Suburban seniors biking from Maine to Miami

 
 
  • Norma Witherbee, left, of Morton Grove, and her sister Evie Weber, of Arlington Heights, took a 2,100-mile bike trip in 2007. Now they're planning yet another cross country ride.

    Norma Witherbee, left, of Morton Grove, and her sister Evie Weber, of Arlington Heights, took a 2,100-mile bike trip in 2007. Now they're planning yet another cross country ride. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Having clocked thousands of miles on their bikes, sisters Evie Weber, left, and Norma Witherbee are hitting the road again, this time from Maine to Miami.

    Having clocked thousands of miles on their bikes, sisters Evie Weber, left, and Norma Witherbee are hitting the road again, this time from Maine to Miami. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Evie Weber, 72, and her sister, Norma Witherbee, 75, love camping along the way when they go on cross country bike trips.

    Evie Weber, 72, and her sister, Norma Witherbee, 75, love camping along the way when they go on cross country bike trips. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The road beacons once again for Norma Witherbee, left, and her sister, Evie Weber.

    The road beacons once again for Norma Witherbee, left, and her sister, Evie Weber. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Published: 8/17/2009 11:29 AM

They're on the road again.

Sisters Evie Weber and Norma Witherbee have clocked thousands of miles across the United States on their bicycles. They've pedaled from Arlington Heights to Anaheim, Calif., from St. Louis to Oregon retracing Louis and Clark's route, and from Mobile, Ala., to Ontario, Canada, along the path of escaped slaves, to name a few trips.

And now, Weber, who's 72, and Witherbee, who will turn 76 in September, are hitting the road again. This time, they plan to pedal 2,700 miles, from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Miami.

Their treks have followed the paths slaves took to freedom and that adventurers took to discover new land.

This one, though, "is just following our hearts," says Weber, an Arlington Heights resident who thinks being an adventurer is simply in their blood.

"Our mother and father were adventurers. We're adventurers," she said.

The duo began cycling in 1976 on local bike trails. Then they wound up riding in Wisconsin and eventually met someone who was cycling across the country.

"One thing led to another, we joined the Arlington Heights Bicycle Club. They taught us how to bicycle tour. We just took off from there," Weber said.

While they enjoy organized rides with a group, they prefer doing their own thing, so they can explore if they want or stop if they'd like. "If you're with an organized group, you have to stick with the schedule," Weber said.

This time, they plan to sleep mostly at campgrounds along the way, though they'll likely stay in a hotel here or there as weather requires.

Weber says hotels are nice, but they just can't beat the atmosphere of a campground where you meet all sorts of great people.

She says her husband will drive his car along some of the route as a support vehicle. But when he's not there, the duo will be carrying loads of 50 to 80 pounds.

The two plan to start their trip on Wednesday and end up in Miami by the end of October, Weber said.

If things go really well, they might even keep heading south and into the Keys, but they'll just have to wait and see, she said.

The challenges include money (they're budgeting about $50 a day each for food and lodging) and weather, since they're heading south straight into hurricane season. Weber said.

How will they get back? "I don't know. I might convince my husband to come" and drive back.

Weber, who has four children and nine grandchildren, says people sometimes ask if she's afraid of getting attacked or something. "I always fall back on, you can be attacked in your own home, so why worry about it. Why not go out and play."

As for her children, she says that if they didn't have young families, "they'd be out playing with mom."