June/July 2015

New York to San Francisco

6 510 km

Supercycling Television Interview

Prior to the 2016 km cycling from Pretoria to Cape Town November 2016

New York to San Francisco June July 2015

Day 1 June 3

Hosted by the wonderful Mary and Angelo Petrelli, Operation Smile friends, in New Jersey we got up at 04:00 after a 3 hour interrupted sleep and departed from Times Square New York after the TV interview. Thought it would be a challenge to get out of Manhattan and New York but that went smoothly! And then the challenge began. My GPS took me on the freeway. After a few miles realised this was far too dangerous and stopped to find an alternative route on my GPS. Next moment 'Morning Sir' And the police officer did not sound too impressed with me. 'You're illegal on this road' Picked me up and with me sitting at the back behind the lead window I heard him say 'I tracked down the white male on the bike' But explaining what I was doing and where I was headed for he took me to a safe off-ramp about 10 miles away. And very friendly by now 'Get warm and a cup of coffee while you wait for your backup vehicle to catch up!'

Rest of the day the road twice ended up in a dead-end. Bridge over a river closed or simply seriously blocked off. End of the day 192 km and 10 pm. And my backup vehicle could not find me - both our cell phones flat by now. Eventually got contact again and found a place to overnight - in bed by 1 am!

Day 2 June 4

Smooth ride and wonderful mercies. Cold and rain but the wind from behind and made good time 158 km by 5 pm

Day 3 June 5

Even a better day. Legs feeling much stronger. Warmer and hardly any rain. Half an hour late in Virginia Beach for the Operation Smile function but all good at the end 170 km. A nice rest today in a beautiful hotel sponsored by Operation Smile.

Day 4 June 7 to Empora

Left Virginia Beach.  Smooth first 120 km. Had lunch and two more hours to go at 25km per hour, I thought.  Looking forward to the rest.  But low and behold suddenly a notice  'no bicycles' on that particular road. And I had to divert. And not long after that the road that I was on was closed off and no thorough traffic. No alternate route.  I cycled for about 1/2 hour and the GPS picked up a route again. Another 1/2 hour and I ended on a farm in front of a closed gate.  No idea whereto now.  And put my bike over the gate.  And this is where it started: gravel road got narrower and narrower. Through a forest and suddenly 6 going mad dogs next to me.  Fortunately chained but a human in sight. For miles, I heard them going crazy. And then the road started disappearing. By now no cell phone reception and in the middle of a forest. Picked up my bike and walked. Over a fence,  though a farmer's planted land and eventually after about 2 hours on a road again.  But then chased by 3 dogs on 3 separate of occasions I had had to seriously out-cycle them!.   So not 2 hours but an event full 5 hours before I could retire for the night. 

166 km

Day5 June 8 to Durham

Uneventful day  161 km

Day 6 June 9 to Mocksville

By now my little sleep of the past two weeks was taking its toll. And I realised I was not eating enough neither taking in enough fluids. My energy was tapped and on a real low. 163 km

Day 7  June 10

Thankful for a short day. the reporters of the Christian World Magazine cycled the last two hours to Asheville with me. We often stopped and talked, they had many questions and I cycled with a microphone attached to me. 125 km

June 11 Asheville; My first talk in the USA after my series of talks in February 2012 in the USA. This was at a holistic healing centre Cooper Riis for people suffering from depression and other similar problems. Really felt honored that this was my first talk as Miranda noticed it would have been exactly the first people Jesus would have reached out to. Had a lovely evening with my friend from Cameroon John Lucke and family. He is a cardiothoracic surgeon in Asheville and the one who said last year he knows a plastic surgeon who is crazy 'but not as crazy as you' Spoke at his hospital the next morning before I biked from Jenny Roland and family's house after wonderful friendship and hospitality towards Knoxville Tennesee

Day 8 June 12

Up the mountains of North Carolina - 2000 m / 6000 ft My legs felt well recovered after the previous day of rest but at the end of the day again the energy was gone! Cycled to 22:30 to make the distance  156 km

Day 9 June 13 A fairly easy day to  Mt Vernon  190 km

Day 10 June 14

Again 1500 m climb early morning but we reached Louisville, Kentucky 140 km

June 14 to July 3

We have now cycled 3 622 km, this is the true miles on the saddle but less than the geographical distance. The reason for this is we decided not to cycle through the big cities, it simply takes ages waiting at numerous traffic lights, our deadlines with the media and arriving at host families make many days shorter than anticipated - after all this is the reason for the cycle tour; the message and not the mileage but we are keeping close to 160 km / 100 miles a day!

And have cycled through 17 States; New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota,  Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma!

My impressions so far; the American people are unbelievably friendly but the roads for cyclists unbelievably unfriendly. The roads are really a huge challenge; some so dangerous sharing road space with big trucks passing at high speed. Though all drivers with a few exceptions would slow down and only pass when the road is clear. Cycling into Minneapolis over the St Croix river I initially missed the cycle route over the river and ended up at the start of the Interstate - the first time and only someone shouted a swear word at me through an open window - made me think of something I read a while ago 'If someone throws mud at you, his hands will be dirty and he is the one losing ground' Though the mud thrown at you does make you feel dirty! But these incidences are really few and far between! Overall the people are helpful, friendly and very accommodating.

