NORTH ANDOVER – When Philippe Duff and David Dupuis set out from Montreal on a bicycle trip to Miami, Fla. a few days ago, they knew they would encounter rain – but they didn’t expect to be pedaling through the winds and watery onslaught of a hurricane.
By the time they arrived in North Andover yesterday afternoon by way of Route 125, they were drenched and needed a place to stay.
So they started knocking on doors. At least one person looked out the window but didn’t answer, they said. No one was willing to take a chance and let a couple of very wet Canadian bikers stay with them until they came to the home of Warren and Josephine Kelley on Park Street, right across from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2104.
Their son William Kelley, who divides his time between the United States and China, where he teaches English, sized up the situation and said, “Of course they can stay here!”
The younger Kelley said a couple of young guys with bikes, each loaded with about 90 pounds of camping gear, are not trying to pull off a scam. Initially, Dupuis, 26, a bicycle mechanic, and Duff, 25, who is close to completing a master of science degree in economics, would have been content to stay in the garage.
“But I was afraid the storm might blow it away,” said Warren Kelley, a retired sewage treatment plant operator. The Kelleys let their new friends from north of the border stay in their cellar.
After getting dried out and letting the brunt of Hurricane Sandy finish its visit to the Merrimack Valley, Dupuis and Duff said they intend to continue on their way to Miami, a journey they estimated will take three weeks. Their plan, they said, is to head south along roads that are near the coast.
Most of the way, they’ll be camping, they said. Each rider carries a one-person tent on the back of his bike. They will average between 60 and 80 miles per day, they said.