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Imprisoned In Body, But Not In Spirit……

p31m

Hello everyone!  It is Saturday, July 25, Day 34, I can’t believe it.  We traveled from Wisconsin Dells to Fond du Lac, WI.  I guess that means “the foot of the lake.”  It was truly a beautiful ride today.  We had our breakfast at 6, loaded by 6:45 and got on the road.  I got on the road fairly early this morning, I was really ready to go.  I knew that we had 83 miles, and from all the other mileage I just kind of wanted to give myself enough time to not get in too late today.  I thought I’d ride a little slower today, just because I was really kind of tiring out.  But to my great surprise, I really didn’t ride slow today at all.  I had a really great ride, I had great strength.  We did have some tailwind today, which was really helpful, and we had rolling acres of mileage and it was really, really beautiful.  The sun was out, it was really a perfect weather day, and we didn’t have any difficult climbs today.  The 83 miles turned out to be a really nice 83 miles to travel.  It was really fun.

One of the things I was thinking as I was rolling out this morning, just down the road, kind of starting off.  We all kind of start off and I really just love to start off with people and kind of see if we can ride the same pace and talk a little while and have a good morning out.  I was really struck by something that might sound kind of strange to say, but it’s what I was thinking.  I was thinking that on this ride, it’s kind of turned out to be like I feel like I’m kind of imprisoned, if I could put it that way.  I’m imprisoned by the way that my body operates, and I really can’t change the way my body operates as a bike rider, as a cyclist.  In other words, sometimes I’d really like to go slower so that I could visit with some of the people who ride a little bit slower.  And sometimes I wish I could just ride faster so that I could ride with some of the people who ride faster.  But I find that on any given day when I get out, I never know how I’m really going to ride, how my body’s going to feel once I get going, and a person really has to pace themselves at what they’re able to do for that day, or what they normally do.  If it’s kind of what your body needs to do to go faster, you need to just go faster.  So you can’t really pick and choose like I thought, talking to people and/or being with people that you want to.  I like everybody on the team for this ride of America By Bicycle, but it’s just kind of nice if you haven’t seen certain people, you might want to ride with them because you just haven’t seen them or talked to them much in a while.  It just doesn’t work out that way.  You have to kind of do what your body is telling you to do.  Sometimes it means that I’m riding alone.  I always like who I’m riding with, it’s not that I feel like I’m stuck with anybody that I’m riding with.  But I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes I feel badly that I just have to ride the way my body wants me to ride.  Because if I ride too slow when my muscles kind of want me to go faster, it makes my muscles more tired to not go fast, if that makes any sense. 

So it made me think today about that’s how I feel with my body, here I am being a cyclist and having a great adventure of being strong enough to be able to ride my bike across America, which is a real privilege and really special and a dream come true for me.  But it did make me think about people who are in wheelchairs or are handicapped or imprisoned in their body in some way when they wish that they could be freer, or wishing they could do something they just can’t seem to achieve because of where they’re at in life or what is going on with their body that there’s really nothing they can do about.  It’s just something they have to live with or it has to be.  I just want to say I was thinking about you, whoever you might be out there, whether you’ve been wounded as a soldier for our country and what you’ve done for us, God bless you.  Whether you’ve had an illness or an accident or something that has really changed your life where you just have to do what you have to do or you can’t do what you want to do because of your limitations or because of who you are.  I guess what I realized today is, whether I like it or not, and there are a lot of things that I am thankful for for who I am, there are still things I don’t like about who I am and about what some of my limitations are, whether they’re physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual.  I have limitations too, and I have real flat spots to my life.  It’s encumbering and it’s disappointing and it can be very, very discouraging.  But the interesting thing about riding mileage on a bike that I can relate so many things to is that one thing can be happening at one point, or I could be possibly riding alone because I needed to ride faster than the people I was riding with in the beginning that I’d like to stay with, but my body just wanted me to go faster, so I needed to just kind of do it and end up having to pull out and not be with them.  Or I might not be able to ride with some other people who can go so much faster that I can’t even ride with them ever.  But the truth of it is, it changes up.  As I was just riding along, I ended up meeting up with some other people down the way who I was able to ride with, and before you know it, it’s enjoyable and all of a sudden I found that I just had energy to really roll.  Some of the country roads, just out there like riding with the wind, like being on a horse.  My legs would just go and I could just fly and I could just ride and it was just such a freedom.  Just up and down those hills with no effort and everything’s just kind of going like a locomotion, it’s just a well-oiled machine, so to speak.  It’s thrilling to be in the fresh air and it’s thrilling to be out on those country roads with the freedom of no traffic and seeing the horses on the side and the beautiful cornfields still, and all the life that’s out there, and just going.  It’s like that’s how life is sometimes, it’s just going so well, it’s going so perfectly.  Then we tire and have to stop and we have to refuel and get food.  It’s just such an example, I guess, of how life is for us on this journey.   I’ve just been thinking about a lot of different things.   Now that a lot of my fears are gone, with kind of the way the roads are with the huge mountains and the really narrow shoulders, which there are some, but not as often as before, it gives a lot more time to reflect and just enjoy different things.  I guess it’s made me think a lot more of different analogies of things in life. 

When I got in to Fond du Lac, I ended up being with one of my teammates, Ken, and we were really, really hungry, so we went around the side of where the park was around here, and over to the side there was a kind of a seafood restaurant where we could sit outside.  We ended up grabbing a crab croissant, which was really good, enjoying that and just kind of talking about the bike ride and the day and the fun that it is to be a cyclist, just fun things about the areas we go to.  We got back in and there were four of us that went over to the 4 o’clock Sacred Heart Catholic Church that’s nearby here.  I wanted to make sure to go to church because tonight being Saturday night, tomorrow’s Sunday, I’d usually go to church on Sunday morning at a Protestant church, but I also have Catholic upbringing and I also love going to Roman Catholic church sometimes too.  We had a cab ride over and we went to the Sacred Heart Church, and it was a real blessing to hear the singing and the message.  The message was for us to take what we’ve been given and use what we have to glorify God and bless others, that that’s what we offer up to God.  He tied in with different Scripture, and it was just a real reminder and really appropriate.  When I put the money in the basket, I also put an OLT card in the basket, because I feel that my riding for Operation Life Transformed and for all of you military families out there, it’s what I’m offering up to God for you and for our country.  I hope that the priest will take a look at it and share it within the congregation.  I did talk to him after church to let him know that I did put it in with my money that I offered.  So that is our offering.

