NoBo on the Natchez: Just About Ready to Roll

In a little less than a week we’ll set out on bikes to cycle 444 miles northbound on the Natchez Trace. The timing of it makes us smile because it will be exactly a year and a day since we left to ride our bikes across the country on the Northern Tier route.

Will there be push ups, planks and daily prayers again – the same as when we cycled the Northern Tier? Yep! Tom’s been keeping up with all three of them.  Me, just the prayers.  The push ups and planks are going to hurt. What can I say? Life gets busy.

We’re riding gravel bikes this time and using different bike bags so there are some adjustments with the packing. Since we’re moving to a bikepacking set up instead of road touring we need to cut the gear and clothing in about half.  Tom’s pretty well set but I def need to get my mind right. If you recall, last time I had a hard time parting with my camp chair? Yep that and more went home with my sister from Fargo – too much extra weight.

This time I’m having a hard time parting with the tarp that Tom says we need to leave home. Who wants to do push ups with their nose in the dirt?  #notme

And there will be no more big grocery stops for food as we’ll be using the grab ‘n go approach to meals and cooking a lot simpler. That means we need to leave the second cook pan, spices, cutting board and spatula at home. But. These bikes are sweet! They’re lightweight, agile and ride like a BMW.

We’ve been getting some outdoor rides in the past few weeks getting our legs, lungs and back ends ready.  I think of all the rides we’ve been on however, the ride to and from the Indy 500 track on a practice day was the most memorable/eventful as we rode bikes home in gale force winds.

The Trace is sort of a warm up ride for the route the bikes are really made for and one we will ride in North Carolina in just a couple weeks, and ultimately another long distance route we hope to ride in 2020. So we are in the process of planning the work and working the plan.

And oh yea, we thought it might be kinda fun to ride bikes in every state since we’ve already run a marathon in every state.  Soooo… we’ll be knocking off three states this trip and the blue will turn to green on the diagram to the right.

If the weather forecasters are correct we’re in for some hot days.  But, given the likelihood, or rather the unlikelihood, of being right based on the forecasts lately here in Indy, who knows what weather we’ll cycle through.

More on our bike travels down yonder in the deep south to come…


It May Not Be a Christmas Miracle but it Sure Felt Like One

We’ve kind of settled in after returning from the bike ride about six months ago, and although we don’t talk about it as much as we did, at least once a day a memory from the ride flashes by, a lesson learned is recalled, a new friend fondly thought of, or our sense of wanderlust, rekindled.  But we know we can only “ride out” an adventure for so long until it’s time to start planning another one (or two).

What about that little Christmas miracle? About a week before Christmas I received news that a donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry was misplaced. It wasn’t just any donation, it was THE largest donation. It was a $1,000 check. Unfortunately the check dated in August was void after 30 days.

After a few phone calls, we got it straightened out and gratefully the Pantry was able to cash a new check, however, the donor remains anonymous. We know only what bank it was drawn from but not much else.  Whoever you are, thank you. It really seemed like a little Christmas miracle. It was unexpected. Is is so appreciated.

And finally Happy Birthday to this guy.  Welcome to your 60’s Tom!


When ya’ll were 21 years old, how did you envision your life at 60?

At 60, I’m wondering how Tom is envisioning his life at 70. That, I think, will be the topic of conversation tonight on date night.

It’s Festival Time! Mudfest, Sweatfest, Splashfest, Sufferfest and best of all, a Lovefest

Yep we are beginning to fall into the category of people who think that the number of bikes you need is n+1, where n equals your current number of bikes. Jon at Carmel Cyclery did a nice job hooking us up with Specialized Stumpjumpers and just like that, we became [novice] mountain bikers and headed for the trails.

Not gonna lie. The timing could have been better as it’s nearing the end of the season but we were able to get back down to Brown County, Town Run and then ride in our first gravel ride event. We’d never heard of gravel rides before but they seem to be a cross between road cycling (in that there is very little single track) and mountain biking (very little traffic).  We changed out flat pedals with SPDs and headed down to ride the Gravel Grovel in Hoosier National Forest for the 20 mile fun ride on our Stumpys.  Why just the 20? Better to start something new and leave with the thought, “I can’t wait to do that again” rather than, “No way I’m doing that again.”  Having just had a significant amount of rain, there was ample mud and slosh which added to the adventure. Hence the mudfest.  Now we can’t wait to ride the 60 miler next year!


