Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deadline for donations!

Hi everyone!

Tomorrow, Halloween, is the LAST DAY that I will be taking donations for BIKE NC. It has been a wonderful journey and, with checks still to be deposited and donations made directly to the organizations in the name of BIKE NC, we have raised over $5,000. I am excited by the good work this money will do for the East Durham Children's Initiative, NC Partnership for Children, and Advocates for Children's Services. And I hope this project has helped get the word about the importance of education and education funding. I've had some wonderful conversations and learned a lot.

Last call for donations! Every little bit counts. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy the Classroom

Kristof wrote a piece in the New York Times about early childhood education today:

One common thread, whether I’m reporting on poverty in New York City or in Sierra Leone, is that a good education tends to be the most reliable escalator out of poverty. Another common thread: whether in America or Africa, disadvantaged kids often don’t get a chance to board that escalator. 

The piece is well worth a read. And it's not too late to donate to BIKE NC to support early childhood education at home in North Carolina.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photo - finally in the ocean!

A long overdue photo - finally putting my tired feet in the Atlantic ocean at the end of my bike ride, in Emerald Isle. As soon as I stopped pedaling I found a beach access, which had a long wooden ramp over the dunes. Of course a road bike is useless on the beach, but I rolled and carried it down to the surf anyway. After a long summer of training and five straight days of pedaling, I developed an emotional attachment to my bike and felt it deserved to see the ocean after working so hard.

More than a week after finishing the bike ride, I feel grateful and happy for the experience and amazed by how far away it already feels. It seems so easy, looking back, but of course it wasn't. At times - fleeting - it felt darn miserable. But the feeling at the end of the ride, standing on that beach, and all the support and and affirmation I've gotten since coming home, were worth it completely. I did something a little crazy, a little bit different, and people noticed. And they noticed the message - invest in education - in the process. That is my hope.

The lines are still open for donations to BIKE NC. If you have donated already, thank you SO much. Please continue to pay attention to education. To how it's written about in the media and discussed by politicians. And raise your own voice - tell your congressmen to invest in education; volunteer at a school. Call up the East Durham Children's Initiative or NC Partnership for Children and ask them how you can get involved. And share your stories with me. The blog will stay up. I want to hear from you.

Here's a bit of good news about North Carolina high schools with good graduation rates.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photo from day 1

A picture from day 1 of my bike ride. I look so fresh and eager to get started compared to the following days! We were in Banner Elk, NC on a morning much cooler than I was accustomed to in Durham. The first twenty minutes of the ride out of Banner Elk were spent going UP. I had to stop the bike, drink some Gatorade, and give myself a pep talk. Then I was ready for the 70 miles to come.

NC Teaching Fellows

Nice article about the NC Teaching Fellows program in the New York Times. Talented high school students gain an affordable path to college and, in return, give their talents to public schools as teachers for at least four years. The Fellows are role models who have come up through NC public schools and excelled. But the General Assembly voted this summer to phase out the Teaching Fellows program.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Barry Saunders column!

Great write up in the News and Observer about BIKE NC. I am indeed a little sore, but grateful and thrilled that the word is getting out about education!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A recap of Day 4 and Day 5, Part 2

Today, Day 5, I had 82 miles to go make up the 459 that are symbolic of the $459 million dollar cut to the state education budget. The final number had been revised since I did my research and found $476 million, as an intrepid Daily Tarheel reporter discovered, so I happily revised my bike ride to match. I think it's important to be accurate about the numbers. As it was, I hit Emerald Isle, spying the ocean, at 63 miles, and still had to bike another 19 by looping up the beach roads and then back down the main highway. Being "done" - eg, hitting the coast, crossing NC - but still picking up those last few miles was a little anticlimactic. I was focused, focused, focused today. My average speed picked up on the flats. I told myself I could stop every ten miles if I needed to - just make it ten more miles - but 15 and 20 miles would slide by before I stopped to sit for a moment and eat an energy bar. By now the countryside was flat, with lots of cotton fields, and the houses I passed often seemed poor and in disrepair. Parts of Eastern North Carolina have a kind of ramshackle beauty that is sad and peaceful all at once. But I didn't notice the landscape as much as usual today. I was counting down every mile.

