Fears, Injury, Violin, Self-Esteem

First, let me apologize for not keeping up with my blog. I post daily or more frequently on my facebook page for those interested in the daily happenings of my journey. http://Facebook.com/FiJaBAM Fiji and I have made friends all across the country for the past three months. Sept. 8 will be four months on the road, and our trip has come to a standstill in Coolidge, KS. I’ve been working at the Trail City Bed & Breakfast for two weeks, cleaning rooms, serving food, meeting horses and doing dishes. What a great place to get stranded!

Fiji hides in shower after being scolded for chasing after a skunk. I do not abuse her! She just hates it when her mommy is disappointed. She now goes in the shower to sleep!

Fiji hides in shower after being scolded for chasing after a skunk. I do not abuse her! She just hates it when her mommy is disappointed. She now goes in the shower to sleep!

Where we sleep, eat and work!

Where we sleep, eat and work!

Lori, the B&B owner, and I go to meet B.J., the horse. The first day, we rode our bikes out with Fiji, but Fiji didn't quite like the horses.

Lori, the B&B owner, and I go to meet B.J., the horse. The first day, we rode our bikes out with Fiji, but Fiji didn’t quite like the horses.

 

Although I am super fortunate to be at the B&B with amazing Lori and her mom, Larue, it’s a bit aggravating to be two miles outside of Colorado.  Our town of Coolidge contains a ton of cowboy history, with an old jail, city hall, opera house and saloon. Fiji has made friends with most of the neighborhood dogs and experienced her first encounters with skunks, fire ants and feral cats.

So, here’s the simple story.

I would love to tell you the action packed story about how my bike, after four months of no flats or serious problems, was nearly destroyed. I’d like to tell you that an outlaw group of historic cowboys arose from the Coolidge cemetery and proceeded to trash my bike.  But, alas, my story really begins with a stomach ache.

I stayed at the Syracuse Inn the night before, the only lodging in Syracuse, courtesy of the ministerial alliance. Of course, I appreciate the free stay! However, I stayed up part of the night swatting flies that covered the walls and ceiling and would swoop down to attack Fiji and me. It wasn’t all bad. I had a wonderful dinner with Lions Club members, Fred, Jean, Gerald and Rosemary. We told stories and laughed. The following morning, Fred and Jean planned to take me out to breakfast.

I woke up in the A.M. with pain in my gut. No appetite, I called to cancel breakfast. I decided I could not do the 50 miles I planned for the day, but could not stay in the Syracuse Inn another day. I looked up the nearest lodging on my route, and found the Trail City B&B. I thought I could ride at least 15 miles. I called Lori, booked my room and told her my situation.

“Oh no, you can’t ride over! Let me pick you up,” Lori said.

“Well, that sounds awesome, but I have a trailer, bike and my bags. I don’t think it’ll fit in your car.”

“You’re right. Hmmm…let me call around.” I disconnected with Lori, excited about not having to ride my bike with a cramping stomach.  But I still packed and got ready just in case she didn’t get back to me.

20 minutes later, an officer of the law showed up with a pickup truck. I was surprised and thankful, but I also thought, Oh, I didn’t need an officer to come out.

We loaded my bike and trailer into the pickup. “I’m going to go turn in my room key,” I told him and left him at the back of the pickup. When I got back, he and Fiji were already in their seats, ready to go, so I got in on the passenger side.

We talked about my trip, and he received quite a bit correspondence on his walkietalkie which made me feel worse about taking him away from his duties.

About two minutes down the road, the officer decided to tell a ridiculous joke. “Your bike fell out.”

“That’s not funny!” I said with a smile on my face. That disappeared when I saw he was dead serious. In slow motion, I looked back and there lied my precious Kona Sutra 2013 on the U.S. 50, vultures or buzzards circling overhead. Black clouds gathered in the clear blue sky and my bike’s life flashed before my eyes. I remembered the days on the C&O trail and Great Allegany Passage, how my trusty steed raced me out of the onslaught of mosquitoes. I thought about lugging her in and out of garages, riding her up and down hills, walking her in areas a bike had no business being in. How she resiliently rode through flood waters and mudslides, how she kept my doggy and me safe through her sturdy reliability. At that moment, when I saw her lying on the highway, I felt like a friend had just been seriously injured and I was devastated.