Although Tom’s always been a gym rat, for me getting back to it for spin classes has been a bit more problematic.  Since the last time I took a spinning class the spin bikes have been equipped with mini computers that provide plenty of data to let you know if you’re working hard enough, or in my case, cheating. Apparently, even though I’m sweating like crazy, I need to cycle [a lot] harder to increase my wattage.  For example, Tom averages over 200 watts in an hour long class and easily gets in 20 miles. The highest I can crank out, is low 130’s in 18 miles.  Little wonder the man kicked booty in the mountains. His legs and heart are so strong.  We have a ride picked out in early summer with 5,000 feet of daily climbing. I’m going to need to work a lot harder in the sweatfest.


I returned to the gym to spin because of a running injury and I’m taking two months off running to heal up. To keep my cardio going, besides spinning and trying to keep up with Tom, I figured it might be fun to get back in the pool. I think it’s been eight years or so? I know the elastic in my one piece swimsuit was dry rotted if that’s any indication of how long it’s been.  The lap swimming looks more like a splashfest than a workout but I know time in the pool, help from my friend and patience will go a long way in improvement. And it’s kind of like golf… I need to keep my head down.


Festivities continue with the sufferfest.  Yoga. It will be fun, he says.  There’s a 12 day yoga challenge at Lifetime, he says. You could win a prize, he says. Again, I haven’t done yoga in about five years but the word “challenge” gets me every time.

Oh. My. Gosh.  Yesterday’s flow class took more energy and strength than climbing Kancamagus Pass on a fully loaded steel bike. Nevermind, I don’t know yoga vocabulary. Nevermind I have the flexibility of a lead pencil. Nevermind I have a shoulder injury from going at it too hard in the pool and can’t raise my right arm above my head. It got to the point in class that I could do nothing more than collapse in pigeon pose while Tom and others cycled through their vinyasas, warrior threes, flipped down dogs and fallen stars.  But… I’m going back for more yoga tomorrow for an easier class.  I’m gonna get that 12 day challenge y’all, despite the sufferfest.


In early November I traveled to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for an event hosted by Run.RiseRetreatLindsey Hein of I’ll Have Another was the moderator of the live event that featured one female runner each from their 30s, 40s and 50s.  There were about 80 attendees, mostly female runners.  There was so much love and good energy in the room!

I enjoyed sharing what running has meant to me in the last 30+ years. It’s connected me with some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. It’s gotten me through some of the most painful life experiences as well as provided so much time for solitude, prayer and reflection when on long, solo runs.

However, it was a bit humbling to sit between two such accomplished women, Katie, a rockstar speedster and Jess, an endurance shebeast. I won’t forget what Jess shared, “It doesn’t always get worse.”  Good mantra to remember when I’m in yoga class, spinning or trying to swim to the other side of the pool. If you want to give the podcast episode a listen, it’s Episode 152.


And finally, a few days ago an article about our friend Whitney was published in the The Criterion.  Whitney’s jaw-dropping conversion story and the impact Back on My Feet and his faith in God have had on his life is worth the read. When people have the courage to share their stories, it spreads hope and promise that restoration and healing can take place. Reactions from his story in the article have been nothing short of a lovefest.


song lyrics

Reaching Across the Aisle: Cycling Style

Can roadies really learn to love mountain biking? I like to think of that as reaching across the aisle, cycling style. That’s what happened the past two weekends when at first, we rode the Hilly Hundred in Morgan, Monroe and Owen counties, and the following weekend rode in the Big Woods Brown County EPIC Mountain Bike Festival in Brown county.

Being #TomandDeb we camped both nights, both weekends and you’ll see us wearing the same cycling jerseys we wore on Northern Tier. Apparently we are attached to them.

Hilly Hundred

We thought what the heck, how much effort would two back-to-back 50 mile rides on hilly terrain riding carbon bikes actually take after finishing a 4,100 mile summer bike ride on steel bikes fully loaded through several mountain passes. Although we hadn’t ridden the Hilly in about ten years we knew now would be a good time to return.

