My Sabbatical 2019 in the USA

In late summer 2017, after the JavaOne conference, I made a road trip with a car through California and parts of Nevada. I was in Death Valley, Mojave Desert, and Los Angeles and there on the famous Santa Monica Pier. There was the also famous “End of Route 66” sign. As I sat there on a bench and enjoyed the sunset, first thoughts emerged to drive the Route 66. With a car, of course!

But it still needed some time. At the beginning of 2018, I decided to buy an S-Pedelec. That was ready to be picked up at the end of March and from then on I was like a maniac on the road. Every free minute. Because I enjoyed riding my Stromer ST2 S so much and still thought about Route 66, I finally brought both together and so the idea was born to ride the Route 66 with my new bike.

With the planning, it went a little back and forth. At first, I thought of two months, only Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Start in one year, in April 2019. During the planning, it grew to three months, with start in New York and then via Chicago to Los Angeles. Because of the climate, I decided to start the trip in late summer and not pass the Mojave Desert until autumn, when there is no record-breaking heat.

For the journey I decided on ship passage, this is much easier with an S-Pedelec and all the necessary luggage for three months. I can also use the time of the crossing to relax, to switch off after work, to slowly get into the holiday mood and to prepare myself mentally for the upcoming challenge. I found a ship, a container ship, which does not arrive directly in New York but a little south of it in Philadelphia. So I start now in Philadelphia. Somehow, of course, I still have to get to the ship. It leaves in Antwerp, Belgium. This has now become a city trip with two friends. They accompany me to Antwerp, that we will visit, and then to the ship.

The plan now looks like this: On August 1st we start in Lucerne with a van (so that the bicycle and the luggage fit into it) and drive together to Antwerp. There we visit the city and on August 3rd I have to embark. The ship itself, the Independent Horizon, leaves on August 4th. In Philadelphia, we are expected to arrive on August 13th. From there I start my bicycle journey on August 14th and my first big stop is Chicago, where I will probably arrive around September 1st. From Chicago, I cycle along the old Route 66 to Los Angeles. I will probably arrive there in mid-October. After that it is still a bit open, probably I will drive along the Pacific coast to San Francisco. At the end of October / beginning of November, I will go home again and from November 11th I will sit at my desk at CSS Insurance again – in case my colleagues recognize me and let me in…

Some statistics for the route from Philadelphia near New York via Chicago and Los Angeles to San Francisco:

  • 71 days in total
  • of which 62 riding days
  • and 9 rest days
  • with approx. 6’700 km
  • and approx. 36’000 altitude meters

I’ve planned my stages very carefully, but it’s very likely that I’ll make adjustments on the way and on the spot, or even completely change my mind. I let myself have this flexibility. You can view my current planning at Komoot:

View current planning status at Komoot


Written on July 30, 2019