What surprised me is the vast areas in the USA, when you travel the smaller roads, that has no cell phone neither internet data coverage. Again making communication with the support vehicle and navigation impossible for often large parts of the day. There have often been times that I keep on cycling according to the position of the sun until I pick up coverage again - usually when one is closer to an interstate freeway!

And the last observation that really makes the tour a true challenge are roads in the US that just stops; dead-end, road works, road closed but no alternate road given! And one circles around for up to an hour to find a new route! But it all adds flavour to the day. Like yesterday I decided to pick up my bike and walk through the road works; big earthmovers around me with wheels double my height! Almost through and a man came up to me 'This is no place for a bike, these trucks/earthmovers don't see bike' I explained and more friendly 'Just try to get out of here as fast as you can!'

When I started planning the US trip people would ask me who would be my support team. I really did not know, I just knew I had to do it and answered 'God will provide' and believed it from my heart. The time came closer and I had no one - who would give up their jobs and join me for two months?? Still, I believed God would provide. I contacted Miranda Tollenaar whom I met on the Anastasis 10 years ago to ask her to help me with our Foundation in The Netherlands. We met in Utrecht and when I asked her she said she knew I was going to ask her and the answer was 'No' but she would help me with the cycle tour if I would do it in 2016. I said no, I believe God wanted me to do it this year. She emailed me a few days later and said that the work, organizing for a speaker to come to Holland was postponed and she could help me. She then got Ellis Peeters, our photographer to join. And it certainly was a perfect team. Both of them with close YWAM connections and Ellis did her photography through the YWAM School of Photography in Hawaii. With their missionary background, both were easy in difficult circumstances taking the days as it came. We could and did pray together for the days, also for the media contact, with host families - just a blessing. So sad when Ellis had to leave because of her commitments at home. Our team still feels broken.

A few days ago I ended up on a detour of about 9 km, dust, big stones; just a terrible road and I saw across the railway line next to me a highway and that looked much better! So I picked my bike up, through the bushes, over the railway line, again through the bushes on the other side and onto the road. Not long after that, I met up with Miranda for lunch. My cell phone was gone! Slipped out of its pocket, must have happened while I was carrying my bike over the railway line. Instead of lunch, we had to drive around the detour to find the road that I was on and then where I crossed the railway line. In my heart, I knew we were going to find it. We got on the dusty road but really expected the cell phone to lie somewhere in the grass where I crossed the railway line carrying my bike. Miranda prayed 'Dear God please open our eyes to see the phone' And well before the area where I thought it would be a truck came passed up kicking up a thick cloud of dust and as it settled Miranda called out 'What's that!!' and half over it stopped and reversed and there in the dusty road half covered under the dust lay my phone! I got out, cleared the dust off and not even a scratch on the phone! Just thankful

I know that for the rest of my life I will remember how we were, and still are, overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of the American people.

Mary and Angelo Petrelli, Operation Smile friends, who picked us up at JFK airport and hosted us for two nights. Took us to pick up our camper, wonderful Italian cooking and now helping us to get accommodation in Santa Barbara in California

Jenny and John Roland, Mercy Ships friends near Asheville, NC. Also two nights, caring for us in every possible way and set up a meeting with other Mercyshippers.

Paul and Verona Xanders taking us into their home near Indianapolis treating us like kings and queens though never met us before.

Gary and Ann Karsh, Operation Smile friends that I met in the Philippines last year. In Chicago - wonderful friendship. Could not do enough for us - packed our van with food!

Steve and Dianna Starke - Coming back from Germany that night they left keys for us to get into their home, not knowing or ever met us before!

Torsten and Ann Marie Schultz. Waunakee, Wisconsin. Dear friends, I met in Belgium 3 years ago when I spoke at their church in Antwerp and has since been supporting me in every possible way. And I spoke at the Schultz’s church

Robert and Kelly Joyce that only heard about us (through Steve Starke) about 10:00 in the morning, opened their home for us that same evening. The family of 6 sleeping in one room so that Miranda and I could each have a bedroom for the night! Thanks so much!

Mike and Bonnie Fadden in Buffalo, Minnesota. Wonderful evening and morning with them. And talking at Mike's prayer meeting at 6 am before cycling on.

Matt and Denise Tveite. Mercy Ships friends just south of Minneapolis who got the newspaper and an evening talk at the church organised

Stephan and Marta Williamson - Kansas City. Again total strangers treating us like royalty (connected through Steve Starke)

Cal and Nancy Berry - second evening in Kansas City. Total strangers taking us into their home and make us feel so special!

I cannot mention all the wonderful and many big and small things each of you had been doing for us. Thank you to each family - this makes our trip intensely memorable.

And soon in Texas for some days and the long and hot trek through West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona onto California!

Little sleep, seldom 6-7 hours per night, often less and a packed program let the days fly by! Sometimes too quick! Trying to soak in all the wonderful things happening every day! People, opportunities, health, life. Just thankful.

