Dipping the rear tire of our tandem bike in the Pacific Ocean, we left the Oregon Coast on May 25, 2016, and arrived in Yorktown, Virginia, where we dipped our front tire into Chesapeake Bay Oct. 25, 2016.
We pedaled 4,218 miles pulling a trailer. Due to an injury and some health issues before leaving, we had to get into condition as we went. It was tough, but very rewarding.
It was an amazing experience, and the best part was meeting wonderful people traveling the backroads across 10 states. America has a population of kind, generous people who are willing to extend help to complete strangers.
We were the recipients many times over. In Kansas, a lovely lady took us into her home for the night because the weather was gearing up to be horrible and there was a tornado warning. In Kentucky, a gentlemen paid for our lunch because he wanted to do something nice for us.
When we were climbing a long, steep pass in Wyoming near Dubois, a very nice couple from Michigan gave us a ride up and over the pass to get us around a large fire. Because Dubois was filled with firefighters, there was no place for us to camp, so the couple drove us into Lander, which was about 100 miles away.
Another gentlemen gave us a ride up a steep pass in extreme heat. A very generous couple in Montana took us in for 2 days because of severe lightening storms.
We enjoyed being on the backroads in nature. The scenery was spectacular and the sounds of the birds and other critters is something you don't hear while inside a vehicle.
Being on a bicycle does make you vulnerable, though. While riding through Yellowstone National Park, we came face to face with a large bison on the road. Another time, while riding up a mountain pass, we looked over and saw a very large moose watching us. We were able to avoid confrontations by walking alongside a motorhome in Yellowstone, and just quietly moving beyond the moose, as there were no vehicles at that time.
While going up very steep mountain roads, we would stop to rest and take a break. It is impossible to count the number of people who stopped to be sure we had enough water or that we were OK. One couple stopped to check on us on a hot, humid day and invited us to their house to pitch our tent and supplied us with cold water and a hot shower.
The scenery may have changed from mountains to plains, but the one constant was that there was "niceness everywhere."
For complete details of our journey, go to crazyguyonabike.com/doc/annieandgail
— Gail and Annie Schweizer have been married for 44 years and live in Medford.