We rushed back to my girl. I ran out of the pickup, trying to maintain a positive attitude. I lifted her off the ground, and tried to ignore the significant damage to her brake levers, tires and saddle. “Oops, it looks like we forgot to close the door.” No, you forgot to close the trunk. I left him back there when I went to turn in my key. Naturally, when I came back from the office and saw him sitting in the truck, I would assume he closed the door.  But I didn’t say that out loud because the officer had come out and helped me when he didn’t have to. Inside, I silently seethed and wept tears. Despite the officer’s words of reassurance “Oh, the bike doesn’t look so bad” “I’m sure you can still ride it” I knew, as a cyclist and a girl who formed a close relationship with her bike over the last few months, that my bike was not rideable and in great need of repairs.

Long story short, Lori allowed me to stay at the B&B with no money, bless her heart. Fred and Jean heard about the incident and made my case for me. I felt too bad about the whole situation to do it myself. Hopefully, the sheriff’s office insurance will cover bike damages which total $556.50. My girl has a current hospital stay at the Bike Rack bicycle shop in Garden City, KS. She’s been there a week, and I miss her.

I’ve seen other cyclists, flying past on the U.S. 50, and I envy them. Are they headed towards the Rockies? Will they see the famed mountains I feared so much? Yes, I’ve been nervous about tackling the Rockies and desert.  However, I was excited to cross the state line into Colorado and head toward them.

Shortly after my bike, my violin suffered broken string. Two days before Syracuse, I had fallen off my bike and bruised up my leg. Yes, we’re just an injured bunch. Don’t laugh!

Right now, I am lying in bed with a cold, Fiji hogging the covers, while I write this to you. In this small town, I’ve met the sweetest people, the coolest people, and I have a 90 year old male stalker (Long story, go to my Facebook page to get details).

I hear back today whether or not the Sheriff’s office will cover the cost of my bike. If they don’t, I’m up a creek! I’ll have to get on my Kona, injuries and all, and slowly make my way to San Diego. I refuse to let my journey end here.

As a side note, Coolidge is a nice little place to stop in. Next year, Lori will have revived the historic Opera House, and I will be giving a recital in it on opening day. The B&B is beautiful and clean. As a temporary housekeeper, I can swear to that! She double washes everything, even the dishes! For cyclists, you’ve got to ride the 6-mile loop through the Sand Hills. What amazingly gorgeous country. Pics coming soon!

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to play violin. The following video is at the Emporia, KS farmer’s market with Ben Stallings!

More posts coming soon! Please share, like and subscribe! It helps me to raise money for MissourI Lions Eye Research Foundation.

Safety for a Solo Woman

As I think back to my trip overall, Fiji and I avoided and never encountered any bad situations. We really only experienced kind people, beautiful scenery and the occasional muscle aches.

One woman asked me, ” How do you travel alone? How do you stay safe?”

It’s difficult to say. Every cyclist or hiker or runner who embarks on a cross country or world journey has different circumstances, goes down various roads, and takes necessary and unnecessary risks. My decisions on the road could land me in a completely opposite position than another person, based on age, race, gender and other factors.

However, there are two things that all adventurers should follow.

1. Know how to read people.

2. Know your limits.

When on a journey of this magnitude, you’re going to rely on strangers at some point. Your “weirdo” sensor needs to be on.  If you feel uncomfortable, that’s your sensor telling you that it’s probably best to bypass the situation.

Also, you can’t always expect people to help. Know what you can do physically, mentally and spiritually. Don’t set up a 60 mile ride for the day if you don’t think you can do it. Don’t ride in the desert if you’re not confident about it.

Fiji is my sensor. She’s way better at reading people than I am, and I do a good job.  Without Fiji, my ride would be so different–the risk I take, the places I go, the doors of opportunity I walked through, etc….

So, I guess my advice is to follow your heart, but temper it with common sense.

Random Acts of Violince, 2

Practicing string crossings in a friendly stranger’s garage. I literally pulled into the driveway of a beautiful home, sat down in the shade and asked the woman if we could be there. She was super sweet. Fiji got excited when the kids came in, so I had to stop. I’ll upload a full version of the Bach Cello Suite, No. 1 for violin as soon as I memorize and practice it.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel @Violinfanatic!

Also, be sure to donate to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. I am 3 days away from St. Louis, MO!

New Series — Random Acts of Violince!

I finally found a way to bring my violin along for the ride, so here’s a new series. I will play my violin in random places across America, especially since I don’t have a practice studio at my disposal.

I enter Illinois tomorrow! Follow me on my YouTube channel. I will upload videos on a regular basis!

 

 

Trayvon Reflection

Several days ago, I pulled up to a house. It was hot, I was dehydrated and dizzy. The house had a huge tree in the front yard. Overall, the neighborhood was nice and welcoming.