I know all of you have a lot to offer, all of you as family and friends and loved ones and people out there who are in our military.  As long as we all just do our part and share what we have to offer, the Lord is smiling, He’s pleased, He really doesn’t want any more or any less from us than who we are.  It was a reminder for me on my day as I thought about that kind of imprisonment to what my body can offer.  It might be more to offer than what some people can, but it’s a lot less than other people can too.  Like I could never do a marathon, I could never run 26 miles.  My knees, my body just really can’t do running.  I can do cycling but I couldn’t do running.  I could never do an Iron Man, I know people who do Iron Man and it’s amazing.  It’s amazing to me that I’m able to ride across America, I’m thrilled and I’m privileged and honored, but at the same time it’s very humbling, because there are always people in the Olympics and people who do all kinds of amazing things that I couldn’t even imagine being able to do.  Some of you out there are doing amazing things too in going to Iraq and Afghanistan and all these different places and fighting for our country.  Other people out there are doing different jobs that I couldn’t even imagine being able to have the intellect to be able to do.  We all do our part, God creates us in a special way, He gives us all gifts and He doesn’t leave any of us out.  I just want to say that He blesses all of us with something, and as long as we all just keep doing our part, that’s what it’s all about.

I just want to say that I am thrilled about tomorrow, tomorrow is a very special day because not only is it Day 35, but it’s also a day from Fond du Lac to Manitowoc, WI where some very special friends of mine, Madonna and Harry and children and also Doug and Sandy, also some very special friends of mine, along with different family members of theirs are going to pick me, because they live in Green Bay, only half an hour away.  I only have a short 57-mile ride tomorrow, so they’re going to pick me up in the early afternoon and whisk me away to Green Bay and host a barbecue for me in Green Bay.  I can be with family members of theirs, which I have vacationed with them in the past, and they’re very dear friends to me.  I’ll be able to hang out with them and just have a special time with them.  I can stay into the evening, because the next day is the day that we take a ferry across the waters and we don’t have to ride that day, we just have to ride three miles to get to the ferry.  We’ll have the ferry ride and the whole rest of the day off.  So it will be considered a rest day, so I don’t have to worry about staying up late.  I’m very much looking forward to that and it will be really, really special. 

I love you all, hope that you’re enjoying your summer and finding the gifts and talents that you have as you offer those up to give them to God and to your friends and your loved ones around you and doing your part.  Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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Send your pledges in for Jeannie’s Cause- not much time left- She is getting tired, they hit rain and mud today- 3 Tunnels – Please show her you appreciate what she is doing for our military families!

Hello everyone! It’s Friday, July 24, Day 33.

We traveled with our jerseys on from Lacrosse to Wisconsin Dells, WI. We knew today that we would be riding through the tunnels, so we were all kind of looking forward to seeing what that would be like and what the diversity of the day would be. All I can say is that today was a rather interesting day, in many, many ways, as you’ll see. We started off with a pretty decent morning, good weather, a very nice breakfast at our hotel at 6:30, eggs with cheese, hash brown potatoes with peppers and onions, which was a real treat for me, I love that, lots of fruit and muffins and lots of good choices, oatmeal and bacon and all that other kind of stuff that I don’t eat. Everything went pretty well, I was really strong, climbing really well, moving along, kind of riding by and talking to different people as I rode along and moving on ahead. We got to our first SAG stop at 27 miles, in Sparta, the bicycle capitol of the world. There’s a really cool statue of this great big huge man on a bicycle. It’s really kind of funny because they named him Ben Bikin, and he says on his little machine when you go by the statue, “Hello, I’m Ben Bikin!” He talks about the history of the Sparta area, which is really pretty funny. I got a few pictures of that and went over to where our SAG stop was. They actually had another bike that I got up on top of and got a picture. Funny thing is, other people had gotten on the bike and we got pictures, but when I got up on the bike, a policeman came by and told me to get down and told us that we couldn’t go up on the bike anymore. So I was the last one to be able to get up on the bike. But wouldn’t you know the police would come by when I got up there! We all thought that was pretty funny. I can never get away with anything, that’s kind of been the story of my life. It’s kind of a joke, and I thought it was pretty funny, actually. After we had our little SAG time there, we got onto the Sparta to Elroy portion of the trail, and the trail was a compacted dirt trail. We went along on our thin tires and I was pretty surprised it went along as well as it did.

Tunnel- from bamacycles.com

Tunnel- from bamacycles.com

We all got to our first tunnel and thought it was really exciting. We got pictures and really thought it was awesome. You have to walk your bikes through with flashlights and we were all pretty much in a big group walking our bikes with the flashlights. It was kind of drippy and wet and we just had to be careful as we walked along. But because it was the first one, it was pretty exciting. When we came out from that tunnel, it started to rain. That wasn’t really too bothersome, because we had already had our little rain jackets on from going through the tunnel, and that didn’t really seem all that bad, the rain was kind of warm. We traveled along and started to ride a little bit more, and the rain got a little bit heavier until we started to get very wet. We got to this area called Wilton on the trail, and we got off and went to Pies Are Square. They had so many people to serve, there were so many locals there as well as a bunch of us from America By Bicycle, so it was actually a longer stop than planned. I got a sandwich and some soup and a piece of blackberry pie, which was absolutely delicious. The group I was with got served last and we were sort of the last to leave that area, which at first didn’t seem so bad. We were at 61 miles at that point and knew that we just had about another 30 miles, that didn’t seem so bad. However, once we got going, it was very wet. We had gotten wet already and were a little bit chilled, but it seemed like it was starting to clear up a little bit. We started traveling along on the trail, but the trail was pretty wet by then and it wasn’t quite as easy to ride on it as it was before, even though it wasn’t too bad, there was often a canopy of trees and what not. But throughout that ride for some mileage there, we kind of started hitting some headwinds, and my lunch really didn’t do me much good for energy, I noticed. From the 61 to about the 70-mile mark, I started to get really, really tired. From 70 to 91 miles, it really seemed like a really long 20 miles. We had gone through our second tunnel, and by the time we got to the third tunnel, there weren’t many people going through it and it was really kind of like, okay, let’s just get through this! The ride was starting to have some up and down climbs to it, not big climbs, but just on the trail. From our second SAG stop on it was just really a long ride. Our bikes were all dirty, we were dirty, and the bikes weren’t really riding as well. To make a long story short, I was getting really tired and we were hitting headwinds. But the thing that really saved me is I was with Ken and another man named Tom; Ken is the new rider with the group and Tom is someone who usually rides with another gentleman named Ken, but he wasn’t riding with that Ken at this point. So the three of us were kind of moving along and we hit a construction area that was really, really crazy.

