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How I started to Bike

  Pre-trip Notes


The Bike Route

My Ride Journal

News! Story Release!


My Notes and Thoughts During Pre-trip Training 


APRIL 15   

"Life is like riding a bicycle...

  You don't fall off unless you stop pedaling!"

-Sign on a bike trail in Michigan

It is Easter Sunday.  Alleluia! Alleluia!

It is rainy and cold today, so I am taking a rest day from my bike training schedule.  But I will be back out there pedaling tomorrow. Rain or shine.  I have been following a suggested training routine by the people who plan these types of tours, such as the company I will be traveling with, America by Bicycle. I am biking more miles each week. To each week's total miles biked I add 10% more miles for the next week.  So this week I will bike at least 210 miles over six days.  Then next week it is 10% more: 221 miles.  On some days I work specifically on climbing hills, and will do several intervals up and down challenging hills.    On other days I work more on building endurance and power by what is called *spinning*. This is when I pedal for miles, fast and easy, turning the pedals at 80-95 rpm.  I wish I could be like  cycling's great Lance Armstrong - he can spin more than 120+ rpm!  On my bike I have a Flight Deck brand of bike computer that gives me the following information: My Distance, Trip Time, Cadence (rpm), Maximum Speed, Average Speed, plus it has a clock and stopwatch function. 

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"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital"

-Joe Paterno

It is a beautiful warm sunny spring day! And I am happy. It is the last day in April.  I finished this month with some good training miles under the belt.  With the beginning of May I am getting down to the last month of  rides before my trip.  It will be a month to fine tune things. Work on the hills, and work on increasing my average speed.  It would be great if I could maintain an average of 15 mph.  Now that isn't very fast, but it will get me through those 100 mile days long before dark.  That speed could be higher depending on the terrain.  Sometimes I clip along at 23 mph and make good time.  I'm always fast when I 'draft' with someone.  Drafting is done by following closely to the rider in front of me.  That person blocks the wind and you use a lot less energy.  Riders in a drafting line take turns 'pulling'. This is rotating from front to back of the line. Drafting is a lot of fun, I love it.  But it is dangerous too - you must be very very alert when following this close to another bike wheel.

I am looking forward to the weekend of May 12-13.  I will ride in an invitational ride.  It is called the Tour of the Scioto River Valley

 ( TOSRV for short).  This ride begins on Saturday and we ride 105 miles from downtown Columbus to Portsmouth.  On Sunday we ride 105 miles back.  There are several thousand bikers that participate in this ride. The weather can be quite unpredictable in early May.  So I must be prepared to ride into strong head winds, and/or springtime rain showers.  I have a rain suit I pack in my bike-bag. But I look forward to this great training weekend, and I feel ready to ride the back-to-back centuries.  A 'Century' is bike language for a 100 mile ride. 

 I had a terrible problem with my toes going to sleep.  Always seemed to hit me after about 20-25 miles.  But thanks to new bike shoes by Specialized and a minor adjustment in my saddle position, I am now free of that bothersome problem.  I credit the owner of HubBub Custom Bicycle Shop with her expertise in getting the correct fit on a bicycle. 

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"Bite off more than you can chew. . .

Then chew it!"

-J. Schneider

     It was National Day of Prayer, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Canton held a breakfast this morning at the Hilton in downtown Canton to participate in the National Day of Prayer.  Local HFH staff, area pastors, the mayor of Canton, friends, contributors, and many of the local volunteers who support and help to build these dream homes were in attendance. It was a special day for three families who later this morning received the keys to their houses in exchange for their first house payment.  We were  gathered to celebrate the completion and dedication of three more houses in the  community.  It was a touching moment when one of the new home owners became the spokesperson for all three families and came to the podium to extend a thank you for all that habitat for humanity did to make their dreams come true.  For me, being there today upped my excitement a big notch as I couldn't help thinking about how I will ride my bicycle all the way across the USA for all my sponsors - how these donations will cheer me on, and in turn will help to build another home!  I prayed for all my sponsors who have, and will make their donations to make this biking adventure a success.   

     It was a very warm and slightly humid day.  But a good day for a bike ride.  It is wonderful to see springtime everywhere as I zip along the country roads.  The leaves are out, the farmers are busy planting in their fields, and yards being planted with lovely flowers.  The flowering trees are beautiful, and some are fragrant.  I know lots of people are suffering from allergies right now, but I am thankful I can ride without being bothered with the high pollen counts.  

