How it's Going


And Now for our Reflections and Acknowledgements

First from Pat,

So, our “event of a lifetime” is now behind us and I have had some time to pause, look back and reflect over what we just did. The first thing that comes to mind is, Wow, what an accomplishment, we did it! We traveled some 3,000 miles, across 14 states, from Seattle to Washington, DC on our bicycles! And, we did all that with our own legs, all the way.  Self-powered. I must say that I am quite proud of that. 

Another reflection is, what a diverse and beautiful country we live in. We got to see Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Great Lakes, the Midwest and the Appalachians. We traveled through deserts, forests, corn fields, soybean fields, and dairy farms. We experienced several cities, including Seattle, Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC., and countless cute small towns, too many to mention. We also crossed over or cycled along dozens of rivers, including the Columbia, the Missouri, the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Potomac. There is great diversity to see out there and I am happy that I got to see it at ten miles per hour.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this trip restored my faith in humanity. With so much focus on negativity nowadays, I learned that the vast majority of people out there are indeed friendly and want to help. And it doesn’t matter where they live, what they do for work or what they have experienced in their backgrounds. On many occasions during this journey, when we really needed assistance, someone always showed up to give us a ride, provide us with water, lend us a hand on a repair or offer some other kind of help. This was very gratifying. I was also astounded by the daily curiosity and interest that total strangers showed in what we were doing. Some even took us out to dinner.  We have made some new friendships all across this country. I really didn’t expect all of this generosity when I started this trip.


First, I would like to thank my wife, Shevonne, for coming up with the idea of doing this trip. Frankly, I don’t know if I would have come up with the concept on my own.Secondly, I would like to thank my employer, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., for allowing me to take a three-month leave of absence to take this journey and wanting me to come back to work after I finished the trip.

I also want to thank my brother-in-law, David Morganwalp, for providing guidance on what we would need for equipment and gear and to Jill, my sister-in-law for dropping us off at Union Station in Washington D.C. for our train trip west and picking us up in front of the US Capitol on the other end of our cycling trip and toasting us with champagne.

I also need to give out a shout to my sister-in-law, Leah Wilder, for picking us up and hosting us at her home in West Virginia when we ran out of rail trail and later taking us into Pittsburgh to avoid a dangerous road.

A big thank-you has to go out to all of the Warm Showers hosts that invited us into their homes, fed us, allowed us to do laundry and take a hot shower. The Warm Showers concept is awesome and we will now be hosting passing cyclists in our home through Warm Showers.

Thanks to all of our friends and neighbors here in the Mad River Valley and beyond, who warmly sent us off in June, followed our blog, eagerly awaited my Facebook posts, expressed support during the trip and gave us such an awesome welcome when we arrived back home. To this day, we are still receiving “Welcome back” greetings and that is heartwarming.

And finally, huge thanks to all of the “trail angels”, all across the country, who provided help when we really needed it.

And now from Shevonne,

The fact that an individual can pedal across our country continues to astound me. While many folks we talked with along the way indicated that they would not be able to cycle 10 miles let alone 3000 miles, for the vast majority this is probably not accurate. As we discovered, our bodies, our minds and our souls can adapt to new environments and new challenges that we present upon ourselves.

Putting our trust in others was absolutely essential for us on this journey. Our most horrific day was our fifth day into the trip, on the Army base in Washington, where we experienced miles of pushing our bikes through sand, high temperatures and then an unrelenting windstorm. Then, Bob Myrick appeared out of the blue to help us. it was then that I realized a power greater than the two of us would guide us forward and all we had to do was find the space to believe in and to trust others.

My best moments throughout this summer on wheels were those in which we made ourselves available to talk with others and listen to their stories. My life has become much richer and our connections with people now stretch across the country.

Though our family members and close friends expressed concern as to how we would endure all those days together, Pat and I discovered that we are a forceful duo when faced with the unexpected. 


To my father, Henry Walp, whose story of how he traveled from Pittsburgh to California by bicycle in the summer of 1939, lit a fire inside of me as a child and a flame that I could not extinguish until I was able to make my own cross-country journey.

To the Rails to Trails Federation for their vision and promotion of the Great American Rail Trail, that though unfinished, convinced me that this trip could be safer than I had ever imagined.

To my siblings, Jill and Leah, who housed us and listened to me when I was frantic about either a trail closure or my disastrous bicycle issues, I thank you. And to my niece, Carly, who knew exactly how to bring our Two Slowpokes on Spokes blog to life.

To my son, Ryan, who while expressing plenty of trepidation about his mother taking this on, stuck by me and listened by phone as we moved across the country. To my son, Corey, and his partner, Kyra, who shared their Iowa home for a much-needed respite and then subsequently assisted our daughter, Destyni, in moving from Arizona to Chicago for dental school.  This enabled Destyni to move without requiring any help from us.

To our friends from the Mad River Valley and Grand Isle who celebrated our leaving with a bon voyage party and then upon our return surprised us with another fabulous get together.

To everyone who read our stories on our blog, on Facebook or in the Valley Reporter and added supportive comments along the way. We appreciated it all and were thrilled that you lived vicariously through us.

To my former employer, VSBIT, and the VEHI PATH team for listening to me as I talked incessantly about this idea for over a year and for making sure I stayed relatively dry from bad weather throughout the trip.

