Day 62 – Holy Hills, Made it to Pennsylvania, 5 More Lessons Learned

From the landscape, it is obvious Pennsylvania does not want to be confused with Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois.

Holy Hills

Today was all about the rolling hills. More rolling hills than Missouri, and I thought those were crazy. More hill climbs than Deer Mountain in Utah or the Continental Divide in Colorado, and I thought those were insane. My total ascent today was 7,019 – that’s “total feet climbed.” Let me put this into perspective. When I climbed Carson Pass in Tahoe, my total ascent was 8,674. When I climbed Cedar Mountain in Utah with Alan and the kids, our total ascent was 8,400. And the total ascent for Continental Divide was only(!?) 4,768.

Today’s Route: Hubbard, OH to Knox, PA

I crossed the PA border this morning, making this state #10. Only 1 more “Welcome” sign to go. Today not only did I climb a lot of hills, I rode a lot of miles. 81 miles in total. Long, hilly, and hot. The temperature was in the high 80s, but the humidity was low. I started on some busy roads with moderate shoulders and then moved to country roads with less traffic but no shoulders. The latter proves just as challenging because I ride with one eye in my rearview mirror looking for cars, while I’m constantly waving to people who drive around me. I regularly miss Highway 50 …

5 More Lessons Learned

During my 81 miles of hills today, I marinated on the topic of “what lessons I’ve learned these past 2 months” in order to add to the list I started in yesterday’s blog. Here are 5 more:

  • People love to be waved at – It doesn’t matter if someone is in a semi, on a motorcycle, in a car, on a tractor, or standing on the side of the road, people love to wave back. They rarely initiate, but they always wave back. The wave signals recognition and we all just want to be recognized. (Living proof of Chp. 5 in my new Moxie for Managers book…)
  • Be intentional but with flexible expectations – I start each day with an intention of where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, and even what I’m going to eat. But if I don’t keep my expectations flexible, I’ll lose my mindset. For example, today a road closure forced us to change routes, while a few days ago I got derailed by a torrential downpour and a nail. I still made it to where I wanted to go, but just not as I had initially envisioned.
  • Animals don’t stand a chance on the open road. Wow, have we collectively run over a lot of animals. What started out as a way to entertain me has amassed a cult following out there.  Personally, I’m astounded at how many dead animals are on the road, and based on the number of cars and how fast everyone (myself included) drives, I shouldn’t be astounded.
  • Hills are more treacherous in Utah and Pennsylvania than in Colorado – Before I left, everyone warned me about the Rockies. Forget about it. The Rockies were easy compared to the climbs in Tahoe, Utah, and Pennsylvania. Now, for total elevation and altitude, the Rockies win.
  • In spite of what Verizon says, they do not cover the country, and in spite of what Dunkin’ Donuts says, the country does not run on Dunkin. Justin craved the latter, I was craving the former. I really believed I was going to get cell phone and Internet coverage everywhere. Turns out, places like Baker NV still use a land line and drive 8 miles out of town to some random intersection for cell coverage!

 Interesting Sights:

  • Majestic church (I’ve seen beautiful barns, but only unremarkable churches, until today – see picture below)
  • Cemetery established in 1796 (pictured above)
  • “P.Y.O. Blueberries” sign (pictured here)
  • Amish carriage carrying a group of tourists (are they evolving or just entrepreneurial?)
  • Store: “Twig’s Reloading Den” (what?…)

 Day 62 Stats

 Day 62 miles: 81.80 miles

Total miles: 3,832.98 miles

Day 62 ascent: 7,019 ft of elevation (I’m icing my knees as I type …)

Road kill count: 1,701

(Added 99 today. Here’s my theory: since the entire route was hilly, animals have no way of knowing if a car is coming when they step out into the road. Kind of like the advanced version of the game Frogger…)

Destination for Day 63: Woodland, PA

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Day 61 – Made it through Ohio, 9 Days Left, 5 Lessons Learned

When I woke up this morning, the landscape in Ohio had completely changed.

