Cross-country jaunt a holiday for Mamer
Who wouldn’t like to drop everything and take a couple of months to pursue one of their favorite pastimes?
Many of us dream of such things, or even getting away to somewhere warm when winter is dragging on a little too long, dumping March snows upon the already burgeoning snowbanks.
Well, Merrill’s Brenda Mamer is actually following through on just such a getaway, but it’s no walk in the park. It’s called the WomanTours Southern Tier Cross-Country Bike Tour, and it’s a two-month, 3,065-mile bike ride across the country, along a southerly route from San Diego, Cal., to St. Augustine, Fla. She started the ride on March 8 and hopes to see it through to the end on May 3.
“I was on a long Wisconsin Ride–the (300-mile) Northwoods Challenge–and someone had a T-shirt on for WomanTours. I dragged her over to talk about it. The time of year, all women, hotels, they cook for you–it just sounded perfect.
“I think it will be fun; if you like that sort of thing.”
Not only does the timing let Mamer miss the end of winter, her husband, Richard, is tied up for long hours doing other peoples’ taxes in the build-up to April 15.
Sounds like a holiday.
“Exactly!” Mamer interjects. “You know a lot of people around here go south for a few months in winter.”
The timing isn’t the greatest for a northern biker to get up to full pedaling speed, but Mamer thinks she’ll be fine due to her past biking experience and the fact that the trip caters to women over 50.
“I run a few times a week and I do this and that,” she said. “They said I could possibly do some spinning classes, but I do have age in my favor. How often do you hear that at 58? The oldest person is 76 and a few are 71 years old.”
The ride also comes across as care-free cruise, not hard-core slog.
“It just seems like a fun group,” Mamer said. “When you hit a new state, they have a margarita night. They have a big celebration when you dip your tires in the Pacific Ocean at Dog Beach (outside San Diego) and you get a police escort the last 6-7 miles in St. Augustine.”
The ride is fully sagged, a biking term for a support/gear truck that leapfrogs riders to provide support.
“All I have to do is a little pedaling,” Mamer said. “That’s all I have to do; that and eat.
“I get a day off a week, and the days I do ride we average 65 miles but you have all day to do it. The sag wagon will stop every 20 miles, so you can stop for snacks or if anybody has any other problems. This is the easy, deluxe trip.
“We’ve done a lot of hiking in Europe, hut-to-hut, where you also don’t have to carry any bedding. It’s just a nice way to go.
“Why rush when you’re having such a good time?”
The sag wagon limits riders’ needs to bare necessities.
“It couldn’t be any simpler,” Brenda stated. “They have a lot of tools and supplies with them. We’re packing tubes and rain gear, but apparently they have everything.
“I’ve brought my own spokes, because you never know about spokes. I guess they can really vary. I have two different sizes and some people have three. I’ll put them in my seat tube and never have to worry about them.”
Not that the whole trip is an escape from reality and responsibility. Mamer is collecting pledges and donations to be used for Phase 1 of the River Bend Trail.
“I think every other community has made the most of their riverfront, and we just ignore it,” Brenda noted. “It’s a quality of life thing. For people that live here, it’d be very enjoyable (to have the trail).
“The trail will be used for biking and hiking, promoting good health. It seemed like a good tie-in. The first piece is 2-1/2 miles from the Cosmo (Theater) out to the MARC and Council Grounds.”
River District Development Foundation member Sharon Anderson is “gratified” that her friend Brenda would seek to raise funds for the Merrill trail.
“Brenda is a supporter of bike riding and health in general,” Anderson said. “(The Merrill trail) such a cool idea, using the resources we have, enhancing them and making things more accessible.”
To donate, log on to www.riverdistrictfoundationofmerrill.com.
“The state is interested in our plan because eventually they want this to be part of a state-wide trail,” Anderson said. “They want to connect our trail to the Bearskin Trail that goes to Minocqua and also hook up with the Mountain Bay Trail and end up in Green Bay.”
Brenda added a tour update on March 12: “The tour is well underway now and today is our much-appreciated, first day off. Woman’s Tour is very organized and they are doing a great job herding us 30 independent women. It’s been delightful to meet, ride with, and learn about the others from across the US, Canada, Brazil and New Zealand.”