And lastly, I want to thank Patrick, who got on board with this idea, spent hundreds of hours building an itinerary complete with maps, distances and places to stay and then carried it all in a pannier in a three-ring binder. Every time our trip needed some revamping because of unforeseen circumstances or because I was in a panic about the lack of shoulders on a road, he graciously found new routes to travel.


Cheers to all of you!!!  We shall miss writing to you all.





From the C and O Canal Towpath to the US Capitol – Tout Fin!

“I need to find a post office,” Pat said on the second day we were cycling on the C and O Towpath. Me, in my typical gullible fashion, fell for it. “What do you need to mail?” I asked, a bit irritated by his desire. Pat, has made it a point of lightening what is in his panniers throughout this trip – and we only had two days more of cycling. What could he possibly need to mail now?  “My blue jacket that I haven’t worn since the State of Washington,” he responded. And then he cracked a big smile. “Gotcha,” he said.

Last Saturday morning, we steered our bicycles toward the C and O Towpath in Cumberland, MD, which is 184.5 miles in length. Thanks to interpretive signage, we learned that on July 4, 1828, the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad began in Baltimore while at the same time the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal began in Georgetown. It was a race to see who would finish first. The railroad won opening eight years earlier than the canal did. And while the B and O railroad continued on to the Midwest, the canal threw in the towel and ended in Cumberland. According to what we read, it was George Washington who, several years earlier, recognized how valuable linking the Potomac to what eventually became Pittsburgh, would be for the new nation.

Because the canal couldn’t compete with rail in terms of speed or capacity, (after all, it relied on mules), it was nearly obsolete from the time of its opening. Bulk commodities including lumber, wheat and coal were transported on the canal as were passengers. The canal continued to operate until 1924 when a significant flood damaged it beyond repair. Over decade later, the federal government took ownership and this summer, marks the 50th anniversary of the C and O National Historical Park.

Cycling on the towpath has its share of highlights and challenges. Several miles of it are in need of resurfacing and because of this. when it rains, the mud can be overwhelming. It is the one trail wherein we might have purchased more food in advance as there is nothing nearby.  There are plenty of primitive camping sites along the way and in many sections, as you ride, you can see the railroad, canal and the Potomac River at the same time. As we cycled we passed by several locks that the canal boats once traveled through

The first night we opted to set up camp and grab a bite of something to eat at the only establishment around – Bill’s Place in Little Orleans, MD.  Bill’s Place had a 50th anniversary a few years ago and there’s a For Sale sign in front of it. In spite of the “Welcome Cyclists” banner, we felt very much out of place.  We’re not sure if that was because we arrived on bicycles rather than motorcycles or perhaps because we didn’t fit in with their usual clientele.

Back at the campground, we took a quick swim in the Potomac – the only way of showering and then hunkered down to watch the moon rise. The next morning, we were able to change it up and cycle on the 28 paved miles of the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which is right next to the towpath, through the town of Hancock to Fort Fredrick where it ends because of an active rail line.

We stopped for the night in Williamsport, MD and then on Monday, we made our way to Shepherdstown, WV, crossing over a bridge into the historic village. Shepherdstown is the home of Shepherd University and Monday was the first day of classes there. Returning to the towpath, we cycled to the bicycle parking area at the Harper’s Ferry intersection, which offers another bridge crossing, but instead of a bicycle ramp leading up to that bridge, one has to either carry their bicycle up and down multiple steps or lock it up in the provided rack.

It was fairly hot by the time we arrived, but we did our best to meander through some of the National Historic Park and spent the majority of our time inside the John Brown museum. Neither Pat nor I had ever really spent time at Harper’s Ferry and after reading everything in the museum, the question for us remains – Did John Brown truly precipitate the beginning of the Civil War?

On our last night on the towpath, we pitched our tent at the Indian Flats Hiker-Biker Campsie, about 42 miles outside of Washington, DC. This was our first experience at this type of campsite, and they are very primitive. – just a water spigot and a porta-let.  Appropriately enough, we were serenaded a few times by train whistles from the nearby railroad. In the morning, we had cold coffee in the tent and headed out on our bicycles for breakfast seven miles downstream at the historic White’s Ferry.

The next stop after breakfast was the Potomac Great Falls, where the river cascades through flumes over a series of rocks. The falls area is quite scenic and kayakers like to shoot the rapids here. An old barge boat is also docked at the lock house, which in non-pandemic times offers rides in the canal.

Three miles from the end of the C&O Canal Towpath, we cut over onto Washington DC’s Capital Crescent Trail, to stay on the Great American Rail Trail. At that trail junction, we stopped for a soda at The Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove. A local cyclist/banjo player gave us some tips on cycling in the area and shared stories about his life.

In Georgetown, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Kevin Belanger, the Manager of Trail Planning for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. This is the non-profit organization spearheading the development of the Great American Rail Trail. We had a very nice chat with Kevin and provided him with our frank assessment of the various portions of the existing segments of the trail and how the conservancy might better communicate the status of the planned nationwide rail trail.

After meeting Kevin, we had a mere four miles to go to finish our “journey of a lifetime.” Just a quick ride down the Water Street Bike Lane to the Rock Creek Trail and then the National Mall Trails. How appropriate and fitting it was that a portion of the Rock Creek Trail is being reconstructed and we had to follow yet another detour for about a mile on the city streets of DC! This included going through an intersection on Constitution Avenue with a malfunctioning traffic signal. Nobody said this would be easy.

