LIMA — Katelyn Gifford said she has been bicycling all over since she was 16 years old, but it has not been until the last few months that she would consider herself a serious cyclist.
That could be because Gifford plans to bicycle solo from Lima to Corpus Christi, Texas, later this month. Along the way, she plans to make videos of her trip, so she can show them to her daughter, who just turned 4 years old at the end of March.
“I want to show my daughter what I will do to be with her,” Gifford said. “I want to keep a record of my trip.”
Gifford said that while she wanted to see her daughter sooner, obstacles kept coming up to keep her from doing just that.
“I finally just got tired of all the obstacles and thought, ‘Why don’t I just load up everything and bike there?’” Gifford said. “Ever since I had the idea, it just stuck with me.”
Gifford said another reason she is biking is try to bring awareness.
“There is this stereotype that people who are away from their children, that they are bad people or they are just deadbeats,” she said. “There might be a lot of reasons why a person can’t be with their child, though.”
To this end, Gifford has started a Facebook page called Devotion Ride. She is hoping people will share their stories, so she can devote part of her ride to those parents and their children, too. She also has a Go Fund Me page, http://j.mp/DevotionRide.
1. How long did it take you to plan this ride?
I’ve been planning this for about three months now. I’ve been getting and studying maps. I’ve been studying do-it-yourself sites to make things rather than buy expensive equipment. A lot goes into a ride like this.
2. What kind of equipment did you have to get?
My bike, which is a Trek 7.1 LX. It’s aluminum and carbon fiber. It’s road specific so I can ride it mostly on the actual road. I have a back and front bike rack. I took two buckets and made panniers. I have a solar panel charger, so I can stay in touch the whole time, and also to for my GPS. I do have maps as backups, though. I have food, water, a tent, and proper clothing. I have two water cages and a camel pack for water while I ride. I have a mess kit, which has a plate, bowl and I have a camp stove with fuel. Water, food and my bike are the most important equipment though.
3. How many miles are you planning on riding per day?
If all goes as planned, I plan on riding 80 to 100 miles per day, but I’ll get into higher altitudes. I’ll probably have to cut it back to about 50 to 75 miles on those days. Also, if there is really stormy weather, I’ll probably stop. I’m not sure how many days it will take, but at least three weeks.
4. How many miles is it from Lima to Corpus Christi?
It is 1,465 miles, but because I am going to have to take specific trails, that makes it longer — between 1,500 to 1,600 miles.
5. What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Probably getting all the equipment that I need. Some things I can’t do without, like my bike, water and food. I did what I needed to do to buy my equipment. I sold my car to buy my bike, but my car wouldn’t have gotten me to Texas, anyway.
6. Are you fearful at all to do this?
I am definitely nervous. I can do as much to prepare as I can. I can be as safe as I can, but there are things you can’t control. You can’t control for what the other person does. I can’t control if another person wants to hurt me, and I can’t control bad weather. I could end up without food or water, but that isn’t going to stop me.
7. What has surprised you the most about preparing for this journey
There were so many things I didn’t think about when I first came up with the idea. I didn’t think about the high altitude or the rough terrain. I had thought about attaching a trailer to my bike, but that doesn’t work very well in rough terrain or high altitudes. I tried to order the panniers but they were back ordered and so I had to make my own from the buckets. I didn’t think about appropriate clothing. You can’t just wear cotton clothes because they will get wet from the weather or just from sweating. There was a lot more that goes into this kind of ride than I had originally thought.
8. What has preparing for this trip taught you?
My motto has become don’t let what others do upset you. Instead, let what you do inspire others.
Rosanne Bowman is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Lima News. You can share your story ideas with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.