Archive for October, 2009

Imaginary or Real, It’s All Good

small town

by Betsy Finley

Whew!! I’m glad to have left the Interstate. It seems the back roads are an easier ride from the information on my trip-ticket; the next few towns being a little closer

together. I should be able to make it from town to town for the next few days although, according to my research, the next few towns are barely towns.

My first stop after leaving I-25 was Shawnee, Wyoming, a small unincorporated town. It made for a good rest stop, though. Town number 2 was superb. I spent the night at the

mayor’s home in Lost Springs, Wyoming. You may be wondering how it came to be that I spent the night at the mayor’s house. Well, Lost Springs is a town of 1, the mayor, and is known as the smallest incorporated town in the U.S.

As I rode into Lost Springs I noticed that the only business open was the “Lost Bar”. To my surprise, the mayor was there and was gracious enough to give me a tour of the town which is pretty much the Town Hall, an antique store where I was able to buy a trinket or two, the “Lost Bar”, an outhouse, the old jail, and a few dilapidated buildings that are standing only by the grace of God. It was nice to have spent the night in a real bed and the mayor was a great cook. What a pleasure to have come through this little town of one. Actually a few other people live there, but they were not included in the last census.

With each passing town I meet more and more people who add a little zest to my life. Some give me great history of the surrounding area, stories one would never read in a history book like those stories I heard in Van Tassell, Wyoming where it’s known as a ghost town although people still live there. Others give me tips on where to eat, places to avoid, and will often give me some home cooked food to take with me on my travels.

This is the way to see the United States. There are those people who are suspicious of the stranger in town, that crazy lady riding a bike across the U.S., but for the most part people are great. You just have to open your heart and mind and do a lot of listening. It helps that I’ve researched most towns I go through prior to getting to them. That research helps open those doors in towns where everyone knows everyone.

By next week I should be in Nebraska and will partake in the largest burger in the U.S. at Sioux Sundries in Harrison, Nebraska. I’m sure I’ll need to take a day off from riding after attempting to eat a 28 ounce hamburger. I think I’ll be eating leftovers for a couple of days.

And, as usual, I remind myself that this is my imaginary trip, but allowing my mind to visualize such adventures surely makes the miles fly by on what would have been a boring exercise routine; a routine that would have long been stopped had I not added a little imagination. I feel like a kid again playing imaginary games with imaginary friends. Watch a child play some imaginary game and you’ll see that in their mind it’s all real. Don’t allow the pressures of life drag you down, keep the child in you alive.

You, too, will see a change in your energy, work performance, relationships, and all other facets of life.

May God bless you all and let’s keep going the distance.

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A Diamond in the Rough

by Betsy Finley

The last you heard from me I had just made it to Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I was greeted by several locals who were amazed that I’d ridden my bike from Aspen, Colorado all the way to this charming cowboy town.  They were anxious to invite me back next July to enjoy the Cheyenne Frontier Days.  I promptly added this to my calendar, but explained that my goal on this trip was to make it to every state in the U.S.  My travels may take me too far away to make it back for next year’s event, but now that I know more about the Cheyenne Frontier Days that draws people in from all surrounding states, I will need to come back some year to enjoy all the fun, food, and festivities.

The hospitality in this town was super.  I needed to know where some good local campgrounds were and was immediately given invitations to stay at 3 different people’s homes.  I declined knowing that I wanted to get an early start to my travels.  The

Cheyenne KOA seemed to be my best ticket for camping and it was fairly close to a highly recommended diner.  I was also able to shop at The Quilted Corner, buying some unique fabrics for my trip quilt.  My goal is to buy fabric in every state and make a quilt  depicting my travels.  It will be a nice memory of this trip I’m on.

After a good meal and a good nights sleep I continued north to Chugwater, Wyoming.  For a town so small you’d miss it if you blinked, I found a Mecca.  Chugwater was having their annual chili cook off.  The town was filled with people from all over and the aroma of chili filled the air.  I found a quaint embroidery shop and was able to pick up some bling to add to my quilt.  Needless to say I had chili for dinner that night.  It was just the ticket to keep me warm on a chilly night, no pun intended. 

