Save Fiji’s Boyfriend

Fiji made a little friend while in Coolidge. His name is Max. He came by everyday to ask if Fiji could come outside and play. He’s about 6 months old or less. Unfortunately, his wandering ways has landed him in the town pound. He will be euthanized on 9/16 if no one claims him. I told his owners, but they do not seem interested in paying the fee to get him out. Fiji is so sad about her friend. She misses him! If you want a doggy, please give Max a forever home. He’s super sweet and a little dopey, but trainable. ūüôā Email me at jbrzr3@gmail.com if interested.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji's punches.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji’s punches.

See more photos here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.619322538099209.1073741827.100000644051693&type=1&l=9251bbcf68

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.

image

Fiji Gets In Trailer with “Place” Command

Success!! No, really this time. It’s been a grueling two weeks. Fiji’s training was delayed due to her surgery to remove a tumor. When we finally started working on trailer training, it didn’t go smoothly. Fiji refused to get in! Of course, I couldn’t afford a private trainer. So, for two weeks, we pushed Fiji in, tricked her with treats, threw in her toys and fed her in it. At the end of the day, she’d still jump out of it or refuse to get in completely. Ugh…

I knew it was me and not Fiji. But that didn’t stop the frustration, tears and self-defeating thoughts. And there was no way I was going to leave Fiji here. You’d have to understand Fiji’s bond to me and my bond to her to know why that’d be a bad idea all around. ¬†So, I literally sat in darkness for two days, wondering what the heck to do.

Long story short, I explained the situation to Melody Whitworth, Publisher and editor of Pet Project Magazine in Columbia, MO, and she referred me to Nick Clark. He runs Pack Dynamics, a dog behavior training facility. I called him and told him the whole ordeal, and he confidently pronounced that it would only take one session to get Fiji in the trailer. In the back of my head, I was like, “Wait til he meets Fiji.”

As a contribution to our ride, Nick worked with Fiji free-of-charge, and in my eyes, magically got Fiji to obey his every command– and mine!

When he came to our house, Nick first had me demonstrate how I try to put Fiji in the trailer. FAIL, as usual. He grabbed control of Fiji’s leash, and briskly walked her towards the entrance of the DoggyRide. She didn’t have time to think about what was happening.¬† However, once she caught on, she resisted big time. Nick said “place” in a firm tone and proceeded to push her in the trailer. He used his body to claim the space and make sure Fiji did not defy his orders and get back out until he said the release command–“ok”.

Only once more, Nick had to physically push Fiji in the trailer with his body. The third time, she got in by herself. The sixth time, she understood place and ok. After the 15th time, it was smooth sailing. We worked on enclosing her in the trailer and leashing her in. We even brought in distractions such as dogs! Trainers…they always make you feel like a dummy. In 30 minutes, Fiji was acclimated to the trailer and getting in and out on command.

If you’re in a bind like me, and need quick remedies for your dog, see a trainer. They know how to communicate with dogs and they can teach you. If you’re ever in MO, drive down to Pack Dynamics with your doggy and take a few sessions. Nick literally saved my cross country cycling dreams!

Now, we plan to leave out Wednesday morning and enter NYC in the evening. Plans change, but I think we’re finally starting this trip for realz.

Good News Overload!

Just a few days ago, I moped and lamented, “Mom, there’s only 2 1/2 weeks left, and we don’t even have the basics yet.”

“Jasmine, it’s going to work out. Things always work out,” she¬†replied.

My mom has a knack for being right. In one day, I received the following news:

