Someone spots a couple of bike riders stopping in Blue Earth as part of their big ride.
Most are biking across the United States, usually from the West Coast to the East Coast.
I have written a feature story or a column on bicyclists many times in my career.
I always look for the ‘hook’ when I visit with the bikers. You know, looking for something different about them, something which puts them apart from the others who are out biking around the country. Something the readers will find fun to read.
Two years ago the hook was that a visiting bike riding couple was from Italy, and they were 72 and 68 years old.
Hard to top that story.
Last Monday I received a phone tip that there was a cross-country biking couple at the Blue Earth Library.
I hoped it was someone with an interesting tale to tell, one with a ‘hook’ in it.
I was not disappointed.
Adam and Christy Coppola, of Madison, Conn., are not your typical cross-country bikers.
They have already crossed the country west to east and then south to north. Now they are headed back east to west.
The couple left San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 10. They literally zig-zagged their way to Florida.
Next they zig-zagged their way up the East Coast.
Now, they are zig-zagging their way back across the northern part of the U.S. as they head back west.
Why all this zig-zagging? Well, they are going to visit all 48 contiguous states by the time their trip is over.
Minnesota is state number 36 for the pedaling couple.
The Coppolas figure they will log just over 12,000 miles by the time they are done with the trip later this year. They also want to travel to Hawaii and Alaska and bike around those two states in order to complete the marathon.
When they stopped in Blue Earth last week, they had put 7,300 miles on their bikes since January.
One would naturally think this recently married couple have always been fanatical bikers. But one would be wrong.
The couple admits now that the longest bike ride they had ever been on – before this 12,000 mile trek – was 12 miles.
It just proves that anyone can head out and ride a bike across the country, they say.
Another question they have been asked several times is about their finances. Are they independently wealthy in order to be able to spend most of a year biking around the country without any income?
Actually, Christy is “sort of” at work. She is writing a series of articles for her hometown newspaper where she is employed as a reporter. Adam is a photographer who is documenting their trip with photos.
Plus, the couple says they saved up for a year, lived with their parents for a while, and then sold their cars and some other possessions (including some wedding gifts) in order to finance the trip.
Like other cross country bikers, they are also out raising money for a couple of charities. One is World Bicycle Relief and the other is Achilles International Freedom Team for Wounded Veterans.
Their goal is to raise over $25,000 for these two charities. So far they have raised $19,000.
How do they do it?
They give presentations at bike shops, schools and online. Many folks then decide to give. Plus, they meet people along the way who ride with them and give donations.
Facebook, the couple says, is huge. They have 2,300 ‘friends’ following their trip. Many more keep up with their adventures by logging on to their web site, GiveABike.com.
On Tuesday morning the couple had already posted two photos on Facebook from their stay in Blue Earth.
One was, of course, the two of them standing at the base of the Green Giant statue. The other was a photo of them with BEA teacher Dave Kittleson who treated the visiting bikers to breakfast at Country Kitchen and then rode out of town with them a few miles.
The Coppolas say one of the best experiences of their trip is finding such wonderful folks along the way. They have found some very generous people who have let them camp in their yards, inviting them into their homes and biked along with them for a few miles.
“This has been a really, really cool experience,” Christy says. “We both always knew we would do something like this and we are so glad we decided to go for it.”