Retirees embrace new life cycle

From left, John Pellegrin and Ken Bowen pose in front of Niagara Falls. Other places they saw include Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Two friends who are retired, in their 60s and bicycling enthusiasts completed a cross-country ride this past summer, a journey taking 45 days to go from sea to sea.

John Pellegrin of Parkersburg and Ken Bowen of Belpre rode 3,700 miles in an excursion starting June 23 in Astoria, Ore., and ending Aug. 12 in Portsmouth, N.H. It included a short ride through Canada, too.

“They actually closed the bridge for us when we crossed into Canada,” Bowen said.

Cycling with a group of 35 riders with the mean age of about 62, Bowen and Pellegrin were gone for 50 days, 45 days of which were spent on bicycles across the northern United States.

It was their first cross-country bicycle ride. Another ride doesn’t appear to be in the future.

From left, John Pellegrin and Ken Bowen entering Wyoming on July 8. (Photo Provided)

Pellegrin and Bowen have known each other since the Blennerhassett Bicycle Club, formed in the late 1890s, was reconstituted about 30 years ago. Bowen is now president of the club and Pellegrin is the treasurer.

The group of riders participated in a tour organized by America by Bicycle, which arranged the stops, hotel accommodations, meals and emergency care that was sometimes needed during the ride. The trek cost $11,000.

“It’s not cheap,” Pellegrin said.

But the experience was worth it, according to Bowen.

The group passed through some of the most picturesque landscapes in America, including Mt. Hood, Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. The view from the bridge near Niagara Falls was breathtaking, Bowen said.

John Pellegrin dips the front wheel of his bicycle in the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Ore., where he, Ken Bowen and about three dozen other riders started a cross-country journey across America. (Photo Provided)

“We had a beautiful view of the falls,” he said.

Bowen, who retired from AmSty, is 65, having celebrated his birthday on the day of departure from Astoria on June 23. Pellegrin is 68 and is retired from Constellium.

The oldest rider was 79.

Their wives didn’t participate in the ride, but John’s wife, Barbara, and Bowen’s wife, Rose, joined them at Sioux Falls, S.D. Bowen’s son, John, lives in Cincinnati and met up with him in Port Huron, Mich.

Pellegrin’s brother, who lives in Fairmont, and his wife, Joe and Cindy, met him in Niagara Falls.

John Pellegrin in the Black Hills on July 17. (Photo Provided)

Bowen and Pellegrin trained several months to prepare for the ride, such as cycling centuries, which are 100 miles long. Despite the training, which included riding about 200 miles a week, the cross-country ride was difficult at times, although it got easier as time went on and the further east the group went.

The hills became less of a challenge, they said.

Fortunately the weather was good most of the time, Pellegrin said. It wasn’t hot and it only rained maybe five times during the entire 50-day adventure, he said.

Each day’s segment generally started at 7 a.m. The rides ended around 2 p.m.

Among the difficult parts of the journey was the Teton Pass in Wyoming where the elevation is 9,000 feet, Bowen said.

Ken Bowen and John Pellegrin, third and fourth from left, with three other riders at the end of the journey on Aug. 12 at Portsmouth, N.H. (Photo Provided)

“It was a lot of work,” he said.

The Black Hills area of South Dakota was beautiful, Pellegrin said. Not so for the rest of the state, he said.

“The rest of South Dakota was God forsaken,” he said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

Ken Bowen rides through the Black Hills of South Dakota on July 17. He and John Pellegrin completed a 3,700 mile cross-country journey across the northern United States this past summer. (Photo Provided)

Mount Hood in Oregon made for a beautiful scenic view for the riders. (Photo Provided)