It's been a long road up until this point, paved in bike grease, sweat, and the generosity of many incredible people-- and the Big Ride hasn't even begun yet.
My name is Larissa Powers. I am 29 (for a little while longer), and I teach 8th grade science at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. I also am the assistant coach of our Varsity Cycling Team, the only one of its kind in the St. Louis region. I am a 2012 participant in the American Lung Association's Big Ride Across America, a 3,300-mile bicycle journey from Seattle, WA across twelve states to Washington D.C. The trip will take 49 days from start to finish, averaging 83 miles per day.
About a year ago, I began turning over the idea of a cross country bike ride. A former student of mine from North Country School in Lake Placid, New York did the ride in 2010 and upon signing a coaching contract for the cycling team, I knew a spring loaded with riding would prepare me well for such a trip. My former student had volumes to tell me, but he summarized it well. The ride would change my life.
And how could it not? 3,300 miles of quiet American roads traveled with courageous and well-intentioned compatriots. A 49-day ride with a purpose. A charge to raise awareness for the work of the American Lung Association and to help generate funds to support this work.
By August 30th, 2011, I had registered to participate, but not until I'd danced about by my computer fretfully in a long moment of indecision. I could not have known how challenging the next ten months would be while I trained and fundraised. I did not know another person riding. I'd only ever been on a few miles longer than eighty miles.
At this point, just three days away from my departure for Seattle, I'm amazed at how far I have come. I have raised $7,300 for the American Lung Association. I have cycled 2,000 miles over the last five months. I have trained with my coach and mentor Zach Brace of Phases Training. I also managed to do all this working 9 hours per day at MICDS. Honestly, I think balancing work, training, and fundraising is probably a lot harder than doing the ride itself. Through conference calls, the 18 participants in this years Big Ride have gotten to know one another. Many of them do not feel like the strangers they were back in December upon our first call.
On Monday I will ride 91 miles across the first ridge of the Cascades to Easton, Washington. I will document the adventure from start to finish here and will do my best to answer any reader questions!
I am still working toward my fundraising goal of $9,900, $3 for each mile of my journey! If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the American Lung Association, please visit my fundraising page on the ALA website.