Published: June 1, 2016 By

Penny Roushar Jansen isn’t one to idle. One day after she and husband Eric retired, in 2014, the couple took off on a bicycle trip through 10 countries on four continents.Penny and husband

“We were living in Malaysia when we joined Warm Showers, which is like a couch-surfing group for cyclists,” Penny (Bus’82) said in March from her home in Colorado. “We’d host people riding bikes through Malaysia. Just by talking to them, we thought ‘Maybe we could do that.’”

So, starting in Malaysia, the Jansens embarked on a 15,000-kilometer (9,320-mile), 11-month ride through southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The eventful trip began Oct. 1, 2014. The experience, Penny said, was worth every flat tire. 

The Jansens, whose longest bike ride previously was a one-day, 135 km road bike trip in the hot Malaysian sun, had grilled their bicycling guests for advice on navigation, pacing and other matters. But as they quickly learned, there are no hard-and-fast rules.

“You can plan and plan, and then get inertia,” said Penny, who wrote an essay about the trip for the Wall Street Journal. “The best thing to do is just go. You figure things out on the road. Even in Southeast Asia, you can find people to help.”

Before she retired, Penny spent much of her career as a teacher in schools in Maryland and Washington. When Eric’s career in industrial construction took them abroad, she taught in Turkey and finally in Malaysia, where they lived for 18 months.The couple were hardly cycling novices when the big trip started. In Malaysia, where it gets hot early in the day, they routinely got up at 4:45 a.m. to cycle. It was a favorite activity they began a few days after moving there, with a long-time resident serving as guide.

From Penny’s CU days, a four-day cycling trip that took her from Ridgeway to Telluride to Cortez to Durango stands out. Now she’ll remember the Vietnam coast, a bout of food poisoning in Laos, cycling to the bridge over the Khwae Yai River in Thailand, and the hills near Freiburg, Germany.

The Jansens ended their tour in Zermatt last August — a bit earlier than expected. After Eric got an unexpected business opportunity, they came back to the U.S. and settled in Fruita, Colo. Settled is not to say stationary — in April this year, they embarked on yet another epic bike tour.

“We are cycling in Spain,” she said. “It’s beautiful!”

Photo courtesy Penny Jansen