As I continued chugging north on the I-25 corridor my thoughts go back to the miles I’ve traveled.  So many sites I’ve seen, becoming closer to God with each mile traveled, finding that peace we all seem to be looking for.  I’ve reached my next goal which takes me off I-25 and onto Highway 20.  Saturday I’ll head east towards Chadron, Nebraska where, like I’ve said before, this whole notion began.  

And although my adventures are only in my head, I’ve learned about some places along the way that I may truly go visit.  Who knew that Chugwater, Wyoming had a chili cook off?  So if you decide to take a bike trip whether real or imaginary like mine, research the places you are headed to.  You may find that some towns have a lot more to offer than meets the eye.  Sort of like we humans, if you don’t get to know a person you may never know all the talents that person may have and how they may influence your life.  I know I’ll be better about not taking people or towns for granted for I may be looking at a diamond in the rough.

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Riding the Distance

Bike Ride to Health III

by Betsy Finley

My imaginary bike ride continues.  I’ve gone a total of 257 miles and have crossed over the Colorado/Wyoming border into Cheyenne.  My intent is to ride to Chadron State Park where this whole idea started, then backtrack some so that I can head to the Black Hills. 

I’ll meander through the Hills, as they are known in that area, throughout the winter months.  The nice thing on this trip is weather is not a factor.  I’m able to ride whenever and wherever I feel like going.  My goal is to ride through every state in the United States.  I’m sure this will take me years, but then it took years for me to get into the bad shape I was in when I started this trip.

The good news is I’ve managed to drop some weight and my eating habits have improved.  I find myself not eating out of boredom or stuffing myself when I know I’m full.  It’s a nice feeling to put on winter clothes that were slightly tight last winter and are bagging on me now.  And I know that I’ve strengthened my leg muscles as my knee is not hurting as much.

Saturday mornings are the best day for riding the distance.  I turn on PBS and watch all these how-to shows without commercials.  The time flies by as do the miles.  Last Saturday I rode 13 miles, which is the longest I’ve gone on any given day.  I usually ride at least 5 miles, but am hoping to increase that to 10 miles per ride.  My focus stays on “riding the distance” and not on losing weight or getting into better shape.  Those things happen because of “riding the distance”.  I know me, if my goal were to lose weight and I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, I’d quit figuring the bike riding wasn’t helping me.  But staying focused on “riding the distance” keeps me coming back for more. 

I have so many co-workers that are behind me and will stop and ask where I am on the trip.  Some will even say things about the town I’m in or getting near like “you’ll have to eat at this restaurant because they have fabulous food.”  Now we all know that I’m really not in these towns, but it gives me the motivation to continue moving forward.

God has truly blessed me with this desire to ride through all 50 states and to realize that taking life one day at a time allows you to enjoy life.  I’m not fretting over how much weight I haven’t taken off; instead I’m happy with the weight that has come off.  I don’t worry about not riding every day because if I were truly on this ride I probably wouldn’t have the energy to ride every day.  It’s on my non-riding days that I imagine taking in the sites of the town I’m in, meeting new people, experiencing new retail shops.  This all helps me in my everyday life for I allow me down time to rest and rejuvenate my soul.

I highly recommend each of you who have followed me along my journey pick a journey of your own and give “going/riding the distance” a try.  It could be life changing for you.  May God bless you all and thanks for your support and enthusiasm. 

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Riding Like the Wind

open-road

by Betsy Finley

It has been 26 days since I decided to recreate my imaginary bike ride from years ago. I started this trip in Aspen Colorado again and have made it to Vail. I’d like to say that it’s been smooth sailing and some days are very easy with me riding 7 to 8 miles.

And, then there are other days…. The reality of work exhaustion kicks in and makes me want to quit riding; sometimes, only within a half of mile from my destination! It is those times I try even harder to envision actually being on my bike trip…. I’ll tell myself, “Look, there’s the town, don’t quit now.”

It’s so rewarding riding into a town knowing that you pushed through the exhaustion and pain, and really went the distance.

I have to confess, though, that my greatest daily inspiration comes from a “fan” of my first blog post who told me to “Ride like the wind.” On days when I don’t feel like riding, but know I should, I think about those words–and the words of others who have commented about my imaginary bike trip–and I’m again inspired to not let them down. It is through their kind words of encouragement that allow me to bike to the base of Vail Pass.

