By Judy Steffes Special to Published Aug 09, 2007 at 10:04 AM

Five showers on Tuesday and I’m still not clean.  Split most of the 67 miles today on the road and in the rain.  Took a bunch of pictures of myself being grouchy as I hid under awnings, on porch steps or in pole barns.
On Highway 20, just outside of Eden, Ohio the rain started for the third time and I pulled into an open door of a pole barn.  “We got a cold beer in the fridge if you want,” said a voice from behind shelves of steel parts. Jim and his buddy Marshall ran the shop, fixing tractors and farm equipment.  Jim said I could hide out as long as I’d like.
“What’s the top speed you get on that rig?” he asked, pointing a greasy, black finger at my bike.  “38 mph on a downhill, when I have balls and don’t feather the breaks,” I told him still dripping from the wet and the kickback spray from the semis.
Crossed over the Indiana border and the rain started coming again, the drops as plunky as quarters.  Pulled into Angola for the night.  Cheap hotel ($38) and a bed and TV remote and air conditioning and I felt like a wet rat that had crawled off the road and got run over one more time before clearing the curb.
Awoke Wednesday morning refreshed and with a flat.  Changed the tire quick and made good time headed west on Hwy 20 into Amish country near Shipshewana.
I think I’m going to become Amish because they’re all riding around on sweet bikes.  I stopped to talk to one little girl, about 11 years old.  She wore a simple brown dress, Harriet Tubman blue headscarf, had bare feet and was riding a purple Mongoose mountain bike.  I asked if I could take her picture and she said, "Amish don’t like that."  She was pleasant enough about it.
The photo would have been a great shot, because on the back of her bike was a little blond boy about 5 years old.  He had a bowl haircut, blue overalls, white shirt, no shoes and a smile that wouldn’t quit.  His cushion covering the wire bike rack was an old folded dishtowel.
Within the next few miles I saw an Amish guy on a recumbent bike, another Amish kid speeding down the hill on his 10 speed, and an Amish girl with the strings of her bonnet tailing behind her as she pedaled her single speed.
I really think I could be Amish.  No need for a cell phone, I do well using little electricity as it is, except for my laptop.  They’d have to make an exception for that and spandex, I’d get too hot riding around in some long cotton dress.  I’d also need shoes.  I’m not sure what it was with the no shoes thing … even Jesus wore sandals. 

Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.