By SAM SPIEGELMAN
The Daily Times of Salisbury
LEWES, Del. (AP) — As 1 p.m. approached and black storm clouds loomed, every bicyclist spotted was presumed to be Jack and Bonnie Matthews.
For a crowd comprised of about 20 supporters, the conclusion of this 4,000-mile journey couldn’t come sooner.
A trek that began in Portland, Ore., with a dip of their bicycle tires in the Pacific Ocean on June 5 culminated Wednesday with a dip into waters off of Lewes beach.
“The hardest thing about the whole trip wasn’t the biking, but being away from family for that long,” Jack Matthews said.
Bonnie Matthews came up with the idea last summer as Jack, her son, prepared for his senior year at the University of Delaware.
“The biggest reason I jumped on this was because it’s something to say that you did that not a lot of people can say they did,” Jack said.
“I looked at this time between graduation and starting a job, and I didn’t know if I would get the opportunity to do it again.”
A former rugby player at Delaware, Jack was physically prepared for the trek. His 53-year-old mother trained seven days a week at the gym and on her bike climbing hills. She even sought help from a cross-country biker.
“(The trainer) gave her some hills to go up and down for about eight hours and said if you could do them, you’ll be all right,” said Harold Marrazza, Bonnie’s father.
The journey began at the train station in Lancaster, Pa., which took the mother-son duo to Portland. Bonnie had planned out routes a year in advance, and the pair would reroute after receiving advice from local bike shops.
The biggest problem they encountered wasn’t using the map; nor was it flat fires. Instead, it was blogging.
“Technology was hard,” Bonnie said. “We needed libraries. It was harder than I thought to get on the computer.”
“We were trying to remember where we stayed,” Jack said.
“If we didn’t have the blog to force us to make comments, we might have forgotten the great little place we ate dinner.”
Bonnie and Jack traveled through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
And along the way, they were taken in by local churches and families who provided them with food, beds and even offered to do their laundry.
“Every time we were down in the dumps, we met someone great,” Bonnie Matthews said.
“Strangers invited us over for dinner, to sleep in their homes. It was really surprising.”
As the duo pedaled for the final few miles through Lewes, emotions ran wild through the crowd of family and friends awaiting their arrival.
The trip helped raise money for the Special Olympics of Lancaster County.
“They raised more than $5,000 and they did all the work,” said Bob Lopez. “You can’t beat that.”
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)