As of Sept. 24, Janet Peterson, associate professor of health and human performance at Linfield College, and her husband Jay Swenberger ‘06, have biked 5,255 kilometers and logged 336 hours on their bikes. And the open road continues to call.
The adventure of the unknown, the desire to meet new people and the need to see the world in a different light inspired the couple to bike around the world. They started in Norway in early June and have since made their way through countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
“There will be stories to tell – stories that Jay and I will cherish forever. It is the unwritten stories, the ‘what’s going to happen’ that is warming my soul,” said Peterson in her first blog post about her journey back in June. “I haven’t felt this alive for years.”
The couple plans to bike through multiple continents, including parts of Europe, SE Asia, New Zealand, Australia and possibly South America. Peterson and Swenberger are avid bicyclists year-round.
“I have been bike touring since I was a teenager traveling alone, with friends and now my wonderful husband. I am fond of any type of bike tour from credit card with fancy hotels to mountain bike back-country camping. I have toured throughout Europe and the West Coast of the U.S. and plan on seeing as much of the world by bike as I can,” said Peterson in her travel blog.
They have completed bicycle tours in the U.S. and in parts of Wales and Germany, but this is their most ambitious trip. All of their gear is stowed in pannier packs on their bikes, and they sometimes camp or stay with friends along the way.
In the small village of Cakovice, Prague, they came across a house labeled “Cyclo Nanuk” (nanuk means ice cream). They stopped to investigate and discovered a shed full of ice cream and other snacks that travelers could purchase. Meanwhile, the owner offered Peterson and Swenberger a place to camp in his yard since the nearest site was more than 20 km away. Their host and new friend Petr provided beverages, and the group enjoyed conversation throughout the evening.
“The kindness of strangers is a theme that many long-distance bike tourists talk about,” said Peterson in her blog. “We have had many interactions with strangers that have made our lives on the road just a little more comfortable — just a little nicer. Some strangers become friends.”
Peterson took a year off from teaching at Linfield to travel and will return in time for the 2015-16 academic year.
To learn more about their travels, visit their blog, jjpeterberger.wordpress.com.