So here's a candid statement:
Blogging is hard. I'm finding that after 60, 70, 80 mile ride days and managing my blood sugars non-stop, sitting down to write a blog post is the last thing I want to do. But, I made this website for a reason - to document my experience for public eyes - , and I'll pledge to stick to that as best I can. So here I go; the first week-and-change in recap:
Day 1: Team BikeBeyond dipped back wheels into the Atlantic Ocean at Brooklyn Bridge park, pier 4 and set off for Westfield, NJ as our friends, families and proud sponsors watched us roll. After a day full of stop and start logistics, we arrived at the Bakst's house where they hosted a get together for the local T1D community. It was clear from talking to those families how much of an impact BikeBeyond was already making in the T1D community. It was cool and rewarding to experience that on the first night. We pitched tents in the backyard and slept through a massive thunderstorm. For some, it was their first night “camping” and they didn’t get much sleep, but I wore earplugs, so I slept like a rock ;)
Day 2: Team BikeBeyond rode from Westfield, NJ to Trenton, NJ. Our kind and loving host, John welcomed us with a gluten free lasagna and other GF treats, which was more than appreciated by our celiac and gluten free teammates. I volunteered to drive the lunch van that day with my teammate, Helen. I felt I needed some time to decompress after the first few days of meeting the team and BikeBeyond orientation. We had an awesome time picking out Trader Joe's goodies for the team and we threw them a sick dance party at lunch. After lunch all seemed good-to-go, but a rough finish cycling through heavy traffic made a tough blow to the team moral. We hashed some necessary things out in that nights’ team meeting.
Day 3: BikeBeyond bounced back after the tough day 2. I was back on the bike and feeling good. We rode 60 miles from Trenton, NJ to Chester, PA. The town of Chester welcomed us in the Fire Station. We took a dope team photo in front of a fire truck and slept through many overnight 911 alarms. Sleeping in a room of 20 T1Ds with pumps and CGMs is surprisingly not much different.
Day 4: Chester, PA —> Bel Air, MD. We rode many miles on busy freeways, through some beautiful small towns, and finally arriving at our destination, Mountain Christ Church. We had a warm pot luck welcome from a few church members. Interestingly enough, Mountain Christ Church was participating in a 8 week lifestyle improvement challenge. Participants choose from 1 of 3 lifestyle tiers and learn new ways of healthful living with diet limitations. They were excited to hear about how we were preparing/doing the ride, and we were excited to talk about it!
Day 5: Team BikeBeyond rode from Bel Are, MD to Washington, DC! And a hell of a ride it was! That day was filled with 4 spontaneous dance parties, 20 donated Chik-fil-a sandwiches, 1 donated Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, a few leg cramps AND I lost my voice from yelling out communications/directions all day. Worth It 100%. When we arrived in DC after 80 miles on the bike, we did a few laps around the Mall, took some photos and videos in front of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, and then struggled to find a place for all of our bikes in the MICRO hotel we stayed at called Hotel Hive. If you haven’t heard of MICRO hotels, they DON’T have room for your bikes.
Day 6: That voice I lost the day before was still gone when I woke up :( We had some group interviews for the DOCUMENTARY, and I did not speak, so not much to say about that. From DC, we rode to Harper’s Ferry, MD on the C&O Canal. On road bikes, rocky and gravely roads are NOT comfortable to ride on, but we did it…for 3 days. That day we frickin’ cruised over those rocks at an avg pace of 16 mph. Pretty Good, although none of use could really feel our hands or asses when we got to Harper’s Ferry. When we pulled off the path, we found ourselves on Shenandoah road, and then we all sang Country Road. We stayed in the bottom floor conference rooms of the Inn at Harper’s Ferry, super nice of them to accommodate us.
Day 7: Team Topless rocked the van day. I drove the Trailer van with teammates Abbey, Silvi and Mel. We called ourselves team topless cause we took off our shirts to load the trailer — it was HOT. And then we had a sweet day getting to the C&O Bike Shop bunking quarters and setting up shop. I was thankful for the van day to continue resting my voice, and also my legs. Team BikeBeyond had an extraordinarily beautiful campfire night with roasted veggies, roasted weenies and songs played on guitar by myself and teammate Ryan Dunn.
Day 8: Back on the bumpy roads, baby! From Hancock, MD to Cumberland, MD we took our final and hardest day on the C&O Canal. A rough day for Team BikeBeyond with scorching heat, 3 falls, 1 concussion, a 1.5 mile detour by foot and many, many flat tires. We stopped 4 miles from our destination at an establishment called Thirsty’s Saloon. We were greeted by a man leaving with no shirt on. He just had tattoos all over his body. So many that you could mistake him for wearing a shirt. I took some photos of him next to his motorcycle he built. He said a lot of words about the bike that I didn’t understand; we ride different types of bikes, that’s just the reality. The cold Diet Coke at Thirsty’s was essential to finish the ride in the heat—the black tar roads almost melted my bum. No Joke. That night, we were hosted by the kinds folks at Allegheny College, where we slept in their basketball gymnasium. We also had an event at the local hospital with the T1D community of Cumberland. That was really special to decompress, hear their stories and share ours.
Day 9: From Cumberland, MD we started the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP trail) towards Pennsylvania. The GAP trail was WAY better than the C&O Canal. Still gravely, but much finer and less vibrations through the whole body because of it. That was a really fun group with teammates Matt, Jordan, Elliot and Ricky. We cruised at a very fast pace all the way into OhioPyle, PA. We crossed the Mason Dixon Line and the Eastern Continental Divide. Pretty good. In OhioPyle we rinsed off the the beautifully refreshing rapids. I almost slipped and went down the water falls. Good thing I didn’t!
Day 10: From OhioPyle we set out the finish the GAP trail, which takes us into Pittsburgh, PA. AND WE DID IT! 150 miles in total. the first 60 miles were hot as hell. And then at mile 60, it began to hail. So, we took shelter under a bridge, and then rode more and then took shelter in a Starbucks as it hailed even more! I was extremely proud of my group that day for sticking with it and finishing the whole 80 mile ride into Pittsburgh. We were welcomed warmly by the Smithfield United Christ Church. Teammate Walt met a women named Holly on the Beyond Type 1 app and she hooked up us with some amazing low carb high fat food options like buffalo chicken dip and ZUCCHINI pizza. Yup, zucchinis.
Day 11: Rest Day! Oh yea! Oh yea! Oh yea! Team BikeBeyond split up and did their own things, but I went with a group to get brunch and do some work at a coffee shop. The work I did today was setting up a space for YOU to SUBSCRIBE to my blog through my website. SO, if you’re reading this all the way, make sure to sign up for updates on the home page of my website, jesselavine.com! Team BikeBeyond also went to a Pirate’s game! So fun! Tomorrow we set out for 74 miles and 3000 ft of elevation gain. Here we go again!
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
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