Touring cyclists stop in Camellia City

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Many travelers pass through Greenville on the way to other destinations, but on Monday, the city streets were graced by a different sort of voyager.

Two 19-year-olds from Holland made a stop in the Camellia City on a trek across the USA.

Ian Willem Overmars and Wiecher De Klein plan to travel across the country to Los Angeles via bicycle within the next two months.

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The journey began about two weeks and 900 miles ago in Miami, De Klein said.

Since then, the two have traveled through Florida and Georgia, and are now making their way across Alabama on their recumbent bicycles.

&uot;We just wanted to go, just for fun,&uot; De Klein said in explaining the reason for the trip.

He went on to say that they wanted to see the sites such as the Grand Canyon and the state and national parks in the West.

Overmars and De Klein travel about 60 or 70 miles each day and spend their nights camping along the way, traveling through the middle and southern parts of the country.

&uot;In Florida, we got a campsite book and planned where to stay,&uot; Overmars said.

&uot;One night, we slept in a garden.&uot;

The night before they came through Greenville, however, De Klein said they stayed in a hotel for the first time during their journey.

To many people, bicycling across the country seems like an impossible task, but Overmars and De Klein said their trip has not been very difficult.

&uot;We come from Holland, and we bike there a lot,&uot; De Klein said.

&uot;We also take more trips in Europe.&uot;

He went on to say that the American South's flat terrain makes the going easier than if it were hilly.

On the trip, the two try to take smaller roads to avoid dangerous traffic.

&uot;Here, it's not dangerous,&uot; said De Klein as he motioned his hand toward Commerce Street. &uot;Most people go wide [around us], but some trucks don't.&uot;

Although the bikers said the weather in their part of the world was cooler and wetter than the South's steamy climate, the conditions have not troubled them much.

De Klein said they were rained on last week in Georgia.

We've only had trouble with the thunder and the trucks, Overmars said.

He went on to say that his favorite part of the trip so far was Florida, especially Miami and the Everglades.

&uot;It was hot, but nice,&uot; Overmars said.

&uot;Alligators swam by the tent, but we weren't really scared,&uot; De Klein said, recalling an experience camping in the Everglades.

The reactions from Americans have been humorous, Overmars said.

People keep looking for the motors on the bikes, he chuckled.

Overmars said the two friends came up with the idea for their trip about two years ago.

The Holland natives, whose primary language is Dutch, learned English in school.

Overmars, who has recently finished school, and De Klein, who plans to finish next year, said that they learned British English, which is quite different from American English.

After completing their journey to Los Angeles, Overmars said the two plan to fly to New Zealand, Australia, or back home to Holland.