Thank You to My Sponsors

  • Ernie Wilson
  • Frank and Del Bozzini
  • UBS foundation gift match
  • CUA class of 2008
  • UnerArmour
  • Bicycle Madness
  • Tony Ryan
  • Henry Gundling, Sr
  • Pramuk Family
  • Michael and Merit Rome
  • Chris Landis
  • Maria Klassen
  • Paul Bailey
  • Rex Sawyer
  • Walt O'Donnel
  • Stephen Kreider
  • Mary Kongsgaard
  • Mary Gundling
  • Henry Gundling
  • Erin Guerrero
  • Liz Graul
  • Greg Gardner
  • John Forken
  • Tom Carollo
  • Mark Carollo
  • Armin Bondoc
  • Daniel Blum

My Calling Card

My Calling Card
The important facts in a nifty size

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Odessa to Spokane, day 4, 6/27

We had ourselves some quick breakfast at the highschool made by the same wonderful ladies that had made us dinner the night before. Catie, Letty, and I started off the day a little rough. We made a wrong turn at the very first intersection we came to and before we could even realize it, Catie and Letty had a big crash on the side of the deserted town road.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

May 26th, Day 3! Vantage to Odessa.

Up at 5:30 am again. Still an ungodly hour. Give me a few more days to get used to it. Breakfast was full buffet style at a local restaurant as a group. We had a tight and busy bridge to cross first thing in the morning so we got into formation with a support in front and back and all 37 riders riding together in the middle. Never experienced escort service quite like that. It was a long long hot hot day. A bit of headwind and lots of rolling hills. I rode with Greg, a fellow recent graduate from Nebraska, for most of the day. The bum was hurting a WHOLE LOT that day. Also forgot to grab my sunscreen that morning and got my first bad burn of the trip. I also got stung by a very rude little bee on the road. I hadn't been stung in so long I forgot how much those stinkers hurt!! I definitely screamed outloud and made a few cows jump on the side of the road (figuratively of course, they can't really jump...silly cows). We finally rolled into Vantage highschool and set up camp after 85 long rough miles. Some ladies from the town made us a very tasty dinner, after which I tossed the frisbee with a few of the guys, dunked my burnt little body in the local pool, and then it was off too bed.

June 24th, day 2! Easton to Vantage

Day 2 of the big ride began at 5:20am. Yikes that hour was going to take some time to get used to. I got out of my tent and almost fell over my own feet as I stood up, I was still so tired and out of it. We packed our gear, had a quick bite of oatmeal and bananas and were on the road by 7am. Catie Letty and I were again some of the last to leave camp but we caught up with the rest quickly and were at the middle of the group by late morning. Had some nice downhills leaving the cascades, then ran along a beautiful river with widning country roads. We had a great tail wind for much of that morning. We did 25mph easily without barely peddling. After our last rest stop for the day, we stop at starbucks to get our caffeine fix before beginning the supposed long hard climb for the day. The climb ended up being no match for our mad awesome muscles and high spirits. I made friends with a horse on the road as we shared my granola bar. (I really hope horses aren't allergic to chocolate). Anyway, he was grateful and nodded me as i took off down the road again. had another great downhill with tailwind at the very end of the day and I hit my next record speed of 40.01 mph . SOO MUCH FUN. Cold beers and hot showers at camp finished the day off perfectly.

May 23rd. The First Day!!

Well it was a pretty restless night. I was so nervous I could barely sleep. Some of our fears had been put to rest the night before by a veteran who had answered our many many questions mostly regarding our deep seated fears about having to be sagged in one of the support vehicles if we ended up being too slow. I had a couple nightmares about sore butts and being left in the dust and woke up well before my 5:30 alarm went off. Letty, Catie and I got our gear together and rode off to the starting line by 6am which was about half a mile away from the university. We had a little breakfast at the starting line, took a million pictures, watched other riders say goodbye to their family and friends who were seeing them off, and then it was time to start the ride. My mind was still fuzzy and in total disbelief that I was really starting this thing that I had been talking about and planning for for over 6 months. We were some of the last to leave, but we were happy to realize that we had easily passed half the riders by 15 miles into the trip. We started on a really neat shaded and winding path out of the city and every minute of it was more exhilerating than the last. Eventually the terrain changed to highways and then to rolling hills and then to the big test of our training and endurance, "Snoqualmie Pass." We knew it would be several miles of climbing and we had been nervous about that mountain for months, but I guess our training climbs on Mt Veeder in Napa paid off because it was way easier than we thought it would be and we reached the summit still breathing and our heads held high. There was still some snow on the pass, and even a little snowman that we later discovered was made by on of the riders, Simon, during his short residency in a nearby ditch. We had a little coffee at the summit and then began our long and well deserved descent. I topped out at 38 miles an hour going down and was feeling quite proud of myself as we rolled straight into camp after our downhill, completing the longest ride of my life at 91.4 miles. I couldn't believe I'd made it, and I wasn't even close to being last! We enjoyed cold beer and sausages that night, courtesy of former big riders that had ridden with us just for the day, and then konked out in my little green canvas house feeling very pleased with myself.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekend in Seattle

