Sharon and Jerry Miller from St. Pete, Florida
Even though Sharon says he looks scarey
We all like to see him more hairy,
With or without his beard
Whenever his pretty face appeared
We always felt cared for: Thank you, Jerry!
I fondly refer to Jerry as "St. Joseph". He was provider, supporter, one who foresaw needs and filled them. He was never too tired, too sick, or too busy to lend a hand or a van to anyone who wanted help. Even for those trips that were frivolous and unnecessary, Jerry was always there to cart us to bike shop, shopping center, and store -- and always with a smile.
But it is not just his availability that made Jerry so dear to each of us. He is a non-judgmental, fun-loving, happy and understanding gentle-man. There aren't many around like Jerry, and each one of us has come to realize that Jerry is a rare jewel!
(More on Jerry can be found on the Staff page.)
It is a clear, unadulterated factCrossing the country under her own pedal power
That Sharon has brought Ringling Bros a new X-rated act
While she squats on the ground,
A little brown hound
Circles round her with her gloves and her hat.
Sharon, Mother #2 to Helen, was the person to whom I turned each morning for my "fix". A hug from Sharon was the blessing I needed in those early days to carry me over the hills (and mountains) and to bring me safely back to sea-level!
A rock-solid person, but quiet in her own way, Sharon has the wisdom of the ages, combined with a wit and sense of humor that are infectious!
Always inquisitive, Sharon shared her knowledge and expertise in such a way that one never felt "taught" or "instructed". This is one gal I surely would cherish as a neighbor!
Shortly after their return, Sharon was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times. A copy of the newspaper article follows:
A St. Petersburg woman sets off with 18 other bicyclists between ages 50 and 72 to ride from California to Florida.
By OLIVIA CLARKE
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 1999
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sharon Miller, who is 65, has seen America from the seat of her bicycle. She has just completed a 2,600-mile cross-country tour that started with her rear wheel in the Pacific and ended last month at St. Augustine Beach.
Inspired by the beauty of what she was doing and seeing, she wrote 62 letters -- to her mother.
"Dear Mom, today will probably be remembered as the most thrilling and incredibly awesome bike ride I have ever done," Miller wrote from Arizona to 90-year-old Helen Sutton, who lives at the Westminster Shores Retirement Community. "We had been climbing slowly to a summit of 6,000 feet to be greeted with a panorama view of the Gila River Valley."
Miller's cards describe the "Young at Heart" bike trip she rode beginning in April. She has never belonged to a bike club or group but has always enjoyed riding for pleasure.
This was her first bike trip.
Miller pedaled the 56-day trip across the United States with 18 riders from around the country between the ages of 50 and 72.
They rode through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The bicyclists discovered the trip through the Internet, met April 3 in Newport Beach, Calif., and made it to St. Augustine Beach by May 29.
The residents of Mobel Americana, where the Millers live, hosted a luncheon Wednesday in their honor and listened to her speak about her experiences on the road.
"We dipped our rear tires in the Pacific surf," she said. "And it was awesome.
"Fifty-six days later we rode into the Atlantic Ocean in St. Augustine. People ask me why I did this, and it is to celebrate life.
"I am a cancer survivor so each day is special to celebrate." Miller overcame breast cancer in the mid-1980s, and it has not recurred.
Miller rode a turquoise touring bike with 21 gears that weighed 25 pounds. She had only two flats during the entire trip. Another rider had 14.
She used a seat engineered for women and had a bicycle computer that kept track of her mileage. She averaged about 12.4 miles per hour.
"I came back from the trip with a deeper appreciation for what my body did," she said. "And I thank God Almighty for strength."
She has prepared for this trip her entire life through riding her bike everywhere and attending a swim class three days a week for more than 15 years. For six months, she seriously trained for the bike ride by riding 10 miles a day and 20 to 30 miles once a week. She also learned everything about her bike including how to repair it.
There were no serious injuries on the trip, but the oldest woman had a bladder infection and left for several weeks, but returned to finish the trip.
Miller's husband, Jerry, took the trip with her. He drove one of two supply vans that followed the bikers and carried all the luggage. He said it was a great experience because he was able to share it with his wife.
"Going across the U.S., we went through odd areas because we had to generally take the back roads," he said. "It was an interesting view of the U.S. at a slow pace."
The man responsible for organizing the trip is 62-year-old Al Galletly. He originally rode his bike across the country in 1993 but wanted to do it again with his wife. In 1997 he began contacting as many bike groups and clubs through the Internet as he could. He received 250 responses, and in the end 18 signed up. The trip cost $4,900 per person, including hotels and most breakfasts and dinners.
The Millers and the Galletlys have been friends for years, and Miller had always wanted to take the trip that Galletly took in 1993.
"Everybody does this for various reasons," he said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. It is the opportunity to see a part of the country that you've never seen. The fact is, it is sort of a thrill to do something like that as a group. My thrill came from putting it together and watching it unfold in the eyes of the participants."
Despite all the preparation, Galletly said no one can completely anticipate what a trip like this could be like. He said a biker rides about 70 to 80 miles a day through all types of weather in the plains, hills and mountains.
Miller said age was no impediment. "'One of the oldest ladies was 70 and was absolutely incredible. She leveled the hills and made the hills seem flat. We called her the Energizer bunny because she kept going and going."
The Millers' daughter, Myra Witko, was at first surprised to learn of her mother's plans.
"When she told me I was first taken aback, but she had already made her decision. She still has the energy and excitement from it and that is an awesome accomplishment."
Long-time friends of the Galletlys, Sharon (whose bicycling experience has been a life-time enjoyment) was one of the riders on the trip, while her husband, Jerry drove one of the sag wagons.