Traveling by trike

When Susan and George Straley set off for a cross-country road trip in mid-August, their more than 1,200-mile journey down south was a “joint dream” to be fulfilled, said Susan, who is president of Waukesha-based Rentapen Inc.

The husband-wife duo completed their trip in early October as they reached their destination of Inverness, Fla. on their recumbent trikes. On these three-wheeled contraptions, cyclists ride reclined with their legs stretched out in front of their bodies.

Susan and George, founder of Rentapen, biked almost the entire route from their starting point near Rockford, Ill. to the finish line in Florida. The two have been avid bike riders for almost 25 years and belong to biking groups in both Waukesha, where they maintain their business, and Inverness, Fla., which they call home.

“(Biking has) really become a part of our happiness in our life,” said Susan, adding that it’s both social and fun.

George Straley resting on the side of the road in central Illinois. Susan said biking with a recumbent trike feels a lot like riding a go-kart.

The pair committed to the trip about 10 days ahead of departure. One of the hardest parts of the entire venture was deciding to go and take time away from their business, Susan said, though they left it in the hands of their “very supportive” staff.

During each day of their adventure, the Straleys usually biked between 30 and 40 miles, plotting out their stops and hotel stays a few days in advance.

“It’s something we’re doing together,” said Susan, who chronicled their experiences in a journal along the way. “It’s kind of a celebration of us. We’ve been through 38 years of marriage and running a business, and we’re not getting any younger. We’ve got to do these kinds of things when we can.”

Susan and George Straley tote their belongings in plastic bins.

Despite moments of rain and extreme physical exertion, the challenges of the cross country ride paled in comparison to those the two have faced throughout their decades in business, Susan said.

“Nothing is as challenging as trying to keep a business going through the ups and downs of the economy and keep it growing,” she said.

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