Elenz Family Bike Trip
During the summer of 1998, the Elenz Family, Jon, Carla, Jodie, age 15, and Todd, age 12, embarked on the trip of a lifetime, riding bicycles 4370 miles from Florence, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. On June 7, 1998, we dipped our rear tires in the Pacific Ocean. We headed our bikes east, and 85 days later, dipped our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean. This began as a dream about 20 years earlier for Jon and Carla. Somehow, the pressures of jobs, family and bills were always in the way. Jodie and Todd started touring when they were 9 and 6 for yearly vacations with Mom and Dad. Then, as the kids became teens, the dream became theirs as well. Suddenly, it became a priority to do this as a family.
Jon and Carla were able to take leaves of absences from their jobs. The dog and the bills and the house were taken care of by friends and family. Jodie, as a Senior Girl Scout, decided to incorporate this trip into her Gold Award project. She purchased a small, mini-notebook computer, and this journal and website became part of her project. She also raised over $3000 in sponsorships that summer, which she used to put on Bike Safety Month in her community.
During three months on the road, the Elenz family endured freezing rain, snow, hail, burning heat and wind. We camped in city parks and slept in churches, fire stations and even a monastery. We were taken in by numerous wonderful people. We met people on the trail that became our family that summer. Our home became wherever we pitched our tent. Our dinner table was wherever we stopped to make a PB&J sandwich or buy a pack of bologna. For three months, we were known as "the family on the TransAm". We rode together and slept together, we laughed and sang silly songs and had our own personal jokes. It was an experience that shaped our lives forever. Jon and Carla may have the opportunity to ride across the country again, but it won't be the same as the first time with our children. Jodie and Todd will undoubtedly go on to do bigger and better things, but this will always be a pivotal point in our lives.
Jodie's motto became our theme for the trip:
The biggest people with the biggest ideas
can be shot down by the
smallest people with the smallest minds: THINK BIG ANYWAY.
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*Postscript 7 years later: Jodie is 22, graduated from the University of Michigan in Aerospace Engineering, having gone through the Air Force ROTC program. She is a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. She is married and moving around the country with her career. Todd is 19, and an aspiring amateur road bike racer. He is spending the summer racing in Belgium.