What’s your favorite memory from your trip?
So many memories. One of the best, was when the entire TransAm 2014 team was at dinner with the Charlottesville, Virginia MS Society. Don (BTUSFMS Founder) surprised us all by presenting a family with a much needed handicapped van. The tears were a’plenty, emotions were high, and not a doubt was to be found as to why we rode for MS.
What is your age?
I am 24 now, although in a sense I am merely 5 years old since my first BTUSFMS trip (when life truly began) was when I was 19.
What made you want to ride your bike across the country?
America is such a massive, diverse, wicked-awesome country. I wanted to see what my own Motherland had to offer and biking across her seemed like the best way to accomplish that.
Where do you live?
I live in a small community in the Dominican Republic.
What is your profession?
My current profession is Peace Corps Volunteer.
What route(s)/year(s) did you ride with Bike the US for MS?
I did the Northern Tier in 2012 and the TransAm in 2014. To be continued in 2017…
How many miles did you clock in before the trip?
For my first trip, let’s be honest, not many. The first two weeks, to put it lightly, were brutal. But, I was all the wiser the second time around and did lots of mountain biking and a mini-tour to prepare.
What was your cycling experience before signing up?
I had little experience in cycling besides biking to school in grade school.
Where did you find the most success fundraising?
From my experience, personalized emails have high efficacy as a fundraising method.
What was your biggest worry before the trip, and how did you handle it?
My biggest worry was not finishing. I handled it upon meeting the Bike the US for MS team. They’ll get you across the world if need be.
How many fundraising letters/emails do you think you sent?
Yikes. An inordinate amount. I sent about 50 emails the first day and tried to send at least a few everyday up until the tour. I signed up lat minute so it was pedal to the metal fundraising until the tour commenced.
What surprised you most about the fundraising process?
Through fundraising, I realized how close to home MS was. I never knew how many friends of mine were affected by MS. Many of those who went on to donate told me about their family members or connections with MS that were unbeknownst to me previously.
What type of bike did you ride? Where did you get it?
Listen, my first year I rode a too small, too fragile, fancy little road bike. I learned my lesson the hard way. A few million broken spokes later I am now the proud owner of a Surly. Steel is real. I highly recommend finding a sturdy steed to get you across the county without any snags. I found my ride on Craigslist and it happened to be owned by a professor of mine.
What is something you wish you had brought which you didn’t?
More than one chamois my first year. Need I explain more?
What’s one ancillary thing you couldn’t have lived without on the road?
The legendary bike rear-view mirror.
What’s one thing you brought that you wish you hadn’t?
I didn’t bring my DSLR for my first rodeo. To this day, I wish that it had been there with me.
Is there anything you spent a bit more money on that you were glad you did?
Food splurging in cities. No regrets. Nor, on the many pairs of quirky socks purchased along the route.
How much casual clothes (t-shirts, shorts, etc) did you bring?
Three shirts, two hiking pants, one shorts. Disclaimer: Many of my cycling tops doubled as normal shirts.
How many pairs of cycling shorts/bibs did you bring?
First year: one.
Second year: four.
Second year > First year
What type of sleeping pad did you use?
The therm-a-rest foam folded pad. Solid, minus the fact that it is soft… *ba dum chhh*
What was your favorite trailer snack?
I loved the all natural bars. Larabar and ProBar are two fool-proof options.
How often would you go out to eat?
Every lunch that there was the opportunity to go out I took it. Breakfast and dinner were generally culinary experiments at the campsite.
Would you cook at camp often? If so, what was your favorite recipe?
Hearty oatmeal with bananas and apples. I also highly recommend carb-loading with Velveeta mac and cheese.
Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?
Depends on the day. But, if the wind blows hard, I can guarantee, 100% of the time, you’ll find me right in the back of a pace line. Bet your bottom dollar.
Would you rather be riding through steady rain or extreme heat?
Steady rain was always so majestic. Some of the most magical days were in the cathartic rains, ergo I am very partial to the rain.
What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?
I liked to travel comfortably. I didn’t usually have pockets so refer to the following questions for what I carried.
Did you use a rack/saddle bag/handlebar bag?
Yes. As well as a Salsa Anything rack. I always carried my DSLR, map, a folding chair, air horn, phone, patch kit, bike tool, sandals, and Swiss Army knife.
What type of tires did you ride?
35’s in the back and 28’s in the front. Both tires always had some traction on there. Never bald. There are fewer feelings more satisfying than pulling shards of glass out of your tires while the tube remains in pristine condition.
Did you use a cyclocomputer? What was your normal pace?
No computer. Nonetheless, I fit in the 15 mph cruise category.
How long did it take to learn to read the maps?
I would guesstimate that 2 weeks into my first trip I had an adequate handle on the maps.
Riding on a flat terrain with a headwind, or climbing a mountain pass for miles. Which do you prefer?
Without a doubt, I’ll tackle a mountain pass over headwinds. With a pass, one is rewarded with a killer view from the top and a killer descent afterwards, not to mention the glory that comes with slaying a pass (eg: A photograph with the elevation sign). There is no reward, that I know of, for headwinds.
What was the most difficult part/aspect/state of the ride?
Were you an early riser? Did you sleep in?
I am an early riser. But, somehow the male riders who woke up 30 minutes after me were always ready to hit the road at the exact same time. One of the greatest mysteries of life.
When you got to camp, the first thing you did was….
Sit in the grass. Just sit and think about how amazing showering will be. But, first, sit.
How often would you do laundry?
A post-ride ritual became a quick rinse of the bike clothes each day.
It’s the evening and you’re out of your bike clothes, fed, and your tent is pitched. What are you doing to pass the time until you fell asleep?
Easy question, sit around with the team and tell tales, or get back on the bicycle and cruise around town to see who there is to meet and what there is to see.
How many sink/hose showers did you take?
Quite a few. Anytime there was a line for the real shower I would bypass to the hose.
How many loads of sink/hose laundry did you do?
As stated in a previous answer, it became my daily ritual to at least rinse out my bike clothing post-ride.
On rest days, did you prefer to go out and see what the town has to offer, or did you hang out, rest up, and relax?
I always did a spin or two around town to get a feel for the environment.
Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?
Yes. This trip helps you make many great friends with such amazing people. I still talk to them and even have mini reunions with some of them.
Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?
Yes. Sporadically, but the bond is still strong with many of my teammates.
Has the trip changed you as a person, or the way you see life?
In many many many ways yes.
Do you have any pieces of general advice for new cyclists?
Nike says it best: Just do it.