Mittwoch, 6. Oktober 1999

Cycling Pacific to Atlantic 1999

11.08.1999, Day of the solar eclipse

At 12.30 my plane takes off in Munich. We stop at London Heathrow, then continue the flight to Vancouver, where the Jumbo arrives on the same day at 18.30 in the evening. Fortunately, my bike arrives undamaged and already half an hour later I am on my way to Vancouvers youth hostel.


12.08.1999, Across the border into the United States

On small roads to Sumas, where I get an entry permit to the USA after a short interview. I tell the border official that I want to cycle to Chicago, which sounds less unlikely than New York. I didn't want to pitch my tent somewhere in the wild on the first day of my trip, so I searched for a campground. I was sent to a campsite that had closed a few years ago. It is 7 o'clock in the evening and the next campground is 40km away, I had already cycled 160km this day and wanted to have a relaxed first day. The campground was a bit expensive, but what the hell, first day and new in the country.


13.08.1999, First mountains

The valley of the river Skagit has a gentle climb. The mountain passes I had to cross have gradients of about 5%; to gain 1000 meters of altitude you have to climb 40km long flat gradients in some places. My bicycle with all the luggage (big tent, gas cooker, sleeping bag, provisions, water, ...) resembled rather a truck anyway, so I was quite grateful for the gentle gradients. And the descents are all the more beautiful, because you hardly have to brake and the pleasure lasts...

14.08.1999, Double pass I

The first pass lived up to its name: Rainy Pass, about 4800ft above sea level. It should be quite beautiful there, unfortunately I had fog and rain. Washington is called the "Evergreen State" and that has a reason. The second pass, Washington pass, came immediately afterwards with 5400ft. An old western tourist town can be visited in Winthrop. I made sure that I got a few more kilometers away from the hustle and bustle.


15.08.1999, Double pass II

Two more passes of about 1000 meters each in one day. In the afternoon I took a break in a cafe / gas station / small shop. It was foggy and cool outside; I drank a thin brown water in which apparently a coffee bean attached to a string had been allowed to float for a few seconds. Country music croaked from the radio and a Korean woman polished cutlery all the time. After half an hour a customer entered the shop and bought bait fish swimming in a water basin. Cowboy boots and hat, in his jeep I saw a rifle. From that moment I knew I was in the Wild West. So many John Wayne movies, Karl May novels and Marlboro commercials, I'm there and in the middle of it. In the evening rain again. It is very annoying to set up aan already wet tent in the rain.


16.08.1999, Fellow cyclist

The land is sparsely populated. One sometimes sees bizarre dwellings, thrown together out of corrugated iron, an old caravan and a dozen cars ready for scrapping, which the owner of the dwelling obviously cannibalises. Barbed wire fences, satellite dishes, metal barrels, a pony and an old yellow school bus without windows. A barking dog is a must in any case. In order to prove his usefulness and attention to his master, he barks like crazy and, if not chained, which is mostly the case, pursues the cyclist. Riding an heavy bike you are as good as helpless. Not too far away someone has built a white villa with Greek columns in the middle of nowhere. Swimming pool, a 15 meter long motorhome that looks like a spaceship, maintained gravel path to the double and triple car port; garage door in white, with cassettes, opens automatically. I know how black and white that sounds, but that's how saw it. An elderly couple from Princeton, New Jersey, was on the road today with bicycles. They had started two months ago in the East. That gave me courage. They were motel bikers, without a tent.


17.08.1999, Pend Oreille River

Along the Pend Oreille River from Ione to Sandpoint. Sun, blue water, mountains, few cars, a nice day. In the evening I shared a campground near Sandpoint with two cyclists from Vancouver. The river widens to a big lake. Water skiing, fishing, surfing or sailing, the lake has enough space for everyone. A little swim, changing my sweaty shirt and I felt quite different.

18.08.1999, Troy

Troy was my destination today. The opening hours of supermarkets in America are sometimes phenomenal. Troy, a village of about 500 inhabitants, had a big supermarket that was open from 6 o'clock in the morning until 2 o'clock at night. In other cities which were only a little bigger, some were open 24 hours a day. It was immediately clear to me that such a service is necessary, 3 o'clock in the morning is the best time for shopping. On that day I also had my only bicycle problem on the whole trip: The tube of my rear tire, already several times patched and 3 years old, gave up due tp the large mass of my bike. The valve became leaky and in few seconds the rear tire was flat.


19.08.1999, Eureka

Rain, as for many days. Along Lake Koocanusa to Eureka. At noon it clears up a bit and I can lay out my tent for drying. The modern tent materials are wonderful, after 20 minutes everything is dry. The same procedure every morning, I get up at 6 o'clock, pack my belongings into the panniers, dismantle the tent, and at 6.45 I already sit on the bike. After 20-30 km I look out for a gas station to drink a cup of coffee.

20.08.1999, Glacier National Park

At 11 o'clock in the morning, I pedal along the small street, lost in thought. I see two women wearing bicycle clothes on the side of the road waving. I stop. The two women tell me that they are travelling with a larger group of cyclists and just had a second breakfast. The group had an escort bus and the tour guide had set up a buffet next to the bus. Potato salad, pasta salad, chips, bread, cake, orange juice and much more were served on a table that was 4 meters long. The women said they had far too much and invited me to help them. I did not refuse the invitation. Since I was asked about my whereabouts, where I went, how far I went every day, how many punctures, etc., I hardly had time to systematically "work my way through" the buffet from left to right. In the evening I camped in the Glacier National Park as close as possible to the Logan Pass. I stored my provisions overnight in iron boxes, so that it was protected from the access of bears. I met 5 other cyclists on the campground. Swimming in the nearby mountain stream instead of a shower. My last night in the Rocky Mountains.

21.08.1999, Going-to-the-Sun Road

Indeed, I saw the sun early in the morning when I was cycling up the pass on my bike, but soon the rain caught up with me again. The Logan Pass is on the American watershed, all the rivers west of it flow to the Pacific, all rivers east of the pass pour their water into the Atlantic. Descending in the rain. After crossing three ridges, the last foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the view cleared towards the Great Plains, the great plains of the Midwest. A strong tail wind and the gently sloping road made the 80 km from Kiowa to Cut Bank a real pleasure. In 2 1/4 h with speeds of up to 63 km/h on a pothole track, but who wants to brake when the going is easy?


22.08.1999, Wheat, Wheat, Wheat, Wheat

... as far as the eye can see. Straight as a die for more than 20 km. Parallel the railway, the road and the telephone masts. Parallel straight lines intersect in infinity, a place to experience that maths. I stayed overnight in Hingham, a village with about 200 inhabitants, which I want to describe a little bit closer here cause many villages of the Midwest are alike: trapped between the railway and the small country road "Highway 2", the village streets are unpaved. In the center of the village there is a water tower and the City Park, a square green area with 100m each side. At one end of the village there are large silo towers, where the grain from the surrounding area is delivered by trucks and stored close to the railroad until it is transported further. At the other end, next to the country road, there is a petrol station and a bar with a shop. In the City Park there are some picnic tables and a public toilet. In the evening 4 young people drive up and down the streets in an old road car, sometimes disappear towards the country road, but after 15 minutes make their round of the City Park again. For hours. In many City Parks, one can pitch a tent free of charge; but it is not a bad idea to ask someone in the village. Thus, for example, in Hingham, I got the valuable tip that the sprinkler system of the park has two circuits and tonight the western one will be active.


23.08.1999, In the middle of Harlem

Strong headwinds all day long. There are no hills or forests that could stop such an easterly wind here in the wide plains. It's not much fun to push a small gear against the wind on a flat track. Since I always drive east, I only get sunburn on my right side of my body. In Harlem, Montana, the sheriff unlocks the shower of the swimming pool in the evening for me. Ice cold, but still beautiful. I am very grateful for my fine-meshed mosquito net at the tent. A real plague of mosquitoes started today.

24.08.1999, Glasgow

My neighbours on the campground that evening were an Indian and an architect from San Francisco who had visited a festival of his tribe together. With him I drank my first beer in America: Budweiser. I praised it, but rejected a second one with reference to my athletic nature. "Interesting", "different", those were my words, because as an spoiled Bavarian I used to Augustiner. The red wine, which his travel companion drank, agreed with me better.

