Thursday, February 15, 2007

Should Susan Be in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame?

Is Long Distance Cycling a Sport or Not?

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is a first class facility located in Springfield, Missouri. There are over 200 Missouri Athletes, Coaches and Sports Personalities who have been inducted. The Hall of Fame has two floors of interesting displays and presentations about famous sports stars who were either born or played sports in Missouri.

Each autumn the Missouri Hall of Fame Nomination Committee reviews the new applications for possible Hall of Fame Honorees. In November about 8 to 12 people are selected and inducted into the Hall of Fame. The nomination process requests a letter of recommendation from three people who are familiar with the applicant and their history in the sport.

Susan Notorangelo grew up in Ferguson, Missouri located in north St. Louis. In 2006 Susan was nominated for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for her career in cross country cycling and contributions to the sport of cycling. Susan had received letters of support from John Hughes; Director of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association, Jim Pitre; Director of the Race Across America, and Lon Haldeman; Susan’s husband and participant in many of Susan’s cross county record setting rides.

Susan’s nomination was rejected because “she did not fit the demographic profile of the type of athlete the Missouri Sports Hall Fame was honoring this year”. (Translation = long distance cycling is not a sport).

The director of the nomination process said they would review Susan’s application again next year. If there was support and proof that Susan should be chosen for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame they would make the proper decision. The director said what carries a lot of weight (literally), is how many letters of support each nominee receives (even though they originally only asked for three letters).

If you think Susan Notorangelo is worthy of being selected to the Missouri Hall of Fame you are encouraged to write a one page letter and show your support of Susan. Any personal perspective you could give about Susan as an athlete would add extra credibility to her accomplishments.

Some of Susan’s history includes:

Test of Time
Susan’s 1986 Cross County Tandem Record of 9 days, 20 hours and 1989 Women’s Record from Los Angeles to New York City 9 days, 9 hours have stood as records for over 20 years and are still records today. Susan was the First Woman to bicycle across the United States in under 12 days, under 11 days and under 10 days. She is the first woman to average more than 300 miles per day across the country.

Susan was one of the pioneers of long distance cycling. Many of her records were set during the evolution of liquid diets and composite equipment. Many of the prototype ideas Susan tested are now standard equipment. During Susan 1982 Women’s Transcontinental Record she rode the final 650 miles nonstop across Ohio and West Virginia into New York City. Her nonstop format proved riders could go multiple days without rest while setting a new standard for future Race Across America riders. Her time of 11 days, 16 hours was only 17 hours slower than the men’s record at that time.

Susan has raced across America 8 times. During five of those events Susan has either won the Race Across America or set new transcontinental records.

Comparing Big Apples to Big Apples
Susan’s 1989 cross county record of 9 days, 9 hours from Los Angles to New York would have beat all the men during the first Race Across America on that same route to New York in 1982. Her time on that route is over 25 hours faster than John Howard who was elected the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Giving Back to the Sport
Susan has introduced and influenced countless cyclists to begin long distance cycling. She has organized over 70 cross county cycling tours for over 2,000 riders. During 25 years she has worked to make sure all riders have been successful in their dream of riding across America.

Additional Hall of Fame Honors
Susan was selected in 1985 to the Italian Sports Hall of Fame located in Chicago. They made a full show case display with Susan’s bike, posters, jerseys and other photos. Baseball player Joe DiMaggio, gymnast May Lou Retton and many more athletes are also honored with fascinating displays. Susan was inducted into the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association Hall of Fame in 2004.

If you think Susan’s history is worthy of being considered for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, please send a letter to:

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
c/o Athlete Nomination Committee
3861 East Stan Musial Drive
Springfield, MO 65809

Letters should be mailed (not e-mailed).

Letters must be received by August 2007.

Selections will be announced in December 2007.

What ABC Wide World of Sports and HBO Commentator Jim Lampley remembers about Susan and the Race Across America.

It’s a question I have been asked a dozen times: the interviewer or reporter invites me to look back at all the things I’ve seen in television sports and says, “What’s the most memorable event?”

