Marie Empowered Me

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.

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Roy and Marie on their 2015 transcontinental ride.

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:

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.
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Success! The top of the second big climb! Left to right: me, Linda, Jessica, Laura, and Patty.

 

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.Bicycle Brendan

Wrapping  up this weekend of Thanksgiving, I thank Marie for empowering me. Please share how others have empowered you.


5 thoughts on “Marie Empowered Me

  1. In 1990, at the age of 33, and after a weekend of being a couch potato watching college and NFL football games almost non-stop, I picked up a book by Anne LaBastille called “Woodswoman.” It’s a book about a woman living alone in the Adirondack Wilderness in a log cabin she built herself, inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. Anne’s books definitely inspired me to take a look at myself and my then lack-of-activity. Even though, at that time, I had an outdoor job, I realized I had become way too sedentary and decided I needed an adventure of my own. I set a goal to hike the Appalachian Trail. It was too late in the year to save enough money to quit my job and get the gear I’d need for 1991, so I set my sights on 1992. Though I had extensive camping experience, mostly Girl Scouts and car camping, I had only spent a total of five nights over a couple different trips actually backpacking. But I set forth from Spring Mountain GA on April 4th 1992 and climbed Katahdin on Oct 6th of the same year. I’ve since completed several other shorter long-distance hikes in VT, MA, PA, and VA and biked several rail trails as well. Now that I’ve retired, I look to continue my quest for adventures of all kinds. Anne was just the first to inspire me to adventure. I’ve since been inspired by so many to continue to bike, hike, paddle and travel for as long as my body will do so.

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  2. hey Lynn. great to hear from you again and congrats to all the people who have pulled themselves off the couch and answered the question of “what’s around that corner.” the whole world is around that corner and every other one. may you always be curious.

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