Pic from bamacycle.com

Pic from bamacycle.com

We had to walk through a ton of mud and kind of down into a hole and carry our bikes across a plank, and our shoes just got totally muddy and grubby after that, which we were so filthy to begin with. We had to clean off our shoes and scrape them out so we could use our pedal clips on our bikes. That took quite a bit of time, and it sort of started raining and sprinkling on and off, and more headwinds as we traveled along. It just really became a very long ride at the end. About the last 10 miles I realized I was really dogging it. So I ate a trusty chocolate bar with almonds and said to Ken and Tom, “You know what, I’m going to really need to start pushing it because it’s feeling like I’m going to be out here all day.” So I started gearing up, kind of pushed myself and started talking to myself to get myself going, get myself in gear and really started going up and down these rolling roads as fast as I could. I pushed it up to like 22 to 25 mph and the last six or seven miles we just zipped in. I pushed it for all I had, gave it everything I could, and just wanted to get myself and my bike in and get off my bike. So that’s exactly what we did, just got in, and once we got into the motel, everybody was outside cleaning their bikes off. It took a long time for us to all get our bikes cleaned off, our shoes cleaned off, had to re-lube our chains.

Bike Wash-from bamacycle.com

Bike Wash-from bamacycle.com

They had to adjust our rap time to be a little bit later and our dinner time a little bit later. So that’s what we did, cleaned up bikes, got back into our rooms and cleaned up to go to rap time to find out that tomorrow we have an 83-mile day that will take us from Wisconsin Dells to Fond du Lac, WI. Hopefully it will be a good day, we’ll have to see what happens. Needless to say, today was kind of the trail, the terrain, the rain, the mud we had to go through and climbing up and down rolling hills that were actually quite a bit of work after we were so tired and our bikes were kind of sluggish. After the other days of all the mileage, it was really a long day and I’m really glad that it’s over. We haven’t really been able to enjoy what Wisconsin Dells has to offer. I hear there are a lot of fun waterslides and a lot of fun things here, but it’s 9 o’clock at night right now and I just finished dinner a little while ago. I’m really tired and I’m just going to take it easy and try to get to bed early tonight. So onward bound. I just want to say thank you to everybody again. For these last few days I really haven’t been responding to anybody for all of your encouragement and all the great things that you all are doing for me. I really do appreciate it. I’m just really kind of trying to survive through these days right now, because they’re hard and they’re long. I’m keeping my positive attitude up, but it really is difficult. That’s just kind of where I’m at. I’m thankful for the ride, we’re really doing well, everybody’s safe, that’s the important thing. Mentally I can say it’s a little bit harder than it was before. I’m looking forward to getting to our next destination tomorrow. I met a few people today, K.C. who was a waitress, and a young boy who worked at Pies Are Square. I just want to thank them, they were really sweet. They worked really hard today to serve us our lunches. When 50 or more of us come in, it’s pretty overwhelming for them, especially when they have other customers. They did a great job. God bless all of you, I love you out there. God bless America with all these little towns and these cute little places where everybody lives between Wilton and Kendall and Elroy, all these little places. They’re parts of America that I would never have seen otherwise, trails that are actually really pretty with the canopy of trees. It’s really interesting to see this part of the world, even though at times I’m really tired and at times I get really tired of being on my bike. Altogether it’s still a great blessing and I’m really grateful. So God bless all of you and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.

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Jeannie says-Leaving Minnesota today was absolutely breathtaking. The rolling acres of farmland with the corn fields,fly fisherman at a waterfall- off to Wisconsin Dells with lots of tunnels.

Hello everyone out there!

It’s Thursday, July 23, Day 32, traveling from Rochester, MN to Lacrosse, WI. We crossed from Minnesota into Wisconsin today.

I have to say, I really thought today was rather daunting, looking at it last night. But I am very, very thrilled to tell you that today turned out a zillion times better than I expected. There were a lot of turns, there was a lot of checking the maps, and the first 34 miles to the first SAG was kind of slow for me. I didn’t really feel my best, but I was trucking along and making it. But from the SAG stop, I just picked up some real good energy. What was interesting at the SAG stop, there was a fly fisherman there at a waterfall, and I got a picture of him. Being by the waterfall at the SAG stop, plus the food I ate and somehow I just picked up the morning warm-up, also I put some more air in my tires because my bike felt a little sluggish as well as I do. With everything combined, once we left the SAG stop we had some rolling, beautiful acreage to ride on, and we were on a beautiful, beautiful bike path for about 12 or 15 miles. That was so refreshing, it was gorgeous. Leaving Minnesota today was absolutely breathtaking.

