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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 


May 24

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."

-John F. Kennedy

    Random thoughts while biking yesterday:  Here I am caught in a rainstorm.  I am glad I packed my rain jacket in the bike bag.  I like the eye catching screaming yellow color of my rain jacket. The rain isn't really cold, it is coming down steady and it feels warm.  I don't mind riding in a little rain, especially into the summer months because the temperatures are warm enough most places so I don't get chilly.  Makes me feel like a little kid again - just playing in the rain and ignoring my mother's plea of, "Come in out of that rain!"  My wheel rims are getting wet so I must be aware it is harder to brake when the brake pads touch the wet rim.  Road oils, becareful, it mixes with the rain and is coating the bike rims.  I have to take my glasses off when it comes down fast and hard.  Sure would be nice to have tiny little windshield wipers on my glasses! Maybe I will invent that and make a million selling goggles with wipers!  I wonder if it will rain on my bike trip?  I know of cross country cyclist who never had a single day of riding in the rain coast to coast.  I hope I am that lucky.  It is a nuisance packing the rain gear.  I like my special new rainproof socks.  Feels good when the rain is seeping into my shoes and I don't have to feel the squishy wetness inside the shoes.  When I get back from riding in the rain I will have to wipe down my whole bike, the rain makes it all muddy. I will have to lube my chain since the rain is washing it away.  And I will have to bring my bike shoes in to dry.  It was so funny last summer on first day of our six-day trip on GRABAAWR. (GReat Annual Bike Adventure Along Wisconsin River.  It rained, it poured, for more than six hours I biked on the first day of that ride across the state of Wisconsin.  There were 1,200 cyclists riding.  We got into camp and since we all had very soaking wet shoes that we had to put on the next morning we wanted to get them dried out fast!  The high school that was opened up to us had those wall mounted hair dryers in the gym locker room.  No one was using the dryers to dry hair, but all were holding their shoes beneath the blowing hot air to try to dry them.  Those dryers were running for hours, and boy was it hot and humid in that locker room!  I'm following the advise on our packing list from America By Bicycle and I will be packing TWO pairs of bike shoes for this cross country trip.  Just in case I get caught in a down pour...

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 May 25

"Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary."

-Ray Knight

     I get asked questions about my bike adventure.  Some I know the answers to others I won't have the answers until I get out there and experience the trip. Who is organizing this cross country adventure?  There are several long distance bicycle touring companies out there that take care of the logistics of a trip like this.  After researching many of them I chose to go with America By Bicycle.  They are based in Atkinson, New Hampshire.  These people take care of such logistics as determining the route and arranging all the overnight accommodations. Some tours the bicyclist travels 'self-contained.' That is taking everything you need on your bike and camping everyday.  Tent, bed roll, cooking utensils, maps, clothes, everything is put into special bags called panniers that are attached to the front and rear of the bike. Other touring companies arrange for your stay at bed and breakfast or motels and they take care of transporting your luggage ahead to the overnight location. I chose the later.  I like camping but I really didn't want to sleep on the ground for 50 nights!  I like adventure, but I do like a hot shower readily available after 6-8 hours of sweating on the bike!  I have enough weight just getting myself and bike up and over the hills let alone an extra 40-50 pounds attached in panniers.  Some companies require you collect money for a charity before you are allowed to ride on their tour.  With America By Bicycle this is not required. This option is entirely up to each individual.  I have decided that riding to raise money for a charity like Habitat For Humanity gives me a more purposeful cause for my trip.  I am paying for the entire cost of the trip myself.  None of the donations my sponsors make to Habitat For Humanity are used to pay any of my own expenses. How many people will be biking with you?  The most recent list that America By Bicycle has sent me lists 56 as registered to do the entire cross country trip.  There are 30 other cyclists who will join at different times along the route and they will travel only a particular segment of the route.  Some people want to ride but for what ever reason do not have the time to allow themselves to be on the road for all 50 days.  What if something happens to your bike when you are out on the road?  We all have to know how to do a variety of bicycle repairs, such as changing and fixing a flat tire.  I will carry the necessary tools in my bike bag.  There will be a bike mechanic who travels with us and will help with needed repairs and adjustments that a bike might need.  What if you get hungry or run out of water?  Before leaving in the morning we will of course have eaten a good breakfast and filled our water bottles. At least two water bottles are carried on the bike, or a hydration system holding 50-100 ounces of water is carried on your back. Then about 25-30 miles into the route the touring company will have what is called a sag stop, near the road.  There will be one or two of these scheduled sag stops. It is a pit stop to eat and replenish our bodies with fuel.  Bikers typically eat things like bananas, apples, dried fruit, power bars, peanut butter, bagels and drink sport drinks like Gatorade.  Did you know that long distance bikers burn up to 6,000 calories a day!  I love it!  The sag stop is a good time to refill water bottles too.  There will be a van that will run along the route through out the day.  If we need something when they pass by, we tap our helmet and that is a signal for them to stop. Someone asked me the other day a question about finding bathrooms when we are out riding. She asked what do you do if you need 'facilities' and you are out there in the middle of no-where??  Don't you know that's why God grows corn fields!  :) 

