A Hammond family has decided to turn its economic difficulties into an opportunity for a cross-country journey.
At the end of the month, the Adelphia family plans to drive to Jacksonville, Fla. and start an approximately 2,500-mile bike ride to San Diego.
On the trip will be Rob and Gail Adelphia and two of their children – Dakota, 15, and Luke, 7. The goal is to bike 40 miles a day with Luke riding on a tandem bike with his father.
The inspiration for the trip came when the family met newlyweds on a trail in Highland, the couple said. They started chatting and learned the Oregon couple was biking across the country for their honeymoon.
With work spotty the last two to three years, the family started selling small possessions to make ends meet. Then the Adelphias discovered they liked the feeling of selling stuff off. For the trip, the family will part with its prized 1998 Jeep Wrangler.
“We were a bit like probably an average family, more thinking about the size of the TV and that kind of thing," Rob Adelphia said. "And with the downturn and selling things, it really had us focusing more on the experiences that we enjoy as a family."
The trip is expected to take 80 days with the family biking five to six times a week. The Adelphias plan to camp and use a hospitality network for bicyclists called The Warm Showers Community -- with the occasional stay at a hotel. The kids are home schooled and will take their studies on the road with them.
The route will take them through the southern United States, and they plan to upload photos and videos of people they meet along the way. Rob Adelphia said plans are to return to Hammond after the trip, but he doesn't know if that will be by bike.
“We're not out to try and pace with Lance Armstrong or anything," he said. "We're just doing it for the experience of it."
The couple had worked in real estate, owning rental properties, but struggled when the economy and housing market weakened. Rob Adelphia also had worked for a trucking company before it left Hammond, while Gail has been at a temp agency.
“I think it's a neat thing for us to be saying, 'You know what, instead of us pouting about it, we're going to sell a bunch of stuff and just go out and make things different for ourselves," Rob Adelphia said.
The trip became serious once they started purchasing bicycles. Rob Adelphia advertised for a tandem bicycle on the online classified site and traveled to Michigan to purchase a 1990s Burley Duet. He fixed the bicycle with special peddles and a foot rest for Luke. The tandem bicycle will pull a trailer, and the bikes will be equipped with special cargo holders for gear.
“We actually are not what you call bicyclists. We're not the people with the fancy clothes and all that type of thing, (but) we're becoming that because of necessity,” Rob Adelphia said.
The family is planning to pack light-weight sleeping bags, a tent and mobile tablets for the trip. They're flipping a coin on whether to pack an air mattress because of its weight.
Rob Adelphia admitted some family and friends have given them odd looks when they've told them of their plans.
“We get basically two responses,” Rob Adelphia said. “One of them is, 'Why would you go and do a thing like that?' and the other one, 'Wow, that's sweet. Wish I was doing it.'”
Before settling on the biking trip, the family had considered hiking the Appalachian Trail.
“We were talking about doing that for awhile, and then we realized we would have to wait until next spring to start,” said Dakota, who plans to make the bike trip a family tradition.
“So when he came up with the bike thing, I'm more willing to do that than walk six months up the Appalachian Trail. So let's go across the country."