After years of running a household and raising their children, and a long career as a veterinarian, Ann and Bill Testerman are starting a new life in retirement together by biking the United States, one rail-trail at a time.
The Testerman’s adventures began when Bill retired 10 years ago. Their first foray led them on a hike of the Appalachian Trail, which they did in two trips over two years. Ann said this trip was key to helping them learn how to pack light for their bike trips.
The Testerman’s first overnight bicycle trip took them down south along the Pacific Coast on a series of multi-use trails from near their home in northwest Washington (Anacortes) to the California–Mexico border. The following year, they took a series of trails through the southern tier of the United States from San Diego, California, through Texas, finally ending in St. Augustine, Florida.
Ann said that although she enjoyed the trip, it required too much road riding and not enough on trails, which she prefers!
Locally, in addition to day trips to nearby San Juan Island, which is known for both its beauty and robust bicycling culture, the Testermans can often be found on the Tommy Thompson Trail. Ann said this trail is a particular favorite of theirs because of its half-mile long railway trestle, which provides a beautiful view of Mount Baker as they cross Fidalgo Bay. The couple also takes frequent day trips on the nearby Olympic Discovery Trail, which crosses trestles over creeks and rivers, and passes through forests and prairie.
Most recently, however, Ann and Bill could be found on the East Coast, biking from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh via the 185-mile long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) and Great Allegheny Passage, and then along the Erie Canalway Trail though upstate New York.
According to Ann, because the trails do not all connect, their trip required careful planning. Regardless of the logistics involved, however, the couple thoroughly enjoyed the trip. “We absolutely loved it,” said Ann. “We stopped at every lock on the C&O and Allegheny canals and read all about the history at each stop.”
In particular, she said they were surprised by how quickly they felt that they were far away from civilization, riding under the dense canopies of East Coast forests. She also notes how impressed they were with the work that had been done to preserve those trails. “It’s very impressive that somebody has managed such a large effort, the local communities and the states and federal government, to preserve these trails,” said Ann.
Bill and Ann said that these trips help to keep them active and healthy while allowing them time to enjoy the beauty of nature. They are also happy to spend this time together and have an opportunity to explore a hobby they both enjoy. They both agreed, however, that one of the best parts of their trips is the people they meet along the way.
“A friend of mine said that bicycling is like a magic carpet that takes you places to meet wonderful people and see beautiful things,” said Bill. “These experiences with the people we meet and with nature are what keep us going.”