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May 26

"Courage is Fear that has said its prayers."


           Donít you just love those days when everything is working together?  When you are out doing your favorite sport or exercise and the mind, body, and spirit get it all together and everything works in perfect harmony? Today was one of those days.  I rode with the Folks On Spokes bike club on their Saturday scheduled 57-mile ride out in Columbiana County.  It had been such a drippy rainy week that by Friday night I was so tired of riding in the rain.  Rain was in the forecast for Saturday and I wasnít too excited about riding 57 miles with squishy wet bike shoes.  I only logged in three rides during the week and they were all quite short Ė only about 20-30 mile rides and I wasnít so sure if those rides were long enough for serious Ďtrainingí rides. But as I returned from each of the short rides I did think to myself, they may have been short but they were quality rides.  I trained with intensity on short hills one day, flat out speed on another, and the another day I put all concentration on doing repeats on long gradual climbs. Come to find out having more off days was the best thing of all.

            What a nice surprise to wake up Saturday morning to the sun peaking through scattered fluffy-white clouds!  We loaded the bikes up and drove to Minerva to the starting point of the club ride. Seven of us showed up, counting on it to stay rain-free.  But we all bungeed down to our bikes the rain gear just in case. Gene was the ride leader and he had a route all mapped out for us that included some serious up hills mixed in with great descents. For variety he routed in eight miles of a paved all-purpose path that was flat to give us time to ride leisurely, visit on our bikes with each other and get our heart rates leveled out again before more challenging hills that went up and up driving most of us to do some serious sweating before reaching the tops. I had never been to the small town of Lisbon before. What a pretty little burg it was, all decorated for Memorial Day weekend.  Our lunch stop was in town at a delightful 1950ís era diner Ė Steels Diner.  There were the old twirl-around soda-bar stools at the long counter that reminded me of the old Corner Drug that I would go to back in Wahpeton, ND. I would sit and drink malted milks, that I would pay for with the nickels I got for turning in green 6 oz. glass Coke Cola bottles I collected up along the roads.  I remember I would ride my bike around town looking for the bottles and put them in my big wire basket on the front of my bike.  There in Steels Diner sitting on the self  was a can of Carnation Malted Milk Powder.  I didnít even think they made that stuff any more.  Along with the genuine malted milks, the selections on the menu had names that brought back memories.  They had names like, Bo-Diddley hamburgs, Chubby Checker fries, To The Moon sodas, and Harley Hogg sandwich.  But best of all were the delicious looking homemade pies, made right there on the premises, the waitress assured me.  I have myself convinced a good piece of pie makes me bike all the better.  Or at the least it does the spirit good! Todayís ride was really, really enjoyable, and I loved doing the hills because something was different for me today.  In body and mind.      

