When it comes to bike travel, Janet SeGall’s motto is, “The more surprises along the way, the bigger — and often the better — the adventure.” If torrential downpours count as surprises, then Janet has had some grand adventures because she has a knack for planning bike trips that coincide with epic rainstorms. Take for instance her 2004 tour of the C&O Canal/GAP with her son Eric: 30 minutes into the weeklong tour, the rain started and didn’t stop for the next three hours. “If you’ve ever been on the C&O Canal, you know there is nowhere to go,” said Janet. “We were stuck riding it out.” She refused to let the downpour deter her from stopping to see the sites. While she watched the raging river spill over the rocks at the Great Falls of the Potomac, Eric — then 13 — stood by, less impressed. “Why are we standing here in the rain, looking at water?” he asked.
After Janet bid on a Danube River cycling trip during Adventure Cycling’s 2012 online auction, she went to bed with The Sound of Music in her head and the supreme confidence that someone would outbid her, which is why she did not tell her husband, Gary. That made for an interesting conversation with him the next day after she received a phone call from Adventure Cycling telling her that she had indeed won.
The next summer, as the rainfall broke records in Germany and the Danube overflowed its banks, the SeGalls packed their panniers.
“There were very few tourists. Bike trails were completely washed out, trees were covering the roads, and piles of silt were everywhere,” said Janet. “But the people were wonderful! Since the inns were not busy, we could sit and chat with the owners. Random strangers would help us find alternate routes when the roads were not open or the river taxis were not running. They were amazed we had been able to ride in some of the places we did. When we made a wrong turn outside of Salzburg, we met a couple going our way.” That German couple: the granddaughter of Maria von Trapp and her husband. “They gave us a riding tour of Salzburg, took us to various locations where The Sound of Music was filmed, and told us the real story about the von Trapp family. We had a wonderful time despite — or maybe because of — the circumstances.”
Janet caught the bike-travel bug from her sister and brother-in-law in the mid-1990s and soon after joined Adventure Cycling. “It didn’t take long until I was hooked. Adventure Cycling is my favorite cycling organization because it is the only one that gets me excited about riding and planning adventures,” she said. As a physician in Greenville, Pennsylvania, Janet’s tours are limited to what she can squeeze into her two-week vacations, but that will all change in three years when Janet retires. After 20 years of empowering others to ride through her donations to Adventure Cycling, Janet will finally have the chance to enjoy her own long-distance tour. “I have always wanted to do a cross-country tour, I think the Northern Tier.” You can bet she will bring rain gear.
Story by: April Cypher is Adventure Cycling’s development coordinator. She has lived in Tacoma, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, and knows a thing or two about rain.
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It takes more than rain to stop this bicycle traveler
“Nothing I did had more impact on my life. If Adventure Cycling wouldn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have had the guts to try something like that.”
“I realized at some point that Adventure Cycling’s mission was unlikely to ever change from matching MY mission.”
“My first bike tour was one of the most valuable things I have done for myself ... I wanted to encourage people, especially women, to go for it!”
“I’m a cyclist, and it seems like the appropriate thing to do, to support an organization that does what I feel is so much good in the cycling community.”