‘Journey of self-discovery’

Published 2:47 pm Friday, May 30, 2008

On June 1, Kip and Carol Jean Vosburgh, 61 and 62 respectively, will dip the back wheels of their bicycles in the Pacific Ocean on a beach somewhere in San Francisco.

The ceremonial action will kick off a journey for the Vosburghs that will take them across the United States.

The Landrum area residents will be cycling across the country in 52 days, traveling 3,836 miles. They will start in San Francisco on June 1 and will finish with their front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on July 22.

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While it sounds like a huge undertaking, it&squo;s something they&squo;ve always wanted to do, Carol Jean said.

&dquo;We always had a list of things we wanted to do,&dquo; Carol Jean said. &dquo;Out of all the things we picked, this was the most challenging.&dquo;

Biking across America is on the list alongside things like biking through Africa and Tuscany.

Since it was so challenging, they picked the biking trip across America as their first adventure. And on June 1, the Vosburghs will journey toward a thing they&squo;ve dreamed about.

The couple started getting serious about the trip in October of last year, Kip said. They made the down payment on the trip, which is provided by America By Bicycle, Inc., and paid the rest of it in April.

But this task isn&squo;t just living out a dream for the Vosburghs. It&squo;s about overcoming and beating recent roadblocks that makes the feat so amazing.


Kip and Carol Jean have each had medical hardships recently.

Four years ago, Kip was cycling in Florida when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit a group of 13 cyclists in which he was riding.

Four years ago, Kip was in a wheelchair.He broke three extremities and didn&squo;t know if he was going to recover physically and mentally, he said.

That accident happened on June 6. Four years later, the 61-year-old will be cycling through Lovelock, Nevada on the anniversary of the accident.

&dquo;It&squo;s a victory lap from where I&squo;ve been,&dquo; he said. &dquo;I may not be as fast as I once was, but I&squo;m just as tenacious.&dquo;

While Kip is on his victory lap, Carol Jean will be on one as well. Nine years ago this month, she had open heart surgery.

Since then, she has won gold medals at the Senior Olympics, and now is about to take off on the journey of her life.

This isn&squo;t just a normal journey, she said.

&dquo;It&squo;s not a race,&dquo; she said. &dquo;It&squo;s a journey of self-discovery.&dquo;

The journey

The ride itself will span 52 days and 3,863 miles.

The Vosburghs will ride through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire (see map above.

The most miles they&squo;ll ride in a day will be on June 22, when they&squo;ll ride from Pueblo, Colo., to Lamar, Colo. On that day, they&squo;ll ride 121 miles.

The longest stretch they&squo;ll ride without a day of rest will from July 10-July 13. In those four days, they&squo;ll ride 396 miles between Marysville, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania.

&dquo;I&squo;m a little bit in awe of this thing,&dquo; Kip said. &dquo;I respect what we&squo;re about to undertake.&dquo;

This race, however, isn&squo;t designed to be a rugged, outdoor trip across America. They will be staying in hotels, will have time to shop and soak up as much of the United States as possible, Carol Jean said.

A friend of the Vosburghs is excited about the journey the couple is about to take.

&dquo;It&squo;s huge,&dquo; said John Cash, owner of Nature&squo;s Storehouse and professional duathlete. &dquo;It&squo;s a monumental undertaking because they&squo;re on the saddle for 52 days.&dquo;

There are also the issues of weather, traffic and terrain, Cash said. No matter whether it&squo;s raining or sunny, the Vosburghs and the other cyclists they&squo;ll be riding with will be on the road.

But he&squo;s not concerned about his friends.

&dquo;They seem to be well prepared for it,&dquo; he said.

With regard to training, the couple did what they always do. They rode often around the community. But they did add things to their training routine.

They biked up and down Green River Cove Road. They also did an 85-mile practice run with people training for the Assault on Mt. Mitchell.

Although it seems like a tall order given the strenuous nature of the project, they just want to have fun, Carol Jean said.

&dquo;Our goal is not to push it,&dquo; she said. &dquo;We just want to enjoy it.&dquo;


For Kip and Carol Jean, their journy of self-discovery across America will be the adventure of a lifetime, Carol Jean said.

The couple will see America and do something that most people wouldn&squo;t think a couple in their early sixties would be able to do.

&dquo;We&squo;re no different than anyone else,&dquo; she said. &dquo;We just decided as a team that we were going to do something.&dquo;

But they do want this race to mean something to other people, she said.

&dquo;We want to encourage and inspire others to get out of their comfort zone,&dquo; she said.

You can follow the Vosburghs on their journey at www.crazyguyonabike.com/kipcarol. In addition, their journey will be chronicled weekly in the Bulletin.