MHS grad, spouse bicycle from Denver to Marshalltown

After nearly 850 miles on a bicycle, Deb (Lapour) Kennedy and husband Steve Kennedy, of Denver, were happy to see 507 W. South St. in Marshalltown Wednesday afternoon.

Deb’s mother, Edith Lapour, resides there, and she was excited to see her daughter and son-in-law.

Include Deb’s friends and classmates from Marshalltown High School, class of 1973, and the challenging ride will have been worthwhile.

Fittingly, it is Deb’s 40th Marshalltown High School class reunion taking place Friday and Saturday which was the driving force for the Kennedys to undertake their first bicycle touring adventure since 1998, and their first long-distance trip in 23 years.

Motivating the couple to undertake the task was an article Deb read several years about a Colorado man who bicycled to his hometown for his 40th high school reunion.

The article stuck in the avid cyclist’s mind.

“We were eager to get back into touring,” Deb said.

The couple had previously completed five long-distance tours including a ride to Maine from Denver and one across Iowa and Wisconsin.

The situation was ideal to start anew.

“We had the time, we had different bicycles, we had a goal … the reunion,” Deb said.

Both are Coe College graduates who pursued careers in education.

She is retired, and Steve, a native of Cedar Rapids, works for the University of Northern Colorado.

And, as the reunion approached, the training began in earnest.

The couple started in late March, riding about 1,000 miles in the Denver area before departing for Marshalltown June 6.

They were well-equipped – they had purchased used top-of-the line Cannondale Touring bicycles from a reliable bicycle shop owner who, along with her three sons, had used the bikes on a cross-country trip.

Powered by bagels, bananas, pancakes, pasta and more, the Kennedys averaged 65 miles per day.

They ran into extremely windy weather – 30 to 40 mph gusts – shortly after departing, which reduced their initial miles, but were able to make up the deficit with several days of riding 90-plus miles.

Despite the long distance, the Kennedys experienced one flat tire, a minor mechanical issue on Steve’s bike, which was easily resolved, and only one problem with a brief road rage incident instigated by a young pick-up truck driver.

“The farther east we rode, the friendlier people were,” Steve said. “A number of people would ask how we were doing, where we were headed and so forth. We met two native Marshalltownians on our trip through conversations like that.”

The Kennedys had advice to weekend warriors or others contemplating such a trip.

“Invest in good equipment,” Steve said.

“Get your body ready for long rides, by training and getting your butt ready for many hours on the saddle,” Deb said.

The Kennedys will not be riding back to Denver.

“My dad will be picking us up in Marshalltown and we will return to Denver,” Steve said. “We are looking forward to spending some time with him.”