PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 10-08-02



Is there anything that can stop Lucille Hicks, Haywood Community College Institutional Research Assistant? Bad weather, stomach bugs or language barriers are no hurdles for this 65 year-old that is in better shape than most women in their twenties.

In the last five years, Lucille has taken four cycling trips to Europe riding about 30 miles per day and between 250 to 350 miles per trip. She cycled as a kid and while her kids were growing up when she lived in Louisiana. When she bought her bike a few years ago, she had only had it a few months before taking her first trip.

In 1998, Lucille went to Lake Constance in Germany where she biked along the Rhine River past Basel, Switzerland. The only problem she encountered on this trip happened when the tour guide handed her the direction book. It was written in German. Lucille says she looked at the book, laughed and started cycling. Many people helped her find her way, some knew English and some did not. One man cycled with her about five miles to show her the way.

In 2000, Lucille biked about 275 miles along the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria. The most unusual and hardest trip she has taken was to Southwest France in 2001. The hills were steep with an eight to ten percent grade. The motivation for the trip was the pictures of this area she saw on the internet. Lucille cycled through the most beautiful villages of that region and she saw numerous caves with early drawings.

Recently, Lucille returned from her latest adventure along the western coast of Ireland up the Atlantic coastline. She biked along the Shannon River where the land was barren, the wind whipped and rocks were visible for miles. She saw many ancient castles and abbeys. One of Oliver Cromwell’s officers commented that this area did not have "enough soil to bury a man, or enough wood to hang a man, nor enough water to drown a man."

Lucille prepares for these trips by cycling throughout Western North Carolina every weekend, if weather permits, in areas such as the parkway and through the Nantahala Gorge. She plays tennis frequently which helps her legs stay strong and in shape. She spends months researching the areas with maps, in libraries, and on the internet so there will be no surprises and most importantly, so she won’t miss anything. Lucille likes to plan her trips in September because the weather seems better and tourist season is over.

When asked which trip Lucille liked the most, she says she cannot say. "They are all different, all wonderful," she adds. The toughest part according to her is sitting on a bike all day.

In the future, Lucille says she would like to cycle through Holland during tulip time or see Vermont or the Natchez Trace from Northern Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee.

What would Lucille say to someone considering a trip like these? "Conditions don’t have to be perfect to enjoy a ride. It is a good way to see the countryside. People are the same anywhere you go, always nice and helpful." Finally she adds, "Take it slow, there’s no need for speed."

Photo attached.

(Cutline:) Lucille has seen many unforgettable sights on her travels. Here she is shown with the three-level village of Rocamadour, France in the background. The village has shops on the bottom level, churches on the middle and a castle on the top level.