On The Road
Fredrickson began leading bicycle tours about six years ago and typically leads one trip each summer. The one-week tour of Glacier National Park the 36-year-old teacher led this past summer was her shortest trip to date. On past trips, she has pedaled down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Francisco, cycled through the national parks of the Northern United States and Canada, and toured New England. She has even led Bikecentennial's longest haul, the TransAmerica, a coast-to-coast ride that takes three months to complete.
Bikecentennial covers Fredrickson's trip expenses and pays her a stipend of $20 a day. It's not a spectacular salary, but Fredrickson feels lucky to be paid at all for doing what she loves to do. She concedes, however, that there is "some work'' involved in planning the route, handling the money, and helping the group work together.
For Fredrickson, cycling is more than mere recreation or exercise. "It's a perspective-giver,'' she says. "Whenever I get weirded out by things going on at school, I get on my bicycle.''
She has noticed that it has a similar effect on many of those who tour with her. "Some people are real reserved at first,'' she says. "But being on a long trip--just being on the road--changes that.''
Cycling and leading bicycle trips also have had a positive impact on Fredrickson's teaching. "When you teach,'' she says, "there's so much you have to bring into the classroom outside of the content area, and any time you add to other dimensions in your life-- whether you talk about them directly in your class or not--that always adds to your teaching.'' Her outdoor training comes in handy when she takes members of her school's wilderness club backpacking, rock climbing, and skiing.
Fredrickson has trouble singling out any one trip as her most memorable. "In terms of scenery and grandeur,'' she says, the Glacier Park trip was the best. But the group experience of the TransAmerica trip had the strongest impact. She speaks of it in the spiritual tone of an avowed cyclist: "I don't look at things quite the same way since I did that trip. On the TransAm, we used to talk about 'when we get back to the real world,' and then it occurred to us that maybe this is the real world.''
M. Dominique Long