Friday, September 3, 2010


We've finished our cross-country trek. And I did a HORRIBLE job keeping up with this blog! I knew it would be hard, but the lack of internet time (and lack of any type of computer to access it) was even more tough than I expected. Ok, ok, and maybe the increase in laziness-exhaustion increased throughout the trip as well!

I did journal the entire trip via pen-and-paper. I look back now at all the pages, and can't believe that 69 days have gone by already. I can't wait to flip through my journal's pages next year, and reminisce. It's truly hard to grasp the concept of the feat we all have just accomplished.

The BFG is somewhere taking her trek BACK across the country, though she is in pieces now and all boxed up with some of my dirty clothes taking up what breathing space their used to be in there. I really got attached to my bike. It became less of an instrument, and more of a friend to me - especially after a numbingly cold & wet 2 days in Glacier National Park. At the base of Logan Pass, when the sun finally came out, and we were able to pull off some of the layers of clothing we had on, we stopped at a little General Store. I found a great sticker that said "Glacier" and had a picture of a Moose on it - and I adorned the BFG's rear wheel bar with the sticker. That moment I realized she was more to me than a vehicle of rubber and aluminum.

Will I anxiously pull her out of the box when the Fed-Ex man drops her off at my door? I think I might. I've not ridden my bike for nearly 10 days now, and I'm actually excited to get back in the saddle again. Certainly not for a 70-mile ride, but maybe 20 would be nice. My riding confidence has skyrocketed, and so I know my rides at home now will be much more enjoyable than they were back in May and early June.

I'd try to give details of my trip now, but the timing is all off, and I couldn't do it justice re-writing it all in this blog. The second half in summary:

Wisconsin: Unexpectedly beautiful, rolling hills, farms, little traffic.
Minnesota: More swampy than expected, mosquitos, trees.
North Dakota: More green than normal, flat, lots of colors, beautiful - had the most terrifying roads of our trip.
Montana: East is boring, West is AMAZING. I have to come back
Washington: Mountains, trees, rivers, great people

What a great great GREAT experience. One that nobody can ever take away from any of us. I LOVE NUS'10 and I will miss you all <3

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Over the Hill

We're half way. HALF WAY!!! In some ways I feel as though we've been on this adventure for a long time, especially for as many things we've seen and the amount of places we've been. But then, sometimes I feel as though I just started this adventure yesterday. We're in Minnesota now - MINNESOTA! I've never even been to Minnesota in a car, or flown over the state in an airplane, or heck before this trip I didn't even know whether Minnesota was Wisconsin, or vice versa. And we've bicycled here!

My last blog entry was so long ago. Tonight we're staying in a Jewish Temple, and they have an actual computer lab, so I've really been spoiled tonight. To be honest, I've given up on my blog - but perhaps to the 2 or 3 of you still reading it, I'm punchin' in a little effort :)

My tan lines are really awesome right now - at bare level, I look ridiculous. Or rather, we all look ridiculous. Arms tan from bicep to wrist, legs tan from mid-thigh to ankle, and most even rock the helmet strap lines on their faces. Whenever someone questions our honesty about our trek, we flash the tan lines... who else but crazy 69-day cyclists sport those types of lines?

I'm lucky that I went through my year in AmeriCorps NCCC. My rather conservative nature coming out of college was loosened up through the many experiences NCCC provided. For instance, Bike & Build is no place for a 'shy' person. More times than I can count I have been in community showers, changed in room corners, worn the same outfits day after day, shoved my hands down my bike shorts to apply chamois butter, and tinkled in every odd corner of this country...

And, I'll be brief and leave out the details, but tinkling has really been an interesting experience. It happens every day; you pass a small town with McDonald's, coffee shops, etc. and about 5 miles down the road you get 'The Urge.' Greeeaaat. But anymore, it's no big deal. You find a nice corn field, or perhaps a deep ditch alongside the road, a great tree, or you ask for the cover of a fellow teammate...or you just go. You go wherever you can go.

Last week I had to go. Jess Halloran and Kyle Gamsby made sure to wait for me at the end of a crossroad while I went down a back-country road about 100 feet and took cover of some high weeds and a relatively deep ditch. Seemed safe. Mid-squat, an old pick-up truck slowly pulled past Jess and Kyle, regained speed as they approached my hiding place, and just as I thought all was clear, hit the brakes in the thought that perhaps that plastic piece in the grass was not an unrecycled jug, but rather a cyclists helmet! AHHH! I stopped mid-stream, yanked up my thigh-grasping spandex shorts, and waved my hands as in an "please please PLEASE stay inside the car-i'm fine i'm fine!"