            I know it is all-psychological but I have this well, I guess I have to term it, social phobia, that messes me up when I ride with a group Ėespecially when we are on hilly or rolling terrain. It is irrational, doesnít make sense and I just canít talk myself out of what happens to me. Put me in front of a crowd to give a speech Ė no sweat.  Doesnít bother me.  Large crowds, I love it they are fun!  But bike ride with a group riding hills?  All sorts of panic sets in, and I die on the hill.  Part of the trouble is a bit of competitive nature Ė which is good to have when it comes to sports.  It motivates and encourages improvement. But this is only my third summer of bicycle riding and Iím often riding with those in our bike club that have ridden for many seasons.  Their strong legs have had years of building up so they can climb the hills.  And I ride with men, who of course naturally have more powerful leg muscles to begin with. So when all the bike riders with seasoned legs pass me going up a hill I just fall apart!  As they pedal on by me with ease breathing nice and easy, instantly something drains from me as my legs fill up with a ton of lactic acid slowing me down to a mere crawl. Same thing happens if Iím following right up behind someone. As hard as I try, I canít manage to go faster and go around them, so everything drains out of me and my legs turn to lead while the rider in front continues to drop me out of sight reaching the top of the hill way ahead of me.  Even if I am out ahead of everyone the entire way, just knowing they are there behind me I am overcome with the sense they are closing in.  It doesnít help that I have EIA (exercised induced asthma).  Just looking up and seeing a little 5 % grade hill my mind will have it turned into a 38% incline before I ever get to the base of it.  By the time Iím into the climb the bronchial tubes go spastic and are already constricted, closing up tighter, as I go up the little hill wheezing, sounding like a whistle, and everyone is passing me by.  I do all sorts of talking to myself:  Relax!  Breath easy!  Relax! Pedal steady! Forget everybody else, just ride at your own pace!  Relax!  Focus! Focus!  Saturday I forgot to take my medicine before leaving on the ride.  I knew I would need it especially since I would be riding in a group and doing serious hills.  I use a bronchial dilator inhalant that relieves the symptoms of exercised induced asthma and opens up the bronchial tubes.  But I thought I forgot to put it in my bike bag.  Half way up one of the long climbs I stopped and dug deep into my rear bag hoping by small chance it was there - and I found it!  Big help.  The maddening thing to me is all these things donít happen to me when I am out riding alone.  I go right up the hills, no problem!  If the EIA kicks in a little with a couple of puffs of Albuterol, Iím fine.  Yes, it is just like the fisherman telling everyone about the big fish he caught and threw back, but no one was there to witness it!  Honest, itís true, believe me, I can go up the hills when I am by myself!  But I did something Saturday that I havenít done before.  Just before we left the parking lot to begin the ride I mentioned out loud that I have this ďsocial phobiaĒ when I ride in a group (even if it is just one other person) and have hills to climb. I told them I have no problems with hills when Iím all by my self . . . Of course I got the expected reply:  ďDonít worry about it, just ride at your own pace.Ē  But I am very glad I said what I did to the group, because just saying it made this ride different.  I think what made this ride enjoyable and easy was a combination of two things.  First admitting my problem out loud.  Lo and behold, I WAS more relaxed.  And best of all I was using stronger legs.  Here I thought I hadnít ridden very much all this past week and that I wouldnít be any stronger on Saturdayís ride.  But in fact by resting, really resting for several days I actually was STRONGER.  As I rode along I was mentioning this observation to Gene, and he said it is true, that athleteís after quality workouts their muscles rebuild and become stronger during the rest days.

 Donít you just love it when you have one of those days when everything is working in harmony - mind, body and spirit!  I know now that quality workouts paired with good rest days equals strength.  As the days get closer to the beginning of my ride across America I am going to remember this.  I will be stronger, and I WILL be able to scale one mountain at a time! But don't you think it will also help if I eat a piece of pie in every town I stay ?  Pray for me.

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May 29

"You have to work hard for a long time without results.  And you'll feel like you're putting yourself into a hole, but you just have to stay focused.  You have to have faith that if you're doing the work now you'll get there sometime."

