- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

CHRISTIANBURG, Va. (AP) - Norman Epperly said being on a motorcycle is hard to describe to a nonrider.

“You experience what you see … It’s like you’re part of it,” Epperly said. “When you ride through the mountains, you feel the mountains.”

During the past five years, Norman Epperly and his wife, Janet Epperly, have experienced each of the 48 continental states while putting more than 90,000 miles on their Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra bike.

A mail carrier by trade, Norman Epperly said he rode motorcycles some when he was younger, but decided to pick the hobby back up about 10 years ago.

“I pushed my woodworking tools aside and we started riding,” he said.

His first bike was a small Honda and then he rode a Harley-Davidson for a few years alongside his best friend and co-worker Marvin Jarels.

Jarels, a longtime postal employee for whom the street in front of the downtown post office in Christiansburg was named, was killed in a motorcycle crash while riding alongside Norman Epperly in April 2010.

“I hesitated a little bit from riding (after that), but then got right back on it … he wouldn’t have wanted me to quit,” Epperly said.

Later that year he purchased his current Cool Blue Pearl bike, which bears an inscription for Jarels on the right side, and pitched the idea for the couple’s first long ride to his wife.

“He just said, ‘This will be a great trip,’ and I said, ‘OK sure,’?” Janet Epperly said.

Michigan and Wisconsin were experienced on that first trip and this summer, the couple finished the continental states by visiting Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

They’ve ridden as many as 800 miles in a single day, and they have thousands of photos, many of which Janet Epperly takes over her husband’s shoulder as they ride.

Many of the photos are on display in the tiny office in back of the Epperlys’ garage, alongside a map littered with pins of the places they’ve traveled.

They’ve stood on the corner of the street in Winslow, Arizona, and sat in the Boston bar seat of the character Norm Peterson, made famous in the television show “Cheers.”

The couple said some of their favorite spots included Utah, Colorado and the Adirondack Mountains.

“I love New England. It’s peaceful, quiet, the people are nice. It goes against all the stereotypes,” Norman Epperly said.

One particular state in the Midwest was not so nice to the Epperlys, particularly when it came to the frequency of gas stations.

“I ran out of gas in Kansas in the middle of the interstate,” Norman Epperly said.

Aside from that hiccup, the Epperlys said they haven’t had many close calls while traveling on the motorcycle, and they have no plans of stopping their trips at 48 states.

“Alaska, I’m going to ride to, it’s in the works. Hawaii, maybe we’ll get there on our 50th anniversary,” Norman Epperly said.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

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