Besdides looking really silly carrying two and half terribly unwieldy gear bags each, Letty and I arrived in Seattle on the 19th without any problems and headed straight to our hostel in downtown called the Green Tortoise. They fed us dinner that night and breakfast the next morning for free. It was a great stay! We met one interesting guy who taught us the importance of the frontal lobe in determining the fate of the cosmos and another bunch of people who were in Seattle that weekend strictly for the purpose of riding their bikes naked in the city's annual parade. There were certainly some characters, but we enjoyed them.

The next day, the 20th, Letty and I headed out to Recycled Cycles bike shop to be reunited once again with our noble and beloved steeds. The shop took great care of us, although they charged me an arm and a leg and probably a good number of what could have been great meals on this trip. Once we were all geared up, tuned up, and looking fancy again on our hott bikes, we began our ride toward the ferry terminal where we would set off to visit our good family friends, the Rome family. With all our luggage, we knew that we were in for a challenge when it came to boarding the ferry with a bike each, so we conceived this plan to bring oursleves and our luggage onto the ferry first and then have one of us go back to fetch the bikes and bring them onto the bottom of the ferry with the rest of the bikes, motorcycles, and cars. We shared our plan with a few ferry terminal employees and felt it was surely foolproof. We got our bags onto the ferry without a problem and I turned around immediately to get off the ferry and go to fetch the bikes and bring them below. I ran as fast as I could in my bike shoes to get the bikes and as I was unlocking them I could hear in the distance a voice on a loud speaker saying something about "a girl in a yellow shirt with two bikes," and "wait for he." So I was feeling pretty good about everything, confident I'd make it onto the boat at least. Well, i finally managed to wheel the bikes to the back of the boat when I realized the gate was already closed. I stood 30 feet from the back of the still docked ferry pleading for two minutes with the ferry worker there to let me on, but they were feeling quite unsympathetic that day I noticed. As the ferry began to move slowly away fromt he dock, I saw Letty come out the back of the boat and wave to me. That was when I remembered that I had left my phone on the boat as well. I called out to her as loud as I could, "Call Merit Rome, Call Merit" but I think all she heard across the water was a desperate little "Eet Eet." And then she was gone, with all our bags, as I stood there with both our bikes, and we just waved somberly to eachother as the expanse of water between us grew bigger. It was like being in a sad old war movie. Anyway, it all turned out ok as Letty got the hint and called Merit to warn her that I would be on the next ferry, and Letty had a fella help her get all of our bags off the boat. We ended up having a great weekend with the Romes, with plenty of incredible food and wine served throughout. We probably should not have been so spoiled right before 48 days of PB&J's and hard-core camping, but I wasn't complaining!

Sunday the 22nd, we were back in Seattle to meet the Big Ride group for the first time and to stay overnight at the University of Washington. It was a little awkward at first meeting everyone and wondering how the Summer would pan out with all these characters, but Letty Catie and I were relieved instantly to see that we would not be the only three stupid college kids who had jumped into high water; there were plenty of dumb kids just like us, and many of them admitted that they had not trained nearly enough either. I was super greatful we weren't going to be the only dingbats. I'm not gonna lie! It was interesting to see that the group demographic would be split pretty solidly between the 15 or so college age kids like us, and then the 40 years and above group comprised mostly of seasoned cyclists. It was going to be an unusual group dynamic!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A brief recap of pre-ride adventures

