Editor’s Note: This is part two of a Q and A with Pat and Shevonne Travers who completed a 77-day, 3.500-mile bike ride from Seattle to Washington, DC, late last month via the Great American Rail Trail.
Seated in the living room of their Waitsfield house, looking southwest across The Valley, Pat and Shevonne laughed often as they discussed some of the highlights and some of the more difficult parts of their epic bike ride across the country this summer.
VR: What didn’t you use on the trip?
Shevonne: Some very heavy three-pound bike locks.
Pat: They’re meant for an urban environment where bikes get stolen often and they allow you to connect your bike to a sign post.
Shevonne: Even if we did use them, there wasn’t a good way to connect them with the trees and picnic tables where we stopped. We had a first aid kit with us, but we only used a few bandages. Pat took a number of spills.
Pat: Yes, I fell a few times on loose stones.
Shevonne: He was clipped in all the time and I was only clipped in with one foot because I kept watching him fall with both feet clipped in.
VR: How did you manage with getting enough food?
Pat: I lost 15 pounds during the trip.
Shevonne: We were also on a budget in terms of food that we tried to stick to. On some of the hot, hard days you didn’t even want to eat. We didn’t take a stove so we relied on finding little stores and buying things that weren’t going to melt in all the heat. We ate a lot of cherries, they do well without refrigeration.
Pat: You’re going to find this interesting; we found The Valley Reporter article that you wrote about us before we left on the website of a coalition of biking organizations in Iowa. It was presented as ‘look for this couple from Vermont traveling through Iowa.’
Shevonne: The gravel in Iowa was really not good. It’s all loose stones, really hard to ride on. A woman picked us up and gave us ice water on a really hot day when we’d been riding up and down hills on gravel roads. She said they didn’t even like driving on it in their cars!
VR: Before you left, I asked you if you had any worries about spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. How did you navigate that? I know from your reports that you didn’t always agree about what to do when you came to trail closures and other impediments.
Shevonne: (laughing). I really wanted to do this trail and the sign said trail closed – and it was. Then a sign said the bridge was closed and I got down there and there was a river we’d have to cross. We saw the pieces of the old bridge on the side of the road and I asked if we could walk our bikes through the river.
VR: How did it feel to spend 77 days with each other 24/7? You still seem to be friendly towards each other.
Pat: -We got along really well.
Shevonne: We had to problem-solve all the time.
Pat: Yes, there was a lot of problem-solving, and we worked really well together as a team.
Shevonne: Because the trails weren’t always what we expected, Pat often spent three to four hours at night figuring out our routes and then hand writing them to have on the front of his bike.
Pat: We had a basic itinerary but I knew we’d never stick to it because of weather, breakdowns, trail issues, etc. There were always a lot of revisions and changes.
VR: How’d you do in terms of technology?
Pat: We plugged in at campgrounds, hotels or WarmShowers hosts’ homes. Shevonne wrote the blogs and updates for you on a little table.
Shevonne: We also bought a personal hotspot when we got to Seattle.
Pat: We just waited till we had access to electricity to charge our phones -- at coffee shops, camp sites.
Shevonne: Pat likes to save his battery so he’d put his phone on airplane mode which means that the couple of times I needed his assistance, he wasn’t available. He was usually a mile or more ahead of me. That was my biggest struggle with our relationship over those weeks. I never knew whether he’d have the phone on so I could access him.
Pat: – I was usually out front because I cycle faster and sometimes I’d get a mile or so ahead of her. I’d stop and wait. One time in Wisconsin I stopped and remembered to turn off airplane mode and there was a very angry text about the bike chain malfunction.
VR: Given your many detours and your late-night Greyhound bus ride and your rental of a U-Haul to skip an entire section of Nebraska, you’re back in Vermont when you expected, right?
Pat: Yes, September 1 was our goal. I’m not completely done with the calculation but it looks like we rode 3,589 miles.
The Waitsfield couple’s journey has been chronicled in weekly missives printed in The Valley Reporter and also posted on their website (https://twoslowpokesonspokes.com/).