Bicyclists Stop in Bluffton on Tour from Sea to Shining Sea

by Jayne Barnett McGarrity   Mary and Bob Barnett were visited recently by their granddaughter, Katherine Walton, daughter of Nancy & Jim Barnett from Syracuse NY.  Katherine is riding her bicycle from Coney Island NY to Portland OR this summer with another bicyclist, Arielle Prevot, a resident of New Orleans.  By the time they reached Bluffton on July 29th, the two had ridden 1,000 of their projected 4,000 miles.
   Katherine has been cycling in the U.S. for two years and has already ridden 3,000 miles in solo trips as far west as Colorado.  Arielle has also gone on solo adventures, pedaling 1,500 miles last year through the southeast. 
   The two women met for the first time the day they started their trip. They made contact through a mutual friend who had worked at a goat dairy farm in Florida where Arielle was employed.  The two spunky women connected quickly and adjusted well to life together on the back roads.  Katherine says that Arielle challenges her with a faster-than-usual pace and Arielle says that Katherine gets up way too early. 
   The cyclists choose less-traveled roads and bike lanes when available.  They get maps at bike shops or check routes on a maps “app” using an Ipod.  They’re often able to catch a WiFi connection at fast food restaurants, or when they go through small towns, they can often just stand on a street corner to get connected.  It seems that people in rural areas don’t always secure their internet connection. 
   The women each carry gear weighing around 70 lbs.  This weight can be quite challenging as they travel mountainous terrain.  They say that they’re not able to pedal standing up on inclines because the bags make the bikes unstable.  They’ve not had to walk their bikes yet.  The cyclists sleep in tents at camp sites, parks, or when necessary, in secluded wooded areas.  They travel rain or shine and, during storms, prefer riding without raingear, which can cause overheating. 
   The ladies make a wood fire when they want to have something hot.  They always need to be watching their bikes and equipment, so they’re not able to spend much time shopping or sitting in restaurants.  They were happy to have some fresh sweet corn and home-baked pie at Grandma Mary Barnett’s house-- also a soft bed and shower.  Since both women have biked alone in the past, Mrs. Barnett says she is relieved that the two are traveling together!
   Katherine and Arielle ride from 50 to 75 miles a day.  They plan to make several other stops with friends and family along the way and should reach the west coast sometime in October.   Once the trip is complete, they will go to a bike shop for an appropriately-shaped box, ship their bikes and take a bus back home.