On Emerald Isle, for the last 19 miles, I flew at first. I felt invincible. Then I changed direction, biking back from the bridge where I'd started, for the last few miles. That meant I was biking into the wind. Everything fell apart at once. Suddenly sitting on the bike hurt worse than it had the whole trip, and my speed slowed dramatically. I was fighting the wind for every last mile. It's like my mind and body knew I was done - or close enough - and just let down. As soon as I hit mile 82, I turned my bike toward a beach access road, stopped my watch, and wheeled my bike up the wood ramp over the dunes to the sand. Irrationally, I thought that my bike deserved to see the ocean after working so hard. I called my mom to come meet me for a celebratory splash in the surf, called my husband to tell him I was done, and just flopped down on the sand, exhausted. It was cool today - I wore a light sweatshirt all day for the first time - and the sand was cool and damp. But the sun was warm. I didn't feel ecstatic or proud or anything, just glad to be done. But there was a sense of completeness, deep in my bones, along with the relief.

I'll be saying thank yous for awhile, but everyone who cheered for me on Facebook, and my family, my mom there every second and others rooting for me and supporting me from a distance: You have been wonderful! Small but meaningful contributions from people along the way were amazing too. The donated brownies, and a hotel clerk who gave us the government rate since I was riding for education. The Islander hotel on Emerald Isle let us use a hotel room for the afternoon for less than half the nightly rate so I could shower before driving home. Strangers who asked me about my bike and how far I was riding heard about BIKE NC and told me what a great thing it was. It means so much to know people believed in me, or in the cause of bringing attention and needed funds to education, or maybe both. THANK YOU.

Stay tuned for pictures in the next few days. I'll be doing a few brief blog posts and perhaps making some follow up plans to the bike ride. Thank you notes for those who have donated will be sent. And it's back to law school and a lot of make up work for me. But I will be thinking about those 459 miles for a long time.

I am keeping the donation link open through the end of the month. I'll share education news, and ask that people continue to help spread the word and consider donating. We've done a great job raising almost $4,000 for three amazing nonprofits, but we can do more.

For now, good night and thanks for following along!

A recap of Day 4 and Day 5, Part 1

So glad to be home safe!

Day 4, Saturday, broke clear and downright chilly after a cold front brought a smattering of rain the night before. I biked from Angier, south of the Triangle, to Kinston, North Carolina. The route was very circuitous and I often would not pass even a small store for twenty mile stretches. The route took me near Goldsboro, but not into it. At around the 40 mile mark, badly needing a break but not seeing anywhere to stop for miles, I finally found the Mill Creek General Store, near the town of Four Oaks but not really near anything at all. They had a small restaurant of country cooking in the back and aisles well stocked with snacks and groceries. I sat in the store for a few minutes, warming up and chatting with the store clerk. I bought a brownie cooked by an older lady who ran the store restaurant, and it was delicious. When the store clerk found out how far I was biking, he gave me two more brownies free for the road! Those little exchanges with people (North Carolina has the nicest people) buoy my spirit so much and help the miles go faster.

And I needed that on Saturday. The roads I was biking on were often rough, either badly cracked or newly paved with rough, unfinished asphalt with sprays of loose gravel. This caused the bike to jar and vibrate badly, sending countless tiny shocks up into my arms, tailbone and spine. Probably not so bad normally, but my body was breaking down a little by this point. Saturday, by any counts, was the perfect day for biking. Blue skies, brisk breeze, countryside with just enough undulations to be interesting. I was so lucky. But after over 300 miles on the road by that point, what I was noticing were the roads where every jolt sent spasming pain up my back, the few remaining hills that I struggled up and resented, and the wind that was at times strong. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful out there, and a bend in the road and fresh vista would have me picking up the pace, happy. But I stopped at mile 60 to rest and call my husband for a morale boost, and had a small breakdown on the last few miles into Kinston. Well, ok, I started sobbing hysterically, a mix of being in pain and just emotionally overwhelmed. I crashed in bed Saturday night, too.

What's funny is that I always felt strong. Tired, but pedaling steadily all day. I trained for the endurance and strength challenges of the ride, but I think what I was missing was "saddle hours" - just cumulative experience, weeks and months and years, breaking my body in to the bike. So Day 4 was the hardest. But I knew, as I finally reached Kinston at dusk, that I was in striking distance of the coast. One more day to go.

At the beach! Did it.

So happy! More to come.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 4

98.4 miles today. Safe in Kinston. 82 to go. Today was not easy. At times it felt impossible. If you have been thinking about supporting BIKE NC, please know that now is the time. You will carry me through tomorrow in addition to supporting the important work of education.

Look for details on Day 4 when I am home and a bit rested. Thanks a million for your support and for following along!