rolling hills of corn- Pic from bamacycle.com

rolling hills of corn- Pic from bamacycle.com

The rolling acres of farmland with the corn fields, not just typical flat out there cornfields, but rolling acres of cornfields with areas of grass or whatever it is, it’s green, and then golden wheat or whatever it was, it just made a gorgeous patchwork pattern in the landscape. Today was another gorgeous, beautiful, sunny day with some clouds in the sky, a breeze to the air, and it was absolutely breathtaking, it just took me by surprise today after the first 34 miles, how gorgeous the rest of the ride was. When we got to the bike path, it was so refreshing, it was a beautiful bike path. I tend not to like bike paths with road bikes because they’re winding and there’s a lot of debris and you have to be careful with turns and there are a lot of people on them. I really wasn’t thinking the bike path would be all that great, but it was beautiful. It was wide enough, it was plenty clean enough, had little bridges that were easy to go over, there were basically hardly any people on it. Canopies of trees, I’ve never seen anything like it. Off to the right and left of the bike path there were literal cornfield crops that were right there as you were going through the bike path. Of course there was the river, which was beautiful, so it was very refreshing for those 15 miles. We ended up at a SAG where there was a great little country store with some really healthy food, some great pastries. It was a fun stop. I actually got some cream and soap there that they make homemade in that area. We knew that we had a little bit of mileage before we were going to hit a major climb. They told us we would have a climb at the end of the day, and that’s what I was kind of dreading. I’m happy to say I did the climb really well. At the end of the climb, about a mile climb with about 10 or 12 degree grade, very difficult, I got to the top and I actually held my bike up with the cornfields in the background. It was just a real victory for me. I just really appreciate your prayers out there, I just appreciate that today the roads were fairly smooth and it was just a good ride. After leaving that climb, the rest of the trip just was awesome for me, because I knew we only had about another 22 miles. It was really, really pretty and we had some beautiful descents, going 37 or 38 mph on smooth road with no traffic, it was really a treat. I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers, I really appreciate it. Everyone came in safe, we all had a good time. We entered Wisconsin toward the end, went over the bridge over the Mississippi River, which was really beautiful, fun to do. Tomorrow we have another 91 miles to go from Lacrosse to Wisconsin Dells. The good thing about this is that there are three mountain passes that we don’t have to climb, we’re actually going to be going through tunnels. This will be a new experience for me. We have to have our flashlights and be careful with our shoes. I’m going to wear my sandaled clip-on shoes that I have from Keen, which have more rubber on the bottom of them. We’re going to go through the tunnels with our flashlights, I guess it’s a little drippy, but at least it will be cool in there, it won’t be hot. With all of our flashlights we should be safe and get through the three tunnels fine. I’m looking forward to that different experience. I guess at the end they said the last 30 miles are kind of tough, but the first 60 miles aren’t supposed to be too tough. So we are moving along. Tomorrow will be Day 33. We’re wearing our America By Bicycle jerseys so people as they see us going through the tunnels will know that we’re all together. I’m going to go have some dinner. I just want to say thank you to you all, God bless you all, and God bless America.

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Jeannie needs your support and Prayers- Fog,Hills,cross/semi headwinds and 102 miles- and a well deserved massage!

fog- PIC from bamacycle.com

fog- PIC from bamacycle.com

no more road-PIC from bamacycle.com

no more road-PIC from bamacycle.com

Hello everyone out there!  It’s Wednesday, July 22. 

 It’s a little bit later than usual, I’m calling at 9 o’clock my time.  There’s a reason for that, which is that I’m really pretty tired today, and I needed a little bit of time to recover before I even called!

We went from Mankato to Rochester, MN today.  It was set up to be 100 miles; we actually went about 102 miles because we added on a little bit of a bike trail path that they sent us on.  I woke up pretty well this morning, got up a little after 5, had 6 a.m. breakfast, loaded the truck at 6:30 and we all got on our way.  We knew this was going to happen, the very first mile was a steep climb right away in the morning, not quite a mile.  But it was really tough, I think it was a 15% grade, it was really, really hard.  But I made it to the top and it was really a wakeup call!  But we got up it and got on our way.

Everyone was kind of riding as usual at their own pace.  Sometimes my pace works out to ride with people and sometimes it just doesn’t.  It was 31 miles to the first SAG, and I pretty much was riding by myself this morning.  We hit a patch of really bad fog for a little while, and it was a very, very narrow shoulder, there was really no shoulder, it was a gravel shoulder.  It was hilly, and I couldn’t even see out of my glasses, I had to keep them down below my nose to even be able to see out.  I was just praying that cars would see all of us.  I got through that and had to stop and clean my glasses off so I could even put them back on again.  It was kind of wet, it wasn’t raining but it was very dewy, foggy, you can kind of picture all that, fairly early in the morning with that section into the 31-mile mark.   We got to the SAG stop and it had cleared up by then.  We had a nice little rest at a city park and got on our way.

Those first miles I rode pretty much by myself.  I’ve had patches of time when I’ve ridden by myself and that’s okay, but today was one time that I really wasn’t happy in the morning that I was riding by myself.  I will admit I was a little lonely this morning.  Sometimes it really isn’t any fun to be riding by yourself.  Part of it was because I realized once I got going that my legs were really more tired than what I liked.  My knees were just a little bit achy, not in any pain, but just achy.  My bike was, from the fog they tell me now, or maybe something else, really not operating as usual.  It wasn’t trimming very well, any of you who have bikes, you know what that means, between the gears it wasn’t trimming very well, it was kind of catching on my gears.  I had to keep it in certain gears to keep it working right.  Also my brakes got kind of wet, from the fog I think, and they were kind of squeaky.  It was just a little bit worrisome because I wasn’t sure if there was something more wrong with my bike until I was able to talk to Jim, our mechanic just before the SAG.  I had gone about 28 miles before I got a chance to ask him that question.  He didn’t find anything major wrong, but at the end of the day I did have to go to mechanics after the ride and they did tweak it a little, we cleaned my chain and got my bike back in order.

