By Shay Moser
Photos Courtesy of Gary Matey and LeeAnn Land

Gary Matey and LeeAnn Land live within a five-minute bike ride from one another in Scottsdale. Yet they met in Wyoming at the end of week three of a nine-week Cycle America tour.

This summer, Matey, Land, and 43 other cyclists from across the nation––and around the world––cycled from Seattle to Boston. The 4,320-plus mile tour crossed 13 states and a Canadian province. The 64-day trip took 56 ride days, seven rest days, and 68 to 105 miles of daily riding. The tour included meals, camping facilities, showers, luggage transport, support staff, and more––but Matey and Land also got a “small world” moment and made a new neighborhood friend.

Before leaving for the Coast-to-Coast 2022 Cycle America tour, Land was at Cyclologic in Scottsdale to professionally prepare and ship her bike. “I got to the bike shop and realized I forgot the ship-to address,” she explains. Land was going to call from home with the address, but she noticed a large box ready for shipping before she left.

“The box said Everett, Washington, addressed to the Cycle America mechanic, which is where I needed to send my bike, too,” she explains.

Land asked whom the box belonged to, and they said it was Gary Matey’s. Land didn’t know Matey, but she asked them to use the same Washington address to ship her bike. Then she forgot about the experience––that is, until she met and supported Matey on a challenging 25-mile uphill climb on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming on day 20 of the tour. Land noticed Gary’s orange Cycle America license plate on the back of his bike as she rode up behind him. It read: Gary – Arizona. As she rode up next to him, Land excitedly asked where he lived in Arizona.

“I live in Pinnacle Peak,” Gary answered. And then they rode the rest of the day together, discussing the similarity of their home ride routes, amazed they had never met.

“It was so bizarre to meet on Wind River in Wyoming and on one of the longest climbs we’d done on the trip,” says Land. When Matey and Land consider some of the cyclists skipped parts of the tour, it’s surprising they met when and where they did.

In addition to the 45 riders committed to completing all nine of the one-week segments of the cross-country effort, “some people rode select segments of the tour,” Matey explains. “Some rode only the first week. Some rode the third and fourth weeks. We’d have as many as 70 people on certain segments.”

Matey, 68, retired in 2016, and Land, 66, retired during the trip. Both were on the Coast-to-Coast 2022 Cycle America tour for the first time, completing the entire nine-week tour––rain or shine.

While the cross-country tour was a first for them, Matey has been cycling for 50 years. Land took up the sport when she was 56.

What has drawn them to cycling for all these years? Land says she enjoys the freedom of going anywhere on a bike, visiting interesting places, and seeing beautiful scenery. Matey does it to stay in shape and enjoy alone time.

The two plan to get together and ride their familiar North Scottsdale routes. Land is already looking forward to the Tour de Palm Springs in February. And she may talk Matey into joining her.