Bill Vanderwall

billvanderwallWhen I worked at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, I would take a vacation to do one of those state rides where you bicycle across a state. That’s where I got into long distance cycling. I like the independence that I have when I go touring. I can stop wherever I want, whenever I want and I enjoy the people I meet along the way. I generally prefer doing the unsupported rides for that reason. It’s not a race, it’s a tour.

In general, I like transportation. One of my hobbies is to fix up bikes and give them to kids. I buy them at auctions and on Craig’s lists, give them a little TLC and donate them. to those in need. I recently gave 65 bicycles to a bike shop that also focuses on getting young and old riders on two wheels.

I’ve cycled through nine states. I’ve done the Trans Am tour from Newport, Virginia, to Astoria, Oregon. That was a 4,500-mile, self-contained tour. I’ve ridden throughout the Netherlands, through parts of Mexico and Europe. When I learned that Allen was doing the tour of the East Coast in 2011, I joined him and five others in route. I left them in Maine and along with another rider went on to Buffalo, NY, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and back down to D.C via the Alleghany and C&O routes. This summer myself and six friends rode from Cincinnati to Cleveland, Ohio. I was scheduled to ride the Natchez Trace from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, but cracked ribs curtailed that event for me. Doing the Southern Tier ride sounds like an exciting adventure and for a very worthwhile cause.

As for our beneficiary, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I’m 100% behind the idea of riding for charity. I’m especially supportive of work being done to understand the brain and how it can be treated. I had brain surgery 18 months ago to have a tumor removed, so I am especially sensitive to the brain and all of its complexities. Since it is the source for all our behavior and controls our body function any exploration into its treatment from a disease or mental illness perspective has tremendous impact on millions who suffer.

3,000 Miles of Adventure Cycling across the Southern Tier of the USA to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)