of the Lorrain Coal Basin 11, rue du Casino
57800 - Freyming-Merlebach France
The United States "Open Hearted"
June 28 - July 17, 1982
Thanks to the Bicycle!!
By Dr. Andre Mas
For the past five years our Medical-Sports center of the Lorrain[e] Coal Basin has organized an annual cyclotourist expedition to explore a foreign country: over the course of the years we have thus traveled through Sardinia, Hungary, Greece and Switzerland. Two words on the spirit of these "cycling" trips we have organized: the participants are recruited on the basis of voluntary motivation, from among the numerous cycle touring clubs which have been created in our little region of the Moselle-east and who have in common the regular use of the same medical/sports center.
The essential goal sought is the discovery together (spouses and children join in with us) of a country, its tourist geography as well as its history, through the maximum amount of personal contact which will still permit cycle touring. This exploration in depth of the country implies, for its preparation, a certain number of meetings with the distribution to each of the participants of information kits including tourist background, a historical resume, maps and language guide of the fifty most useful phrases. This community approach to the trip (the teacher, coalminer, worker, doctor go thus to live together and share the same experiences of leaving home for a new environment, the same cultural enrichment, the same athletic involvement) without any consideration of social strata, excludes therefore any athletic competition or striking out as an individual tourist.
The idea of a trip to the Unites States had been fulminating among a certain number of the riders for some time, but the enterprise did not seem a simple one and the various articles published up to now on cycle touring in the United States tended more to discourage than to inspire making the trip. The difficulties, the negative points of the undertaking were known to us: great highway distances, large cities not very hospitable for bicycle touring, problems of lodging and of language, cost increased by the unprecedented rise of the dollar exchange rate...
Enthusiasm still prevailed and we "threw ourselves" into a particularly ambitious project: that of traveling as a group (9 cyclists, 5 spouses, 2 nine-year old children) along the grand historic trail of the East Coast of the United States from Cape Cod (Massachusetts) to Yorktown (Virginia).
From the very start, six months before we departed, we had based everything on the aid of the American bicycle tourists... and we were not disappointed. An announcement of our little project, appearing in the magazine of the League of American Wheelmen, brought us a small avalanche of letters from American cycletourists ready to extend every possible aid: advice on routes, invitations to participate in club rides, offers of lodging, advice on road hazards, maps and tourist brochures, and even the often-expressed wish to join us for a part of the Periplus....
The first work consisted of sorting out, taking account of our projected route, this invaluable offer of friendly assistance: we therefore "commissioned four Good Samaritans, members of the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) or the International Bicycle Touring Society (IBTS), to coordinate and organize our progression over the four sections, conventionally delimited, of our American Historical Trail": New England, New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania-Delaware--Maryland, District of Columbia-Virginia.
During more than four months we cycletourists of the two sides of the Atlantic exchanged a friendly, fruitful and warm correspondance. Little by little we solved, with the aid of our extraordinarily effective American correspondents, almost all of the practical problems: rental of a van and a trailer for the travel of the group over the "non-cycling" sections of the route, economical lodging preferably in youth hostels and YMCA's (in two places lodging was solved by the invitations of cycletouring families), choice of the most agreeable itineraries given the direction of our journey, tourism programs for the big cities along the way (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington...).
The group of participants, meantime, met regularly to be informed of the program established in common with our American friends and to take care of various points related to the transatlantic crossing (group ticket to leave from Luxembourg, issued by Icelandic Airways), to the financial arrangements (dollar travelers checks are the best form of money to carry if one wants to make use of the banking facilities outside of large cities), to certain sleeping gear recommended for the youth hostels or the YMCA's (sleeping bag, or better, for summer, the sheet-sack), to the gifts to exchange (ashtrays of the French-American bicentennial association commemorating the battle of Yorktown, lithographs of Paris for framing, "bicycle" medals with a ribbon in the national colors...were particularly appreciated) to the packaging of the bicycles (the canvas bag sold by the RFA [expansion unknown} is a good enough solution)...
