Super Senior: William van de Kamp

Published: Sep. 5, 2019 at 1:51 PM EDT
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William van de Kamp has been on a journey much of his life. He was born in Europe and schooled in both Brazil and the U.S. He even spent time in the Air Force stationed in England. But now his world is the back roads of Lamoille County.

"I felt so good on a bike, it was so much fun," van de Kamp said. "And I'm still at it. I love it. I go about 30 miles a day."

Climbing the hills is his favorite part of the ride. "I would get bored silly just riding on the flats," he said. Plus, I love the challenge of climbing a hill and seeing how well you can do."

But what's even more remarkable his his age.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You're 86 huh?

William van de Kamp: Yes. I still can't get over that myself.

He took on a beast of mountain in his 40s -- The Mount Washington Hill Climb. He came in third. "It was a difficult ascent," he recalled.

Van de Kamp has become a fixture in the local area. Michelle Holton sees him on the roads, but just in passing. "I want to shake your hand -- being 86 and still biking. I hope I can do that," Holton said. Your so fit!"

"It's not a natural phenomena. I really work to keep fit," van de Kamp said.

Coasting through life isn't in William's DNA. "I love the challenge," he said. The biggest challenge of his life happened 15 years ago in Morrisville. "I was just finishing my ride, booking pretty fast down the hill."

That's when a driver decided to turn. Van de Kamp hit the car at full speed and hurled over the hood. "Broke pretty much everything in my body," he said.

He spent months in a nursing home recovering and wondering if his bicycling days were over. It was his low point in life, but van de Kamp had a goal. "It's too much part of me. I have to be able to ride the bike," he said.

With strength training and rehab he took his first major bike ride back at the scene of the accident. "You know the saying, if you get kicked off the horse, get back on," he said.

At 145 pounds and not an ounce of fat, van de Kamp feels he's in better shape now than before the crash.

Reporter Joe Carroll: As you get older, do you value your days more?

William van de Kamp: Oh yeah, I love everyday. I look forward to everyday.

Back on the road though, his enthusiasm is temporarily deflated by a blown back tire. "That slowed me down. I've been riding on my rear for the last mile and-a-half," van de Kamp said.

A challenging journey's end, but tomorrow he'll be back in the saddle again. "It's my passion. It's my whole life. It's what I do for everyday," he said.

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