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--- News and reports ---

 

Nr.IX: North America

06.05.2009 - 07.11.2009

 

 

10.11.2009, Ensenada (Mexico): We make a trip with Marlies and Setso to Joshua Tree National Park (per car), where we also meet our cycling friends Uwe and Simone (see cyclists we met), who just rent a car for two weeks before flying to New Zealand and Australia for more cycling. The National Park is fantastic: impressive granite boulders, countless Joshua Trees, a lot of different cacti. We hear and see coyotes, squirrels run from one shady place to the next and by night the full moon is high above us and dips everything in a spooky white light. During daytime we hike through alternating landscapes and in the evening, when it gets cold, we enjoy sitting by the fireplace.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

After a few more days in Los Angeles, it is time for us to pedal on southwards and say good bye to Setso and Marlies. The next stretch of road is not through lonesome nature, but very urbanized until San Diego, where we look across the border to Mexico for the first time. It’s hard to say good-bye to the USA, especially because we have just made friends with great people again within the last few days (Thanks to Steve, Linda, Dave, Paul - see also the creative page). We pick the border crossing at Tijuana, because it is close, not because it is famous for its drug wars between different drug dealing groups. We have no problems at all – it seems to us like a border such as many others. Although it is the most frequented border crossing in the world we pass through pretty fast and ARRIVE IN MEXICO! If we had not looked for a stamp and the visa office, we would have just walked past the office, nobody stopped us. The difference between the US and Mexico is quite big: Mexico is lots poorer and that is so obvious immediately. Streets have big holes, sand piles lie around, rocks on the driveways, garbage everywhere. Everything seems hand-made and a little tilted – but colourful! Music comes from car repair places and shops. Pedestrians smile and wave to us, car drivers honk their horns and show thumbs up to us. It is exciting to be in a new culture again, a new country for us. We leave dusty Tijuana and cycle back to the coast. We ride on the toll road (freeway), as it has a shoulder and is therefore less dangerous than the small roads. It is forbidden to cycle on the toll road, but neither we nor the police could care less about that. On the way south we pass a lot of small towns, where rich Americans build huge fenced- off houses, plenty of food stalls beside the roads, bakeries, lots of apartments in high risers for sun-hungry tourists, and we are followed by "herds" of barking wild dogs. After two days cycling in Mexico we reach Ensenada, a medium-sized town. Via the "warmshowers-website" (www.warmshowers.org) we find a place to stay – we even get "our own" flat – and take in the first impressions of Mexico...

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

  

 


 

27.10.2009, Los Angeles (California - USA): Marlies has organised tickets for us to the U2 concert on October 25th in the Rose Bowl Stadium, which is the second biggest stadium in the USA. We use two hours driving on freeways through the city to get close to the event. To get to the entrance we take a shuttle bus. Almost 100.000 people are crowding together through the entrances, the green and the tribunes. The stage is a gigantic structure, which appears like something between a space station and an octopus. It is said to be the biggest concert stage ever. After a so-so warm-up band (Black Eyed Pees) the main concert starts around 9 pm. U2 are coming on stage and a mega-show starts. Light, video, effects, smoke, with every new light-effect the stage looks more and more surreal and the crows becomes crazy. The concert is spectacular, the atmosphere overwhelming and presumably not even the pope would manage to get 100.000 people (many of which might not even be religious) to soulfully sing a "gospel" – "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" J

 

 

 

 

 


 