  • Rockbridge Animal Hospital would like to sponsor Fiji with updated vaccines (Dapp, RV and Bordetella), her exam, heartworm test, stool check, microchip, 6 months heartgard, 3 months
    Frontline plus a free 4th dose. Yay! Fiji will have a clear bill of health for the road, and she’ll be protected from pests and their diseases when we camp.
  • Jasmine, you’re a finalist for the Bicycle Touring Pro Scholarhsip. http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/the-bicycle-touring-pro-travel-scholarship-2013-finalists/¬†Winners are announced April 12, 2013. My mind was in whirlpool state. I love the shock factor.
  • I received a tent, tent footprint and power grips from REI. I purchased them at a great deal with the last bit of cash I had for the week. The tent is light, and it looks like a good deal. I am so happy about that. Great reviews as well.
  • A friend suggested looking into the Contour Roam cam which attaches to your helmet or bike and records. After reading descriptions and reviews, I fell in love with it. But the price tag was $199.00. Not so bad given the price of other cameras such as the Go Hero. However, not exactly in my budget. Well, the discussion came up on my facebook page later about recording my trip. I told the person who asked that I was not sure I’d be able to record. A few moments later, Jenny, fellow cyclist and blogger,¬†sent me a facebook message saying she had an older version of the Contour Roam that she never used and would send it to me!¬† WAAAAH!!!!!!!!
  • My biggest concern for our journey was warmth and a sleeping system. Sleeping bags seem to cost a fortune, and the cheap ones are useless. Since Spring wants to take its sweet time this year, I knew we would need a sleeping bag that would keep us warm at night. I had a plan for how to keep Fiji comfortable, but not myself.¬† The same day, I discussed my gear with colleagues at the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, the non-profit I am spreading awareness and raising money for. Jason, a camping expert and fanatic, asked me about my camping experience and what I planned on using. I told him that I don’t have a sleeping bag yet. Without a moment’s hesitation, he offered one of his sleeping bags and a tent light! He also gave me tips on what else I should bring such as extra rope to replace guylines, and how to attach the rainfly on my tent. He also told me to purchase extra stakes at Walmart. Thank you, Jason.

We now have the basics out of the way, and my heart is full of relief and excitement with all the good news.  Only 16 days left!!!

worries

Bicycle Touring: My Dog Fiji

I am not that cruel! A few people have asked if I was going to make Fiji run the whole way while attached to the Springer America.

Of course not! Fiji’s poor legs would fall off, and that’s if overheating didn’t kill her first.

No, my precious princess, will be the bell of the¬†road, cruising¬†in a pumpkin-like carriage called the¬†DoggyRide Novel10 trailer. Fiji’s comfort level will exceed the¬†humans’, for sure.

DoggyRide FrontimageAccording to Matthys, owner of Doggy Ride, the trailer is a 10-year anniversary model. It will have the ultimate level of suave and sleek, coming with a kickstand, pet mat, roof rack (to carry groceries and other items, apparently), black spokes, hub, rims, an extra hitch and a rain cover to protect Fiji from the elements. Thank you to Matthys at Doggy Ride for sponsoring our ride and giving us a hefty discount on the trailer.

In addition to the Doggy Ride, we have received some wonderful feedback from people about how to make Fiji extra safe and comfortable.

Preparations:

  • Vet Check: Thanks to Jenny for suggesting microchipping in the event Fiji and I separate. I don’t plan on letting Fiji off the leash, but it’s always best to be on the safe side of the spectrum. In addition, she needs her shots updated, a 3-month supply of heartguard, and a general check-up to make sure she’s a-ok for the journey of a lifetime.
  • I do not like to use applications like Frontline on my dog. However, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about ticks and fleas on traveling pet companions. In summation, Fiji and I will try to bear with the Frontline for a little while. I really want to use Teatree Shampoo on her. It only lasts a week, but it’s an all-natural, healthier way to protect dogs from those little bloodsuckers. But when will we have access to a grooming station or bathtub or outdoor water source? Are there a lot of waterhoses lying around in America?
  • Exercise! Fiji’s been getting a lot of excercise with daily runs alongside my bike.
  • Training! We have not been too successful with pre-training. She’s still as crazy as ever.

For the Ride:

  • Fiji eats Taste of the Wild Wild Boar mix. We’ll buy about two bags, and carry a¬†7-day supply at a time¬†in a ziplock bag. That’s about 10 cups. My mom will send refills to different pit stops.¬†If we run out of food before making it to our destination, Fiji is used to and prefers cooked food. So, I’ll have to stop at a store, buy a small package of chicken, carrots, brown rice, garlic and apples (boil them all together, medium rare for the chicken)¬†to suffice her until mom can send the food to the area we’re stuck in.
  • We will carry treats for training and dentabones. Fiji has the foulest breath you’ll ever not wish to smell. Dentabones…a must.
  • We’ll ride about 8 hours a day with several bathroom breaks. Fiji will get two to three runs per day alongside the bike and a walk in the evening when we’ve settled down.
  • ¬†For the Summer months, I’m getting a swamp cooler vest and griptex boots from Ruffwear. Thanks to Patrick at Worlds Between Lines for the suggestion! Patrick and Melissa have ridden all over the world with their pup. When they first set out on their journey, it was 101 degrees in Salt Lake City! They didn’t even have a cooling vest or system for their dog. They would soak her with water.¬†When they got the Swamp Cooler Vest from Ruffwear, it did seem to keep Avenue content during the hottest parts of the day. I look forward to my trip even more knowing I’ll be able to keep Fiji safe in hot weather.