Today’s Route: Brunswick to Hubbard

For the last 2 days Ohio has wanted to be like Indiana and Illinois with its flat elevation and endless fields of corn. Today Ohio was a Missouri-wannabe with 12-15% rolling hills. I rode 75 miles in the suburbs between Cleveland and Akron and landed in a town on the border of Pennsylvania. A beautiful, low-humidity day in the 80s with no mosquitoes gnawing on me tonight.

Joe, the Lead Generator

I spotted a Starbucks in Brunswick this morning so I stopped for a chai tea latte. On my way out, Joe asked me about my cool bike, so I asked him about his cool job. He is a lead generator for companies and what he loves about smiling and dialing is the challenge of each phone call. He loves helping companies differentiate themselves from the initial phone call. From his comfortable demeanor, getting rejected on the phone clearly doesn’t faze Joe.

Jerome, the Telemarketer

As Justin was pulling into a parking lot, he heard Jerome call out from their car, “I love my job!” Like Joe, Jerome loves to smile and dial for a living. His exact words: “greatest job ever.” Why? “Because it lets me be somebody else.” He loves the challenge of getting people on the phone who are auto-angry (his word) and expecting to hang up, and then turning them around to offer them an opportunity. He also gushed about his boss. His exact words: “greatest boss ever.” Why? “Because she gets to know us on a personal level, cares about us, is a constant motivator, and gives me what I need to succeed.” And I had always assumed telemarketers hated their jobs!

9 days to go…

I am 9 days away from reaching the Jersey Shore. Hard to believe I’ve just spent the past 8 1/2 weeks on a bike and that this adventure is coming to an end. But the only end in this journey is the 6-7 hours/day cycling. The observations and musings around moxie and how people make work great will continue. Stay tuned. In the meantime, answer my 3 questions by Sun. July 25 (see blog Day 59) and I’ll send you my new book, Moxie for Managers. I’ve already received some great responses!

Lessons Learned

As this adventure draws to a close, I’m starting to think about some of the lessons I’ve learned. I’ll marinate on this while cycling and share some new ones each day. Here are 5:

  • It’s all about the mindset. If I start the day cognizant of what’s in store, it doesn’t matter how steep the hill, how jungle hot the weather, or how brutally long the distance.
  • Anything can be accomplished 10 miles at a time. 4,000+ miles is a crazy long way to ride, but when I break it into a series of 10-mile rides, it no longer seems insurmountable.
  • Somedays can be taken off the shelf at any time. I talked about riding across the country for 20 years. “Somedays” do not have an expiration date…they just get a little dusty.
  • Small towns intentionally foster connection and community. (What a great lesson for managers (and families) everywhere.)
  • Most of the country does not wake up each morning and indulge in a Starbucks. (…and apparently I don’t shrivel if I go without one for weeks at a time!)

Day 61 Stats

Day 61 miles: 75.24 miles

Day 61 ascent: 3,887 feet (undoubtedly this rebellious half of Ohio wants to act more like Pennsylvania…)

Total miles: 3,751.18 miles

Total interviews: 100

Road kill count: 1,602

(added 55 today, most of which were raccoons. Ohio must have a raccoon problem but as evidenced by the r.k. I’m pretty sure they have found their own environmentally conscious way of dealing with them…)

Destination for Day 62: State #10 – Pennsylvania!

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Day 60 – Found More Nice People (and the Frog Jump Capital) in Ohio

Another lovely day cycling in Ohio with more nice people in small communities.

Today’s Route

I started today on a beautiful bike path from Lindsey to Clyde. From there I joined the traffic on Route 20, a busy highway that, like Indiana’s Route 30, offered me a safe haven in a wide shoulder walled by a thick rumble strip. The last half of the ride I spent on a shoulder-less, rolling country road intersecting through small towns with patient (except for one jerk who must not have been from Ohio), vigilant drivers. For a change, the weather was fabulous – 25 degrees cooler than yesterday! I actually wore arm warmers for most of the day. All told, I clocked in about 80 miles today.

