By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – A local couple pushed themselves more than 4,300 miles on a tandem bicycle and is now telling their story.
In 2014 Peter and Tracy Flucke spent 72 days biking from Bellingham, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine.
The couple’s book about the adventure, “Coast to Coast on a Tandem: Our Adventure Crossing the USA on a Bicycle Built for Two” will be released at a party from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2, at Badger State Brewing Company.
“Bicycling has been a huge part of our lives,” Peter said. “There’s no doubt it has contributed to our physical and mental health, it has contributed to us financially because it’s cost effective, so I think it was one more way for us to enjoy it.”
The couple never intended to write a book. But in 2014, after 2,500 miles of writing blogs and Facebook posts to update friends and family, they discovered they had about 6,000 followers.
The book is a continuation of the social media platform that reached so many during that ride.
The Fluckes don’t care if this inspires other couples to do the same. But they do hope it encourages other people to at least ride bike more often.
“If somebody jumps on their bike, rides to the grocery store, feels happier and has a good day because of that, and they did it because they read our book, we’d be good with that,” Peter said.
This was the first of three rides the couple completed biking across the country. They also biked the Mississippi River in 2015 and historic Route 66 in 2016.
All trips were unsupported meaning they had to carry everything they needed with them and chart their own course.
The two either camped, stayed in hotels, or found a bed through an online hospitality community called Warm Showers. They carried the 50 pounds of gear for their trip on the tandem.
Peter captained, meaning he was in front and steered and worked the brakes, and Tracy rode in back.
“You have to hang on and hope they make some good decisions, which he did,” Tracy said.
Still cruising across the country on pedal power, about six inches away from your significant other can be a daunting task.
Peter said around mile 3,000 in New York state, they started to explore parts of their relationship they never intended to.
But the two pushed through all challenges on the trip, mental and physical.
“It is tough, but in my mind I had a goal I wanted to meet, and it was to bike across the country and I think it out weighed it all,” Tracy said. “I was willing to work on that and my relationship with Peter.”
One of the hardest parts of the trip came early for Tracy when they biked up the Cascade Mountains.
“The very first day in the Cascade Mountains I had the flu, and we climbed for 6 or 8 hours straight up,” she said.
For Peter his main concern turned into one of the most beautiful things about the trip.
“What I was frankly most concerned about was Montana and North Dakota,” he said. “The desolation, the really long distances, the lack of services and the wind.
“What I actually found were some of the most enjoyable parts of my trip were the long distances, the lack of services and the views of Montana and North Dakota,” he said.
The Thursday, Nov. 2 will be a chance to meet Peter and Tracy, pick up a copy of the book before anyone else and hear some stories about the ride.