And we weren’t disappointed.  Stellar weather, incredible organization, well marked scenic routes and SAGs that were so well provisioned with food, apple cider and live music I thought I was at a family reunion. CIBA just knows how to get things done right.


What left me with the greatest impression at the end of the weekend was the volunteerism. So. Many. Volunteers.  To put this event on successfully, there were so many helpers. All smiling. All eager to help.

We’re going back next year and you know what? It’s going to be a lot harder for us.  Mount Tabor will feel like it really is, a short steep climb, instead of a little bump in the road for a couple of roadies who are still reminiscing about climbing along the Northern Tier.

Big Woods Brown County Epic Mountain Bike Festival

Gotta admit I was a little apprehensive. I don’t think I’d ever been on a “real” mountain bike before and mistakenly thought any bike without drop handle bars could be considered a mountain bike. Ooops. #wrong

On a whim, we signed up for the festival mostly because it was something new, it was on bikes and outdoors. Keep in mind neither of us have mountain bikes and Tom had been on a mountain bike proper only once. So he rented one and I rode a demo bike.

At registration Friday night, there were even a few raised eyebrows when I admitted to being a firsty.  One person might have even asked, “And you picked this festival, the EPIC for your first ride?” Hummm that was a little daunting.

But, everything is easier when you first start because peeps expect you to make mistakes. There’s no pressure. It’s all for fun.  A couple friends came down for the day and we were fortunate to ride in a women’s only group that included some instruction and support while Tom was left to fend for himself. Props for the EPIC event organizers to plan for this.

The moment I clipped in I knew it was going to be fun but borderline terrifying at the same time. Whereas on the road bike I can let my mind go, say prayers, work out emotions and pedal hard, the mountain bike ride requires 100% focus in the moment. Not the last moment. Not the next moment. The present moment.

From the warm up on the grass to experiencing maybe just a little bit of flow for the first time cycling on a trail, I was hooked.  And it sure doesn’t hurt that the demo bike was a women’s specific, top-of-the-line, full suspension, carbon bike that handled so well it felt like it had wings.

Uber props also to the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association whose volunteers are responsible for building and maintaining 27 miles of mountain bike trails. Twenty. Seven. Miles. This extraordinary effort draws so many cyclists and their families to the area, not only for this event, but throughout the year. Again, the spirit of volunteerism for the love of the sport and the outdoors is remarkable.

Yep we will probs be returning to this event next year as well. The EPIC event organizers took care of every detail. Can we just all agree it was one EPIC post ride party with campfires, food and bevvies from Big Woods Brewery and live music?

Not sure if the love affair with a single chain ring and full suspension will continue but for now it’s a hot romance and I guess we are buying mountain bikes this weekend and going to learn how to do that. There’s always something new to learn.

And oh yea, about learning something new. I also picked up a volunteer gig for which I’m not yet qualified but am stoked about because it’s connected to cycling. I’m helping coordinate social media for Carmel Cyclery.

If you have a second, would you show me and Carmel Cyclery a little social media love by liking them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?  And hey, I’m open to your comments both about Carmel Cyclery’s social media and mountain biking. Remember, with beginners there’s no pressure; it’s all fun.

At the end of the day, consider us just a couple of friendly amateur cyclists learning how to cross the aisle from road to dirt, cycling style and being a little outspokein’ about it.

#acaNoTier Wrapping Up our Coast to Coast Northern Tier Ride


Tom and I wrapped up our Norther Tier ride just a little over a week ago and have some final thoughts we’d like to share, some numbers and finally one last video. Thanks so much to family, friends and followers for the love and encouragement.

