We made it!!! Thanks a million for everyone's support! If you would still like to join us in support of young adults with cancer and First Descents, please visit my page to make a donation. http://teamfd.firstdescents.org/2010/fd/hughes/

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get Lost

Michigan. Done and done. Thank goodness! There is not one road in Michigan that follows a straight path (or at least not one that we have seen) resulting in a million directions and turns to make it across the state. Well, not all roads are signed and some roads change names and for whatever number of reasons, we found ourselves lost a handful of times. Somehow, we made it from Washington through Wisconsin without any difficulty, but managed to get lost in Michigan five times. So, thankfully we have made it to the Michigan/Canada border together. Amidst the chaos, my friend emailed me an insert from one of our favorite reflections. This reflection is one small section from the reflection book provided to the physical therapy group in the Dominican Republic in 2009 composed by Father Patrick Malone. Thanks, Fr. Pat, you are such an inspiration!

"So get out of your zone; go where you are uncomfortable; get lost. It is there you may learn. What is certain is that you will fail. You may discover that others do not notice your sacrifice; they may not care about your wildest dreams, your crushing disappointments. That is as it should be; the point of going is to discover your strongest resolve, your most honest prayer, your deepest sense of gratitude. It is here we discover our desire to love without bounds, to be generous without reason, to be courageous without self-preservation. Here, and only here, where we do not feel safe or protected, we risk getting rid of the timidity, self-absorption, and the overly frequent self-judgments that have enclosed us."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Thank goodness for sunshine!!! Everything is much better now that the sun has decided to come out and play. This is no longer the hardest thing I have ever done…this is soo much fun! And yes, I may have an ounce of ADHD…ooh, shiny penny, ooh, sunshine…the crazy cloudy, dreary, rainy, gloomy days are a thing of the past. My thoughts and feelings are best described in a (should’ve been made for TV movie) ultra-cheesy 1995 blockbuster, “The Brady Bunch Movie.”
“I think I’ll go for a walk outside now
The summer sun’s callin my name
(I hear ya now)
I just can’t stay inside all day
I gotta get out get me some of those rays
Everybody’s smilin
Sunshine day
Everybody’s laughin
Sunshine day
Everybody seems so happy today
It's a sunshine day."

Currently, we are up to three days of sunshine and more is on the way. AND it was in the 70s today for the first time since Montana. WOW!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Honest Truth

This is hard! This is really hard! This is officially the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!!!

After this week, I am mentally exhausted and homesick. Having my sister here was super awesome, but it did make me homesick...for my family (all but Mom, of course), for my friends, for a bed, for a nice shower, for the certainty of a warm place to be every night, for jeans and fleece and scarves instead of spandex. Okay, not so much the last one. We all secretly love spandex. But don't go crazy, America...spandex is a privilege, not a right. Haha!

I digress...ah yes, this week could be classified as complete mental breakdown week. At this point, me completing a cross-country bike trip is no longer a question of physical strength, power, and/or endurance. It is entirely a mental game. It's convincing myself to get out of a warm sleeping bag, wearily trudge to the bathroom, don another round of oh-so-flattering spandex, pack up camp (by this point, I am frozen), get on my bike, and pedal teetering the line between pedaling fast enough to warm-up, but not too fast to freeze in the wind.

You may have guessed by now...the most mentally exhausting portion of this journey is the weather. Did you know that literally EVERY town we have stayed in since Cut Bank, MT is having an "unseasonably" cold or wet or cold and wet week/summer/year? Take that combined with the tropical storms changing the wind patterns and I am having an "unseasonably" difficult ride. In the past eight days (since the halfway point), we have had two days of sunshine with temps in the 60s and six days of clouds, rain, and temps in the low 50s. Three days ago, I took a forced rest break due to rain...and by rain, I mean 6.5-7 inches in 24 hours in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! It is insane or shall we say "unseasonable."

