EXPERIENCELife lessons on a bicyclePhone calls...


August 29, 1999|By Marcia Lang, | Marcia Lang,,Special to the Sun


Life lessons on a bicycle

Phone calls from our daughter indicated she was enjoying her college graduation solo bicycle trip from Virginia to Colorado, but was lonely. On impulse, I asked if she'd like me to accompany her for seven days. I was not working and had recently purchased my first bicycle in 45 years. We agreed I'd slow her down, but she'd have companionship for a week.

Her agreement meant I had to ship my bike, borrow panniers, assemble camping supplies and meet her in Detroit. Family members assured us we were crazy. I heard there was no shame in backing out. Given that my longest bike trip ever was 10 miles on an empty bike -- not the fully loaded bike I was readying now -- this was a reasonable concern.

My first day I fell once and was ready to collapse after 20 miles. We were overwhelmed when a motorist offered us a place to stay. She hooked me with the phrase "hot showers." She was a surgeon who had biked the California coast as an undergrad and recognized our exhaustion. We were welcomed into her guest house on 200 acres, with access to stables and horses. The fridge was stocked, so I relaxed with a cold one while her family took my daughter, Anne, to the circus.

We pedaled the northern portion of lower Michigan, experiencing only hospitality and generosity. Once our bicycles were completely overhauled, coffee was served and we were instructed to call if help was needed during the next 75 miles -- charge: $14 in parts! When our tent was drenched and almost demolished by a surprise storm, we were put up in the town hall. Later we were invited to spend one night with a family who wanted us as examples for their youngsters. When we reached family in Madison, Wis., I was pedaling 40-mile days, far beyond my wildest expectations. We decided I was capable of going the distance. By trip's end, I had biked 1,800 miles with Anne to her destination in Colorado.

We learned a lot that summer: Regardless of how unusual people considered us, our fellow Americans were generous, courteous and hospitable in ways too numerous to elaborate. (Only one person was rude and that was from a distance.)

Some folks said they had done something similar and loved it; some said they'd always wanted to and were sorry they hadn't. Never did we meet anyone who had regrets about past adventures. We also learned to draw on each other for strength. When headwinds tempted me to trash my bike, Anne reminded me how well I was doing. When personal disappointments lured her to quit, I could assure her that the trip was worth completing.

Anne stayed in Colorado to live, as planned. I returned to Baltimore with added respect for each of us, and recognition that we are capable of far more than we usually realize.

Marcia Lang lives in Baltimore.


Tropical Bermuda


Although tropical Bermuda is only a two-hour flight from Baltimore, the island truly is another world. With the tranquil, turquoise sea just outside our hotel window, along with the gentle breezes, the bright hibiscus flowers and the playful lizards, my husband and I had the vacation of our dreams.


Where was your favorite vacation with the kids?

Carlsbad, Calif.

Linda Garrett Doster, Easton

"Newly opened Legoland in Carlsbad was incredible. Our boys loved the rides, many of which were large-scale versions of favorite Legos. Miniland features Lego models of America's cities built to scale. "


Charlotte Young, Baltimore

"In the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, the days were warm, the evenings cool. There were activities for the kids and for the adults -- with plenty of time for shared activities. The outdoor experiences made for lasting memories and a deep love and respect for nature."


Laura Safford, Finksburg

"Last summer, when my sons were 5 and 9 years old, we flew to Alaska. We discovered adventure as well as breathtaking beauty in the land of the midnight sun. Whether panning for gold in Fairbanks, or observing the calving of a glacier in Whittier, the education was priceless."

What is your favorite place in Las Vegas? And why?


What is your favorite place in Las Vegas? and why? Please answer in 50 words or less. Send via fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 08/29/99

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