For two sisters-in-law, a simple bike ride to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone turned into a 3,000 mile trip across the United States.
More than 15 years ago, Jan Erickson of Redwood Falls and her sister-in-law Peggy Rabe of Motley went on a bike ride.
“We rode eight miles into Motley for a Dairy Queen treat,” Erickson said. “Then we rode back.”
Feeling pretty good after that 16-mile round trip the pair decided to increase their biking mileage by entering the annual TRAM event.
Over the years the pair has done several other rides that offered some distance, but nothing compared to what the cycling enthusiasts are currently doing.
Starting in late February, the two women, one in her 60s and the other in her 70s, began a 3,000 mile trip across the United States.
“We had talked to others who had done it and found out there were places where maps were available you could use to plan a trip,” said Erickson.
Wanting to wait until she retired, Erickson put off the trip until this year, and even though she is currently in semi-retirement, Erickson decided now was the time.
So, the two left California heading east for their destination in Florida – starting at the Pacific Ocean and planning to end their ride at the Atlantic Ocean.
Erickson and Rabe talked about their task during a recent stop in Texas after a day of riding.
Each day they start by about 9 a.m. and ride for about eight hours getting as far as that takes them.
Erickson said they had been riding about 30-35 miles per day, but as they move away from the mountains and across Texas the hope is to increase that to 50 miles or more.
“The mountains were horrific,” Erickson admitted, adding there was one area which was so steep they got off their bikes to avoid potential incidents.
The only real mishaps they have encountered are flat tires, and Rabe’s husband, Adolph, who is also Erickson’s brother, is along to help with those.
He drives the Airstream camper along the same path.
“Adolph bought an Airstream camper when we started seriously talking about doing this,” said Erickson, adding it has been great having him along.
“The scenery has been beautiful,” said Erickson. “We both fell in love with New Mexico. The winds have been hard, because we have been facing headwinds every day.”
The two planned the trip for February, because it offered them the most ideal conditions, but that has not always been the case. In fact the trip was stopped for two days as they waited out a snowstorm.
As they ride, much of their path is along back roads rather than on the busier roadways, although every once in a while they do have to get on major roadways.
They receive lots of friendly greetings, although a couple of dogs have chased them, too.
So, why are they riding?
First of all, Rabe and Erickson are riding to prove they can do it, and with both of them now over 65 they are also using it as a way to promote being active as seniors.
The trip is called Cycling America Supporting Senior Health, and the two are keeping up a blog of their trip at www.cassh013.blogspot.com.
“We aren’t raising funds for any project,” said Peggy Rabe, adding they are just riding to show people who are 65 and older that it can be done.
While there are times when the two can ride side by side and talk to pass the time, there are other times when that can be dangerous, said Rabe. Then they ride single file with Erickson in the lead.
Both said they are having fun as they ride, and even though they have been in these states before they agree things look a lot different on a bike.