On May 31, 2015, my cycling friend, Marie, and her husband, Roy, rolled their bikes out of their basement in Arlington, VA, locked the door behind them, and cycled to the Pacific Ocean. I anxiously awaited their blog every evening. It came later and later as they made their way west.
Marie doing it helped me think that I could do it, too. Marie empowered me. I began my first transcontinental bike trip about a month after Marie and Roy reached the Pacific Ocean. This past August, as I cycled through Jamestown, North Dakota, on the north spoke of the peace sign, I crossed Marie and Roy’s 2015 route. I am honored to pay Marie’s empowerment forward, in words and actions.
I’ve had several opportunities to speak about my experiences and why and how I’m taking on big cycling adventures so “late” in life:
- Robin Legat interviewed me for her podcast, Seasoned Athletes: Cycling for Peace with 2X Guinness World Record Holder Lynn Salvo.
- John Tejada posted a story, “This 70-year-old woman is bicycling a continent-sized peace sign,” on Considerable.com.
- Laura Kelly interviewed me live at the Mount Vernon Club in Baltimore on October 30, 2019, with a focus on how I recreated myself at various moments in life. Hint: Turning 50 in 1999 as the millennium was about to turn was a big moment!
I’ve also led two small cycling adventures that have empowered others:
- On November 10, I accompanied a 13-year old neighborhood child, Roxanne, on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. We’d been once before a couple of years ago and 4 miles was an effort. This time, Roxanne cycled 17.5 miles — on a single speed bike! Her mom asked me how I motivated her. I replied, “I didn’t. I just didn’t tell her how far we were going. I didn’t want to create any anxiety. I don’t see any point in putting up obstacles or impediments that may not be there. The absolute proof was when Roxanne came cycling up [an] 8% hill that used to positively intimidate me.”
- Speaking of hills, I was always told that Mount Weather was the toughest climb near home. On October 21, five “young” women ages 65, 67, 70, 71, and 72 braved a 55 mile route with 4485 feet of climbing including Mount Weather, Naked Mountain, and Virginia rollers. Though I advertised the ride as having a maximum pitch of 10%, my Garmin showed 12% at times, and even 13% for a moment. We were at the top of Mount Weather within the first five miles. A lovely valley warmed by sunlight entertained us on the way to Naked Mountain. The second big climb was unexpectedly harder than the first, as its pitch increased near the top rather than leveling off. Still, we had reached the top of that before Mile 20, so the final 35 miles were relatively easy. The key was to be mutually empowering. Each one of us led or was at the end at some point in the day. We enjoyed the weather and Mount Weather and proved that “we can do so much more for so much longer than we think we can” as I said every chance I got on my 2016 transcontinental ride. Here’s a fun Relive video of the day.
I want to give youth credit, too. I really enjoyed being a biker “mom” via emails and texts to Brendan Walsh, as he cycled from Madawaska, Maine, to Key West, Florida, in 11 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes to set a Guinness World Record for fastest crossing north-south of the US. He averaged 200 miles per day. His ride supported NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Should you be inspired to donate to his cause, please click here.
Wrapping up this weekend of Thanksgiving, I thank Marie for empowering me. Please share how others have empowered you.