicated cycling route through Minneapolis, old train tracks converted http://youtu.be/0kaP-Yvv9hM cycle path too slow http://youtu.be/TyPOc5PVtQM St. Paul gold coast http://youtu.be/5LOdD53xUlY on-street parking, door-zone http://youtu.be/R_96PCWmMgw more door-zone, I won't cycle on such a bike lane. Mary (our host for the Twin Cities rolling rest day) recalled: We had been planning to ROAM along with the velomobile tour through the Twin Cities, but a trike train accident at the Baker Park Reserve campground ended those hopes. First, a bit of explanation and apology for the campsites: there are very few campgrounds near Minneapolis and St. Paul (or any other big city in the US), and they are almost all in county parks. Their weekend reservations ﬁll up within hours -- with people who are looking for a near-by wilderness experience, away from mobile phones, internet, and city noises. ROAM needed high-speed, high-capacity internet and good phone service, laundromats, and lots of showers. Sorry about that. We had problems ourselves with the mobile phone service at Baker Park when our train of trikes crashed. Dale was taking three other riders through the woods on our 4-trike train (which I had hoped to
ride across the cities the next day, while Dale would have borrowed a velomobile) when the back two riders accelerated into a curve. The trikes were unrideable, Dale couldn't walk, and he couldn't reach me by phone. One of the uninjured riders had to run back to the picnic area to tell me about the accident. Dale is back riding now, after 14 weeks of wound-care. Two of the trikes were undamaged, and the other two were repairable, but we had a three-month wait for a new front fork for one of them. We have learned that it's ﬁne to take little old ladies on the back of a train of trikes, but strong riders need some warnings about slowing down on curves. (I didn't have any problems with the ROAM riders, who all know about the danger of rolling into the canals if they go too fast around a corner.) We were impressed with the ability of big-city news media to ignore a crowd of velomobiles. Every small town sent out a reporter to interview the riders, but ROAM passed through Minneapolis, St. Paul, Madison, Chicago, and Washington as if it were invisible, despite advance notice. Future cross-country velomobile tours should probably not bother with the cities. The camping is better in the small towns, the drivers are friendlier, and the velomobiles get more attention.
Day 18: Sunday, August 14, 2011
Hastings MN to West Salem WI, 223 km
This was to be the true „Mississippi day“ on which we would ride south along the river and cross into Wisconsin. Some riders would take the Wisconsin route and stay east of the river all day, however most followed the designated route. As we left St.Croix Bluffs around 7 am, fog was hanging over the valleys. Velomobiles were wet with dew and so were our tents – from now on this would be the case just about every morning. Via side roads we rode towards Hastings, passing by apple farms to the left and right as we went over the hills. To get to Hastings, we had to ride a loop onto the road leading to the bridge across the Mississippi; the second last time ROAM would cross the mighty waters. Hastings lay in the sun, but the hills west of town were covered with thick fog. Up the hill and through the mist we went before getting back into sunshine on the plateau, which we followed for a while until turning left on highway 61 which took us back down to the river valley. The rest of the morning was a beautiful cruise along the Mississippi, sometimes down on the valley ﬂoor, sometimes somewhat higher up, with great views over the river. The road was rather wide with a good shoulder, so riding was easy. In Red Wing, Nina and I stopped for breakfast at a roadside diner,
about 50 km into the ride. After breakfast I went ahead to be riding at my own pace. Though the road was getting busier now (although not that crowded, after all it was Sunday) the ride was great under a deep blue sky, mirrored in the color of the water, forests covering the hills on both sides. The valley was peaceful and scenic, a feast for the eyes. Before noon I arrived at Wabasha and decided to ride into town, even though it would take me away from the road (others did not and had lunch with one of the roadside food chains, missing a beautiful little town, named after one of the great chiefs of the local Sioux tribe). Gave and interview for the local paper and had lunch at an old fashioned diner on Main Street; Nina joined me there after a while. After lunch we rode our Quests down to the river where the town had a nice promenade with a statue of Wapasha II to take our ofﬁcial Mississippi-Quest-ROAM picture. Back on highway 61 by 1 pm the early afternoon was as beautiful as the morning had been, just much warmer. Two hours later I arrived at Winona, the town where we would cross the Mississippi for the last time, heading into Wisconsin. The day had its share of climbing, about 1.200 m in all; Wisconsin began with climbing out of the river valley, then evened out into some rolling hills. The landscape struck me as being of a darker green than I had seen anywhere on this trip east of the Rocky Mountains – maybe because of the sun, maybe it really was of a darker green. As I got closer to the turn-off to highway 35, where I had planned to wait for Nina, I spotted a road biker in the distance. Phoned Nina but did not get a connection, so I went on. The roadie had turned right onto 35 while I was stopped. I could not resist the rare occasion (we met very few roadies out in the country) and went after him. He was pushing it, but it didn’t take me long to
catch-up and pass. Some hills were ahead so I expected to see him again but did not – too bad. The hills rewarded me with a nice downhill into Trempealeau, where I waited quite some time without seeing Nina or hearing from her. Asked Wilfred when he came into town but he had not seen her either. The day had become really hot by then. It seemed she and a number of other riders took an afternoon rest break up at the intersection with highway 35. So, I went on to Onalaska, stopped at a supermarket there for refueling and attacked the ﬁnal climbs towards West Salem. The Veterans Memorial Campground itself was located off the road at the end of a downhill (spoilt by not knowing exactly where the entrance would be), a nice park area. What a wonderful day! I had spent 6:50 hours riding at a rolling average of 32.6 kph with a top speed of 77 kph.
was again ﬁddling with the brake. The drag of the brake would come and go, very frustrating. http://youtu.be/XHhA9k9KhEQ along the Mississippi river http://youtu.be/6scvDmVxBMs some ROAMies behind me http://youtu.be/vqbU8Yvzho8 bikers, not cyclists http://youtu.be/eizUh7StYIM eagle observation http://youtu.be/4-S7Xac_3-M riders close behind http://youtu.be/lMeeAgOqQbk ﬁnally reached Onalaska, it has been a hard day for me To which I added: I like to hear you say "Onalaska, our destination" in the last video -thought the same when I reached town. Stopped for refueling to then ﬁnd out there was still another hill to climb. What's not much some time during the day becomes a pain once you're beyond what you believed to be your destination. This one was nothing compared to the way out of Helena MT, though. Harry followed up:
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Harry’s visual recollections: This was the day my disc brake warped in the early morning (when I braked in a pothole), which gave me a few extra hard days because of the drag it caused. Even before reaching the river valley I found it hard to pedal and after the breakfast, riding with some other ROAMies it was so obvious that they were going faster, that I inspected the disc brake. Almost wanted to quit right there and then, but after some messing around with the brake it seemed to be ok. Later that day, I
Now I remember which campground that was in West Salem. Just before reaching it, me and two other riders were stopped by a policeman who had been luring a few cars behind. Successfully, since I did not see him. I did however see the other two cars that were unwilling to let me cut into the lane. The shoulder ended, so I had no choice. After the ﬁrst driver ignored my stretched arm, I decided to be a little bold and not give the second car any chance to accelerate and do the same. Because there was a dangerous seam between shoulder and road, I went left with a swoop and that's when the siren, that we Europeans all now from TV, sounded. The police car stayed driving
behind ME, so obviously I was the one that was meant to stop and not the drivers that had hindered me . I did as was suggested to me, to put my hands on the top of my Mango thus showing I had no guns in my hand. I could not help however to argue with the policeman. He seemed convinced I had not even seen the car behind me. Well, I told him that I had the cars in my mirror the whole time, seeing that the second car was close but not accelerating to pass me. So I truly thought I had made no offense. The ofﬁcer was now becoming a bit hostile, saying that I HAD made an offense, as I was "impeding trafﬁc". I was bafﬂed by this and said: "but I AM trafﬁc". There seemed to be no other way to get to the campground as through this busy road with disappearing shoulders. The ofﬁcer calmed down and didn't even make me look at the videoclip that he made Anyway, he "sure am not going to watch you get killed on my road" so he escorted us to the campground that was not even a mile away anymore. By now I really had to rush to eat, get camp set up and check the alignment of my front wheels (to rule this out as the reason for being slow this day) before it started to become dark. But it didn't get very dark though: there was a low and very big moon tonight, creeping up from the foggy horizon. A very nice end of the day. Dan from Wisconsin commented on his visit with us: My wife and one of my sons went to the campground on Sunday to visit the ROAM group. They started to arrive about 5:00 and the last came in at dusk. Frans and his Pterovelo was the ﬁrst to arrive. The Pterovelo is one impressive machine! We had a GRAND time visiting with the riders and support team, and seeing all their velomobiles up close.
On Monday my son and I road with them from Sparta to Union Center. This is on a bike trail (converted railroad track) that took us through three tunnels. It was a fun day. 40 miles was enough for me. The last time I road a recumbent that far was the day I proposed to my wife in 1987. Quote from my sister in-law referring to my SUV among the ROAM velomobiles "Kind of reminds us of a Dodge Caravan parked next to some Porsches!"
Day 19: Monday, August 15, 2011
West Salem WI to Madison WI, 219 km
ROAM was really rolling now that we had left the West the other day. The long distances of the past days had not weakened us perceptibly, there had not been the post rest-day fatigue that was felt after the ﬁrst two rest days; we were rolled in and had become accustomed to the routine. SAG drivers had less work to do than ever before on ROAM. As we crawled out of our tents in the ﬁrst light of the day, fog was covering the campground, and it was hanging thickly over the road as the ﬁrst riders took on the climb into West Salem. Our visibility in the morning trafﬁc was more than questionable. Nina, Benji and I went through town under these conditions and quickly decided to rather go for an extended breakfast ﬁrst to let the sun clear up the mist. Thomas joined and we had a German speaking dining group at what was reported to be the best place in town. I heard that Bill had been out before us and returned because of poor visibility of his neon-yellow body-socked bike. When we got back on the road shortly after 8 am, it had cleared up a bit, and the fog would decrease by the minute under the sun. An hour later, in Sparta, the day had turned into the usual bright and warm August day. Praising itself as the world’s cycling capital, the town at least had the famous rail trail to offer, which we intended to ride. It took a while to negotiate our entry at the old rail station. Using the trail isn’t for free (though it was unpaved) and the staff found it difﬁcult to recognize ROAM as a group qualifying for a lump sum charge. I was told to
schmooze the director at which I tried my best without immediately visible results. Mark, our relentless organization manager, somehow settled the issue, and in small groups riders took off on the trail.
the road – so much better riding, and much better view of the valley farmland and surrounding hills. I would miss the tunnels and gain the views, but at a price. I had to pay three times, and the ﬁrst one came soon: a longish climb in granny gear in full sun. The descent into the next valley I took as a nice reward and I chastised myself for having eyed at the rail trail behind the bushes contemplating its much gentler incline. The next two climbs were like the one before, slow and getting hot, but balanced by nice and fast downhills. Along some rollers I soon reached Elroy, well before riders who had taken off on the trail, did some shopping for drinks and ice cream, and rolled on to the meeting point at the old train station. To my surprise, I found Nina there without her Quest. Volker had been so eager to ride the trail and tunnels that she let him borrow her Quest to ride the remaining miles to Elroy. The day was just beautiful as I continued through the Wisconsin hills towards Reedsburg, which I reached at 1 pm. 130 km into the ride, time for lunch and a rest. After lunch, valley sections interchanged with hilly parts, which made for an interesting ride. The route had returned to highway 12, which was clearly busier than the section from Sparta to Baraboo. Riding the shoulder was ok if it hadn’t been for some nasty rumble strip sections. Later, after crossing the Wisconsin river, 12 turned into a divided highway, with a double bike lane on the side – I think I used it for
I could see that this had to be an old rail trail. Newer ones would probably have been paved but its age was most obvious because of the trees and bushes on both sides. Rolling resistance being much higher than on the roads and the trail being fairly narrow I found myself peeking over to the road, which ran parallel. It seemed to have a good surface and little trafﬁc. A few miles on I gave in to the temptation, promised myself to stay on the road in spite of the climbs ahead, took the next exit from the path and hit
quite some time but have no particular memory of it other than that the day went well and I enjoyed riding through the farmland. Closer to Madison 12 mutated into a freeway, which indicated to me that I had missed the exit to turn off. Took the next one and searched my way into Madison on the Garmin which lead me along some very busy roads through the afternoon trafﬁc. Just as I was getting concerned of unknowingly entering a city freeway I met Machiel and Maarten at an intersection and we rode on together.
to ﬁnd a way to the State House and continued towards the city center. Finding the place was a bit more complicated than I had anticipated; at one point I saw too late that there would have been a nice bike road instead of the many turns I was taking. Made it to the Square and the pub eventually, and by 17:45 I was sipping on the welcome beer Jake (a Wisconsin supporter and now velomobile owner who had come up to Madison to meet with us) had offered me, chatting with folks who had gathered and enjoyed the feeling of having done another riding day on ROAM. Madison bikers had advised to meet here and actually blocked a side street for parking. Soon, more riders came in, and we all felt really welcome in town. Had dinner at the pub (good
They were heading for the campground right away, so I left them once we had entered the less busy side streets, put in a brief stop
food, more beer), before taking off to the campground as the sun set. The ride along and around the lake was also nice, a perfect evening. We stunned quite a few runners and cyclists as a row of velomobiles zoomed along the path. Unlike those who had come in later and stayed downtown longer, I was actually able to set up my tent before dark. By the time night had fallen, riders gathered around the picknick tables to have some fruits (which John’s parents had donated) or to down a few more beers (some local supporters had brought along). Wisconsin had won us over; at least it won me. Between the Rocky Mountains and Madison, I had seen a part of the US I had never been to before, ﬂying over at best. Madison I had last seen over 30 years ago, but it felt familiar immediately – too bad, we would be leaving the state tomorrow. Time spent in the Quest today was 7:15 hours at a rolling average of 30.2 kph with a top speed beyond 84 kph, thanks to the Wisconsin landscape.
Being part of a small group of three riders we saw Bill returning form the road when we wanted to leave camp, saying that it was too dangerous on the road because of high trafﬁc and the very thick fog. We could only agree and we returned back to camp and picked up more riders there in order to take the rail-trail that left immediately from camp. The trail was indeed slow but very nice to be on because of the absence of rush hour trafﬁc, the thick vegetation on either side and the fog-show in the sunlight glow. http://youtu.be/cZxFt2tWSEY After a while we faced a real challenge: a tree across the trail. Felix thought he could ride past, but in the end we had to carry the velos across http://youtu.be/iFSe1-lpDSk Not good to be alone at this point, though Hasse suggested one could break down the velo in pieces and assemble at the other side again Along the rail-trail ran a rail (...) and one of those looooong trains passed us there http://youtu.be/lpHmNlb91zk At that exact moment, Hasse had his ﬁrst ﬂat and Mike applauded that, since Hasse had boasted that sweeping the tire would stop him from getting ﬂats. Still, very impressive for Durano tires. Hours later I was in a group with ﬁrst the Dutch Express http:// youtu.be/wlzhCQUj_D8 and later on, close to Madison, the other Royal Express from Britain: http://youtu.be/OQKhUcFzfhA (starting from 1.50) Lee guided us through Madison to the State Capital where we would eat, before riding to the campsite in the dark. It was here that Markus had a close call with aSUV driver (?) and I was almost catapulted from my chair because I had overlooked a high ridge between cyclepath and road. Riding this day had not felt really hard, so I thought that the problem with the disc brake was over. Not.....
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Harry’s list of clips: http://youtu.be/syPN1DGc-R0 joggers on the rail-trail http://youtu.be/EKXu_zrOAqI Underpassage and arriving at the ﬁrst tunnel from the rail-trail http://youtu.be/EBamtSfu6sA ﬁlming at a tunnel and then we meet a couple that just went through. "It's raining in there, you'll get wet!". Nah, not really... http://youtu.be/seo7PDGt7Jc Acoustics are not very good in this tunnel. Oh well. http://youtu.be/Kyx_NnFMLB8 dark tunnel http://youtu.be/kQA_0ugUxp4 sometimes I had strange conversations :-) http://youtu.be/PgU-Ffv-fvs featuring Volker in Nina's velomobile http://youtu.be/jWu0Nub7ycI ignoring the smooth road, it's nice being in the shade on the lumpy trail http://youtu.be/1Fa-SKXNMAg riders gather after another tunnel http://youtu.be/69p85wEnFio still on the magniﬁcent trail http://youtu.be/G56cy_Te7TQ wing man Greg :-) talking about ease of ﬁlming/taking pictures while riding the velomobile http://youtu.be/g4W2rgRtCbs last tunnel and then a downhill http://youtu.be/T06CWXjKebo tractor mowing grass along the trail, smells good http://youtu.be/aLuL3Rr33SI sudden stop from Greg http://youtu.be/0My7kWb7_SE Volker passing me.... in a velomobile! http://youtu.be/EORPGd-mdj4 Elroy, time for a bite
http://youtu.be/wlzhCQUj_D8 sheriffs watching us?
Dan; he and his son rode along with ROAM on the Sparta-Elroy trial: On Monday I was among the ﬁrst group of velomobiles that went through the ﬁrst tunnel on the Elroy Sparta bike trail, which is about a half mile long if I remember right. It was cold and almost raining inside and very loud with 7 velomobiles rolling along. When we got to the other side most of us got out to watch the next ones coming through.
Miles Kingsbury who owns the Quattro got out and started steaming big time. The sun was still low and shining behind him creating a very cool smoking look. I got a short video clip of him here.
