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Ron and I started biking for exercise after Ron had a heart attack in 1986. We loved jumping on our bikes after work for a ride around the nearby lake. We rode nearly every spring, summer and fall day. Then we joined the local bicycle group which had organized rides almost every day of the week. There were rides for every kind of biker from the hot shots who liked to bike 50 miles before breakfast to the slow family rides which would only cover a distance of six to nine miles. We rode in the middle group and thoroughly enjoyed  a 25 mile ride at about 12 miles per hour. The rides were always interesting because we rode to a place to eat then back. We especially liked one early morning ride that went to a nice restaurant. We would all order oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar and home made toast with peanut butter. When you bike a lot you can eat more. I have never seen a biker pass up an ice cream stop. Biking was a big part of our life so when we decided to go full-timing we included our bikes.

I had always dreamed of a long bike ride. I wanted to go from somewhere to somewhere and have to get there by my own pedal power. I got the idea from my oldest son, Mark, who biked from Los Angeles to Boston in 1986. I thought it would be fun to bike from Washington State to Florida but I really didn't want to be out there alone and the idea was too crazy for anyone to join me.

At the time we started full timing my youngest son, Jim, and his family were living near the east coast of England. We decided that even though we were full timing we should give ourselves a retirement present and take our bicycles to England for a two part vacation. We would visit the family then bike across England, Wales and Ireland. So in mid June of 1989 we left Michigan for the best trip of my life. The week long family visit was great and it allowed us to get used to riding on the left side of the road. For our biking trip we cycled from Felixstowe (eastern England) through England and Wales then took a ferry to Ireland and biked different parts there ending up at the airport in Shannon for our flight home. We went at a leisurely pace taking five full weeks to cover 950 miles. 

We loved that trip so much that we decided to take our bikes to England again in 1992. We had new grandchildren to see there so we again spent one week just visiting then we took off covering a different area of England. Again it was wonderful. We loved the Bed and Breakfasts, the people, the history (lots and lots of that), the little towns, the food, and the exercise.

We have biked a lot in the New England states---primarily New York and Vermont but our trips were always circle rides where we left the motorhome or truck and ended back where we started. I wanted to bike to get somewhere again. My friend Cec Conway said she would go with me if I planned the trip. Judy (Cec's partner) said she would pull their motorhome down the road each day we biked and Ron said he would do the same. But picking a place to bike was complicated (too many mountains, too much wind and so on). Judy suggested Iowa. That sounded good to me. Iowa doesn't have mountain ranges and has a lot of nice rolling hills and open country. So we made plans to bike Iowa's Route 3 from Akron to Sageville. I plotted the daily rides so we would end in or near a town. Cec and I would start out each morning knowing where we were going and some time after we left Ron and Judy would get the motorhomes ready to roll and they would start out. They would pass us and continue to the town ahead, find the campground and set up to wait for us to arrive. We would average about 30 miles per day and planned for the trip to take 10 days. I was excited and so was Cec. I expected a nice leisurely trip like our England trip.

But it wasn't like my trips in England or even the biking we did in the midwest or New England. There were no little towns to bike through. There were few houses. All we had to look at was corn, beans, hills and a smattering of farm houses. What it ended up being was a serious bike ride each day just for the exercise. Cec expected that and wasn't disappointed while I expected that there would be more to see. The only interesting sights were seen when we entered or left each town that we stayed at. The people we met in the towns were wonderful and we had fun in each town once we got there and showered but the ride itself was just 3-4 hours of pedaling in less than ideal conditions. The wind didn't come from the west as we expected; it blew from the southeast and was sometimes so strong we had to fight to stay upright on the bike. Sometimes we had to bike into 25 mile per hour winds. And the hills were tough. After biking 273 miles I quit just 54 miles from the end of the trip but Cec made it to the end. Stronger winds and severe thunderstorms were predicted and I really didn't want to bike in those conditions. To see the pictures and read the full story please go to our September What's New page.
 

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