The motivation to move – Introduction

Introduction to the dream

It is hard to pinpoint when a dream begins: a wisp of a thought of ‘should’ or a long-sought epiphany that howls with a biblical sort of ‘must’. I believe I have been dreaming of this bike trip, in one way or another, for a very long time. I think the creeping tentacles of this dream began when I was a five-year-old tomboy growing up in Indiana. From the moment I learned to ride, I dreamed about riding further than my ‘boundaries’. I imagined what it would be like to just get on the bike and to keep going out of the neighbourhood and on and on. Sometimes as I rode up and down my street, I imagined I was riding my bike to California to meet Luke Skywalker. I had a pretty big crush on him and his life of adventure at the time. Read more

The motivation to move – The bike and gear

I bought a Cannondale T800 in 2005. I’m riding it close to stock. I have replaced the seat with a women’s Terry Liberator. For a long time, I wrestled with whether or not to get clipless pedals. I planned to spend a lot of time off the bike hiking, and didn’t want to take an extra pair of shoes, or worry about wearing out cleats in the middle of nowhere, so I decided toe clips on the stock platform pedals would be fine. I figured that at the speed I travel I’d never really notice the difference in pedalling efficiency. (Note: after the trip I was perfectly happy with this decision). Read more

The motivation to move – Preparation


Not much, really. For the last 6 months of my PhD I was in front of the computer 10 or more hours each day. I’d also done very little physical activity in the 3 years of the PhD, and couldn’t remember when I’d last ridden my bike any appreciable distance. I’d gained about 8 pounds in these 3 years.

Route and Gear:

So the dream was to ride from Anderson, Indiana to Fort Collins, Colorado, averaging 50 miles a day with rest days once or week or whenever there was something interesting to see along the way. Read more

Indiana 2010 – Day 1

Anderson to Lebanon via Strawtown and Cicero: Oh yes! I’m living my dream!

Thursday May 6, 2010, 47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 47 miles (76 km)

Thursday morning. The ride begins. Or not.

My dad insists on taking me to the edge of town because, you know, there’s morning traffic, school buses, and people who aren’t used to looking out for cyclists. It is nothing that I won’t encounter over the next seven weeks – but I know it will make my dad feel much better, so I concede. He drives me the first ten miles to the edge of town. If he knew all of the adventures I’ve undertaken over the past 15 years since leaving home (and most of the things he does know), then it seems like this would not be a big deal. But for whatever reason(s), it is. He may not be able to protect me from negative experiences along the route, but he can do his best on his own turf. Read more

Indiana 2010 – Day 2

Lebanon to Shades State Park: Carrots for dinner

Friday May 7, 2010, 48 miles (77 km) – Total so far: 95 miles (153 km)

I wake up and I’m ready to go. I’m not sore. I’m not tired. At the motel’s continental breakfast I toast two bagels, grab two cream cheese packets and a banana and then I’m on the road. I’m still so excited that I’m living my dream that I just get on the bike and go. As I head south out of town I notice that there is a southeasterly breeze about 10 mph. I fight this quartering headwind and considerable traffic up and over the interstate. The traffic eases after the I-65 junction and soon I turn off to head west on a county road. One nice thing about Indiana and Illinois is that the county roads are laid out in a grid pattern of mile-long blocks. You can head west on 800N- which will be 8 miles north of the county centre, turn south on 325W, which will be 3.25 miles west of centre, etc. You can zig zag your way in any direction and never really get lost. Read more

Indiana 2010 – Day 3

Shades State Park to Turkey Run State Park: What month is this?

Saturday May 8, 2010, 11 miles (17 km) – Total so far: 106 miles (170 km)

When I peek my nose out of my sleeping bag, I notice it is COLD. The cold front was a pretty big one and it has dropped the temps from nearly 70 degrees F yesterday to 42 degrees F this morning. The wind is still gusting over 35 mph, though it is now out of the NW. It is a bleak grey outside and feels more like late winter than early May. I pack up and wonder how I’m going to ride in this wind. Today I’m meeting my parents at another state park just down the road for Mothers Day. Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 4

Turkey Run State Park, IN to Forest Glen Preserve, IL: Hiking with Mom and Dad

Sunday May 9, 2010

It’s Mothers Day. The plan is to check out a park just over the border in Illinois that my parents have not been to before. We’ll hike for the day, then Mom and Dad will head home. So I’m driven over my first state border. It is still a little breezy today, but it’s warmer, around 60 degrees, and mostly sunny. We enjoy the day in a new park – even though we don’t have a trail map and get a little lost a few times. Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 5

Forest Glen Preserve to Weldon Springs State Park: Landfill or glacial moraine?

Monday May 10, 2010, 88 miles (142 km) – Total so far: 194 miles (312 km)

I get away early – early enough I have to use the combination the ranger gave me last night to open the front gate locks to get out of the park. Breakfast is at McDonald’s where the local farmer contingent is sitting around a table solving the world’s problems and giving me a curious stare. Eventually they ask how far I’m riding and just shake their heads and laugh (at me, not with me) when I tell them Monticello (about 50 miles away). One ornery old guy with a John Deere ball cap says, ‘watch out for the truck drivers, they’ll want to run you down’. Is he one of them? I politely thank him for the tip. The older lady who serves me is distinctly unfriendly. So I get out of there with my orange juice and sausage biscuit as fast as I can. This is definitely not ‘trail magic’! Read more

Illinois 2010 – Day 6

Weldon Springs State Park to Lincoln: Toughest day of the entire ride

Tuesday May 11, 2010, 33 miles (53 km) – Total so far: 227 miles (365 km)

It’s still raining when I wake up, but the storms have passed. I pack up everything wet, and as I leave I attempt to pay my fee. It’s within the camphost hours and their car is there, but they don’t answer to my calls of ‘hello’, ‘HELLOOO’ in a louder voice, or a knock on the camper door. Well, forget it, I don’t have the correct change for the campsite, so I give them the closest that I have, which short-changes them by $3. I put the money in an envelope and leave it with a note that I stick under a heavy napkin dispenser on their picnic table. But I don’t care, they can come chase me down for those $3 if they like. It’s not as if I can escape the scene very quickly! Read more