Biking 3,000 miles across America. My athletic achievement of a lifetime.
When my daughter asked if I would bike across the US with her, I jumped at the chance. I had no idea what lay ahead.
Terror in the night
Many nights I woke up at 3 a.m. and my bravado gave way to fear — of trucks running us down, injuries, arguments and the enormity of the project. Was I up to this? Would I be able to get in shape? I was in my mid-fifties after all. I hadn’t competed in an athletic event for 25 years. After my daughters were born I slowed down. When the dog got old, I quit jogging and when the dog died my workouts dwindled. I let go of the “athlete” within me.
For several months I didn’t tell anyone about the bike trip and I wrestled with the idea in my mind. Slowly I made a firm commitment to myself. When I shared my thoughts with my husband he asked, “Are you sure?” I could see he was frightened about our safety.
That was six months before departure day. I immediately jumped into action.
Planning helped a lot. First I bought the specialized bikes and bikers maps. Next I engaged the professional services of a high performance (triathelite) trainer who put me on a rigorous training and nutrition schedule.
Slowly I built up my endurance and confidence, beginning with slow rides on flat terrain, and eventually pedaling 50+ miles in a day; day-after- day.
Next I started to tell all our friends.
My daughters believed I could do it and so did the super guy I married 25 years ago. I had to believe it myself.
One day as I looked in the mirror, I realized something had changed. Of course I’d lost about five pounds. As the person in the mirror stared back, I said out loud, “Hot damn, you’re an athlete now.” It felt good to work out, be disciplined and move toward fulfilling the athletic zenith of my life. I relaxed and began sleeping through the night.
Later we contacted the National Osteoporosis Foundation and found a sponsor. We raised $1 per mile we rode for Bone Health education. $52,000 total in three months.
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.