It was therefore completely prepared and comforted by the help expected from the American cyclists that all of us took off on June 28 from Luxembourg for a long air journey which, via Reykjavic and New York, brought us to the airport at Boston where at midnight local time we were met by Barry Kriegsman, our first coordinator, at the wheel of a Dodge vehicle rented specially for us (a fifteen place van with a large steel moving-trailer with locking doors which could carry our 26 suitcases and our 9 bicycles).
One hour later we arrived--men, women and children-- at the first resting place reserved at the Armed Forces YMCA in Boston... The following day, June 29, started our "journey through American history" following the itinerary and the program already laid out. We would find that all through the 18 days of our stay our American colleagues would extend to us the warmest of welcomes, provide us the most invaluable help, roll often with us through the itineraries the most rich in history or culture, guide us in tourist programs, invite us frequently to specially organized evenings ("cook-outs") where we were able to enjoy many friendly contacts with American cyclists...
For the majority of the participants of our group, this trip represented the first contact with the New World: they were able to appreciate the warmth of the welcome, the sincere friendship of our American cycling colleagues. They had difficulty imagining a trip so rich with human contact and American culture, a better approach to the American World, to the "deep America." Numerous friendships were born along the 800 miles we traveled together--plans were hatched for our next meetings on one side or other of the Atlantic. Our "pioneer expedition" to the United States will certainly open the way for lasting exchanges of cycletouring friendship between the "American Wheelmen" and Lorraine cyclotourists!
The fact of riding with American cyclotourists from various States also made us very much appreciate the "cyclotechnology" and "cyclophilosophy" of the New World: the infatuation of American society with the bicycle starting from its easy social classes, generalized respect for safety rules on the road, the adoption of practical safety equipment (helmets, rear-view mirrors...), the quality and the high cost of bicycles and tandems, the methodical search for quiet and picturesque routes with the aid of county maps, the "spray-gadget" for defense against dogs, the application of data processing technology to the little queen [an old French phrase for bicycle] in the form of a micro-computer mounted on the handlebar which gives distances and averages but also pedaling cadence, the systematic use of "low gears" at the slightest undulation of terrain, and the "Seven Up" which has, there, the reputation for fighting against hypokaliemie.
The success of our American expedition is to be found in the links of international friendship which give birth in our time to the practice of cycletouring all over the world, however different be the cultures or even the political regimes (without doubt, at the base of any cycletouring experience there is a stage of common values?). The historic friendship of our two peoples, born of the commitment of La Fayette and reinforced over the course of the two world wars, is another factor which favors the French traveler. So much true friendship ready to pitch in to facilitate the task of preparing the trip; for in the end the success of any expedition, and it is particularly true for the United States, will depend on the quality of careful preparation: enjoyable preparation because it forges the links of friendship which will be reinforced on the roads of the journey and without doubt will last well beyond.
In the Course of the Days... and of the Miles
Monday, June 28, 1982
12:30 PM Embarcation of the group at the Luxembourg airport. Flight to Reykjavic.
6:30 PM (local time) arrive in New York. Transfer to American Airlines. Arrival in Boston at
11:30 PM. Welcome of the group by Barry Kriegsman (first coordinator). Lodging at the Armed Services YMCA in Boston.
Tuesday, June 29, 1982
With Rosaly Kriegsman as guide, exploration of historic Boston along the Freedom Trail (visit of the vessel Constitution at the foot of Bunker Hill, of the Capital of the State, of the Old State House, of Faneuil Hall); lunch at the picturesque Quincy Market. At the beginning of the afternoon, departure in the van for Plymouth Rock (a replica of the Mayflower is anchored close by the historic rock where the pilgrims landed). Under driving rain, we proceed to Cape Cod to Truro where we are invited that same evening at the home of Joel Goldsmith, passionate cyclist and member of the IBTS. Friendly reception on the edge of the sea from which Joel brought us a delicious platter of clams. Lodging that evening at the Starfish Youth Hostel, at Eastham.
