Miles of Portraits

Miles of Portraits

14 June 2018

Photos and Words by Annalisa

Traveling by bicycle is a great way to get to know a place. For Annalisa van den Bergh, it’s also a great way to get to know people. In 2017, together with friend Erik Douds, Annalisa cycled across America, chatting with and taking photos of the people they met along the way. Now they have their sights set on another adventure. Having covered the contiguous US, the pair is headed to Alaska to discover the roads, people and culture that make up America’s biggest state. Annalisa shared with Far Ride a few stories from their many Miles of Portraits.

2_Portrait Compilation

There's something about riding a loaded touring bicycle that causes complete strangers to tell you their life story.

Last summer, inspired by a previous cross-country bike trip, I rode 4,300 miles across the TransAmerica trail and took pictures of the people I met along the way. In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it was refreshing to experience firsthand the generosity and warmth that fills America. My portraits were almost entirely based on chance. They were mostly of the people who approached me rather than the other way around. I was this outsider, riding an 87-pound bike. People asked me my life story, so I turned the question around on them.



Richard Ewart
(Location: Judson, KY)

Out of nowhere, a cyclist rest stop complete with ice water, snacks, bike tools, and face wipes put up by good Samaritans, made my day. Blissfully refreshed, I rode out of it only to bump into Richard, one of the angels behind it. "My wife Donna does most of the work; my job is to put out the ice water."


The Wolthuis Family
(Location: Bendavis, MO)

The Wolthuis family, owners of the Ben Davis Store, has nearly blue eyes all-around. Alannah, the one in the Minnie Mouse dress was a true kid and asked me every possible question about my bike trip. James, in yellow, frequently rings up customers and has taken charge of the cyclist guest book.


Kitty Barks
(Location: Jackson, MT)

Kitty Barks has come a long way. She's gone from living in her car to finding an apartment and landing a job at the post office. She married into her last name and kept it when she got divorced — because how could you not?


Bruce and Ben Anderson
(Location: Missoula, MT)

Bruce, his son, and a bunch of tenants live in a big house in Missoula. He’s famous on Warmshowers for opening up his mansion to as many cyclists as can fit inside. You can stay as long as you want but if you stay longer than 30 days, he asks that you start paying rent.