Biking from Oregon to Maine is no small feat, especially for two newly retired women who carry everything they need for three months, powered only by the strength of their legs and a desire for adventure. Former La Follette School publications director Alice Honeywell and her friend Bobbi Montgomery invite readers to follow their ride by bicycle across the United States, as they face scorching sun, driving rain, buffeting winds, equipment failures, killer hills, wild fires, and even a plague of grasshoppers.
They recount their 3,600-mile journey in a new book, Across America by Bicycle: Alice and Bobbi's Summer on Wheels, published by Terrace Books, the trade division of the University of Wisconsin Press. During their trip they tested and deepened their friendship, defied their aches and pains, experienced the vast and varied beauties of their country, and discovered the challenges and satisfaction of a scaled-down lifestyle.
They also encountered unfailing generosity from people they met—from the prayers of a North Dakota woman for their safekeeping, to the offer of a house in Michigan, to invitations for dinner and a place to sleep at stops all along the way. And there are incidents to laugh over, too, such as the bewildered woman who asked them, "Well, but where do you pack your dresses?"
Their web site offers more details about the trip and the book.
Since retiring from the La Follette School in 2003, Honeywell has worked as a writing consultant in Madison, Wisconsin, occasionally returning to help edit the public affairs workshop reports. She is a member of Dane County's Bombay Bicycle Club and has led tours for the Sierra Club's National Outings Program and other groups. Bobbi Montgomery, a retired English teacher, supervises and trains teachers throughout Ohio. She is a member of the Gears4Beers Cycling Club and Cincinnati Cycling Club. The authors are planning another cross-country bike trip, this one from north to south, border to border.
A shorter version of this article appeared in the spring 2011 La Follette Notes.