Route 66 – myth, nostalgia, freedom and much more than a road that connects the Midwest to the Pacific coast of America. A symbol of the land of opportunity, Route 66 has been escorting people with hopes and dreams of a better life on their way to the golden west for decades now. Roland Grädel also has a dream – and that’s to experience Route 66 on his e-bike.
One route, 48 legs, one objective!
On 9 May 2019, Roland is setting off on his adventure with his cycling partner Thomas Wälti, starting at mile 0 on Adams Boulevard in Chicago. Almost two months later, on America’s Independence Day (4 July), they hope to reach their destination – Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. Roland has meticulously planned 48 legs, printed them on paper in his road book and stored them electronically with Garmin for when he’s cycling.
Route 66 is omnipresent at the home of the America connoisseur, where you can find an image of the symbolic Route 66 sign, an album of an American journey and a piece of original asphalt from the famously infamous route. You get the sense that he knows every corner of it and has already travelled each section of it countless times in his head. “In 2016, I made the decision to take this project head on”, says Roland. The adventure ahead of him has kept him busy every day since then. “Looking for sponsors, planning routes, making bookings, but always with the right music playing in my ears”, continues Roland with a smile. Krokus is the “right” music, by the way.
Unprepared and with two friends from his village, Roland set foot on the continent of America for the first time in 1974 and found himself drawn to the west. “There was something special about being in America,” says Roland with shining eyes. Endless expanses, diverse landscapes, the feeling of freedom – Roland was seized by fascination with the land of opportunity and it has not let him go. Since then, he has returned to the United States ten times, each time armed with the dream of travelling on Route 66 himself one day.
A former Harley driver, he is now taking to the road with the FLYER e-bike.
In the middle of the nineties, Roland was diagnosed with a lung tumour. His diagnosis was followed by multiple operations; one lung had to be removed and, to this day, Roland still relies on strong medication. “I was therefore no longer able to travel the route with a heavy Harley,” Roland points out. “However, it is possible with the e-bike with electrical assistance”, says Roland “but it will be hard”. After all, the longest daily leg through the Californian wilderness is around 180 kilometres.
But the desire to make a long-harboured dream a reality is greater. And so, on 9 May, Roland and Thomas will stand at the start of Route 66 in Chicago with their FLYER TX Series and pedal off with their sights on Santa Monica, but also on getting to know the country from a different perspective, doing plenty of sightseeing en route, feeling the wind on their faces and being free.