So that was the start of my day, and I could tell it was going to be a push to go 100 miles.  I really wasn’t up for the task today.  I was a little whiny, I have to admit, just a little bit whiny today on and off with my teammates when I ran into them.  But after the first SAG stop I got going and I met up with a new rider who’s new to our ride for a 14-day catch.  His name is Ken and it was just really delightful.  He had been riding by himself, he had missed a turn and came back and caught up to riding with me.  For the rest of the day we rode together and got to know each other.  He’s really delightful, has a great family life.  His wife is Judy, she wasn’t with us on the ride.  He told me about his two kids.  It was just really, really nice getting to know him, we really connected on a lot of different levels as far as just enjoying each other’s company.  It was nice having someone to ride with and get through the mileage. 

We had our second SAG stop at 69 miles and that went really well.  We got something to eat and kind of saw everybody and got back on our way.  When we got to about the 85-mile mark, I was really tiring.  I knew I was going to make it in, it wasn’t a problem with that, I was just really tired of riding.  So we had kind of ridden next to each other a lot and talked, but I got pretty quiet those last 15 miles in and kind of followed behind him.

We were not supposed to have any kind of a headwind today, but we really had a lot of cross/semi-headwind today.  We really worked for our mileage today, we had to work at the 100 miles.  Everybody agreed that today was a little tougher than what they expected.  The terrain was not any real big climbs, other than in the morning, which was a short climb, but we still had some climbs and we still had terrain going up and down.  We still had to work for every mile.

When I got in, I was okay getting to my room, getting a shower quickly and getting over to mechanics, took care of my bike, got to dinner.  I had pasta for dinner, which was really helpful for me, it was really good and I enjoyed it.  Fortunately I was able to set up a massage for tonight, which was very much needed for me, it was very, very helpful.  I’m very grateful to Kathy, hopefully she’s going to go on my blog and see that I just really appreciated her great strength and her really good massage touch for me.  So thank you, Kathy, and thank you to all you massage therapists out there.  You train really well, you work hard at what you do, and I’m really grateful that in today’s time there are a lot of good massage therapists out there who know how to do deep tissue and really know how to help athletes.  I’m very grateful for you.  So far, all the massages I’ve had at the places where I’ve needed one have really been good and extremely helpful.  She told me I really don’t have any knots or anything, which is really, really good.  I’m staying really loosened, and I think that’s part of why I’ve really been staying so healthy.  I’m really grateful for that.

At rap time we found out about our schedule tomorrow.  For any of you who are reading this, we are heading into Wisconsin.  We went through Minnesota pretty quickly.  We’re going from Rochester, MN to Lacrosse, WI.  Tomorrow we have 93 miles, almost another century, which is like three centuries in a row.  I have to say it’s pretty daunting for me tomorrow, a lot of us felt the same way at dinner.  The directions are difficult tomorrow.  We have a few really difficult climbs in the ride tomorrow, and one very difficult climb at the very end of the ride, which is when we’re going to be the most tired.  We have to really follow the directions carefully, there are a lot of turns and just a lot of difficult directions, that’s the bottom line.  Doing almost another century is just really an exhausting thought.  But I’m looking forward to getting to Wisconsin, that’s a real positive thing.  I hear Lacrosse is really pretty.  I enjoyed going through Minnesota, lots of corn fields, corn fields, corn fields everywhere, lots of plants for the corn fields, and of course cattle and pig farms.  It was pretty to see Minnesota and it really went by quickly.  I’m looking forward to getting to Wisconsin. 

I’m going to be going to bed very soon tonight, because I’m really, really tired.  Anybody out there who wants to pray for me and my strength and endurance and blessings tomorrow, I think tomorrow will be hard for all of us.  We’re just hoping that there won’t be any headwind, that the winds will be a little bit better for us tomorrow than today.  They weren’t bad, but they just weren’t good for us today.  Hopefully our mileage won’t be as difficult as what it looks.

I’m probably sounding very boring and you’re probably not too excited to read my message tonight, and I don’t blame you because to tell you the truth, I’m kind of bored with what I’m saying too!  It’s probably because I’m so exhausted I feel like I’m rambling.  So I’m just going to say thank you to all of you out there, thank you for your pledges, thank you for your blessing, thank you for your prayers.  Good night, God bless you all, and God bless America. 

today.  We really worked for our mileage today, we had to work at the 100 miles.  Everybody agreed that today was a little tougher than what they expected.  The terrain was not any real big climbs, other than in the morning, which was a short climb, but we still had some climbs and we still had terrain going up and down.  We still had to work for every mile.

When I got in, I was okay getting to my room, getting a shower quickly and getting over to mechanics, took care of my bike, got to dinner.  I had pasta for dinner, which was really helpful for me, it was really good and I enjoyed it.  Fortunately I was able to set up a massage for tonight, which was very much needed for me, it was very, very helpful.  I’m very grateful to Kathy, hopefully she’s going to go on my blog and see that I just really appreciated her great strength and her really good massage touch for me.  So thank you, Kathy, and thank you to all you massage therapists out there.  You train really well, you work hard at what you do, and I’m really grateful that in today’s time there are a lot of good massage therapists out there who know how to do deep tissue and really know how to help athletes.  I’m very grateful for you.  So far, all the massages I’ve had at the places where I’ve needed one have really been good and extremely helpful.  She told me I really don’t have any knots or anything, which is really, really good.  I’m staying really loosened, and I think that’s part of why I’ve really been staying so healthy.  I’m really grateful for that.

At rap time we found out about our schedule tomorrow.  For any of you who are reading this, we are heading into Wisconsin.  We went through Minnesota pretty quickly.  We’re going from Rochester, MN to Lacrosse, WI.  Tomorrow we have 93 miles, almost another century, which is like three centuries in a row.  I have to say it’s pretty daunting for me tomorrow, a lot of us felt the same way at dinner.  The directions are difficult tomorrow.  We have a few really difficult climbs in the ride tomorrow, and one very difficult climb at the very end of the ride, which is when we’re going to be the most tired.  We have to really follow the directions carefully, there are a lot of turns and just a lot of difficult directions, that’s the bottom line.  Doing almost another century is just really an exhausting thought.  But I’m looking forward to getting to Wisconsin, that’s a real positive thing.  I hear Lacrosse is really pretty.  I enjoyed going through Minnesota, lots of corn fields, corn fields, corn fields everywhere, lots of plants for the corn fields, and of course cattle and pig farms.  It was pretty to see Minnesota and it really went by quickly.  I’m looking forward to getting to Wisconsin. 