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May 4

"To be prepared is half the victory"

-Miguel Cervantes


I rode twice. For a little variety in my training schedule I like to bring out my off-road bike ( Schwinn Sierra LE) once a week and do a moderately fast-paced ride with a group who gather in Peninsula for a 36 mile round trip ride heading north to Independence, near Cleveland, and back.  Seems to be the beginnings of a little bike club forming as my husband's co-workers are gathering for these weekly social rides.  Up until this week's ride I was the only female joining in.  This time one of the rider's brought his daughter along to ride. Of course my philosophy being: "I ride to eat, and eat to ride" there is the after ride refreshments taken at the Peninsula Winking Lizard restaurant. Mmmmmm, those chicken wings really hit the spot after a good 2 1/2 hour ride.  This ride I use the bike that is suitable for the tow path surface we ride on.  The tires are "fat" and the gearing is 21 speed.  I don't take my IF road-bike out there.  The fine crushed limestone surface tends to get into the gears and the powder that is kicked up on the path leaves the bike looking like it is covered with white powdered sugar.  We start this ride at 6:30 PM and since it gets pretty dark towards the end several bikers have good lighting systems for their bikes.  Those that don't have headlights ride close to one who does, and the path is visible for them too.  There is a certain feel of adventure in the air as we silently ride along in the near dark, with just the sound of tires making a soft crackling sound as we roll along. I got in a double ride.  In the morning I took a 23 mile ride with the road bike, working on some hills.  Then the 36 miler in the evening on the tow path.  I notice when riding these two different bikes that I feel different leg muscles being used.  The riding position on each bike is different.  Over the long haul (like the cross-country trip) it is far more relaxing to ride the road-bike.  With the handle bars that drop down it gives me a lot more variety of hand positions.  Changing the hand positions often helps to avoid stiffness in  muscles in the upper back/shoulder area.  

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May 6

"Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels.  The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles."

-cyclist Scott Martin

I thought of that above quote the other day when I set out for a training ride and wanted to specifically work on hill climbing.  I ended up riding in the Brecksville area near the Metro Parks and Riverview Road that particular day and came up a few dandy ones. A road detour took me on a non stop uphill climb for all of 5 continuous miles.  But the return back sure was fun going down!  Sometimes I just tell myself on the way up these climbs: what goes up... must come down.  If I wouldn't carry so much stuff in my bike bags, I could make it easier on myself.  My goodness, lets look here in my front and rear bike bags and see what I carry up the hills with me:  1 spare tire tube, 2 CO2 cartridges plus a holder for the cartridge, a hand pump, tire levers, patch kit, a foldable hex wrench multi-tool, pocket knife, 1 rag,  2 travel packs of Wet Ones wipes, baggie with some Advil and Tums, 2 Balance Gold power bars, digital camera, small notebook, 6 pens, cell phone, 2 hankies, comb, small can of baby powder, 2 clothes pins, 2 baggies with crumbled Fig Newton's, 2 bungee cords, pair of cotton liner gloves, pair of arm warmers, Halt! aerosol dog repellent, 2 folded up bike club route maps, ear warmer band, a film canister filled with sun screen, another canister filled with chamois cream, sunglasses case, light-weight windbreaker jacket, rain socks to put over shoes.  Along with the things in my bike bags I carry a bottle of sports drink and a hydration back pack - Camelback 50 oz filled with water.  So all of this 'stuff' has to go up the hills with me making me fight gravity all the harder.  Hummmmm, maybe if I got rid of 5 of the 6 pens and just took one, that would help.  No, I can never find a pen when I need it if I only have one! 

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May 10

" The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind."

-William Saroyan

Joining a bike club has made bicycling a lot of fun.  When my husband and I first purchased our road bikes we were somewhat hesitant about how to go about riding on the roads.  We found out that a bicyclist is subject to the same state laws as other moving vehicles.  We must obey all the road rules.  They are all spelled out in the state department of transportation laws.  I found through talking with the local bike shop owners that they suggested to us to join in on a group ride with one of the local bike clubs.  They said it would be the easiest way to learn the ropes of safe road riding.  At the bike shops we picked up a few of the bike club newsletters with their published monthly ride schedules.  They all extend invitations to any one interested to just simply show up at one of the scheduled ride locations and join in on the ride.  The first ride that I went on was with the Stark County Bike Club.  I'll never forget the friendliness of the people, and especially the ride leader for that ride, Ed Grace.  Since it was my first time, he explained the safe riding practices to me, he told me some of the common bicycle etiquettes like yelling out "car back" when we saw a car approaching from behind. This was to let the other riders ahead to be sure to stay to the far right hand side of the road.  Since I was new to bike riding and not a very strong rider I was going at a slow pace.  Ed was a good leader and always held back and rode with the slowest one of the group.  He made me feel very welcome and what fun it was to ride and visit with others who shared the love of cycling.  Shortly after the rides with that club my husband and I joined in on a Saturday ride with the Folks On Spokes bike club.  On that first ride there were 15 bikers who rode that day.  Everyone was so friendly and they too made sure we knew how to ride safely.  This club enjoys stopping mid-way in the route at a restaurant to eat.  Another great time to socialize and refuel for the ride home.  We later became dues paying members of this club, and now actively participate as ride leaders.  But I still enjoy taking rides with other local bike clubs.  So many great people to meet.  I attended a club meeting of the Akron Bike Club when they were having a guest speaker from HubBub Custom Bike Shop.  Again, a congenial group of fellow bicycle enthusiasts gathered to share their favorite hobby/exercise/sport, and I enjoyed visiting with them  This club hosts some nice open invitational rides in the summer time.  I have ridden their ABC Ride (Absolutely Beautiful Country Ride), and another one they host is Roscoe Ramble - a challenging 2 day weekend ride from Canal Fulton to Coshocton. So for lots of fun and a great way to meet others who love to bicycle, get out there for a bike club ride...    

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May 15

    "Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle.  It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed.  The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing."

-Helen Keller

     The weekend of May 12-13 were two perfect days for a bicycle ride. The weather was in the mid 60's, a 17mph tail wind for 100 miles the first day, and the return 100 miles also was sunny and the head wind was not as strong as it often is on the return.   I participated in the 40th annual invitational bike ride that rode from downtown Columbus to Portsmouth on Saturday and return on Sunday.  This year 3,489 riders had registered for the 200 mile Tour Of The Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) ride.  With the strong tailwind pushing us along we were all saying, " It doesn't get any better than this!"  I joined in a couple of pace lines and I was spinning along at 23-25mph.  I was feeling pretty good as we ended the first 100 miles.  All the days I have spent riding bike this spring had helped condition me for this back to back century ride.  Both mornings we started at 6:30 am.  My husband and I were assigned overnight accommodations  in the gym of the Shawnee State University.  Great facilities, I thought.  The showers were plentiful, hot, and clean.  I slept comfortably on my self inflating Therma-Rest mattress (that brand of self-inflating mattress is the very best!  Worth every cent that they cost) with a sleeping bag atop.  We were bedded down for the night by 7:30 pm and by 4:30 am we could hear the wake-up call of "zip,zip,zip", zippers opening and closing as cyclists were anxious to get packed up, find some breakfast and start the ride back to Columbus.  A local doughnut shop was serving in their parking lot free coffee, hot chocolate, and free doughnuts to give us a jump start.  It was a nice sense of accomplishment that I rode into Columbus, having completed for the first time two back to back 100 milers. At the check-in point at the Hyatt I collected a certificate with my name and seal attached as my "congratulations" on finishing the 40th annual TOSRV.    Saturday was special too that I had a chance to meet and say hello to Jim K.  He is also going to be going on the America by Bicycle cross country bike ride.  He had ridden a tandem bike on TOSRV.  He too loved the tailwind on the way down, and he said the tandem was pulling lots of other riders in pace lines.  Having met Jim I will at least recognize one face when I arrive in Astoria, Oregon next month to begin the cross America ride!

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May 21

"The bicycle is a curious vehicle.  Its passenger is its engine."

-John Howard

    It is getting so exciting!  Only 3 weeks now until I ship my bike to Oregon ahead of me out to the starting place in Astoria, Oregon. The motel that all those participating with America By Bicycle on the cross country challenge ride is just a few miles from the Pacific ocean.  We have been instructed to ship our bike there and they will hold it, or we can bring it on the plane if you are flying.  I have talked to several other cyclists who have traveled with their bikes and they have told me what they found works the best.  There are pluses and minuses with the choices.  Checking in the bike (placed in a bike box) at the airport during the luggage check-in has the advantage that the bike should arrive at your destination when you do.  This way you are not without your bike for any extended period.  But it does cost more - most airlines will slap on anywhere from $50 to as much as $100 when you are checking in with a bike.  I did talk with a biker who got lucky and the counter agent didn't charge anything - just ran it on to the luggage belt and he and bike were on their way.  Some have experienced the bike arriving damaged from rough handling.  The airlines will not insure the bike for full coverage of damages.  These are some of the issues  I have to consider when flying with my bike.  Those who have used UPS to ship the bike have been the happiest. It is reasonable, about $25, can be insured for full replacement cost. None who I have talked to has had any problems with damages.  For a little more some choose to ship over-night air, and have the guarantee it will be there the fastest way.  I'm going UPS to get my bike out to Oregon - and back from New Hampshire at the end of the bike trip.  I have never taken my bike apart and fitted it in a bike box (any bike shop has lots of free bike boxes).  I have gotten some tips from web sites, talking to other bike toting travelers, and reading some articles in bicycle magazines as to how to pack the bike into the box.  When I was on the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) bike ride a couple of weekends ago I talked with another biker who made a cross country trip last year at this time.  He took his bike to a local Columbus bike shop and they securely packed the bike.  This was his recommendation, take it to a bike shop and have them pack it.  He told me it had all the tubing wrapped.  All the small parts and pieces were placed in a plastic bag and taped to the inside of the box.  The pedals have to be removed, the handlebars taken out of the holding tube and turned sideways to fix in the box.  The front wheel must be removed to get the bike fitted into the box.  Everyone I talk with puts the most emphasis on making sure that all the parts and pieces are very well wrapped (suggested bubble-wrap) and to make sure nothing, absolutely nothing is loose or rattling in the shipping box. I have my bike box already.  I know I'll be just a little anxious the day I take the box to UPS and have to give it up - and my bike will be out of  my hands for several days!  It would not be a nice scene to get out there and my bike not to have arrived, or heaven forbid, it gets lost in transportation.  But really I believe I have made a good choice to go with UPS shipping.  Three weeks!  Yikes! this is coming up fast!  Time to go out for another training ride. . .

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