Here is another photo of Miles and his Quattro from the night before. If I remember right he said he only had 20 miles on it before shipping it overseas for the ROAM tour. All in all it is doing very well, just a few repairs have been needed. I asked him if he brought along the hood that was made for it. He didn't bring it ﬁguring it would be too hot, now he wishes he had it along for the shade it would provide. To which Travis from Pleasant Gap PA added a lucid remark on another one of Dan‘s pictures: It's all in the details. This prompted Fastolfe from Belgium to sigh: You guys make me so envious. What a great trip! If the event takes place again next year, I'm gonna have to plead with my boss to let me take a couple of weeks unpaid leave to let me attend.
Apparently some riders went straight to the Bar in Madison - that would be my choice as well. Many Roamies came in after dark from the bar by the State House
that evening. Lawson was there to watch the scene: Got this picture while I was visiting the ROAM camp ground in Madison WI. It was the of the ﬁrst couple of riders to return from dinner plans.
recumbentBuilder7 noted on his visit with the tour: I visited the ROAM riders Monday the 15th in Madison, WI , riding my Glyde 98 paltry miles from Brookﬁeld, WI. These riders are outstanding to be able to put those kinds of miles in day after day. I have a few photos of the camp site they stayed at here: https://picasaweb.google.com/AlligtAlleweder/Roam#
Day 20: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Madison WI to Evanston (Chicago) IL, 239 km
Another beautiful and warm summer day in the Midwest, which saw camp coming to life in the early morning. By 5:45 many tents were already down, luggage packed up and riders were getting ready for what was expected to be a long day given the uncertainties about suburban trafﬁc in the Chicago area. First of all, though, the morning offered more pleasant riding through the rolling farmland of southern Wisconsin, along many miles of rather quiet side roads and a landscape that had been created by glaciers. Climbing would not be an issue today, total elevation gain would be less than 500 m. The route had been worked out in cooperation with Jerry, a trike rider from the Chicago area who had been very helpful in ﬁnding accommodation and preparing the rest day we would spend at Chicago. Spirits were high; the past two days had been interesting in terms of landscape and route, another day to follow that would end in a hotel room. We did not really need a rest day, neither mentally nor physically. Along those side roads with its frequent turns we would ride in smaller groups, waiting for each other at turns – unlike the long stretches on 12 we did further west, where it seemed rather difﬁcult to get lost. It was around 11 am that I arrived at the designated lunch stop in Walworth WI. Within minutes more riders and arrived and would be arriving over the next hour to take lunch at Sammy’s on the square. Shortly after 12 I was out again, chatting
with an older rider from the area who had driven over to see us. He had built several trikes with/without fairing over the past decades; had one stored in his car, made with great attention to detail and versatility – impressive.
the lake, others like me turned around and went back the way we came to warn those behind us. We gathered a number of riders on the way back and headed towards highway 31 which would take us to McHenry. On the highway we spread out as we would usually do to make it easier for trafﬁc to pass by. At the turn-off to Pearl Street in McHenry I stopped to make sure no one would miss the turn. Stood there in the shade for a bit, when a police car came up the other way. The ofﬁcer stopped, walked over and said they had been receiving calls about strange objects on the highway, and that she was heading out to 31 to check on the situation. I told her that she could just wait for a few minutes and the objects would be here; my statement being proven right only seconds later by the appearance of Machiel and Maarten who had taken the way around Wonder Lake at the missing bridge. Machiel ﬁlmed the following part of the conversation in which the ofﬁcer sought to determine whether we could be riding the road
Near Genoa City, we turned south and entered Illinois, still in a mostly rural setting. The road would lead us towards Wonder Lake, which – at least – I never saw. Shortly before reaching the lake we should have crossed the river via a bridge, which wasn’t there, however. Construction workers told us there was no way we could get our velomobiles across. Some riders took the western detour around
or should be forbidden to do so. When informed that were coming from Madison that morning, she would not believe us. After writing the word velomobile on the palm of her hand, she sent us on. From that point on, the setting deﬁnitely changed into suburban, even though there quite a few sections out of town. Instead of riding side roads with little trafﬁc, we were now using back roads
with fairly heavy trafﬁc, passing industrial areas, dump sites, developments, and more. In between, we rode busy four-lane roads before turning off onto something less traveled for some miles. Eventually we got to Minear Lake where the surroundings had changed into suburban residential, and we traveled shady alleys or side roads along larger forest and park areas. At one of these parks, the Captain Dan Wright Forest Preserve, Jerry had set up a rest stop for us, scenically located a few 100 meters into the park, a rest stop hosted, organized and managed by him, with fresh fruits and cold drinks. The ﬁrst of us arrived around 4 pm, while he had expected us at 2-3 pm. It was a welcome shade stop in
the afternoon heat and we much enjoyed his hospitality. He had even put up roads signs to alert riders to the stop – I believe, a number of riders missed the turn-off in spite of those. The remainder of the ride became increasingly urban. Roads were nice even though not well maintained, which stood in some contrast to the millions that had been spent in real estate on both sides of the road; the more, the closer we came to our destination. On the other hand, the road showed a downhill tendency, which obviously was rather welcome, though it couldn’t be fully exploited due to trafﬁc, road condition and bends. The last miles, rolling into Evanston, had the usual elements of attention we had experienced so often: Cheers from people passing by or sitting at street cafés, questions at every trafﬁc light stop or that disbelieving stare accompanied our progress until riders turned in at the parking garage next to the hotel, where local cyclists from the Evanston Bike Club had reserved a corner on the top level for ROAM. We suffered a severe loss on that day: John had hit a deep pothole on the last miles into Evanston, and his Quest seemed to have serious cracks around the right wheel arch up front. As much as he wanted to he could not ride on but kept supporting the tour driving the truck David had brought for the rest of the tour.
ROAM had come to Chicago, about 3.700 km on the log. The ride was almost done – from now on we would look at the distance ahead as “the rest”, the remainder, the part left over.
Doing my laundry up on 5th ﬂoor late that night I recall meeting a number of riders still up and around. Oh yes, tomorrow would be a rest day, with only 100 km to ride. I spent 7:51 hours riding at a rolling average of 30.4 kph with a top speed of 71 kph.
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Harry, summarizing the approach to Chicago: I uploaded a gazillion clips (some 200) yesterday and last night in order to keep up with you the coming days. I didn't ﬁnd anything of this particular day however. I guess this was the day that I had put my camera in my bag that went with SAG. I had my iPhone with me though, so here is the one clip that I can show, peptalk: http:// youtu.be/ObXjWSl8Yug
These feelings were reinforced when I gave a presentation on ROAM to the members of the Evanston Bike Club that evening, answering many questions, ﬁrst in the conference room and later outside in the garage next to our velomobiles. In these discussions I realized how much we had actually done, seen, and experienced, how far we had traveled in what seemed to be no time and not as much of an effort than many in the audience assumed it to be.
The route of that day was not bad at all. At ﬁrst we avoided the busier roads. Later we also went in the direction of the bridge that wasn't there, but we were warned early by a friendly truck driver. We turned back and organized a warning system: one of the SAG vehicles posted at the junction that lead to the bridge. So we went to McHenry following a busier road. At some town Patrick needed to get some juice in his batteries, so we stopped at a gas-station. We were just sipping some soda as a police car parked. The ofﬁcer was warned of strange vehicles on the road
and he wrote down the tiniest of details he could get from us and our vehicles. Then he wanted to know our route and he didn't like it at all that we would simply follow the roads. Wilfred talked us out of it, promising to behave and bladiebla. The trafﬁc was getting pretty thick and the roads were quite narrow, so we gathered quite a line of followers at times. Sure enough it didn't take long before we were stopped again by the police. This time a much friendlier woman who just wanted to get us out of her county in a save way. So she escorted us through the busiest roads with road construction going on and long lines of waiting cars. Chicago is deﬁnitely the pothole champion, it is simply ridiculous that such a car centric area has such bad roads. We had to swerve a lot but it was impossible to avoid them all. The route was ok. though: streets were almost devoid from cars and the lanes were very wide. The potholes didn't put the roadies off, they seemed to know where each of them were located. There were large drafting packs of them and they were pedaling like the devil was behind. Lee played the devil for a while and made them sweat even more. We followed at a bit of a distance but still we lost Patrick. Being the last man, I told the point of the group, but we decided that since the track kept on going straight for a long time we would keep on going till the next turn and wait there. So we did for quite a while, but Patrick did not show up. We tried to call him, no connection.... Anything could have happened, again held up by police, batteries dead again or simply got lost? There was no point in waiting, so we went to the hotel. Feeling a bit awkward that I had not noticed Patrick falling behind, I talked to him as soon as I saw him at the hotel. He was obviously not in a good mood, but after explaining that we had done the best we could do under the circumstances, we went on our own business again as friends.
My business was clear to me: getting my camping gear dry and let the laptop upload as many video clips to YouTube as possible. Given our previous experiences with failing wiﬁ, I did not have high hopes. However, their was a separate (free) connection for each ﬂoor and pretty quick too. It had not been too optimistic after all to try and upload 8 clips during the night. As far as my clothes were concerned: the washing room was just outside my room and I had seen ROAMies waiting in line every time I was sticking my head out. Well I was not desperate, so decided to do the usual combination of shower and wash and have a good night sleep.... Sledge from Deloit IL wrote on BROL: I forgot they were so close. They should be on their way to Chicago today. I missed them. Dammit To which Roger from Janesville WI responded: They passed within 10 miles of my house between 9:30 and 10:00 AM today. I had forgotten about it and just caught the tail end.
Dave Kee from the Chicago area welcomed the tour: Josef: Welcome to Chicago. You folks might want to ride in small groups tomorrow rather than individually. After you leave the Chicago Lakefront bike path you will be passing through some fairly gritty urban areas where it would probably be best not to get lost alone. Hope to get downtown to see you in the morning. Sean alerted those following the tour online to a short video, which showed an encounter with Law Enforcement inMcHerny IL: Had to repost this video from Machiel. Turn the sound up and listen to the response from the cop when he tells her they had just come from Madison.
Day 21: Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Evanston IL to Chesterton IN, 104 km
SECOND AND LAST ROLLING REST DAY
It could be argued whether it was really necessary to pass through Chicago on ROAM. It wasn’t, and its true that many of the performance minded tours across the US avoid major metropolitan areas – it slows progress, means more trafﬁc and a greater risk of accidents or of riders getting lost. Under these auspices we should have skipped Minnesota and North Dakota and should have headed southeast through South Dakota and Iowa instead. Other, more leisurely paced rides would have stayed on an eastward route in Minnesota, crossed Wisconsin further north than we did, and would have traveled Lake Michigan by boat to continue southeast through Michigan. Also a nice option, but it would have created another ﬁxed date in our schedule. In spite of these two options (and against the stated preferences of quite a few of the American riders) I had decided pro Chicago, under the assumption that a pioneer tour like ours would have to cover the largest metropolitan area on our route. For the European participants, I ﬁgured, the contrast between big country and big city ought be part of the experience. In the end, our passing through the city could be labelled "Chicago-lite", since we went through on one of the smoothest and most convenient routes that I could think of – thanks to the advice by local riders, and the extra work put in by ROAM-rider Mike and his wife. Ofﬁcially, this was a rest day of the tour; while it didn’t allow for any major repairs, long bed-times or extended chill-out sessions, it was rather relaxed.
I was out in the garage before 6 am to check on the velomobiles – they had stayed unattended on the top level of the parking over night, and no harm was done (which had been a bit of a concern of ours). Had done my laundry over night which came as welcome to me as the chance for once to have a good breakfast before actually starting the ride. By 9 am velomobiles began to appear on the curbside in front of the hotel and soon the ﬁrst batch of riders took off through the morning trafﬁc, heading for the lakeshore parks. We crossed sort of the living room of downtown Chicago, the parks being busy with runners, skaters, cyclists or people just enjoying a morning walk along the waterfront and away from urban trafﬁc. Of course, riding was slow, but it was so pleasant, the weather being nice and the winding bike trail taking us through the splendid array of parks. We stopped for photos here and there, talked with many people and put in a ﬁrst sightseeing detour riding along Navy Pier. It wasn’t too busy at this time of the morning and the lake view from there was spectacular. Heading back for some ice cream further to the back of the pier, we had our ﬁrst encounter with the famous Chicago hospitality, when a security guard came up and told us in a rather uncompromising way that we did not belong here, had to leave immediately, he would call the police and he declared to be unwilling to discuss anything, before we could even have started a discussion.
I did try nevertheless, asking him if bikes were forbidden on the pier, which they were not, but ours were not bikes, he said, and that we had to go regardless of what these things were, and that we posed danger to pedestrians. I offered him a ride in my Quest
Chicago Rest Day
Entering Lake Front Park 1 von 18
to which he replied to call the police, and he would not discuss anything. So, we left towards the entry to the pier, wanting to ﬁnish our ice cream there; he followed and made sure that the guard at the gate who had seen no problem letting us in earlier
would now be as determined to clean the pier from these unwanted elements as he was. Jerry, who had met us on his trike and led us to the pier, seemed a bit depressed by the way Chicagoites embraced the velomobile. We continued our cruise towards the ofﬁcial meeting place at Buckingham Fountain. A few riders took a different route to get some ﬁrst hand experience piloting their velomobiles through the canyons of downtown. Others had taken the day off for repairs. No one seemed to be chasing us at the fountain, so we gathered on the wide square, and stayed for about two hours. Local riders came by, we lined up the velomobiles for the ofﬁcial picture, and had Chicago-style pizza delivered to us, organized by ROAMrider Taylor through his network of Chicago connections. Except for some tourists passing by this landmark, ROAM’s historic stop at Buckingham Fountain went by largely unnoticed. A small tourist group managed to raise adrenalin levels of the tour as they tried to sit down on the hood of one velomobile for a photo. I had seen that happen before, it seems to be a habit of Italians abroad to sit on things while getting their picture taken. We survided that as well, and got ready to continue the cruise through some of the much less afﬂuent parts of town. To make it easier for riders (many turns), and to reassure those who didn’t feel save (not advisable in some parts to stop and ask for directions), we had decided to ride on in two or three larger
groups, each of which would stay together until we had left town. I was leading one of the groups; that is why I don’t have any pictures of that afternoon, the free hand occupied by my Garmin. After following the park area down to its very end, we turned onto side streets with surprisingly little trafﬁc, although they were rather wide at times. On the trail sections of our route, we practiced group riding: the ﬁrst riders at an intersection would block it to let the group pass through, which worked very well. At one point, we were waiting at an intersection, and the lights wouldn’t turn for us. Up came a police car from behind. We waited, the ofﬁcer waited. Nothing happened, lights stayed red through another cycle, so we made gestures that he should pull up a bit so to trigger the light, to which he initially did not react – probably didn’t get the message. Once he realized that there was an issue, he turned on the ﬂashlights, blocked the intersection and waved us through. Much appreciated, Sir, we liked the southside of Chicago for its hospitality. Had a bit of navigating to do further down, since one bridge we were supposed to take across Calumet River was closed, but signage was good and we took the next one, an all-steel bridge as well. Eventually we reached Michigan Street, where we turned east on highway 20. It could have been a very busy for lane road, but there was little trafﬁc in the early afternoon to hold up our progress through pretty down commercial area, passing Gary on its northern rim until we hit “our” favorite highway 12 again. At
this point we were clearly heading out of the metro area, a few ramps being the only real elevations we had to deal with on this day. Hwy 12 became the Dunes Highway, good riding on the shoulder, still not much trafﬁc. Not long until we reached the turn off to Indiana State Dunes Park, nicely located in the dunes close to the lake. It had excellent facilities and strict rules on campsites – this became one of the few occasions where ROAM did not camp out in a “tent city” but spread over a larger number of sites. We were all there rather early in the day, so plenty of time remained for relaxing, some swimming in the lake, meals, and plenty of ice tea after sundown. My friend Ben from North Carolina had met us at the campground. Ben and I had ﬁrst met in Bonn, Germany, in 1978, when he had come abroad for a year to study at Bonn University. Ben had driven all the way up from Asheville with his little pick-up to support ROAM during its fourth week. Had not seen him for a number of years, when I last visited him on Cold Mountain, so I was more than happy to meet him again. I had spent 4:04 hours riding at a rolling average of 25.6 kph; my top speed that day was 50 kph. That night the Holland Express suffered the loss of a good part of its breakfast supplies which were all neatly deposited on the big table around which they would have their ritual collective
breakfast the next morning. A group of raccoons had raided the place, after they had doped themselves heavily with caffeine having discovered the box with our Clifbar gel shots outside of Greg’s camper. So much for urban life style. With that day, ROAM had been on the road exactly three weeks, and we had ticked off another milestone. Chicago lay behind, ROAM had just one more week to go.
