The rubber sure did meet the road

JACK MONTGOMERIE
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Phill Clapham
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ
TRANS-AMERICAN RIDE: Phill Clapham rode his bicycle from the West Coast of the United States to the East Coast.

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Tourists are often told to take only pictures and leave only footprints, but Phill Clapham left rubber on 6000 kilometres of American roads.

Clapham, 65, returned on Thursday from a 50-day cycling trip from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States, which wore out two of his bicycle's tyres. He and 39 others, ranging in age from 23 to 77, rode from Oregon to New York state.

The Seadown dairy goat farmer said he met interesting people in the cycling pack, including doctors, cancer patients, a former fighter-jet pilot who was his room-mate, and his riding partner Ed, a San Diego man who worked with drones.

The keen cyclist enjoyed the courtesy of American motorists towards cyclists. "They'd never shave just past you. I think their laws are very strict."

Clapham also enjoyed the friendly curiosity of American passers-by. "Americans are so different to us. Americans come over and ask what you're doing."

Many had difficulty understanding his New Zealand accent when he replied.

Clapham has travelled to the US before, but said his cycle ride showed him the country's rural side. "Hundreds and hundreds of miles of corn...."

He was also impressed by the half-hectare lawns surrounding many American farmhouses.

Clapham's wife Amanda admitted it had been "a bit quiet" while he was away, but a semester break which brought their sons home from university had been timely.

Clapham is be glad to be off his bike for now, but says he will be on New Zealand roads again before long.

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- The Timaru Herald

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