Bill on the Bike Path

I was talking to myself on the bike path when Bill caught up to me on his Trek bike. A regular rider, last year Bill rode over 4,000 miles. He is a retired electrical engineer who loved problem-solving outages. Prior to being an engineer, he taught high school math and science because he loves anything math. Bill was only going for a short ride this morning, but when he heard me share how lonely it has been to ride alone, he decided to keep me company and ride the entire bike path with me. More nice people in Ohio…

Tracy at Rite Aid

Tracy has been working the checkout counter at Rite Aid in Strongsville (what a great name for a town!) for 3 years and what she loves is the people who come into the store. I’m not convinced that they’re all loveable in spite of being Ohioans (I witnessed a few nice Ohioans having a few not-so-nice moments at Rite Aid), so I’m crediting Tracy’s great energy and commitment to serving others that makes her love her job

Valley City – Frog Jump Capital

I rode through a very proud small town called Valley City, which is celebrating its bi-centennial this year. As I entered the town, I was greeted with a sign that read: “Welcome to Valley City. Frog Jump Capital of OH” Upon further research, I discovered that they have a Frog Jump Festival every year that raises money for the Chamber. This year will be their 50th consecutive year of bringing people together to jump frogs. More community-building in Ohio…

Day 60 Stats

Day 60 miles: 79.87 miles

Day 60 ascent: 1,648 feet (I think Ohio is starting to prepare me for the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania next week…)

Total miles: 3,675.94 miles

Road kill count: 1,547 
(added 77 today. Ohioans may be “nice” but they run over their share of vermin just like the rest of the country…)

Destination for Day 61: Hubbard, OH (our last stop in Ohio before entering Pennsylvania!)

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Day 59 – Found Remarkable in Ohio, What Do You Love About Your Job?

Ohio’s landscape is as indistinguishable as Indiana’s. The only way I knew I was in Ohio today and not Indiana or Illinois was by looking at the license plates. Same flat country roads lined with fields of corn, soybeans, barns, and farmhouses.  So, just like Indiana, I had to look elsewhere for remarkable, and I found it!

 Ohio’s Remarkable

After having been through Indiana, I was alert from the outset, and as a result, I found Ohio’s remarkable in my first full day in the state.

 In Indiana I was literally stunned by the number of churches of all denominations. I couldn’t ride a block without seeing a church. Ohio is not dissimilar – lots of churches. In addition, lots of old, majestic barns. Barns as far as the eye can see and as old as you can imagine. These barns are the epicenter for the small farms that dot the countryside, and these farms revolve around the small farm towns that make up the Ohio that I’m riding through this week.

Here’s what I’ve surmised. When people get together to talk about the bible, the weather, or their town (which they can, and do, impact because it’s so small), they bond. This bonding creates community, and out of community comes nice people. In all my trips to OH, this one included, I’ve always met the nicest people. The small town of Wayne, OH knows I’m on to something… read on!

Wayne, OH

“Welcome to Wayne. Home of 842 nice people and one sorehead. Ken Brooks.”

I saw these words painted on the side of one of the biggest buildings in town. Stunned, I stopped and asked the nearest person I could find.

“Is Ken Brooks the old sorehead?”

“Yep.”

“Does he know about this?”

“Yep.” She giggled.

“Is he OK with being called a sorehead?”

“Yep. The town holds a vote every summer to nominate the next sorehead. You can go into the post office right now and vote.”

“Ah! Is Ken Brooks proud to be the old sorehead?”

“You bet!” She said grinning.

That’s how a small community bonds! So Ohio!

Today’s Route

All elements were in my favor today. Flat road, wind at my back, little traffic. It was one of the easiest rides I’ve had in awhile. I had intended on stopping in Bowling Green, but that was 50 miles and I arrived there at noon. So I decided to keep going and ride to Fremont for a total of 86 miles today. While it was hot, the wind from my speed kept me cool. At one point, the temperature indicator on my bike GPS read “108 degrees,” probably because it was directly in the sun… but then so was I!