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Harry, resuming the day that he spent on a different route through downtown I got up late and did not feel like hurrying at all. Found all clips uploaded and put some more in the pipeline. So I was one of the last to leave and rode alone all day. Yes, also through the ghetto. A shame that I stashed my camera in the backpack where I could not ﬁnd it at that moment. But what wonder: it's a spy camera. I used my iPhone instead, but it's clearly not so good quality and easy to handle. http://youtu.be/o_T-wO7v55k leaving the Best Western hotel Being late, I thought it best to skip the fountain. I ﬁgured the other riders would be long gone by the time I got there. The track was clear enough, so I found the lakeside cyclepath easily.
http://youtu.be/lcP9uVWS6vg http://youtu.be/KULpcd4E_Ns and http://youtu.be/BPPuh1EadOk cycling along lake Michigan Then I was stopped by security people at a restaurant who said there was a "security issue" and that I could not follow the good path. I could see that there were many at work to make sure the trafﬁc was not going that way. No way to get through, so I had to get back and found me a tunnel underneath the multi-lane road to ﬁnd myself back between the skyscrapers. Not knowing where to cycle at ﬁrst, I stayed on the footpath. This was clearly not an option, too many people walking and long waits at stoplights. So I squeezed my Mango in a line of cars and went with the ﬂow. The street had 3 lanes and all were full.... http://youtu.be/gYVGftHf3us detour between skyscrapers and taxis That was fun, because the road was going down a bit and I could keep up with trafﬁc. What a rush! I didn't want to push my luck though and indicated that I wanted to go to the left lane to turn off and pick up the beach cyclepath back again. Who would have thought that a taxi driver would let me cut in in front of him, but he did and I found the cyclepath and the GPS track again. Just before a very old steel bridge I got myself a meal with shrimps and chips to go. I put my back against the Mango in the nice shade and saw Taylor going by. I could eat my lunch without haste because a bell started to ring -very slowly- and the bridge opened -verrry slowly and a ship sailed past -very, very slowly- Then the bridge closed again -Then there was the ghetto. Friendly people you know, kids waving and shouting, but didn't really feel like stopping there After cruising the roads for a while, there was another cyclepath. Had to be careful at the crossings, so could not go full speed ahead.
http://youtu.be/PQdYq3-eU9c bikepath leaving Chicago Arriving at Michigan street in the afternoon, I got a taste of the beginning rush hour. I didn't like it one bit and the police cars at the donut shops were not about to give me an escort Well, they didn't stop me either so I just kept a good look in my mirror if the cars saw me in time. The shoulder was at times unrideable, so had to take the lane. I sometimes just waited at a side road to let the really big chunks of trafﬁc go by before going on my way again. This busy road was the least relaxed bit by far that I encountered in the States. The roads are immensely wide but a lot is taken by parked cars and the shoulders were mostly too bad to ride on. After a while I could turn off and pedaled without further problem to the campsite. The whole trip I had only seen one Roam rider....
The one other ROAM-rider Harry saw, was Taylor: I had hopes that I would see other riders after I passed you and now I know why I didn't. I didn't realize that you were really on your own or I might have stopped. We weren't in the best neighborhood already at that point. I had stayed at the fountain to visit with my friends and let them ride the velo a bit so I was 1-2 hours behind the pack. My family was on their way to Indiana Dunes to meet up with me so I was trying to make up lost time. I felt a little guilty about getting to see my family and sleeping in a bed and breakfast but it was the non-velo-related highlight of ROAM for me. To compensate, I was the last one out of camp the next day. I knew it was bad when I pulled in to camp to pick up my velo and saw Maerkus and Andreas heading out. I was so late that Kirk was gone so I didn't have his GPS to use. I checked out Ben's GPS, headed in the direction of the lunch stop, and bought a map along the way. I think this was the ﬁrst time I varied from the route deliberately(ish) and it
worked out well. Lunch was still being served at the Amish restaurant when I got there and the riders were complaining about a bunch of rough roads that I had missed out on. Benjie: I liked the chicago day in spite of some misfortunes - ﬁrst i got lost in southern chicago, where we were told NOT to get lost and just get out as quickly as possible if we did. i was one of the few riders without gps, and had only a small chicago street map, so i did what i always did: stop, eat, drink, talk to people and ask for the way. no negative experiences, obviously i've been lucky. now it's in the book that a quest is a "nice li'l mofo", as they put it. later that day, one of the potholes wrecked my rear suspension, causing another stop at a gas station for a temporary repair; only a few days and with the help of our priceless sag person volker it could be really ﬁxed. Artur Elias raised a question that a few may have had as well: So riding 100+ km is what you do to REST? Jerry, our guide through Chicago, contributed this wide angle shot from the line-up at the fountain to BROL: Commenting on being kicked out at Navy Pier, Jerry added:
The security person had two beefs, 1. That "carts" as he called them, are not allowed on the pier. We believe he was under the mistaken impression they were motorized. 2. That we were going too fast and presenting hazards to pedestrians. He was not in a listening mood. One of the riders was collecting video during this encounter, I don't know if he has had the chance to post it to his blog/youtube. Cheri from Mansﬁeld OH was looking ahead to the tour coming closer: I am planning to catch up with the group when they reach Shelby Ohio on Friday night, I am very excited to see the velos and talk to the riders!
Day 22: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Chesterton IN to Fort Wayne IN, 211 km
After the rest day, riding began early, as usual on ROAM, with over 200 km to go on what promised to be a warm and somewhat sticky day. As it had been on other days out in the country, the morning hours had a special atmosphere, cooler, a bit misty from the night. Riding against the rising sun ﬁlled the dune roads with light, ampliﬁed the fog, created interesting contrasts between deep shade of the forests to the sides and aisles of light. Nina and I left with a few others around 7 am, went back on 12, but soon turned off to side roads heading south initially, to turn east again beyond the overpass of I-94. We had expected Indiana to be ﬂat as a pancake up here, and quickly found out that the dunes stretched inland for quite a bit – minor climbs though compared to what we had done before. Already on 12 we passed by road kill rather frequently, mostly raccoons. I guess, their remains were viewed less emphatically on this morning. Soon we were riding ﬂat roads again, rough pavement but very little trafﬁc if trafﬁc at all. It seems that our 36 velomobiles passing through on that morning had to be called the major event in this particular corner of the world; with almost no one to witness it. Hardly anyone was to be seen, green ﬁelds and patches of forest all around us, occasionally a farmhouse.
The route followed a designated bike route – at least in part – with no one cycling except us. About 25 km into the ride some more hills appeared which the roads would take in a straight line mostly, either heading straight east or straight south. Lower gears had to be applied uphill while the downhills were of limited reward because of the frequent turns, as we zigzagged our progress towards La Porte. It seemed that the turns would always be at the bottom of a downhill. At least for once this morning, the route reminded us that side roads for cyclists could also be rough as the small road we were on turned into a gravel road between two intersections. It must have been on of those hilly sections that the small group of 4-5 riders I was with got split up when I followed Wes going straight downhill across an intersection where we should have turned south. He did so without any hesitation, so I followed convinced he knew his direction. A little while later it became obvious that we were off the track and Wes confessed to me that he had neither GPS and nor a clue where we were. We waited for a while for others to make the same mistake and meet with us, but no one came. Checking on the GPS myself it seemed that the road we were on would eventually reunite with the one we should have taken, so we progressed; and we actually met some other riders once we were back on track. That was certainly one of the beneﬁts of riding further east: more roads, grid-like layout, no chance to get lost really.
We passed through La Porte (does anyone being with me remember if we had breakfast or coffee there?) and continued on highway 4, followed by ﬂat riding along very quiet side roads again until we reached the “Grand Army of the Republic Highway”. Flat lands, ﬁelds as far as I could see, straight and fast riding. By 12:30 I had reached the town of Bremen; the highway went
around it, but I went straight into town, not least because of its famous namesake, the German city of Bremen. The two didn’t compare well – it wasn’t much farther to the designated lunch
break, so I continued without stopping. Nappanee, the rest stop, was awaiting ROAM. As I passed the city limits, about 2 km west of the town center, I spotted a TV team on the left side of the road, which was obviously waiting for velomobiles to pass by. Knowing that something was planned for the rest stop, I gave them a friendly wave and rode by. Didn’t ﬁnd anyone in town, then saw Bill on his TI Rush and Wilfred. Lee also came in a bit later. Bill and Wilfred
a lunch place which would have me as its ﬁrst customer for lunch that day. So, Lee and I had lunch there – and we had to learn later that we did not miss just a lunch, but a special, opulent, delicious Amish lunch, served at a big table, with no one having to wait because it was all ready and prepared for the group (probably, this statement isn’t really understandable to those who had not been near the end of a ordering line on usual ROAM rest stops – delivery could take longer; sometimes additional help had to be called in since the hungry bunch of riders would overwhelm local capacities). Ciber, an international IT company that ROAM-rider Machiel works for and which supported his tour and fund raising effort in a remarkable way, offered the lunch. It turned out that the Amish were quite keen on recumbents and velomobiles, we even saw one on a recumbent bike. It still frustrates me that I missed that wonderful occasion. By 2 pm I was back on the highway, still “Grand Army”, good, straight and fast riding, on a wide and clean shoulder, the only hurdle being the need to pass an Amish carriage every once in a while. After some 140 km the route left the highway and headed southeast to highway 33, which very much unlike the “Grand
said they would ride back and have lunch with others on the Western end of town (where I had seen the TV folks). I did not feel like riding back just for lunch when I was standing right in front of
Army” was narrow, no shoulder, more trafﬁc the longer I stayed on it.
Had to wait in a line of cars for a while because of a trafﬁc accident (road was mostly blocked by the sheer number of police cars), while the afternoon had become sticky. In parts, the road was also rather dusty so I was glad to see John with David’s truck by the gas station at the junction of highways 9 and 33. A rider on ROAM well socialized in the rituals would not want to miss a chance to share stories with other riders, get some cold drinks, look out for others and rest for a while before going on. The rest was some 40 km of increasingly busy road, less relaxed or patient drivers that I had seen so far, and – into Ft Wane – the local rush hour trafﬁc jam, which we ﬂew by on the shoulder before leaving Coliseum Boulevard to turn off to Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park where camp was to be that night. Somewhere during that day or during the days before, I must have stepped into some poison ivy – didn’t notice much in the beginning, believing I had received preferential treatment by local mosquitos at the campground. Tonight, my feet and ankles looked different, though. Patsy diagnosed it as poison ivy and quickly came with some relief that I applied the following
days. It was really itchy, in particular since my feet had to be in cycling socks and shoes all day. Life was busy that afternoon and evening. Local bike commuters came in to check on ROAM, I met the owner of the ﬁrst Strada velomobile I had seen outside of Europe; TV was looking for interviews. And there was John to interview riders on ROAM. His ﬁlm from that day is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=fWZedB8eXjQ Later, law enforcement came by to worry extensively about the dim chance we had to make it through next morning’s Ft. Wayne trafﬁc alive, seeking to negotiate departure slots, and contemplating police escort. When informed about our departure times, the escort enthusiasm receded, however. A good day after all. I had spent 6:33 hours riding at an average speed of 33 kph with a top speed of 64 kph.
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Bill: Actually I had nothing to do with this day's route and the gravel roads this morning. In fact, I was grumbling to myself by the second unpaved road, since it seemed that there were plenty of parallel paved alternatives and my TiRush doesn't really like loose gravel. My route didn't start until about 25 miles after leaving Fort Wayne the next day.
However, I will take responsibility for some of the bad roads we had a few mornings later in western Pennsylvania. At least those roads led to some good stories and pictures about the challenges of the ROAM route.
to some Amish at a crossing, two of them were riding recumbents, wow! Is this the gap in the market for Velomobiles? Who knows.... I will never understand why I didn't take their pictures, stupid! The little videocamera was still lost, but I promised myself to use the bigger Contour camera again. I had to get more SD cards so I didn't have to clear them every day though. One of the recumbent Amish I saw again later on. Seems he had taken a shortcut that we didn't know off. We almost passed the Amish big shed with the best cooked meat that I had since I was a kid. The kind of meat with threads that needs hours and hours of preparation and that almost doesn't need any chewing. Delicious! I enjoyed the meal very much but didn't stay long to let the food go down so I could catch up with the bigger group. Tried to pay, but Sjak rescued me. My money was not any good here, it was already paid for by Machiel's company. Well, thanks very much for such an outstanding free meal! In Fort Wayne, a big town, I felt sure I could ﬁnd SD cards for the camera so I left the group and entered some very large shops with clothes and shoes but ﬁnally wound up at RadioShack of course where they had room to place a velomobile in a rack I left the huge parking lots and soon found the Johnny Appleseed campground that had some huge trees to tie my hammock to.
Never heard a raccoon but did see the results of their actions. Actually it was quite funny to hear Machiel speak about how bold these beasts were. Like they were making fun of him. Machiel had this expression on his face from disbelief and outrage I had slept soundly that night at the Dunes and woke up noticing that most had already broken up camp and having breakfast. So I put the turbo on my actions. Pushed it a bit too much when I jumped over the line of my hammock with the backpack in my hands. It would not have been so bad when there hadn't been lying gravel about. Cut my knee open, but fortunately Rob was still there and he applied his First Aid skills. I had no problem pedaling but was worried that when I came to rest again in the next camp the wound would stiffen up and it would get painful to get going again the next morning. Never happened, it was just a bit sore for a few days. Maybe the fact that I had also stepped into poison ivie kept my mind of my sore knee. Like Josef, I ﬁrst thought that it was the mosquito bites that were more obnoxious than usual. The regularity of the red little lumps on my knees and ankles made me suspicious. What I remember is that after some time alone, I hooked up with Nick at some very short but very steep climbs (an early warning of what was to come) and later caught up with Felix who had not much speed, but kept going. I know there were more riders I met on the way for longer or shorter time, but can't remember who they were. We spoke
Merrill, on meeting the Amish: Coming into Nappanee I saw a small group of people gathered by the intersection where the GPS said I would be turning. As I got closer I passed a few girls in traditional dresses in one of the front yards and realized I had reached Amish country. I've always associated the Amish with horse and buggies so I was a bit surprised when a an
Amish man in traditional suspenders and hat and beard rode by on a bike. The real treat though was at the intersection where a small group of young Amish men had gathered to greet the velomobiles. One of them seated on his Tour Easy and another on a short wheel base recumbent. I stopped and chatted for a couple of minutes and then headed out. A hundred yards down the road I thought, "Why didn't I take a picture?" There were lots of pictures I didn't take on the trip but that's the one that I really regret. Later I got a blurry picture of another Amish guy on his recumbent. At the lunch stop one of the Amish guys admiring the velomobiles told us that Nappanee had the highest percentage of its population commuting to work by bike of any community in the US. Someone told us that the only recumbent shop in Indiana was run by an Amish guy which was obviously where they were coming from.
Harry’s clipping for the day: http://youtu.be/4zoON7ChywU I left the Johnny Appleseed campground together with Wilfred. I had to stay with him that day, since I could not get the track to work on my GPS. I was not the only one, some bug in the system I guess. http://youtu.be/6jJnZ0Qr3wA a lot of houses in this street were on sale. Wilfred referred to it as "a mess". Our legs were also a mess. We just couldn't get to a good speed. We were not too worried though: it happened before that a bad leg morning was followed by a Dam'n Happy Legs afternoon. http://youtu.be/403kiQpyUBc we had crossed through Fort Wayne and at the intersection at the McDonalds with the big doll on the roof, we turned South. http://youtu.be/0sqPtgUhDJs it's ﬂat, so at least we do not have to climb. The shoulders were kind of ok. http://youtu.be/wWX01jLwpuQ Wilfred studied the route and found a nice shortcut. It even got us in front of some riders that had passed us before :-) http://youtu.be/7N0rYtQFPPo and there is our tour captain again. With a wide grin on his face, because he realizes he's being tricked by us. The shortcut was very effective and got us back in front of Josef. Well.... for a while http://youtu.be/TXt2W7-u0AY a while later, Machiel coming from behind and chatting with Wilfred. No problem on this quiet road to ride side by side. The area is as ﬂat as , well..... as Holland ;-) http://youtu.be/ARNIi3hI34A Sure enough, where you see Machiel riding, Maarten cannot be far away. Also with Nick in the Mango from SinnerBikes.
