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North student bikes from coast to coast

North student bikes from coast to coast

Courtesy photos Six weeks after embarking from the Atlantic coast, the bikers celebrate by dipping their tires in the Pacific. Upon first hearing of a…

Thursday, Sep 22

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Courtesy photos Six weeks after embarking from the Atlantic coast, the bikers celebrate by dipping their tires in the Pacific. Upon first hearing of a six-week unsupported bike trip across the country, now 16-year-old Shailee Simon remembers thinking, “I don’t know why people would ever want to do that.” But as she settles into a new school year in 11th grade at Grosse Pointe North High School, she’s got the Arkansas fire ant scars to prove she has.
Simon — equipped with a Trek touring bike and perhaps a little less training than was suggested — set off on the 3,200 mile trip out of Savannah, Ga., June 25, traveling with eight other high school students from across the country and two leaders as part of an Overland Summers program.
“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ll have,” she said. “That’s kind of why I did it. When else am I going to say I biked across the country?”
Stopping at each state sign for celebratory photos, the crew traversed a path through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California, only three of which Simon had previously visited.
It was at the “Welcome to Arkansas” sign when she made the unlucky move to disembark her bike as it rolled through a fire ant hill and they immediately swarmed her leg.
“The whole bottom of my leg just swelled up,” she recalled. “That night I had these huge bumps and it hurt so bad.”
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