What is your age?
– I turned 51 while we were riding across the country.
Where do you live?
– I have lived in Seattle since 1987, but grew up in upstate New York.
What is your profession?
– Registered Nurse
What bike do you ride?
– Colnago CX-Zero
What route/year did you ride with Bike the US for MS?
– Northern Tier 2017
Do you have a connection to multiple sclerosis?
– I had been working as a clinic nurse in the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center in Seattle.
What made you want to ride your bike across the country?
– I have always been a cyclist and have always wanted to ride across the country. One day at work, I had an inspiring encounter with a woman who is living with MS. She shared her story of riding the Northern Tier with BTUSFMS with me, and I started planning that day… *smile*
What was your cycling experience before signing up?
– I have been a daily bike commuter who does longer rides on weekends. I had never done any touring, but was used to being on my bike.
Where did you find the most success fundraising?
– I sent lots and lots of emails to friends and family, but a dear friend offered to host an auction for the cause. The auction ended up being a huge boost toward reaching my goal.
What was your biggest challenge while fundraising, or something that didn’t work as well as you thought it might?
– I am not naturally comfortable with fundraising… I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone. It was easy to keep telling the story of this amazing organization and all the people that benefit from their efforts.
Embarking on any big trip can be intimidating. What was your biggest pre-trip worry?
– Keeping up with calorie needs…and preventing saddle sores.
How much training did you do for the trip?
– I stayed focused on my daily commute to work (which is about 20 miles round trip) and made sure to do at least one long ride every weekend.
Did you buy a bike for the trip, or did you ride one you already had?
– It was a bike that I acquired the summer of 2016 with this ride in mind.
What is something you wish you brought, but didn’t?
– Nothing! I brought too much stuff and kept shipping things home that I did not need.
What is something you didn’t bring, but wish you did?
– My phone. It served as a lifeline, camera, and occasional GPS.
What’s one thing you brought that you wish you hadn’t?
– I overpacked food.
Is there anything you spent more money on that you’re glad you did?
– My husband built my front wheel with a dyno-hub. This allowed me to easily keep my phone and lights charged. It was awesome.
Likewise, is there something you wish you’d spent more money on?
– No…but can I say how important it is to have a good tent?
How many casual clothing items did you pack (off-bike clothing)?
– 2 pairs of shorts, 2 t-shirts, and 1 pair of pants…cozy socks, sneakers, flip flops, a sweatshirt, a puffy jacket, and a summer dress. Everything packed into a relatively small stuff sack.
How many pairs of cycling shorts/bibs did you bring?
What type of camping gear did you use?
– A basic single person REI tent, a Big Agnes sleeping bag and pad, small pillow, headlamp. An MSR cookstove with bowl, cup, spork, etc. A hammock.
What was your favorite trailer snack?
– Trail mix, bananas, almond butter
How often did you go out to eat?
– It varied, but if we could find a good diner for eggs and potatoes, we would go once daily. Otherwise, we made plenty of good food at camp.
Did you bring a camp cook set?
– Yes, the MSR I mentioned… it was great.
Would you cook at camp often? If so, what was your favorite recipe?
– Yes, usually for dinner every night. I made alot of concoctions with quinoa and salsa and kale. Most everything tasted good to me out on the road. For breakfast, I ate alot of overnight-soaked oatmeal with chia seeds and dried fruit.
What did you put in your day cubby (in the rest stop van)?
– Extra beverages (I got hooked on Arnold Palmers), trail mix, fruit, cookies… whatever I had!
On the Bike:
What type of mirror did you use?
– My mirror was on my handle bars.
Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?
– I like both, but we happened to have a really great group of people on Notier 2017, so we rode together in different group iterations on a regular basis. I only rode two days by myself on the whole trip.
Do you listen to music while riding?
– A couple of the riders in our group had a sound system they attached to their rear rack, so we had intermittent tunes for a stretch of time — which was really fun, but mostly we went without. I don’t wear headphones when I ride.
What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?
– As little as possible.
Did you use a rack/saddle bag or handle bar bag?
– I had a handlebar bag that held my phone, snacks, map, lip balm, sunglasses, etc… and a saddle bad that held tools, spare tire, and sunscreen (and anything else I needed to squish into it!)
What type of tires did you ride?
– Gatorskins — don’t leave home without them!
Did you use a bike computer?
What was your normal pace?
– Huge variance — depended on the terrain and the headwinds
How long did it take to learn to read the maps?
– It probably took me about a week to get comfortable with them.
Riding on flat terrain with a headwind, or climbing a mountain pass – which do you prefer?
– I would take a climb over headwinds any day!
Would you rather be riding through cold rain or extreme heat?
– Tough choice, but I think I would prefer the rain…
What was the most physically demanding segment or state for you?
– The headwinds in Indiana
Were you an early riser, or rolling out of camp late?
– Early riser
What the first thing you did once you arrived at camp every day?
– Pitched my tent/picked my sleeping spot
How often would you do laundry?
– If you could do it daily, you did…we took turns and owe much thanks to fellow rider Matt, who loved to do laundry and did more than his fair share
How many sink/hose showers did you take?
– I think I have chosen not to remember this… 4 or 5?
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 fall asleep?
– Playing cards, writing postcards to friends and family, exploring the area…
On rest days, did you prefer to go out and explore the town, or hang out, rest up, and relax?
– Exploring the places we stayed was definitely a highlight of the trip
Did you keep a journal or blog during the trip?
– I wrote in a journal nightly (which I am so glad I have now) and posted pictures on Facebook as often as I could.
What your favorite memory from your trip?
– There could not possibly be only one…but looking back, I will say it was a beautiful thing to meet 20 strangers and to start a somewhat unpredictable journey together. So my favorite memory was not of a singular event; I loved witnessing (and being part of) this group of people getting to know one another, looking out for one another, and supporting each other across the country. It was an incredible experience.
Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?
What was your favorite service project?
– No favorites… each of our service projects was memorable and worthwhile.
Do you feel like you are more aware of the impact MS has on the lives of those affected by it?
– Most definitely. This trip was incredibly humbling for me in that sense.
What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?
– Live your dreams. It will inspire others to live their dreams. Which will make the world a better place. Really.