With the detour behind us, we pushed on for the last three miles. The Rock Creek Trail fed us into the National Mall. In front of the Lincoln Memorial, we stopped to take in the view of the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool and the US Capitol in the distance.

The very last chapter of our journey involved cycling through the National Mall, past the Washington Monument to the United States Capitol. It was very thrilling to ride through this historic site where so many significant events have occurred over the past 200+ years. After dodging several pedestrians, crossing what seemed to be multiple intersecting streets and turning down offers from water vendors, we came to the pool in front of the United States Capitol. It was an incredibly emotional moment. We had finished our 77-day journey across the United States, all the way from Seattle! We succeeded!

Pat asked the first person he saw to take the final photo of our journey, in front of the US Capitol. How ironic was it that this individual was a Russian tourist visiting from Moscow! As stated before, we have definitely come to “expect the unexpected.”

Shevonne and Patrick

Stay tuned for our reflections of this epic trip  after we return to Vermont




The Great Allegheny Passage – The Icing on the Cake

It was 11 a.m. We had been stalling because of the torrential rain, but now it was time to grin and bear it. In our full rain wear (jackets, rain pants and helmet covers), which we had not used since the State of Washington, we cycled over the Smithfield Street Bridge toward Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) begins at the Point. We had been hearing rave reviews about the GAP from other cyclists since we were in Indiana. And, here we were, in my hometown, taking on the next 149 miles (a quest I never dreamed would one day be a reality).

After the obligatory photo at the fountain, we were on our way, cycling past the Steeler’s training camp, former steel mills that have been converted to other businesses, up and back over the Monongahela at the Hot Metal Bridge and past Kennywood, Pittsburgh’s amusement park, A bit farther along, we came across the fully operational West Mifflin US Steel plant.

This absolutely outstanding trail, (which having ridden on plenty this past summer gets our blue-ribbon award of excellence), was a 35-year effort that required commitments from two states, nonprofit organizations and thousands of volunteers. The vision for such a trail began in 1978 and culminated in 2013 when the last part of the trail was completed!  The GAP has a bit of everything – beginning at the confluence of three rivers in a city once known for its steel industry and boasts of over 400 bridges, through smaller towns next to the Youghiogheny River, forests, wind towers, tunnels and a 23-mile downhill ride to Cumberland, Maryland.

After riding through Homestead, we cycled through McKeesport and part of the Union Railroad to the village of Boston and then to West Newton, PA. We decided to call it a day and stayed at a unique campground that offered outdoor warm showers, a living room complete with television, and a sheltered place to pitch our tent. Just as we were in the throes of celebrating our good fortune, Pat noticed that his rear tire was flat.  Learning that there was a bicycle shop still open a half mile away, he chose to have the shop replace it.  Hey, we figured we have earned it!

As we continued through the next section of the GAP, we began bumping into more cyclists, some of whom were traveling from Cumberland to Pittsburgh and some individuals who were doing sections as morning training rides. In Connellsville, another former mining town, we took a break and then found our way back to the trail, which overlooks the Youghiogheny River for several miles. We passed through Ohiopyle, well known for its rafting excursions and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater masterpiece.

Our camping destination this time, was the Outflow Campground in Confluence, PA – managed by the Army Corp of Engineers.I was looking forward to some decent rest, as the previous night the trains through West Newton had kept me awake.  All was rosy, until around 3 a.m., when a blinding blinking light woke me up.  While I presumed, it was coming from someone’s recreational vehicle, I was sorely mistaken. Pat’s bicycle headlight had turned itself into a strobe light and regardless of how many times I attempted to shut it down, the light wasn’t having it. That night’s rain had caused a short in it. Finally, I asked for Pat’s help; ultimately, he threw it in the corner of the nearby men’s room and we both went back to sleep.  Hours later, it was still blinking.

After what has become a normal routine of putting everything back in the panniers, we cycled into the small village of Confluence and discovered the Tissue Farm coffee shop. It turned out that one of the owners, Pope, came by with his dog and we learned that he and his wife, Susan, had only opened the shop a few months ago. Previously they lived in the Seattle suburbs where Pope once worked for Microsoft.  “If you have ever played solitaire on your computer, you are welcome,” he said, laughing.  Following Microsoft, he did a stint with Burning Man and now is where they want to be next to the river and the GAP.

We also had the pleasure of conversing with Doug Tartar, who was taking a break from his earlier ride before cycling back up to his home in Fort Hill. Doug offered to ride with us until his turn-off and we took him up on it. He and his wife chose to retire in this area after living in Kentucky, because of the GAP and the pristine land.

Though the ride was a steady climb, 38 miles on a very gradual grade, there was plenty to keep to us entertained along the way: tunnels, the former Salisbury railroad viaduct, a visitor’s center at Rockwood, the Myersdale depot/museum and the Eastern Continental Divide. And on the way down the mountain we saw the Big Savage Mountain Tunnel and the Mason-Dixon Line. It was there that we had a brief history lesson; according to the signage, Mason and Dixon drew the line at the behest of two prominent British families – the Penn’s and the Calvert’s who had continued to disagree for years as to who owned what. Less than a decade later, however, all this disagreement was for naught, because of the American Revolution.

We coasted the rest of the way into Cumberland, passing the outskirts of Frostburg and then we followed alongside an active rail line, now known as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Apparently, there are special excursions that individuals can take advantage of on this railway.