24.10.2009, Los Angeles (California - USA): We are riding in dense fog when we leave San Francisco. Soon we are out of the metropolitan area and back on a beautiful coastal road, meandering along steep cliffs. Sunshine and tailwinds are our companions. The country is dry, during the day temperatures are climbing above 30 degrees centigrade and suddenly cactus and palm trees are growing alongside the road – we are in Southern California! Back from the coast large scale farming with irrigation takes place – strawberries, pumpkin and artichokes are harvested at the moment and sold on the street for almost no money. Suddenly we see a colony of Sea Elephants on the beach. With the farting noises and the smell they remind us of the walrus sleeping places on Spitzbergen. We camp in nice State Parks or stay as guests with interesting people. Time and kilometres fly and suddenly we are in greater Los Angeles. More than 14 million people live in the metropolitan area and the city covers a gigantic area. We are riding 130 kilometres through the city just to get to our Austrian-Bulgarian friends Marlies and Setso in the very south of LA. Most of the time we follow a cycle-trail along the never ending beaches on the Pacific. Dozens of surfers, sunseekers, rollerbladers, skateborders, beach-volleyballers and bicyclists are using the trail and we enjoy the relaxed Californian atmosphere. We give our bicycles a rest for a couple of days, breathing city- and beach-air, take our time to plan on our next leg and take part on another special-highlight...

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

13.10.2009, Sacramento (California - USA): We do a side-trip to Sacramento, where we spend a nice evening with our host Micheal, Marc and their Austrian mother. With them we get back into talking Austrian slang, which will be useful tomorrow. In the morning of the next day it is raining cats and dogs, that’s why we spend our day in California’s Capital in coffee shops until the big hour broaches. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California and the most famous Austrian abroad, has invited us to meet him in his office. After a security-check at the entrance and a "check-in" at the reception of the Governor’s office we are in the heart of the Capitol. Pictures of Schwarzenegger from all phases of his life, gifts, flags and awards decorate the corridors to his office. "Kommts nua eina!" (Austrian-dialect for: "Come on in!"), Arnold Schwarzenegger is beckoning us in and grins. It is exciting to suddenly stand face to face with one of the most famous man on earth! In a broad Austrian dialect we chat about our trip. Where we have been so far, what our next steps will be, how many kilometres we have covered until now, etc. And as a recognition that one has to go his/her own way, he says: "My mother also always said that I should go for a real job and not for bodybuilding and making movies." Good that he did not always listen to her! We pose for a picture, drink Governor’s coffee and get a special guided tour around the Capitol. What a great experience – as the Americans would say: "Arnold rocks!" We say goodbye, and head back to San Francisco and south along the Pacific coast...

 

  

 

 


 

10.10.2009, San Francisco (California - USA): After some relaxing days in Seattle we get back on our saddles and continue cycling southwards. Shortly after we reach the Pacific coast of the US - which we follow during the next weeks: steep cliffs, basalt rocks in the powerful sea in front of long sandy beaches and small bays. Sunshine and winds from northwest (tailwinds J) accompany us. It is warm during daytime, uncomfortably chilly in the evenings and just above freezing during the nights. Cycling is pretty exhausting as we have to climb lots – almost a thousand meters every day or more, one hill after the other. Nonetheless this is the prettiest stretch along a coast on our journey so far! Unfortunately there is a lot of traffic in Washington and Oregon and roads sometimes too narrow, which takes away some of the joy. Finally, when we reach California, we find alternative routes, small roads, which follow the coast over every single hill. We pass windswept trees and come through small towns, where we often have a contact person through the website www.warmshowers.org (cyclists supporting cyclists). In between we find State Park Campgrounds, which are usually located in a nice spot, offer cheap hiker-biker sites for 5 USD per person and a possibility to shower! The area is not suitable for bush-camping, as there is either a town or the slopes are too steep or the forest too dense. We are not the only cyclists, who work their way southwards along the coast. We meet lots of Americans, who go from Seattle to San Diego (Canadian to Mexican border). Besides that there are a few other Europeans. As we run into amazingly many cyclists, we have decided only to include those ones, with who we had more contact or cycled a bit, onto our website – see cyclists we met. We had especially lots of fun with Uwe and Simone, cyclists from Bonn. Another highlight along the coast is the Redwood-forest with its huge trees. We admire those giants of trees, which are more than 100 m high and some are more than 3000 years old, and feel really small besides them! Via the Golden Gate Bridge we reach – after almost 2000 kilometers from Seattle – the most beautiful city in the New World on our tour so far: San Francisco. Lots of atmosphere in this hilly city with its Victorian-style houses – which we want to enjoy, so we stay for a few days and explore…

