Some people fly when they want to explore the world. Swedish cyclist Johannes Mattisson prefers his bicycle.

Mattisson is in the midst of an 1,800 mile bike ride from Chicago to New Orleans. This week, he returned to West Virginia to visit Salem International, a place he holds close to his heart. 

JOHANNES MATTISSON: “Salem had a positive impact on my life,” said Mattisson, who graduated Salem College in 1987. “It probably changed who I am today, so I’m proud of being back here.”

Mattisson studied business administration and English on a campus more than 4,000 miles away from his hometown of Eskilstuna, Sweden. Thirty years later, he’s back in West Virginia, taking in the sights he missed.

“I didn’t have time to explore the nature and the country and the people and the interesting spots, so now I have a chance when I go with my bicycle,” said Mattisson.

He’s also back to relive an important time in his life. At Salem, he met his wife, Angel.

“We met in the library, and I started approaching her and we started chatting a little bit, and then we were hanging out together in the afternoons and eating lunch together, and from there, it went on,” said Mattisson.

Mattisson will bike south to Charleston before continuing his tour to Louisiana. He said he wants to experience culture and good music in cities like Nashville along the way.

He did a similar ride along the east coast two summers ago, because he wants to see as much of the world as possible, and he wants to make a difference in the lives of the people he meets.

“The purpose of what I’m doing is in talking to people,” said Mattisson. “I’m trying to tell them that even if you’re in the middle of a career, you have the opportunity to fulfill your dreams. My example is one you can do, even if you’re in the middle of a career.”