JAY - Many couples celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary try to do something extra special to mark the occasion. However, few might make the sort of plans Mike and Stephanie Battisti are hatching.
The Battistis, who make their home in Jay, aim to travel to Yorktown, Va., May 25 where they will embark on a three-month journey across the United States to Seattle, Wash. - on a tandem bicycle.
Camping in a tent along the way, the two 51-year-olds will cover more than 4,000 miles as they venture through eight states with the few belongings they can carry on a bicycle built for two.
According to Mike, he and Stephanie started tandem cycling six years ago after looking for an outdoor activity to do together.
"At first we tried single bikes," he said, "but she was concerned that I was getting tired of circling back to find out why she had dropped out of sight."
They found riding tandem was not only fun, but allowed them to spend time together and carry a conversation while pedaling.
"We also enjoy the attention that comes with such a unique form of transportation," said Mike. "The most often-heard comment was, 'Hey buddy, she's not pedaling back there!'"
The Battistis have already taken part in a few rides lasting three to six days, both supported and unsupported, through the Adirondacks and Nova Scotia, but this journey will be what Stephanie calls "our greatest adventure since raising our four children."
Both are looking forward to the slower pace that comes with biking cross country, hoping it will allow them to connect more with the communities they encounter and take in more of the scenery.
"We won't be traveling to make great time, but to have a great time," said Mike.
Their travel route follows the TransAmerica bicycle trail, established in 1976 as part of a celebration of the American Bicentennial. The route crosses the Appalachian, Ozark, and Rocky Mountain ranges and passes through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Though the mountains out west are much taller, Mike said, the roads through them tend to be less steep. He expects the steeper, more frequent hills and valleys of the eastern mountains to present more of a challenge.
"The other big challenge will be dealing with headwinds," he said, "especially taxing on a heavy tandem bike fully loaded with equipment."
To alleviate that challenge, the couple will pack light, bringing just two changes of clothing, a lightweight tent, sleeping bags, rain gear, toiletries, tools and, of course, a couple of spare tires.
They also plan to bring a camera, digital recorder and cell phone to record their trip. The Battistis have set up their own blog where they plan to share updates of their adventures.
As they pack for their trip, the Battistis are also looking to use their adventure to support some worthy causes. Stephanie will be biking for Mountain Lake PBS while Mike rides for North Country Public Radio.
"We both greatly enjoy how much their programming enriches our lives on a daily basis," said Mike, noting how the two are competing to see who can generate the most by-the-mile pledges.
For more information about the Battistis' trip, visit their blog at tandembattistis.blogspot.com.