Tom and Deb

From Tom:

I am sitting here in my kitchen thinking about this past few months.  It all kind of seems like a dream.  An experience of a lifetime and hard to put in to words.  Here a list of my thoughts:

  • It took about two weeks to peel away the layers of a lifetime of work and not think about work, emails, projects, etc.
  • Going to bed at night thinking about the upcoming weather, wind direction and knowing it is totally out of our control
  • Looking at the maps and planning out our next weeks of riding with a goal of averaging 70 miles a day.
  • Looking at the next days ride and planning out our 2nd breakfast about 20 miles down the road
  • Walking into the Saloon in our spandex and every cowboy’s head turned at the same time to give us the eye as we walked through the front door
  • Pulling out of our campground the third day and going the wrong way, about 8 miles the wrong direction down a big descent. Turning around and now going back up in the right direction.  Learning to never start a ride with out turning on my Garmin and finding the course first
  • Getting our morning camping routine down:
    • Tom pack up the sleeping bags, thermarests, tent
    • Deb fire up the stove and cook up coffee, and oatmeal with Craisins and walnuts
    • Pushups and Planks
    • Prayers of gratitude for yesterday’s ride and prayers for today’s ride.
  • Eating Paydays and peanut M&Ms – not on the post riding diet 😊
  • My 15 mile chats with God, praying for so, so many things that were absolutely answered
  • Waking up each morning for the first few weeks with a little uneasiness of riding on the busy roads with little shoulder with semis/logging trucks. By the end of the ride, having no fear, and 100% faith that God is sheltering us from drivers, mechanical issues, and providing us with mental/physical strength to finish each day.
  • Applying layers and layers of sunscreen
  • Getting the blog done at the end of each day (hoping we had phone connection)
  • The comfort of getting into the tent while camping and being so comfortable and the wonderful satisfaction of a good day of riding.
  • Making the decision to get Deb a front rack and having her front bags shipped to us in West Glacier. Also getting her new touring tires:  A no brainer after the fact
  • Looking back at our daily videos and seeing our happy, happy faces totally enjoying our journey
  • Doing a Fred Flintstone the final short hill to our finishline, brakes fully engaged, but having to stop myself with my shoes. Perfect timing for my brake pads to expire with over 5000 miles on brake pads and tires 😊.
  • The greatest memory will be all the wonderful, kind people we met along the way!!!!

It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 12 miles an hour with my true love.

From Deb:

Each night I still dream about the bike trip, in a good way.  Yet when I’m awake the bike trip seems like a dream. Did Tom and I really ride 4,132 miles across the country, camping out, pedaling hard up mountain passes and coasting wicked fast down the other side, eating like teenagers, and spending over 23 hours a day together? Dang!

The night Tom and I returned to Indiana we were able to see all of our bigs and littles and realized on our way home from Sahm’s Place we heard sounds in Indiana we didn’t hear in any of the 11 states we visited. Indiana night sounds. And we’d missed them. Well not as much as we missed the fam, but still, we missed them enough to “camp out” one last night on our screen porch. It’s as if knowing we were safely home, there was still one last little bit of our ride we didn’t want to let go of, sleeping outdoors, even with the stank bags.

Although I acclimate quickly, I am missing the silence I experienced during a good part of the day on the bike. There is so much busy-ness and noise in most every moment and this chases away quiet time and thoughts.

And this… Cycle over 4,000 miles across the country, legs not sore.  Run four miles at a 9:33 pace a week later, sore as heck! The saying , “use it or lose it” appears to be true.  And that goes for most anything. Rote tasks performed before the bike trip now take some thinking. And I forget everything. It will all come back, including the running and most of the rote memory, but I will say it’s refreshing to look at the world with “new” eyes.

I’m so grateful for Tom who helped make this cycling adventure unforgettable as he navigated and led us safely across the country. All I had to do was follow Tom, not follow the map.  He waited patiently at every turn so I wouldn’t miss it, redirected me a couple times when I did, and was always up for an ice cream, second breakfast and breaking out another Pay Day. He is a font of positivity.  What do you think it’s like to live with a person like that? What do you think it’s like to BE a person like that?

Fr. Jim’s prayer for us was: I pray you are both well and that each day’s journey continues to be a gift from God. May God give you the strength you need to endure and the presence of mind to grasp the beauty  of God’s creation and the kindness of strangers. Prayers answered, Fr. Jim.

What’s next for us?  Unquestionably there will be more bike tours, although probably not as long as the Northern Tier at least for the next couple years.  Not sure we will ever do an organized tour as it’s a lot of fun doing our own thing. And we have our eyes set on a long distance hike but haven’t chosen one yet.

For now though, the sleeping bags are laundered and stowed, the Whisperlite stove retired and replaced with a Jenn-Aire cooktop and the old 1995 Cannondale Touring bike has been thoroughly cleaned and lubed. That bike will always be my favorite.