I’m going to be going to bed very soon tonight, because I’m really, really tired.  Anybody out there who wants to pray for me and my strength and endurance and blessings tomorrow, I think tomorrow will be hard for all of us.  We’re just hoping that there won’t be any headwind, that the winds will be a little bit better for us tomorrow than today.  They weren’t bad, but they just weren’t good for us today.  Hopefully our mileage won’t be as difficult as what it looks.

I’m probably sounding very boring and you’re probably not too excited to read my message tonight, and I don’t blame you because to tell you the truth, I’m kind of bored with what I’m saying too!  It’s probably because I’m so exhausted I feel like I’m rambling.  So I’m just going to say thank you to all of you out there, thank you for your pledges, thank you for your blessing, thank you for your prayers.  Good night, God bless you all, and God bless America.

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News paper interviews and Mean truckdrivers on the road- next stop Rochester Minnesota.

Hello everyone out there on Tuesday, July 21. 

This is our Day 30 out of 50, I can’t believe we’re already up to 30.  There are only 20 more days, so I’m really savoring every day and loving every minute of this.

We traveled from Worthington to Mankato, MN today.  We did 102 miles, and we all agree that we cannot believe that it was as easy as it was today.  It was too good to be true.  We again missed the rain.  There were times when it looked like it might have rained today, but the sun broke through.  There was a time when it rained in Mankato just before a lot of us got in, but we missed that rain.  We got in and then it rained after we got in.  So we have just been so incredibly blessed, the Lord has just so taken care of us.  I’m so grateful, so grateful.

Just to say a little bit about last night, after we had our dinner, which was very good, I actually had some ribs last night, which I hardly ever eat ribs, but they were delicious, I went over with a few of my teammates and we went over to a little store to pick up some incidental things I needed to get.  One thing that’s happening with my helmet, it has these little openings in the front of it, and the sun comes through them on my forehead, and it’s giving me these little tan mark lines on the front of my forehead, which makes me look a little bit weird.  So I got a little headband to cover that over when my helmet is on so that I won’t keep getting a tan mark up there.  I took care of that and some other little things; I had to get some creams and some different stuff.  It’s fun that we can go to these little stores and pick up things that we need. 

I went swimming in the pool last night for a little while and talked to a few of my teammates, looked at some of their blogs and pictures.  Bill showed me his website and gave me his link, because he’s gotten some really good pictures on this trip.  I have an idea, OLT, that I’m going to be talking to you about for you getting more pictures, because I know I haven’t been sending my pictures.  But I have a new idea, so I’ll share that with you over the phone, so that everybody can start getting more pictures.

Today we had to get up really early.  We had breakfast at 5:30 and we got off around 6:20.  I got in by 1 o’clock today, and that was later than a lot of people.  I just really took it easy and had fun riding with some people in the beginning, then rode for a section of about 25 miles or so by myself, which was it was just a beautiful country road.  I was the only one on the road and it was just phenomenal.  We had smooth roads for the most part today.  We either had a tailwind or no wind.  For the last section I rode with Deborah, who’s just another wonderful person on the team here of America By Bicycle.  She lives in Florida.  I had a great talk with her and traveled along, and I have to say, 102 miles just went by like a flash.  We got here and this place is really nice.  We have an indoor pool here and one of the best hot tubs that we’ve had; some of the hotels don’t have them, some of them don’t have pools.  The hot tub here is really nice, at a perfect temperature, really clean, a really great place. 

We had three SAG stops today, one at 30 miles, the second at 63 miles, and the third stop was at 89 miles.  We all felt like we didn’t even need the last one, that’s how well we were all doing.  We’re all getting stronger and we’ve had just great weather conditions on our side.  We’re very, very fortunate and we know it. 

At the 63-mile mark there was an interviewer from I believe the paper of that area, which is St. James.  So we might want to be looking in the St. James area for any kind of news reporting.  I’m not sure which newspaper he was with, but he interviewed Mike Munk, who’s head of America By Bicycle, and I happened to be nearby and Mike mentioned that one of our riders was fundraising for the military, it was nice of him to mention that.  I happened to be standing right nearby, so he interviewed me, I gave him the card, so hopefully he’ll put in the paper the website for people to be able to pledge.  He took a picture of me as I was heading out.  That was another great experience.

I also wanted to thank the woman who interviewed me for the other article that was in the Argus newspaper, because she did a very nice job, she was wonderful to talk with.  I want to make sure I acknowledge her on my blog.  Her name is Bryann Becker.  She was a sweetheart and I just want to really thank her again for the interview and for the nice write-up that she put in the paper.

Today one of the staff members, Jim, had a real problem with one of the truckers who pretty much ran him off the side of the road.  We had some real close shoulders for a little section today and it was a little bit hairy for a while there with a few of the trucks going by, because there was no shoulder for us to get over, and it was a two-lane road with traffic going both ways.  It was difficult for a little while there.  It was very dangerous for him and that was a really bad experience for him.   Always our prayers for safety and everybody getting in.  Everybody got in safe today, so that’s always a real blessing, I’m really appreciative for me and for everybody on the team.  I’ve all of a sudden kind of called us a team, America By Bicycle, I really do feel like we are definitely a team together.  We are all getting along great and we’re having a lot of fun.  We realize that we’re really fortunate. 

Not to go on and on, but I just really want to thank you all and thanks for your support, thanks for your pledges and thanks for your prayers.  Thank you for just being you, because anybody who’s paying attention to this and following my blog, I just want to thank you for following me and thank you for being interested at all.  I don’t know if I said hello to Sandy and Henry Garcia, but I was thinking of you guys today, I miss you and I haven’t talked to you in a while, so I’m going to have to give you a call.  And Brenda and George Phillips, I know I mentioned you the other day, I’ve got to give you a call and chat with you, I’m missing you guys.  Just thinking of all my friends and all the people who I’ve known over the years, Sue and Bill and their family, just lots of people in my life who have blessed me and made my life such a good life.  I’m such a blessed woman with all my friends and people that I’ve known over the years, you’ve all been there for me.  Thank you so much.

