FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2004
Balancing Books and Bikes
by freelance writer Beverly Knight
Dr. Susan Boger-Wakeman’s life has been a
journey: from Manchester, England, to Indiana,
Wisconsin, Kansas and finally South Carolina.
But in June she took a different kind of
journey. Boger-Wakeman, dean of basic sciences
at Sherman, completed a grueling 700-mile
mountain bike trip through the Canadian Rockies
with her husband Jon Wakeman, an environmental
engineer, and another biker from California.
Riding 60 to 70 miles a day, 80 on a really good
day, and pulling a BOB (beast of burden) trailer
that held all the supplies needed for the trip,
they pedaled through some of the most
breathtaking scenery on the continent. The
backdrop — soaring, snow-capped mountain peaks,
crashing waterfalls and sparkling glaciers —
helped take their minds off screaming muscles as
they labored up steep mountain roads and pulled
the BOB around precipitous switchbacks.
Even though Susan Boger-Wakeman works out with
weights year-round and trained for the trip on
her Cannondale bike for months by pulling
50-pound bags of mulch up and down the mountains
that surround their Polk County, NC, home, some
of the stretches in the Canadian Rockies still
tested her limits.
The threesome left Whitefish, Montana, on June
14. On June 25 they arrived, exhausted, in
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, just a few
miles from Fort St. John, British Columbia,
where Susan and her husband boarded a plane for
home and their traveling companion continued
alone toward Alaska.
Topography maps published by Adventure Cycling
magazine helped the cyclists chart the legs of
the trip, though the maps didn’t take them all
the way to Grande Prairie, leaving them with
only conventional maps for a stretch of road
that often held surprising challenges.
And coping with the wilderness environment was
challenge enough, even when the maps helped them
anticipate hard climbs.
“One of the first things we learned was to go
nowhere alone,” Susan said, “even into the woods
for a bathroom trip. And near the end of the
trip, we pushed hard all day to get to a marked
campground only to find it abandoned. Even
though we were tired, we decided to push on 18
miles to the next campground and found it was
They were carrying food — oatmeal, dried milk
powder, raisins, canned tuna and salmon,
Lipton’s dry noodles — in the BOB, but when
there was no fresh water, they knew they had a
problem. Fortunately, another traveler came
along and shared enough to get them to the next
available water. That part of the trip, Susan
said, proved taxing, especially for their
traveling companion, who was not as conditioned
for the long days as they were.
Even though the route followed roads, there was
plenty of wildlife, and not all of it friendly.
One day, just after a rain, they saw fresh
mountain lion tracks near their camp. And “bear
bagging” was a routine that they practiced
“When we stopped each night to rest we packed
all our food, anything with a scent, and took it
a good distance from the campsite. Then we’d
hang the bag 15 feet up in a tree,” said Susan
of the lengths to which they went to keep
marauding bears out of their campsite.
But traveling at bike speed gave them plenty of
opportunity to take in the magnificent scenery,
perhaps the most memorable of which was the
Columbia Ice Fields. Cool breezes off the
massive plateau of ice that straddles the
Continental Divide and stretches for 125 miles,
produced temperatures as low as 38 degrees.
“The edge of the glacier was so close, and it
was so bright with a high UV index,” Susan said
of traveling alongside the ice fields. At that
latitude, the days began with sunrise at 4:15 in
the morning and didn’t end until 10:30 at night,
though the weary riders seldom waited until dark
“Even though I wore sunscreen, I got sunburn on
my lips and I’m still shedding skin,” Susan said
of the experience.
It’s not surprising that the couple, who were
married this past Christmas, have taken to
extreme vacations, because it was their mutual
love of the outdoors and biking that brought
them together in the first place.
“I met Jon four years ago at the gym where we
both worked out in Columbia (SC),” Susan said.
“Jon, like myself, is an outdoor enthusiast, and
he had just finished a 2,000-mile trek along the
Appalachian Trail. We knew right away that we
had a lot in common, because I am definitely not
an inside person.”
In fact, this is not their first long bike trip.
Two years ago, they joined a three other
individuals for a 1,200-mile off-road trip along
the Western Continental Divide. And closer to
home they often participate in organized bike
When they’re not riding, they’re working on
their house that nestles between Miller and
Tryon Peaks. When they bought the house, it was
“nearly finished.” And as if completing the
house weren’t strenuous enough work, they also
installed a pond and waterfall on the property.
In fact, Susan’s idea of “resting” her muscles
from the trip through the Canadian Rockies was
working at home for two weeks after they
Staying busy seems to suit this mother of two —
Paul, 33, an 11-year veteran of the Navy now
stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base in
Illinois, and Colin, 30, who works in the
construction business in Indiana.
She grew up in England, her mother a native of
Great Britain and her father an American sailor
who stayed there when World War II ended. Her
parents and three younger siblings relocated to
the United States when Susan was 20, but she
didn’t decide to join them in Indiana until
three years later when her father’s health was
failing. Ironically, she arrived in the States
the day after her father died, but she stayed to
pursue a career in banking and healthcare
services management until, at the age of 37, she
returned to college for the education she needed
Three degrees later — a B.S. in dietetics from
Purdue University, an M.S. in food science and
nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Stout
and a Ph.D. in food science and nutrition from
Kansas State University — she began her career
in higher education. That career eventually
brought her to South Carolina and a job as
associate professor and graduate program advisor
for the Nutritional Science Program at South
Carolina State University.
In her current position at Sherman, she
supervises the departments of anatomy,
physiology, microbiology, chemistry and public
health and teaches Biochemistry I and II and
“I love the environment at Sherman and the
emphasis on disease prevention and health
promotion. But what I enjoy most is getting an
average student to do well in the classroom.
It’s so rewarding to see them grow,” Susan said,
pointing out that chiropractic’s emphasis on
health and wellness parallels her own desire to
keep her life balanced, or as she put it,
“balancing books and bikes.”
She also has the opportunity to counsel 25 to 30
students a quarter, helping them with personal
dietary and nutritional issues. On top of that,
the certified dietician and gerontologist
volunteers through a national web site,
providing free nutritional counseling by phone
Susan and her husband have already planned their
next adventure, a trip on horseback and bike
through the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana,
where the mountains rise to over 9,000 feet and
the valley floors average 4,000 feet in
elevation. But first she has to make a trip to
New Hampshire to be fitted for a pair of
handmade hiking boots. She’s been on Peter
Limmer’s waiting list for three years and her
time has come.
“Jon got a pair 25 years ago and he’s still
wearing them,” she said of the coveted footwear
that owners feel is worth every penny of the
upward of $500 price tag.
Though Susan sports the lean body of a trained
athlete, she professes that, at 51, she “can’t
do what I used to.” Nonetheless, getting away
from people and the demands of everyday life,
she said, helps to rejuvenate her. “It lets me
know that I can achieve many of my objectives
and gives me motivation to come back with a
renewed sense of commitment.”
And she can’t imagine living life any other way.
“I want to die with my boots on,” she said.
The Peter Limmers should be well broken in by
Photo gallery of the bike trip.
Archived News Releases
Back to Campus