In 1976, at age 50, Derek L. Jensen of London joined the Americans on a 4,250-mile (6838-km) bicycle ride across the USA to celebrate their bicentennial. The trail from Oregon to Virginia, and the event itself, were named Bikecentennial '76. In 1982, Derek and a Dutch friend from Bikecentennial crossed South America over the Andes, from Lima, Peru, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Two years later he rode his bicycle from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Anchorage, Alaska, along a route that crossed the Arctic Circle. Mad Dogs and an Englishman is a narrative of those three arduous journeys. Derek, a gregarious Cockney, recalls chance meetings with eccentric locals and fellow cyclists, several of whom changed his life. He describes exotic locations, along with all the exhilarations and difficulties of international bicycle touring. The title refers to a dangerous encounter in a remote setting on one of the tours.
Derek Jensen (a pseudonym) was born in London in 1926, within three weeks of a princess named Elizabeth. At the age of 17* years, he falsified his age to volunteer in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm during the 2nd World War. Returning to civilian life in 1947 he, like many others, sought service life companionship by joining a club. His choice was the Becontree Wheelers Cycling Club in London. Married with two children and working for a national newspaper, he maintained an active interest in cycling and club life. In 1974, the club celebrated its Golden Jubilee year with a ride from Land's End at the southwestern tip of England to John O'Groats in northeastern Scotland, which Derek organised and took part in. This was completed in one week, and the scene was set for more adventurous journeys.
Derek's bicycle adventures include the 4,250-mile (6838-km) Bikecentennial '76 tour across the United States, an unaccompanied crossing of the Nevada desert and Death Valley in 1979; a 1982 attempt to cross South America over the Andes from Lima to Rio de Janeiro; and a ride from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Anchorage, Alaska, along a route that crossed the Arctic Circle. From 1987-93, the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet presented further cycling challenges. He kept a detailed journal of each tour.