For anyone out there that I don’t know you and you happen to be following this, I just pray that the Lord will bless your life and make it full and give you an abundance of joy and renew your life with new dreams and new goals and new things to look forward to, bless your family and your children and your marriage.  I’m always praying for these things as I’m going along, for all the military branches, our troops and families.  Families just really mean a lot to me and I’m really grateful to have such fabulous kids.  My kids have been texting me and keeping in touch with me and saying that they’re so proud of me.  I’m so proud of them, I really am.  They’re certainly not perfect kids, but I have to say, I’m a very blessed woman to have such great children. 

God bless you all, take care, and God bless America.

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Jeannie rides from the front page of Sioux Falls, SD News Paper to Worthington, MN. Getting tan and dodging the rain! I had a wonderful experience with the truckers in South Dakota. So kudos to you, thank you very much, I really appreciate it.

eannie Speaks to the NOSC Sioux Falls, SD

Jeannie Benton, who is riding her bike across the U.S. to benefit a program that gives educational opportunities to military personnel and their families, talks Sunday at the Naval Reserve Center in Sioux Falls. (Picture-Emily Spartz / Argus Leader)

 

Hello everyone out there today!  It’s Monday, July 20. 

 I can’t believe this much time has gone by already!  It’s Day 29.  We rode from Sioux Falls, SD to Worthington, MN.  Today, I’m happy to say, was a really easy day, only 70 miles.  The terrain was easy and it was really pleasant.  What made it so pleasant today was the roads for the most part were pretty smooth, but we had cooler weather today.  When we were getting ready this morning it was pouring rain out, and we said, well, here we go, here’s our rain day.  But to our wonderful surprise, as we ate our breakfast and we put off loading the truck about 20 minutes later than what we were going to, the rain passed by and we were able to load the truck without any rain and get our bikes out there about 7:30 as opposed to 7 o’clock.  We rode in no rain today, which was another great blessing.  There was cloud coverage all day, which made it a cooler day, but it was a little bit humid.  The coolness felt great without having to put on all the sunscreen and be really hot in the sun today.  It was a nice little break, I actually enjoyed it.  I have a little bit of a fever blister that started on my bottom lip, so not having the sun today was actually a real relief for me.  Plus, I can’t even tell you, with 50 sunblock on two to three times a day, what a little brown bear I’ve become!  People have told me from the beginning of the ride until now, I look the most changed.  I’ve kind of surprised everybody, being a natural blonde, that I would tan this much.  I knew that I tan this much, because I’ve seen myself in the summer from down at Cape Cod, but it’s kind of been a surprise to other people to see me as a blonde tanning so much.  I can’t believe how dark I am already.  I’m trying not to get any darker, but it’s just happening, being out there all these hours every day.

So today we left about 7:30 and got in about 1 o’clock.  We only had one SAG stop today, it was really a quick ride.  I rode mostly with John and Ann and Gene.  We had a good time riding and it was great to be together.  It was lots of fun, a good day. 

We entered into Minnesota today, which was very exciting.  One of our staff members, Jeff, this is his home state, and he literally kissed the ground as we crossed over into Minnesota.  I got a picture of him kissing the road! 

As I left South Dakota, I really loved South Dakota.  I loved a lot about it, and all you people who live in South Dakota, I just want to tell you you live in a wonderful state.  Out of all the states, the truckers there were so far the best truckers I’ve seen on the road.  Every single time, all the trucks that went by, they moved over, they were gentle, they were kind, they were really good to us as cyclists.  I just want to say to you folks out there who drive your trucks and hay tractors and all of your large equipment, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart, you were wonderful to me.  I don’t know about the other riders, but I had a wonderful experience with the truckers in South Dakota.  So kudos to you, thank you very much, I really appreciate it.

I also wanted to say that I came downstairs for breakfast this morning a little bit later than some, and everyone was cheering me on that I was on the front page of the paper today, and carried on to the third page.  I’m very happy to say, I thank the newspaper, it was a really well-done article, it was nice that it was written up so well.  It was a real honor and privilege for me to talk to the Navy reservists, I really appreciate the opportunity.  I do sincerely mean this, it is an honor to be representing Operation Life Transformed.  I just feel not even deserving.  I’m just glad that I’m bringing about awareness to all of you people out there about Operation Life Transformed.  I really thank everyone who is pledging and helping our troops and helping the families of people who are deployed, helping our men and women who have been injured and letting them know that we care about them.  We care that they have fought for our country, we care that they’re out there on the battle lines.  We love you and appreciate you and every pledge that you make and your friends make and your family members make is another answer to them to say we care about you, we’re with you, we’re supporting you.  So thank you so much.  For me to have this honor is really beyond what I could have ever hoped or expected.  I think I told you that when I asked about the people in the room who had been deployed, more than half the men raised their hands, and I almost lost it.  I just really can’t say enough about how blessed we are as a nation that there are men and women willing to sacrifice for us. 

Thank you to the newspaper in Sioux Falls.  I will look up the woman’s name who I talked with, I have her on the card.  I will put that on the blog a little later, I don’t have her card with me right at the moment.  She was a sweetheart, I could tell she had a very compassionate heart, she was very sweet and she really did the article up very honestly and very well.  I just really appreciate not being misquoted, it’s really quite a pleasure to have that happen when something goes into the newspaper.  Thank you very much for a job well done!

Tomorrow we will be going to Mankato, MN.  We’re going to be doing 102 miles tomorrow, and then the next day we’ll be going into Rochester, which is another 100.  So we’ll be doing two centuries back to back.  We’ve done something close to that, but not exactly that on this trip, and I’ve never done a century and then another century.  So I’m just hoping that everything will go well for all of us on our team, hope that my legs keep holding out well.  I’m just really grateful that I’m really strong; I feel like I actually keep on getting stronger and feel really good and really healthy.  It’s been a real treat.

