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The ride of my life

I am about to begin an epic adventure, a bike trip from San Diego, Calif., to St. Augustine, Fla.

That's 3,000 miles. I won't be alone, and I won't bike every single mile. But, this is the biggest thing I've ever undertaken in my long life. And, I am scared stiff.

Woman Tours, out of Rochester, runs bike trips for women almost year round. This cross-country tour is their biggest event too. Thirty women cyclists, 2 bicycle guides and 4 SAG wagon drivers will leave from San Diego on March 8 after we dip our bike's rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean.

If you look at an elevation map of San Diego County, you see that between me and home stands a range of mountains. In fact, between me and home stands several ranges of mountains, including the southern Rockies and the Continental Divide. And, what goes up must perforce come down. Women who have done this tour will talk about those down hills. I don't like to think about them.

Why am I doing something as deranged as riding my bike 3,000 miles? I've been asking myself that question a lot lately, as I pack my bags, repack them, weigh them again, and repack. (We're allowed 50 pounds max). It's an old dream of an old dreamer -- me. I'm 76. I figure this is the best chance I've got, while I'm in good health, strong, active. I figure it's all downhill (there's the downhill image again) from here.

I also want to make a statement about bicycles as efficient, and environmentally good means of transportation. A bike has no carbon emissions, no carbon footprint (other than the one made in its manufacture). Riding a bike is good for the body, and I've found it's good for the soul, the mind. I have said that I walk for my bones, but I ride for my mind. Well, I walk for my mind as well, and biking doesn't do much for my bones. But you get the picture. Riding a bike is good for me, it's good for you, it's good for the environment.

The ride is a fundraiser for ECOS: the Environmental Clearinghouse. ECOS is a wonderful organization, founded in 1971 to provide information about environmental issues, and to provide environmental education. Supporters can pledge pennies or dollars per mile of my ride; if you're interested, the pledge form can be found on the ECOS website or in its most recent newsletter.

Next blog entry I'll talk about training for the ride during an upstate winter!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Go along for the ride by following this blog by Schenectady resident Pat Rush before and during her cross-country cycling journey. During the trip, she will describe her experiences and provide photos.

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