Taylor, commenting on my poison ivy strikken ankles: If it's the same rash around your ankles that I saw, David and I both think it was chiggers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombiculidae They're like mosquito bites but redder and itchier. They are concentrated in places where your clothing is tight. The home remedy is ﬁngernail polish (clear unless you don't mind looking silly) on each bump to suffocate the little buggers. Otherwise they'll go away eventually, possibly before they've driven you mad. Myron commented: Chiggers don't make blisters like Josef had. My response was: All I can say is that the ointment Patsy gave to me worked -- it took until DC for them to disappear but the itching stopped two days after Ft. Wayne.
http://youtu.be/jdMz78gi8OU Three Mangoteers witness a very large preying bird ﬂying up at a farmhouse. http://youtu.be/1egUe0nCpTQ Nina at the side of the road, ﬁxing a tire. http://youtu.be/ZHtfTvqcmlk Delphos, Ohio. A small town but here I see the road sign "66" for the ﬁrst time. We cross Route 66 several times, but "East on 12" will always be more special for us. Wesley has teamed up. http://youtu.be/NM3mlmQIMow Vlogging on the road. Recalling Billings and looking forward to Appalachians. Ohio is sometimes a bit dull in terms of landscape.... http://youtu.be/jvHPf447pFs lunch stop in Bluffton. Other riders are already inside. http://youtu.be/5kndQUUE3VI more vlogging about cadence, itching knees because of kneeling in poison ivie and who is the guy riding behind me? http://youtu.be/5kndQUUE3VI dead raccoons on the road cause some mixed feelings. Showing my cooling device.... Who IS that guy riding behind me. http://youtu.be/nyQ-krYingU high tractor, we could ride underneath it and get out unscratched. http://youtu.be/pFlemo-KI5g the lawns in Arlington are very neat. ewww, what happened to this rough and rugged country. http://youtu.be/qLNrt2X6V6A Bill passes us. The guy behind us..... is still there http://youtu.be/MB3Uayfrm-Q A big "thank you" to Winda who takes care of breakfast and dinner for most Dutch riders.
http://youtu.be/Vhz7SwJ2_hc of a sudden I get a headache because of dehydration. I'm actually happy that, in all the heat, it happened only once to me on this tour. A cola from Volker and the headache was gone in 15 minutes! http://youtu.be/Z_OEJl4--Lk http://youtu.be/6QxIwgGvQsE another small town in Ohio that has an unusual house in the shape of an old Dutch windmill. http://youtu.be/2UN3R34xWFw perfected cross-handed shifting. In my hand, the camera image is the most stable, but I need to shift now and then. No problem. http://youtu.be/GlDn5ADG7uE Sycamore, 20 miles to go. I overlooked a nasty bump in the road, ugh. http://youtu.be/p-BfYajFjq8 being photographed http://youtu.be/zOY-dE0Ua6c school bus
David, owner of a Strada velomobile, met with us at Ft. Wayne: Velomobile heaven for me tonight in Ft Wayne Indiana. I came down today to meet up with the ROAM Velonauts and was no disappointed. I met many folks I have only known thru reading posts on the blogs or BROL. I took a bunch of photos that I will post when I get back home. Great time for me today! If you can ﬁnd the time to meet up with them between here and Washington DC, do so. volaerider asked: I read on a blog "airmoose" John Abby had problems with his quest in Chicago is he still with the group? Or were the problems with his Quest not allowing him to continue? To which Jeff from North Manchester IN responded:
I went over to see John and the others in Ft. Wayne tonight. Had a great time visiting; Several of us went to Chipotle for supper and watched 5 or 6 velos pull up next door to Hooters--at least one Hooters girl sat in one of the velos! John Abbey has experienced some rather serious body de-lamination problems and will not be able to ﬁnish as a rider. He will continue as a sag vehicle driver. He anticipates getting to know his Quest very well in the months ahead as he repairs it. Slick from Ft Wayne wrote:
i had my son and younger g-son at the Appleseed park for a look at the velos, couldn't stay long, young-un has school in the morn! we met a few riders and talked a little with them but i feel bad about not shaking every hand there. you guys have people talking, that means they're thinking, that could be a good thing! Good luck with the ride ahead! Cheri, awaiting our arrival the next day: I have conﬁrmed that I will be arriving at the Shelby KOA around 5 or 5:30 pm. I look forward to visiting everyone! I apologize in advance for the amount of questions you'll likely hear from me that you've probably heard many many times already this trip. I hope everyone enjoys their time in Ohio!
Day 23: Friday, August 19, 2011
Fort Wayne IN to Shelby OH, 245 km
A long day ahead of us, with the unknowns of how busy the transit through Fort Wayne would be, we started out early. Don’t recall really what time it was but the route through the city took us along some rather quiet side streets before leading onto a major road heading out of town that did not have much trafﬁc at all. A small group of riders including Nina and me stopped at either a fastfood place (which was really terrible) or a gas station on the margins of town (which wasn’t much better either) – I don’t really remember if it was the one or the other. In any case, I crossed the state line into Ohio at about 9 am, almost 50 km into the ride. Riding was very easy today, mostly ﬂat, with only about 150 m of elevation gain over 245 km of distance, farmland as far as one could see with little distractions and hardly anything that would help me to structure that day in my memory. The route Bill had put together was really nice, not so much in terms of pavement, though. It was quiet, off the major arteries (if population density there would allow for the term “artery” at all), providing for very relaxed riding. My original plan had be to follow highway 30 – which would have certainly been busier. So, I was silently extending my gratitude to Bill for his choice of way while passing through the open country, crossing little towns every once in a while.
I was riding with Jörg in his highly efﬁcient Evo-R velomobile when we came to an intersection somewhere near Cairo where the road was blocked for reconstruction. We couldn’t detect any construction work as far as we could look ahead (which seemed far enough), so we continued, certain to be on a section with no other trafﬁc so we could ride side by side for a while. Of course we did meet construction later on and had to navigate a few sections with deep holes across half the road, and ﬁnally passed by the construction crew – folks seemed happy to see something they could talk about later. Trafﬁc picked up a bit as we approached the intersection to I-75, but not for long and we were back on nearly empty roads.
As Jörg and I came closer to the turn-off to Bluffton OH, where the lunch rest stop was supposed to be, he announced a pee stop, a “pause technique” in more decent European wording. I said to ride on at an easy pace, convinced his needs would be fulﬁlled as fast as he would ride if an old guy like me in an oversized velomobile like my Quest didn’t slow him down.
Took it easy, saw him taking to the bushes in the mirrors, and carried on, focused on my Garmin not to miss the left turn for Bluffton. I confess guilty of not having waited for Jörg at the turn, believing it to be a matter of minutes until he would catch up with
me anyway. Never saw him again that morning, and he never saw Bluffton as he must have went on straight ahead. Rolling into Bluffton by 11:30, I spotted Frans. He had already arrived and had picked at nice downtown café serving a tasty lunch snacks and shakes. Stopped for over an hour to eat, chat with incoming riders, and to feed the local media guys on ROAM. These rest stops were always lively and pleasurable; even though we had been together for so long, meeting with other riders always felt refreshing. On we went after lunch, again along very quiet roads. Somewhere, about 175 km into the ride I met a guy on a Harley seeking to talk. Didn’t stop at ﬁrst but he was rather insistent, alerting me to the town of Carey that was coming up and that we would sure be heading to see the Basilica. Bill had mentioned that in his description of the route, but I failed to see the signs pointing to the park by the church he had described. Downtown, the route made a right turn and appeared to be heading out again, so I stopped for a cigarette break in the shade to wait for Nina or whoever else would come along next. It was Machiel; riding by himself, and he hadn’t seen any other riders, nor had he been to the church. He rode on, and, a cigarette length later, I followed. Beyond Carey, the terrain became slightly rolling, a river to cross, and a few turns to take – in itself the most remarkable change to
riding for that day. A while and two turns later I arrived at the campground, another KOA, but way out in the country. We had been assigned a back lawn away from the motor homes and cabins, a small creek nearby promised to be home of more mosquitos than humans lived in the state of Ohio. The campground was good, though, all services there, just a bit of walking to do. Another easy day that went by fairly fast. Done with Indiana, Ohio taken on. I had spent 6:58 hours riding at a rolling average of 35.1 kph with a top speed of 56.5 kph.
Carey when I went looking for the Basilica which was an impressive structure in such a small town.
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This was my second longest day of ROAM, 166+ miles. My day was longer than the planned route because I had a motel room reserved in the town of Willard that was beyond the campground for that evening, and in the morning I had daydreamed right by the turn that would take us around the south side of Van Wert. By the time I woke up to my mistake, I had gone several miles around the west and north sides of town. Rather than simply turn around and right my mistake, I decided to cut through the center of town, theoretically saving some miles. But zig zagging, construction detours, trafﬁc and becoming a little lost made me even farther behind before I returned to the route. Not a good way to start a long day. I had been looking forward to the tabletop ﬂat riding through farm country with smooth, no trafﬁc roads. The rural scenery, although nothing spectacular was very pleasant and broken occasionally by a small town big enough for facilities, but not so big to slow us down much. The miles really clicked away very nicely. I rode by myself much of the day, but I remember playing leap-frog with Harry and Wilfred and Thomas after lunch. Later in the afternoon outside of the small town of Carey I caught up to Myron in his Quest. Shortly after that, with a yearning for ice cream, I made a last second decision to turn into a fast food place. Close behind me Myron didn't hesitate to follow. When we ﬁnished our treats and got up to leave, a table of older women began asking us the typical questions about our trip. After a few exchanges it was obvious that I wasn't needed. The woman seemed very taken by Myron's easy going Southern accent and charm ( Patsy must be used to this). I waited in the parking lot for Myron to break away, but we separated in
Late in the afternoon in an area with nothing but farms in sight, I half noticed a man jogging along the road just as I was concentrating on making the correct turn towards Williard and my motel. I had a ﬂeeting thought about it being somewhat unusual to see a farmer out jogging. As I made my turn the jogging farmer yelled, "WRONG TURN--CAMPGROUND IS RIGHT TURN, NOT LEFT." I thought, "How does this jogging farmer know where I am supposed to go." I made a U-turn and discovered that the jogger was Ben, Josef's friend who had joined the support crew a few days before. I found my motel easily and when I walked into the lobby, I met Patsy coming back from the front desk. She was looking for a room for herself and Myron, but this place was full. I never found out where they ended up--weren't many alternatives nearby. The day had been surprisingly easy---more ﬂat land miles than I usually do in a year at home in central Pennsylvania. But it was still nice to simply stroll to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Day 24: Saturday, August 20, 2011
Shelby OH to Streetsboro OH, 171 km
I believe this Saturday was one of those days where Nina and me started out hungry and had to ride quite some time before we found a place to eat that would either be acceptable to Nina or she would get too low on energy to accept anything. We left camp in Shelby some time before 8 am to roll along some very quiet side roads – like on the other routes that Bill had planned, the major trafﬁc on these routes was us. Terrain had become somewhat hilly since the approach to Shelby the other; it stayed that way today. Rollers were gently, though, and not hard to ride, providing nice view over the Ohio farmland from the hilltops. Mike was rolling along like a sewing machine, he would keep a remarkable pace on the uphill sections; while every time I passed by Benjie that morning I could here him mumble “hungry”, “food” or, in German, “Frühstück”. I don’t recall where we eventually had breakfast, but it must have been worth the wait, because I did not feel the need to eat any more as we arrived at Spencer, where other riders had gathered for an early lunch at the Spencer Restaurant, some 65 km into the ride. While the group I was riding with couldn’t resist the temptation to hang out with other ROAMies, I went on on my own after a short break, riding east towards Medina over still very nice and quiet
Hunting for Breakfast
turn-off; the guys in there couldn‘t get enough pictures of the Quest and me, and had more questions at every red light when I would pull up front on the shoulder. The route would take us on a cycle path along the canal or river. To get there, my GPS sent me straight at a hilltop intersection, down one of the steepest side streets I have ever been on. It took me a while to ﬁnd the entry to the path, but once I was on, riding was very nice. The path was crushed limestone but good to ride fast since it had the slight downhill tendency that velomobile riders love. Leaving a small cloud of dust behind (that’s probably why many Quest
All pictures taken between 7:45 and 8:45 that morning, the camera phone still wet, and our small group quite hungry
roads. Some time before 1 pm I had reached Akron and was working my way up the hill on the four-lane road that lead into town. Bill had tried to route us around town, but had given up and mapped a direct way – it wasn’t bad to ride. The uphill had many trafﬁc lights which aloowed me to keep up with the cars for most of the way, a shiny golden BMW pacing me until I reached the
riders run a fat tire in the rear – a 50-559 Kojak in my case) progress was fast, the few other cyclists on the path were stunned and the valley was narrow enough to provide shade frequently. Eventually the path ended and I continued on the streets. A bit further down there was a choice to continue on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, but Merriman Road looked like it went parallel and didn’t have a lot of trafﬁc so it should have been the faster ride. Before I would continue on that road, however, I stopped at a café for some juice and snacks. Sitting in the shade of what had become a rather hot afternoon I spotted Machiel passing by, coming the other way, though. A while later I heard his voice behind me, from the trail which ran somewhere behind the café. I learned that the road ahead was blocked, and that the detour would run up a very steep hill so Machiel had decided to go back and take the trail instead. Well, if one of the really strong riders on ROAM said so, my choice was made. I got ready and a few minutes later we zoomed along the trail up to its end at Boston. The rest of the ride would be hillier than the rollers west of Akron, I couldn’t keep up with Machiel on the uphills. Fortunately, he would put in pit stops every once in a while so we rode together for much of the rest. Crossing I-80 for the second time (ﬁrst was the underpass near the end of the trail), the day was almost done.
At camp I met Nancy by the big rental truck. She had come up from Florida to support the tour until its end in Washington DC and rented the truck at the airport to give us more hauling options. To me, this was one of the most remarkable aspects of ROAM – enthusiastic supporters (whom most of us hadn’t known or ever met before) who helped in the preparations, like Nancy did, and then took time off to be with the tour, doing all the support work for a smile! Two riders suffered mechanical issues that day: Benjie had to apply Volker’s engineering ingenuity to ﬁx the broken damper on his Quest’s rear swingarm; Markus, having had issues with his rear derailleur, got problems with his chain which needed
replacement in the evening. It began to rain later that evening – fortunately we could use sort of a barn on the lawn at the back end of the campground where ROAM had set up camp. I had spent 5:34 hours riding at a rolling average of 30.7 kph with a top speed of 78 kph.
monsters blowing up dust on the towpath - very, very cool. Made my day too. Taylor: I learned that the road ahead was blocked, and that the detour would run up a very steep hill so Machiel had decided to go back and take the trail instead. That was the steepest hill we had encountered to that point. There were a couple in PA that competed but none that were deﬁnitely steeper as far as I know. To illustrate, I would keep track of the ratio of watts I was using to speed in order to manage my battery usage. In general, 7:1 was a good ratio for ﬂat ground. Most hills would put me in the 20:1 - 30:1 range 50:1 was steep. I hit 100:1 on that hill, using 500W to go 5 mph. It was one of only two times that I saw ROAMers pushing their velos uphill. This day was one of my best mornings followed by one of my worst afternoons. I rode out with Martin who was happy to be back in the saddle after a long bout of ankle trouble. He said he liked a fairly aggressive pace and the terrain and weather were just ideal. It was also a fairly short day so the conditions were right for some fast riding. We hit the road and cranked up over 20 mph in a hurry. He was right with me so I pushed a little harder, then added a little more throttle, then pushed a little harder and so on. He stayed right with me. We passed several velos singly and in groups, including the rest of Team Britain, and then we saw Machiel, Marcel and Rob pulling on to the road from their breakfast stop. In my mind, we went past them with an audible 'whoosh' as they weren't up to speed yet. Those boys don't like to be passed, I had noticed, and wasn't surprised when I saw a little purple dot in the mirror. I put a little more speed on and it got smaller but eventually he caught up. Not long after, there was a green dot in the rear view and the same thing happened. The four of us ran hot like that, with me thinking that this was exactly the sort of joy I had
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Peter_C (a rider who saw some Roamies passing by) commented on BROL: I being one of the 'stunned' riders on the towpath, remember that day well. I had gotten on the towpath just north of downtown Akron on my tadpole and was going north when I started being passed by many of these 'velos'. At one point the 'towpath' (The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail) dumps you out on a sidewalk and then across a major road, and for ﬁrst-timers it can be a bit hard to ﬁnd the towpath again, it was there that I met and spoke with 3 of the riders for a couple minutes. It was very cool that afternoon to be riding along at my 10-11kph and hear this particular thundering sound coming up from behind me, and then being passed by these (I thought) trikes with shells at speeds easily 3X what I was going. This happened to me 8 or 10 different times. Usually only 1 or 2 at a time, but once there were six of these
signed up for, until the lunch stop. It was pretty early still but I had used over 1/2 of my battery and needed to add a little so I stopped and waved as they went on. Everything went south from there. I ordered a snack, mostly because I had 1/2 hour to kill, that took an hour to arrive. When I ﬁnally left, my speakers crapped out. Then the GPS stopped working so I had to follow other ROAMers through Akron. We lost most of them when my chain slipped off of an idler and had to stop for a second to ﬁx it. Now I was following Felix who had been kind enough to wait. I asked him how much longer and he said 10 miles. I had plenty of juice for that. After 12 miles I asked how far and he said 5 miles. Now I was running low, and then we hit that big hill. After 5 miles I asked how far and he said just a few more miles. Now I was really low on juice and slowing him down, along with the two ROAMers we had since hooked up with. I lost sight of them and then must have missed them waiting at the next turn. Now lost, out of juice, and thinking I had been ditched, I was getting really salty. Once I concluded that I was on my own, I looked for power and found it in a park in the town square. A quick call to the campground told me that I was only a few miles away with easy directions. I found a lovely wine bar on the square and had a glass while waiting for the batteries to charge. The place was still getting ready to open for dinner and the bartender was in training for some sort of extreme group obstacle course race. By the time I got to camp, all was righht with the world again. When I saw Felix I told him how lucky he was that I had found the wine bar when I did. He said he'd waited 15 minutes at the turn and all was forgiven. I'm not sure how we missed each other but I wasn't THAT far behind him. The evening was memorable for a mass take-out run to an Italian joint and a botany lesson on poison ivy in what I now think of as the "velo manger" thanks to Thomas' Christmas card. Harry reported a bad day:
I didn't know what was worse this morning: the general tiredness, the poison ivie itch or the sore knee. Actually we were not even permitted to go off the campground when you read this yellow sign. We left anyway. It got harder and harder to keep up though. I wasn't feeling THAT powerless, something was going on between legs and road. i didn't want to hold the others up so I told Wilfred to ride on while I checked what was wrong. I started with the disc brake and that was indeed rubbing still or again. I tried to get the warp in the disc straight, but with the wheel still on and with limited tools it was undoable. David with his truck with John driving
and Stefan aboard had stopped and it didn't take me long to decide to tow the Mango on top and call it a day. I had done only 30km, but felt like I had been riding a full day.
knew that would be necessary with the steep hills of the Appalachians for the next day. The last climb to the KOA in Streetsboro had been already very steep and Wilfred showed me how hard he had to work with a little vid playing on his laptop. The open shed that I had hung my hammock under was infested by some poison ivie, so we had to be careful where to step. At least now I could see the menace. It's an inconspicuous little plant. Somebody told me that it was the oil from the plant that made it particularly bad to get in contact with, because it would smear out and was hard to remove from clothes. It's true, I had scratched my knees and ankles and now it was itching at other places that I had touched: my shoulders and elbows. Days later, when the itching had ﬁnally receded, I put on the socks I had worn before and got the itch all over again. I threw away all my socks as I was totally fed up with it.