FundRiding Update:

Contributions are still coming in for St. Vincent de Paul and Back on My Feet and these links have more information on each organization and how to donate. If pledges were made for number of miles ridden, nights camping or century rides completed, see the above infographic for stats.  If your circumstances have changed, any amount is appreciated.

Tom and I were back running with team members from Back on My Feet last Friday and were welcomed back with the rain. No worries the miles and smiles made the rain hardly noticeable. And besides, we’re used to it. This Thursday evening we will head back to the SVdP Food Pantry.

Thank you to those who have already donated.  Both organizations are careful stewards of your donations.

What About the Prayer Intentions:

I’m still praying. I’d welcome an update if prayers are answered or need to be changed. Click here or email me at All are confidential. 🙂

#acaNoTier Orland to Bar Harbor, 47 Miles | Northern Tier Complete!

Riding Stats


Route Tracker

We made it!! We rode our bikes across the country almost 4,200 miles!

Tonight we are celebrating that accomplishment and giving thanks to God for a safe journey.

Stay tuned for a overall ride recap and stats but until then here’s a recap of today’s ride:


#acaNoTier Camden to East Orland, 38 Miles | One More Day!

Riding Stats


Route Tracker

From Tom:

Deb and I woke up all cozied up lying in front a huge screen door in a beautiful loft at the Peats’ house, our Warmshower host. We weren’t really anxious to get going since this was our second to the last day and we don’t want this adventure to end.

First, I always checks bike tires and gives a high five when there are no flats. We have only woken up to two flat tires on the trip. Others happened while on the road.

We got our bags all packed and put on our bikes in the garage. We headed inside and Stephen/Susan had the French coffee press brewing coffee. Fresh fruit and homemade granola was on the table. 😁. We didn’t want to leave, but nice weather and our campground in Orland was calling our name. Stephen gave us directions to our route and we were off. We got a mile in and a rider stopped us to chat. She asked if we stayed at the Peats “yes” 😁.

We headed down the road and wanted to stop at the market owned by Jon Fishman, drummer of Phish. It was cool. Other bikers rolled in and asked a bunch of questions, one being “did you stay with the Peats”? Our Warmshower host has quite the reputation in the biking area. On we went riding through one village to another. We purposely had short days for our last two days so we could go slow and really enjoy Maine.

We are now sitting in our beautiful last campground of our trip. Our son John is on his way to meet us at the finish line tomorrow and successfully made it to his destination of Albany, NY for the night. We can’t wait to venture on tomorrow for our last day riding into Bar Harbor.


What do you think you will miss the most about your journey once you are home and have resumed your “normal” life? Deb: Hard to say what I will miss the most. The people we met and talked to of course are always just the best but also I loved the simplicity of life and at the end of the day measuring what was accomplished toward goal. It was a concrete and fun way to rehash the day. Tom: I’ll miss not knowing what’s going on in the world. The media is so negative and it’s nice not to tune in. Instead I’ll miss meeting all the new positive people. I’ll also miss my 15 mile conversations with God each day.

Besides the wildlife, what about the roadkill? Haha this question came from a fellow cross country cyclist. Lots of variety in the roadkill from state to state. And I held my breath while passing every single one. Poor animals and Yuck! I almost ran over a live honey badger once in Wisconsin.

Did you learn anything about yourself/each other? Deb: Another really great question and one I have been thinking about a lot already. Tom and I have spent a lot of time together these last 8-9 weeks. I mean a LOT! I discovered that we both say “huh” a lot. Either our hearing is going bad or we aren’t listening to each other. Lol. Also, whereas I’m all about getting to the destination and settling in, Mr. Tom is curious and likes to check things out. I never knew this about him. Things I learned about myself – I like to think a lot about things and miss when I can’t jot down thoughts. Hard to do with hands on handlebars. Tom: At the end of a day, if things don’t go as planned (for example the Google Maps lady gives bad directions) I get frustrated.