Should be a tough answer. I’ve been to seven Olympics, to Super Bowls, World series, NBA Finals, Wimbledons, Indy 500s, Kentucky Derbys, and the Grand Prix de Monte Carlo. But invariably, that questions takes me back to a highway overpass on Interstate 10 near Blythe, on the California-Arizona border. Sometime just past midnight, the morning of Thursday, August 5, 1982, fifteen hours into the first American transcontinental bicycle race.

I am standing on that overpass with Susan Notorangelo from Ferguson, Missouri, whom I’d met at a small dinner gathering two nights before. As her fiancé’, Lon Haldeman pedaled underneath and past us on the highway, bearing down on a 300 mile opening burst that put him more than an hour in front of his three competitors, I turned and asked what seemed to me a logical question.

“When is Lon going to stop and get some rest, Susan?”

“Rest? What are you talking about? We’re going to New York.” And then in mocking sincerity, “Aren’t you going to New York?”

I always think of that moment as my spiritual introduction to the smallest and most intriguing sports cultures I have ever joined. We had been assigned to cover the Great American Bicycle Race- producer and director Larry Kamm, Diana Nyad, and myself.

I had the best seat in America, a lawn chair strapped to the bed of a pickup truck, for the first five transcontinental races in history. Eric Heiden was on a few telecasts, and his presence lit us up along the way.

In 1986, we shot the last edition of the Race Across America to have aired on “ABC Wide World of Sports”. When management changed at ABC Sports that year, it wasn’t because they were looking to sustain the tradition of quality to organization had built. RAAM telecasts won various film and television awards, including special programming achievement Emmys. They built a devoted following. They were too good to be associated with what followed them at “Wide World”

Now enjoy this book. It tells a story like no other I know.

From the book
“Race Across America”
by Michael Shermer

To contact Lon by e-mail use:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Inspiration for Peru Adventures

I recently read a book written in 1852 about American Navy Captain William Lewis Herdon. He was hired by the U.S. government to scout a route over the Andes Mountains from Lima, Peru and then down a system of mountain rivers to the Amazon and then on to Brazil. His mission was similar to Lewis and Clark when they were trying to find a water route across North America in 1802.

During the 1850s the United States was being settled by tens of thousands of pioneers crossing north America on the Oregon Trail. South America was about the same size as North America, but only a few handfuls of settlers had ever crossed the entire South American region.

The Spanish had been building magnificent cities in Peru, Chile and Ecuador almost 100 years before the United States gained it’s independence. The coastal cities were some of the finest in the world. The vast middle region of South America was a mystery land of jungles, snakes and head hunter Indians. Captain Herdon was send to scout this uncharted territory to measure the depths and currents of the rivers. He was also documented usable plants, minerals and anything else of commercial value for trade purposes.

The book is interesting to me because the route goes over the Andes through the towns of San Mateo, Tarma and follows the route I have bicycled solo and with groups several times. He describes climbing Ticlio Pass to 16,000 feet on a mule train along a one-lane path with rock canyon walls. The road is much the same today except the mule path has been widened to about 30 feet width and now is used by Volvo trucks.

After crossing the mountains, Captain Herdon eventually gets on a riverboat in Yurimaguas and goes down the Amazon just like our group tour has done in past years. The way he describes the people and scenery is much the same today. One exceptions was in 1852 the town of Iquitos on the Amazon River had only 250 people and was hardly noticed by Captain Herdon. By 1880 rubber was discovered in the jungle and Iquitos became the Paris of South America. The city grew to 50,000 inhabitants. Incredible wealth oozed from the pockets of European businessmen who exploited the Indians to collect rubber sap. This is the same route I will be writing about in my Blog in the next dozen entries while cycling over the mountains and crossing the jungle in the old jeep, before going to Iquitos on the river.

The book was written as a report for the Navy and Captain Herdon told of his adventures in diary story format. The book was very popular in 1853 and 10,000 copies were printed. A guy from Iowa read the book and was inspired to travel down the Mississippi to New Orleans and get on a boat headed for Brazil. The guy wanted to experience life on the Amazon and rivers. When he couldn't find a boat going to Brazil he returned north on the Mississippi. He had some good adventures on the Mississippi and decided to write some stories about the river. This guy was Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain. Just think if he hadn't read this book. I was equally inspired while reading it.

