Chad, the Cross-Country Googler Prank

On August 8th of 2001, I noticed a new link on the barren expanse of Chad, one of their software engineers was riding his bike across the US and they were soliciting photographs of him in the act. They were offering a bribe of google gear for anyone that sent them a photo.

Eager to win the favor of these new internet superstars, I wanted to snap a photo, but was disappointed to find that Chad was already way out in Arkansas.

I decided to fake it.

I rushed home from work and set about cooking up a fake google bike jersey. Iron-on T-Shirt printouts did not work well with the polyester jersey, so I had to settle with a cotton T-shirt. I had a road bicycle already, and a helmet like Chad's.

With only an hour and a half of daylight, Brooke and I scoured Davis, CA for potential Chad moments. We got about 13 photos, including a great one of faux-Chad getting on a train and one of faux-Chad getting handcuffed.

The next day I spammed my friends across the country to submit these photos, claiming to have spotted Chad in some strange situation. The response was fantastic. Everyone wanted to help! In fact, I had to get even more photos the next day just to fill the orders.

Over the course of three days, the following stories and photos were submitted to Google's "chad photos" email address:
photo 114: Chad borrowing flowers
Assigned to Kizzy

She wrote:
Dear Google,

I was on my way to school the other day when I saw this guy in a Google shirt riding past. I remembered hearing something about a contest or something about taking a picture of a guy riding across America. I didn't want to startle the guy so instead of yelling out at him I just started running after him. I guess that was the wrong thing to do because he went from a leisurely cruz to really riding fast! At this point I wanted to let him know that I wasn't some sort of freak , so I started yelling "Hey Google guy!" "Hey Google guy, let me take your picture!" At this point he turned around and sort of lost his balance. Then he swerved off the road and almost bit it! I felt so bad that I started running again so I could apologize to him. He saw me running after him as he had stopped riding and gotten off his bicycle. Then he surprised me by yelling obscenities at me! I guess he was pretty pissed off 'cause he was swearing like a sailor! By the time I got to him he had started over this fence and I quickly snapped this picture.I was sort of scared of him by then but I wanted to take a picture to document what happened and also send it with an apology. I am sorry Chad! I did not mean to freak you out man!

Sincerely, Miss Cleveland
photo 119: Chad takes a nap in the park
Assigned to Holly F.

She wrote:
I recently spotted Chad on his long trek across the country. I was on vacation in Arkansas, visiting my friend who happens to sell headstones (gravestones). Well, he took me to his lot one evening so I could take photos for his website (he's going to venture online with his sales!). We were looking around for a particular headstone when we happened upon a young man, sleeping! I took an incriminating photo of him snoozing amongst the granite markers. We woke him up and asked him to explain why he was trespassing and he politely apologized told us about his journey to Florida. We were both astonished! He has really traveled quite far and we don't blame him for being exhausted! We shared a few stories and then he was on his way.

Enclosed is the photo I snapped of him and I want you to send him a big "Congratulations!" at the finish line from Holly and Rick in Arkansas.
Thank you!

photo 122: Chad borrows some fresh socks
Assigned to Ben C.
He wrote


I saw Chad when i was on vacation in Florida visiting a couple of my friends. I was in the laundry mat when i saw some guy in a Google shirt ride up, come in, and went straight to this dryer and took a pair of socks. I figured his wife was doing the laundry and he just needed a pair of clean socks, it smelled kinda like he needed a shower as well. But upon returning home and going to Google to look for something, I found it was your man Chad. So here is the picture of him getting some fresh socks.
Ben Clark

google gear should be sent to...

photo 108: Chad tries on a better helmet
Assigned to Leila

She wrote

Hi! Ok, I just have to confess to you guys that Chad does not know I'm doing this. In fact he actually didn't even want to tell me anything about himself, but I saw that his shirt said Google so I went to Google to see if there was an employees page and there was this entire section on Chad! I know he wouldn't want me to tell you this.. but I just have to get the Google wardrobe. Don't tell him I told you, ok?