We arrived at the Fairfield Inn to spend the night, thanks to a wonderful gift from our Grand Isle friends, Mick Brown and Michelle Godwin. The hotel room was outstanding – it was cool and we could see the almost full moon rise out our window. We did our laundry and there were lots of yummy items on the breakfast table. On to the C and O towpath.

Shevonne and Pat

Follow us as we spin our wheel






Revelations, Relaxation and Rolling through Rail Trails

Having grown up in the New York metropolitan area, I had absolutely no interaction with Amish people and frankly didn’t understand them. What I knew came from reading brief descriptions in textbooks or from hearing what others had to say about them. I was lead to believe that they worked on their farms in Pennsylvania, stuck to themselves and really didn’t want to interact with the “English.”

Because of our unplanned visit to Berlin, OH and the opportunity to spend an evening and the next morning visiting with Leroy and Cinda Yoder, the stereotype I have carried all these years is now history. I was honored to be invited into their home and hope that through writing letters we will be able to stay in touch with them when we return to Vermont.

On Saturday morning, Shevonne and I continued eastward on our journey, cycling through the heart of Ohio’s Amish country, which features beautiful rolling hills. With my new appreciation for the Anabaptists, I waved to every Amish and Mennonite person we encountered (in buggies and on bicycles) and every one of them waved back.

We traveled some 20 miles along US Route 62 to Navarre, where we picked up the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, part of the Great American Rail Trail. This recreation trail is not a rail trail; instead it follows a historic canal, constructed in the 1820’s, that once ran from Portsmouth, on the Ohio River, to Cleveland. Along this scenic trail in the woods, we passed several old locks, had lunch in the historic town of Bolivar and traveled through the site of Fort Laurens, the only Revolutionary War fort located in what would become the State of Ohio. Currently, the trail ends in Zoarville meaning that we had to cycle on a very busy road for ten miles to Atwood Lake, our destination. To us, it seemed as though the entire population of Ohio was camping there – it was crammed with recreational vehicles of all shapes and sizes and plenty of folks driving golf carts. I believe we may have had the only tent in the entire park. The lake is gorgeous and for the first time in months, it was superb to be invited to join our neighbor’s campfire as the temperatures significantly dropped

Our next destination was Weirton, WV (an old industrial steel city) where Shevonne’s sister, Leah, recently purchased a home that overlooks the Ohio River. We could see barges and pleasure boats traveling from our perch in her gazebo. Leah made sure we had a relaxing stay, buying our favorite foods, hosting a picnic and introducing us to the finest ribs in town.

From her home, we had a three-mile ride through Weirton to pick up the Panhandle Trail (the next section of the Great American Rail Trail). The Panhandle Trail, runs along an old rail bed from West Virginia’s panhandle to Carnegie, PA. Apparently, the former railroad transported coal from West Virginia to the steel mills around Pittsburgh. It was definitely a day when our raincoats were on and off. After 20 miles, we turned onto the Montour Trail and after another 20 miles we went from rural country to the suburbs of Pittsburgh, arriving at the Coraopolis trailhead. Thankfully we did not have to ride the last 11 miles into Pittsburgh as there is presently no safe cycling route to the city. Leah borrowed a pickup truck, found us without issue and we loaded our bicycles in the back for the last part of the day’s journey.


Follow us as we spin our wheels








When a Tree Falls from the Forest Unexpected Gifts Arrive

When the Ohio to Erie Trail ended in the town of Glenmont, we had two choices; turn left and follow the river valley to the Turkey Hollow Campground in Millersburg or turn right and climb straight up an enormous hill. According to Pat, left was our intended direction and I breathed a sigh of relief.  A few miles out of town, however, a “Road Closed” sign appeared in front of us.

We have had our share of disagreements about how to handle those signs and this time, we both decided to ignore it. That is, until the Ohio Department of Transportation personnel in their trucks told us we could not go further because of the tree that fell from the forest and knocked down the power lines with it.

“We don’t know when they will get around to shutting down the power so we can cut the tree,” one of the guys said.  “It may not happen until tomorrow. “You will need to cycle back into town and cycle up that big hill and then travel about four or five miles more and come back down on the other side of the road,” he said.

Grimacing, Pat and I turned around and cycled back to the hill to begin what seemed arduous after several days on flatter terrain. My bicycle screamed out in pain, refusing to change gears and forcing a hot walk up the hill. I wanted to chuck this bicycle in the woods for good!

At the top of the hill, I was hysterical as I saw no way forward to finish the adventure without another bicycle. I called my sister, Leah, in West Virginia  as we were heading her way in a few days. “Can I borrow your bicycle when I get to your place?” I asked.  “It has skinny tires, “Leah answered. “It won’t work on the trails.” “Then I need some kind of bicycle,” I said. “Can you get me one at Dick’s or Walmart?  She said she would call me back in a bit once she considered some different possibilities. With that, I relaxed a bit. It was possible to cycle on the downhill but each uphill climb was less than pretty. We stopped at a fun intersection – fun I thought because there was a concrete Yeti in place. We called our friend, Tom, from Illinois – after all he had gotten us out of the last jam – maybe he would have an easy solution. While we were on the phone with Tom, a gentleman in a small pickup truck came by and offered to take us to a bicycle repair shop. His truck was packed with a couch and cushions.  – “Give me a half an hour and I will be back”, he said. Then, my sister called back.  “I am buying you’ a bicycle right now,” she said. “What kind of pedals do you want?” This was all too overwhelming for me to handle. I suggested that she wait because maybe I could resolve the problem.  “No”, she said.  “I am getting you a bicycle.”