If you want to get a copy, it cost about $15 on

Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon
By William Lewis Herdon

Edited by Gary Kindler

This edition was printed in the Year 2000

Published by Grover Press
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

It is easy to read, but probably more meaningful if you can find a good map of Peru to follow along since the book doesn't have many maps included.

I hope you enjoy my following Blog stories. Disregard the Blog time code dates because most of the these events happened last year and I only got around to writing them down recently. I will continue to add more stories in the months ahead as I have time to write more adventures in Peru.

To contact Lon by e-mail use:


Monday, February 05, 2007

It's All About the Bike


I have cycled in Peru seven times. Three times were on my foldable Bike Friday. I had done ten day out and back rides over the mountains and left my bike case at my base hotel. One time my wife, Susan Notorangelo and I rode point to point across Peru with our Bike Fridays and our bike cases converted into a 40 pound trailer to carry our gear. This was the ideal way to fly into a remote airport, then cycle for a week, and then pack everything up and fly home from another remote airport.

My other bike tours in Peru were on old mountain bikes I scavenged from flea markets or had around the house. I would ride them point to point across the country and then give them away to some kid at the end of my tour. Since these bikes were treated as somewhat disposable I didn’t want to put a lot of money into fixing them up. My rule was to only spend $100 on new tires, chains and cables. This is the type of bike I was using on this tour into the most remote areas of the jungle I had traveled on any of my tours so far.

I needed a bike that could withstand the abuse of loaded touring and be maintenance free. Much of my route would include miles of rough roads across isolated areas. I had to be able to repair my bike with a pocket full of tools or whatever I could find along the road. I had been rebuilding my 27 year old mountain bike with other used but more reliable parts. Just a few more pieces and I would have my Amazon Touring Bike ready to go. This was one of the first bikes of that type imported into the United States in 1980. It had been my faithful commuter bike for at least 3,000 trips to the post office over the years. This trip to the Amazon Rain Forest would be our last ride together. When I reached the end of my tour I was going to leave my bike with some teenage boys I know in Peru.

To make my bike as new and roadworthy as possible I took it to the motorcycle painter for a $40 paint job. When the painter sandblasted the frame, he found a small crack in the seat tube. Probably rust from the salty Wisconsin winters. It could have been cracked for ten years and I would not have known. I didn’t want to spend anymore money on welding repairs. To fix it, I coated a slightly oversized piece of aluminum seat post with epoxy and pounded it down the seat tube far enough overlap the crack. When the epoxy oozed from the broken tube and dried I knew it had a strong joint.

All the rest of the parts were vintages replacements. The only new parts were the tires, rear cog and the chain. I only had seven gears in the back and one small 38 tooth chainring up front. I was more concerned with going up the Andes Mountains than going down. I made some new yellow PAC Tour decals to go with the new red paint job. This old bike actually looked pretty sharp and I still liked the way it rode.

I was carrying all my gear in the canvas saddlebags I got in Holland last summer. I was packing pretty light. Just a button shirt, nylon pants, fleece jacket, windbreaker, hat and gloves. I wore lightweight hiking shoes and wool socks. I had cycling shorts under my baggy hiking shorts. All my clothes could be rinsed in the shower or river and would dry quickly. I carried a tape recorder in my shirt pocket and a notebook and camera in my saddlebags. With my dark sun tan and baggy clothes I almost looked like a local Indian when I wasn’t on the bike. When I was riding I wore a yellow and black helmet which told everyone I was a gringo tourist. Since I planned to sleep in hotels I didn’t bring a tent. I did carry a small sleeping bag and a ground pad in case the beds weren’t the best.

I was looking forward to getting started on my tour. I never know what to expect on these adventures. The only thing familar was my old mountain bike from 1980. I am glad I could ride it one more time on a memorable tour.

To contact Lon by e-mail use: