Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Holidays everyone,
I hope you have all had a productive and eventful year. As many of you know, most of my year was devoted to training and then riding my first Cross Country Challenge on my bike. I put many miles on my bike between January and June with several close friends and three that I considered my coaches. One of our training rides took place from Frostburg to Cumberland, Md. where we spent the night at Wisp Mountain – it was a fantastic ride and Deep Creek Lake was beautiful.
I rode with an organization called America by Bicycle who provided the best support with an emphasis on safety. Twenty-three riders and five staff set out on June 7th on a journey that would take 52 days and 3841 miles from San Francisco, Ca, to Portsmouth, NH. – two more riders joined us in Erie to finish their challenge also. At the beginning we were all just beaming – full of energy, anticipation and excitement and some apprehension at what we had committed ourselves to do for two months. None of us knew each other at the onset which provided another perspective on our adventure. It didn’t take long for each of us to come to the conclusion that we were one cohesive group who were all passionate about cycling. We had come from many different places – Switzerland, England, many states in the USA – 19 male riders and 4 female with 3 male and 2 female staff.
Three miles into the first day, we were challenged with a 2.8 mile 16% grade climb that reinforced that we were setting out on a Cross Country Challenge and not a Cross Country Easy – but, all took the challenge and trekked onward! Fifty-two days and many challenges later we completed our journey.
Some of my favorite parts were; riding every day, no matter what the weather or terrain; getting to know all of the riders and watching how they supported each other by watching for wrong turns or problems with bikes; watching the scenery change with each state ; eating all of that food; getting to know our staff; being outside in nature everyday; meeting the people in our country and watching them express amazement and appreciation for what we were doing; and knowing through all of it we had supportive staff watching over us.
The riders came from all walks of life and each had their own special strengths. I really enjoyed getting to know each – some on the road, some at meals and meetings , some on rest days, and some through lobby blogging times. We observed the changes in our country’s beauty as we moved from state to state – mountains with no vegetation in California and Nevada – slowly greenery started to appear until Colorado where they were covered with fir trees.
People in our country are great – many wanted to hear all about what we were doing – one man who met me in a convenience store at the end of a riding day was very interested and then asked if he could shake my hand – the lady at the ice cream stand who had many questions and at the end looked at me and said, “how old are you?” – upon hearing, she gave me a hug and told me she would pray for me – many times we just needed directions from people and they were all very helpful. I did not encounter one person who wasn’t willing to help.
This was a tremendous experience for me and it will be tough to top this accomplishment. Since I have been home, I have often found my mind wondering back to the many happy days. Some of my friends are probably tired of hearing me talk about the trip.
Across the many miles, my body held up well, however, I will be having a total hip replacement in January. No, this is not a result of my ride, in fact it was ready to be done a year ago and the ride actually helped me buy some more time before surgery. I had no trouble with it over the summer, so I think I should just ride my bike 70-80 miles a day and all would be well. But, weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating!! If you didn’t follow my blog and are interested, check it out at
I am still teaching and probably will be for a couple more years depending how my recuperation goes. How else will I be able to afford my next trip??? My family are all doing well and continue to grow – the number of nieces and nephews have stopped growing, but the great nieces and nephews continue to bless the family.
Happy New Year!!