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Chicago Librarian Who Quit Her Job Finishes 4,477-Mile Bike Ride Across US

By Justin Breen | August 12, 2015 2:44pm | Updated on August 18, 2015 10:36am

Former Chicago resident Laurie Chipps holds up a bouquet of flowers in Astoria, Oregon, on Aug. 10 after finishing a 4,477-mile bike ride across the United States. [Ellen Knutson]

CHICAGO — Laurie Chipps has completed her epic cross-country bike ride.

Chipps left her Ukrainian Village apartment and quit her job as a librarian at the Art Institute of Chicago on May 10, when she began her cross-country trip in Yorktown, Virginia.

After traveling 4,477 miles through 10 states, she arrived in Astoria, Oregon, on Aug. 10.

"I couldn't have been happier," Chipps said Wednesday. "Getting to every state line or every mountaintop, it was a big sense of pride that I was able to accomplish it.

"Life is so short, and there are just so many places to see and go and experiences to have," Chipps added. "Traveling is the best way to get yourself out of your comfort zone, and it doesn't have to be a grand bicycle ride across the country."

Justin Breen says Chipps found her new home on her journey:

This week, Chipps, 36, said she's spending time with friends in Portland, Oregon, before permanently moving to one of her stops — Missoula, Montana — to look for a new job. She chose Missoula because of its accessibility to trails, and she "really liked the lifestyle there."

She'll also be returning briefly to Chicago in a few weeks to pick up half-tabby, half-Siamese cat, Jasper, who had been living with a friend.

Chipps rode solo on a Soma Saga steel bicycle equipped with three water bottle holders plus racks to place spare inner tubes, camping gear, two changes of clothes and some small cooking appliances. She rode along the Adventure Cycling Association's Transamerica route, which runs on low-traffic roads with good shoulders, Chipps said.

Chipps, a University of Illinois graduate, was a member of The Chainlink and Half Acre Cycling team and estimated she rode a bicycle about 100 miles a week for her commute to and from work.

Chipps she enjoyed the solitude of the riding part of the trip but also loved the opportunity to meet new people. Chipps also said she's heard from countless folks saying her trip inspired them.

"But the biggest thing for anyone who might want to do any sort of adventure who thinks they can't or aren't in shape or are too afraid — if you set out to do something, you'll surprise yourself with what you're capable of doing physically and mentally," Chipps said.

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