I am glad you made it to this page to figure out what this is actually all about. Alright, let me start with an introduction:
My name is Klaus, thirty-something, born in Vienna, Austria but transplanted to the United States in November of 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis. I went on to work for Yahoo and PayPal in Silicon Valley, but, in the course of time, I noticed that earning a six figure salary and having a “career” wasn’t as attractive any more as I thought it would be. I felt empty and on a path where I would turn sixty and look back at my life and ask the question: “What have I done?”
I was never much into (road) cycling before I came to the US in 2008. I had done some mountain biking in Austria, but never owned a road bike. Especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, road biking seemed like a mainstream sport and since I was looking to find a way to stay active besides running, I got a road bike.
I was hooked.
In 2012 I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles over six, very meticulously planned out days. I had a blast. My blogpost about my experience still attracts quite a few visitors, acting as guidance for them to recreate this adventure for themselves.
I was toying with a cross-country bike ride ever since, however with meager three weeks of vacation, that did not seem to be in the cards any time soon.
Unless one were to reach a point in life where earning a six figure salary and having a “career” wasn’t as important any longer. The shiny gold had chipped off the pretty figurine only to find a rusted frame underneath. I wasn’t happy any longer with where my life was headed and I knew I had to change something.
In April 2015 I did what any sane person would do: I quit my job and went to Southeast Asia for a month. Traveling does some interesting things to the mind, pushing you out of your comfort zone for one. And interestingly enough, this is also the area where you grow, where the magic happens.
Returning to the US, with my apartment lease expiration date looming over my head, but no real responsibilities towards anyone, I decided to listen to my heart and do what it told me to.
“Do the bike ride,” it said. And this is where we are.
About the ride
My tentative route will first take me up the Pacific Coast Bike Route to Oregon. After dipping my back wheel into the Pacific Ocean in Florence, OR, I will proceed East along the TransAmerica Trail until I hit Yorktown, VA and eventually Washington, DC to recharge my batteries while catching up with some great friends from Austria who made DC their home.
My intent for this ride is not speed. For that, I packed way too much. Ideally I would like to reach the East Coast before winter hits the region, but that is about my only requirement.
I have no idea where I will end up or what I will do after this ride, but if it turns out that this will also be my final chapter of my time in the United States, I would like to experience this country from a very unique perspective. Not only soak in its vastness, its areas of natural beauty, but, and maybe more importantly, to get a chance to have encounters with people from all walks of life. And, maybe finally, see what the real America is all about.
About the Domain
My inspiration for the domain name highwaysandbackstreets.com came from being somewhat of a fan of Bruce Springsteen.
In 1975 he released a song named “Backstreets” and news about the artist is published on a website and in a fanzine with the same name.
In April 2009 I was lucky enough to attend a concert as part of his Working On A Dream Tour at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Springsteen portrays the lives of everyday folk, the working class, the blue collar people, their worries, hopes and dreams. Those are the kinds of people I hope to find on my journey across the US. The people outside the bubble that is Silicon Valley. I don’t know what I will find, but it will, without a doubt, be an adventure to remember nonetheless.
About the “Flag Pictures”
You might notice a few pictures across this site with a very US-patriotic theme to it, featuring the Stars and Stripes in the background.
Those pictures were taken by the very talented David Calhoun, former co-worker, friend and inspirational conversation partner when it comes to traveling and photography. The flag displayed in those pictures is hand-painted to a two-car-wide garage door, attached to a one story house in Sunnyvale, the city where I used to live in Silicon Valley. Fred, the owner, hand-painted it himself after 9/11 and was kind enough to let us spend about 45 minutes early on a Saturday morning taking those pictures.