Since then, I've selected my 'hiding spots' more carefully. I can't even begin to tell you all the good stories that arise from such a topic though!

Well, I'm stopping abruptly - I'm starving and dinner is served. Always starving!

Longest ride of the trip is 7/31 - this Saturday into Devils Lake, ND.

Thanks for your support I will say again ..and again...and again - couldn't do this without you!

Friday, July 9, 2010


Avon Lake, OH

My penn-state friends will kill me for writing my title like that...but I can't help it! I've never been so excited to be in Ohio!!! We're here already!?

We broke our record today - fastest ride yet - rode 80 miles in 90 minutes... and without a sweat! Ya, ok, I'm not that good... it was due to an intense day of storms that were heading toward Cleveland. It was disappointing to not get to ride today, but safety first, and riding in lighting on a metal bike just seems like not the best of ideas.

So i'll back up to the past week of riding. Today is friday... (or is it?) I never seem to know what day it is anymore... but since Monday it has been HOT HOT HOT! The relatively flat terrain has been GREAT! I don't know what would happen if we were climbing the Adirondacks in 90 degree heat - my camelbak has been a huge lifesaver, as well as Jillian's 50 SPF sunblock. 3 days of impressive heat rash on my legs has convinced me to change from the 2 applications of SPF 30 per day, to now 3 applications of the SPF 50. Fingers crossed this works!

I haven't really talked much about our build-sites yet. We've had 4 scheduled, but only 3 came to fruition- and all 3 have been amazing. With lack of time, I'll talk about our 2nd build site in Lebanon, NH. 7 of my fellow cyclists and I headed on a one-hour car ride to our site with COVER, a non-profit organization devoted to repairing low-income family's homes. The home we worked on had rotten wooden siding on their small trailer, a squirrel living in the siding (and munching on electrical wires), and thousands of ants in the woodwork. COVER used our volunteering assistance to help repair some of the boards, wrap the home in Tyvek, and put up vinyl siding. The family was very grateful, and we were all happy to help. We've been in the presence of 2 families who were brought to tears while we were working with another affordable housing organization, habitat for humanity... it's hard to even comprehend the difference we are making in some of these people's lives.

I'm so thankful to have had such a wonderful experience so far. These 3 weeks have FLOWN by - to think we're nearly 1/3 of the way done is hard to believe! And my legs are sore, but its not major PAIN anymore! YAY~!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up, up, 'n ...UP!

Burn baby burn!

I have hardly any internet time...its actually been 6 days since I could check my email, and the past 3 nights we've had no cell phone reception.

The journey so far has been AWESOME! 350 miles in, 3 states, 100 dance parties, 1 bottle of baby creme, 100 massage trains, 8 AMAZING hosts, 2 heartfelt build days, and enough pasta to fill a swimming pool...

My fingernails are eternally black from up-keep on my bike, my mouth is always chock full of food, and my quads have gone from 'sore' to 'painful' after our 76 mile day today.

The hills in the Adirondacks were tough. Not only did we summit 2109 ft on our 4th day of riding, but we also spent the next 3 days climbing significant 'small' mountains - often in the rain.

My 'granny' gear has really been a life saver! Though my legs spin in a whirl on my bike when I've got 'er kicked into granny gear, my whole body has thanked me for getting a "triple" rather than a "double" derailler ... It may take 45 minutes...but heck, i'm getting up that mountain!

Thanks for all the support, both in snail mail & facebook posts. You guys are great... My team has raised over $149,000 and Friday we have another build day set up. Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Let's Rock n' Roll

Ohhhhh man!

What a crazy awesome experience this has already become! My sister, her friend Rachel, Nolan, Sam, and I all arrived early Sunday morning into Portsmouth, NH. Tooooo early to be exact - as in, I called my leader and said "WE'RE HERE!!(yay!)" to which she replied "No you're NOT!!!" ... which meant we had to find things to do in Portsmouth for 5 hours before our 'check-in' time. Ooops! As I later found out, we could have spent several awesome hours in the small city of Portsmouth, but we didn't know any better and instead shopped for cameras in WalMart and Best Buy all day... but dang it, we purchased the absolute best priced camera in all of Portsmouth!

The people here are great. High energy, dedicated, motivated, and have huge hearts. I guess when you group something as (insane?) as riding 4000 miles across the country, with the compassion needed to raise $4000 for the Affordable Housing cause - you need those qualities to rise to the challenges ahead.

