Despite wild dogs, five flat tires, leg cramps and 105-degree heat coupled with 30 mile per hour winds in Kansas, Betty Cunningham and Terry Repak said their cross-country bicycle trip "came off without a hitch."
And to the surprise of everyone, especially the few skeptics who thought it improper for two women to travel alone, the pair completed a 3,185-mile bike trip in 29 days.
The tour took them from San Francisco, through 13 states to their finish line in Rehobeth, Del.
The energetic pair pedaled an average of 120 miles daily at 17 miles per hour, and up to 175 miles a day through the Nevada dessert.
To appease anxious relatives, Repak, 23, of Bethesda, and Cunningham, 18, of Silver Spring, traveled part of the way with a 20-year-old male companion. But the trip soon realized their itinerary was designed for two and the group split up "somewhere near the Mississippi."
Daily, the attractive team cycled from 6 a.m. to noon, rested, and biked again from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.
They traveled primarily on older roads paralleling the high speed interstate highways. Only in Nevada and Utah where they legally able to use major highways. Most biking was done in car lanes. When the rear-view mirrors attached to their 10-speed bikes warned them of approaching motorists, they moved to the shoulder of the road and rode single file.
Their nights were spent in inexpensive motels, at realtives homes or in youth hostels. Food and lodging for the trip cost each $250. Plus the cost to fly to San Francisco where their journey began.
In small western towns, the women said they were greeted by "extremely friendly people who would ask us a million questions about what we were doing and why."
"I just like to ride bikes and never thought I could physically do something like this," Cunningham, a 1977 Montgomery Blair High graduate, said.
Repak, a recent graduate of George Washington University, said she was convinced that traveling by bike across the country would be "more scenic than doing the trip by car. I felt on a bike you're at the mercy of the land, the climate.You really get a feel for the people."
The pair agreed that the highlight of the trip was "conquering" the western mountains.
"As much as we trained," Cunningham said, "we weren't sure we'd be prepared for them."
Each woman rode 20 miles daily for several weeks before leaving.
"The most exhilarating part was in the Sierra and Rocky Mountains," Repak recalled. You're going higher and higher but it's very well graded so you don't feel like you're doing that much work."
That climb took them up 12,100 feet.
"But coming down there are lots of turn backs. It is just spectacular seeing all the valleys."
"When we got to the top we were singing. We were so excited to get there and know we'd overcome it. Then you ride along the ridge in the Rockies above the timber line. That was really spectacular," Cunningham said.
The low point of the trip, the pair said, came in Kansas. For days they endured extreme heat. High wind gusted in their faces causing them "to feel like we were peadling backwards."
"You go to your limit and really push," Repak said of the ordeal. "We felt discouraged but when we got east of the Missouri it gave us the incentive to get home."
Planning such an expedition doesn't begin at a local travel agency or the automobile club, Repak and Cunningham said. It requires careful map reading to outline the trip, talking with others who have made similar trips and digesting material prepared by bicycle clubs.
It also means carring only essential gear to keep knapsack weight at a maximum 12 pounds.
With this summer's trip successfully behind them, the women are already planning a second expedition.
Next summer, Cunningham, who will study dance at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth this fall, is contemplating a bike trip through Canada.
Repak plans to study at the London School of Economics and will tour the English countryside by bike.