Wednesday, June 30
Morning meeting with the local newspaper The Cape Codder before departure for the first "cycling" leg in the direction of Newport, Rhode Island. Quiet rural trip, first along a former railroad very well converted into a "bike trail" and then, by secondary roads, as far as the big bridge which leaps the Cape Cod canal. Lunch taken together with the Kriegsman and Goldsmith families. End of the leg: van to Newport. Little farewell ceremony with our first traveling companions, American cyclists. Evening walk along the docks of the port before bedding down at the Newport Armed Services YMCA.
Thursday, July 2
Transport of the group as far as North Stonington (the giant bridge over the Narragansett Bay is forbidden to cyclists). Stage of 120 kilometers over undulating terrain as far as New Haven via Norwick, Chester (crossing of the Connecticut River by ferry). Warm welcome at the YMCA of New Haven where the manager invited us to his home for a "cook-out"[Mas] of hot dogs and hamburgers. Evening meeting with two cyclist of the New Haven club, including Pamela who works at Yale University.
Friday, July 2
Coastal route toward Bridgeport where Pamela left us. From there we embark on the historic, but how heavily used, US 1 as far as Norwalk. At Norwalk Hospital, a moving welcome from the management of the hospital to one among us who had been an intern there exactly 20 years ago (official photograph at the doors of the hospital, visit to the various services (1 scanner for a hospital of 400 beds) lunch at the cafeteria with a decorated anniversary cake). Two members of the local club (Sound Bicycle Club) and Arthur Kegan, cyclist from the suburbs of New York, come to dine with us. Traditional exchange of gifts with the cyclists of Norwalk. At Greenwich (Western Connecticut) we took the bikes out of the trailer for a jaunt prepared by Arthur (a lawyer in the New York courts) across a particularly pleasant residential suburb of New York, in Westchester County. That evening a "cook-out" under the trees at the Kagans in White Plains. Then reloading of the bikes to drive to our lodging in New York, the Travel Inn, situated on 42nd Street near the Hudson River (thanks to mutiple instructions, supplemented with photos, received from Jim Reynold, our second coordinator, we reached our goal without difficulty).
Saturday July 3
Day entirely devoted to New York tourism. On the day's program: A tour of the Island of Manhattan on one of the boats of the Circle Line; then the subway to Down Town where we saw City Hall, the World Trade Center and its twin towers which have surpassed the Empire State building's altitude record (110 floors), St. Pauls Chapel and Trinity Church, Federal Hall where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States, across from the New York Stock Exchange... At Battery Park we embarked again for a visit in the rain to the Statue of Liberty (the interesting Immigration Museum sheltered us from the tempest). We took the pulse of New York by night at Times Square quite close to our hotel.
Sunday, July 4
Following the tourist program with a long walk in Mid Town: Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks Cathedral where a service was ending with an excellent choir, Irish no doubt! We explore a little of Central Park then, via 5th Avenue (with a visit to the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria) we reach the United Nations Headquarters on the banks of the East River. Return by city bus (have change before getting on) via 42nd Street to the Travel Inn. As planned we leave in the afternoon for Oradell, little community of northern New Jersey where we were awaited by the Reynolds: itinerary there already prepared long ago with precise instructions which followed the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson. The Reynolds' house is at the moment French: Ann has sewn in our honor a large French flag which identifies the house for our arrival. Jim Reynolds, recently elected to the Board of Directors of the LAW, had to leave for several days for the National Congress in Dayton, Ohio. Several cycling familes, some of whom had toured in France, gathered and in a very friendly atmosphere of cycletourism we enjoyed the outdoor dinner prepared for us. For this evening of celebration of the national holiday of the United States a fireworks display was planned above the Hudson River valley; one of the cyclists took us there. That evening, we had been invited to stay in the homes of several families, all fervent cyclotourists.
