New Englanders bicycle to Pacific

They are two natives of New England, he from Maine, she Vermont, who are blessed with famous names and a dream to see America from a bicycle.

Tom and Diane Sawyer, left from the village he grew up in, York Beach Maine last month on the trip of their lives.

Though both are in their mid-to late-fifties, the Sawyers are athletes, bicyclists, and rock climbers. Tom has been to the highest point of every state and Diane has only missed Alaska's; so riding across country wasn't a problem.

“We've been active throughout our lives,” Tom said.

They began planning the trip last October, and even established a website, so those interested could ride vicariously, (paddlingpedaalers.home.comcast.net).

He has recently retired from Lucent as a computer programmer and she after 35 years of teaching math.

They began the ride with two other women, but became separated in Missouri, and only learned while in Boise City, that one had fallen and broken a clavicle.

“They're on their way home,” Tom shrugged.

The Sawyers planned the trip to avoid the hottest part of the summer, and will ride far enough south to avoid the Rockies and early snow.

“We pulled up relief maps on the Internet,” Diane said. “It's all been good, but Western Oklahoma and Kansas have been the most challenging because of the wind.

The couple spend their nights alongside the road, and have enjoyed the kindness of strangers.

“The people have been amazing. The people here are so friendly,” Tom said.

“We keep our expenses down to about what it would take us to live at home,” Diane explained.

“We have found a lot of beautiful state parks where we can stay cheaply. Then every once in a while someone asks if we'd like a shower, and that's good,' she added.

They have been invited home with people, given the key and free run of a Boy's and Girl's Club and had meals bought for them.

“We've been invited to stay at churches, where we have a bathroom without even having to ask,” Diane said.

“The people have been the most interesting part of the trip,” Tom said. “We stopped in Greensburg, Kan.., where they have the world's deepest hand dug well.”

“They had an old Rexall Drug Store there, with a real soda fountain,” Diane smiled. “It was nice to go there, and have a real Vanilla Coke. The man who waited on us had worked there for 52 years,” Diane said. “We had plans to stop, and visit museums in each city; but we haven't done that. It's been the people,” she added. ‘They are better than a museum, the geography, what they do for a living. We've toured a feedlot, we had no idea, it was eye-opening. And the trucks. Without trucks here, your lives would stop,” she said.

The trucks, and the lack of shoulders on Highway 56 have made the trip harrowing.

“It's nerve wracking,” Tom admitted.

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