European cyclists roll through area as part of cross-country trek
WILLMAR -- What may appear to have been a colored egg rolling down U.S. Highway 12 on Friday was actually a cyclist pedaling across the United States.
Roll Over America is a European-based cycling group with 32 cyclists riding for the first time from Portland, Ore., to Washington, D.C., over four weeks to promote the velomobile, a bicycle based on a recumbent bike made to be aerodynamic.
The riders left Portland on July 28 and have been camping out along the way. At 7:30 Friday morning, the crew set out from Ambush Park Campground in Benson through Willmar to the Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain where they stayed the night.
Hasse Hoejland, 44, of Copenhagen, Denmark, was two miles west of Willmar when he said the trip is, "a lot of fun, but it's also a long way."
Riding in a yellow velomobile, Hoejland decaled his ride with his website lifeisyourgame.com, where he is promoting his journey across the country with blog posts and photos.
Hoejland said he has traveled around the U.S. for work several times, but has never experienced it on a bike.
"Arriving on a bike in the country like Montana is fantastic," he said.
The three-wheeled bikes are about 65 pounds, Hoejland said, with the added material that gives the bike an egg-shaped appearance. He said they can reach speeds of 70 mph downhill with an average of 20 mph on a flat surface.
"It's more mental because it takes a lot of time," he said. "The bike though is much more efficient and comfortable."
Benjamin Taubald from Vienna, Austria, pulled up to Hoejland a few minutes later.
Taubald said the journey started about a year and a half ago with interest generated on the Internet. With six people jumping onboard right away, the ride now has 22 riders from Europe and about 10 from the U.S. and Canada.
The ride took off from Maple Plain today heading into Minneapolis and was slated to camp at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. The ride will conclude Aug. 25 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.