So, it's not COMPLETELy hit me yet that I'll be riding across the country. Tomorrow is the very first day of our ride... 65 miles to be exact. I've already spent 2 night sleeping on the floor of the church in my sleeping bag, with a lovely Soergel Orchards sweatshirt as a pillow. I'd actually bought a camping pillow, but on the day of arrival, realized I needed that 3"x8" space that the pillow took up... and so, now I'll be at least 69 days pillow-less.

Food is great - everything is through donations. Panera Bread, friends of B&B, Chipotle, etc. have already provided meals for us. If you see that you will be along our route, and would like to donate any food (cookies, juice, lunch, etc.) please let me know - the more we get donated, the more that will go to Affordable Housing... SWEET!

Which, as of TODAY, my trip alone (32 people) has raised $147,557 ... WOW! We still have yet to go through the logistics of how we're going to distribute that exactly...but we'll basically put it into a big pot, and different Affordable Housing non-profits will apply to our grant, and then we decide who to distribute the funds to. I can't wait :)

Well, I need to get going - off to the YMCA for showers... it's a 10 minute ride there, we have one 15-passenger van, and 32 people ... it's a production!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I can't believe it's finally here! Ah! I still have to get a front light, booties, a working headlamp, this, that, the other thing, and a stinkin' Duffel Bag!

Ya, packing has been slow...obviously. I am alotted 4500 cu. in. of space for my entire summer, which sounds like a lot until you have to shove a sleeping bag and pillow in there. Every bag I find is either 3600 cu. in. or 5400 cu. in. So today, my hunt is on.

Am I ready for this trip? Is there any way to really prepare myself for a 69-day cross-country cycling trip? ...I think not. I signed a waiver way-back-when that said "I will bicycle 500 miles before the trip" and "I will cycle at least one 65 mile day before the trip" ... and I've done both things and I'm praying that that will suffice. EEk!

Tuesday the 22nd will be our first build day up in Portsmouth, NH - and Wednesday the 23rd we'll dip our tires into the Atlantic and head off for our first day of cycling! 4,844 miles later we'll reach VANCOUVER, B.C. and will have distributed over $120,000 to affordable housing non-profits and helped build 10 homes! Holy smokes!

Well, I'll keep this message short n' sweet because I've got a lot to do, and procrastinating by blogging sounds like a really wond..Terrible idea!

I will try to keep up with the blog, and you can track my route on the B&B website at:

Thanks so much for your support everyone!!! I truly could not have done this without you.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rain, miles, and hunger OH MY!

The three came hand-in-hand yesterday. I went on a 66 mile ride with Mike Masilunas and rode nearly the entire Montour trail. We started the ride off in a soaking rain, which lead to what we found 6 hours later to be extremely wrinkly feet, and the last 50 miles or so brought spats of sprinkles. It didn't slow us down though, nor did it slow down the hardworking Montour Trail volunteers who had set up a 'free hot dog & lemonade' booth about 30 miles into our ride. Nothing satisfies the stomach quite like a hot dog...and nothing keeps reminding you ate it for the next 20 miles, quite like a hot dog, either. But it was satisfying to both the mind and heart to have such a friendly chat with great people in the middle of such an intense ride.

The first 35 miles or so, despite rain, were truly a breeze. The trail is flat, crushed limestone, and follows through woods, meadows, farms, train tunnels, awesome bridges, and sprinkled with blooming wildflowers.

The next 20 miles became a bit more taxing. Though the trail is 'flat', it does seem to follow more of an upgrade on the return, and by that time the rain had officially soaked through the crushed limestone and had turned the underneath into a thick, slow-churning mud... making each turn of the pedal that much harder. Not to mention, we'd already been out for nearly 3 hours, the hot dog was quickly spent (though we did have a few granola bar reserves), and a bit of monotony and boredom set in.

Around mile 55 the excitement of knowing we were nearly finished grew, and the anticipation of knowing that we still got to ride through 3 long train tunnels, and 2bridges in those last 10 miles, thrilled us to keep pedaling. Finishing back at Mike's house at 65.71 miles was unacceptable in his eyes, so we pedaled up the neighborhood so we could finish the ride at exactly 66.00

Awesome! Not only were my legs strengthened with the training, but I'm also 100% sure I'll make it through at least the first day (65 miles) of Bike & Build! Haha, not only that, but I'm feeling much more confident now that cycling across the U.S.A is not only possible, but that I can also do it in the rain, and that I'll be able to do it with an enthusiastic spirit :)