I really can’t think of anything else right now. I guess it’ll be a do and learn sorta thing.¬† Have a great weekend!

Am I Ready?

Preparation Rule # 1: Ask others who have done it!

As I prepare to bike across America, I receive advice and guidance from other BAMers. Of course, they all tend to counterask the most important question.

ARE YOU REALLY READY TO DO THIS?

From there, more specific questions come, and I can’t help but feel like a¬†suspect in the¬†interrogation¬†room. I appreciate the questions because they help me put my realistic and idealistic goals into separate brackets. While a plethora of people just got up one day and said, “I’m going to bike across the Earth,” and they did it with no cash, supporters or quality equipment, that doesn’t mean I have the means and capability to do the same. Not to mention, I also have a dog–who is like a child to me–to think about.¬† So, I respond to those questions with seriousness.

“Are you ready for a bike across USA ride? You’ve got experience? You’ve done some multi-day touring?”

I don’t know. I have been cycling, and doing as much as possible to prepare myself: bootcamp, outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, jogging, training Fiji, reaching out to potential sponsors for funding and more. However, I think the only way to really know if I’m ready is when I set off on the road in April.¬†No, I have never done multi-day touring.

Over 200 pounds. And don’t ask me why my eyes are so wide. I can’t even answer that.

Also, keep in mind,¬†I am starting off as a chubby girl. I am doing this to lose weight and challenge myself. I know how difficult it will be, but I love challenges. Pulling my weight, plus Fiji and my equipment will test my physical and mental resolve. I’m scared of that, but I’m more afraid of what will happen if I give up, if I don’t reach my goals and if I don’t transform myself and spend the rest of my 20s in good health.¬†Fiji, on the other hand, still dodges cameras when I want to take her picture. I can tell you without a doubt that biking across America will be the most nerve-wracking, exciting and downright new experience for my spoiled little princess.

Fiji--running away from cameras as if they were the veterinarian since 2011.

Fiji–running away from cameras as if they were the veterinarian since 2011.

“Do you have the funding to do the entire trip?”

Nope. And that’s that.

If you don’t have the money, what will you do? Credit card? Camp for free instead of motels?”

I said that’s that! Ok, really–I plan on living like a vagabond and camping, using Warmshowers¬†and staying with friends when I come across them. I am in debt–the repercussions of college. However, if I waited to pay off all my student debt to take this adventure, I’d be 80. Frugal living, a cut-throat spending plan for food, resupply, shelter¬†and emergencies¬†must be put into action. No fast food for me, but that goes without saying. I’m trying to do subtraction when it comes to my fat, not addition.

Why have you decided to take Fiji with you?

She’s my best pal. How many dogs can say they had a walk that lasted three to four months? None because dogs can’t talk. hehehe

Is there anyone else who will be joining you for part or all of the ride?

Yes. Thanks to Adventure Cycling, I have found some riding buddies for parts of my trip. I will be solo on the Pacific Coast and part of the Atlantic Coast.

How old are you?

24 years old.

Where were you on the night of the murder?

Um…what?

Stumbling Blocks

What did I expect? Of course a demonic downpour of popcorn size snow balls would decide to declare war on¬†the East and Midwest portion of North America just when I¬†resolve to start bootbamp training.¬† Why does chaos like to show his¬†ugly¬†face when¬†you least want him to?¬†I’m determined to not let Mr. Chaos win. I drove to the gym, and¬†I did my first assessment for bootcamp. Thanks to a mild January with lots of outdoors cycling, my test came out great. I was able to run, perform situps and planks and so on. I could not do any pushups. lol¬†Fiji, on the other hand, also tackled the snow with a feisty little heart.¬† She actually ran away for 10 minutes.¬† If you look closely at the picture above, you can see Fiji’s little body sprinting away. Near the mailbox. Ugh… First day of training for Fiji, FAIL!