After two years in the Peace Corps, Ryan Van Duzer cycled 4,000 miles from Honduras to Bouler. He has also ridden from Maine to Key West along the entire eastern seaboard and worked as Boulder, Colorado’s Bicycle Ambassador, promoting bicycling and teaching safety clinics. He recently took his three-speed New Belgium cruiser bike on its longest ride ever, a mammoth cross country adventure from Oceanside, California to Washington DC to raise money for Community Cycles and prove that cycling is a viable transportation option.
Duzer has never owned a car. Heck, he’s never even gotten a driver’s license. He proudly proclaims his love for bikes – and beans. Exploring the bean thing is a bit outside the purview of Bikeway Central, but we grilled Duzer about his love for bikes and his experiences riding them.
Bikeway Central – Why do you think bikes are so awesome?
Ryan Van Duzer – I’ve been loving bikes since I got a shiny black BMX for Christmas when I was 8 years old. Riding is fun, healthy, good for the environment and a great way to take a girl on a date J. Everyone likes the feeling of being a kid again. Riding a bike magically transports you back to childhood.
Bikeway Central – You’ve made several really long-distance rides (Honduras to Boulder, Maine to Key West, San Diego to DC). Why? What would your advice be to others who perhaps dream of taking long rides but never do so for one reason or another?
Van Duzer – These rides have provided me with the most exciting adventures of my life! Nothing makes me feel more alive than pedaling off into the unknown. My advice to others thinking about a long ride is to just do it! I know it seems daunting and impossible, but it’s a lot easier than you think – just pedal pedal pedal!
Bikeway Central – Which do you focus on – the journey or the destination?
Van Duzer – I focus on having fun, it’s all about having a great time while on the road. I’ve met so many amazing people on these adventures who have inspired me in different ways. It’s all about the journey and the characters I meet along the way…getting to the destination is kind of sad sometimes because it means the fun is over, but my rear end is always very happy about getting a break from the saddle.
Bikeway Central – On your San Diego to DC ride, I understand you were working with League of American Bicyclists and checking out bike friendly cities across the country? Any surprises (positive or negative)? Are there any bike facilities that you found in one city that you would love to see adopted in other American cities?
Van Duzer – I saw some great cities along the way, I was very impressed with Tucson, I had no idea that in the middle of the desert there would be a bike-friendly city. Also, I thought riding into D.C. would be a pain, I usually hate navigating though traffic in big cities but D.C. has an amazing bike path that led me straight to the U.S. Capitol. It’s still surprising though that some cities have absolutely zero bike facilities, like Wichita. I don’t think I saw one bike lane in the entire city. (Editor’s Note – Wichita does claim to have a 100+ mile bicycle route system. We welcome comments from Wichita officials or private citizens on Van Duzer’s observation.)
Bikeway Central – You talk in your Maine to Key West travelogue about seeing America at 15 miles per hour (mph). So much of our modern world is about speed – email wasn’t fast enough so now we have text messages, cars get advertised on the basis of their ability to go from 0 to 60 mp/h. What are the advantages of seeing the world at 15 mph?
Van Duzer – I always tell people that traveling at 15 mph is the perfect speed to see the world. When you’re a in car you fly past everything, but on a bike you get to stop and enjoy places you would normally skip in a car. At 15 mph you get to see, experience, smell and LIVE every inch of an adventure.
Bikeway Central – What are your thoughts on electric bikes – empowering or cheating?
Van Duzer – I think any bike is a good bike! If an electric bike helps someone get introduced into the two-wheeled world good for them. I wouldn’t use one though; I love the physical aspect of pedaling a bike.
Bikeway Central – What are the 5 things that every long distance bike rider should bring / carry on the journey?
Van Duzer – I always carry lots of beans, peanut butter and Tortillas…but I know this diet isn’t for everyone. I always have a phone for emergencies, a bell to ring when you’re bored in the middle of nowhere, a sleeping pad to rest on after a long day, a video camera to capture the journey and…maybe a change of padded bike shorts.
Bikeway Central – Thank you, Ryan!