At least amidst the mental exhaustion/mental breakdown, I am still riding well. I am currently in St. Ignace, MI and will be crossing from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan first thing in the morning. We detoured to Mackinac Island this morning for breakfast, sightseeing, and SHOPPING! Yea for end of season sales on winter apparel when in the rest of the country it isn't even winter yet!!! Shopping makes me happy! :) New coats make me happy too! Sunshine will make me even happier...come on Mother Nature, we are all cheering for you!

My favorite quote of today from Mackinac Island: One surry driver (aka horse drawn carriage driver) said to another surry driver, "Have you ever considered peeing yourself just to warm up?" Yep, that pretty much captures the attitude towards the "unseasonably" cold, damp air.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Yep! This week, we had visitors! My sister (Diane) and nephews (Joseph, Andrew, and Thomas) came to visit. They arrived on Saturday evening (yay!) and left this afternoon (tear!).

It was so wonderful to have visitors! We stayed at a really nice KOA kampground for two days...so, while I was off biking...they were jumping on the jumping pillow, playing miniature golf, and playing on the playground (yes, I was a bit jealous). But at the end of the day, it was a treat to come back to a camp of stories and excitement about the days activities and then back to the jumping pillow we would go...your legs can never be too tired for the jumping pillow. Haha. For the next two nights, we stayed with friends of theirs at a YMCA camp. Oh my goodness, a huge thank you to the Grover family. You have no idea how amazing it is to be indoors and in a bed for two nights in a row. Ahhh, a little taste of heaven right there! The food was fantastic and served around a real table with real plates and silverware. Welcome back to normalcy! Then, the nights rounded out with a game of UNO or Yahtzee. Great times!

Thanks a million to my sister and her boys for joining us on this journey. Matt, we missed you! I think my sister has a new found appreciation for the seemingly endless challenges of this adventure. And while we warned her, my sister was rudely awakened to the world of camping in the cold. Have fun in Denver next week where it is going to be 85 degrees...you didn't need to rub it in!

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Descents on ESPN.com

Hey everyone--

Thanks a million for everyone's support and encouragement to date. For those of you who are new to the scene, I am currently biking across the country as a means to increase awareness about the problem that is young adult cancer and to support the cause that is First Descents.

Anywho, ESPN.com just rocked an article about First Descents. Thought I would pass it along for your reading enjoyment and to further your understanding about an organization that means so much to so many. Happy Reading! http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/thelife/news/story?id=5543425 (if you can't get the link to open, right click on it and open in a new tab or new window. Sorry, it is being temperamental.)

To learn more about First Descents, visit their webpage at http://www.firstdescents.org
To donate to First Descents, visit my fundraising page at: http://teamfd.firstdescents.org/2010/fd/hughes/mary/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Halfway Across the United States Hump Day!

Happy Wednesday! Happy hump day! Happy halfway across the United States hump day!

Current biking progress:
Pacific Coast: check
Cascade Mountains: check
Sonora Desert: check
Foothills of the Rockies: check
Rocky Mountains: check
The Northern Great Plains: check
Part of the Midwest: check
Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota: check, check, check, check, check

Yep, that pretty much describes it. I am near the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. Yesterday during the ride across eastern Minnesota, I officially crossed the halfway point of this journey. I am halfway across the United States of America! One minute it feels like it is going by so quickly and the next it seems like it has been an eternity. Did you really ever stop to think how far 4000+ miles is? If there wasn't joy and beauty to counter the pain and laughter to counter the tears, 4000 miles would be an unbearably long way. But the joy is in the journey!

Mother Nature has been totally PMSing for the past 2 weeks and it is about time she pulled herself together. I think she was crying tears of joy for my halfway day, but to me it just felt like cold rain. Boo! However, it did lead to an entire day of laughter. Being ever-optimistic, I departed this morning in bike shorts, a short sleeve jersey, and a windbreaker. Ha! That was the first mistake. After three miles, I was soaking wet and freezing. Good thing mom had randomly stopped on the side of the road six miles outside of town, because I was frfrfrfreezing. The first picture was when I still looked like a normal cyclist. But by the time I added enough layers to be both warm and dry, I looked like a circus clown on a bicycle (insert next picture). Haha! Happy halfway across the United States hump day!