The western part of the US does not live up to the general cliché of the US: lots of hybrid-cars in the streets (Toyota Prius), even hybrid trucks and the Tesla Roadster (an electric sports car) are spotted by us. Supermarkets offer a big variety of organic products, which are even affordable. Organic supermarkets are also abundant in smaller towns. Besides that there are initiatives for cyclists: in San Francisco for example, the cycle routes will be doubled in the next year. America’s West is not "super-green", but many people we met seem to be aware of the environment and try to act in an environmentally friendly way.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


19.09.2009, Seattle (Washington - USA): After another circumnavigation of Spitzbergen – a hiking-trip with great wildlife – we shortly stopover in Austria. We visit family and friends, check with doctors (our yearly health-check) and meet up with sponsors and media. We get interviewed by the Austrian radio stations "Ö1" and "Radio Steiermark" and we have appointments with the newspapers "Kronenzeitung" and "Die Presse". Northland Professional is providing us again with lots of new equipment (www.northland-pro.comand from Radsport Kotnik we get stocked up with spare- and exchange-parts for our bicycles (www.kotnik.at).

 

   

 

Then we are back in Vancouver, where we have stored our bikes. We change lots of parts and get them fit for fight for the long kilometres south. Soon we are prepared and ready to start, and together with Niki – a friend from north of Vancouver, Pemberton – we are leaving the city with direction to Seattle. It is a long way through suburbs until we reach the US-border. Passed the checkpoint cycling gets nicer and we are wheeling on small country roads, forest-paths and sometimes along the coast. We stay overnight with Glenn, who we met in the Yukon Territory. He just has published a very funny movie, where he participated as investor and as actor – he is the man with the plant-pot as a head. The piece of art is called "Kung Fu Joe" and can be purchased via the website www.kungfujoemovie.com. We are "hopping" over islands towards Seattle. A bit of rain, lots of sunshine and through dense fog we reach Seattle (with another small ferry), where we stay with Caroline and Roman – an Austrian couple living in the US. After great days riding with Niki, she is leaving us and is riding back home via Vancouver Island. We stay for some days in Seattle, then leave with direction southwest towards the coast...

 

 

 

  

 

  

 


 

15.07.2009, Longyearbyen (Svalbard): We leave our bicycles in Wanda and Tony’s garage and start making our way to Europe and the Arctic. We have a short stopover in Austria to see family and friends and head on for Longyearbyen, Svalbard. The next day we shoot our rifles at the rifle range (polar bears!) and go on board the “Antarctic Dream”, our home for the next month. Together with three other guides we are leading ten-day-trips around the archipelago. Hiking, outdoors, nature and a touch of science are the main focus of our trips. Easy and interested guests, fantastic wildlife, lots of polar-bears, plenty of pack-ice and good weather are our companions. We just came back to Longyearbyen from the second circumnavigation. In the afternoon new guests come on board and we head out again...

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

  

 


 

12.07.2009, Vancouver (British Columbia - Canada): After we had spent a nice day horse riding and relaxing in Hudsons Hope, we say good-bye to Rebecca and Stefan. A steep downhill, where Philipp reaches one of his speed records (see superlatives), then cycling against strong headwinds over endless hills. Some bears still cross our paths, deer jumps out of the bush and more and more colourful flowers grow beside the road. We take a break in Prince George and as we continue we try to avoid the main road, which is full of traffic by now. The weather is very variable and it seems to become a rule that after one sunny day three rainy days have to follow. Despite that we are lucky to get to know and visit some very interesting people: immigrants from Europe, fans of nature, yoga and health freaks, good-view-fetishists, cacti-collectors and growers, biodynamic farmers and the "ordinary" bicycle-freaks. Therefore the bad weather becomes a minor matter. We struggle over some mountains as we proceed towards Whistler (Olympic Games 2010) and continue in the mountains. We enjoy nice atmosphere at some lakes and rivers, manage steep gravel roads over mountain passes and get a glimpse at a view of some mountains and glaciers, as the clouds open up. When we reach Vancouver, the sun is shining and we are hosted by likeable people. We stroll through the first big city on our America-leg. For the next (almost) two moths we will leave our two-wheeled horses here behind. We will (as every year) go up to the European Arctic, Svalbard, to earn some money as tourist guides (www.oceanwide-expeditions.com)...