I had to get a new disk and swap them out. With the help of a smartphone we found a bicycle shop in Medina a little off the route. At Century cycles they were already somewhat prepared for velomobiles, since Merril had stopped by already. I could get a disk that I hoped would ﬁt and we went to the designated lunch stop in Spencer where David did some tinkering to his Quest while I allowed myself a little rest in the shade I was eating, drinking and sleeping on the truck and felt very much alive again when we arrived at the KOA. I swapped the disk out and changed the gearing by putting a smaller chainring on the middrive. I
Day 25: Sunday, August 21, 2011
Streetsboro OH to Knox PA, 193 km
Leaving Ohio on this day would be the start into three days of signiﬁcant hill riding, which most riders today would recall as the toughest part of the entire journey – not so much because of altitude or length of climbing, more so because of steepness and a continuous up and down, great rollers at times, lots of granny gear climbing followed by fast downhills, the next climb waiting immediately. These were days of either up or down, steep or less steep but never really ﬂat. Nina and I left camp with a couple of riders shortly before 7 am, about 2.500 of climbing ahead of us. After the rain last night, the morning was wet and misty, which made for nice views riding against the rising sun. Again, Bill had picked very quiet side roads, not always good in pavement but rather scenic. The morning began somewhat hilly, and this would escalate during the day as we progressed eastwards. As so often on ROAM, Nina and I had left without breakfast. Under such conditions, Bill’s choice of route had its downside: no service, and Nina refusing to stopover at a gas station. We had done about 42 km as we approached a country store in Southington OH, open on Sunday morning. A few velomobiles parked in front clearly indicated that we would ﬁnd food there. By the time I got in, the morning’s supply of bakeries was almost gone, bought the last two mufﬁns off the shelf.
When Nina came a bit later, she preferred some fresh made sandwiches to the mufﬁn I had bought for her. Everyone had coffee, we chatted for quite a while and spirits were high on this cool morning.
the ride. We must have had it because Markus took a picture of a group, including Bill and me, leaving from somewhere. Fairly long stops and the steady uphill/downhill seemed to keep riders closer together that day than on many other days. For the afternoon section, we had found that a road blockage past Franklin required a route change. We would not ride the downhill into Franklin and up on HWY 8 out of town. Instead, we turned right onto Georgetown Road after some 135 km, made a left on Mercer Road and turned right again on HWY 8. A sign for the Allegheny and Sandy Creek trails alerted the group I was riding with and we turned off at a gas station – where we learned that this was the right choice, since the side roads would lead us down to the river and straight onto the Sandy Creek Trail.
Leaving the store I began to rain and many of us would encounter more rain during the day. On the other hand, we had traveled so many days in baking heat and dry weather that most didn’t really mind the rain. For once, temperatures were truly bearable. I do not have any particular memory of the lunch break, which Bill had suggested to be held at Greenville PA, almost halfway into
A few riders missed that turn and continued on 8, then had to turn on Old HWY 8, getting onto the trail at a lower level and via gravel. To reach the trail going east, they then had to carry the velomobiles up two ﬂights of stairs to reach the bridge across Allegheny River. Nina and Jörg were among them; see the picture of them carrying Nina‘s Quest upstairs on the front page of this section. The rail trail itself was fun to ride, taking us to HWY 322 for the ﬁnal major climb of the day. The remaining distance was hills and hills, passing through Knox and ﬁnally getting to the campground on top of a hill, I-80 running close by south of us. I had spent 7:20 hours riding that day at a rolling average of 26.2 kph with a top speed of 82 kph.
Some 20 minutes later, I suddenly heard someone shouting: "Stay green! Stay green!" Could not see anyone. A few seconds later, Lee came shooting across the intersection on the last glimpse of the green trafﬁc light. Some time later Machiel came in with a few riders and we went to see if there was breakfast in town on this Sunday morning. The sheriff came by to check on us, but had no advice for us regarding food. So, the others went on, and I stayed for another cigarette to see if Nina and Benjie would come. They did not, so i went on. Taylor: I'm pretty sure day 25 was the day that 5 of us broke off and took a different route. Daniel had spotted one on his iPad that shaved 20 miles. This was the last day on the schedule that people seemed to be worried about, and the shortcut seemed like a good gamble. It worked out well. There was a lot of climbing but the other riders had that, too. We did have a couple of miles of gravel to negotiate but lucked out in not having to go uphill on the gravel. This was shortly after the intersection of Old State Hwy and Old School Rd and from the looks of things both of them were very old indeed. Harry’s video box: http://youtu.be/zHL5OrWT4qg I was riding the ﬁrst climbs with Benjie and Nina. Benjie lost a screw from his SPD sandals, but he had a pair of cleats with him. http://youtu.be/4WOp2OSXg6E a while later Nina and Benjie shoot past me on a thrilling descent. http://youtu.be/6ZOD0JFwmIY http://youtu.be/xhBvhEbrtyU http://youtu.be/_JfRkJaZOZ8
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I remember one of scene from that day that was missing in my report: Forgot something that otherwise is still very much alive in my memory. Somewhere early into the ride I had lost Nina and Benjie. One of them probably had a mechanical problem or a ﬂat. So I waited at the next turn. They did not come. Rode on to the next village on top of the hill to wait and check for breakfast. East and west of the intersection right by Hiram College, the road dropped off rather steeply. This was Hiram, Ohio. No sight of Nina or Benjie. Could not reach her by phone.
http://youtu.be/0I-P3m4v7EQ These clips show the effect of the rolling terrain. It is such a blast to ride here. Such rollers were one of the main attractions for me on this tour. We just don't have any of that in Holland. http://youtu.be/s6pP_3qHlUw At an intersection I ﬁnd myself with Jorg and Johann. http://youtu.be/jYhkdDWIyp0 the humidity was very high, so eventhough it was not as warm as before, we sweated a lot on the climbs. http://youtu.be/t_2I0yfVNfQ http://youtu.be/2LLNPznOI6s A while later we had some rain. I even had the foam cover on for a while, but I took it off as soon as the rain was getting less. Finally some Dutch weather. We really didn't mind. http://youtu.be/dGD8jdjQed4 in Cortland. I seem to have been riding with different ROAMies all the time this day. Very nice to see the others not only at the designated stops. http://youtu.be/q_fRxQlLcdU now with Bert and showing how water spats from the tires http://youtu.be/1bz6ulHHQpc The sun was already back again, but that raised the humidity even further. My glasses even fogged up sometimes. http://youtu.be/DXI8UByzbng David's truck is passing. The trees seem refreshed through the rain and you could smell it. Aaahhh. Johann is closing in from behind, but suddenly stops in a driveway. http://youtu.be/VSrKliFbbk0 the roads are very smooth here. Will they be so good when we enter Pennsylvania?
http://youtu.be/Lkz6Wpn_YaI a long climb near the Shenango Wilderness Area brings many riders together. We are a very compact bunch today, it seems. http://youtu.be/gYyvCmzdWoY how many Watts to climb 6%? The answer is "200". http://youtu.be/9x6V5W_eeC0 Father and daughter saying "hi". http://youtu.be/B0t3c7HthEk I thought I could do this short steep bit without shifting back to granny gear, but I was humbled. http://youtu.be/MTm3wSsKdaY there are more strange carts on the roads, but these have their own road signs. http://youtu.be/JJ0AT7yZpqU people often have no idea how far we can travel in a day (or how hungry we get). A boy at a mini-market looked approvingly how much food we bought and said: "you probably can't get anything for miles" http://youtu.be/AfFXbfANAXU another nice descent leading into Greenville. http://youtu.be/np2M8Nhl8FU we are wondering where the lunch stop is. We already saw some places where we could have eaten. We are certainly in for it! http://youtu.be/zKuj4j_Tg4Q there it is: Joe's Pizza. A line of velomobiles has already parked. I ate a lot here, even scraps from others :-) http://youtu.be/ZaJeUy3_wzo after lunch we hit a climb of 10% and my stomach is still busy digesting. http://youtu.be/0XJwitCV_1E Bert is alerting me that we have to go right instead of straight, like the GPS-track says. http://youtu.be/0RDjN8a9G4I
http://youtu.be/CReYEGFPh3k the outskirts of Franklin, another friendly little town. http://youtu.be/yAHPsAA8XF4 On the Sandy Creek Trail. I already published several clips from this trail, but this one is newly uploaded. http://youtu.be/Zj5QNQ4ArVA there was quite a bit of climbing to do in the last 10 miles. http://youtu.be/3zKkdw7WCNQ Volker and Saskia passing. Bert and me let a logging truck pass just before a hilltop. http://youtu.be/1sNjo2L7m_4 after being with Bert most of the afternoon, suddenly other ROAMies come from the opposite side and we turn off to the road that leads to the Wolf's Camping Resort. An eery place ;-) that reminded me of the inactive and obese people in the space ship in the animation movie "Wall-E". The inhabitants of this camping didn't get out of their golf carts to look inside our velomobiles: "eh, no we can see it from here". Walking is "not done". Weirrrrd. Harry added:
One of my ﬁlms showed Benjie repairing the cleat on his shoe.I also have a picture. Nina was there with us. To which Nina responded: At that time we lost Josef... Riding over quiet sideroads I met a couple of people. They came out of their houses to ask us what we were doing, about our destination, if it would be a race or why we would do this trip. Josef forgot our very nice breakfast stop in Wooster OH, on the Lincoln Highway (I can't remember the name of the bakery, it was a
viands store). They offered fresh italian bread, cheese, bruschetta and other nice things. My stomach was not used to this food any more, so I had problems with this type of breakfast and the endless ups and downs until I reached Punxsutawney.
Day 26: Monday, August 22, 2011
Knox PA to Patton PA, 144 km
In the history of ROAM, this day went down as possibly the hardest of all. The day before had been tough, surprising all of us with its permanent up and down. Today was supposed to be easier because the distance was shorter, and that is what I had told riders at the brieﬁng the night before. I was wrong. The day was just as hard as the previous one, with more than 2000 meters of climbing in all; only one aspect being different: We had a hard day in our legs. I didn’t leave that early on this morning. Bill had called and said that parts of our route were not good to ride and that he recommended an alternative. I quickly improvised a riders’ meeting to inform everyone about the route change – some didn’t get the message because they had left already; others were at breakfast and did not want to interrupt the meal to walk over to the meeting point. Following Bill’s advice, we rode back to Knox, turned onto route 208, then to ride east on 322 later (which we would have met eventually anyway further down the original route). This meant more trafﬁc on a bigger road, but one that was good to ride. I missed the occasional part of almost even rollers we had enjoyed the previous day – when the uphill was about as high as the downhill before, thus making it possible to push over on the big ring. Today, it seemed the uphill sections were always longer than the downhills, and they needed to be climbed in granny gear sooner or later. Those riders taking the original route found that Bill was right in his assessment. They encountered loose gravel on an uphill slope up
to 10% steep. The velomobiles needed to be pushed up, humiliating to any velomobile rider. On the upside of this, the countryside was really pretty, appeared to be a rather European version of America, nice valleys, green pastures, farms and ﬁelds of a more human dimension instead of the huge corn or soy ﬁelds we had seen further west. Some sections were outright beautiful. I recall riding along one valley in the late morning; the road went over rolling hills with a general tendency to head down, and uphill sections could be taken at
speed – a perfect road with splendid views, so pretty to see and so fast to ride that I did not take any pictures. The lunch rest stop was scheduled for Punxsutawney at a prereserved restaurant, where we met with Bill’s family and a local reporter. Very nice. After lunch we had to master two major and longer climbs, compensated by a long stretch over rollers along a river valley (which was rather an exception over these hilly days). Once we reached the top of the second climb, the road ran over minor hills before dropping down to Patton. I was riding with Machiel at that point, and he was pushing a good pace, as usual. Some more climbing to do beyond Patton, Machiel always ahead. Up on the hills we could see Glendale lake in the afternoon sun, surrounded by big forests – a wonderful sight. The road began to head down and Machiel built up speed fast. He knew as I knew the campground was near that lake, and this looked like the road leading right down to our destination. Alas, there was another left turn to take. Machiel ﬂew by it, I did not, which accidentally made me the ﬁrst rider to reach camp on that particular day. Prince Gallitzin State Park was another pretty site, located among big trees, very dark at night. Machiel was in for a surprise when he came in. His wife and mother had come over from the Netherlands to join us for the rest of the tour, which he didn’t
know. I knew – one more reason why it was good to be in camp before him. Another very pleasant surprise that night was a delicious dinner buffet Bill’s wife had brought over for us; a feast for those riders who had not been part of the regular Dutch dinners prepared every night by Winda. The food was very well chosen, and she had not forgotten to bring a big cooler of … err, ice tea. What a treat! Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Harry, multimedia this time: http://youtu.be/-vUY8IpXyg4 Hasse http://youtu.be/GGdgAkgYUB4 the dynamo hub ensures that I always have juice in my batteries. http://youtu.be/cXxJﬁ9efZA Wilfred has missed the extra riders meeting in the morning and has taken the gravelly route. I happened to catch him on camera, just as he joined us again. http://youtu.be/ck3S928OfyY people along the road know where we are going: DC! http://youtu.be/0UgqhccUX2A "vals plat" is when the road seems to be going down, while in fact it's going up. http://youtu.be/U7NRNRIIk2o burying Benjie and Hasse on Cemetery Hill :-) I am in an extremely good mood and so is my hair. http://youtu.be/sV4uFlcDUEs thrilling descent http://youtu.be/N3KsXrlYXjc just before Punxsutawney Johann crosses the road and Benjie passes from behind. http://youtu.be/sJ57GkgOQXM arriving at Punxy Phil's Family Restaurant. The parking lot has a good deal of velomobiles. http://youtu.be/ggiI40kSqJo where is Phil? You know, Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog day!
I had spent 5:53 hours riding at one of the lowest rolling averages of the whole tour (24.5 kph), while the top speed had obviously been beyond 84 kph again.
http://youtu.be/KG0llp3dTf8 climbing on a narrow shoulder with Greg http://youtu.be/w39_qF5alRk wonderful view on the Colonel Drake Hwy
http://youtu.be/sqMDxV46-WY Greg is playing "hide and seek" in my blind angle. Already 1500m/4500ft of climbing in. http://youtu.be/5v_51dVr_68 Taylor has stopped on the Colonel Drake Hwy http://youtu.be/0GGtdJoe7xY 25 miles to go and Wilfred is back with us. Town Mahaffey here and still on route 36. http://youtu.be/tEGSbjFudy8 I have Washington on my mind. http://youtu.be/Kgr3ReGGwTs neat lawns, like an ongoing golf course. http://youtu.be/WAp76IHrF8c getting closer to Patton http://youtu.be/nZyJvFpoV6U something brewing above Patton? http://youtu.be/N8EZueORVW0 the shoulder is a bit too narrow here and we keep the rumblestrip between the wheels. http://youtu.be/iXbzUUo7csY I have been sweating heavily on the last long climb of the day. The climbs are the real test on the tour and I enjoy them. http://youtu.be/Y0nL0CSXxXE It's not all uphill! We had some really nice descents that shaped my hair. http://youtu.be/TjGR-pRzLCU we are cruising through Patton. I see Wilfred and Rob who feel more conﬁdent than me to go full speed downhill. Greg reaches Patton together with me and we see Wilfred heading into town. Probably trying to ﬁnd an ATM machine. http://youtu.be/riCOQSLhc6A to the wonderful Prince Gallitzin State park http://youtu.be/Fm4X1E7gH2c only 4miles to the park, but the fun is not over yet! http://youtu.be/Fm4X1E7gH2c we found the entrance to the campground
Benjie completing a road sign: Share the road, also with velomobiles! The picture below was taken by Benjie. There was a short steep section just before and there I saw these riders waiting for the stop light. I was in such a good mood that I pedaled it up like a maniac. In Clarion we had the coffee stop in "the bathtub". The riders from ROAM can highly recommend this "etablissement". The food was of an
outstanding quality and the staff not only very friendly but also truly interested. Reﬂection of my Mango in the window of a showroom. Velomobiles on the road, will it stay a dream or become reality?
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/109680424 The ﬁtness data of this day, with a map of the route. According to this data we had done 2120metres of climbing. I had a very good day as it seemed that climbing was going very well for me. Sure, the downhills are very nice, but they last much shorter than the climbing. It's good to be able to enjoy them as well.
Day 27: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Patton PA to Hancock MD, 192 km
This Tuesday ROAM was clearly approaching its end. We would be riding the mountains for one more day and a half, this time through the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Bill had designed a clever route that would both be scenic and avoid tackling the series of ridges head on. Again, climbing would be substantial at around 1.600 meters for the day. Here is his description of what lied ahead: „Today the route leaves the high plateau coal country and descends almost 1500 feet down the Allegheny Front into the Ridge and Valley Region. For almost 10 miles we will follow fairly ﬂat secondary streets through Altoona and its neighboring towns to the south. After this section we will wind through a series of scenic and sparsely populated farming and forested valleys. At about the 50 mile mark around Loysburg are several lunch possibilties. There are limited services for the rest of the day. I've managed to avoid the "killer" ridge climbs by connecting a series of water gaps to get from
valley to valley. Average climbing for the day is still 84 feet/mile, but there is a net loss of 1100 feet for the day and the bulk of the
At Ashville we turned onto HWY 36, which eventually brought us down from the carved plateau towards Altoona. The ﬁrst ridge or sort of ridge was done. The road was nice and wide, trafﬁc was light, and I recall this longer downhill as a rather pleasant alteration of that morning’s routine. Probably because of that I missed the turn off 36 and rode right into Altoona, visibly and old coal mining town, small houses, side by side. Downtown I met another rider (who obviously also missed the turn) and we rode on together, until we saw another few riders parked for coffee at a gas station/café near the end of town, irresistible as always.
climbing is in the ﬁrst 2/3 of the ride.“ We left camp in a group of riders around 7:30 am to climb back out of the park valley and headed for small side roads running straight across the hills. Some steep uphills had to be mastered before 10 am, followed by ﬂying downhills into very small valleys out of which we then had climb again. We took the challenge in a somewhat fatalistic mood – after all, this is what we had become used to over the past two days. In a group we traveled on, still climbing and descending but clearly not at the same intensity as we had done on the plateau.
