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Over a period of 27 days this summer, Shuyang Wei, an international student from China attending Missouri State University, rode his bike along a portion of the former Route 66 from Springfield to Santa Monica, California. KSMU’s Julie Greene has more on his journey.
It was just last summer that Wei began cycling while back home in his native country. After a series of short rides and hearing stories of cyclists riding across China, he began to toy with the idea of completing a long-distance ride in the States. Wei stated he chose cycling over other transportation because:
“It is not that fast so you have a lot of chance, you know, to look at the scenery, the landscape, and you have more chance to meet people, more than if you drive a car. Because, you know, when people see you, ‘Oh, this guy’s cycling on the interstate highway,’ and some people just stop and ask me ‘Do you need help?’”
Taking only a few items with him, including bike tools, clothes and some food, he left early on the morning of June 23 from his Springfield home. For each day on the road, he set a predetermined stopping point, and once he reached this point, he arranged to stay in motels, hostels or on other cyclists’ couches for the night. For food, he often stopped at stores or ate at restaurants. The majority of his trip was completed alone before he was joined by another cyclist in Albuquerque. Wei then flew back to Springfield after staying a few days in California.
“A lot of people ask me, even on the road, why? I have been here for more than two years, and I didn’t have any chance to look around this country, to know more about the people and culture here so I think that is the first and most important reason to drive me to do this, and the second one is I really love cycling.”
Looking back, Wei stated that the best part of his trip was the people he met along the way. More than anything, he said, people just wanted to help him. An example of one of those instances was an encounter at Petrified National Park with a husband and wife from Houston, Texas. The woman was a Chinese native, and after conversing in Chinese with Wei, the woman told her husband that she was proud of her heritage because of Wei. Before parting ways, they exchanged information, and the woman gave Wei a gift of $200.
Wei says his goal is to cycle along the remaining stretch of Historic Route 66 from Springfield to Chicago. He’d then like to ride to New York, and on down to Florida.
For KSMU News, I’m Julie Greene.