The owners of the home drove into their driveway just as I started to sit down. I told them what I was doing, and asked if I could use their gorgeous front yard as a resting ground. Husband and wife were happy to oblige, offered me cold water and went on with their business inside.

After several minutes, the cartoon birds stopped flying around my head, and Fiji and I were cool. However, I was frustrated due to the humidity and hills, so I decided to rest a little bit longer to remotivate my mental.

There is no excuse for what happened next, but I can only imagine what my pitbull, boxer , whippet mix and I look like to onlookers. With the trailer and bike, we must look rather vagabondish. As I was sitting in the yard, an older man drove by really slow in his car, staring me down with a mean look on his face. He was holding up several other cars behind him. I gave him a “What are you looking at” expression. He sped up and parked in the house garage two doors down the street. He came out of his garage, put his hands on his hips and continued to watch us. I ignored him, but in the back of mind and after a long day of riding, I thought to myself, I could really just punch this guy for being a judgmental, unkind, annoying Butthole. Instead of asking if I needed help or finding out in a kind way what I was doing in his neighbor’s yard, he presumed the worst and dealt with it in a way not befitting of a sane human being.

All that to say, it was at that moment that I thought about Trayvon Martin. If he punched George Zimmerman who had prejudged him and stalked him in the night, I could understand. I’m not saying it’s right to deal with stupidity in that manner, but I comprehended the frustration that comes with being prejudged and stalked in an overtly unfriendly way.  Hey, I wanted to punch the guy and he didn’t do nearly as bad as Zimmerman did that night.

I’ve run into so many wonderful people so I don’t speak for everyone. But, some people jump to conclusions way too fast, resulting in bloodshed, violence, “good” people turning into murderers because of their judgmental, over-the-top fears of other people. It’s really quite sad.

This trip has taught me that despite what we see on the news, good still exists in the world. I would even say there is more good than bad. So, I hope to impart this message to you, the next time you see a girl and her dog, sitting in an awkward place, or a young man walking through a neighborhood at night, and you really feel that uncomfortable about it,  call the police. Don’t be a vigilante, butthole who ends up finding out you were acting like a dumb nut to a completely innocent person. I’d rather a cop pull up, ask me if I was ok, and confirmed my being there with the owners than putting up with that nosy grumpy man.  Or if you’re not uncomfortable, you can ask nicely if I’m ok.

 

Injuries and Recoveries

Moving along!

Moving along!

I’m glad I took my time on the East Coast. I started this epic challenge with very little training. If I had just jumped into it doing 50 and 60 mile days, my knee injury could have been ten times worse–irreparable. But, I started off slow, and I took time off when I recognized the pain. I didn’t judge or criticize myself for not going as fast as others who cycle across the country, and I’m better for it. I adjusted my saddle, took supplements, stretched, got a complimentary massage and acupuncture treatment.

The result…  An abundance of energy and renewed spirit. Over the past few days, Fiji and I put in 50 mile days, three days in a row with little discomfort. Fiji started to get a little sick from the constant pedaling. When one’s down, the other one’s just fine. I stopped and gave Fiji the TLC she deserves, including making some adjustments to her trailer.

We’ve had a blast. We met awesome cyclists such as John Correlje. He’s been cycling around the world for four years. I picked up some interesting tips from him. He keeps a notebook with all the email addresses of people he’s met. He’s complied a long list. I better get started on mine.

Ohio has given us an abundance of rain which I prefer to humid, hot days. There have been a couple of nights where I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or eat. Thank you to our rescuers. You know who you are.

In other news, Pet Project Magazine and UsaToday interviewed me. Robert McAdams, a talented photographer who I met through a wonderful friend and fellow musician–Dave Miller–came out and took our pictures. He sent them off to the reporters before deadline, so look for us in those publications some time soon.

In addition, thanks to a wonderful donor, I will finally be able to fulfill the other part of my cycling across America dream–violin street performance. A woman I worked with at the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation helped to fund a cheap, student violin for my travels. I hope to upload a ton of violin cycling videos for you all in the near future. Check out mY YouTube channel http://m.youtube.com/user/Violinfanatic?feature=guide

We’ll be in Indianapolis in three days. My legs are finally starting to crave the road. No more sitting in one place for too long. Let’s Ride.

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53 Miles

We are riding 53 miles today. If you’d like to give $1.00 per mile to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, please visit http://mlerf.org/give. When you make your contribution, write in your memo or comment “FiJaBAM.” You can also post here to say you donated and I’ll send you a detailed report of today’s ride via email. Thank you!