Monday, July 5
The regrouped pack started off by van to West Point, where a guided visit of the Military Academy had been arranged for us. In fact, at the arrival there waited for us, in American uniform, Mr. Viollet, professor of French language, attache at the Academy for 35 years; he will be for us an exceptional guide, happy today to welcome a group of compatriot cyclists avidly interested in American history; the visit started by a film specially shown for us which extolled the spirit of this great school [Grand Ecole] reflected in the proud motto "Honor, Duty, Country". We will learn a great deal from our guide on the great and the small history of this celebrated Academy from our visit to the museum or from walking the parade and training grounds which dominate from their promontory the magnificent Hudson River valley; for at that hour some young soldiers, recent recruits, were submitted to the harsh discipline of the first training under the iron rule of their instructors.
Exchange of historic information: we bring to Mr. Viollet two articles from our regional press covering the Forbach origins of General Eisnhower and the participation in the Battle of Yorktown of the Count of Forbach of the Two-Bridge Regiment.
From West Point, we should proceed to the Delaware River valley where we are to meet with Dr. Bob Wolf, our 3rd coordinator, leaving this morning from Philadelphia to meet us. En route we stop at La Fayette, New Jersey, where we leave a message of friendship for the Mayor of the little town. We are a little late when we meet, national flag in the wind, Bob and three other American cyclists who have come to wait for us by the river. The bicycles are quickly taken out of their bags and away we go in a Franco-American pack first along the Delaware River which we cross at Milford, then to the end of the leg, the YMCA of Weisel (Quakertown, Pa.) agreeably tucked in the wooded countryside. The meal is prepared together with provisions brought by Bob. The dinner is taken among friends around a long table posed on the sod. There, having come specially to welcome us and participate in the next day's jaunt was Nancy Carliner, an American teacher familiar with our French language.
Tuesday, July 6
Our friend Bob takes us today to the heart of Philadelphia by a complex route, the most picturesque as well, o.f which he alone knows the secret: bike paths one moment, the smallest secondary roads the next across the Pennsylvania countryside. Consulting a map is necessary at more than one crossroad... We are thus taken near the farm of Pearl Buck which we would have a truly difficult time finding again! Philadelphia, very spread out city of more than 2 million inhabitants, has the peculiarity of possessing two immense parks, Wissahickon and Fairmont Parks, which permit access by bicycle paths into the heart of the city, as far as Logen Circle. Along the way, Bob points out for our admiration the heights of Germantown, the site of his residence and of his hospital activities, the verdant banks of the Shuylkill river ornamented with statues, including that of La Fayette just two steps from Philadelphia Museum of Art. From there we go to launch ourselves audaciously on Bob's wheel to cross the traffic arteries in the center of the city as far as the little mexican restaurant of Down Town where we will appreciate the coolness of the spot as well as the exotic menu. In the afternoon, still by bicycle through the city, we visit three high places of history: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the tomb of B. Franklin where tradition has it that one tosses a penny for the realization of some dear wish. We leave again for the heights of Fairmont Park, where as planned we rejoin our spouses and children who had themselves enjoyed a day of motor touring with guides recruited by our extraordinary organizer Bob, cycletouring doctor. This same Bob who, the same evening, took us to the Summer festival of the celebrated Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra: we were not disappointed by the works on the program of the evening, under the baton of Charles Dutoit. And, as is the custom, we find ourselves, after the theatre, in a family of artists in architecture to share cheese and the California wine of friendship. Our young children had found an early lodging with another welcoming family.Our own lodging: Chamounix Mansion, on the heights which dominate the Shuylkill River.
Wednesday, July 7
A long run is on the program for today (125 km), beginning from the YMCA: by the residential suburb of this big city we set out first for Valley Forge by routes which are secret, circumspect (there is even a river to ford), and especially uneven, frequently calling the derailler into play. The unlucky one of the group today is our California student who punctures quite regularly until our French mechanics have wrapped his rims with good electrical tape from the Lorrain mines. Valley Forge is another high spot in the U.S. war of independence, a spot where, during the terrible winter of 1777-1778 Washington, La Fayette, and Von Steuben succeeded in perfecting the military training and safeguarding the morale of a continental army despondent from its lack of success, the cold, the lack of support: the survival huts and Washington's general quarters still witness this great deprivation.
