Photo by Nikki Davis/Nikki Davis Photography
When was the last time you biked 1,300 miles around the Chesapeake Bay watershed? My guess is not too recently! That’s not the case for CBFers John Rodenhausen and Beth McGee who recently completed a three-week circumnavigation of the watershed, covering all six states from New York to Virginia . . . did I mention they were on bikes the whole time! “It just felt like the right thing to do for so many different reasons,” says Rodenhausen on a sunny Tuesday afternoon following the duo’s return.
Those reasons were very close to home. As McGee’s sister has diabetes and Rodenhausen’s nephew has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, the two decided to ride for their families, raising money and awareness for these important issues through their adventure. Of course, as employees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Bay was also top on their list of causes. “There is a link between a healthy environment and healthy bodies,” say Rodenhausen and McGee on their blog, “so hopefully our efforts will help Save the Bay, cure cancer and alleviate suffering from diabetes. Bold aspirations perhaps, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
The journey included stops in Baltimore, MD, Scranton, PA, Cooperstown, NY, Charlottesville, VA, Seaford, DE, and many more. And despite the strenuous, sometimes rainy days, the two don’t have any regrets: “At no point did I ever feel like, ‘oh my god, why am I doing this?!’ and part of it I think was the chemistry between Beth and I. I really appreciated her steadfastness and her ability to just charge forward,” says Rodenhausen. “It was really fun, but it’s a once in a lifetime thing. Even if you tried to do it again, it wouldn’t be the same. You can’t recreate it,” says McGee. “You can’t redo the Mona Lisa,” Rodenhausen adds.
That’s not to say it was all peaches and cream. “There were some really physically challenging moments like when we thought it was going to be a six-mile descent into Cooperstown, and we would just be coasting in at 30 mph, but instead we wound up walking because it was a 20 percent decline on a rocky, muddy back, dirt country road,” says Rodenhausen. “That was probably the largest physical challenge because it was the end of that first week; we hadn’t had a day off the bike in five days; we just crossed three states; and we were carrying more weight than we were going to be carrying the rest of the trip.” “And it was raining!” McGee adds.
But never once did the two ever question why they were out there; never did they reach into their back pockets where they kept sealed, in-case-of-emergency-only envelopes with a list of their top five reasons for doing the trek when they hit rock bottom. “We just rode our bikes and ate,” says Rodenhausen, “I feel so guilty I mean we had so much fun doing it!”
The money keeps trickling in, but all in all, McGee and Rodenhausen, have exceeded their goal of $20,000 raised funds to go to their three causes. As of this week, $21, 301 has been raised ($11,000 for CBF, $5,195 for the American Diabetes Association, and $5,106 for Child Cancer Treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital).
Though they are happy to be home, they do remember fondly their days of “road magic,” as they like to call it, of serendipitously meeting generous strangers on the road or discovering off-the-beaten-path places. But as Rodenhausen reiterates, “The best part of leaving, is coming home.”
Stay tuned for more on Rodenhausen and McGee's reflections on their journey next week! In the meantime, to read more of Rodenhausen and McGee’s daily adventures, please visit their blog. Check out our Facebook page for more photos of their big welcome home. Find out how you can both bike and save the Bay here!
Finally, to donate to Rodenhausen and McGee’s causes, please visit the following pages.
Photo courtesy of CBF Staff.
Map courtesy of Microwave Telemetry.