After 3 1/2 years cycling more than 28,500 miles in 38 countries, Esther Tacke and Warren Sanders found themselves in Washington at the end of May.
Intrigued by the architecture in Washington, the duo, who have a permanent home in Edinburgh, Scotland, stopped to take in some of the city’s sights.
Tacke is originally from Berlin, Germany, and Sanders hails from Staffordshire, England. They began their travel in January 2011 in Northern Europe.
“Initially, we just wanted to get to the Katy Trail as fast as possible, joining it in Dutzow,” Tacke said.
However, church spires in the distance reminded Tacke of Germany. Taking a detour, the two said, “was a very pleasant surprise.”
They stopped at Joe’s Bakery and Delicatessen, the historical society museum and visited The Landing for lemonade and WiFi service.
“We really just enjoyed strolling around the town. It’s such a pretty setting, the houses have a wonderful charm,” Tacke said. “What we took away is a wonderful memory of a very friendly small town by the Missouri River with a rich culture and a sense to preserve it and an openness to have it explored.”
On their travels, Tacke and Sanders look at roadmaps, Google maps and rely on locals, friends and others for routes to travel.
In the United States, routes were suggested by the Adventure Cycling Association.
The Katy Trail was a suggestion of a friend, the two said.
To get to the trail, they used a part of the Mississippi River Trail. In the North, they rode the Lake Wobegon Trail. Getting into Boston they used another trail.
“You have a fantastic network of trails,” Tacke said. “Europe does not think of the USA as a good bike destination, (but) we just hope that with our stories and blog we can (prove) otherwise.”
Tacke and Sanders said they have been cycle touring for many years, starting with day rides, then adding weekends, endurance races, fast road races and eventually bike touring holidays throughout Europe.
“It does not matter if you do it for a weekend, or a month, or a year. You can have what we call a micro-adventure over a day or two that leaves you with satisfaction and a smile in your face … and you (are) always stimulated and learn something,” Tacke said.
But, because there is often too little time, their travels always became a race.
“We just wanted to take our time,” said Tacke, their latest adventure.
A serious cycling accident made them realize that life can change or end very abruptly, and without people having realized their dreams.
So while many cycle the world, a state or city for charity, the two said they wanted to “advocate getting out and show that age, time, money, or children/dogs should not be a limiting factor.”
Their biggest goal is to enjoy what they are doing and learn from others, so they have stories to tell.
While traveling, Tacke and Sanders carry all their belongings in “panniers” (bags attached to their bicycles). In addition to clothes, they carry cooking equipment and fuel, extra shoes, a tent, sleeping bag and mat, a computer and various cables and chargers. Combined, their luggage and bicycle weigh about 90 pounds.
In their final travel year, the two are loosely following the TransAmerica Bike Route, going from east to west. The route was mapped by the Adventure Cycling Association.
They started in Baltimore, Md., and will finish in Seattle, Wash. They cycle approximately 50 to 60 miles per day.
In their first year, the two cycled the Northern Tier route (another Adventure Cycling Route) from Seattle to Boston going through Glacier National Park, through the prairies of eastern Montana and North Dakota, and then around the Great Lakes into the Adirondacks and New England “just when the forests turned into a colour (sic) display of reds and golds.”
“And all the way, the people were encouraging, welcoming and full of energy that lifted us on our journey,” said Tacke, which is what brought them back to the United States to finish their four-year journey.
Other than the United States, the two said they loved traveling through Turkey, “with its overwhelming friendliness and amazing food and culture,” Slovenia for its beauty and generous people, Portugal, Thailand and Estonia.
“We have seen world wonders in nature, have been through various cultures, but very often the landscapes blend into one another,” Tacke said. “However, we remember the people. . . There is nothing better in the world than a friendly face that offers you a shower and some food and a place where you can pitch the tent (or indeed offers you a bed).”
The couple thanked everyone who has taken an interest in their travels.
The two maintain a blog of their adventures at http://estherwarren.wordpress.com/.