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Somerset grad bikes cross country

Anne Sullivan (left) and boyfriend Ryan Doughty are taking a cross-country bike trip this summer. They started at Doughty’s parents’ home in Massachusets, and will end their journey in Bellingham, Wash., where they will be attending Western Washington University next fall. Pictured, the pair poses with their bicycles and gear.

When Somerset graduate Anne Sullivan and her boyfriend Ryan Doughty were wrapping up their last year at Colorado Mountain College, they decided to do something special for the summer.

Between their graduation and starting at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., they decided to bike from coast-to-coast.

"It's been a huge challenge," Sullivan said. "It's been a huge learning experience, but every day is an adventure, that's for sure."

Sullivan and Doughty started off their adventure in Sagamore Beach, Mass., at Doughty's parents' house.

Doughty often goes mountain biking, and Sullivan said she likes to ride her bike to work. But, neither Doughty nor Sullivan had attempted to bike long-distance before. She said the first week was difficult.

"It's definitely a mental challenge as much as it is a physical challenge," Sullivan said. She and Doughty have gotten used to the work now, though.

"It's just kind of get up and go nowadays," Sullivan said. "It's pretty easy."

Sullivan and Doughty carry approximately 40 to 50 pounds of supplies and equipment split between four saddle bags on each of their bikes. The equipment includes their tent, sleeping bags, cookware, food, water, tools and extra tires.

"We're pretty much prepared for anything that could happen on the road," Sullivan said.

Sullivan and Doughty have been camping along the way, stopping at various campsites across the country, with a few stops at friends houses, and a weeklong stay at Sullivan's parents' house in Somerset starting June 14.

Each morning, Sullivan and Doughty get up, eat breakfast, break up camp and hit the road. They make a stop for lunch, and continue on until it's time for dinner, and setting up camp. They typically travel about 60 miles each day, Sullivan said.

So far, the couple said they have not had any major bicycle repair incidents, though they have had to use a lot of chain grease and sunscreen.

Both Sullivan and Doughty said the slower pace of travelling by bicycle offers a different view of the road than that seen from a car.

"Going 60 miles in a car doesn't really do nature justice," Doughty said. "Compared to going 10 mph and you can hear the birds' wings flap and the smell all the smells that are on the roads. It's nuts."

But it hasn't been just nature on the side of the road Sullivan and Doughty have been admiring. They have been doing some sightseeing on the way to Washington,

"We went to Niagara Falls, that was really cool to see," Sullivan said. After Niagara Falls, Sullivan and Doughty headed into Canada.

"We had raccoons attack us," Sullivan said. "They stole some food from us. That's been kind of the most crazy thing that's happened."

While it's not always raccoons eating their food, Sullivan and Doughty said each day has brought them new challenges.

Sullivan and Doughty are around 30 to 40 days into what they estimate is a 100-day trip. They said the trip has exceeded any expectations they had before setting out.

"Go where the road takes you," Doughty said. "Don't stop pedaling."

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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