Nancy and Dave Heiberg are two-wheeled explorers.
Since moving from Finksburg to their home in New Windsor, the Heibergs have used their bikes to familiarize themselves with many of the area's back roads and byways.
Fifteen years ago, Nancy met a woman who was a bicyclist and became seriously interested in the sport. Since then, she and her bike have covered many happy miles, at times working to increase her distances, at other times simply for the recreational pleasure cycling brings.
Her husband has, since his retirement from the C & P Telephone Co., joined Nancy as a biking enthusiast.
"We're not the kind of bikers who are out to set speed or distance records," says Nancy, 61. "We like to stop and enjoy the scenery, look at the birds and the trees and the wildflowers along the way. Half the fun is stopping at an interesting stream or at a picnic grove for lunch."
Although they often simply push off on an unknown road -- "Let's see where this one goes!" -- Dave, 62, has charted the mileage and directions for many of their bike tours. (See sidebar).
Like most bikers, the Heibergs try to choose routes with minimal automobile traffic. However, they find that Routes 75 and 31, even though heavily traveled, have wide shoulders that make biking both safe and pleasant.
In addition to auto traffic, dogs can present a hazard to bikers.
"When a dog barks and starts toward me," Nancy says, "I stop and get off and stay on the far side of my bike from the animal. Usually that stops him."
Biking, the couple agree, is a sport in which almost anyone can participate. An initial investment in a good bike and a helmet is practically the only expense involved.
The Heibergs' bikes have wide, all-terrain tires, standard rather than racing handlebars, and Nancy has equipped hers with a wide seat for comfort on long rides.
Although some bikers are now investing in special clothing, any casual, comfortably fitting clothes are suitable. Helmets, are a must, Nancy says.
"Originally Dave resisted wearing one, but now he puts his on as a matter of routine."
The Heibergs' bikes are equipped with water bottles, the kind that can be used to provide a refreshing drink even while the biker is in motion.
"We often carry our lunch or at least an apple to munch on during a stop," Nancy says.
In addition to the opportunity biking provides for them to enjoy a sport together, the Heibergs have found it to have multiple other benefits.
"As a stress-reliever, it's wonderful, you get away from everything and everybody," she says. "At times when I'm biking there's almost a feeling of euphoria."
Another benefit both enjoy is the aesthetic side of biking, the chance to enjoy beautiful surroundings directly rather than simply seeing them through a car window.
"It's a wonderful way to really get out and appreciate the scenery," they say.
Exercise is, of course, a major benefit. The aerobic nature of biking makes it excellent for conditioning the cardiovascular system as well as for toning muscles. A bicyclist traveling at 5.5 mph consumes 210 calories per hour.
"When you're biking, you can even indulge in a candy bar now and then because you know you're going to burn off the extra calories," Nancy says.
Increased energy levels also are experienced by most bikers.
"When we're biking, I'm often tired," Nancy says, "but, then, when we finish, I find the exercise has been an energizer. I have lots more energy to do other things."
Among the "other things" Nancy enjoys is tennis, a sport in which she excels and has enjoyed for a number of years. Dave also is well known as an excellent golfer and frequently is to be found on the course at Piney Branch.
In fact, Nancy reveals that the first evidence her husband was really "hooked" on biking came on one particularly lovely day this fall when Dave admitted that he was having a hard time deciding "whether to go to the golf course or go biking."
Anyone familiar with Dave's enthusiasm for golfing will recognize that as the ultimate accolade.
For anyone interested in biking in Carroll County, the Carroll County Department of Tourism has prepared a packet of materials on 10 loop trails featuring scenic stops and historic attractions. The packet costs $1 and may be obtained at the Tourism Office at 210 E. Main St, Westminster, 848-1388.