-cyclist, Nicole Reinhart

    WOW! Was it fun to take a naked bike ride!  It felt so exhilarating to go slicing along into the wind without any extra drag to slow me down. And going up Massillon's Traphagen hill was a breeze!  What a light feeling! Of course you bikers all know I was certainly taking my chances going out with my bike like this!  I was already running late leaving my house to bike ride to the start location of the Tuesday evening dinner ride.   (Since it is only 10 miles to the start I like to ride there on my bike and get in the extra miles.  Hubby drives to the start location and meets me there and we then ride with the others who show up for this weekly ride.)  I didn't want to be late and hold up the start of the ride so I decided to take my chances. In a hurry I ran out and jumped on my bike and with total abandonment I rode totally naked.  I yelled back to my husband what I was doing and told him when he left with his bike and the car to be sure and check on me on the route I would be taking - just to be sure I was not in any trouble. I told him I wasn't even going to be wearing a jacket, in spite of the fact there was a threatening dark rain cloud hovering near by!  With a wide grin, enjoying the freedom I was feeling zipping along on Erie Street, I was 20 minutes into the ride and my hubby passes his naked-bike rider wife!  I gave him a hi-five sign, he tooted the horn, and off he sped down the road.  All the bikers were already there at the bank parking lot on Wales Road, just waiting for me to arrive. Seeing me they all started clapping and greeting me - glad I had made it in such short time - and only 3 minutes late. They knew it was risky what I did. As I rolled in to stop I was screaming, "WOW!! I love it, I love it!"  A little puzzled they asked, "Love, what?"  I couldn't believe they didn't notice.  So I had to tell them. " Riding naked - you know, pointing to my bike, a naked bike."  "I rode all the way without my bike having a single extra thing on it!  No bike bag in the front OR the back.  No spare tube, patch kit or pump, tire levers, or  tools to change a possible flat tire, no rain jacket covering the rack on the bike back.  No cell phone, no Kleenex, no air pump. Not a single stitch of anything on the bike except ME!!"  Now THAT is what you call riding a naked bike!  I was just one lucky gal that I didn't get caught out there on the road - with a flat tire and with out a single thing to change and fix it, because I took that one time chance and rode a 'naked bike'! 

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June 3

"The more I train, the more I realize I have more speed in me."

-Leroy Burrell

     It was a great weekend ride.  Every time I travel to one of these invitational bike rides I come home marveling at how much of the world there is to see and how much there is out there to experience.  Right here in my home state there is a great deal of  beauty.  Taking bike rides in new territory keeps this sport and exercise constantly fresh and interesting.  The Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club sponsors a bike ride each year on the first weekend in June.  This is the Marietta River Rendezvous, a two day, with overnight, ride from near Zanesville to Marietta, and back.  The biking distance is near 70 miles each day.  Last year was the first time I rode this ride. While last year the weather was sunny, warm and perfect in every way, this year was much the opposite.  Even though we had to ride for about eight of the miles in the rain on Saturday, and with cloud covering the rest of the time, it never dampened the spirit to the point of defeat.  There were about 335 cyclists this year on the ride.  The route follows closely along the Muskingum River.  Riding along beside water gives me a sense of peace and serenity.  In this area the honeysuckle was all in bloom, and a fragrance so strong it penetrated the nostrils constantly. There were seven of us from Folks On Spokes bike club who were riding together this year. All the miles of training rides I had done made this ride very very easy.  Many times on this ride I couldn't help but think back to last year on this same ride and see the tremendous difference in my strength and endurance.  These last two days of riding on the rolling terrain gave me even more confidence that I am going to be in pretty good shape to start the Cross-country challenge.  (The mountain terrain still looms very large in my mind!) Just a year ago when I rolled into Marietta College at the end of 70 miles and hauled my luggage and bicycle up four flights of stairs to the dorm room, I collapsed on to the bed and just wanted to melt away right there until morning.  All my muscles ached.  But I was still thrilled that I managed to go that far and even with the physical discomforts, was ready to get up and ride again in the morning.  A year later, what a difference.  I really didn't hurt anywhere.  I didn't hesitate getting my bags and bike up the flights of stairs, I stretched well afterwards, walked a couple of miles round trip to attend evening Mass, and had energy to clean both my bike and Paul's and do some laundry.  When we finished riding back to our starting point yesterday, I finished the second day feeling on top of it.  I'm ready to ride again today!  There is so much to see and marvel at from the slow lane from the seat of my bicycle.

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