 

 

   

 

   

 

  

 

   

 

  

 

  

 

   

 


 

26.06.2009, Hudson's Hope (British Columbia - Canada): We are leaving Whitehorse towards southeast. It is more than 500 km to the next town. 500 kilometers of hilly countryside, forest, bears and beautiful weather. We proceed quickly and reach the small town of Watson Lake, where we spend 2 nights at friendly couchsurfers (www.couchsurfing.org). So we are lucky and spend  our first rainy day in the dry! From here we have two choices how we continue: via the Steward Cassiar Highway or via the Alaska Highway. We have cycled the Steward C. HWY about 6 years ago (look at www.philipp-schaudy.net), so we decide to take the other one this time. But at the moment both Highways are closed! The Steward C. HWY because of a land slide and the Alaska HWY because of forest fires. Luckily on the next day the Alaska HWY is opened again and we can start. It is again more than 500 kilometers to the next town, Fort Nelson. This time we leave the hills and climb up on some mountain passes. Fantastic scenery with beautiful lakes, mountain tops and rivers accompany us on our way. We find gorgeous places to camp and see bisons, goats, stone sheep and lots of bears – it is a "beary" area and we are happy that we carry our electric fence with us. Philipp falls on a downhill and his knee, arms and legs show some deep road rash after that. "Luckily" there is still big bush fires going on and more than 80 fire fighters are in the area with helicopters and cars. First aid cars are stationed at their camps, therefore Philipp is able to get professional help in the middle of nowhere. The weather stays sunny, so the wounds dry quickly and heal as we reach Fort Nelson. For the first time on our entire trip we meet so many long-distance cyclists in a very short time span (see cyclists we met) and from Fort Nelson onwards we cycle together with the Japanese Sohei for 6 days. We fight headwinds, rain and big hills together and become a good team. We spend a rainy day at a small lake, making a camp fire to keep warm, roast marshmallows and watch a movie on our small portable outdoor roadside cinema (our small laptop). The weather improves again and we have to part from Sohei before Fort St. John, he is on the way to Edmonton. But we go westwards again, where farmland starts and an awfully head-windy day waits for us. We encounter the worst headwind since – well, probably the Nullarbor in Australia. In the small town of Hudson’s Hope we are “picked up” from the road by the Swiss couple Rebecca and Stefan, who have a wonderful forest-property close to town. We spend a relaxing day here and sit at their fireplace at night...

 

 

   

 

  

 

  

 

  

 

   

 


 

04.06.2009, Whitehorse (Yukon - Canada): Tailwind pushes us out of Fairbanks and we enjoy beautiful sunny weather. On our next leg there are almost no shops on the way, so we have to carry food for several days with us. In Tok we pass Marten and Karin (see cyclists we met), who we have already met several times before that. On the way to Whitehorse we produce "Roadart" along the Alaska Highway to cheer them up (see the creative page). Dark clouds start forming in the sky and for the next two days we have to put up with cold rainy weather. We have to use our new rain gear (jackets and trousers), which had been sent to Anchorage for us from our sponsor "Northland Professional". So we stay dry! The rain only lasts for two days, after that we cycle again under blue cloudless sky. We run into, well rather cycle into Chris, who is going around in Canada and Alaska on his trike (see cyclists we met). Before we cross the border to Canada, we camp with Chris and chat all afternoon + evening long. After the border crossing we meet Aaron, who had been cycling up from the southern US and is on his way to Alaska (see cyclists we met). Beautiful mountains, good weather, but lots of headwind accompany us on our way southwards. Especially along the huge Kluane Lake the wind blows hard into our faces. About two thirds of the lake are covered by ice, which looks beautiful. It is warm and the mosquitoes start becoming a plague as soon as we get off our bicycles. Apart from the mosquitoes the places we find to camp are marvellous. We have good views and can make a fire quite often. After ten days on the road we reach Whitehorse and stay for a couple of days in this nice town...