Anyway, last weekend I was visiting Tulsa with my kids (my husband was off on some fishing trip so I thought I'd take them home to see grandma) when we stopped at Burger King for some refreshment. There was this guy slumped over in one of the booths in full biker gear. I was really worried about him, so I sat the kids down to dip their fries in their chocolate milk shakes and went over to see if the guy was suffering from a heart attack.

Turns out he was ok, just really exhausted. For some crazy reason he'd decided to bike from California to Florida! Doesn't he know we have trains now? Anyway, I gave him some milk shake and he seemed to perk up a bit. While my kids were pulling each other's hair out across the restaurant (well, Ralph was pulling Kristie's hair.. Ralph doesn't have much hair since he shaved his head and his eyebrows with his dad's electric razor) Chad and I talked about our lives, our hopes, our dreams. Now I've never cheated on my husband before, never in my life. But there was something about Chad. To make a long story short, we stuck into the women's bathroom at Burger King, and there gave each other the most beautiful kiss of my life.

Chad decided to take a break from riding and spend some time hanging out with me and the kids. We showed him around Tulsa, where he'd never been before. He even went toy shopping with us! I've attached a picture of him shopping for a new helmet. I offered to buy it for him, but he muttered something about the guys at the office making fun of him. Honestly! How would they ever know?

Unfortunately the afternoon turned to evening and I knew grandma would start worrying about us. I asked Chad if he'd like to spend the weekend with us in Tulsa, but he said he had to keep moving so that he could see his family in Florida. So with that, I parted from my soul mate and watched him ride away on his little bicycle. We agreed not to share any information about ourselves, especially because we live in the same area. If my husband ever found out..

I hope I can trust you to keep this story private. Just mail my gear to the address below. And please, please be good to Chad.


photo 109: Chad tends to his foot
Assigned to Larry Miller
He wrote

Dear Googlers

I was out at the cemetery last week visiting mom. It's not that far of a walk. She has been gone now for several years but we still talk weekly. Somehow I feel that she appreciates it and I know I do. That is the Panama City municipal cemetery, not the Catholic cemetery nor the colored cemetery out toward Pretty Bayou.

On my way out of the cemetery, after our chat, I saw this man in a Google t-shirt sitting on a bus bench worrying at his foot. Since Google is my favorite search engine I talked to him. His name was Chad and he said he was nearing the end of cross country bike trip. He was pleasant enough for an engineer.

I am a little worried about Chad. He seemed exhausted and thinner than he should be. I am not sure he was ready for the humidity and the gators. He was, however, quite enthusiastic about our cheeseburgers. Anyway, I did have my camera with me as the cemetery is quite lovely. I snapped a shot of Chad while he was working on that foot. I hope the foot held up and that he made it to his family safely.

Best wishes to your company and to Chad
Larry Miller

photo 106: Chad test markets the mission statement
Assigned to Jen T.

She wrote:

Hey Google,
Finally I get to participate in a groundbreaking event. Luckily I read all about Chad's big adventure before my company trip to Colorado. As a member of the Discovery Channel, I actively seek exciting new challenges, and riding across the Monarch Pass proved to be a worthwhile one. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the rainbow Google logo standing only ten feet from where my co-workers and I had stopped to rest. Elevation getting to you, Chad?

photo 30: Chad relaxes at the pool
Assigned to Christina C.

She wrote:
Hey You Guys!

We met the google cycle guy!
If he is checking his email, tell him he can't skinny dip in Mississippi the way he might in California. Next time he could get into trouble. After Cherlyne and I got him a map, I think he found his way out of town. Cherlyne said she'd never forget him.

I wanted to send the better photo where he waved,(he had his clothes on)
but I messed up. I just got this digital camera.

Tell him Cherlyne said hi.
Calhoun, MS

photo 67: Chad goes shopping
Assigned to Morgan S.

He wrote:

My wife and I were driving through Kansas to get to her High School reunion (She was a foreign exchange student in CofeeVille of all places) and I swear we saw Chad. I didn't ask him if it was him, and my wife didn't know what the heck I was talking about, but after we stopped at a gas station outside of Alexander, I got my wife to snap a pic of him with our digital camera. That's me on the side pointing to him. (I tried to cut myself out in PhotoShop.) I actually got some pictures of him on the road too, but they were kind of blurry as I shot them out of a moving car.

It was kind of windy that day, and hot. My wife thought he was crazy to be out in the middle of no-where like that with all that gear. It was right at the beginning of Aug, the reunion was on the 4th, so it was probably like 1st or the 2cd.

Anyway, good luck Chad!

-Morgan & Tomoko Schramm
Portland, OR
photo 38: Chad makes a pit stop
Assigned to Brandi W.

She wrote:

I'm a regular Goggle searcher & I just love it!
I was so excited to see Chad in our little town - we don't get many celebrities way out here in Westminster.
I didn't get to talk to him, but did snap this picture of him
as he headed back to his bike....

photo 40: Chad replaces his wheel
Assigned to Jamie H.

He wrote:
hi! i just got this developed and wanted to mail it to you. i was recently visiting a friend in nevada, and we were returning to his apartment after dinner one evening, and we saw this man he didn't recognize in the complex's lobby. we were just about to ask him what he was doing when i recognized him from your website! (which i use *all* the time, by the way. it's great!) i had my camera on me (i *always* do when i travel) so i took a "candid" photo of him before walking up and introducing myself. i'm not quite certain what he was doing with that other bike in the photo -- but anyway, we chatted for a minute and he was very nice. here's the photo!
if you want to send me something, my address is:....

photo 42: Chad looks for power bars
Assigned to Steegie
He wrote:
Dear Google,

The other night I heard some rustling out by the garbage cans. I assumed it was the racoons again, so you could imagine how surprised I was to see a weird man in a shirt that said Google on it, routing through my trash. The man was sweaty and was muttering "need... more... power... must.. find... power... bars." I offered him some iced tea, but he rudely responded with a feral hiss. My wife happens to make really good iced tea. So what's his problem?

I didn't even know what a Google was. My nephew had to explain it to me. He's good with the computers. I snapped the enclosed picture just before the guy rode off with a handful of orange rinds and a used coffee filter, giggling to himself. My nephew instructed me to email the photo to you.

Ralph Schlammeuss
Austin, NV

photo 44: Chad finds some corn dogs
Assigned to Tim P.
He wrote on my advice:

I was in New Mexico, at a rest stop, when I saw this otherwise, young healthy-looking guy digging in the trash. Maybe he needed something to fix his tires, but I hope he was OK, Later, when I got home, I saw your announcement on (love the site!) and I thought this might be your engineer Chad. Anyway, I think that is really great that he is riding so far just to help out his family.

photo 47: Chad gets hit by a Volvo
Assigned to Daniel

He wrote:
Hey! So I was visiting friends in Pueblo CO, and we were out drinking
downtown when were hear this sceech and , we run outside and this
cyclist has been hit by a car! I took some photos in case he wanted proof.

Turns out he was alright, and after a few stern words to the hippy girl
driving the Volvo, he rode off. I wondered why he was wearing a Google

Then today I see that it was Chad from 'the only search engine'! So,
here's the photo. I'm sorry it was from such a low point on his trip, but
I guess he must have been okay!


photo 49: Chad takes a break
Assigned to Susan C.

She wrote:
I said I saw him in Little Rock.
& that he sure looked tired.

ha ha ha ha
photo 52: Chad fills his water bottle
Assigned to Jun F.
She wrote:
Well about a week or so ago I was taking pictures of my friends at a bar in CO, and we left out the back alley exit and saw this biker with a google shirt doing something in the alley. I am a regular user of your site so I remembered that we are supposed to take pictures of this guy, so I ran up to him and took a close up. He quickly hid what he was doing and I didn't really get a good look until I got the pictures developed. So here it is!

photo 60: Chad is mischevious
Assigned to Peter .fi

He wrote:
Hello !

I just got back from visiting relatives in USA and to make a long story short I visited one of my cousins and his family in Milford. I stayed for two weeks there and when it was time for me to start my journey back, my brother's oldest son Dave drove me to the train station. We got there a bit early so we stood at the platform by the tracks talking while waiting for my Amtrak ride. Suddenly Dave whispers "Hey look at that guy over there!", I looked in the direction where he was pointing and saw a guy bent down over the tracks. It was too dark to tell exactly what he was doing but of course this looked very strange Even for Milford. I told Dave that we should try to get a bit closer so I could snap a photo of this odd person (usually such photos are a success when they're passed around at the coffetable at my work in a Finnish IT start-up company so I didn't want to miss this opportunity). We managed to move in closer and shot a photo (attached with this e-mail), we obviously cought him off-guard because he quickly disappeared on his bike before we got a chance to ask him what he was doing. We got down and inspected the tracks ourselves to try to find out what this mystery man was doing but we didn't see anything special and I remember that this made me feel very uncomfortable. Anyway, I went home to Finland and forgot all about it until I developed the photos and noticed the Google t-shirt. I was thrilled when I visited your site and read the "One bike. One googler"-story about Chad. Is the guy on the photo only some delerious local nutcase or is it Chad? And in that case what the heck was he doing at the railroad tracks that night 25th of July in Milford? Please get back to me soon.

Kind regards,

Peter xxxxxxxx
photo 61: Chad runs for a freight train
Assigned to John E.
He wrote
I spotted Chad and found his activities very questionable..
photo 64: Chad catches Amtrak
Assigned to Cardhouse
He wrote

Hi, I saw your page about Chad biking across the USA and I thought that was pretty neat....later that week I was getting off an Amtrak stop in Peublo (or is it "Peublo"??) Colorado and I saw someone who looked like "Chad" so I took a picture. I donut understand why he is putting the bike on the train, I thought he was going to bicycle all the way? That's how it appears on the page, because there are many miles for each day that is of the biking type, at least, it seems apparent that it is. If he was just tired or sick I guess that would explain things, but what was also more confusing than that was that he was going West, which is the opposite way from Florida, or towards Florida, the opposite of that. So maybe it wasn't Chad, but it sure did look like him, I'm sure of it now. I can see his Chad-like face. I can see it.


PS please send my stuff to

Jeff Stendec...

Thank you kindly. Also I live in the California "Bay Area" area so if you need someone to help you with your website I would like to. Also your google entries don't have dates on them, why is that? It makes things much harder.

photo 65: Chad meets the locals
Assigned to Ada E.
She wrote
Hi Google!!

I live in Oregon, but when I went down to stay with my friends, the Sanchez's in Rico, CO I went on a ride-along with my friend Mickie (Miguel) Sanchez as he did his graveyard stint patrolling. We saw this biker heading down the highway without a headlight on. For safety reasons, Mickie pulled him over. Since a drunk guy puked in the back of the car earlier, Mickie asked if he could cuff him until the warrant check came back on the radio. He was very nice and cooperative. I snapped my last picture on my roll of film. When the check came back clean, Chad told us the story! I was so disappointed that I didn't get a better one of him, but it's still a nice thing to remember! So here's my picture of Chad!!

My address is....

I would like to thank everyone (19 people) that did such a great job composing these, some of which are real masterpieces. I couldn't have imagined a better range of locations and situations! I would also like to thank everyone that volunteered to help, but was short-changed a photo. I certainly never expected to get such a response.

Oh, I almost forgot to thank Brooke and Ambur for photographing the whole ordeal (nearly 3300 miles).

I never even got on the bike!


About 9 days after Chad finished his epic ride, I wrote the folks at Google & took credit for it. They loved it! I got to chat with Chad over email, and to Google's Director of Marketing. They wanted to reward us, so they sent me a great big box of Google T-shirts & Google boxer shorts for everyone! They also sent me a genuine Google bike jersey! It is excellent!
What a bunch of good sports!

You can see my black Google shirt in the How much is inside a print cartridge page.

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