50 km into the ride we passed the water gap near Roaring Springs; the second ridge done. About 25 km later, HWY 36 took us to the third ridge. This time, a water gap not only provided a convenient way across but also offered a nice location for the lunch rest stop, at the restaurant located at the eastern end of the gap. Little Jack Corners was the only place around, and I guess all ROAMies stopped there. At least, I wasn’t the ﬁrst to come in, and many more came as I was there for lunch and a chat in the shade. The afternoon offered plenty of very scenic riding, mostly on very quiet roads, but for me it began with a mistake by routine. After
leaving the lunch place with a longer downhill, after the turn-off to HWY 26 a ﬁrst longer climb got me back into the usual attitude regarding hills: don’t think much about it, just spin up. And so I went up, and up, and up, looking at houses and lawns to the right, with the ridge we had sneaked through in the back, all covered with forest. I remember a girl playing in front of a house watching my passing with her mouth open. Gave her a friendly wave and spun on. As always, the climb ended at some point and the road was heading down again. Quickly shifting up to top gear I took the much deserved downhill at speed, fastly approaching the next town, Everett. Everett? Signs for HWY 30? That was not on my map! Checked the GPS, stopped and turned around, climbing up the hill I had just been ﬂying down all the way to the top to enjoy a bit of the downhill that had been my uphill before. Once on the way down I could see another velomobile coming up the hill. We met about where I had seen the girl – she was still there, waving at Wes in his Go-One. I called his name and waved, but his attention was focused on that young Pennsylvania Siren. He did not here me, I was gone quickly, and Wes pedaled into the same destiny I had just escaped from. The turn-off I had missed took me onto some small but very pretty roads, across one more ridge, and climbing up a remote valley to Rays Hill. The next water gap was waiting at km 115 on route 913.
We then turned off onto route 655, which I remember as the prettiest section of the day. The terrain was rolling, so there was plenty of backcountry to be seen, especially, after we had crossed I-76. From there the road gently rolled over hilltops with gorgeous views to the mountains ranges on the left and right.
the day was done and it wasn’t. Jörg and I stopped by a gas station store for refueling before heading on to the campground. Chatted there with a guy who claimed to have done coast to coast on a road bike as a young man; was exited to see us and eventually talked Jörg in to let him take a spin around the parking lot with his Evo-R. Jörg looked a bit concerned when the guy disappeared behind the building – he seemed to be enthusiastic enough to take off with the ﬁne velomobile under his butt. Then he reappeared from the other side. We took off and headed out of Hancock on 144, climbing steeply out of the valley to then turn left on Round Top Road. Down into a valley and steeply up the next hill. I had expected the campground to be around the next bend, but we still needed to go all the way around Round Top Hill and down on the other side to get there, the typical straight-line ridges of the Appalachians to both sides. The land was pretty and the campground looked nice.
Jörg and I were riding together along this truly beautiful section, and it was hard to tell what attracted us more: the nice riding at good speed over those gentle rollers, or the views over the mountains in their dark green and blue colors. The day was great, and one downhill with two turns later we had crossed the state line into Maryland and were rolling into Hancock. As it was another one of those Helena-type moments,
It was the last evening before DC and had a special atmosphere – a mix of excitement and melancholy, because ROAM was just about over. The last night in camp, celebrated with beers and open ﬁre until late. That night we learned that there had been a much easier way to the campground we could easily have taken from Hancock – the rail trail along the Potomac, which we would
take the next morning. Pennsylvania was done, West Virginia we could see across the river (but would not enter). I had spent 7:18 hours riding at a rolling average of 26.2 kph with a top speed in excess of 84 kph.
with little trafﬁc and the road along the mountain ridge almost at the end was so spectacular! http://youtu.be/wqojM-a7YSw The ﬁrst 25km is almost exclusively climbing. The route is very scenic and the sky is blue. It seems like it will be a lovely day to ride. http://youtu.be/v8CqSrcX5oE A long climb and I'm trying to catch the group in front of me. Two SAG vehicles passing. A lady in a duster crosses the street to inform me how far Washington DC is. She had already spoken to Nina. http://youtu.be/aHI4KyhzJFc At the coffee stop. We are not the only crazy ones, working hard up the hill. This roadie has forgotten his granny (ring). http://youtu.be/Z3n-Kh8NELU With Merril and Wilfred. Bill had organized us a very nice route through difﬁcult terrain. We often went with the ridges instead of going over them. We eventually reach a town. Altoona? http://youtu.be/fDtnB5H3Yng These two drivers simply ignore the rules of the road AND the rules of decent conduct. Merril waves the second car past. Me being a Dutchman (used as I am to drivers that may not always be friendly, but at least stick to the law) was not thinking of letting him/her pass in such a way. The ﬁrst car was even worse passing on our right through (for Pete's sake) a parking lot. Why do these people use the car as if it were a weapon?
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Harry’s videos of the day: This was certainly not the easiest leg of the tour, but it sure was the nicest one for me. I felt good, most of the ride was very scenic and
http://youtu.be/-7zl_FDgZe4 The main road would have been easier to navigate through town (Altoona?), but we must follow the track. "it's the law". Now we are waiting for a slow train to pass. Nina and me talk about how all the stops at intersections and the short steep climbs drain the most energy.
http://youtu.be/uNZwia4IS-I There are a lot of billboards in the towns. Here's one that offers us free legal advice when we get hurt in an accident. We'd rather stay unhurt, thank you very much. http://youtu.be/pyBO0Kr83Kg Benjie had stopped in the shadow of an overpass and follows us (me, Wilfred and Merril). We're on some busier roads: route 99 and turning to road 36 to Roaring Spring. http://youtu.be/zw3AKDalyJQ There is a camera crew next to the road. Merril is doing the honors. http://youtu.be/0FmzEpLRxG0 Sorry to be in the way of the truck driver, but couldn't help it. He was not at all pushy. http://youtu.be/BNkXSxnXxck We pass a factory at Roaring Spring that has a sign: "now employee owned". http://youtu.be/OJNHjArXD28 Seems like a good place to live. With Snoopy and Bambi... http://youtu.be/tUjmaWF1_ls A street called "welcome home". We're still pretty far from Kansas though ;-) http://youtu.be/6iI8l2ntlBE playing leap-frog http://youtu.be/7vgXSEVe5Cc Winding roads, high speed. Be careful not to lose your cap Benjie! http://youtu.be/JdBbWfZ_QTo "Traber, es geht weiter". "Some people are driving like pigs", says Benjie. It could be worse: when pigs start to drive like people. http://youtu.be/bDRU-Jvvruw Benjie sneeking up on me to get my cap, but I don't give him chance. http://youtu.be/stuYYfzYvNg near Hopewell, PA and still on quiet winding roads through beautiful scenery.
http://youtu.be/RFgF8EDhIYA Sipping from my camelbak and zipping along the road. Wilfred trying to spoil the fun by telling me we will have a long climb later. Nothing can disturb my good mood! http://youtu.be/P72K9sDZejA Locust Beach, PA. Powered by DHL. Is that the name of the motor. Yes, powered by Damn' Happy Legs. http://youtu.be/yr85tJb0vO4 the scenery gets better and better.
http://youtu.be/E-lgJNVfaxc We were chased by a dog. I found it funny, because I saw the dog was just nervous and didn't know exactly what to do with those strange carts. Benjie is not amused, he has bad experiences with chasing dogs. http://youtu.be/9Rs13cBV0Zo down-up-steep-down-up-steep-ﬂatsteep-steeper-the top! Merrill is always up front in a climb with his electric assist. http://youtu.be/SRqXX-QDaNk a whole bunch together, enjoying ourselves. Nina, Wilfred, Benjie, Greg, Merrill and Taylor. http://youtu.be/B3_AdaEAk3A Seems that Benjie has a ﬂat. Well he shouldn't have tried to pass Nina at the "do not pass" sign then. This is also where Markus has made a photo that Josef used in his post. http://youtu.be/tkrS1FjN1jk Mike confesses he lives in a ﬂat area and is not used to climbing. http://youtu.be/DYOPGGCAfJ0 Nina is rhyming and Greg thinks the weather's gone rough. Can they keep it together these last days! http://youtu.be/8qmehNIBqnk slowly but steadily working our way to Hancock http://youtu.be/8PlMEZ_4l5o Sometimes it seems like there's no end to the ride
http://youtu.be/JDuietGuUKk I think it was somewhere here that we hit the steepest climb of the whole tour. My Garmin registered 20% grade. It was 50, maybe 100 meters at the most, before it slacked off to 15% again. http://youtu.be/3Tnjmt-LvtM I had fallen behind because I had made a short stop and got new companions for a while: Andreas and Markus. http://youtu.be/z1GoOKChH3Q Yes, I felt euforic being on this ridge. I could look both ways for many miles and the road was going up and down in just the right way to go fast. (edit: it's called the "Pleasant Ridge Road". What's in a name!) http://youtu.be/WE3Ys1pp7yo Still on the ridge that kept on going. I thought this was the best section of the whole tour to ride on. Virtually no trafﬁc, fantastic view and the rollercoaster didn't seem to end. http://youtu.be/1xGNGZqV9WQ We arrived at the Happy Hills campground. Rob says his brakes are starting to make funny sounds. Nina is also suddenly there.
dogsridewith, on BROL, followed the progress on TV: WTAJ-TV10 news at 5:00 (just minutes ago)(central PA--Johnstown/ Altoona/State College) Couldn't ask for a better piece. Footage of multiple velows riding through farm country. In-cockpit interviews with entrant drivers doing the talking. (High probability replay on newscasts starting 5:30, 6:00, 11:00 pm. Maybe am tomorow) (Where do they start tomorrow?) Travis from the Recumbent Journal responded: Awesome! I was taking calls from the Altoona Mirror while tailing the ROAMers, trying to ﬁnd a spot for their photographer to catch a velo. Don't know whether or not he was successful. I notiﬁed both outlets about a week in advance, but the news editor at the Mirror didn't call me until 8/22 when I was already in the Prince Gallitzin campground where there is zero cell service. My photos from 8/22 and 8/23 are up on Flickr. I have a bunch of video to sort out and edit. They'll be ﬁnished with the tour before I even sit down to look at the footage. Mary from Leesburg VA was waiting for ROAM to pass by on W&OD Trail: I live near the W&OD Trail, the last route for the ROAM Group. Lunch is listed in Paeonian Springs. We hope to catch a glimpse of the group and cheer them on further down the trail on Wednesday. Looking ahead to next day‘s arrival at DC, Mary Arneson wondered on BROL: Watching the coverage of ROAM, I notice that the smaller the town, the bigger the coverage. Reporters went to the campgrounds or met
steamer from PA commented on the terrainvia BROL:
Living in these hills (in Altoona, which you rolled through Tuesday morning), I'd say you pegged it. Nobody from outside the area gives the terrain much respect because our mountains are not high, and you're hard pressed to ﬁnd single climbs with elevation gains much more than 1,000-1,200 feet or so (although there are a few), but it's the constant punishment of one steep hill after another that wears on you. 100 miles around here is easily worth 175 on the ﬂat. But as you also saw (later in the day on Tuesday) we have some beautiful long valleys with mild rollers that make for great recumbent terrain too. I love the variety around here. Great for road cycling, no matter what machine you choose. I feel lucky in this way.
up with the ride at rest stops -- except in places like Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Chicago, where the group seems to have passed without notice. Will Washington, DC be just too cool to take notice of a ﬂock of velomobiles? And added with a look to the weather forecast: Hurricane Irene isn't expected to hit Washington, DC until Sunday. The velomobiles should be packed up and off the streets by then, and most of the riders ought to be safely on their way home. It's been an amazing run of favorable weather for the tour. I was especially impressed by a little storm that approached as a solid band, then passed within sight to the north and south of the campground in Benson, Minnesota, and by the very big thunderstorm that blew past my house while the ROAM riders (camping a few miles north and west of us) reported only a little rain.
Day 28: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Hancock MD to Washington DC, 180 km
On the day four weeks after our departure from Portland, we left Happy Hills Campground in groups on that last day of ROAM around 7:30 am, heading for the rail trail along the Potomac River. Access was easy from the campground, and the trail was perfect. Two riders, Frans and Wilfred, celebrated their birthday today; we had decorated their velomobiles. The trail ran nicely along the hillsides about 20-30 m above river level, which provided for some nice views over the Potomac valley, some fog hanging between the mountains on this cool morning. At the trailhead, riders gathered, and we gave a bit of distance riding advice to Steve. He had joined ROAM the night before with his beautiful white Go-One Evolution and complained about our speeds on the trail. Inspecting his rig we found that he was running his tires at half the maximum pressure – an issue solved easily. Some riders got a bit confused, I believe, following my original routing instead of just sticking to the trail as we had discussed at riders’ meeting the night before. They went into Hancock and eventually came back to the trail. Beyond Big Pool, we took to the hills again towards Williamsport, some climbing to do, though not anywhere near what we had done over the past days. Williamsport, about 50 km into the ride, seemed to be the right place to have
breakfast (for no-breakfast-at-camp guys like me) or coffee, which appeared to be part of human rights among our Dutch riders. We stopped at a nice little café on the corner, which soon was packed with riders, sitting in the morning sun and watching the trafﬁc go by.
distance and watched him making the left turn towards Crampton’s Gap, where we were supposed to cross the last ridge of the Appalachians (unless you wanted to count the much lower one ahead of Leesburg as the last one). I had been playing with my phone and discovered that I might as well stay on 67 and fulﬁll Bill’s water gap approach to the mountains by crossing the ridge alongside the Potomac. Harper’s Ferry, an icon to me since US history 101 in college, was there, one more reason to go, even though I would not pass through the town, which is located on a peninsula further west. As I approached the river I found that 67 lead nowhere but onto highway 340, a four lane divided artery, which very much looked like bikes were not allowed on there. My review of this detour had obviously been too superﬁcial. After all, it was the last day, and I was on my own, so I just took the freeway through the gap and left at the next exit for Knoxville, following the road along the river to Brunswick.
Beyond Williamsport, the route continued across rolling hills of rural Maryland. Farming seemed to be done more for the looks of it, to make the land look cultivated and pretty. Quite a few of these farmhouses along the roads appeared to be residences rather than operating farms. Leaving Boonsboro on Highway 67 waited another longish uphill along a rather wide road. It had very little trafﬁc, however, and the shoulder was wide and clean. I saw Maarten ahead in the
Had to cruise the side streets for a bit until I found access to to Highway 79, which would take me into Virginia across the bridge. Stopped at the gas station and store on the Virginia side around noon for a break and wait for other riders. Less than 10 minutes later Maarten arrived followed a bit later by Machiel. On we went across more rolling hills, Virginia type now. By 1 pm we rolled through Waterford, a pretty little town sleeping
in the midday sun. Our lunch stop was some miles ahead so we carried on without stopping. Paeonian Springs, the scheduled stop, had no food, we were told my Machiel’s wife and parents as we met them some 20 minutes later at the intersection of Highway 9. Later I learned that there was food, but a bit further up the road – other riders went there for lunch.
cross on the trail anyway, even escorted us for part of the way. So, the three of us had a nice lunch with Machiel’s family out on the porch of a Leesburg restaurant. Time was ﬂying now; we were scheduled to meet with local bikers at Vienna, one of the DC suburbs on the trail. W&OD was good to ride a paved two-lane trail, but we were running late. At least we did not have to deal with the suburb afternoon trafﬁc; and the number of intersections on the trail was moderate as we progressed past Ashburn, Herndon and Reston towards Vienna. By the old railway station museum, the Vienna Bikers had set up a rest stop. They were wonderful hosts and showed great interest in our velomobiles and the tour. There we also met with Dirck and Larry, two recumbent riders who had helped developing our route into DC. Ice cold lemonade, cookies and good company convinced us to stay here until the last rider had arrived to take on the remaining miles together. Markus took pictures of many riders, as we were waiting for the last ones to arrive at Vienna – interesting views of faces expressing our feelings about the end of ROAM. And so we did, running more than 90 minutes behind schedule,
Maarten, Machiel and I went on to look for the entry to the rail trail we would take from there to go all the way to Arlington. Once on the trail, we met two senior roads bikers to chat with about lunch place recommendations. They favored Leesburg, which we would
while our DC welcome team was getting nervous. Soon after leaving Vienna, we left W&OD to ride the Custis Trail which would take us right to Key Bridge, a smaller trail with lots of bike commuter trafﬁc, which got pretty crowded when ﬂooded with 36 velomobiles going east.
