Amy Lauterbach, fellow rider and lover of all things feathered.
Every morning before dawn, one of our riders, Amy Lauterbach, slips out of camp and starts down the road as soon as it's safe to ride. The 47-year-old Californian is an ardent birder, and, she says, "the best time for birding is in the early morning. The birds do their dawn chorus." During the heat of the day, she says, they usually hunker down to bathe and preen.
As she pedals, she looks and listens. So far on this trip she's identified 106 different birds. Usually she can identify individual birds by sight from her bike, but sometimes she only hears a call. She couldn't see the Great Horned Owl one morning, for example, but she heard its unmistakeable loud hoots.
Amy's modest about her skill as a birder. Compared to the most devoted birders who keep precise life lists of birds they've spotted, "I'm way below average," she says, though she certainly seems like an expert to me. On this trip, she's added one new bird to her life list, a Sage Grouse. And for only the second time she's spotted an Upland Sandpiper. Most sandpipers live around water--you can see them running along ocean beaches--but the Upland Sandpiper is common to relatively arid areas like those we passed through in Montana and South Dakota.
When not birding, hiking, or biking, Amy became an expert in another field. For the past 11 years she helped develop Intuit's Quickbooks, the ubiquitous program used by millions of tiny businesses to keep track of their cash and customers.