25.08.1999, In the Indian Reserve

I will tell you nothing more about the injustices of the White Man he inflicted on his Red Brother. In the Fort Peck dam, which was completed in 1940, 96 million cubic meters (a square kilometer filled to a height of 96 meters) of filling material were used. The dam is 6.5km long and 76m high. At 9 o'clock in the evening a cyclist arrived in the City Park of Culbertson. Kari from Olympia, Washington, who had ridden about the same distance as me after starting on 1.8. at the Pacific. I spent the next 5 days with her cyling east.


26.08.1999, Going for a swim in the Missouri

A very pleasant thing for the cyclist are the laundrettes. For about 2.50$ you have fresh laundry within 90 minutes. In the evening we went for a swim in the Missouri, wonderful after a hot day. We camped near an inn, Lund's Marina, which had Apple Pie.

27.08.1999, In the Badlands (Headwind I)

The next 6 days there was headwind. No breeze, but a full-grown wind. The landscape around the Missouri is infertile and allows at most extensive pasture farming. A coincidence that it was left to the Indians? Between Williston and New Town it is about 100km without shopping possibilities, most of the few houses that are to be seen are abandoned.

28.08.1999, Turtle Lake (Headwind II)

Wind, wind, heavenly child. From morning till evening steady, but violent, from east. In addition a small whirlwind, a tornado and full rain. In Montana locusts of biblical proportions were often seen on the roads, on the way from field to field. Here in North Dakota thousands of frogs are on their way, who have to cross the road.

29.08.1999, In the heart of North Dakota (Headwind III)

"The heart of North Dakota," McClusky advertises for himself. And it's actually in the middle of the state. One connects the 4 corners of the rectangular North Dakota with diagonals, then McClusky is right at the intersection. Rain and head storm the whole morning and no prospect of improvement made us turn into a pub at noon and, after looking desperately through the window onto the street for some time, ask for a room in the motel next to it.

30.08.1999, Who is coming for dinner (Headwind IV)

Despite headwind, but without rain we managed more than 200km today. A family with Norwegian ancestors celebrated a party in the City Park of Culbertson in the evening and invited us to join them for dinner. After numerous plates noodle/potato/cucumber salad, grill meat and sausages, chips etc., there was coffee and cake. 10 slices of it found place in my stomach. A shower afterwards in City Park, a rarity and I slept like a baby. Strangely enough without stomach discomfort.

31.08.1999, Fargo (Headwind V)

Kari turned north today to cycle to her destination St Paul. I wanted to go to Fargo. The wind turned consequently to the south, where I wanted to go. With 15km/h with the great effort I pushed forward. Fargo is huge, chessboard-like and actually has no attractions. But if you have seen the film, you should stop by when you are near. My evening excursion from the campground to the city ended in a drive-in McDonalds on the main road, which is distinguished from the other roads in Fargo only by its lowest number. There was a milkshake and I could read and watch the hustle and bustle in the center of Fargo. Grandios.

01.09.1999, Minnesota (Headwind VI)

Drizzle and headwinds continue. Mood quite depressed. I drove on a highway-like road on the edge strip to southeast. There are days in America where simply nothing is to be seen. Oh yes Charles Lindbergh, who crossed the Atlantic in 1927 solo nonstop with his airplane, lived for a long time in Little Falls and that is just around the corner.

02.09.1999, Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes. You must never cycle slower than the m.i.v. - mean insect velocity, which is about 12km/h, because otherwise you are dead. The weather here and today is oppressively humid. Montana was much drier. That's the only difference, so it seemed to me sometimes. No, here in Minnesota, corn is the big thing and dairy farming. It looks like Lower Bavaria. Here you don't have the picture of a cowboy riding over endless, dry plains towards the sunset anymore, not the picture of 4 harvesters mowing a field next to each other. Europe" begins in Minnesota. Well, maybe there are some differences.

