‘Three girls on a bike’ stop in Stanford

Vicky McCray
Special to the News-Argus

The laundromat in Stanford was a great stopping-off place for “3 Girls on at Bike.” The trio of (from left) Wendy Schnorr, Linda Novotny and Vicki Novotny spent a June night in Stanford before continuing their journey to the Atlantic Ocean.            
Photo by Vicky McCray

Three bikes leaned against the outside wall of the Stanford Laundromat in late June, the riders of these vehicles taking some time from their travels to wash their clothes. They had been in Belt earlier that day, eaten lunch at the Cabin Creek Bar in Geyser and had chosen to stay in Stanford for the night before heading to Lewistown on Wednesday. 

The three women – Wendy Schnorr, Linda Novotny and Vicki Novotny – are from Shabbona, Illinois, a village located in north central Illinois. It is home to about 1,000 people, as well as the location of Shabbona Lake State Park and Chief Shabbona Forest Reserve. 

The women are raising money to build a bike path in Shabbona. Linda and Wendy are part of a committee to bring a safe way to travel for students, visitors, and residents around Shabbona. They would like to see their village and its sights connected via a 3-mile multi-use trail.  

“The three of us are strong advocates for leading a healthy lifestyle,” Wendy said, “and this pathway project would be beneficial in promoting outdoor recreation for others.”  

The bikers flew to Portland, where Linda’s brother picked them up and drove them to Seaside, Oregon. It was here they dipped their tires into the Pacific Ocean, beginning their coast-to-coast ride. 

“We’re hoping to dip our tires [in the Atlantic Ocean] on our last day,” Vicki said.

She works in health education for a non-profit children’s clinic and also runs a prevention program for low-income schools. Vicki currently lives in a suburb of Chicago, but she was proud to say she grew up in Shabbona. She is the youngest of the three. 

The coast-to-coast bike trip began on June 5, not exactly a good day for Schnorr and the Novotnys. Vicki explained they were in Astoria, Oregon, where they were riding on a boardwalk.

“One of my tires slipped into one of the boards,” she explained, “and I flew off.”

Linda and Wendy determined Vicki should go to the emergency room. Wendy managed to get some ice for the wound and the woman who supplied it also drove the women to the urgent care. 

“She came back and picked us up,” Wendy added, “and then suggested we stay at their beach house for the night.” 

Vicki was sporting a rather nasty looking, but healing leg, the day she was in Stanford, Day 16 of their journey.

“We’re almost to a thousand miles,” Wendy said.

They try to average 60 miles per day, but their Stanford day saw them traveling only 50.

“It kind of depends on the wind,” Vicki said.

Of course, it was a windy day in Judith Basin County. They also said they were aware Stanford offered them a place to stay without having to add the 45 miles farther to Lewistown.

The laundromat was a real bonus, they said. In fact, they wondered if there might be a chance they could spend the night in the building. As it turned out, Jim Sheppard allowed them to pitch their sleeping bags in the old hardware store.

“We’ve had interesting situations for staying,” Wendy said.

They stayed in a very nice city park just outside of Portland.

“And it’s right across the street from the police station,” Wendy added.

So they felt safe. The police showed up at midnight, but they let them stay. Then at 5 a.m. the sprinkler system came on. 

Right before Lolo Pass they ended up stopping on the side of the road because the weather forced them to quit. Wendy said she actually put her thumb out that day trying to get some help. They were given some directions and traveled down a side road, where they were able to build a fire using egg cartons and wet firewood.

“At least we got it started,” Vicki said, “because it was only about 45 degrees.”

That night they worried about wild animals.

On June 19 they were in Simms and scoping out a place to stay. They ended up at the city park and spoke to a couple that was not from Simms. They told the girls they had heard about a bear roaming in the area. The bikers later met another couple from Simms; they confirmed the bear sightings and offered the girls their backyard for the night.

“We have met some very nice people along the way,” Linda said.

The night before staying in Stanford, the bikers had stayed in a teepee at Mehmkes’ just outside of Great Falls. The family had just put it up the week before.

Wendy is a second-grade teacher in Shabbona.

“She is a great motivator,” said Linda. “For our 50th birthday she said we needed to ride across Iowa.”

That was six years ago.

Wendy actually wanted to do this year’s ride last year, but Linda was still working at the time.

Linda is Vicki’s mom. She is now retired from Northern Illinois University, where she was a grant administrator. She made sure any grant monies brought into the university were spent the way it should be spent. 

Wendy said in order to train for such a trek, they had to put in hundreds of miles. Linda was in Florida this winter and put 700 miles on her bike, but she admitted those miles didn’t include much for hills.

Wendy, Linda and Vicki are using Adventure Cycling, which is headquartered in Missoula, for their trip. The non-profit organization develops cycling routes, publishes maps, provides guided trips, and advocates for better and safer cycling in the U.S.

The three girls hope to get to Lewis, Delaware, by August 8. Vicki has to get back to work. It is here they hope to dip their tires into the Atlantic.

Last Wednesday morning the three adventurists had breakfast at Dauna’s Deli and met and visited with several local people. Then they were off and on to a new day and a new adventure.

Shabbona takes its name from the Potawatomi chief and peacemaker Shabbona, who lived from 1775 to 1859. The Potawatomi are a Native American people of the Great Plains. Their chief managed to keep them out of the Black Hawk War, an 1832 conflict between the United States and Native Americans. He was labeled the “Whiteman’s Friend” because he warned the white people living in the area of the war the Sauk Chief Black Hawk planned to wage.

Learn more about the 3 Girls on a Bike trip on www.shabbonapathway.com and follow their journey at https://wlschnorr.wordpress.com/.



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