 

 

   

 

  

 

 

 

  

 


 

23.05.2009, Fairbanks (Alaska - USA): From Agra it is just a short ride of three days until we reach Delhi. It is hot and the "air" of the metropolis is almost as thick that you could cut it. We stay with couchsurfers (www.couchsurfing.org), organise boxes for  the bicycles, get our stored cold weather gear (fleece, sleeping bags, gloves, tent,...) delivered, pack our things, enjoy the great Indian cuisine for a last time and catch out flight to Alaska on the 06th of May.

 

   

 

Temperatures are just around zero and we experience drizzling rain when we climb out of the airplane in Anchorage and are hugged by our friends Elke, Roy and their kids Maya and Anika. But already after the first "night" (it is already light all night round :-) the sky turns blue, temperatures during the day reach friendly 10 to 15 degrees and it is just great! We immediately forget the sweaty climate of India and start preparing for a new continent. We put the bicycles together, buy bear(pepper)spray and a signal-pistol (for bear defence), and also get an only one kilo weighing bear-electro-fence to put up around our tent at night. We can still remember the sometimes (almost) sleepless nights of our last Alaska-Canada-trip six years ago, caused by bears (see www.philipp-schaudy.net). We don’t want that this time! After a couple of relaxing days in Anchorage we are on the road again. The air is cool and clear, birch- and willow-trees are starting to become green leaves, the last snow is melting and the first flowers are stretching for the sun – it smells like spring in the north! The traffic gets less and less, it is nice riding on the wide shoulder and we reach Talkeetna, where we are hosted by Ralf from "warmshowers" (www.warmshowers.org) and sleep IN his bicycle-shop named "We Cycle"! He is a cycle-freak and is hosting two other riders, Karin and Marten from the Netherlands who are also on their way to South America (see cyclists we met). In Talkeetna we catch our first great views of Denali (Mt. McKinley) and the Alaska Range. Then we find fantastic spots for bush-camping along rivers and lakes with marvellous panoramic-views in the end of exhausting days with lots of altitude to climb and headwinds. Temperatures at night are dropping well beneath zero, during the day it is sunny and warm. We meet Karin and Marten often on our way and camp together for a couple of times. We want to ride into Denali National Park for some days. Cars are not permitted, but during the season shuttle-busses are running in and out the dirt-road every half an hour. Campers must stay on the few campsites in the park and often have to wait several days at the entrance to get a site in the park. BUT: we are a week too early for all of that. The campsites are still closed and the busses are not running yet. The only way to get in the park is by bicycle! We check a "backcountry permit", which allows us to pitch the tent wherever we want (which is usually not allowed), and get going. After a couple of kilometres cars are not allowed any further  and we are alone in the park! Great, fantastic, amazing! The weather is extraordinary good and we see Grizzlies, Moose, lots of Reindeer, many Hare and Ptarmigan, Mountain-sheep, Ground-squirrels and Birds of prey. The road is winding through valleys, over mountain-passes and the views are stunning! In the evenings we usually arrange to meet up with Karin and Marten, and the two Dutch are happy to put up camp inside our bear-proof-fence as the bear-concentration in the park is huge. After a couple of days in the Denali National Park we are back on the highway and ride in just two days, across numerous hills, to Fairbanks, where we move into Heidi and Dave’s cabin, take a break from cycling and wait for our friends to return from their holiday...

 

   

 

  

 

 

 

   

 

   

 


  

   

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