I first learned about PAC Tour’s Northern Transcontinental tour in 2002, when I first attended one of their winter training camps, Desert Camp, south of Tucson, AZ. I had done a cross country bike trip from Los Angeles to Boston in 1999, about 5 years after I started riding. But it was tame compared to PAC Tour. That trip took over 7 weeks, had several rest days and only average about 80 miles a day. It was perfect for an inexperienced rider, but now I was intrigued by the more difficult and exciting sounding PAC approach. The idea of riding my bike for 31 straight days was my idea of heaven.
I have lusted after the Northern itinerary because I have ridden the beginning of their Southern Tour on my 1999 trip and seen it twice more after that when I crewed for Nancy and John Guth on two of their Race Across America adventures. I haven’t seen anything of the Pacific Northwest or other parts of the northern tier of the country.
When Susan Notorangelo announced that this year’s Northern was going to end in Boston…I had to do it so I could ride home!
The title of my blog comes from the best advice I have ever received about long distance cycling from my friend, heroine and randonneur extrodinaire, Melinda Lyon, the first woman to finish the 1200k Paris-Brest-Paris for many years. “Just keep pedaling… no matter how you feel or how fast or slowly you are gong. How ever you feel, it will change. Just keep pedaling and moving forward.” Short term goals help too…just get to the next check point, top of the hill, water stop, town, coffee shop, even the next tree affording shade, then catch your breath and keep going.
I started riding seriously when I turned 50, 22 years ago. I want on a training ride with people from my office who were veterans of the Pan Mass Challenge, a huge Charity ride for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which has become the biggest fund raising athletic event in the country. I got hooked on riding and I haven’t stopped since.
I road the PMC for ten years, became a randonneur doing 200 – 600 kilometer brevets for years, became the oldest woman to complete Boston Montreal Boston in 2002, and completed Paris Brest Paris in 2003. Then I switched to 12 and 24-hour racing, breaking and setting many records in my age group over the last many years. What a gas that has been. I am now usually the only woman in my age group and am planning to be the first woman in the 75+ group. Racing doesn’t mean I am fast. I may be able to push pretty hard on a flat race course or doing one of my benchmark time trials, but basically I am a middle of the reader who averages closer to 14 or 15 mph. It is just that I can go forever.
I don’t just ride my bike, although it is a major part of my life. I grew up outside of Boston and have lived in San Francisco, New York City, downtown Boston and the coast of ME. I now live in central MA in a lovely little town called Boylston. I have family here and in New York City, with nieces, grand nieces (nope, no nephews) and grand friends galore. I retired two years ago and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
One last word about me. George Yeoman Pocock, a famous designer of racing shells and a philosopher of rowing (both my brother and father were rowers), explained that there is something about rowing that “touches the you of you, which is your soul.” That’s the way I feel about cycling. It touches my soul.