CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rosanne Adams didn't cycle when she and her family lived in Charleston, where husband Pete and his father were longtime oral surgeons.No, she waited until 1990 when they retired to the flat South Carolina costal resort of Hilton Head to climb back on a bike.She still doesn't like to ride up hills, but she has done it. And if it's too steep, "I'm not to proud to walk up if I have to," she said in a recent phone interview.Adams expects a few hills in her next bike trek -- 2,000 miles following the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Itasca Lake in northern Minnesota.
The May 3 trip is her 70th birthday present to herself.At least that's how it's started. She has converted her bike vacation into a fundraising project to support Marine units overseas.As with many charity events, Adams hopes to attract sponsors who support the challenge of a grandmother pedaling for five weeks at a stretch.And she has. Singer Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish is her first sponsor.Adams explained that Rucker and her son, Marine Lt. Col. Michael Samples Jr., were good friends at the University of South Carolina.It was Michael who got his mother off the one-speed, pedal-brake cruiser bike. He left his mountain bike behind at her house after competing in a Marine triathlon. She tried it out and loved it.Then about 10 years ago, she discovered Woman Tours, which offers cycling trips for women. She decided to go on one because "it's flat at the Outer Banks" in North Carolina."And I was hooked. I have gone on one every year since."She had pedaled on Cape Cod bike paths, on Mississippi's Natchez Trace and along the C&O Canal Towpath from Washington, D.C., through Maryland. "I have done some big hills now -- in Pennsylvania Dutch country and on the Big Island of Hawaii -- but I don't seek them out."With the tours, she said the cyclists' luggage is transferred to each accommodation, be it a bed or breakfast or a motel. Most of the women are in the 50-to-70 age range.The 5-week-long "Meandering Mississippi" trip will mean covering 90-mile sections on some days. Adams said she's lost about 10 pounds in the past two months training for the ride, but is slowing down now that the trip is near. "I don't want to wear it out before I get out there," she said.
Her husband, who recently turned 80, cycles some with her. He is active in the Moss Creek Marines, a group that supports active-duty Marines through Operation Adopt a Combat Unit.According to its website, www.mosscreekmarines.com
, the group of about three dozen members has sent packages to 27,000 Marines in 61 units.Adams said it occurred to her while riding one day that she could use her 2,000-mile trek as a way to both raise funds and awareness that the Marines are still in Afghanistan and Iraq.Sponsors are asked to send donations to Moss Creek Marines, P.O. Box 21312, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925.During her bike trip, Adams will be posting her progress and photographs on her Facebook page: RoseOnBike-for-Moss-Creek-Marines/234034809984639?sk=info.For information on the bike tours, visit www.womantours.com
Reach Rosalie Earle at email@example.com or 304-348-5115.