From Valley Forge, the course is set for French Creek National Park: there too by a very complicated network of small back-country roads with little traffic: we are happily furnished with a map prepared by Bob which especially shows the names and the numbers of the routes (in the American countryside with habitation very spread out do not count on the town signs); Bob who carries on valiantly in his beacon helmet...without however winning the climber's title! At French Creek it is an American child on vacation who directs us back on the road to Geiger Town.
We are going to be late for the very special dinner which Bob has arranged: this evening, at Bowmansville, in the heart of the Amish and Menonite country, we are going to return to the completely anachronistic atmosphere of a farm where they dress, travel, and cultivate the earth as they did in 1850 in their country of origin, somewhere in southern Germany. Women and children are discretely out of sight as we enter the rustic dining room: a solid peasant repast, made up entirely of products of the farm, will make us forget the average standard American cuisine.
The moment which Bob has long awaited is when our people of east Moselle, with their Germanic dialect, begin to communicate very easily with the master of the place: a few phrases seem a little outmoded or warped but the essentials are still the same: a linguistic bridge has just been established between people of the Lorrain dialect and the people of the Menonite country 6,000 kilometers apart.... A visit is necessary to the barn of the farm where the horse has not been replaced by the tractor and the black horse carriage by the American automobile-surprising paradox in the land of Ford and General Motors! The Youth Hostel in Bowmansville offers us a little bit of the same rusticity, due to the fact that the building is "the oldest building in town."
Thursday, July 8
The leg from Bowmansville, Pa to Newark, Delaware. Ride initially very picturesque on the little roads of the "hitch Country" where we will have several contacts with the Amish or Menonite inhabitants. The techniques of agriculture are ancestral: horses mow and reap. Bob has become the appointed guide for this region where he has already led various groups of American cycletourists. Lunch at Gap where the coolness of an air-conditioned restaurant makes us forget for a moment the sultry day outside. From Christina the itinerary has been marked with arrows for us by the cycletourists of Newark signs on the posts or arrows glued on the road, all in national colors). The route sheet has even forseen a "beer saloon" near the Doe Run stream: That is sure to be our only alcoholic detour on the Periplus! By London Grove and Tonghkenamon we will come to the meeting fixed by our Delaware cyclist friends, in a restaurant on the outskirts of Newark, without incident, apart from a minor fall taken by one of our group who was chased by a monster dog (the American dogs who have not yet admitted into their universe the passage of cyclists and against whom the American cyclist carries in his handlebar bag an absolutely effective arm: an ammonia spray whose jet is directed on the fly into the jaws of the animal). A large and dynamic group of American cyclists invite us to their "lunch" this evening--after the speeches and toasts there is the exchange of little gifts. The Holloways take us next to their magnificent home tucked into the greenery. It is there that we must separate, tear in eye, from our companion and guide on the route these past three days, from our friend, Dr. Bob Wolfe; but it is no more than an au revoir, because we have already fixed the date for our reunion, in 1983, on the routes of Lorrain. The welcoming families are there who will lodge the members of our group, some quite a ways away in the suburbs of Newark. Our little family will pass the night in the friendly home of the Haymans. Alan Hayman is a research engineer in the powerful Dupont de Nemours Company which is widely implanted in Newark.
Friday, July 9
Bill Holloway is going to guide us first out of the urban agglomeration of Newark as far as Elkton, Maryland, where the cyclists will take off. After about fifteen miles we cross the imposing bridge which leaps the great canal linking the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. Today a flat ride in the large peninsula bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. By secondary roads, but respectably wide ones, we will reach at a rapid pace the town of Centreville, via Cecilton, Kennedyville and Charlestown, along the way, as we have become accustomed to doing, recharging our glucose levels and rehydrating thanks to the delicious "ice-cream" and to the many iced "mild beverages." We take our lunch in the coolness of a little restaurant in Centreville where, for two dollars, one can engorge oneself with all the salad and raw vegetables one can eat.
We embark next in the van to Glen Burnie, in the suburbs of Baltimore, where we are awaited by the Padgett family. We will cross the Chesapeake Bay by a colossal steel bridge whose impressive access ramp seems to climb up into the heavens.
