12 Riders, 6 Tandems, 1 derful!

by Madeline McKiddy Photograph by Greg Siple

In 2002, Dan Halvorson, his wife Lesli, three of their children, and a yellow lab visited our office on their way across the U.S. on the TransAm Trail. However, only Dan was riding while the family followed in a motor home. After the trip, Dan and Lesli began to dream about doing the tour again; only this time, with the whole family on two wheels. 

They started planning and saving, and finally in 2012, Dan and Leslie and their four children (Jon Michael, 14, Sara, 13, Lydia, 10, and Abraham, 8) along with their good friends Annemarie and Clark Schroeder with their four children (Hanna, 16, Emily, 15, Ella, 13, and Noah, 11) set out from Yorktown, Virginia, to realize their dream — on six tandems with trailers, fully self-contained.

Their epic journey had four main goals: 1) To strengthen their relationship with each other, one of the reasons for choosing tandems. The relationships between the riders were further strengthened by switching up the tandem teams every week, said 13-year-old Ella. “I was able to ride on every bike with every captain!” 2) To strengthen discipleship, which was accomplished by taking turns teaching each other aspects of the Christian life. 3) To learn to accomplish goals by breaking seemingly insurmountable obstacles (riding across America, for example) and breaking them into small pieces. And 4) to share Christ across America by offering information and teachings to those they came across, and every one of the group felt that every goal had been accomplished. Did they miss their friends, pets, and nice soft beds? Sure. 15-year-old Emily said she was “opposed to this crazy idea at first, but as the trip went on I started to like it more and more”.

Jon Michael, 14, gave us some wonderful parting advice: “Never give up!  When the hills are relentless, don’t give up! When dogs snap at your heels around every corner in Kentucky, don’t give up! When you know you still have 50 miles to stare at an endless brown horizon in Kansas, don’t give up! When you get your first glimpse of the Rockies, don’t give up! Because when you complete your journey, you will feel three-million times better knowing that you did all that, and didn’t give up!”