About Larry Sietsma
What’s your favorite memory from your trip?
The great feeling when, at a rest stop, people come up and thank you for riding for them. Some are MS survivors and others have relatives, friends and coworkers with MS. It is an amazing feeling. Secondly, riding through the Avenue of the Giants in the redwoods of Northern California is an unforgettable experience.
What is your age?
77 but when I did the first ride, I was only 75.
What made you want to ride your bike across the country?
The challenge and also to see the USA uniquely from the seat of a bicycle.
Where do you live?
What is your profession?
Retired pilot and home builder.
What routes/years did you ride with Bike the US for MS?
Northern Tier 2014 and Pacific Coast 2015.
Currently signed up for the Southern Tier for 2016.
Has the trip changed you as a person, or the way you see life?
There is no way it cannot have a positive impact. To pedal across the country gives one a sense of accomplishment and also a feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to.
How many miles did you clock in before the trip?
I ride 6000 to 7000 miles per year but that is not necessary to do the rides.
What was your cycling experience before signing up?
Mostly Centuries but a few week long rides across southern states.
Where did you find the most success fundraising?
From family and friends. When I mention how much money has been raised for the MS cause, people quite often volunteer to contribute.
What was your biggest worry before the trip, and how did you handle it?
Everyone has the same concerns. We are excited about the ride but worried that we won't be able to do it. Of course, everyone does it and their apprehensions were useless.
How many fundraising letters/emails do you think you sent?
About 50 emails.
What surprised you most about the fundraising process?
It is quite easy. Ask and you will receive.
What type of bike did you ride? Where did you get it?
A Trek road bike purchased from a local bike shop.
What is something you wish you had brought which you didn’t?
A motor home (only kidding).
What’s one ancillary thing you couldn’t have lived without on the road?
The small seat pack with extra tube, pump and CO2 cartridges.
What’s one thing you brought that you wish you hadn’t?
Too many clothes. I sent them home at the first mail stop.
Is there anything you spent a bit more money on that you were glad you did?
I ordered an extra Bike the US for MS jersey which came in handy.
How much casual clothes (t-shirts, shorts, etc) did you bring?
Your list of clothing and equipment is sufficient.
How many pairs of cycling shorts/bibs did you bring?
4 shorts and 4 jerseys. Could have made it with half that number but it allowed to go longer without laundry
What type of sleeping pad did you use?
What was your favorite trailer snack?
How often would you go out to eat?
I'm an old guy so I found a way to eat out every meal. If there was not a restaurant in the area, I would purchase a sandwich at lunch and put it in the trailer.
Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?
Some of each. At times it is nice to ride with the group but at others, it I may want solitude to soak in the scenery.
Would you rather be riding through steady rain or extreme heat?
Neither bother me but, being from Florida, I am accustomed to the heat.
What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?
Cellphone, handkerchief and, for me, a pair of glasses.
Did you use a rack/saddle bag/handlebar bag?
Small saddle bag, plus a little bag for Power bars and Kleenex. One more thing--a case to hold the route map. It fastened to the handlebar so I could read it while moving.
What type of tires did you ride?
Light 23 mm road tires. On the PacCoast ride, had only 1 flat.
Did you use a cyclocomputer? What was your normal pace?
Garmin. Keeps track of mileage, speed, cadence, heart rate, percentage of climb and other things. Wouldn't leave home without it.
How long did it take to learn to read the maps?
Essentially no time at all. They are very simple and user friendly.
Riding on a flat terrain with a headwind, or climbing a mountain pass for miles. Which do you prefer?
The mountain--because you get to fly down the other side. A headwind is relentless.
What was the most difficult part/aspect/state of the ride?
The first day or two. After that, you realize that you can do this!
Do you have any pieces of general advice for new cyclists?
Everyone questions if they can finish such a ride but you can do it! Go for it!
Were you an early riser? Did you sleep in?
I tried for an early start to enjoy the cooler morning temps. If it had been cold, however, a later start would have worked.
When you got to camp, the first thing you did was….
Pitch the tent. Once the things are unpacked, you can enjoy a cold drink.
How often would you do laundry?
Tried to do it every 4 days. Possibly on 2 occasions that didn't work out. Had to wear used shorts and jerseys but everyone was in the same boat.
It’s the evening and you’re out of your bike clothes, fed, and your tent is pitched. What are you doing to pass the time until you fell asleep?
Read email, catch up on the blog and sit around and discuss the ride with your new friends.
How many sink/hose showers did you take?
Only a few on each ride. Most often, there were regular showers available.
How many loads of sink/hose laundry did you do?
None. That was not necessary.
On rest days, did you prefer to go out and see what the town has to offer, or did you hang out, rest up, and relax?
In many cases, it was the first time we had been to a particular town so I had to check it out. You can get plenty of rest when you die.
Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?
A strong bond was formed and we are friends for life.