After some indecision in spots we do finally find the home of our hosts: Mrs Padgett is the daughter of a Lorrain woman from Sarralbe who married an American officer at the end of the Second World War: she remained faithful to our language and even to the Lorrain dialect. Mr. Padgett, a career military man, reveals himself to be an excellent master of the cookout, and on the lawn will savor his "barbecued" chicken conscientiously daubed with sauce. The end of our leg will be Washington. By highway 95 our traveling group will have quickly reached the federal capital: New York Avenue leads us to the heart of the city where our lodging for the next two nights is located: the Washington International Youth Hostel at 1332 "I" Street NW (Some streets here are named for a letter of the alphabet). Before going to bed, curiousity pushes us to take an evening stroll as far the the nearby White House.
Saturday, July 10
Day entirely devoted to tourism in Washington. It is with no less than four guides, all benevolent cyclists, who all go with us for the whole day to do us the honors of their city, federal capital of the United States. Chauvinism obliges: we start by a walk to La Fayette Square, across from the White House, where the President, the current tenant, is at the moment on vacation in California. At the center of the Mall rises the Washington Monument, to the four poles of the green cross-shaped space are implanted four architectural masterpieces of American democracy: The Capitol to the East, the White House to the North, the Jefferson Memorial to the South, the Lincoln Memorial to the West. Meantime, we have dispatched one of our guides, the student Neal, by bicycle to obtain tickets for us to see the film "To Fly" at the National Air and Space Museum, the most visited museum in the United States. In this immense building there is grouped side by side Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis," the most sophisticated NASA rocket, military aircraft of the two world wars and the first machine of American civil aviation... as well as the bicycle of the air which won its inventor a substantial prize. As for the excellent film, thanks to the combined use of two cameras it brings to the viewer the same psycho-sensual experience as an actual flight in a balloon or an airplane. Short visit to the Arts and Industries Building which has the atmosphere of a medieval castle. Luncheon in an immense new cafeteria nearby. Coming out, we will find ourselves meditating for a moment in the modest house where the great President Lincoln died in 1865 after he had been mortally wounded in the Ford Theater just across the street. Then began the visit to the four historic poles of the Mall: the Capitol where Randy Swart, federal bureaucrat [Dr. Mas wrote "haut fonctionnaire federal" but surely meant to say "rond-de-cuir"], took us by the short-cut into the great central rotunda, under its immense dome, then on to Jefferson Memorial (we are too late for the blossoming of the cherry trees which ring the Tidal Basin), the Lincoln Memorial... From there, we are going to cross the Potomac to reach the most historic cemetery in the United States, Arlington Cemetery; we will restrict our visit to three points: the tomb of Kennedy so cheated, the tomb and the flame of the unknown soldier, the monument to the Marines [Iwo Jima].
This day so full of American history was topped off with a friendly meal in a chinese restaurant where we were awaited by Bob Dollar, our fourth coordinator, and his young wife: rich menu, copious and very carefully selected which radically changed our view of the "American way of eating."
Sunday, July 11
We leave Washington in a convoy radioguided [CB] by Bob and Randy to take us to Reston (Virginia) where our cycletour is to depart today. Dick and Janet Hayes invited us for a substantial breakfast in their house which seems all of one piece with its forest environment. It is the powerfully built Dick who has selected an itinerary of little country roads to Manassas: it is also he who sets the pace of the pack, a pace which we find relatively quick this morning: is it possibly due to the more ardent temperament of this more southern State? We admire the perfect cycling harmony of Bob Dollar and his wife mounted on a tandem signed by a New Jersey artisan very close by (and expensive). In approaching Manassas we were suddenly transported back to the epoque of the War of Secession (called here the "Civil War"): a yankee militiaman, armed with a cannon, directed traffic, a little further on in this area where the two terrible battles of Bull Run took place a pack of yankee Zouaves in costumes of the period were giving a demonstration of the manual of arms in the style of 1864, with regimental commands of the period; with the Zouave sergeant, great casualty of circumstances, we entertain ourselves with a moment of history, of the War of Secession, of the French Zouaves whose bravery gained the admiration of the entire world when they fought on the field of battle of the Crimea and caused the young American army to adopt their uniform. A few hundred yards further along, we arrive at the Bull Run battlefields. They have built there a visitors' center where they show a documentary film on the first war where photographer-reporters produced their works. Posed on the high ground, high in the air, the statue of the winning southern general, Jackson, who by his staunchness in battle merited the nickname of Stonewall Jackson.
