VanDerWege celebrates ride by... riding some more

       Dave VanDerWege is back from his coast-to-coast bicycle ride.. and he's not that tired.
       The former director of the Palmer Land Trust even joined a 42-mile outing two days after finishing his nearly 3,200-mile, six-flat-tire journey from Florida to California, and is thinking about a future cross-country trek along the parkway from Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, Miss.
       “It was very good,” he said, in summing up his Feb. 1-to-March 31 pedaling adventure, in which he averaged just under 15 mph and raised $4,365 for the Land Trust. “I would do it again… To be honest, I rode within myself. I never felt completely spent.”
       Indications of this can be seen in his internet blog entries (which he posted periodically from different stops along the way when he could find an Internet connection). One entry describes his attending a lunch concert at the art center in Mesa, Ariz., and another, two days later, his attendance at an Oakland A's-Texas Rangers preseason baseball game in Surprise, Ariz.
       The Palmer Land Trust is a Westside-based non-profit that focuses on preserving open space in the region. “It's such a neat thing,” said the Trust's Carolyn McCallister, regarding the ride's fundraising aspects. “It was his idea to turn it into something more. We've been trying to find creative ways to match a challenge grant.”
       Asked for the best part of his cycling sojourn, VanDerWege mentioned the segment through Mobile Bay, Ala., along the Gulf Coast. Features included a narrow sand bar spit, a ferry ride to an island, and a causeway with forts on both sides. “It was a fun two days,” he said. “There was a lot of history and lots to see.”
       The hardest part of the trip was a three-hour span in the Imperial Sand Dunes area near the Arizona-California border, where winds gusting up to 50 mph nearly knocked him over and sprayed sand into his eyes, nose and ears. “It was pretty brutal,” he said. “There was no place to hide, so to speak.”
       Fortunately, by that point (the last five days), he had been joined by his wife Kathy and her brother Chris, who had brought a vehicle and other bicycles. So at least Dave no longer had to ride carrying 50 pounds of gear.
       On other occasions during the final days, he got riding companionship from Kathy or Chris. Dave and Kathy even rode their tandem bicycle for some stretches.
       Arriving at San Diego's Ocean Beach March 31, VanDerWege observed the tradition of dipping a wheel in the water and holding the bike victoriously over his head.
       It culminated a ride he had never doubted he could accomplish. Although he's 60 years old, the president of the Colorado Springs Cycling Club has two-wheeled regularly for the past 10 years.
       Before starting out Feb. 1, he said he'd always wanted to do a cross-country ride, and his retirement in January from the Land Trust had given him the opportunity. Looking back on his trek this week, he said he enjoyed experiencing “the vastness of the United States and its resources. When you're on a bicycle, you can really see the changes in the geography. It's a big country.”
       Part of his pleasure came from meeting people along the way. “Some ask a lot of questions, others say you're crazy,” VanDerWege recalled. “Overall, my sense of the goodness of people was not shaken. Maybe it's enhanced.”

Westside Pioneer article