What do you love about your job?

For 8 weeks now you’ve read on this blog about what other people love about their jobs. Now I’m turning the tables. I’m curious to know what you love about your job. I’m sure there are things you don’t love, and we spend too much time focused on those already. But there has to be something you love about your job. What is it? Answer that question and I’ll send you a copy of my new book, Moxie for Managers. (Just in case, you’re concerned that your total Road Kill estimate is going to fall short of winning…) And if you already got that book, I’ll send you a different book. (Don’t worry, I’ll make sure we ask your preference before sending one.)

5 simple ground rules from the attorney in me, of course:

(1) Email your answers to me at ann@lifemoxie.com.

(2) Answer the following questions:

  • What do you love about your job?
  • How does your boss influence your success? (if you are your own  boss, you are probably influenced by a board of directors, an investor, your spouse, or your mother…)
  • How do you influence other people’s success?

(3) Send me a decent picture of yourself.

(4) Send me these 2 things no later than Sunday July 24 (the weekend I reach the Atlantic Ocean).

(5) Understand that if you send me answers and your picture, you’re giving me the right to use either or both in the Moxie Ride blog and/or the documentary and/or the book, and you aren’t going to change your mind later or ask for any compensation. The book is it.

Day 59 Stats

Day 59 miles: 86.70 miles

Total miles: 3,596.07 miles

Road kill count: 1,470 
(added 54 today. Strangely, the birds in Ohio and Indiana know how to fly a lot better than the birds in Illinois…)

Destination for Day 60: Brunswick, OH

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Day 58 – Found Remarkable in Indiana, Made it to Ohio

Yesterday, I flippantly called Indiana “nonremarkable” because I found nothing distinguishable about this state like I found in other states. What I discovered today before I left Indiana is that I was looking for remarkable in the landscape, and I found it in the people.

 Today’s Route

I rode 82 miles by myself today, now that Rob and Jeff are back in the real world. A chunk of it was on Route 30, a 4-lane divided highway. Skeptical of the traffic at first, I quickly became a fan when I learned the shoulder was the width of a lane and separated by a rumble strip, making it undesirable for drivers to cross. Once in Fort Wayne, I rode the bike path along the river for 10 miles and then skipped among the corn stalks past the Indiana border and into state #9 – Ohio!

 Sidelined by Torrential Downpour and a Nail

With the wind at my back, I was flying down my own 1-lane shoulder when suddenly the sky turned black and the torrential rain came in a downpour. Not wanting to let go of the great wind, I continued to ride in the rain … until I heard the pop and discovered a 2-inch nail-screw lodged in my back tire, destroying it beyond repair. With 2 bikes out of commission (the other with Sunday’s broken spoke), I called Justin and decided it was time for Plan B – a Starbucks and a bike shop until the rain passed.

Summit Bicycles

Summit Bicycles came highly recommended and we quickly discovered why. A beautiful, spacious store with the main focus, physically and culturally, on service. As customers walk into the store, they walk right into the services department. As a result, the shop is popular – so popular there is a 10-day wait for a bike tune-up! When we shared our cross-country journey and current bike plight, they immediately moved us to the front of the line and fixed my 2 bikes on the spot. On top of all that, the guys were personable, interested, engaging, and patient. None of the hubris and haughtiness found in most bike shops.

Interviewing Tim and Michael

As our bikes were being repaired, we decided to interview Michael, in sales and outfitting (pictured above), and Tim (pictured below), the bike services genius who gave my bikes some serious TLC. Michael shared that what he loves about his job is using his talent for fitting people on bikes, and he loves that people always leave the shop in a good mood.