But here for some moments we waited vainly for our collective van; the American cyclists, in leaving us, are going to retrace our route looking for them. It is an American pickup truck which comes a little later to announce to us the refusal of our van to restart after the last "ice cream - coca cola" stop. By this same pickup we send the two best mechanics of the group; with one magic hammer blow on the mute starter, they perform a miracle once again this time.. but for a short time only. Leaving the pizzeria in Manassas it refuses definitively to start: one more time we are to appreciate the helpfulness of the users of the American roads: one leaves his meal to offer is his tool chest and his advice. At the moment when we have pronounced the death of the starter organ there passed a tow-truck manned by two black mechanics: we hail them, they stop, examine the soul-less starter, plunge into the rear of their vehicle and come up with an identical used starter which they help us mount--for $25 this Sunday afternoon in Virginia, we are have come out of the affair in the best possible way. Despite this delay, by taking highway 211 we will succeed in attaining, not much later, the first chain of Appalachian mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains; after the climb to Thornton Gap we let out our climbers to reach by bicycle, in a dozen miles of Skyline Drive, the lodging for this leg of the journey, Skyland Lodge, at 3600 feet altitude. The coolness of the altitude surprises us a little after the furnace of the plain and the sweat of the climb.
Monday, July 12
A mountain stage, in the Shenandoah National Park; during some 35 miles of undulations, we are going to make use of this magnificent route of the ridges which is Skyline Drive; here and there over the long slopes of wilderness timber the views open up to the West over Shenandoah Valley and the other chains of the Appalachians, to the East over the plains of Virginia. At Swift Run Gap we strike out on the descent into Charlottesville, which we reach by small country roads according to the itinerary prepared for us by our Virginia friends.
In Charlottesville, at the Town and Country Motel, we await John Demerel who has come specially from Richmond to welcome us and guide us. This same evening he takes us to visit the estate of Jefferson, the third President of the United States, at Monticello. With its columns and its small dome this dwelling is said to be the best-known in the United States--because it is on the U.S. nickel! It incorporates a multitude of little technical inventions which give witness to the somewhat universal genius of this great President, friend of France, who sleeps now in the little enclosed cemetery close by.
At dinner, we will be able to appreciate the solid historic erudition of our guide (the first who is not a cyclist!): retiree of the Government of the State of Virginia, John, despite his years, criscrosses Virginia on foot to retrace with the best possible historical accuracy the travels of La Fayette during his military campaign of April to October 1781: after his expose we shower him with questions about our compatriot, "Hero of Two Worlds" , without ever finding him lacking for a response.
Monday, July 13
It is therefore John who traces our itinerary to our destination in Richmond to follow as closely as possible the footsteps of La Fayette. We will therefore swerve first to the north, then to the south of highway 64 by little roads which represented the sole route of communication between Richmond and Charlottesville at that time. At one point we are even able to descend from our mount on a gravel road which leads to the historic spot where, entrenched near the river Mechunk, the American volunteers of La Fayette repulsed the British cavalry sent to intercept them. The letterbox of the nearby farm gives confirmation: "La Fayette's Encampment Farm."
At Short Pump, at the doors of the Richmond urban agglomeration, the bicycles regain wisely their trailer, the men the van. The stage will not have been so long but the intense heat and humidity have sapped us somewhat.
