A thrilling two-wheeled journey

Jane Setman’s bike trip across the US

Created date

April 28th, 2020
The cyclists kicked off their cross-country bike trip on Dog Beach in San Diego. They're seen here at the starting line.

The cyclists kicked off their cross-country bike trip on Dog Beach in San Diego. They're seen here at the starting line.

Maris Grove resident Jane Setman had been an avid cyclist since her kids, now in their 50s, were teenagers. At her peak, she logged 75 miles on a single ride. But cycling cross-country for two months wasn’t something she’d considered until her biking buddy Katie Kinsey suggested they try it.  

In March 2008, they joined 30 other women on a 58-day ride from San Diego, Calif., to St. Augustine, Florida. It was a journey Jane will never forget. 

Ups and downs

The early spring start left Jane with minimal time to train outdoors, and she felt it on the first day. “The ride was 33 miles. It started flat, so I thought, ‘This isn’t bad.’ Then we hit the mountain. I wasn’t ready for that,” she chuckles, “but I improved over time.”

Ages within the group ranged from 25 to 69; two women rode recumbent bikes. “They were slower, but determined,” Jane says. “One had recovered from a stroke and had little use of her left side. It must have been so challenging for her. She inspired us all.” 

The riders had support from a “sag wagon,” a Subaru that stopped every 20 miles or so to provide snacks, water, and, if needed, a lift. A van pulling a small trailer held their luggage and supplies. Every evening, the tour guide would set up an outdoor kitchen and prepare a buffet dinner. 

“We sat in a circle in white plastic chairs, eating, talking, and taking in the incredible scenery,” recalls Jane. “Then we’d retire to our lodging, everything from excellent hotels to smelly motels—but most were clean, warm, and dry. After a long day on a bike, you just wanted a bed.” 

Because they started early each day, the women dressed in layers. “As the day wore on and we warmed up, we peeled off clothes, which went into the sag wagon,” recalls Jane. “One night, a cyclist put on all the excess clothing, came to the dinner circle, and did a ‘strip tease.’ It was hilarious. I wish I’d had a video camera. I’ll never forget it.” 

Of all the places they visited, Texas was her one of her favorites. “I’m from Nebraska, and had seen northern Texas,” says Jane. “I expected the entire state to be flat and dry, but it was amazing, like three states in one. We saw the cacti in the high desert, the blooming fields of bluebonnets, and the mountain views near Fort Davis. It was breathtaking.” 

She also loved Silver City, New Mexic, near the Continental Divide, and St. Francisville, Louisiana, on the Mississippi River, where they stayed in small cottages on a former plantation. “We learned so much about the history and culture of these places. The entire experience was incredible.”

A new chapter

Jane and her husband Bill, who met on a local bike trip, moved from a 55-plus community to Maris Grove in November 2019. Both of them are involved in various clubs and activities, primarily exercising for her and woodworking and model railroading for him.

“Moving here was like packing for that bike trip: You try to get 20 lbs of stuff into a 5 lb bag. But we’re getting organized,” Jane says with a smile. “We’re very happy to be here. Maris Grove offers everything we’re looking for, and we’re excited about this new chapter.”