03.09.1999, In the middle of nowhere

In the evening I camped in Cloney, a village in Wisconsin with about 17 inhabitants. Behind a bar. In the evening I was the only guest there. I bought a few beers and a frozen pizza from the couple who run the shop, which they baked in a small oven behind the counter. We talked about America, God and the world. The tent was wet again and sometime a second guest came to buy some cigarettes. That was it. These are the days ...

04.09.1999, campground full

Today in Eau Claire, the picture next to it shows what it looks like there. I know a lot of people who used to live there, I realized why they all wanted to leave. Today was a holiday, the end of summer so to speak. Half of America is camping over the weekend. The campground, because I went to in the evening was overcrowded. But the lady at the entrance to the State Park said immediately, since you are a cyclist, you can stay and don't have to pay.

05.09.1999, Hospitable America

Even today there is hardly a place available in Emily Lake State Park. While checking the rows I drove past a family, who I asked for a place down the road. 50m away was something free. I pitched my tent there, when after about 15 minutes the family father with his big SUV came by to tell me that I was invited to dinner. By the time he had turned around on the street with his big car, I had already arrived at her campground on foot. Their daughter was with them, who later proudly showed me about 500 photos of a car racing arena where she was with her boyfriend last weekend. Admission 200$, journey by car 15h, about 150000 spectators. The photos were at first sight all the same, a giant stadium full of people and, with a magnifying glass hardly to be recognized, the snapshot of a few cars on steroids. They did burgers, and had 6 with them, 3 of them ened, after polite, but apparently not convincing, "no, that's not really necessary, you're not hungry at all" etc., in my stomach. The campsite was free of mosquitoes, the tent was even dry in the morning and the showers were warm. I didn't even know anymore that cycling can be fun. Oh yes, I also discovered an ALDI today, but it is closed on Sunday, like in good old Germany.

06.09.1999, Tom from Manitowoc

When I arrived in Manitowoc, I went to the tourist information, yes, they are there, and looked for a place to stay for my bicycle, because I wanted to take the bus to Chicago. Tom the friendly person from the visitor center helped me out and the bike was stowed away in the basement.

09/07/1999, Chicago I

A few days rest from cycling and the opportunity to read German newspapers in the library. Today, of course, you can read the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the Internet anywhere in the world, except perhaps while riding a bike.


08.09.1999, Chicago II

Of course, there is more to Chicago than just cows. But it is also known for its slaughterhouses. Famous are its museums, the skyscrapers, one of the tallest buildings in the world, the music, the first McDonalds Restaurant and Al Capone and his friends.


09.09.1999, Chicago III

Chicago was the birthplace of modern skyscrapers in the late 19th century. Chicago's famous architects include Daniel H. Burnham, Louis Sullivan, William Le Baron Jenney, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Cultural attractions include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry, to name but a few.


10.09.1999, Chicago IV

This is not a BSE cow, this cow is Irish.

1.09.1999, Ferry crossing Lake Michigan

Early morning by bus from Chicago back to Manitowoc. The ferry SS.Badger is the only ship connection over Lake Michigan. The lake is so big that you can't see the shores from the middle. About 100km wide. In the meantime it gets dark much earlier, so that I set up my tent often in the dark.

12.09.1999, Walhalla, Nirvana, Paris, Remus

the place names show the influence of the Old World. I'm only surprised who gave the place names, because the villages behind the names often have barely 200 inhabitants. A place name sign "Nirvana" does not exist, probably the victim of souvenir hunters. Oh yes, here at this point my thanks to British Airways. The blanket, which I received from them during the flight, was my bed every day, soft and warm.

13.09.1999, Ithaca, but still not at home

... unlike my role model Odysseus. But I also wanted to go home now. The weather became noticeably cooler and the days shorter. The people I met on the campgrounds in the evenings became more and more depressing, the traffic became denser and denser and I already had my destination New York in my head.