To all of you out there, thank you for your little messages.  I’m not reading all of them but I do know of some of them and I am going to be able to read all of them when I’m home.  So even if I’m not responding to you now, just know that your message will be a treasure for me for the rest of my life, and I do mean that.  This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I don’t ever expect to be able to do this again to this degree, a whole entire trip across America.  I’m just savoring every day and every opportunity, every message, every bit of support that’s pledged in, every bit of personnel that I get to meet with the military, every family that the pledges get to touch.  It’s just an honor, an honor, an honor.

God bless all of you, stay healthy and well, and God bless America.

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One Last Ride Before Day Off In Sioux Falls, Manicure, Pedicure, Massage, Ode To Woman-Hood – July 18 2009 –

Hello to everyone out there!  It’s Day 27, Saturday, July 18, and we went 72 miles today.   We rode from Mitchell to Sioux Falls, SD.  It was a beautiful ride today, the weather again was picture perfect, the roads were mostly smooth, which was very, very nice.  I just had a really strong ride today.  We could have taken it easy, but I decided to go a little faster, get out in the morning.  We got to sleep in a little bit this morning, we didn’t have breakfast until around 7 and we didn’t load the truck until 7:30.  So I got right out at 7:30, I was all ready to go, and rode on for a while by myself, with people in front of me and behind me, just enjoyed the peaceful morning.  Then probably around 18 miles or so I met up with my friend Ann and rode along with her until we got to the SAG stop at mile 40, so we probably rode together for 20-some odd miles.  I was delighted to be with her when we got to the SAG stop, because she had great surprise awaiting her.  Her husband and three of her four children met her as a surprise at the SAG stop, which was just out in the middle of nowhere, which is where we usually have our SAG stops in South Dakota, just along the side of the road near a little country store.  So I got to see her be totally surprised, it was really sweet.  It was nice meeting them and I got a picture.  It was just really fun.

Of course, I got back on after a little while, and just rode the rest of the day kind of on my own, which was just kind of sweet.  I just trucked along at a pretty fast clip, probably 18 to 20 mph.  I wanted to get into Sioux Falls because I had an appointment for a massage and I had the possibility of fitting in a pedicure-manicure.  I was really trying to fit that in today if I could, because my hands and feet from over 4 weeks or so really could use a little touchup, as you can imagine!  So I did get in on time, about 12:50, and I had a taxi waiting for me.  I went and had a wonderful time at this really cool place called A Day of Indulgence, which is exactly what it was.  There was a great massage therapist named Barb, she was really great and very knowledgeable and just really good.  It was wonderful to have my pedicure-manicure, felt great.  I came back and met up with the team at 4:45 for our rap session.  We had to say goodbye to a few people who were just doing one leg.  Some of the people were kind of doing across America piecemeal each year, they do a different leg until they’ve finished doing across America.  So we said goodbye to some of them.  There was one person, Paul, who’s going to be leaving us now, but he’s going to join up with us again towards the end, because he did all the other parts last year.  So this year he’s just doing the sections he didn’t do before.  So he will have ridden across America in two years.  Sadly, we said goodbye to all of them for now, then we all went over and got something to eat together as a group, which was fun. 

We got back and talked to some of Ann’s family and people who were milling around the lounge area of this hotel, just visiting.  Obviously we’ve all kind of become little relatives of each other, riding together and seeing each other, it’s just really been good.

So we’re all really looking forward to having tomorrow off, which will be good.  I’m looking forward to going to church tomorrow, and then get picked up and go over and meet some of the people in the military, which will be great, and possibly their families, I’m not sure how many of them will be there.  I think it’s Channel 13 that will be there to interview me and interview them as well.  We should have a really good time, I’m very much looking forward to that.  For the afternoon, they have a jazz festival going on down here in Sioux Falls, over by the park, so I’m really looking forward to going to that, because I love jazz.  That will probably be the extent of the day, then just getting ready for the next day, Monday, when we will be leaving around 7 in the morning for Worthington, MN.  So tomorrow will be our last day in South Dakota.  I can’t believe we’ll be going into our fifth state out of ten.  That’s pretty cool.

0717rodeo_bareback1I want to tell you about the rodeo I went to last night, it was a blast!  About ten of us got a ride over to the rodeo, it was about three or four miles away from our hotel.  The whole stadium was filled.  It was just like on TV but it was for real.  They rode the bucking broncos, to see how long they could stay on, and calf roping where they lasso them and tie them up. Some buffalo came out, which was really cool.  We saw a really fast horse that was kind of from the Pony Express breed of horse that was riding so fast, I couldn’t believe it.  Then it was really cute, they had little kids age four through seven riding sheep.  The woman who sat behind us, her granddaughter Anna was in it, and we were all kind of rooting for her.  And sure enough, her granddaughter won!  She was five years old.  She came out kind of on the side, we never thought she’d stay on, but she stayed on the longest of all of them.  It was really cute. 0717rodeo_tie

We had to leave at 9:30 to get back to our hotel by 10.  That doesn’t really sound too late for any of you for summertime, I’m sure, but just knowing that we had to get up and ride, and I wanted to make sure I could ride in strong because I wanted to get in for that appointment.  I got to bed about 11 and got up at 5.  I’m so glad I went to a rodeo in South Dakota; I guess Mitchell is known for this big rodeo, it was a pretty big deal.  People came from Canada and from all over to come to this rodeo and be in it.  So it was very, very exciting to see my first rodeo!

I hope you all are enjoying this weekend in July.  We are extremely fortunate that bad weather has always gone before us, so we have still not hit really bad weather.  Again, riding in and having a safe day and a good weather day, we couldn’t be more blessed, and we’re very, very thankful.  I’m not taking that lightly, it’s really an incredible blessing every single day.

It’s about 8:45 my time.  I’m probably not going to go to the festival tonight, I’m probably just going to rest up tonight and enjoy the festival tomorrow afternoon and evening. 

I say love to you all, I hope you’re all doing well.  God bless you, and God bless America!

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