Pat and I kept on cycling up and down some hills, and true to his word, in about 30 minutes, the gentleman, named Rick, with the pick-up (named Elinor) reappeared.  I was on the fence about having him take us to a shop and Rick could sense my apprehension. “You can drive the truck if you’d like,” he said. “Is it a clutch?” I asked. “I would really like to drive a car with a clutch again as it has been some years,” “No,” Rick answered.  A bit disappointed, I then, agreed to put our bicycles in the back of the pickup and head for a repair shop.

“Elinor will get us there safely”, said Rick as the three of us crammed into a two-person pickup truck. “I don’t like to go very fast on these back roads.” While Pat shouted out the Google directions to the bicycle shop, Rick drove and told us we were now in the midst of Amish country. 

Fifteen miles later, we pulled up to the Hiland Bicycle Shop, owned by Leroy and Cinda Yoder. Leroy and Cinda are Amish and Leroy has been selling and repairing bicycles for several years. His shop and the bicycles keep multiplying and now he has a new warehouse behind the shop which is stuffed with electric assist bicycles and lots of bicycle parts. Most of the people he serves live no more than 10 miles away as members of theAmish and Mennonite communities use bicycles as their means of transportation. “Your cassette is all chewed up,” Leroy said. “I don’t have one that is the same but I can replace it with another, though it won’t be that easy to get up steep hills.”

Desperate and knowing we had a few more days before we were back on rail trails, I agreed to have him replace it and 10 minutes later I was testing it. It was now about 4:30 p.m. on Friday evening. Pat and I needed a place to camp and some food. Rick asked Leroy if there was a place we could camp on his property.  Leroy indicated that we could do so, either on his son’s property behind the shop or on his property across the road. “There’s also a place to get food about a mile and a half from here,” he said. “And if you would like, you can sleep in the shop’s warehouse tonight”. Knowing thunderstorms were brewing, we agreed to stay in the warehouse and stashed everything there. Once more, Rick took us in Elinor to the market and returned us to the Hiland Bicycle Shop.  Rick seemed thrilled to have been able to help us and he left us in good hands.

Two hours later, Leroy and Cinda stopped in to visit with us, bringing four chairs so we could sit outside and converse as the sunlight faded. We had many questions for them and they had many questions for us.As we began talking, Leroy said he had a question. “How did you happen to come to us today? And Pat answered with the following “It all began when a tree fell from the forest and blocked the road.”

And we all laughed.

We are incredibly thankful for the unexpected gifts that arrived on this fine day.

Shevonne and Pat

Follow us as we spin our wheels

The Extraordinary Trails through Dayton, London, Columbus and Mount Vernon

“You don’t live here,” said a woman as we came out of our host’s apartment in Richmond, IN. “Are you trying to break in to my son’s car? That was how our morning began. Pat didn’t take offense – he simply introduced himself and eventually all was smoothed out. Down the street, we attempted to feel a bit better with some coffee but that was peppered with an individual who proceeded to play gospel music inside the coffee house at full volume.

Because our host, Blair recommended US Route 40 as the best way to cycle, (given the wide shoulder) we followed his advice and crossed into Ohio in a few miles.

After a fairly easy 19-mile ride, we arrived at the Wolf Creek Trailhead just in time to get pounded by rain.

Then Jim, who oversees the trail, appeared in his truck, opened the garage so we could have some shelter and shared some of his bicycle touring stories. A short time later, we were back on our bicycles cycling through the outskirts of Dayton to the Miami River.

Unfortunately, the trail we then needed to cycle on was closed for construction and our only way through was up and over a long set of stairs.  We didn’t hesitate – just did it! Once we crossed the Miami River, we cycled through the University of Dayton and then into the South ParkDistrict where our Warm Showers hosts, Heath and Joyce, and their dog, Josie, reside.Heath shared a bit about Dayton’s history and how the city dug the river much deeper after a horrific flood over 100 years ago.

Our travels through Ohio have been relatively easy – paved, flat trails and lots of towns with soda foundations. As we cycled through Xenia, we discovered it is known as a bicycle hub because five trails converge in the town. And after another 30 miles on the trail, we arrived in London, OH and the primitive campsite right next to the Ohio to Erie Trail.  There we were greeted by three other cyclists, Dave (who is celebrating his 70th birthday, his daughter Katherine and her partner, Pete. They are cycling from Cincinnati to Cleveland. They are all from central Massachusetts and we found plenty of commonalities.

Though many individuals rave about this idyllic campsite, I had the opposite experience.  Between the high humidity, lack of any breeze, mosquitos, a bright white light in my eyes and the group that appeared at 1:30 a.m. to smoke weed, it was another rough night. Pat continues to sleep through everything.

Of course, the unexpected occurred during the ride the next day. First, we had to deal with a train full of hopper cars that kept moving forward and backward blocking all the cycling crossings. And then, when attempting to put my bicycle in gear to get up a hill, it faltered. Time to visit another bicycle repair shop, this time in the Short North area of Columbus, Ohio.