Well, I suppose I'm a little late in starting this, but if I had been timely with it the shock would have been too great for those that know me and my habits regarding schedules, so I guess in the end I'm just fulfilling the general expectation. Anyway, I guess I'll start off with recapping about some of my pre-ride expriences that have led me to where I am now and then I will fill you in to date. Let's see, some people may be wondering first of all how I got started on this adventure in the first place. Well it's kind of a funny story. Letty and I were sitting in our friends apartment one evening, must likely enjoying a glass of wine or two, and we started discussing our summer plans. We had known some people that had done a pro-life walk from D.C. to Maine and thought something like that might be a neat way to spend our summer. But then we realized walking has never been a favorite hobby of either of us, and so I suggested bike riding. Totally in jest I suggested that a bike ride across America would be a pretty great time. We laughed it off pretending that we both thought it was crazy. Two days later, I hadn't been able to stop thinking about it and I confessed to Letty in a moment of clarity that kinda actually did wanna bike across the U.S. Her response was, "Thank goodness, because I already found us a program!" It all snowballed from there. We signed up and paid the $150 registration fee during Christmas break of this year totally unaware of what we were really getting ourselves into and suppressing as much as we could the feeling that a large portion of our intelligent/sensible mind had just abandoned us with the words "Ha, good luck, you fools!"

At the time we thought, "Ok, we are pretty likeable and convincing young ladies, $5,500 dollars should be no sweat to fundraise, right?" Ha, boy were we wrong! Turned out to be one of the biggest challenges and simultaneously the mosy frustrating and rewarding experience we've ever had. Our big idea initially was to host bar nights where we would collect cover charges at the door or taka percentage of profits from a night of drink specials in exchange for advertising and guaranteeing a busy night for the bars that committed to help us. Well, since the crowd we advertised to ended up being the same bunch of partying Catholic kids, I guess we queezed our resources dry a little too quickly. The profits just weren't worth the effort we put in for planning and getting crowds out to the bar. In the end our must lucrative form of fundraising was just sitting and talking to people we met randomly in bars, on the street, during errands downtown whatever. People loved hearing about what we were doing and the wanted to hear it from us in person. Many actually thanked us for what we were doing as they slipped us a $20 or $50 because either they had known someone who had died of lung cancer or they had a loved one who suffers from asthma or emphysema. That was the greatest reward for us in the process of fundraising. It was great to know that there were people behind us supporting our cause and who didn't think we were total nut-cases. We got closer and closer to our goals as the deadline for fundraising apporoached and Letty and Catie topped off their goals just days before it was due. I was fortunate to have my mom spot me a large portion of the funds so that I would be abel to participate on the ride, but that means my goal is still not quite met and I will continue to funraise during and after the big ride. If you are reading this and are interested in helping out with a donation you can use the link from this blog to get to my fundraising page. Every little bit counts, so thank you very much!

The process of training for the ride also proved more difficult than we had anticipated. The physical aspect of it wasn't so bad, in fact getting out and cycling when we could was an awesome stress reliever and such a fun way to see the city. Time constraints were our biggest enemy seeing as it was the last semester of our senior year and we had more to do than we could handle in terms of finishing comps, planning for next year, and having out last hurrahs with the friends that have been our life for the past four years. Letty, Catie and I managed a few rides together throughout the semester but didn't get close to serious about it until about April. It was then that a c0-worker from Landis Construction Corp was generous enough to lend me his wife's lovely 2500 Trek to assist me with my training until I was ready to buy my own bicycle. It was a great road bike, SOO light and an easy ride. I loved having it and almost couldn't imagine giving it up for another bike. But don't worry, my heart now belongs to my beautiful Specialized Seqoia Elite, the hottest bike in the whole world :) I got her at City Bike in Washington DC immediately after I'd returned from Belize at the beginning of June and we have formed an inseparable bond since. Unfortunately, I had to let her go for a brief while almost immediately after I got my hand on her as I had to ship it across country to Seattle where we would be starting the ride on June 23rd.

Between the time I left DC and arrived in Seattle to start the ride, I got to spend a couple of weeks back home in Cali with my brother, Paul, and my parents. I had no bike there to train on so I was very lucky to have Napa Valley Bike Tours in Yountville and Calistoga bikes help me out with discounted rentals to keep my legs warm and ready for the big ride. I also got really lucky at this great brand new bike shop on Jefferson in Napa who donated $440 worth of gear wihout a moments hesitation. They were so great to me, I could believe it!

Letty met up with me in Napa and stayed with her boyfriend, Robert, for a couple of days to visit my home town and get a few last minute miles in. We had an awesome ride the day she was there and we left together on Thursday the 19th to head up to Seattle. And so the adventure began!!!