From here we are heading north (brrr!) through Wisconsin to the Northern Pennisula of Michigan with a minor detour to Mackinaw Island. From there, heading southeast across Michigan to the Canadian side of Lake Erie. eh, Canada! Then, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Bam!

Okay, picture to come later. This internet connection is slow as molasses. Sorry!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ode to the Winds of North Dakota

Ode to the Winds of North Dakota

You push, I push back.
You lean, I lean back.
You push harder, I push back.
You lean harder, I lean back.
You slap me across the face, I turn the other cheek.
You push, you lean, you slap, you shove.
You scream, you shout, you howl, you yell.

You push me around.
You throw me off course.
You stop me dead in my tracks.
You lean on me when I’m not strong.
You scream so loud, I can’t hear myself think.
And though you nearly tip me over
And though you bring me to tears
So long as every pedal stroke results in forward progression,
I will not surrender. I will not retreat. I will prevail.

Dear Winds of North Dakota,
This is not a threat. This is simply a self-reminder. But headwind for the past five out of six riding days is ridiculous. I walked into the gas station, restaurant, movie store, service station (you know the type) and everyone stared at me as if I were insane. Well, they might be right. You are driving me to INSANITY! Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic. But really, why must you be such a bully—pushing and shoving and screaming and now spitting (rain). Do I get a swirly tomorrow? Great! Looking forward to it.
Until tomorrow,

Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cinco Consecutive Century Challenge

One correction from a previous post from "Day Four: the Day of Firsts." I was NOT the biker who crashed in the gravel (everyone, knock on wood RIGHT NOW!). The boy from a teenage couple popped his tire and crashed in the gravel, scraping up his leg pretty bad. Mom--The Good Samaritan--stopped to help, picked him up, put his bike on the car, drove him down to the country store, and helped him clean out his wounds. Good work, Mom!

Anyways, I know I have been uber slow at blogging lately. Sorry! But I do have a good reason.

From a previous post, you know that I completed my first ever century while crossing the Continental Divide. Being a wee-bit competitive, I decided that it would be feasible--though a challenge--to complete three consecutive centuries. Well, in the matter of about a day, three turned into five, which became the Cinco Consecutive Century Challenge. Who do I think I am? She-ra? Wonder woman? Somebody who is actually in great physical shape? Ha, not by a long shot...but I am allowed to dream and set impossible goals.

Well, kids. "It's possible! For the world is full of zanies and fools who don't believe in sensible rule, and don't believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewey eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes impossible things are happening every day. It's possible!" Name that Disney movie...1...2...3...Cinderella.

It's possible! I completed the Cinco Consecutive Century Challenge! Five century rides (100 miles) in the past five days. Bam!

Century 1: Awesome tailwind. Good start!
Century 2: Mild tailwind...still a good thing.
Century 3: Wicked crosswind. Doable, but a struggle. It's a good thing the day started with Latin dancing on the side of the highway (not kidding) to loosen up the Latin hips because today was all about holding onto the handlebars and keeping my hips loose. I got a side cramp after 75 miles because apparently my obliques aren't strong enough to do a side crunch ALL DAY! Left Montana, entered North Dakota!
Century 4: Awesome breakfast, awesome ride!
Century 5: Headwind, headwind, relentless headwind. Pain, tears, exhaustion. First ever ride after sundown. Beautiful, peaceful, amazing. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight. My wish came true...I FINISHED!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!


Single tree in the middle of a field. Why? Is this a metaphor for life?

The road less traveled

Worst road conditions...tax dollars hard at work

Welcome to North Dakota!

Funniest sign! It was posted in the women's restroom, hence the gentlemen part is crossed out.

Geographical Center of North America and opening weekend of college football. Go Hawkeyes!