Several years ago, one of the ladies that I served with through AmeriCorps rode across the country on her bike. Throughout the year that followed, we worked side by side in the world of conservation and disaster response, but her stories of biking from the Pacific to Atlantic coast pulled at a desire to challenge myself, to commit to an adventure that was bigger than myself.
A year or so later, I purchased my first bike. And over the next two years, I biked sporadically whenever I could. And in the back of my mind, there was always that desire to go coast to coast.
Back while I was still in AmeriCorps, I started looking around at different bike rides. I knew I wanted to do the TransAm, from coast to coast, but I also didn’t want to try it solo and unsupported the first time through. I happened to come across the organization Bike the US for MS and realized that this was the group I would, eventually, ride with.
For several years, I put it off because of the busyness of life. But that has all changed.
This summer I will set forth from Yorktown, Virginia after dipping a tire in the Atlantic Ocean and head West. Over the following 62 days, I will pedal 3,785 miles alongside of the rest of the TransAm crew towards San Francisco, California.
We, as a group, will be riding to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the sheaths of nerve cells of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). A person with MS can experience many different symptoms and no two patients will have the exact same symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms of MS are weakness, severe fatigue, impaired speech, numbness, blurred vision, and loss of muscle coordination.
I will personally be riding in honor of my sister, Katherine, who was diagnosed with MS several years ago. She continues to live with MS and fight each and every day, a symbol of strength for our family, both those connected to us by blood and those we have claimed through love.
I know that there are going to be days that suck, that hurt, that I will want to throw in the towel and say “nope,” but I know that every time it gets difficult, I will remember the warrior that is my sister and know that she has faced much worse. In those moments that challenge the soul (but more realistically physically and emotionally challenged), I will be able to find the strength because my sister has already proved that we can face anything, who has revealed her strength and courage through her fight with MS.
A couple weeks ago, while I was sitting in the Galley with some of the Stewies (Stewards who work in the dining facility here at McMurdo Research Station), one of them asked if I had ever done anything like this before. My response: “Nope,” with a huge grin on my face.
While I am slowly getting more confident in my biking abilities (still need to work on hills and mountain climbs), and there are parts of the adventure that terrify me (going down said mountains after the climbs), I know that I cannot do this adventure alone. I will have an amazing team of riders beside me (including Leads, support vehicles and drivers, and places to throw up a tent all organized) and my amazing group of family and friends supporting me.
Part of the adventure that is Bike the US for MS is that each rider raises funds to support not only the ride itself, but to support MS research and treatment clinics including UVA’s James Q Miller MS Clinic in Charlottesville, Virginia and to UCSF’s Weill Institute for Neurosciences and MS in San Francisco. The goal is for each rider to raise $1 for each mile that they ride.
I would love for each of you to partner with us as we pedal our way across the nation. If you are able and willing, I would appreciate any financial support you are willing to offer! You can go to my official fundraising page (click link here) to make a donation (I’m sure there are other ways you could get funds to me, but this is the easiest because I don’t have to handle the funds myself). If you are unable to support this adventure financially, I would encourage you to support us through your prayers and encouragement.
I’ll probably be posting daily updates either through Instagrams story feature (you can follow me at @skerr1932) both during training and the actual ride (I usually post art and random adventures).