This time the diagnosis was that I needed a new derailleur. However, the bicycle mechanic told me that there would be no way to get one because they stopped manufacturing the type on my bicycle during the pandemic. He did a bit of tweaking, showing me how I might deal with it should it reoccur

Back on the Ohio to Erie trail, we maneuvered through the Columbus outskirts and picked up the Alum Creek Trail, a pleasant trail with winding paths and lots of bridges. We arrived in Westerville, thirsty but undecided about taking a break because the skies promised a storm coming soon. The irresistible afternoon Dr. Pepper won out, because of which we didn’t make it to our Warm Showers location before the torrential thunderstorm touched down. A gentleman motioned us into his home and we did, for the next hour.  We ventured back out – with Pat recommending to hoof it under the power lines. Three miles later we were greeted by Dave, our Warm host in Sunbury, Ohio.

After a restful night, and a chance to talk more with our host about cycling in Ohio and elsewhere, we easily cycled to Mount Vernon. As we exited the Comfort Inn, we bumped into  two local police cars in front of the motel with their engines running. Memories of the beginning of our trip outside of Seattle and the Motel Six quickly came to our minds – and once again we wondered – are we in a safe motel?

Shevonne and Pat

Follow us as we spin our wheels






Indiana Hospitality – Yes We Will Come Back Here

“Would you like some fresh pineapple?” Jerry asked.  “Sure, why not,” Pat and I responded. It was a hot muggy Indiana afternoon and that sounded exquisite. So, how did Jerry come into the picture on this particular afternoon? Would you believe that once again I had a flat tire? This time, it was right in front on his home.  With what we have been through we knew what the issue was with the tire.  So after we popped the rear wheel off once again, Pat volunteered to take it to a bicycle shop via an Uber ride. That left me hanging out in the front yard of a home and I had no idea whether I would be welcomed or told to hit the pavement.

Indiana hospitality won out. When Jerry eventually came out of his garage and found me in his driveway, with two bicycles and lots of panniers, he brought me a chair and a bottle of chilled water. Jerry, I learned, was a former ironworker who had built many of the Chicago skyscrapers until injuries stopped him cold. So now, he works on several home improvements and enjoys the company of his grown children, grandchildren and the kitties that he calls the Mighty Kitties because of the M on their foreheads.

When Pat returned with the wheel now taped so the spokes would no longer pop through, Jerry invited us for pineapple. After we had eaten in his backyard and had the wheel back on my bicycle we continued on trails and country roads into North Judson. There, we were welcomed by Betty, our Warm Showers host, her husband, Paul, and their golden retriever, Cheddar. Betty and Paul have only lived in their home for a few years and like being closer to the country. Betty makes her own medicines and is setting up an apothecary but some years ago, she was a cage fighter. (I admit that I have no idea what that means)

The next morning, our journey took us on the North Judson Erie Trail. Within the confines of this trail, there are interpretive signs for each of the planets in our solar system. They are also spaced apart in the same proportion as they are separated in outer space.

At the end of this trail we bumped into a trio who had come from Muncie and were heading to Mackinaw Island in Michigan. Unlike us, they were carrying next to nothing (dog spray on their handlebars and very small packs). They always stay indoors.

More back roads and trails filled our day. In the town of Rochester, I noticed that the elementary school parking lot was full and a crossing guard with sign in hand was standing outside. That’s right – they started school this past week. From Rochester, we cycled the Nickel Plate Trail for 21 miles to Peru. Peru is well-known for its homegrown circus and because John Dillinger robbed a bank in Peru. That said, we decided to dine at Dillinger’s restaurant – the whole place was decked out in Dillinger memorabilia.

The following day we were once again on the Nickel Plate Trail and then left it to cycle into Converse and then on trails that had been cleverly created with artistic designs and signage. Lastly, we proceeded onto the Cardinal Greenway Trail – it opened in 1998 and is the longest recreation trail in the state.

Gas City was our evening destination. And yes, Gas City was named as it was because there were once natural gas fields discovered there. Unfortunately, the knowledge as to how to manage these fields came too late and the gas disappeared quickly.

Today we rode 15 miles on roads until we were once again able to pick up the Cardinal Greenway in Gaston. We briefly visited the Cardinal Greenway headquarters in Muncie and then tackled the last 40 miles of the trail, much of which involved some climbing. We arrived in Richmond and quickly found Blair’s home, our Warm Shower’s host. Blair shouted from an upstairs window and came downstairs wearing a Michigan Friend’s t-shirt. That seemed a bit quirky but once he explained that he was a University of Michigan graduate and now in Quaker Seminary, it tied together perfectly.  Go Blue. We found commonalities on and off the bicycle buoyed by the gin and ginger beer drinks and the delicious meal of chicken, beets, hummus, cucumbers and lentils he prepared.

Tomorrow we take on Ohio.

Shevonne and Pat

Follow us as we spin our wheels



Chicago – It’s Our Kind of Town

We were within the City of Chicago when my bicycle completely caved in. Regardless of having had repairs at three different bicycle shops in Wisconsin, the chain refused to stay on and the whole bicycle was groaning. We were riding with Tom, our guide, Warm Shower’s host, bicycle mechanic and newfound friend. We met Tom and his wife, Cindy in early July back in Spearfish, South Dakota, when they too were camping.

Tom, who definitely knows his way around bicycles, diagnosed the problem as my needing to replace the free hub body – meaning a brand-new back wheel. Since we could go no farther together, we split up. Tom raced back to his home, riding 21 mph, to order and purchase a new wheel before the close of business while Pat and I tried to figure out where we might now stay in Chicago.

Spotting a police vehicle at the intersection, I wandered over.  “I am looking for place now to spend the night because my bicycle is no longer working. Do you have some suggestions?”  I asked.  “Where are you from? he asked. “Vermont,” “Then you don’t want to spend the night around this area because all the hotels are too shady. Try looking around Lincoln Park,” he said.