By 6:30 pm we crossed Key Bridge into Georgetown, and a couple of turns later we went up Wisconsin Avenue, escorted by cheerful DC cyclists who had been waiting for us by the bridge. One more turn onto Reservoir Road and we could see Georgetown University’s main entrance, trafﬁc blocked by three
campus where she had secured parking space for ROAM. We had made it. The moment fully captured my attention; I did not think about reading my data for the day, did not care about the day’s real distance, the average and top speeds. As we gathered for a photo under the low lights of the garage, this epic adventure appeared easy, and its climax looked trivial in light of what we had seen, done and experienced over the past four weeks. It felt somewhat unreal that our ride should actually be ﬁnished; that we would check into our hotel rooms and that this would be it.
big ﬁre trucks with ﬂashing lights. What a welcome! How did the DC team get that arranged for us? Uninterrupted we made the turn to campus, where a group of family and friends – my wife and son among them – greeted us enthusiastically. It was a truly special moment for all riders. Once together, Nancy guided us into the garage next to our hotel on
Well, it wasn’t quite it, even though the remainder of our joint endeavor would never be like those days out on the roads, riding from Portland, Oregon, to Washington, DC.
http://youtu.be/fsKgvZ5BrzU On the "Western Maryland Rail Trail". I ask Johann, whether he is in his lowest gear. "Nah", he says, "I need a good reason to shift down". . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy2VcSJz98c The balloons on Wilfred's velomobile still ﬂapping about cheerfully. The trail is excellent. Good surface, ﬂat, no cars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1FZqA2YoaU I'm a bit cynical about the drag of the balloons. Wilfred likes to keep them on, but I notice we are falling behind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z11_WdNrLRQ The "birthday boys" riding side by side. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifwOCG7Dpsw Stephen Mosca imitates the train. Woohoooo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8o78LZ7xlc A short stop. Stephen's tires needed some additional air. They only had 2 bar in them. Right out of the showroom eh? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBwS7VbPai4 watching for the dog and the dog had better watch out for me. The road is MY territory pal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1MJs6qfeU0 Applying sun block while riding. It's not really hot, but the sun is strong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-lpgDwzojs Hungry Harry had a second breakfast. Wilfred's still hanging out his balloons.
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Harry, with plenty of footage from the last full riding day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMEQZZd0hTM Last day already. We are near Hancock on the "Western Maryland Rail Trail" and two of the riders have their birthday today: Frans and Wilfred. Their velomobiles have been effectively de-aerodynamized with balloons.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSzCL6vboVY I'm getting a bit bored, because Wilfred is going slow with his balloons. In the afternoon the roles were reversed: suddenly I was slow and Wilfred, once freed from the balloons was evidently quicker.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFS5lVDbxGU Crossing historic city Boonsboro. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tTWMfOsRh8 Yes, we are faster now that we lost the balloons on Wilfred's bike. I forced him to deﬂate these anti-aero devices. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02ItwDvO9f8 the small scale of the landscape and the oak trees on sand walls remind me a bit of where I was born. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuJTMezoeTU Not solar powered? Ah, pedal powered. But what stuff is that car on? It sounds like a chain-saw. Some riders enjoy the park here (Gathland State Park?). Miles is ﬁlming and Greg waves at me. Everybody seems pretty relaxed on the last day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7agYr1QlnrY Obscured a bit by the big passing truck, there is a large bird feasting on roadkill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbH6kZbwGaI A sign "Lovettsville, corporate limits". What can it mean? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxkOn_oCCOI Strong as I felt in the morning, that feeling is gone now. Wilfred on the other hand is doing much better. Saskia and Volker passing with the SAG vehicles for the "howmanieth?" time? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ4KpdvptT4 Rob is too strong. He keeps on breaking his chain. Somebody is giving him tools or some chain? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZJ0DDKcKYE I love ridge surﬁng! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOoYoF2r81c The Holland Express has mechanical problems. First Rob with a broken chain and now Marcel has a bent derailer. He has to SAG on the very last day. Tough luck for beekie..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD2uq94xnp4 Another convoy. But this time the convoy is all cars. We can't help it either, there's no shoulder. Eventually we ﬁnd a spot where we can stop by the side of the road and let them pass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD-Bz40_iW4 A restaurant with a strange system. Order outside and pay the ordered food inside. Some kind of bureaucratic loophole in Maryland? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQDBXXigDo Patrick is clearing the Washington & Old Dominion Trail from leaves ;-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIGoFdXn2dU The last gathering before we enter Washington. As One! (in one big group) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP8tjxxjuU8 This is the ﬁrst time since we left Portland that we ride in one big group. It would prove to be hard to stay together, but we had an excellent system. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqXdfcCloMA We had a System for crossing the road in one group. The ﬁrst riders would block the road while the others crossed. Well, that's it actually, nothing more to be said about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJk7xyQl4ck It's my turn to block the road together with Bert. The last rider is supposed to signal that ehhh, that he is the last rider so the blockers know they can ride on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ_iPj8HMR4 Lots of joggers and cyclists on the bumpy trail. The trail saves us a lot of hassle of negotiating busy streets. http://youtu.be/G-tPEpj3k9A Not new, but worth repeating: The Velomobile Groupies.
Here‘s a bit of communication from BROL among folks trying to catch an eye of ROAM on August 24, the last day of the tour: Mary, from Leesburg VA, wrote in the morning:
I plan to ride shortly to Ashburn at Carolina Bros BBQ, arriving around 12:30 and hopefully get a glimpse of the Velos as they come through later. Their scheduled lunch is in Paeonian Springs. After lunch they will get on the W&OD and head towards DC. Come on out.... skyemoor wondered:
Any idea if they are on schedule (not way behind)? The blog site doesn't say speciﬁcally, and the Where-Am-I link shows them at least another day out. Edit: Now the WHERE-AM-I link shows them in Hagarstown, which means they are 2+ hours behind (if that links shows realtime location). Mary informed, referring to the twitter feeds on the tour website:
According the last posting on the ROAM site, they are in MD and within striking distance. Craig added: A bit over an hour ago, they stopped in Williamsport for coffee. Usually a 1/2 hour process. Should be on the way again. skyemoor again: Their realtime GPS links shows them still in Williamsport, which is 44 miles from Paeonian Springs. The roads through Virginia to Paeonian Springs are rather hilly, so I don't see them making good time through there (my training grounds, actually). Ten minutes later, he added:
Ah, when I click on the location icon, it says "Accurate to 60 meters as of 2 hours ago. " So that may mean the last report from the GPS device was 2 hours ago. They might be trying to conserve battery power or just in a bad reception area, as mentioned above. Dan, from Wisconsin, explained: I think they have to update there location as they go. At least Frans said he has to, but he has been having problems with his GPS for several days. CiberQuest seems to update his location most often, he is also usually among the ﬁrst to arrive at camp/hotel at the end of the day. He looks to be about at the half way point now. skyemoor, relying on old school technology now: I have someone watching the route just before Paeonian Springs (though at 12 years of age and with 2 friends there playing, may have been distracted) and they haven't seen them yet, should have been an hour ago. UPDATE: They are now coming into Paeonian Springs! Henry, from Springﬁeld VA, reported on his encounter with ROAM: We met up with TrikeDiva this afternoon to see the velomobiles as they went on the W&OD trail between Leesburg and Ashburn. Here is a link to some pictures:
A day later, Mary posted her shots from her encounter with velomobiles: Finally pieced together video from yesterdays ROAM pass through Leesburg, VA.
It was fun following your progress across the USA. Glad I was able to spend some time riding with you all in Wisconsin. Dan went on to add: I like Benjies post today. Total: 5178 km 4 time zones 15 states (OR, WA, ID, MT, ND, SD, MN, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, MD, VA, DC) approx. 30.000 hm approx. 850.000 crank revolutions Mike, from Florida: Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. A transcontinental ride even with great support is a grand accomplishment, and especially on a tight schedule. The communication holes have left us with an incomplete story, so I hope as you go through your experience with your families and friends you will ﬁll in some details for us. Propagate the gallery on the roam site as well. We have packing there, but not unpacking, preperation and the trip, as well as repacking. I am sure their are some great photos. I expect everyone uploading at ﬁve in the morning tomorrow;-) I am not far from the Southern Tier Trans American terminus. I have met more than a few riders who weren't ready to stop after cycling across the country. Some turned and rode back west, some north
A number of followers commented on the DC arrival:
Craig: Josef has posted that they reached Georgetown today about 6:30 pm and that ROAM has reached its destination. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Larry: I raise my water bottle to salute all of you ROAMers! Tom: As I'm typing, I can't help but think of the celebrations that are going on in the hotel(s) this evening. You have earned the rest my friends! The remaining 40K tomorrow will be sooo sweet, I can only imagine how rewarding those last pedal strokes will be as you saunter your way to the nation's capital. Have a great day tomorrow !! skyemoor: Where can we expect to ﬁnd everyone this evening? I'd like to come and celebrate with the triumphant! Dan: CONGRATULATIONS!!!
some south. I will buy you a Cliff bar if you stop by Florida on your way home;-) Nanda, from California, wrote: Simply awesome!!! Please let us know if there will be some sort of DVD compilation video available for purchase in the near future, I would love to have one. Sean,from Colorado said: Just to let you know that you have made an impact on people in this country that are not already velonauts, recumbent riders or even on the route you rode:
While I was taking a break on the side of the road in my velomobile this afternoon, a guy on a well used diamond frame bike stopped and his ﬁrst question was: "Hey, were you part of that group of velomobiles that just went across the country?" People ARE paying attention.
Thank you. Pat Franz from Terracycle wrote: To any of the ROAM riders happening to read BROL- glad you all made it safely to Washington, DC. As an American, I hope you all had a memorable trip, met lots of good people, encountered only a few not so good people, and that you enjoyed your crossing of this varied country of ours. It was fun to be a part of your adventure, and I've enjoyed following along with you. I know the blog postings and pictures and videos were a lot of work after a long day, but we've loved every bit! May you all have safe trips to your homes, and think fondly of your journey for a long, long time. You've accomplished a lot and got untold
numbers of people thinking in new directions. Something to be proud of.
This part deals with the days spent in Washington DC after the ﬁnish of ROAM on August 24, 2011. We were struggling with the weather but more so with law enforcement and park ofﬁcers in our attempt to cruise the Mall by velomobile. It talks about the shipping of the European velomobiles and the uncrating party in Groningen. The chapter concludes with some afterthoughts on ROAM and velomobile touring.
The day after: Thursday, August 25, 2011
Cruising D.C., some 30 km
Unlike most other days of the tour, our arrival to Washington DC was somewhat ill fated. The ﬁre trucks, which had guarded our entry to GU’s campus had not been there because of us but due to a ﬁre alarm in the building next to the hotel. An earthquake had hit the region two days earlier, and there was hurricane Irene approaching the area (which later delayed the ﬂights for a number of European riders; those scheduled to ﬂy out via NYC would depart a few days later only). Worse even, parking on campus posed a major problem. While we were able to buy parking space for the velomobiles in the garage, there was no proper space for the support vehicles, and drivers had to wait for hours before learning that the issue could not be solved satisfactorily. In this regard, we would have been better off with hotel accommodation somewhere on the periphery. Thus, the last riders’ meeting on the morning of August 25 was shaped by mixed experiences. Riders had enjoyed a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep while supporters had been out late to secure a safe place for their rig. Nancy had been working hard to solve the issues but both hotel management and GU campus ofﬁcials weren’t very supportive. This coming
weekend would see the arrival of freshmen and their parents, and that clearly had their priority. Our misfortunes would continue. By 11 am riders got ready for the capital tour, heavy clouds hanging over DC. We got as far as Lafayette Square before they started to unload over ROAM. What frustrated us more was that we could not get access to Pennsylvania Avenue. Park Police was convinced that this was a demonstration, we were not considered to be tourists, they did not believe that there was no organization behind this, and concluded that we could not be allowed there. Off we went in the rain, towards the Mall. One suitable place to stop seemed to be in front of the WW II memorial with its view of the Lincoln Memorial over the pond, and Washington Monument on the other side. Barely had we set up our velomobiles in a line to not block the way for pedestrians, and passers-by had begun to gather in spite of the rain that Park Police appeared on the
scene, and the same procedure was repeated. We left and headed across the street, stopping our velomobiles under a group of trees; the rain had become heavier. Minutes later, Metropolitan Police was there to inform us that „these things“ could not be parked on the grass. Told these were bicycles, the order still was to get them off. We rode on towards the Smithsonian in harder rain – more space there, wide alleys alongside the lawn, and a good place to line up the velomobiles in front of the Capitol. I guess we would have been chased away had we been any closer to Capitol Hill. Where we were, there seemed to be nothing of concern, velomobiles
could be lined up on the path, and it was probably too wet for any ofﬁcer to want to walk over. Under such conditions, the ofﬁcial end photo of ROAM came about. After seeking shelter from the rain for some 30 minutes, our determination to cruise DC was sufﬁciently shattered. In small groups, we went back to the hotel. On the way, one of our riders collided with a car and had to be taken to hospital, his Quest had been damaged. Bad luck for Marcel. Not only had he rolled his velomobile at one point during the ride, and a mechanical problem had not allowed him to complete the last riding day, now he became the only rider to suffer a trafﬁc accident on the entire tour. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt badly and could be with us when we all gathered for the ofﬁcial arrival reception offered by the EU Delegation and the German Embassy in the late afternoon. It was a memorable event we all liked, nice speeches, ﬁnger food and drinks while it continued to rain outside. Riding on this 29th day of ROAM had been about 31 km for me. The following night the hurricane went by the DC area with heavy winds and rain but not causing much damage. The next morning, as the European riders left the hotel following extended farewells of those North American riders and supporters leaving DC, the weather was ﬁne, sunny but still with pretty high humidity.
Read on: Comments from riders and other folks
Here is a video shot by Stephen Mosca that morning, giving a bit of atmosphere and speaking to a number of riders. The rain, our troubles with the ofﬁcials and the accident Marcel suffered, were echoed in comments posted online. Here‘s a selection: Mary Arneson reported: I've been reading through the postings and blogs since ROAM left Minnesota and will really miss these guys. One cyclist I talked with last night at a Minneapolis Midtown Greenway supporter event captured some of the appeal of the ride. He asked what they were riding to support, and I said that most of them were just riding for the hell of it. He said, "yes!!!" It really appealed to him (and me) to have a ride that is just for the joy of riding. (Not to minimize Machiel and Wilfred's efforts on behalf of two charities that I really admire, but it's great to see people cycling without having to make excuses for it.) ROAM wasn't a ride for super athletes; it was a ride showing that regular folks (even at my age!) could do amazing things. I've ridden across one country (not a big one) and one state (Wisconsin), but I'm already thinking about some more ambitious bike tours. It was good to hear that the velomobiles are safely (I hope!) stowed in a warehouse, awaiting shipment back to Europe, and that at least some riders have trip insurance that will pay for extra hotel days while the airports are shut down. The ride into Washington was anything but smooth. Security personnel chased the riders away from the White House, the Veteran's Memorial, and the Washington Monument, but a driving rain apparently kept the security folks indoors long enough for the velomobiles to assemble on the Mall in front of the capitol for photos. The riders decided to call it a day and ride back to the hotel in small
groups. Felix ended up on the freeway by accident and arrived ahead of the rest. Marcel (green Quest, known as Beekie) was rear-ended by a Secret Service agent, with substantial damage to his velomobile, and enough injury to himself that he was taken away in an ambulance -- but appears to have checked out okay after a number of scans. Larry said on the accident: After all the miles on so many roads, interstates, mountains, and to have a nearly tragic accident like that? I'm glad the outcome seems to be more serious for the VM than the rider! That was a close one! Harry replied: Not that close, Larry. Once more a velomobile has sacriﬁed it's own body to protect it's master. Of course we didn't know how serious it really was at ﬁrst. Hours went by before the other riders heard that Marcel was basically ok. Nerve wrecking..... To which George from St. Louis MO responded: Out like a light for twenty minutes and you call that not that close? Respectfully, am I missing something? Paul from Portsmouth, England, wondered about reactions from ofﬁcers at the entrance to LafayettePark: What diid they think they were? Cruise missiles? dogsridewith commented: Does anyone know someone? Or someone who knows someone? Are the euros still here so that some properly grand gesture could be made?
Mrs. Obama's pet program is MOVE. Velomobiles represent a good way for people to "ﬁght obesity" by doing something useful with their bodies. America beneﬁts from tourism, and these are nice people who met nice people all across the country. Security (and PR) had a month to examine these things and the pilots. Chasing them away from momuments! They should have been ushered to the best spots, and welcomed with treats. To which I explained: I had emailed the White House about six weeks before our arrival to DC, but never received any response. The interesting experience for us was that all the ofﬁcers wanted to determine what our organization was, where it was registered and what the demonstration we were obviously holding was about, then to conclude that we had no permit and were not eligible for one anyway. When we said we were just tourists who had crossed the country over the past four weeks and just wanted to go where you could go on a bike, no organization, no political claims, no demonstration other than being what we are, we were not believed and these were not bicycles and if they were they could not be where we were at that point. We got a ﬁrst taste of that when we got kicked out rather rudely by a security guy on Navy Pier in Chicago. Even though other folks were biking there, we could not because we posed danger to the pedestrians and just could not be allowed there. We had just bought some ice-cream but had to move off the pier immediately, and the guy also made sure that we could not stand in front of the entry to the pier -- all this was not with 36 velomobiles being there but just 4 of us. Apart from these incidences and a few jerk drivers the reception of ROAM across the US was outstanding. Much respect from drivers
(almost all truck drivers behaved really well), many cheers from bystanders, hundreds of visitors on stops (if not thousands), thumbs up everywhere, velomobile groupies even ... Mary Arneson from Minneapolis commented: Whenever we take a long bike ride, people ask us what charity we were riding for. Media attention here (when cycling gets any attention at all) focuses on rides for Multiple Sclerosis, disabled veterans, or other disease/disability charities and rarely takes any notice of people who are riding for their own enjoyment, transportation, or health. What I found refreshing about ROAM was the "why the hell not" attitude about cycling across the United States. No grand purpose, no over-organization -- just a bunch of regular folks having a good time doing something crazy. And if they wanted to support a charity along the way, or make a political statement, they could choose their own charity or make their own political statement. We could use more of the ROAM spirit and less of the humorless attitude that pervades US society and government. (I'm not forgetting the guard at the US Embassy in Copenhagen who made me erase the photos that I had taken of our velomobile tour riding on a public street past the Embassy building in October 2009. What a STUPID bit of bureauocratic nonsense.) LayZeeDee from Portland OR summed up: I believe it would be prudent for Brian/BROL to write up a succinct "message to the White House", particularly Michele O. regarding the welcoming- of the European deligation of ROAM. Seriously, a single coherent message from all ROAM followers here on BROL, emailed and signed individually would go a long way to making sure that when people do something good, that it is actually recognized by this country.