When it was Tim’s turn, he shared the most profound perspective I’ve ever heard from anyone in the bike industry. What he loves about his 14-year job at Summit Bikes is a genuine love of bikes because of their ability to level the playing field. It doesn’t matter if one guy is homeless and another is a multi-millionaire, they are both pedaling on 2 wheels and a seat. Bikes give people the opportunity to get along in spite of different backgrounds and circumstances.

Jeff, the In-House Counsel

Before my good friends Jeff and Ellen left the Moxie Ride late last night, I convinced Jeff to interview for the documentary. Jeff is in-house counsel for a family whose business deals and entities keep Jeff very busy. What he loves about his job is that he is valued for his expertise and his opinion. He also loves being the business facilitator lawyer instead of the typical business prevention lawyer. Finally, Jeff loves that his boss is always seeking ways for Jeff and other employees to have ‘skin in the game,’ thereby creating commitment and reward for hard work and success.

Day 58 Stats

Day 58 miles: 82.12 miles

Total miles: 3,509.37 miles

Total interviews: 96

Road kill count: 1,416 
(added 114(!) today as a result of riding for many miles on a major highway)

Destination for Day 59: Bowling Green, OH

(I added a picture of Jeff, my mom, me, Rob, and Justin wearing our  t-shirts that Jeff and Ellen made. They all say “Moxie Ride 2011” on the back and “Crew” on the front. Mine says “Turtle Whisperer”.)

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Days 56+57 – Made it to Indiana with Rob and Jeff

Made it to State #8, but if I had not seen the change from IL to IN on my map, I never would have known that I had left Illinois.

Describing Nondescript Indiana

This is the first state in 8 states that has not changed its landscape when the state border changed. In fact, 125 miles into the state and I am having a hard time distinguishing it. It is one of the most unremarkable states, and I’m not sure if that’s because I just cycled through 7 other incredibly remarkable states or if it’s because it’s just not that distinguishable from Illinois.

Not one to shrink from a challenge, I did make two observations of Indiana-significance: there are more churches than gas stations, and corn grows as if it’s aiming for the Guinness Book of World Records. (Here’s a picture of corn towering over 6-foot Jeff.)

 Jeff and Rob – Moxie Men

My husband Rob rode with me from Fri. July 1 through Sat. July 9 for a total of 433 miles. My good friend Jeff rode with me this past Fri, Sat, and Sun for a total of 206 miles. Neither of them had ever cycled that many miles or that many days in a row. Both of them trained for the ride, took time off of work, and joined me. Over the course of the past year, many people said they wanted to ride with me, but Rob and Jeff actually made it happen. Kudos to them for their intentionality, commitment, perseverance, and moxie!

Ellen, the Moxie SAG

Ellen drove out to meet us on Sat afternoon with her car stocked with cold water and goodies for a post-ride BBQ. On Sunday she followed the Moxie-mobile and supplied us with ice-cold water and cheers every 10 miles. Ellen is a dream-catching partner and a great friend!

This Weekend’s Route

Happy to be out of the suburbs, we rode 67 miles on country roads from Crete IL to Bass Lake IN on Sat and 57 miles to Pierceton IN on Sun. Each day, the heat and humidity beat us up, with temperatures hovering around 100. We were sweating faster than we could consume water. Today, my new bike was so exhausted in the heat it popped a spoke! (Justin is getting it fixed in Fort Wayne tomorrow, and I have my trusty Trek to keep riding.)

Mike the Ranger at Jellystone

Mike the Ranger escorted us to our spot at the Jellystone RV Park, a 1,200-slot RV park. This is his 9th summer, and what he loves is the people who visit the park and the people he works with. He says that working here feels like he’s part of a family, and as a result, everyone is committed to creating that same atmosphere among their guests.

Kay the Bank Teller

We met Kay in the RV park. She has been with a bank in Laotto IN for over 33 years. She was in IT Operations for many years before requesting to move to a teller position because she missed the opportunity to help people. When I asked her about her boss and his influence, she emphasized that his belief in cross-training is the key to her success and the bank’s success. Everyone at the bank knows how to do everyone else’s job, which fosters an appreciation for what other people do. It also allows more flexibility for people who need to take a day off. Finally, Kay (like Mike the Ranger) loves that there is a family-like atmosphere at the bank and credits her boss’ approach to managing.

