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Tunbridge’s Edwards Lives to Cycle

  • "I've been on a bicycle for the last four years," said Tripp Edwards, who left his Tunbridge, Vt., home of 24 years in May, 2014 to travel the United States. It was travel that brought him to Vermont, when he hiked through the state on the Appalachian Trail and then returned to care-take at the Bethel home of a couple he met on the trail. "I'm 64-years-old and I figured I'd do what I can, while I can," said Edwards, in Tunbridge, Vt., Wednesday, June 27, 2018. "And it's good exercise." (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Starting in January this year, Tripp Edwards rode from Tempe, Ariz., back to Tunbridge, Vt., to visit his son, and to make an appointment with his dentist to have a broken tooth fixed. Edwards stayed for a time in Boise, Idaho, and has visited his native Mississippi, but hasn't had a fixed address since starting his bike touring that has carried him over 11,500 miles. Photographed in Tunbridge, Vt., Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tunbridge — When it comes to his own road cycling trips, Tripp Edwards prefers to go the distance — long distances, that is, many times over.

It’s on cycling excursions that the nomadic 64-year-old feels most at home. A former vegetable farmer and volunteer fireman in Tunbridge, Edwards hasn’t had a permanent address since splitting with his longtime girlfriend in 2014.

Since then, Edwards has logged more than 11,500 miles while traveling the country on two wheels, most recently a 4,121-mile journey from Tempe, Ariz., to Tunbridge that ended early this month.

“I live on the road now,” said Edwards, who is staying with his ex-girlfriend and 23-year-old son, Brent, for the time being. “It’s good exercise, you see a lot of America and meet good people. I’m still looking for a place that I would like to be (long-term).”

Edwards has had extended stays in Boise, Idaho, where he twice worked seasonal park maintenance jobs for the city while saving for the next adventure. He’s also stayed with a high school friend in Seattle and with a cousin in his native Mississippi between his travels.

While on the road, Edwards manages to live on roughly $35 per day, he says, thanks to his own resourcefulness and Warm Showers, a cyclists’ support network whose members may offer free amenities and services such as meals and lodging. He even stayed for several months with a family he connected with through Warm Showers during his first seasonal stint in Boise.

Edwards, who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1990, said the AT’s celebrated “trail magic” phenomenon — unexpected acts of generosity by strangers — also exists along distance cycling routes.

“There’s just a lot of great people to meet out there,” he said. “I think that’s part of what keeps me going back.”

Edwards’ first excursion came in late summer 2014, when he took a train from Idaho to Portland, Ore., and spent a month trekking 900 miles up and down the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Wielding a bike designed for urban commuting, he found it not very conducive to repeated long distance activity.

“When I traded it in for a mountain bike, (shopkeepers) said it was totally shot,” he said.

The following year, Edwards logged 4,300 miles in two trips, first traveling from Columbia, Miss., to Tunbridge and later from the latter to Bismarck, N.D., logging nearly 2,500 miles alone during the second trip.

Wind flowing through his face on the open road, seeing America from a seat of a bicycle can elicit a tremendous sense of freedom and exhilaration. Doing it for weeks or months at a time also inevitably bears inconveniences.

“It can be tough, finding places to sleep and dealing with traffic,” Edwards said. “When there are hilly, narrow roads with a lot of cars, it can be stressful. You’re making important decisions all the time.”

After working with the Boise Parks and Recreation Department for the warm months in 2016, Edwards headed south to the desert, logging 1,205 miles in 39 days between Idaho and Albuquerque, N.M.

This year, Edwards took a bus from Boise to Phoenix and used routes mapped out by the nonprofit American Cyclist Association. It was his first adventure on his newest two-wheeled acquisition, a road cycle with a recumbent seat designed to mitigate muscle strain. Once he became accustomed to the different body weight balance requirements of the new vessel, he found it effective — though it didn’t prevent a series of flat tires while pedaling through the desert.

“I probably got about 10 flats while going off road and finding campsites,” Edwards said. “Arizona, New Mexico, Texas — there are cacti everywhere.”

Other challenges in the Southwest included extreme temperature changes between day and night, but things got a bit easier once he headed northeast in Mississippi on the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway.

“That was a really pleasant stretch,” Edwards said. “No commercial trucks are allowed on the route, and it was nice and flat.”

After visiting a friend in Nashville, Tenn., Edwards headed north to Kentucky and accessed the eastern portion of the Trans America Trail, a popular cyclists’ route spanning coast to coast. “Kentucky was not a great place to ride — hilly, narrow, no shoulders and a lot of (unleashed) dogs,” Edwards said.

Reaching eastern Virginia, Edwards connected with the Atlantic Coast Trail, deviating from it in Maryland for a more direct way into Vermont.

Though he encountered periodically volatile weather conditions while trekking northward in the late spring, it was mostly peaceful the rest of the time. He rolled into the familiar confines of Tunbridge on June 3.

In about two weeks, Edwards is headed back to Kentucky to housesit for a friend, a gig he said will last him through the winter. After that, it will likely be another journey on two wheels, another adventure in search of a more permanent place to call home.

“It might not be the easiest lifestyle, but it’s good for me,” he said.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.