I hope this note finds you well.
This spring, Ms. Annette and I took off on one of our excellent adventures. As some of you know, two years ago we rode our bicycles from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida (3000 miles.) This spring we loaded up our SAG (Support and Gear) wagon and headed for St. Augustine. On the 28th of March, we mounted our bikes in St. Augustine and headed up the east coast. Our goal was to arrive in Bar Harbor, Maine on the 20th of May (2500 miles.)
There were six intrepid riders who set out on this journey. We pulled a trailer behind Annette’s Honda that carried all of our luggage, extra bikes, repair equipment and snacks. Every sixth day, each of us took turns driving the van. The responsibilities of the SAG driver are to set up a water/food stop every eight-ten miles, find a place for lunch along the way and get our gear to the next motel.
On this trip, watching out for storms and rescuing stranded riders was another added duty. Our plan was to ride about 50 miles a day and stay in motels each night. We had tried camping on our trip two years ago and decided that after five-six hours on the bike during the day, we needed a nice soft bed at night.
When we arrived in St. Augustine, spring was in full bloom. As we progressed up the coast, we followed the blooming flowers and weather of spring north; that is, until we got to New England and then it got cold and wetter. Luckily, we had been warned that the weather of New England would be unpredictable, and we were prepared.
We were lucky that most of our inclement weather occurred at night. In the 54 days of riding, we were rained out completely three times, and two other days were partial washouts.
We used Adventure Cycling maps to guide us up the coast. This organization has created maps that route riders onto small roads and towns. The East Coast Greenway trail system was another element of the trip. In some areas, such as in Virginia and around Washington D.C., the trail system is reasonably well developed and got us onto dedicated bike-and-pedestrian trails and out of the traffic.
There was any number of highlights to the trip. We had layover stops in Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; New York City and Hyde Park, New York. We spent four days riding in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and each of us was taken by the stark beauty of these islands. We spent five days in the beautiful mountains of New England and then five days riding on the coast of Maine and a day’s rest in Bar Harbor.
Much of our trip was spent immersed in small town Americana with a good deal of U.S. history thrown in. Most of us came back already planning our next excellent adventure.
Have a good journey,
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.