 Interesting Sights

  • Church crossing signs (in Colorado, I only had to watch for deer crossing the road…)
  • The nasty black lab that chased Rob down the street until I yelled at him and he cowered and ran back home (I’m done being dogged!)
  • People smoking cigarettes at the gas stations (hello?!)
  • The cigarette-smoking man who shared that he too is into cardiovascular activities like biking (uh, yeah…)
  • The smoking and non-smoking rooms at the restaurant (didn’t know anyone was still doing this…)
  • Baptist church sign: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (uh, yeah…enough said…)

Days 56/57 Stats

Day 56 miles: 67.39 miles

Day 57 miles: 57.89 miles

Total miles: 3,427.05 miles

Total interviews: 93

Road kill count: 1,302 (added 39 on Saturday and 52 on Sunday, including a weasel – new to the list)

Destination for Day 58: State #9 – Ohio! (Paulding, to be exact)

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Day 55 – Riding with my Entourage for my Last Day in Illinois

Running with the bulls in Pamplona would be easier than competing with morning rush-hour traffic on shoulder-less roads in the Chicago suburbs. The odds were in my favor today, thanks to my entourage of Rob (husband) and Jeff (law school friend).

Today’s Route from St. Charles to Crete

We left my mom’s house this morning in the midst of the Friday morning commute. My ride through Illinois cornfields juxtaposed with today’s ride in the suburbs, characterized by deafening traffic, shoulder-less roads, and bottomless potholes, made me long for the quiet, isolated communities peppered throughout Colorado.  We took Route 64 to Glen Ellyn to Route 38 to Lemont. Luckily we then found the fabulous Old Plank Trail, which offered us a much-needed respite from all the people crammed behind steering wheels in a hurry going somewhere important. (Here’s a picture of Jeff and Rob on the Old Plank Trail.)

Jeff’s First Big Ride Day

Before joining the Moxie Ride, Jeff’s longest ride was 30 miles. Today he clocked in 80 miles without griping or grousing. (Rob and Jeff have decided that it must be my hazing ritual to require new people on the Moxie Ride to do at least 80 miles on their first day.) In spite of riding a heavier bike than us and falling over once (the result of getting used to new clipless pedals), Jeff was a champ. He finished the day ready for another 30 miles … until he finally sat down after dinner (Below is a picture of  exhausted Jeff).

Interviewing Ellen from Freddie Mac

Ellen is Director of Quality Control for Freddie Mac. When I interviewed her for the documentary, I discovered the secret to her success. Ellen loves constantly learning, being challenged, and working for a boss who supports and entrusts her to make smart decisions to run a region of the company. But it’s her approach to leading 25 people that blew me away. Ellen said, “The way to be successful is to have successful people. Have people ready to step into the next level job. They should all be ready to have my job.”

Sharing Dinner with Gailene

My friend Gailene, broker manager of the Baird & Warner real estate office in Orland Park, lives nearby our final destination today. To my delight, Gailene joined us for dinner at the RV park and brought scrumptious salmon and 2 bags of marshmallows!

After I seduced Gailene with s’mores, she was ready to be interviewed for the documentary. Gailene said that what she loves about her job is the people and the energy they create. She loves the everyday challenge of watching and helping people discover that they can be successful. I would work for Gailene or Ellen in a heartbeat!

Day 55 Stats

Day 55 miles: 80.15 miles

Total miles: 3,301.77 miles

Total interviews: 91

Road kill count: 1,211 (added 41 today in spite of the fact that for awhile this morning the Starbucks count was beating the road kill count. If the Bible belt is staking its claim with churches, the suburbs is doing it with coffee houses…)

Destination for Day 56: State #8 – Indiana!

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