Texas, New Mexico and Arizona  July 19, 2015

Suddenly the roads became much easier to negotiate. Allowed on the Interstate highways and much easier to do high kilometers per day.

Just when I thought it was an easy day: did 170 km and let Miranda and Raymond Broadbent, (who traveled 6 hours to come and see me and 6 hours back tomorrow - Mercy Ships friend! I appreciate this so much!) I'll see them in an hour. But one never knows what is waiting around the next bend. First 'Dead End' and no further road, GPS shows to the left (apart from the interstate to the right which is illegal for bicycles and I do not wish to be picked up by the cops again!). Can hardly call it a road to the left but I had no choice; sand bushes, railroad, bushes again and the road closed with a gate over a cattle grid. Put my bike over the gate and made it stand in the grid. Walked to the one post of the gate and climbed on top. About to jump over to the other side but where I was to land a snake made his presence known - 2 inches thick, about 3/4 meter long. A shriek from my throat and fortunately my balance was still such that I could jump backwards! The snake, as far as I could identify it a rattlesnake, disappeared into the grid. I got across the gate on the opposite side. Now to get my bike standing in the grid where the serpent disappeared into. 'Now Mr Serpent, I need my bike. We are not going to harm each other. Thank you for obliging' Twenty meters on another gate and grid. This time very weary. But a few minutes down the road another snake crossed the road. Much smaller and thinner but enough to raise the hair on my back. Still hardly a road, and it became too muddy I had to carry my bike and walk the mud. Through the water and mud, on my bike again but suddenly thick mud again forcing me to a standstill. My feet locked in the sleets and I fell over. Flat into a cactus bush with my back. I could not believe it. Lying in the thorns I wondered if it could get worse. Yes, I could have been bitten by the snake! And I was thankful. Had to spend at least 10 minutes taking out thorns from my cycle shirt, my back and my arm. Then about 1 1/2 km walk as the road was impossible to cycle. I arrived an hour later than anticipated. Ray was not to mad at me arriving an hour late, just said laughing ''Welcome to West Texas!' And I did 196 km for the day but 7:30 pm when I arrived.

I knew the road to California would be tough.

I have been warned for many months about temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (!00 degrees F) and westerly winds along this long semi-desert stretch but in His grace winds have been easterly and overcast most of the days with cooler than normal temperatures. It is a beautiful world and I see myself so blessed and privileged that I can do this.

Tomorrow we enter California. We have now done just over 5 600 km (3 500 miles) and it sure will be cooler up the coast to San Francisco on Highway 1

Small happenings;

I noticed so many churches in the USA and counted them one day; passed more than 50 churches in 160 kilometers

Never expected to see so many abandoned houses in the USA - at one point I thought the rupture happened a year ago - houses covered in dust and weeds with broken windows and broken toys lying around, cars totally abandoned with flat tires as if nobody had been there for a very long time. Not a soul in sight for miles

Chased and bitten by a dog - not a big one but when he came for a second bite I kicked him in the face and stopped him in his tracks ... I felt so bad.

Only one day really that I felt I was cycling in an oven - it was so hot and I thought I was a bit stupid to cycle in such heat .... but made it.

The little sleep of the past weeks is catching up with me - I have twice fallen asleep on my bike ... only for a few seconds though but the weirdest feeling when you wake up with a shock and see the tarmac flying past and not sure where you are and what’s happening.

Flat wheels on this journey; one each on July 1, 2, and 3. Then 3 on July 13 within one hour! And one more 2 days ago - only two of these were punctures the rest stones on the road crushing the tubes!

At El Paso, I had a broken spoke replaced - caused by the thousands of hard bumps the bike had tolerated up to now.

Getting tired of eating! I eat as much and often as I can and whatever I can - and have lost about 3 kg (7lbs)  in weight.

On the really hot days, I take in about 10 liters of fluid and still feel dehydrated.

California July 20 to 31

From El Centro to San Diego - 35 ft below sea level to a climb of 4 010 ft over 25 miles to the top of the mountain range before the descent to San Diego. Another encounter with a rattlesnake. At 7 miles per hour steady uphill my eyes on the tarmac before me I had to make a split-second swerve to miss the serpent, lost my balance and fell onto some rocks on the side of the road. The snake not too disturbed and still basking in the sun. Reached San Diego late afternoon after cycling 'illegally' on the Interstate 10 the whole day passing highway patrol cars at least twice. A talk at UCSD plastic surgery department and off to Fontana, California. Spoke on Sunday, July 26 at Shepard's Grove Hour of Power.

Then Santa Barbara with my chain seriously slipping and any uphill became impossible. $ 300 later and I was on my way to San Luis Obispo but halfway through the day the same problem and I could no further as the mountains where steep and the chain would only last a few yards before jumping off. Again a bike shop the next morning; the new chain had a broken link that was replaced and then all fine. A wonderful night in Monterey and then the last day! A very strong headwind to Santa Cruz, stopped at TLC, Aptos and then a Starbucks coffee. It looked like I was not going to make the Golden Gate bridge before dark but a sudden change in wind direction and I flew home, Crossed the bridge as night was falling but still bright enough for pictures!

6 510 km