How many Calories did you have to eat to maintain your health?Calories in Calories out? We didn’t count calories and we ate a lot. We ate things we very seldom eat at home (sweets) but the day to day cycling amped up our appetite like crazy. We did not intentionally consume more calories, our bodies just asked for it out of necessity. Also we were mindful of including protein for muscle repair and fresh vegetables when possible. Tom ate an apple or two just about every day, Deb had her bananas. We used Tom’s Garmin to track miles but he didn’t wear his heart monitor so the calories burnt figure isn’t accurate. For example yesterday it said he burned 3,000 calories. He probably burned at least a couple hundred more.

What was your biggest challenge element-wise and how did you handle it? For both of us it was being so cold in Montana. It was early June, rainy and we were cold, especially our hands and feet. We had our Goretex gloves sent from home and that took care of it. We also used our leg warmers when it was cold and rainy. Huge help!

Will you ever wear those riding clothes again? Deb: Yes but not for at least a week. Tom: The jerseys, yes. They have held up well. The cycling shorts may not make it out of Bar Harbor.

Besides family, what did you miss the most while being away? Deb: Well I definitely missed family the most. Especially at the end of Wisconsin I was getting pretty homesick and anxious that I wasn’t going to be at home when little #3 was born. Other than family I missed time with my running buds and daily Mass. It’s such a great way to start the day and as much as I miss family time (a lot) I miss friend time, too. Tom: At the beginning I felt like my brain was going to mush. It was just decompressing from work, etc. I missed my son moving back to Indy and my other son and his wife moving into their new home.

Have you missed running? Deb: No but I have missed seeing my running buddies! I’ll start running again right when I get back. Tom: I have not miss running. I now enjoy cycling more than running.

Laundry is my big question- all the bike shorts. Great question! Both of us brought only two pair of bike shorts. We did laundry (in a washer/dryer) about once a week. If possible we rinsed shorts out at night and either dried them on the back of the bike bag as we rode the next day or many times, put them on wet the next morning. (Worst feeling ever for Deb). Sometimes we actually had to wear them the next day without washing. Yuck I know.

What aren’t you going to miss? Deb: Putting on cold, wet dirty bike shorts in the morning and deer fly fests. Tom: Will not miss my smelling sleeping pad and bag and unpacking a wet tent.

The original Northern Tier route goes through Iowa and Illinois and then to the east. What path did you follow? There are three basic options cyclists have for getting around Lake Michigan. The Main Route goes through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since we live in Indiana we decided against that one. Another option goes up and over Lake Michigan. Again we decided against that one because we did a week long bike trip in the UP a couple years ago. Instead we did part of the North Lakes route (map 1 and 2) and rejoined the Northern Tier route with the Erie Connector Map. Cyclists take the US Badger ferry across Lake Michigan. This was a lot of fun and worked out very well because we then took a rest day and got our bikes tuned up in Ludington.

How much money do I need doing the same as you did? Tom is good about tracking expenses so we will post that after we get back, the total and the average daily cost. You could do it more expensively or also cut some expenses. We used our credit card for 95% of the trip (we get points) so it will be easy to figure.

What do you think “re-entry” will be like? Deb: For me re-entry will last about a day because I acclimate quickly. And the Northern Tier Ride will seem like a dream. I will be thinking about this trip for a long, long time. Tom: Well I’m going to work the Monday after I get back and home and at the end of that day it will seem like the ride didn’t happen. Life will presumably go back to “normal.”

How many tubes of sunscreen, bug spray, and chapstick? Sun screen – 3 with some left over, bug spray – 2 with some left over, chapstick – 3 with some left over.

How bad do your bottom and palms of hands hurt? All pretty good now! Took awhile to get the parts working together. Lol

Who was the most interesting person that you ran into and why? We have talked about this a couple times and it’s the most difficult to answer. It’s like asking what marathon was our favorite to run or what state was our fave. Each person has added value and inspiration to our trip from the rancher at Waucunda Pass, to Kate in Rochester, to Will the Harley rider in West Leyden and there were so many more. More recently we were so inspired John and Stephen, two separate Warm Shower hosts.

What have been your bathroom options on those long rides Deb? No bathrooms for miles & miles…Clearly it would have been much easier for Tom…lol Both of us have learned to be very creative with bio breaks. Let’s just say there is no shame between us, we are fast and we carry TP and zip lock bags (leave no trace).