Tour of Hope
We are Maren and Peter Helm from Hamburg, Germany, in our
early sixties. We have done cycle touring for more than 25 years. Since our
early retirement in 2001, we had planned to do one extended trip every year.
started with the TransAm Bicycle Trail in May 2001 in Virginia. It was
during this trip in Bardstown, KY that we ran into another couple on
bikes. It was Mike & Marilyn from Wenatchee, WA, also on their way
across the US (see their TransAm journal and our meeting
in Kentucky). We rode with them for 4 days and stayed at some very
memorable places. When Maren broke her ankle on a rest day in Colorado, we
had to interrupt our bike trip, rented a car and toured in the Northwest.
friendship from the road developed and when
we returned to the US in May 2002 to continue the TransAm ride, Mike &
Marilyn arrived also in St. Louis, MO, to accompany us on our re-start. We
rode together on the Katy Trail (see
journal) , then joined the TransAm Trail again in Eastern Kansas. This
time we made it to the Pacific Coast without any injuries.
to the international political turbulences in 2003, Maren and I opted to
stay in Germany that summer. So in June we started a trip - right from our
doorsteps - to the town of Konstanz (by Lake Bodensee) in the very south
of Germany. During this tour (1,200 km / 3 weeks) we mostly traveled on
signed bike trails layed out along the many German rivers and stayed for
the majority of the nights in Youth Hostels.
in 2003, Mike & Marilyn traveled abroad and visited us in
Hamburg for a three weeks long bike vacation in Northern Germany and parts
of Denmark (including a very close encounter with the Danish Queen Margarete herself!).
December 2003 to February 2004 we traveled to New Zealand. We started on
the Northern Island, cycled around the Coromandel Peninsula and around the
East Cape, the latter a pretty isolated and beautiful region. At Christmas
we shipped to Picton on the South Island. We traveled clockwise down the
eastern coast (Kaikoura, Christchurch), then across the more mountainous inland
stretches (Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Lake Wakatipu) to the southernmost
point of our tour in Te Anau. Then a two day cross country trip via Mavora
Lakes to Queenstown, over Crown Range and Haast Pass up the West Coast and
over Arthur's Pass back to Christchurch, where our trip ended after some
2,800 km and app. 9 weeks of riding.
2005, back to the USA. In mid March we started in New Orleans
(at that time still undestroyed by Katrina), and headed
north-northwest, first along the Natchez Trace and later along
the track of Lewis and Clark (the Missouri River) until we
made it by the end of July to the Pacific Coast.
Click here for our journal.
Celebrating the completion of our second trip across
America, July 2005
the winter of 2006-7, we had great plans. We wanted to ride a
circle in Southeast Asia (Bangkok to Bangkok via Laos, Vietnam
and Cambodia). This promised to be a real adventure. The trip
had to be cancelled a few days before the departure due to
Maren's health conditions. But in the summer of that year, we
did a nice training tour right from our house in Hamburg up
North along the North Sea coast to Skagen, the northern most tip
of Denmark, then back along the shore of the Baltic Sea. The
month long camping trip made for 1000 miles and many new
had hoped to make the postponed Southeast Asia trip in the
Winter of 2007/08, but we learned early in the year that Maren's
health would be too fragile to ride in a region with such
climatic and health challenges. Instead we cycled in the summer
of 2007 from our home eastward to the Polish border and back. We
crossed a wonderful countryside with many lakes and forests in
the region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (McPomm). Again, it was a
camping tour with some 800 miles and many new impressions.
2008 plans to bicycle from Washington state to New York City
Maren's doctors declared her health condition stable last winter, plans
were made. We will fly into Seattle June 2, 2008, stay a few days with our
friends Mike and Marilyn in Wenatchee, and then hit the road. This time we
will ride west to east, hoping for the predominantly westerly winds to push
us across the northern prairies. We will follow US Highway 2 and the Northern
Tier for most of the
first third of the trip. In Minnesota we will follow Adventure Cycling's North
Lakes Route across Wisconsin and upper Michigan, the Lake
Erie Connector across the thumb of Michigan through Ontario to Niagara
Falls, then the Erie Canal to Albany, and the Hudson River to the "Big
Apple', New York.
roughly 3,800 mile trip will keep us busy for about 4 months. During this
time I will try to fill this journal with some interesting reports and
photos from the road to help friends and family imagine what we do.
Capital to Big Apple 2008