Familiar with the spots, John takes us to the Capitol of the State of Virginia whose architecture, work of Jefferson, was inspired by the Maison Carree of Nimes. The cupola, that constant feature of capitols of American States, is here masked at the interior of the building: under that dome the busts of the eight Virginians who were Presidents of the United States (which gives value to the title of "Mother of Presidents")... And, in the ninth niche, here again, the bust of our compatriot and hero of the American Revolution, La Fayette! Around the official building, on the lawn, another constant of the American green spaces: the squirrels which frolic in great number and which run lightly up their trees at the approach of our children.
This evening again, we will be invited into the American cycling world: the mistress of the house where we are welcomed, Mary-Alice Bahler, passionate cyclist, is, besides, the artistic director of the magazine of the League of American Wheelmen, the grand national cycletouring revue. This evening, in the gentle warmth of the Virginia night, we are going to sample cookout in the amiable company of several American couples eager to tour by bicycle someday in Europe and in France; as usual the contacts are quickly established: aided by the "sticking badges" which the mistress of the house gives to the arrivals on which are inscribed their first names; some among us are going to try out the tricycle taxi imported from far away Indonesia...anything which is part of cycling brings us together!
Wednesday, July 14
The objective of this day of our national holiday, "Bastille Day" to the Americans, could only be Yorktown.
A radical error in course costs us, at the outset, some 30 extra miles, but the flatness of the terrain and the quality of the roads will inspire the pack to a rapid pace. At mid-day we reach the Visitors Center of Williamsburg; after lunch in the cafeteria the group will break up spontaniously: some will go to visit a little of Williamsburg, a town transformed into a living museum of the first colony of Virginia; the others will meditate on the field of battle at Yorktown which witnessed the surrender of General Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, and consecrated, in the eyes of the world, the birth of a new free American nation; the battle saw in truth few dead, but the historic consequences were decisive for the future of the American colonies. Near the commemorative column a plaque recalls the names of the 52 soldiers of Rochambeau's army who fell here near the York River: among them some names unquestionably Lorrain who belonged to the unit "Royal Two-Bridges" commanded by the Count of Forbach.
National flag in the wind, our van forges on to Norfolk, the first port of the Atlantic Coast of the United States. We will cross Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel then cross a good part of the city under a violent storm before reaching our YMCA, a very comfortable one.
Thursday, July 15
Our bicycle Periplus is now ended; we must today head for New York. But we have first a meeting of honor with another American cyclist correspondent: Tom Burton awaits us this morning at the foot of the first small artificial island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: 26 kilometers long, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel combines aerial bridges and underwater tunnels to permit the passage of large ships.
Tom Burton will during our morning today guide us across the peninsula which he knows particularly well: there will be a visit to a hatchery producing blue crabs destined for gourmets, a little visit to a NASA rocket center. We leave him after lunch at New Church.
Three hundred miles separate us from New York. We are going to devour them conscientiously using the mainline roads and interstates: Highway 13 and the New Jersey Turnpike. Above the ramp of the Lincoln Tunnel, from the heights of New Jersey, we will contemplate for a last time the extraordinary skyline of the skyscrapers of Manhattan across the Hudson River. We encountered a "traffic jam" at the entrance of the tunnel; we emerged on 10th Avenue, near our now-familiar hotel, the Travel Inn Hotel of 42nd Street.
That evening, at our last American dinner, James and Ann Reynolds will come from Oradell to join us. This will be a meal of farewell, of French-American cycletouring friendship, in the course of which we will warm up again the plans for new trips, to the United States, to France.
Friday, July 16
This morning each one of us, following his whim, is going to say goodbye to some neighborhood of New York. At the end of the morning, Barry and Rosaly Kriegsman will come to salute us before the departure and recuperate the brave Dodge van which will have covered, almost without fail, some 2,000 miles. At the John Kennedy International Airport, the sadness of the farewell is tempered by the certainty that we have of meeting again some day on some American or French road. Because, we are fully convinced, at the time when our American Periplus so rich with discovery and with personal contact ends, there begins surely a long promise of friendly sportive exchanges between us, American cycletourists and cyclotourists of the Moselle.
Translated from Dr Mas' original French text by Randy Swart, who does not know what a Periplus is and never had to look up so many highly literate words in any other translation! 12/21/82
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