Soon after their wedding in May 1990, the Lamb-Horths set off on a six-month bicycling honeymoon. They liked it so niuch that, 70,000 miles and 25 countries later, they're still pedaling away. "We've just kept going and going," says John-Paul, 36. "It is the longest honeymoon."
John-Paul Lamb, then a supermarket manager in Cardiff, Wales, met Alycea Horth, a California—born fabric designer, during—no surprise here—a 1988 bike ride organized by a Welsh cycling club. Later, over drinks in a pub, Horth, now 35, listened as Lamb told her of his dream of going off on an extended bike ride. "He didn't want to go alone," she says, "so three months later I said I'd do it with him. We started planning, and then we fell in love."
"Basically, Alycea came and took me away," adds John-Paul with a smile. On their honeymoon trip, a 1,000-mile jaunt around Ireland, they visited his mother, Margaret, a department-store finance manager, in Dublin. Then they tried a short tour of Holland, dropping in on Alycea's grandmother in Amsterdam. "We wanted to make sure we could do it and get used to the bikes with the security of being close to home," says John-Paul. Convinced they were ready, they flew with their bikes to Boston in 1990 with $3,000 in savings and set off on a U.S. tour that would last 2 l/2 years. It took them from Boston to New Orleans, through Texas and New Mexico and into Arizona and Utah, where they fell in love with the landscape. "What had started as a month," says Alycea, "turned into six months."
Back in Boston as the winter of 1992 set in, they set off on a tour of New England and Canada. Locals seeing them slogging through the snow took pity and invited them into their homes. "They wanted to know if we realized what the weather was going to be like and why we were there in November," says John-Paul. Actually, the explanation's simple. "I really dislike bugs," he says.
Bugs or no bugs, the two persisted, touring Great Britain, Spain and France before coming back to the United States in March 1996. In September 1997, they set off on a heroic two-year trip from Argentina to Alaska.
Somewhere along the way, the Lamb-Horths developed a system: Along with bike-repair tools, a tent and a stove, they carry updated résumés and recent references in their saddlebags. When they run out of money, or are about to, they look for work. John-Paul usually finds employment as a store manager; Alycea has sold quilts and hired herself out as a vegetarian cook and a secretary. Their job-search outfits (a dress for her, slacks and a shirt for him) are carried rolled up and packed in Ziploc bags. "It's important," he says, "to make a good first impression."
Though their honeymoon without end has made them superfit, it has also changed their bodies somewhat. They've developed, says John-Paul, "strong legs, weedy arms and dodgy knees." And the couple have had their share of hairy moments: They were teargassed in Ecuador in a clash between police and demonstrators; they were mugged in Peru; and in Spain, they camped in a field that was suddenly crawling with armed men in dark glasses. "We were pretty sure they were running guns for Basque terrorists," says John-Paul. "We were worried they were going to kill us." Instead, the men apologized for disturbing them.
The closest their honeymoon came to ending was in 1996, when Alycea got a job as a secretary at a Boston computer firm. Within 10 months she was promoted to head of corporate affairs. "My salary just kept going up and up—it was amazing," she says. "In 10 months I'd earned enough for us to travel for two years."
While their life on the road will never be confused with Martha Stewart living, it does have a certain elegant simplicity. Once they decide on a campsite, they wordlessly go about their business: John-Paul sets up the tent (often in under two minutes) and tends to the bikes; Alycea begins cooking on their gas stove. "Half an hour later," she says, "we are sitting down to a meal. It's like a domestic routine, but we strike camp every morning."
Given all the time they spend together, John-Paul calculates they've been married the equivalent of 25 years. "We're never apart, not for a single night," says Alycea. "So it's been a real test of our love. And we are still very much in love." But don't they run out of things to talk about? "We try to talk when the mood hits us and when we can cycle side by side," says Alycea. "A lot of time we are in silence. You spend a lot of time thinking."
Back in Britain to celebrate their 10th anniversary in May with a reunion of the 50 friends who waved them off on their honeymoon, they're already feeling the call of the open road. In June, they'll be off to Iceland for the first leg of a planned 2½-year world tour that will wind up in New Zealand. And then? "The whole cycle starts again," says John-Paul. "We'll probably be back in time for our 20th anniversary."
Matthew Beard in Wales
On Newsstands Now
- Kim's Delivery Room Drama!
- Katie: A Year After Split
- Princess Kate: Palace's Baby Plan Revealed
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine