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Pair ride tandem bike from Miami to Maine
TANDEM BIKE-1
Jessica Rouan and Mike Foley just graduated from college and are on a 2,600-mile tandem bike trek to enjoy their freedom and raise a little money for charity. They stopped in Statesboro earlier this week on their way to Maine. - photo by JAKE HALLMAN/Staff
       Lots of new college graduates head on road trips to celebrate, but not many go 2,600 miles.
    Even fewer do it on a bike.
    And on a tandem bike (that’s a “bicycle built for two”)? Just two — Mike Foley and Jessica Rouan, who stayed in Statesboro on Monday as they finished up the first week of a trip from Miami to Maine.
    One of the longest races in bicycling is the “century,” which is a 100-mile trek. “It’s equivalent to a marathon,” Foley said.
    The pair are doing 26 of those — consecutively. Since leaving Miami, they’ve had one flat tire, gone nearly 700 miles, and seen roadkill ranging from armadillos to fish.
    They’ve had change thrown at them, Gatorade given to them by kindly gas station clerks, and dodged dogs.
    “There’s nothing you can do except pedal hard,” Foley said.
    They’ve learned important lessons, too. Tan lines happen quickly. Forty-buck-a-night hotels sometimes have large spiders. Powdered doughnuts have 50 calories apiece — good to know when you’re on a bicycle for hours a day pedaling away on a seventy pound bicycle.
    “There’s a difference between biking and touring,” Foley said.
    “It’s like driving a semi truck,” Rouan quickly added.
    Professional bikers like the ones who blazed through Statesboro in the recent Tour de Georgia also have people who give them water, take care of bicycle problems and look after skinned knees.
    “Our support crew is the Kangaroo Pit Stop staff,” Foley said.
    Their vehicle for the journey is a Santana Tandem Sovereign, a high-tech bicycle for two decked out in aluminum and with cargo racks.
    The 21 year olds are fresh out of the University of Miami. Rouan got a degree in international finance and marketing, and Foley got one in entrepeneurship and marketing. They’re keeping friends and family — and anyone else who’s interested — posted about their adventures on the Web at http://tandemadventure.com.
    They’re also taking donations on their site for the Alpha-1 Foundation, a charity looking for a cure for Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a condition which causes serious lung disease in adults and and liver disease in children and adults.
    Foley and Rouan planned their route using cycling maps, but both said they didn’t always account for the long stretches of blank highway through rural Georgia. Sometimes it can be an extra 30 miles to get to an all-important hotel for a good night’s sleep.
    “You either keep riding or sleep with the opossums,” Foley said. “There aren’t any vultures circling yet.”
    The pair checks the weather every morning before heading out. It’s not rain that concerns them, but the wind. Their bike tops out at around 20 miles per hour, but with a headwind, it’s hard to keep a good pace. That’s why Sunday’s journey, through Reidsville and on to Statesboro, took eleven-and-a-half hours.
    “The wind changed the last couple of hours,” Rouan said. “Otherwise, we would have been riding 13 hours.”
    Their bike isn’t too maneuverable, but it’s loaded with 40 pounds of supplies. They’ve got three changes of clothes, a laptop computer, food, and the emergency roll of toilet paper, just in case.
    “I’d knock on a door first before using it,” Foley said, laughing.