Why Africa and the TDA?

From the moment I learned about the TDA and saw images and video from the first-ever ride, my imagination was captured.  Since that time, nearly four years ago, I have held onto the dream that I might one day participate. 

While I do not consider myself a particularly strong cyclist, I cycled across the U.S. in 2006 and discovered the beauty of traveling by bike.   The rhythm and routine of starting each day on the saddle and going only as fast as my own legs would carry me was immensely satisfying.  I saw beautiful places and made wonderful friends and never once tired of the ride.

TDA represents to me an opportunity to once again mount the bike and use my own power to discover new places, cultures, and friendships.  I have always wanted to travel in Africa and I can think of no way better than to peddle my way across the continent.

Why do you like to torture yourself?

Those who know me well know that I have a history of enduring through sport.  I’m not fast nor flexible nor particularly agile, but I can endure!  My first memory of “going long” was when my swim coach in high school pushed me to swim the 500 even though I barely knew how to swim.  I protested.  But, I realized that the longer the race or event, the deeper I had to dig within myself to find the courage and strength to continue.  In my adult life, I have competed in triathlons, run a marathon, swam across big bodies of water, and biked across the U.S.  While I have certainly had my moments of sheer misery (including injuries, broken bones, and just plain old bad days), I have to say that I actually enjoy this stuff.

How important is EFI?

Well…it is important.  EFI is a badge of honor for an epic journey like this one because it signifies that the participant did “every fabulous inch” without even one mile missed due to injury, fatigue, illness, mechanical problems, etc.  I successfully rode EFI across America and I hope to ride across Africa EFI. 

Realistically, however, Africa is incredibly unpredictable and anything can (and probably will) happen to thwart an EFI attempt.  Only 10-15% of all TDA riders complete the journey EFI, but I will try and hope to be among this very small percentage of riders in the world who cycle the entire continent—EFI.

Racer or expedition rider?

TDA riders can opt to race or participate as an expedition rider.  I am definitely in the latter category.  I can not imagine wanting to rush each day to get to the finish.  My approach will involve taking my time and soaking in sites and enjoying a meal or a beautiful vista or a conversation even though it will mean longer days on the bike and a slower pace than would be possible if I were racing.

With your history of melanoma, is bike riding across Africa a good idea?

I’m not going to lie here:  the sun exposure I’ll face in Africa isn’t the best thing in the world for someone with incredibly sensitive skin and a history of skin cancer.  However, I have consulted with my doctors and know how to protect myself as best as anyone probably could against the harmful rays of the sun.  I have no false illusions about how difficult it will be to remain vigilant about sun protection, especially with the day-in and day-out exposure.  I will do my best.  My bill of health is clean and I’m going to take advantage of my good health while I’ve got it.

Is this safe?

Hmmm…well…let’s hope so. 

What about your job?

I work for Hagerty Consulting, a small public sector management consulting firm.  I’ve been with the firm for more than four years and plan to go back to DC to work for Hagerty after the ride.  I am deeply appreciative of the support of my boss and my friends and colleagues at Hagerty for affording me the opportunity to pursue this dream. 

Where is Jackson?

My beloved dog, Jackson, will be enjoying life in the Boston suburbs and will be well cared for by my sister, brother-in-law and my two nieces.

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