Lars ‘Longrider’ Nielsen visits IWV

Lars ‘Longrider’ Nielsen visits IWVBy FREDRICK GARY HARELAND

News Review Correspondent

Ridgecrest was recently visited by Danish touring cyclist Lars Nielsen, who was my guest for the third time in as many years. His most recent visit was to speak to the members and guests of the Los Angeles Adventurers’ Club where he was also inducted into its distinguished membership by becoming the 1,178th member since the clubs incorporation in 1923.

Since 1980 Lars has been cycling the equivalent distance of four times around the world (155,600 km).

During those trips he has been snowed in on top of mountains in Austria, has suffered a heat stroke in Death Valley, has been chased by wolves in Alaska, has been surrounded by a bison herd in Yellowstone and has been chased by a grizzly bear, also in Alaska.

Additionally he has cycled beside bush fires in Australia’s desert, faced endless storms in Argentina’s Patagonia, pulled his loaded bike through snow in the Rocky Mountains and biked in the snow around Norway.  Not bad for a Danish lad who has never driven a car nor even had a driver’s license!

Since 1988 Lars has set cycling records five times, records that have appeared in the Danish Guinness Book of World Records. Some of his more notable trips were his 1989 trip from Anchorage, Alaska, to Miami Fla., a distance of 6,620 miles in just 54 days. It was during this trip that the Paducah Sun of Paducah Kentucky wrote an article about Lars and referred to him as the “Longrider,”a moniker that he still goes by to this day.

In 1991 Lars rode around the U.S. a total of 10,248 miles in 80 days, in 1998 he cycled around Australia a total of 8,333 miles in 75 days and in 2001 he cycled from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. These were just a few highlights of his 34 years and more than 44 major bicycle trips.

Lars is from the small town of Hobro, Denmark (population 11,736), where he works for a slaughterhouse recycling contaminated water into grey water,. This job has the advantage of a flexible schedule, with the additional advantage that he can earn up to nine weeks of vacation per year.

Although in the past he was sponsored by a beer company, these days he is self sponsored and uses his vacation time for trips. Hobro is an old market and railway town on the Jutland Peninsula in Northern Denmark and situated in hilly terrain at the head of Marager Fjord.

During his latest cycling adventure, Lars landed at LAX on Monday, Oct. 6, then cycled to Hollywood for an overnight stay. Then it was on to Lancaster for Night No. 2. On Wednesday he texted me while having breakfast in Mojave and arrived at our house in Inyokern at 5 p.m. He usually makes better time but unfortunately had to repair a flat tire near Jawbone Canyon.

My wife Thelma and I had some interesting talks with Lars during his brief visit. However, on Sunday morning, Oct. 12, it was time for Lars to saddle up and head off to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, Ariz., where he will board the first of two airliners for his trip home.

Lars is planning on a return trip next year and hopes to speak to our local community about his cycling and many trips.

I hope that by that time at least one of his three books will be translated into English from his native Danish so that we will be able to more fully share in the Longrider’s many trips and adventures.

Lars Nielson during his visit to the IWV. - Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2014-10-15