Personally, I am somewhat ashamed at how these visitors were treated by the very people who should have welcomed ROAM riders with a message for the country. A crafted message from BROL would go a lot further than anything I can put into words from my frame of mind on this. I'm glad Beekie is safe. Where would one get a Quest analized for insurance purposes? I would think that structurally the Quest could be seriously marginalized and should be replaced rather than repaired for safety's sake. Insurance companies want to close claims, and after a crash like this, I would want time to ferret out possible hidden ﬂaws. I would highly recommend not shipping it back until the insurance company has a chance to physically look at it. Having a bicycle atterney on hand might also be a god idea. Things will be much harder to resolve if Beekie and the velo is already overseas. Any delay will also be the responsibility of the insurance co.
tendons, but these guys were taking coffee, lunch, snack and Skype breaks, walking around, getting a half-way decent amount of sleep, and even taking an occasional swim. If they got too sore, they could SAG for a day without anything awful happening to them. I think they will be ﬁne. (I also don't favor asking doctors about what to do physically, since most have no clue but will hesitate to admit it.) I put in: Of the 22 Europeans, all rode without assist, a good number pedaled the entire distance without exception, a couple of others needed SAG rarely. It seems the oldest riders to pedal the entire distance were two Euopeans, Maarten and me, age 56 and 55 resp.
Reviewing my time sheet, I cannot help to realize that ROAM was mostly a seminar in making/breaking camp, eating, sleeping, chatting over meals or a couple of beers. Total riding time was 172 hours and 42 minutes over 5150 km and four weeks. Less time than I would otherwise spend on the job. And we were not racing.
Riding never took the bulk of the day -- my longest day in the Quest was still below 10 hours, the majority of days (18 of 29) saw me riding between 5 and 8 hours, 2 were longer than 8, the rest shorter than 5 hours. Steve from Maple Ridge BC, Canada, who rode the section from Portland to Missoula with us, said: I must concur with Joseph that riding ROAM would be within most cyclists' capabilties. Joseph was one of the strongest riders on the trip. I ended up riding maybe a couple more hours each day. I only rode the ﬁrst four days and SAGed the ﬁfth as I was over-heated on day four. In retropect I think I could have ridden the ﬁfth day too but it was nice getting a different perspective on the velomobiles from a car driver's point of view. I consider that I did fairly well considering that
Some folks wondered about the physical side of ROAM. skyemoor asked: Any reason to suspect that there could be ROAM negative health problems as experienced by a couple of other bent riders who have undergone extreme cycling events? I highly recommend each ROAM rider read the following and plan the rest of their trip with some of the orthopedic surgeon's advice in mind; http://www.bentrideronline.com/ messa...ad.php?t=75971 Mary Arneson responded: As a physician and occasional long-distance cyclist, and also as a SAG driver for ROAM for a couple days, I'm going to offer the opinion that this was pretty hard cycling, but not quite the extreme exertion that was being referenced. There were some sore muscles, joints, and
the four days I rode was probably about the equivalent to more than half the riding I had done this year up to that point. What did really help me was that I had done four or ﬁve 200 km brevets in the previous two years which let me ﬁgure out how to ride longer distances. Day two and day three, however, were the farthest I had ever ridden in one day and the farthest I had ever ridden in two days. Future rides could be a little less ambitious each day so more folks could consider taking part.
This tour was an adventure for sure. It was pure luck they missed the high heat and tornado's of the plains. But to ﬁnish with Earth Quakes and Hurricanes - what a ﬁnale.
The last words come from Lonnie Morse who travelled along with ROAM on its ﬁrst ten days. On August 28, 2011, he concluded on OHPV.org: Of course - the ROAM riders had the misfortune of getting hit with cancelled ﬂights by having to weather out Hurricane Irene The following link was posted this Sunday morning by a Dutch gentleman "Maarten". His observation of Americans is interesting but yet not surprising as I pretty much agree with him Unfortunately - there was a crash involving a ROAMer "Marcel" with injury requiring hospitalization. The beautiful green Carbon Quest suffered dreadfully. The rider is out of the hospital - condition shaken but recovering. Can you believe it - he was hit by a secret service agent His story is on his blog – use the google translator on page. So - it looks like our Euro ROAM friends will be ﬂying out Tuesday. Hopefully they will take in the Smithsonian Museums as part of their entertainment. It looks like Maartins blog is the most current with activity present updates - - His blog also has links to the other Euro riders. I wish these ﬁne Europeans the best with their trip back home. America is a better place now having exposure to the velomobile and it's contingents of Euro Riders. Josef is the man that made it happen.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Washington DC to Upper Marlboro MD, 40 km
A couple of riders had shared the track for the about 40 km ride out
Delivery Day: Leaving DC
to Upper Marlboro, so we took off in three or four groups lead by those in the know. Cruised through Georgetown’s lovely streets one last time, crossed Washington NW and passed through NE before entering the hills of Maryland again. To be sure, we did not break with ROAM’s tradition on that 30th day of ROAM, putting in a coffee stop at a shopping mall somewhere on the road. I had my last ﬂat for the tour on the way out of DC. Riding was good and we had fun at it – just another one of those ROAM days. At the warehouse, everything was prepared except for the containers, which had not yet arrived. Folks there were very helpful and seemed to like to work on such an unusual project like ours. So, we packed our velomobiles in the crates that had come over from Portland and stored them in a trailer to be reloaded once the
Storing Marcel‘s Quest on the trailer in front of the hotel
containers would come in. For the Europeans, this was the last step of the tour in the US. For the rest of our stay, we were to be tourists only.
Velomobiles are back
Groningen: Homecoming Party
A few weeks after returning home, the last chapter of ROAM was closed. On September 24, 2011, European riders came together in Groningen, The Netherlands. Two containers had arrived at the Ligﬁetsgarage, waiting for us to unload the crates. The work went by fast, much faster than loading them 15 weeks earlier. As with the ﬁrst shipment, none of the returning velomobiles had suffered any damage on the transport. The day went by quickly, uncrating together, sharing terabytes of pictures, exchanging stories and tour memories, crowned by a tasty BBQ on this wonderful warm and sunny Saturday. ROAM was history now.
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“Roll over America” was the epic adventure we all had anticipated and prepared for. True, touring the US from West to East the way we did seemed to be a bit of a rush. On the other hand, ROAM was the way to ride the grand tour over a summer’s vacation. We saw and experienced a lot, much more than could be described in any tour journal. Many riders I spoke with later reported what also happened in my mind – at night, in our dreams, we were back on the roads riding east, obviously a case of visual overload during the tour. In my case, this effect lasted for some weeks until my mind came to rest and work/ life had taken over. Crossing the United States was special in itself, quite different from my earlier experiences as a student in the late 1970s, the many days I spent working in the US, on conferences, with think tanks on both ends of the country. ROAM also did not compare to the vacations we paid to the US as a family – touring the Northeast or the West, and the beautiful Southwest. This tour was different in that it provided the most intense experience of the spatial dimension of the United States. We never stayed for long anywhere but still received a million of
subtle messages about the places we came to, the appearance of the towns and cities, the looks, the cheers, the chats with random groups of people who happened to cross our way. Generally, it will not be difﬁcult start a conversations with others in America; traveling by velomobile it was outright impossible not to be talking to strangers. These brief exchanges taught us a lot about the attitudes and viewpoints of Americans, not least because they represented many different backgrounds and life-styles. Over in Europe, a group of velomobiles will likely attract folks interested in cycling themselves. Not so in the US; many of the locals we spoke with very visibly had no current cycling experience of their own, and would hardly ﬁt into any of our machines. Still, they were curious and interested, and they wanted to tell us about their home county or state. On the other hand, we also met quite a large number of Americans who did not match the general European prejudice at all; they were explicitly interested in sustainable mobility. We heard a lot of praise for the European social model and our interest for the preservation of the environment – there seems to be reverse prejudice about Europeans. Then, there was the landscape to digest. The wide valleys of the West, the high deserts and the mighty mountains, the huge rolling grassland of Montana, giving way to the farmland of the Dakotas, the lakes of Minnesota. We saw big rivers, large reservoirs and camped on the coast of the Great Lakes. With the images of the West in our heads, even the more densely populated states of the
East seemed wide and in a way wild. It made us even more aware of the ‘emptiness’ of the West in terms of settlements, roads and infrastructure. European riders come from regions where virtually every inch of the land is cultivated, and has been so for centuries. The part of America we saw is not; and where it was, its appearance differed signiﬁcantly from old Europe, whether it was the huge ﬁelds west and east of the Mississippi, the typical Wisconsin farmland or the rolling pastures of northern Virginia. We saw so much in a fairly short period of time, and yet the impressions were strong. At our cruising speed and riding position, our view of the terrain was magniﬁcent while our progress was good enough to make for change almost every single day.
Lessons for touring by velomobile
On tour, the daily legs were tough for those riding at a slower pace. They left earlier than others and still came in later, leaving little free time before it would get dark. But their performance was remarkable; they kept a good pace over longer hours. The faster machines and faster riders were somewhat better off. Either they chose to leave camp last (which I was always grateful for since they would help load the luggage into the van) or they rode ahead of the pack identifying rest stop locations, occasionally signaling turns or warn of upcoming detours. Overall, ROAM was easier for them.
By and large, our velomobiles performed very well. Even the well established models such as the Quest and Mango velomobiles did have a number of mechanical issues, however: broken chain, rear derailleur issues, disc brake problems, broken rear swingarm, broken swingarm suspension. These could all be ﬁxed on the tour. Damage to the velomobile body could not, so Jim had to quit after rolling over, John could not ride on after hitting a big pothole at speed, and Marcel could not ride out to Upper Marlboro for shipping after the trafﬁc accident had damaged the shell of his Quest. Among the electric assist models, only Daniel in his Quest with Stokemonkey assist did not report any problem. All others had issues with batteries or charging, with the motor or the drive train. Again, all of that was ﬁxed on the tour. Sure enough, life would have been much harder without the support vehicles and the great work of the entire support team. Less than a third of the riders who completed the entire tour didn’t load up at all, but they beneﬁtted from the SAG team immensely, be it for the transport of the luggage, for water stops and cheers on the road, or simply for knowing that help was there should they need it. I myself pedaled every single mile of ROAM and still would not have wanted to be without our great support team. As much organization and effort as it required, as tough as it was for an average guy like me to ride it, ROAM also was easy in its
own way. We actually made the schedule every single day, and we would be ready to carry on the next one. We crossed all those mountains, passes, ridges that stood in our way, we completed the very hot days, the long rides and the boring ones as they came up. We heard the sounds of the freight trains at night, and we would love to race them during the day; we inhaled the sounds and scents of the road, with trafﬁc light and heavy. Overall, drivers have treated us well, gave us enough room and passed with care, not all of them did but the overwhelming majority.
ROAM and its riders received a lot of attention wherever the tour came along. Millions of pictures must have been taken, hours of
footage should be dispersed on phones and computers across the US, and all captured and recorded by folks we didn’t know. We talked to media many times, mostly outside of the major cities. Much more, however, we talked to people on the road, at every stop, just about every trafﬁc light, every gas station, store or diner, at the campground or as we were riding along. Law enforcement was never far, and it was mostly supportive. My deepest impressions, ﬁnally, stem from the company with riders and supporters. To ride ROAM with such a diverse group has been a truly rewarding experience that I will never forget. I
although I loved to see my wife and family again, and I was ready to do something else than riding. Four weeks had been a long time but went by so fast. ROAM had been a premiere.
To my knowledge, such a distance had never been covered in a comparable time by a larger group of velomobiles before. We have demonstrated how well velomobiles perform over distance and varied terrain. Our ride has proven that the ordinary velomobile commuter can do it.
Will there be more?
Probably, but it may take years for another event like this one to happen. It could be done in less than 28 days, and still be fun. It could also be done as a self-supported tour but would take longer and get fewer riders to the ﬁnish than ROAM did. It could be done elsewhere, in Europe, in Australia, or across the southern tier of US earlier in the year. RAAM, the “Race Across America” could be done by velomobile. It would be a blast to ride RAAM in as velomobile team; both team and solo times could possibly set new records for RAAM, or else allow solo riders decent rest times
would not want to have missed a single one of those 172 hours and 42 minutes I spent riding on ROAM. We equally shared the hard parts and the great moments, we laughed and we sweat together, we experienced America as a group, even though we would not ride as a group for most of the time on ROAM. Somehow I felt rather sad than happy when ROAM was ﬁnished,
at night and still meet the deadline of the toughest long distance race for cyclists. We will see. Velomobiles are an idea the time of which has come.
SPEZI 2012: HPV „Idea of the Year“-Award
Well, „Roll over America“ wasn‘t all history after September of 2011. Early in 2012 the German Human Powered Vehicles Association decided to award the „Idea of the Year 2011“ to ROAM. Here‘s a quote from the jury‘s statement: Mit dieser Entscheidung würdigt der HPV Deutschland e.V. deine innovative Idee, mit einer professionell organisierten Velomobilgruppentour quer durch die USA. Du hast es unter komplexen Umständen geschafft, Werbung für diese ökologische Art der Fortbewegung zu machen und die Leistungsfähigkeit der Velomobile einem eher bewegungsfernen Publikum zu demonstrieren. Und der Spaß kam ja auch nicht zu kurz. Insgesamt überzeugte uns sowohl Idee als auch Durchführung von „ROAM“.
Dank deiner Initiative starteten mehr als 40 alltagsorientierte Velomobilfahrer/Innen. Besonders herausheben möchten wir die professionelle Vorbereitung und das von Anfang an sorgfältige Einbinden der verschieden Medien. Die Fahrt erzielte ein beeindruckendes, umfangreiches und – ganz wichtig – durchgehend wohlwollendes Medienecho. Neben den neuen Medien wie http:// www.velomobiforum.de und http://www.bentrideronline.com berichteten auch viele Radio- und Fernsehstationen der USA positiv über gesunde und bequeme Mobilität.
SPEZI at Germersheim, Germany. Nice speeches were given,including a moving statement of ROAM-rider Hasse who had come down from Denmark for the event. To honor the occasion, the fair had invited ROAM riders to set up a special booth to inform about the tour. ROAM-rider David from Texas not only did the coordination of our display material, but he also came over to Germany for the show. A number of us were present, we put maps, pictures, charts and video on display, and enjoyed quite an interest among visitors.
The prize was awarded at the big annual fair for special bikes, the
ROAM-proven machines parked outside never failed to draw the attention of cyclists. With Rob and Maarten I rode to
Germersheim on Friday; Maarten and myself rode back to Bonn on Sunday afternoon. It felt really good to be back on the roads with fellow Roamies.
Belgium, France and Switzerland over three weeks in the summer. Read more online at: http://eurotour2013.com. Over 100 riders have signed up by the fall of 2012, so it should become a major event. Alongside these preparations, other thoughts have been ﬂoated: There would be funding available for another US coast-to-coast ride. If that was to happen, it could lead from say Charleston SC or Savannah, GA, to Los Angeles, taking a southern route in the late spring.
Needless to say that the true highlight was the riders‘ meeting we held the night before at a downtown restaurant; the ﬁrst opportunity for us to meet in a larger group since reclaiming our velomobiles in the fall of the year before. And yet, the story does not end here either. There‘s a new tour under preparation by a group of North American riders. The EuroTour 2013 will cover parts of Germany, The Netherlands, Also, Australia has been considered worth exploring by velomobile, for example by touring over 4.600 km from Perth to Brisbane during the Australian winter. There might be a „Tour de Japon“ in the cards for later, which certainly would not let the Chinese rest until velomobiles will have travelled the „Middle Kingdom“.
This sections provides links to pictures albums and video.
ROAM-Rider Harry Lieben produced a ton of videos of the tour, shot mostly from the cockpit. Follow the link for his 15 minute compilation of our ride.
For more, visit his ROAM-playlist on YouTube.
I guess there must have been a zillion photos taken on ROAM, an uncounted number by people who met us out on the roads. Many riders captured the ride, but we were also busy riding. sMost of my own pictures were simply taken from the cockpit of my Quest. Others were more ambitious: Markus Deiter has one of the best albums on ROAM I have seen. Click „albums“ to go there. Benjie Taubald, the Austrian rider on ROAM, gathered his pictures here. Lonnie Morse, who helped and supported us during the ﬁrst 10 days, also gathered an inspiring collection, click here:
Markus & Andreas on the Yellowstone Trail