October 9th, Reflections on the Europe Tour

Hello everyone! I have been back in Colorado for a week now. I have been relaxing, making some repairs and plans, and doing a bit of work. Tomorrow morning, I start the 3rd leg of the ride. Like always, I am running short on time, preparing for the next segment, so I will need to be brief in this post. I want to just make some quick observations about the last section.

The view of the Rockies from NSO.

The view of the Rockies from NSO.

Progress and plans
In the first leg from Boulder to Alaska, I cycled 3274 miles. In this leg, I cycled 3203 km (1990 miles) for a total of 5264 miles; this is far short of where I though I would be at the near half-way point of the ride! But, it is what it is. A series of mistakes caused me to lose about 3 weeks in the Europe section, so I did not get past Budapest. I traveled to Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. 10 countries–but I only get credit for 8 because the first and the last were just airports.

This next leg, I am going to be cycling in familiar territory, heading mostly southeast, and I am going to step it up a bit. Tomorrow, I will cycle SOUTH out of Boulder and head towards Miami, Florida, then cycle across Cuba. My first lecture will be at the physics department at CU Denver. This was actually the first place I was supposed to talk, before I had to delay and restructure the tour after my heart surgery. I am looking forward to keeping that promise.

Friendly people
I was so impressed by how nice everyone I met was. I had been taught that the French people would be rude to me, an American, and I encountered the exact opposite. I also encountered much friendliness in the other countries I traveled in, but the French were especially so.

A different kind of touring
The cycle routes along the rivers were incredible. With the use of E-bikes, these routes are accessible to an average, non-athletic person. I would recommend the ride from Passau, Germany to Bratislava, Slovakia for a combination of beauty, history and pleasant riding. The route along the Loire River in France had many equally-accessible sections. Generally, days on this stage were easier, but much longer than normal, because of the level of overhead. The routes went through cities frequently, over dirt paths (but often high quality) and cobble stones. Often I had to compete with other forms of mobility on the paths too. If you live near Boulder, just picture the Boulder Creek bike path, continuing for 2000 miles. As such, it just took a longer time to get anywhere. But what fun!

Health of my Bike and Body

I broke a spoke when disassembling my bike for the trip back to the USA. Otherwise, I really didn’t have a single problem the entire ride. I had assumed that my rear bearings would be shot, due to all of the abuse they have seen (about 800 miles of dirt paths!) But the Boulder Bikesmith–Jon Stabile–says that they are fine. Jon had my bike last week and has returned it to awesome condition.

The anniversary of my heart surgery was an emotional moment for me in the ride. I am thankful for all the nice comments and encouragement that I received from friends and family during this time. UC Health wrote an article about my heart surgery and the subsequent bike tour. It is a pretty good article. Unfortunately, they were not able to mention that the key to early detection of heart problems is much more than just having your cholesterol levels checked. If you are interested in this, contact Boston Heart Diagnostics. If I had done this even just 5 years earlier, I could have avoided surgery.

My sponsor doctor, Eric Hernandez, came by the house and gave me a complete physical–Looks like I am perfectly healthy. I have gained 1/2 pound over the end of the last stage. Blood samples were taken, and separated right there in my driveway with Eric’s portable centrifuge.



I am thankful that I have some familiarity with German, as it got me through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Budapest. On 2 or 3 occasions, I was able to rely on Russian as well. But, as long as the scope was limited, the context established and there was at least **some** commonality in the language, I was generally able to talk to people. And, of course, many people I met were fluent in English. My Google translate app worked very well. The conversations are slow, but can occur with a high level of accuracy.

I am one of very few Americans who have been spared the disgust of enduring this presidential campaign. While in Europe, I asked many people what they thought of Donald Trump. Reactions ranged from absolute bafflement at how this could happen to outright terror at the thought that he might actually win the election. The average European is afraid that he will escalate some military situation and Europe will bear the brunt of it (as always). I did actually meet one man–a German–who supported Trump over Clinton. But, by his own admission, he got most of his perspective by listening to Radio Moscow. Other than this individual, I did not meet a single person who supported Trump. I found it interesting that many Europeans view the POTUS as **their** president too; they just don’t get a vote.

The overwhelming majority of people I talked to were opposed to the way the EU is handling the refugee problem; most people think it is a really bad idea to let refugees into their countries. I am not personally passing judgement on the situation–I just find it interesting that it is presented to the world as a “controversy” when the EU population is violently opposed to it happening at all.

This was blatant in Hungary, if you knew what to look for. 65% of the population can be considered anti-Semitic. I understand that there are something like 60,000 holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe who have been forgotten by society. My friends, Larry and Dede Miller, are trying to do something about this, particularly in the area of helping them to develop better gardening techniques and use local resources for energy production. Click HERE if you would like to make a small donation to help their efforts.

I noticed a level of poverty and run-down neighborhoods in Spain. But, other than Spain, every inch of this ride showed me towns and villages where the roads and buildings were all in very good repair. Many parts of the United States look quite poor compared to what I saw in Europe. I think that this is likely a consequence of socialism, but I can’t really say for sure.

I only had two full days of rain, and a hour of rain on two other occasions. This is one of the driest summers on record. I don’t wish a drought on anyone, but I sure appreciated those sunny days!


Well, I have a lot of preparation to do before tomorrow, plus the Broncos are playing in 20 minutes. I will keep you posted!




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