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George and Nancy Shook are working in tandem—or rather, on tandem—this fall, wheeling their way down the Pacific Coast. As of yesterday they were about two-thirds of the way toward their goal of riding the full western edge of the continental U.S. They had covered 1252 miles of their intended 1,800-mile route—380 each in Washington (six days) and Oregon (seven days) and 492 so far in California.

“We rode out of Vancouver, B.C. on September 23,” says George Shook, professor emeritus of dairy science. “We flew out there on Sept. 22 and reassembled our tandem bike, which flew with us in two shipping cases as luggage. We hope to arrive in San Diego by Oct. 31, although I’ve told some that we’ll see how far we’ll be able to go.”

oregon coast
Nancy and George Shook with their tandem bike along the Oregon coast.

The weather has been great, and so has the view, he reports. “The Pacific coast in Oregon and northern California alternates between sandy beaches, rocky shores, and high cliffs. The sights and sounds of the waves flowing up on the beaches and splashing over big rocks are fabulous. In a few places we’ve seen or heard large colonies of sea lions resting (or arguing?) on rocky outcroppings.” That topography means the pedaling has had it’s ups and downs, he adds: “The roads along the coast rise and fall as the shore changes from rocky cliffs to sandy beaches.”

The Shooks are used to spending long days in the saddle along the Pacific. In 2012, the pair rode the same bike on a 1000-mile trip that covered about 60 percent of the coast of the South Island of New Zealand. And taking a trip that spans the country isn’t new either. In 1996, Nancy Shook and two of the couple’s kids rode from San Francisco to Maine. George joined them for the last 640 miles. Their youngest son, Kynan, then 13, chronicled the trip in articles that were published in the Wisconsin State Journal throughout the summer. The Shooks had a chance to reminisce about that ride this past weekend, when they stayed with Kynan and his family in San Jose.

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