Burtrum News
The Wheel Deal
by Jim Molkenthin

The temperature on the Swanville State Bank clock said 92 degrees...another hot, humid August day. Sitting on the bench infront of Bob and Fran's Crocery were two young women eating lunch. One look told me they were cyclists and the size of the saddle bags on their bikes said "serious bikers." Having biked from Minneapolis to Seattle back in 1962 with a friend of mine, Fred Eby, my interest piqued.

Melissa Waganon (on the left) and Leigh Nagy (on the right) are "serious bikers" indeed. On June 2, 2001 they loaded up their bikes with tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, cameras, radios and all the rest of the neccessities of life on the road and pedaled out of Portland, Maine and headed for Anacortes, Washington, 3055 miles away. Traveling down the backroads of America (any road that isn't a Intersate Freeway or toll road) they cruised through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont over to Niagra Falls, New York. From there they took a brief trip up into Canada and then back down into New York, across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, into Chicago, Illinois, up through Wisconsin, on to Minnesota and up to Swanville for lunch on August 8th. Only 1608 miles to go!

Leigh and Melissa met while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Leigh graduated with a degree in marketing and Melissa with a degree in biology. School and work left them with a desire to get away from it all for awhile and going cross-country on bikes was the means.

And the experience so far? They have found that America really is beautiful, every mile of it. They were particularly impressed with the rolling landscape of southern Wisconsin. They also found the beauty of Americans. Everywhere they found people to be helpful, kind, friendly and generous. People have stopped to talk with them, taken them into their homes for meals, provided camping space and always an interest.
And away they go, heading up north  to hookup to U.S. Highway #2 and journey across North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and on to Washington. On this particular day, north meant heading into a cold front and possible severe weather. Beyong that mile after mile of beauty.

By the way, Melissa and Leigh, when you read this send an e-mail to me at jmolk@hotmail.com. I forgot to get your e-mail addresses. And let me know where you are, what has been happening and I'll update the story. Thanks. Jim