Vol. 4


No. 1

All the news that's fit to print and then some.



Hi everyone:

Thought we'd share the good news. Suzanne & I were married on February 18th. We decided to keep it small and private and were married here at the house. Eileen Meyers, who introduced us, was our witness. She had been sworn to secrecy (I'm sure that part was killing her). We spent a long weekend/honeymoon at an inn in Vermont and had a great time. We're planning a celebration on May 13th. By the way, Suzanne's new name is Suzanne Fitz-Gibbon.

Jack & Suzanne     

November 20, 1999

Thirty two people attended the meeting at Al and Marion's. A mountain bike ride and a hike were enjoyed by some of the group on this warm November day.

Treasury report: Al Shane reported that the club had $[..] in the bank, with another $[..] from the century expected. A printing fee will be subtracted bringing the total to around $[..].

Nominations: Julie Miles, nominating chair, ran new elections for officers:
- John Gustin...secretary [Actually, I was sitting at home, minding my own business when the phone rang. It was Irv Friedman calling from the meeting. Pat didn't want to be secretary again and they were having trouble finding another victim nominee. -web ed.]
- Pat Vinskey...nominating committee chair
Both were elected, all other officers and chairs were re-elected.

Banquet Committee: Pat Pitchko, chair
The annual FHF banquet will be held on February 12th at Zoe's Fish and Chop House (same as last year). This will be a buffet. The dessert will be an assortment of choices. The treasury will once again subsidize our sweet tooth! Entertainment at the banquet will be Al and Marion's slide show of Iceland!

Shirt Committee: no report. Please give your suggestions to the following committee members: Jack Fitz-Gibbon, Elaine Stafford, Joyce Morris, Steve Schwartz or John Gustin.

Next Meeting: Jack's home on March 4th, with a snow date of the 11th.

Pat Vinskey, Secretary     

To The FHF Cyclists

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2000!

Pete and I send you warm and sunny greetings....Lord knows we could use a few returned our way. Olympia is truly a beautiful place to live when the sun comes out - glaciated Mount Rainier standing sentinel off to the east, the 7,000+ foot peaks of the Olympic Peninsula to the west, the smell of the sea in the breeze off Puget Sound with sea gulls, Canadian geese, and bald eagles flying overhead. I love this place! But, I could do with a little less rain [Why do you think they call it Mount "Rainier"? -web ed.]. Luckily, we're giving each other mountain bikes for Christmas, an incentive to keep fit over the winter months, added to our jogging routine.

So much change for Pete and me in the last year. But through it all, God has blessed us tremendously...with a family visit in April before moving over 3,000 miles from the east to west - Massachusetts to the state of Washington. Going from full-time writers (yes, we're still working on our book...hoping to finish by summer...keep your fingers crossed!) to full-time bicycle tour guides (now off for the season - three months - yippee!). And now we're actually moving again - but this time only two miles away from our current apartment to a two-bedroom home right down the street from the State Capitol building. We're just waiting for visitors to come VISIT! Living in downtown will have its advantages - walking distance to the library, St. Michael's Church, cute little espresso shops, the Sound, and the huge, domed Capitol building that's an architectural splendor set alongside acres of green lawns and parks. Only downfall is that our bicycle commute to the BA warehouse will now be 4 miles instead of 2...I don't think that will be too much of a problem except maybe with all this RAIN.

Working for Bicycle Adventures kept Pete and me busy from June through November guiding tours around the Pacific Northwest. Trips were 8 or 6 days, with then 6 or 8 days off in between not counting time spent prepping for the next tour. Pete spent most of his time guiding tours in the San Juan Islands, WA and Gulf Islands, British Columbia, while I was sent on the Crater Lake tour in Oregon, along with Oregon Coast, Olympic Peninsula, and the San Juan Islands. Both of us got a trip down to California - me on the Wine Country and Redwoods tours, Pete on the Golden California. I just returned from a month in Hawaii guiding two trips around the Big Island. Life, to say the least, has been great - with lots of travelling...this time as part of our job and staying in first-class Inns and hotels and dining out at fabulous restaurants. We get to meet really nice folks, plus, we still get to BICYCLE. What a job! And next year, Pete and I will be guiding tours together...what could be better?