But I need to back up a few days first.  Our journey through the last section of Wisconsin and northern Illinois began last Sunday morning in Racine. Our plan was to meet Tom somewhere along the trail. He had caught a commuter train up to Kenosha, WI and was going to ride north while we were riding south. Tom is an avid cyclist, bicycle mechanic, and an astute trumpet player. Cindy is also an avid cyclist, musician, and works full time for All State from her home office.

After we met up, Tom took us through Kenosha, WI – (the scene of some horrific violence last summer) and then on multiple trails (some paved and some limestone covered). We stopped in Lake Bluff, first to admire the miniature outdoor railroad and then to admire the sailboats on Lake Michigan who were in the midst of a race. We cycled through the gorgeous homes and properties in Lake Forest, past the Great Lakes Naval Station and several residential streets, eventually arriving at Tom and Cindy’s home in Riverwoods situated at the end of a private road.

Cindy prepared a lovely dinner on which we feasted while reveling in the beauty of their property. Their home has a number of huge picture windows overlooking mature trees and grasslands. Tom has his own bicycle shop on the property where several bicycles hang from the rafters. Because of some noises our bicycles were making, he offered to see if he could resolve the issues.

On Tuesday morning, Tom, Pat and I headed toward Chicago, with Tom leading the way. We traveled though the city of North Brook and Pat took a spin on the Velodrome.  As we neared the city streets, my bicycle’s noises increased, It was definitely time to find a bicycle repair shop, which we did after traveling through multiple one way streets in North Chicago. One hour later, the shop mechanic assured me that the problems were fixed. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it more than one block before the chain came off once again, forcing me to return to the shop. And though the shop mechanic recognized the issue, he didn’t really offer up a solution other than to pedal while coasting.

So, as Tom raced home, Pat and I made a reservation at the Lincoln boutique Hotel (that sounded cool)– five miles away via Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. While Pat enjoyed every minute of cycling those miles, I took the pedestrian path, pushing my damaged weight heavy bicycle.

Hundreds of people whizzed by on bicycles and rollerblades. We were smitten with everything the lakefront offered – sand volleyball, kickball, softball and plenty of space for swimming. To us, the Chicago lakefront is a young person’s utopia.

Tom arrived early the next morning, new wheel and bicycle tools in hand. Success at last, Pat and I were back on the Lakefront Trail cycling past parks, museums, and piers until after seven miles, my back tire went totally flat.

Because we now have changing tires down, before long we were cycling once again, this time past part of Chicago’s Southside (Hyde Park and Jackson Park). It was then that we found ourselves in a section of Chicago next to the lake where there were roads but no people, homes or industry. We have since learned that his is where the former US Steel plant once was once situated. All plans for redevelopment here have not taken hold because of the costs involved in cleaning up the industrial waste. Shortly afterward, we crossed into Indiana and entered the city of Hammond, known for producing 20 percent of the steel in our country.

And a few miles later, we finally made it back to the trails designated on the Great American Rail Trail on the Pennsy Greenway outside of Munster, Indiana. It was time to rest up and celebrate!

Shevonne and Pat

Follow us as we spin our wheels


Saux it to me, Madison and the Necklace of Green

Over the past three days, we have cycled 135 miles further east through Wisconsin. We now find ourselves just outside of Racine, a city on Lake Michigan. The two of us have gotten spoiled by the network of Wisconsin State Trails, which crisscross the state, are very well maintained and heavily used. We have also enjoyed spending a few evenings with Wisconsin residents through the Warm Showers program.

Warm Showers is a concept where fellow cyclists agree to host travelling cyclists passing through their town. Typically, they provide you with their extra bedroom or a place to stake a tent, allow access to their bathroom and if lucky, invite you to dinner. Cyclists download the Warm Showers app and then look for hosts in towns where they plan to stay for the night.  We are told it’s all part of that “cycling karma.”

After that wild overnight in Reedsburg, we set out on Thursday for our only day in Wisconsin where we had to spend the entire time on roads. Being on roads also meant we had to deal with real hills and vehicular traffic, something we hadn’t had to do for a while. After climbing to the top of a ridge, we were graced with a long downhill and then found our way through flat terrain into Sauk City, which is on the Wisconsin River.

There we stayed with Warm Showers host, Kelly. Kelly is very animated and we had no problem carrying on a conversation with her for the entire evening. She has done plenty of cycling in Wisconsin and perhaps, has her sights set on a cross-country trip in a few more years. Kelly’s mom, Mary, was also staying there for the night and she enjoyed showing us she is the queen in a game of Yahtzee!

The following morning, we set out for Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city. After riding for a few miles in the shoulder of busy US Route 12, we were able to once again pick up a bicycle trail that took us into the outskirts of Madison.

Madison is a magical city, situated on two lakes. We saw plenty of people kayaking, sculling and water skiing. It is also an absolute Mecca for bicyclists. There are scores of bike trails throughout and designated bike lanes on many of the city’s main streets.  We saw cyclists everywhere and rode by a couple of signs that keep count of how many cyclists pass by each day. 

One, on the Southwest Commuter Path, indicated that 500+ bikers had passed by that day. Another, on the Capital City Path, stated that some 1,167 cyclists had gone by that day, and it was only 3:00 on the afternoon! While we were getting some serious bicycle repairs done at Machinery Row Bicycles, (cassettes and chains replaced) we headed over to Great Dane Brewery and enjoyed a couple of IPAs.