I have about 20 miles to do to get to Copper Mountain. It may take me the rest of this week, but with those encouraging words bouncing around in my head, I’m able to make this trip in 2 days… we’ll see.

I have not yet ridden 10 miles, as I’m still working on strengthening my leg muscles, but I was only 2 miles from going 10 miles last Saturday. I know I have it in me, but at the very least I have managed to get myself off of that couch and onto my bike. And, I feel so much better!

Thanks for your support, my friends… And, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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Bike Ride to Health

BIKE RIDE TO HEALTH

by
Betsy Finley

Every year I take my vacation to Chadron State Park—Nebraska’s best kept secret—so that I can relax and re-center my life. It’s a wonderful place to do just that; and, on a quiet, cool night, as I lay in my bed reading the latest Stephen King novel of short stories, I had an Epiphany! The short story I was reading started out like a carbon copy of something I did years earlier while living in Aspen, Colorado.

I was struggling with my weight, as I have for most of my life, and in Aspen if you are not “scary skinny” you are considered fat. I also struggled with self-esteem trying desperately to fit in, knowing full-well that I’d never be that thin person, especially in Aspen.

At this point in my life, I was probably only 20 pounds overweight, but it didn’t matter to those who lived there. On one sunny day, while I walked my lunch hour away, I found myself standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change. As a car went through the intersection, I suddenly heard someone yell, “Join Weight Watchers, it will work better!”

I looked around to see who they were talking to… I was all alone, so I had to assume they were talking to me. My self-esteem plummeted and I wondered if I’d ever be thin enough.

A co-worker brought her stationery bike to work and set it up in the basement of the building I worked in at the time. I’d come in at night—to run backups, which took an hour to run—so I chose, then, to utilize that hour to ride the bike. My first time on the bike made me realize how boring riding a stationery bike can be, and so I came up with a plan to take an imaginary bike ride from Aspen, CO to Omaha, Nebraska where my folks lived.

On this imaginary trip, which I estimated to take about a month, I made it from Aspen to about 45 miles east of Denver. Unfortunately, the pedals on the bike broke so that was the end of my imaginary journey! Unfortunately, it was also the end of me keeping weight off…heavy sigh.

Years later, when I had moved to Colorado Springs, CO I found myself growing ever larger—again!  Still, Colorado Springs was a welcome place, far from the scrutiny of Aspen, so I quit fretting over my weight and started working on my self-esteem.

It has taken me years to learn to love myself, just the way that I am. Occasionally, however, thoughts of that day in Aspen, standing on the street corner, would fly back into my mind; but, I no longer cared what others thought about me (because that is simply outside of my control).

My most recent trip to the doctors, though, brings me to the parallel with the Stephen King novel…As kind as my doctor is, he dwells on my weight and even hand the nerve to suggest that I have weight reduction surgery!

I knew that was something I never wanted to do. But, I also knew I needed to start thinking about reducing—not to be thin so others would like me—but for health reasons, alone.

So when I had my epiphany I thought: “Hey, that recumbent bike in the basement that has become a clothes hanger… Why not get on that thing and recreate the bike ride I started in Aspen years earlier!  Maybe this time, I attempt to ride it longer than 5 minutes.”   So, I began to create my imaginary story afresh in my mind.  I started on June 18th and so far I’ve ridden 30 miles!

In my imaginary world, I’ve escaped the sarcastic and negative lifestyle of Aspen and I’m now spending the day in Carbondale, Colorado… Why, maybe tonight I can travel far enough to make it all the way to Glenwood Springs where, on my imaginary bike ride, I can relax in the hot springs pool there before starting the long trek down I-70 into Denver where I’ll need to make a major decision on which direction to go.

The neat thing is, if I decide to change directions—I can; if I decide I want to go to Hawaii on my bike—I can, because it’s imaginary and one can do whatever they want in an imaginary world…even ride on water!

You see, we all have the ability to utilize the right sides of our brains and, if it helps one get their bodies into a healthy state of being, so much the better.   So, put down that remote and decide just what your choice of travel will be (i.e., walking, biking, running) and start doing. Let your mind take you to wherever you want to go. You, too, will find you have more energy, a better mindset to face actual daily obstacles, and can bring you closer to God—since its God’s gift of imagination to us that allows us to go any where in this world.

May He bless you all, and (oh, yes) happy travels!

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