Cross Country and Country and Country and . . .


Jack Lange, Online Editor

Hob and Chickadee have been riding together for 45 years. Together they have ridden over 112,000 miles on their tandem bike since the first trip, crossing four continents and exploring the world. Gary (Hob) and Debra (Chickadee) met in a marching band as teens and were soon married, preparing to start a life together that was full of adventure. Beloved teachers at local Connecticut elementary schools, they spent their summers biking around the world, living a minimalist life to the maximum. Carrying very little with them, Gary and Debra set out for months at a time with packs weighing under 40 pounds, with the freedom to experience the journey as it came along. 

The two of them view their bicycle as their “passport to the world,” it allows them to adapt to the land and the events that arise, and tailor their experience to suit their fancy. By planning their own trips and being self-contained on a bike, Gary and Deb have no timeframe restrictions and no one controls how they navigate their trip. They see their travels as “one thread woven through the tapestry” of history, exploring the way ancient travelers did and seeing the world from a perspective that few tourists get to see. Unlike trips planned by travel agencies that are focused on spending money and moving from location to location very rapidly, without being able to appreciate the culture and history of the area. 

Retirement did not slow these two down and as Hob says, “every day is Saturday ” when you’re retired. The pair are no longer restricted by the school year, and can travel whenever they deem the best time to go, but that doesn’t mean that they leave on a whim. The McConvilles train and prepare for the same amount of time that they travel, “a five month trip takes five months of preparation.” It is this preparation that allows them to explore freely and navigate as they please. As Gary and Deb say, they would “rather see a few things well, than many things poorly,” although after this many years of travel, it’s fair to say that they have seen many things well.

Hob and Chickadee are not one trick ponies, and long distance hike together as well as biking. Hob is an award winning hiker and is one of the few people to receive the Triple Crown of hiking, awarded only to those who have completed the Appalachian trail, Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide trail. Hob was on his way to completing his second Triple Crown when the pandemic hit and washed out his travel plans. Hob and Chickadee say that their backpacking trips feel like time travel and allow them to experience the journey as ancient migrants would. Backpacking is rigorous and difficult but according to Hob and Chickadee “there is nothing better than backpacking with someone you love.”