A sentimental journeyWhen Barbara Everson went for a bike ride this past summer, she didn’t mess around – she chose a 4,200-mile route that would take four months to complete.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
When Barbara Everson went for a bike ride this past summer, she didn’t mess around – she chose a 4,200-mile route that would take four months to complete.
But it was more than just a way to get some exercise and see the countryside. She was continuing a legacy left by her father.
In 1976, at age 66, he had ridden the TransAmerica Bike Trail, which runs from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. It was the first year the trail was open, and it celebrated the bicentennial of the U.S.
For years after her father completed the trail, Everson and her brother, Bill, had talked about following in his footsteps and making the bike trip. But they never got around to it. When her brother hit 70 and she 64, they decided it was now or never.
Last January, they made the commitment, which left little time for Everson, a Brandon resident, to train.
“I really didn’t start biking until the snow left, which wasn’t good,” she said. “I wasn’t in the shape that he’s in.”
A part-time employee at Broadway Floral in Alexandria, and for her son at the Knotty Pine Resort in Brandon, both employers were willing to give Everson the time off that she needed to bike the trail. Her three grown children were also excited to see their mother repeating their grandfather’s legacy.
In late June, Bill, who is from Syracuse, New York, picked up his sister in Brandon with his 39-foot self-contained motor home for the drive to Oregon.
On July 9, Everson dipped her bike tires into the Pacific Ocean and set off on the same trail her dad had blazed 33 years earlier. The bicycle she was using made the trip even more of a sentimental journey.
“I used the same bike my dad used,” Everson said. “The bike has gone across the country twice.”
With her brother using another bike that their father had ridden, the duo logged on average 40 miles a day. Everson’s lack of training sometimes required her to ride in the RV that her sister-in-law was driving along the route.
“I tried to bike 20 to 30 miles a day when he biked,” she explained. “My brother did every bit of it. I only did 1,725 miles. I was not in as good of shape as I should have been.”
The route took the bikers through beautiful and varied terrain throughout 10 states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia.
While she wasn’t too thrilled with the desolate desert areas, Everson loved biking along the coast of Oregon, through Yellowstone National Park, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Williamsburg, Virginia.
“We did a lot of sightseeing along the way,” she said. “In a car, you miss a lot that you are going too fast to see. I enjoyed biking for that reason – you get to see more nature. We also learned a lot of history along the way.”
Despite an encounter with a buffalo in Yellowstone and a near miss with a semi that resulted in a scraped leg, Everson made it to the East Coast unscathed.
On October 31, she and her brother biked the last leg of the trail that took them to the Atlantic Ocean in Yorktown, Virginia.
“It was a little emotional that last day,” Everson said. “When I climbed the last hill, I could see my sister waiting there with streamers, I choked up. I was almost in tears.
“It was an exciting thing to know that it was over and we had a good time doing it,” she added.
A few pounds lighter and in much better shape, Everson once again dipped her tires in the ocean, signifying the end of a journey and the tribute to her father, who passed away in 1995.
“I think he hoped we would do it,” she concluded. “I think he would be really happy that we did. I think he would be proud.”