Trainee on the Trail

A beginner’s quest to bike mastery and wellness

I have a confession to make.

Although I am a proud member of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy team, I’m not much of a cyclist. In fact, before going out to Iowa to help map trails for our Midwest Rail-Trail Guidebook series, I had never biked more than 15 consecutive miles … and I could count on my hands the number of times I’ve biked outside.

But over the next few months, that’s all going to change—and I’m going to prove it to you.

To prepare for RTC’s 2017 Pennsylvania Sojourn—a 150-plus-mile biking excursion on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and Montour Trail, I am determined to become a cyclist and commit to being fit! I’m not promising to become an Olympian or a Tour-de-Francer by any means, but my goal is to be in cycling shape by the time the sojourn starts, June 18 … and still be able to stand when it ends on June 23!

For those of you who haven’t already checked out the sojourn’s daily itinerary, one of the six days will be devoted to either visiting two Frank Lloyd Wright projects or whitewater rafting—which means I have to be ready to bike an average of around 35 miles per day, and a max of 51! These mileage counts may seem insurmountable (to me), but I’ve been told that since it’s a fully support ride with opportunities to stop and enjoy the sights along the way, the sojourn is very doable.

So, how am I going to get fit for the long haul? Like this:

1 Learning from the experts

Luckily, here at RTC headquarters I’m surrounded by a bunch of bicycling buffs. I’ve already received five great tips on how to prepare for my first lengthy ride—and I will be getting lots of other great advice too (on good biking gear and rules of the trail) and sharing them here with you.

2Tracking my progress—from beginning to end

I want to show everyone that if I can do it, so can you. Trails are for everyone, and I am going to prove it by starting from square one and taking you with me through the whole journey.  Leading up to June, I’ll be giving you an inside look at my cross-training as well as how I tackle challenges (like hills!) by posting  here and on social media; then, when I go on the sojourn, I’ll share those experiences too.

3With your support!

A huge part of this you. If you’ve been thinking about getting in shape or going on our sojourn for the first time—why not give it a shot and train with me! And if you’re a pro—or somewhere in between—I would love the cheerleading and counsel.  I’ll be listening! So give me a shout any time by tagging @railstotrails and using #RTCsojourn on social media!

I’m excited to get on the training trail—and I hope you’ll join me!

- Suzanne

Entry 1 – My Active Vacation, April 15, 2017