That evening we stayed with Aram and Polly, on the east side of Madison. Between the two of them, they have worked and traveled in Asia and Africa and are certainly keen for more adventures. Aram had prepared a Lebanese meal with hummus that is the best we have ever tasted! Their cat has an affinity for chewing on cords including cell phone and laptop cords. They have to put protection on all of their cords as did we or he will readily destroy them with his teeth.

After departing Madison, we set our sights on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which stretches 53 miles from Cottage Grove to Waukesha. Things were going great until we got to just east of Sullivan, where some tornadoes had passed through a couple of nights before. After navigating our way around a couple of blowdowns, we got to a spot which was impassible, and had to jump over to US 18 for a few miles. Eventually we were able to rejoin the Glacial Drumlin Trail and rode it from Dousman into Waukesha.

On Saturday, we travelled from Waukesha to Racine via the New Berlin State Trail, Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail and some back roads in Racine County. Along the way, we bumped into Patrick and Rachel who are also travelling across the country from Everett, WA to Maine and their Warm Showers hosts Barb and Gene, who showed them the way to the Oak Leaf Trail.

Thanks to the forward thinking of the parks commission in the early 1900s who purchased and protected the land, Charles B Whitnall, the landscape architect who designed the parks in a necklace of green, and Zip Morgan, a staunch bicycle advocate, who conceived the idea of the Oak Leaf Trail, there are some 135 miles of trails connecting several county parks throughout Milwaukee County. Portions of the trail follow the rivers and run along Lake Michigan.  We, New England folks had no idea of the richness within Milwaukee.

Tomorrow we will pass into Illinois and ride along a section of Lake Michigan.

Pat and Shevonne

Follow us as we spin our wheels






Fulfilling a Childhood Dream and Rattles in the Night

“Aren’t you going to go and talk to that person sitting over there?” Pat said to me as we were cycling along the La Crosse River Trail in Wisconsin. “What person? “I said, totally oblivious. “The woman with all the bicycle bags – I thought you were anxious to talk to other long distance cyclists”, Pat responded. And with that, we walked over and introduced ourselves to Miranda. “My partner, Phil, is out getting drinks at the gas station,” she said.  “We are cycling from La Crosse to Milwaukee and then taking the Amtrak back to our vehicle in the train station parking lot.” Phil returned shortly carrying two bottles of chilled blue Gatorade. As we continued conversing we learned that they have plans to be in Vermont in late summer and are interested in good cycling trails and good breweries. (They definitely sound like our kind of people). We then parted company as they were planning on cycling further than us. I am sure we did not think that we would bump into them again. Pat also pointed out that he thought we were cycling right next to the tracks that we rode west from Chicago through Wisconsin in early June.

Later in the afternoon we arrived in the town of Sparta, which promotes itself as the bicycle capital of the country.  The 32 mile Elroy to Sparta trail was established in 1967 and is well known for being the first rail trail in the USA. And that is etched in my memory because years ago, my father caught wind of the news and proposed that our family of five pack up our bicycles and give the trail a whirl. When I heard of this plan (at age 11), I was ecstatic. And yet, for whatever reason this trip never took place. Now at the age of 65 I am fulfilling this childhood dream.

After a restful night in Sparta, I was anxious to get going but then some strong thunderstorms appeared. After the storm subsided, we encountered plenty of downed trees requiring hand clearing and carrying our packed bicycles over several downed trees. The trail was a bit soft in places but as Pat said – “Wisconsin knows how to treat their trails”.  It wasn’t long before we entered our first tunnel, close to a mile long.  Only two more to go along with a detour on a busy highway.

When we came to the second closed section of the trail, I balked. I wanted to do the entire trail and regardless of the fence and signage that said trail was closed, I ignored it. In fact, I also ignored the next sign that said “Bridge Out”, thinking that perhaps they had fixed the bridge and not taken the closed sign down. Not! Pat shook his head, mumbled a few choice words and we retraced our steps to the highway. And so, we did complete the trail but had to cycle the last seven miles on the road.

After a water break at the trail’s end, we were ready to keep on cycling another 22 miles, this time on the 400 Trail (named such because of a locomotive way back in history that covered the territory between Chicago and Minneapolis (400 miles) in 400 hours. And 14 miles into our ride we caught up with Miranda and Phil. Turns out we were all planning on camping in Reedsburg at the local town campground equipped with a shelter, a few tables and a shower.

We quickly set up two campsites and then walked into town to enjoy dinner and a brew at the local brewpub. Upon our return, the skies had clouded over and we could see some flashes of lightning in the distance.  After showering and getting into our muggy tent, we heard a scream and saw Miranda and Phil running from the picnic shelter. “Hey what’s going on?” I yelled out. “There’s a rattlesnake next to the trash can”, Miranda answered.  “Great,” Pat said. “If we get a storm now, we won’t be able to go to the shelter.” Sure enough, two hours later, the storm came in. full on, with wicked winds, plenty of lightning and thunder. Pat and I decided to make a run for it – zipped up the tent, and ran to the shelter. The snake was nowhere to be found. By 1 a.m. we were back in our tent. Morning came quickly and we shared a meal Miranda had prepared. Together the four of us cycled seven miles before each going in different directions. We hope that our paths will cross once again in the future.


Shevonne and Pat


Follow us as we spin our wheels