14.09.1999, Back to Canada

Over the bridge Port Huron - Sarnia there was a shuttle service for cyclists. A note about safety: if you travel alone there are two ways to shop at the supermarket, either you disassemble all your bags and fill two shopping carts with them and then need another quarter of an hour until everything is at the right place again, or you leave your bike outside and take your money with you. I have always chosen the latter, nothing happened and I had a pleasant time. As far as camping is concerned, I made no unpleasant acquaintances other than mosquitoes. I don't mean to say that America is a model of security, but if you keep your eyes and ears a little open, then you can manage on your own.

15.09.1999, Over Lake Erie the "Swallow" takes flight

... "Who is John Maynard?" :)

16.09.1999, Buffalo

Back in the USA again. Now I am already in the state of New York. In the evening I have some bad luck. Darien State Park, the place I chose for camping, was under a rain cloud. 2km further north the sun shines down.

17.09.1999, The daily madness

an eternal up and down here in the east of the USA. The 200km stages per day becomes a pain. In the morning I have wear gloves and cap. I got up every day before 6 o'clock, because when Eos, the rose-fingered, saffron-robed, the goddess of dawn, blinks down and her tears fall on the grass, it is certainly the most wonderful time. On the right again an Ithaca, this time in the state of New York.

18.09.1999, It gets cold

Today I had to set up my tent in the pitch-dark forest and the batteries of my flashlight were empty. I carried a small solar charger with me for such purposes, but that was of course in such a situation only of limited use.

19.09.1999, up and down

why can't you build roads next to a river? But no, this road has to go up the steep bank every few kilometers, about 200 meters in altitude and then down again and again 5 times, not to mention the many hills here in the area.

20.09.1999, Cycling in New York

After an almost sleepless night I started at 5 o'clock in the morning. It was 115km to the city border of New York, to George Washington Bridge. Then you reached the peninsula of Manhattan. Turn right, down Broadway, don't get irritated by red traffic lights and honking cars, a little detour to Central Park. Via Times Square to the World Trade Center past Wall Street, the wrong driveway of the Brooklyn Bridge (so not the pedestrian area, but the 3 lane highway without side strip), in Brooklyn a wrong turn, whereupon I left the not very inviting area with great speed. After some other smaller adventures, including a security officer, who did not want to take my bike in the shuttle bus to the airport under any circumstances, although a sign pointed out "cyclists take the shuttle bus", whereby one can reach that sign only under disregard of all traffic rules and good customs as a cyclist, including driving on the green strip of a motorway, I reached JFK - Airport. 2 hours later I was already in the air.

21.09.1999, Munich, Germany

Arrived in Munich I assembled my bicycle at the airport and cycled home.

"... if Munich is Manhattan, I would be from Memphis ..."


11.08.991. WocheVancouverBritish Columbia21
12.08.99Sedro WooleyWashington199
14.08.99 Twisp 128
15.08.99 Republic 177
16.08.99 Ione 160
17.08.99 Sandpoint Idaho 144
18.08.99 2. Woche Troy Montana 159
19.08.99 Eureka 150
21.08.99 Cut Bank 170
22.08.99 Hingham 162
23.08.99 Harlem 133
24.08.99 Glasgow 199
25.08.99 3. Woche Culbertson 185
26.08.99 am Missouri North Dakota 116
27.08.99 Makoti 140
28.08.99 Turtle Lake 162
29.08.99 McClusky 45
30.08.99 Cooperstown 201
31.08.99 Fargo 172
01.09.99 4. Woche Wadena Minnesota 169
02.09.99 Foley 166
03.09.99 Cloney Wisconsin 198
04.09.99 Augusta 155
05.09.99 Amherst 192
06.09.99 Manitowoc 184
07.09.99 Chicago Illinois 0
08.09.99 5. Woche Chicago 0
09.09.99 Chicago 0
10.09.99 Chicago 0
11.09.99 Scottville Michigan 0
12.09.99 Six Lakes 163
13.09.99 Genesee 177
14.09.99 Warwick Ontario 162
15.09.99 6. Woche Turkey Point 183
16.09.99 Darien Lake New York 200
17.09.99 Watkins Glen 191
18.09.99 Lackawanna S.P. Pennsylvania 202
19.09.99 Warwick New Jersey 175
20.09.99 JFK Airport New York City 184
21.09.99 Landshut Bavaria 61

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