Mark grew up on a small farm located near Rockford, Illinois. His nearest friend lived about a mile away and the nearest town was about 3 miles away, so before getting his driver's license the only way of visiting his friends was a gold 5-speed bicycle with a banana seat, wheel-generator light, and playing cards in the spokes. That bike was cool, but once he got his license the bicycle was set aside until after college. Shortly after school Mark married his college sweetheart and they moved back to Rockford and began riding with the Blackhawk Bicycle Club. Their most common ride was the 20 mile Saturday Breakfast Ride, but occasionally they joined the club for longer rides including the Haldeman Hundred, which is where his wife Sara became involved with the Ultra Marathon Cyclists.
Sara on her
It was Sara who first wanted to try a weeklong tour and she set out by herself to ride one of the first GRABAAWR tours along the Wisconsin River. It was one of their hottest years with triple digit temperatures, but she was hooked. Later, she rode Wisconsin's SAGBRAW with their daughter and finally convinced Mark to join them.
As Sara became more addicted to cycling, Mark's health under went a few changes. He was diagnosed and cured of kidney cancer and then diagnosed as a type-II diabetic. The net result of several surgeries was he was not comfortable on traditional bicycles so he purchased his first recumbent, a long wheel-based Burley Koosah. That first year on a recumbent was great and he agreed to join Sara on a week-long tour of Wisconsin.
The Eppersons realized if they were going to continue touring, and remain married, they needed help with the tent set up and tear down as their ideas on when to leave camp were drastically different. Shuttleguy to the rescue!
The following year, Mark purchased a new Bacchetta Gyro 26 "high racer" recumbent and the Eppersons signed up with Shuttleguy for their Comfort Camper package. "What a difference," Mark says, "No hassles finding bags, selecting tent sites, dealing with busted air mattresses, and more importantly.... coffee!!!"
And because Shuttleguy sets all of their tents up in the same area it was easy to establish lasting friendships with the other cyclists. The first year they became fast friends with "J-Lo" and "T-Lo" and later with their daughter Megan, who now crews for Shuttleguy.
Today, Mark and Sara both ride Bacchetta Recum- bents. Since Mark's Type-II diabetes progres- sed into insulin-dependent diabetes he has increased his focus on exercise, ramping up his initial annual mileage of 400 per year, to almost 2,000 miles per years. Mark says, "If a 260 pound diabetic with 1 kidney can complete a week long tour then with the proper training, you can too."
This year will be Mark's fifth RAGBRAI with Shuttleguy. He has also ridden Oklahoma Freewheel, BRAN, and this year has reserved the 3rd week in June to ride either BRAN or the Tour de Kota. "And of course, I'll use the Shuttleguy Comfort Camper for both my tours this year... and for many years to come," says Mark.
Sara and Mark celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary
Mark caught fiddlin' around on the Trails and Thrills ride near Jefferson, Iowa.