By Vanessa Gardiner

‘Doing the Unexpected’

Berlin OH, July 21

When I first heard about this trip from my triathlon coach, Joanna, I thought she was crazy and that there was no way that I could bike across the country. I declined the first time she brought it up because I thought that it would be too hard for a new cyclist like me. However, she kept talking about it with my other track and triathlon teammates and one thing led to another and here I am. I’m in Ohio in Amish country, and sometimes I feel like I’m totally out of my league. 

Before coming on this trip I already knew it was going to be hard: only 1 rest day a week and an average of at least 70 miles a day. The most mileage I had done before the trip was 32 miles the day I got lost on a mountain in Harrisonburg and ended up in West Virginia. I went from biking 15-20 miles 2-3 times a week for triathlon to 6 days a week. 

I’m not gonna lie, that first week of biking killed me. My butt, hands, feet, and back were so sore or numb from just not being used to being on a bike like that. Thankfully the human body adapts over time so it eventually got easier on my body, but it’s still tiring. The trip wasn’t that bad though, I enjoyed getting to know my teammates, meeting new people and learning about different opinions and perspectives on climate change. I also enjoyed traveling to see different parts of the country and appreciating nature’s beauty. And I learned a lot about bikes in the process. Before the trip I knew nothing about caring for bikes but now I know how to change a tire, take wheels on and off, clean my bike, lube chains, etc. 


I know that overall, I’m a stronger biker than I was when I started. My next season of triathlon will be a lot easier because 12 miles is nothing compared to what I’ve been doing for the past 2 months and my knowledge of using my bike to my advantage is much greater. I’m happy I came on this trip, made friends and memories. I’m happy to go home soon but I will also be sad to see everyone go.