Gutsy? Adventurous? Reckless? We Biked Across America for Osteoporosis Charity: the Toughest Thing I’ve Ever Done!
WHY? For reasons that made perfect sense to us, but not to my husband or most of my friends, we chose to bike from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, camping, preparing our own meals and charting our own course unassisted by a professional support van.
Our roadblocks were logistical challenges and unanswered questions. How would we finance it? Could we get in shape to ride 3,000+ miles? Was I too old, at age 58? How could we avoid joining a group? Should we buy maps and go by ourselves? Should we ask someone to drive a camper for us?
My daughter JC threw down the gauntlet, “Mom, I know you’ll find a way.”
Two months later, we partnered with a major corporate sponsor to help pay for the trip and help raise money for Osteoporosis research and education. Our sponsor was General Mill’s Total Cereal. We would eat Total Cereal to start our days, wear their logo and would give our total best to complete the ride across 7 states.
We decided a Recreational Vehicle (RV) would our home and invited JC’s best friend to drive ahead of us each day and help with cooking, camping and planning.
Finally we contacted the National Osteoporosis Foundation and offered to dedicate our ride to their cause of Bone Health.
Why? I am afflicted with osteoporosis, as are my sisters and mother. Between the four of us we have lost 6 inches of height due to osteoporosis.
Evenings after a day of training and travel writing (my career), I launched a website and blog “Bond Girls Bike America for Bone Health“. The blog provided us with a way to ask for donations for research and education about Osteoporosis through the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
We asked followers to donate a “dollar-a-mile” and we hoped we could raise a little money for a worthwhile cause.
There was nothing in my previous life to prepare me for the reality of spending two months, or more, on the seat of a bicycle, on busy roads with semi-trucks zooming past us and camping every night. I actually knew very little of what lay ahead. I certainly did not understand the implications of what we were about to do. If I had, I probably would have done the intelligent thing and turned the biked in the opposite direction and called it quits.
Don’t get the impression I’m some kind of super athlete. I should make it clear at the very beginning I didn’t have the experience or qualifications for this undertaking.
I spent the previous two decades raising kids, and working long hours to help support them. I ran three miles a day with our Labrador retriever, until she got old. For the last years of her life we walked slowly stopping often for her to sniff. When the dog died my exercise routine diminished even further.
The first time I pedaled 50 miles in one day was six months before departure. I knew I had a lot of serious training to do to prepare for our goal of riding was 50 to 70 miles-a-day, every day.
Every day I worked out for six to eight hours with an ultra-triathlon trainer. I changed my diet according to a professional “extreme sports” nutritionist. I organized our meals and the equipment we would need (Ruby Pro bikes, donated by Specialized Bikes), maps to follow, food to store in the RV, and medical supplies -but I still had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
As our departure date approached – a day after my 25th wedding anniversary and three days after JC’s graduation from Cornell -I realized this challenge was the right thing to do, and at the right time to do it, and that biking and raising money for bone health would be a defining moment in the second half of my life.
From the moment when we made the commitment to cycle across America, I thought of little else. And yet, when the departure day arrived, I realized I really hadn’t thought about it at all. I had been too wrapped up in training and all the details.
Our departure was 24-hours after my 25th wedding anniversary. Gary and I decided to celebrate at the end of the ride. After a tearful goodbye we rode away from my supportive, worried husband and JC’s father. A few miles later as a high-pitched headache developed, I pulled over and vomited into a bush. The stress was overwhelming. Several hours later when we got to camp, i had to act cheerful and in control. The panic and stress dissolved into business when I slipped into the familiar “mom” role of preparing dinner.
We rode through a snowstorm in the Colorado Rockies, a lightening storm in Utah and into 105’+ heat as we approached the East Coast. Amid the cornfields of Kansas we squished hundreds of baby frogs that blanketed the road. A local family invited us to their kids’ rodeo and offered us fresh eggs and Rocky Mountain Oysters. In Kentucky we dodged overloaded coal trucks and wild dogs. A dog attack caused my only accident which I survived without broken bones. The trip was much harder than we could have ever imagined; many miles were mind-numbingly monotonous
The summer together brought my daughter and I closer than we had ever been. We created an intense time of shared memories, shared stories and shared jokes. Sometimes we laughed like uninhibited toddlers, or giggled like pre-teens to the astonishment of bystanders. I found my daughter’s company a delight as well as supportive and helpful beyond measure.
When people were fascinated with our mother-daughter bike trip and asked questions, I realized that maybe we all need crazy, gutsy people who are willing to go out and do something crazy, just to make everyone else believe they can do something bold too, if they want to.
BIKE TRIP ENDING
I felt tears well up –tears of intense emotion, a mixture of gratitude, relief and wonder at what we had achieved. The strongest emotion I felt was the pride that we had, mile after painful mile, encouraged strangers to donate to our cause.
Our goal was to ride across the country and increase awareness of women’s bone health. We accomplished the ride; we remained friends; no one was hurt; and perhaps our greatest achievement was raising $52,000 for a worthwhile cause.
OSTEOPOROSIS CHARITY WORTH THE WORK
We contacted the National Osteoporosis Foundation and offered to dedicate our ride to their cause.
Why? I am afflicted with osteoporosis, as are my sisters and mother. So we launched a website and blog for donations of a dollar for each mile we biked. Our goal was to ride across the country and increase awareness of women’s bone health. We accomplished the ride, we remained friends, no one was hurt, and perhaps our greatest achievement was raising $52,000 for a worthwhile cause.
Click HERE to learn more adventurous and wild things Marybeth Bond has done.