WHO: Dave Wood, 68, of Hallowell, Maine
WHERE: Maine to Florida by bicycle
WHEN: Seven weeks from September to November
WHY: ''I've always wanted to do a long ride," said Wood. Also, as a member of the East Coast Greenway (www.greenway.org), he wanted to raise money for the group, which organized the ride for that purpose.
ONE OF SEVEN: Wood, a retired mechanical engineer, was one of seven cyclists who completed the entire 2,800-mile ride. The Greenway, which links cities from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Fla., uses urban greenways, waterfront esplanades, park paths, and rail trails. ''I'd put in a lot of miles before the trip started. My area in Maine is pretty hilly, so I was in pretty good shape. Some of the people from the flatlands didn't like the hills," he said.
RAISING THE LOOT: He was daunted by the $10,000 he needed to raise to participate. ''Then I thought about it and said, well, this is really an adventure vacation for me. I'm going to pay for half of it. I wrote a letter to family and friends and got $6,000 from that. My son donated $1,000." Several riders and a driver were from Maine and knew each other from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Greenway group. Other riders were from New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Arizona. One married couple rode together on a recumbent bike equipped for the woman, who uses a wheelchair. ''We were all over 50," said Wood, adding, ''you had to be either retired or didn't have to work to take so much time off."
RUDE AWAKENING: ''The thing that surprised me the most was how we all disliked camping," Wood said. ''I like camping, but on a bicycle tour like this when you have a lot of schedules to meet and deadlines, it takes so long to set up the tents. We only camped three nights, then decided not to camp." A van shuttled their gear daily. They stayed in a variety of places, including the basement of a former embassy building in Washington, some motels, inns, and at hosts' homes. ''A lot of the home stays were really nice. You get to learn something about the area and get a nice home-cooked breakfast."
GREEN-CARPET TREATMENT: The ride was publicized nationally, and got coverage in newspapers, radio, and television. ''I think we inspired a lot of people all down the coast," Wood said. The riders often met with local greenway and cycling groups. ''There was something going on every day," Wood said. ''One day, in South Hill, Va., we ate lunch at a farm, and had hush puppies and all. In North Carolina, the people in Wilmington had a Carolina pig pickin' [barbecue] for us, and about 25 or 30 cyclists met us about 25 miles out from Wilmington and escorted us there. We got a nice reception in Newburyport, Mass., and a cycling club took us most of the way to Boston. Same in New Jersey."
ASPHALT JUNGLE: Although the group used all available greenways, they accounted for only 20 percent of the trip, Wood said. ''Some of the roads they put us on were pretty dangerous. I'm volunteering in Maine to redo some of the routes."
THE KEY TO SUCCESS: ''Going down from Key Largo was fairly easy, but we didn't like going over the Seven Mile Bridge," he said. ''There are two lanes and three-foot shoulders. I kept looking at the water and wondering if I was going to have to dive over."
POSTSCRIPT: Wood will show photos from his trip at the July 6 meeting of the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club (www.moac.org), 7 p.m. at the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, 524 Allen Ave., Portland.