While our time apart has been most challenging, we've had a number of opportunities to enjoy some of the things we love doing together - camping/hiking in Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks, touring around Mount St. Helens, picking strawberries and blueberries in season, and biking around the area. We had a one-week vacation thanks to BA flying me down to Santa Barbara, CA during Pete's week off between tours. We spent a night camping on the CA coast before driving the BA van five hours inland to Domeland Wilderness area - a high desert region at the southern edge of the Sierra's. We spent three days hiking 26 miles and camping wild at 8,000, 6,500, and 10,000 feet in elevation respectfully [maybe so, but I think she meant "respectively" - web ed]. It was an awesome trip - hiking without seeing another soul until our last day near the trailhead, dazzled by stars and planets against an unadulterated nighttime sky, daytime temperatures in the high 70's (okay, nights were a bit cold - freezing). I fell in love with the desert and am looking forward to a return - maybe when Pete and I hike the Pacific Coast Trail - from Mexico to Canada - in pieces over the years. Pete and I also have some exploring to do in our sea kayak now that we live near the sea again...of so many things to do and see...

Sure do miss the club rides and all the socializing. FHF is a special group...you'll always hold a place in our hearts. Here's to hoping your are finding the same joy and wonder in living. Wishing you all the best.

Beth & Pete Sutch     

Iceland - by Bicycle, Bus and Boot

It was June 18 when we started from the International Airport in Keflavik and we got the worst of the weather out of the way that day. A light rain became a heavy rain. A light wind became so strong that it became impossible to bicycle so we pushed and walked with difficulty. To make matters worse, it was cold and we were in the mountains and there was no place to stay and the wind was blowing too hard to set up our tent. It was beautiful, but we were wet and cold and on the verge of hypothermia. Off in the distance by a lake, we saw some buildings and we pushed the tandem over a rudimentary path to a group of unoccupied vacation cottages and broke into a one-room shack with a door nailed shut with a board. We set up our tent inside for warmth. The next day was beautiful!

Two days later - more difficulty. We blew our back tire and shredded the rim. Not good. A farmer gave us a ride to a campground in Selfoss, a town with a bike shop. With nearly 4000 people, it is the largest town in southern Iceland (Reykjavik, with 170,000, is a city. Most of Iceland's sparse population lives in Reykjavik). We holed up at the campground for four days until we got the bike repaired. We met a lot of people, swam in a geothermally heated pool (we spent most of the time in the Jacuzzi), and made a side trip, by bus, to Gulfoss, an impressive, double-tiered waterfall and geyser with its spouting hot springs (but not as impressive as Yellowstone).

The rest of our trip was uneventful, if you can call traveling through some of the most beautiful and interesting countryside we've ever seen uneventful - lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, snow-covered mountains, volcanoes, lava fields, flowers, birds! Iceland is a fantastic country! It is a photographer's, birder's, botanist's, geologist's, volcanologist's, and just about every other ists you can think of, paradise! The biking, hiking, camping and hostel-ing are all good. The people are friendly and most speak English. The scenery is spectacular! What more can one ask for?

You may have heard that Iceland should be called Greenland and Greenland, Iceland. It's true. Iceland is very green and reminiscent of Ireland, especially with its fat, wooly sheep, and its paucity of trees. Even the weather reminded us of Ireland; the south coast is rainy (the north is sunny). Unlike Ireland, it is a volcanic island. 10% of its total area is lava fields; another 10% is covered by glaciers. And contrary to what one might think, the lava fields are beautiful and interesting. The pattern of the lava flow, the weird formations, the Alpine flowers, the colors of the volcanic rocks, all contribute to the wonder of this strange landscape.

Bicycling in Iceland demands sturdy tires. Most, but not all, cyclists we met had mountain bikes and we met more cyclists in Iceland than any other country in which we have bicycled. A large share of the Ring Road (the main road) is gravel and in the north it has potholes and is very dusty. All busses are able to carry bicycles and we bussed long stretches. We bicycled only 515 miles, which is not much considering we were there for four weeks, but we spent some time hiking and our bicycles was out of commission for several days. We camped most of the time and when we didn't camp, we stayed at hostels. Camping was, generally, in a big field but the facilities were excellent. Most of the hostels had two-bed rooms. Iceland also had sleeping bag accommodations, which are private facilities. We stayed at one, a converted church, and slept in the choir loft; it was a really neat place. We also slept in a schoolhouse hostel. Schoolhouses are converted to hostels during the summer. And in Reykjavik, we slept in the Salvation Army hostel, so popular with travelers that we could only get space for one night. However, the Reykjavik Campground had excellent facilities and was next door to the largest heated swimming pool in Iceland, as well as a hostel. We camped.

Iceland not only uses geothermal energy to heat its swimming pools but also its homes and industries. Consequently, it is a very clean country with clean air. Pipelines similar tot he Alaskan pipeline carry geothermally heated water instead of oil into the towns.

I mentioned hiking. The hiking was particularly good at Skaftafell National Park where we camped near Vatnajokull, Europe's greatest icecap, 8400 sq km. A tongue of this glacier (Skaftafellsjokull) ends within 1 ½ km of the campground. We enjoyed walking to it (and on it, briefly). Hiking to three waterfalls was a highlight of our two days in the park. Near Myvatn in northern Iceland, we hiked up Hverfell crater, 500 feet above the lava field, where Al walked around the 3500-foot wide rim, while I sat and wrote in my journal and followed his progress with my binoculars. On descending, we hiked over to the fantastically weird lava formations of Dimmuborgir.

And I must mention bicycling along the eastern fjords on hilly gravel roads with steep drop-offs down to the sea and stopping at picturesque fishing villages with snow-covered mountains as backdrops (after Skaftafell and before Myvatn)! And the horses - the beautiful Icelandic horses with their long, silky manes!

We ended our trip with a visit to Akureyri, a beautiful, small city not so far from the Arctic circle, then Reykjavik, Keflavik and home. We remember the birds, the flowers, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the lava fields, the places we stayed, the experiences we had, and the people we met. It was a wonderful trip and we plan to go back this year; our reservations are made.


The Freewheelers once again filled the banquet room at Zoe's Fish & Chop House in Easthampton (I think I counted 49 heads this year). We schmoozed from 6 PM to 7, which was great. Most of these people I hadn't seen in months. We had a chance to get up to speed on what's happening with other club members. Barbara Rich had some exciting news, she got engaged to Rich LaBombarde and they've set a date of May 20th. They're planning an outdoor wedding, so I told her I'd do what I could to get them a warm, sunny day. I didn't talk to Pat Vinskey too much so I don't know what else is going on in other people's lives. Pat usually has the "skinny" on just about everyone. Maybe she could start writing a gossip column for the Newsletter...

Dinner was served, buffet style, around 7:10. I found myself seated at the first of the seven tables to be invited up to the buffet. At the head of the line, I had the honor of plunging the first fork into the "virgin" display of gourmet comestibles. It took some time for everyone to make it through the line. In fact, our table had finished eating before the last table was seated. To make up for being last, the hostess gave the seventh table first crack at the desserts.

By 8:20, the eating was over and it was time for some brief business. We were reminded that our next actual meeting (and potluck), when we'll decide the Spring Rides Schedule, is March 4th at Jack's house. Also, the new, jersey (not the state) committee, via Jack, wanted to get a feel for what the membership would think about spending $55-60 each on redesigned club jerseys. Most (maybe 70%) were in favor. At the same time, it didn't look like we were interested in looking for sponsors to help subsidize the cost.

At 8:30, it was time for the entertainment portion of the evening. Al & Marion had slides of their trip to Iceland this past summer [see previous article]. A beautiful land of glaciers, hot springs, geysers, volcanoes and waterfalls, but not many trees.

The evening drew to a close around 9:45. Many thanks to Pat & Joe Pitchko for taking care of the arrangements.

Respectfully submitted, JohnGustin@freewheelers.org

More Announcements

Franca Vicendese and Bruce Kitson have announced their engagement following a visit to Australia, home of Franca's parents. I guess her parents approved of Bruce. How could they not? At the time of the FHF banquet, no date had been set for the wedding, unless they are keeping it a secret like someone else did.

It's Just Around the Corner

Our first ride of the season will be the BookMill Bonanza on April 2nd. See you there. (For more information, stay tuned to this web site for our Spring Rides Schedule that will be posted at the end of March.)