Category Archives: Cycling

The Alaska Adventure

Last Summer, I entered a contest on the Hilton Garden Inn Facebook page on a bit of a whim. It was late, I was doing research in Facebook (or avoiding homework, more likely), saw their “Life’s Ultimate To Do List” contest and was curious about the consumer experience on the back end, so I entered it. Yes, the social media geek in me entered a contest just to see the back end of it.

Fast forward a few months to when I received notification from Hilton Garden Inn that I was one of eleven winners for the contest. I couldn’t believe I’d won, since it meant I’d be going to Alaska on a cycling adventure. See, riding a bike in all 50 states has recently been added to my bucket list, so when I entered the contest, I shared that and picked the state that I thought others would laugh at and would never win. Everyone wants to go to Hawaii or Florida or California. Who would have thought they’d send me to Alaska!? I never expected to win (doesn’t everyone say that about a contest?), and purposely picked a place where no one would go nor send me. The entire concept of this trip was just crazy to me and here I was, going. To make it even more insane, the trip had to be completed by December 31…and I wouldn’t be able to take vacation until after Thanksgiving.

And so began the #AlaskaAdventure. Once I established I was going during the Christmas holiday, I started researching gear, bikes, and my destination. Dayna and the team at Emanate PR planned all of the details of my travel and accommodations in Anchorage (the Hilton Garden Inn leg of the trip), and I took their hard work and extended three days into ten. I worked with Aaren at the Alaska Railroad to craft the perfect solo adventure and to see as much of Alaska as possible. Billy at Arctic Cycles took care of my bike and gear needs. Nick connected me with his Alaskan friends including Valette, John, Marian Call, Karen, Michael, and MANY others. And I started preparing to be very, very cold. The Alaska Adventure proved to be the trip of a lifetime, complete with a bike ride around Anchorage, a 14-hour train ride through the Alaskan wilderness, and a trip into the Arctic Circle.

I traveled by myself to a place few people ever dream of going. I met people who were more generous with their time and energy than some “friends” of mine. I saw some of the most stunning scenery in the world. I stood outside in unbelievably cold temperatures and watched the Aurora Borealis move in the sky. I encountered a moose. I took nearly 3,000 photos. And I crossed Alaska off the list.

Thanks to Hilton Garden Inn for giving me the opportunity to take this adventure. Thanks to Ann who very, very generously lent me her expensive camera since I didn’t have one of my own. Thanks to everyone who supported my wild adventure, offered ideas and suggestions, and followed along on the Alaska Adventure. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed capturing them.


My Alaska Adventure

If you want details about any part of my adventure, I’m happy to share – just leave a comment.

There is no safe lane for bicyclists

A six-year old gets doored…there’s something wrong with that. Seriously wrong with that. A great article about urban cycling, the dangers of it, and the responsibilities of both drivers and cyclists.

There is no safe lane for bicyclists from the Chicago Tribune

My crash

Since I’ve had to run through this a few times, I figured it would just be easiest to toss it up here and share the link when folks ask.

Where: Eastbound on Blondo at about 148th, about mile four of a short nine mile ride home from the Jeep dealership (where I’d just dropped my car off for regular maintenance). It was a poor choice of route, I realize now, but I didn’t know going into it that it was one lane through there.

When: About 9:15 Friday morning (the 29th), I was alone at the time.

How: Either I got clipped by a car or just reacted poorly to a car that came too close and went off the road into a narrow ditch. I tried to almost hop the ditch and keep going up the hill (not a HILL, just the grassy shoulder of the road) but the two combined sent me flipping over the handlebars of my bike onto the back of my neck and rolling over onto my back where my right side took the brunt of the momentum. That bruise will be noteworthy. Somehow, I also managed to get a pretty good bruise on my cheekbone and a lovely knot on my forehead that I can only think were caused by my helmet. Which, by the way, I AM CONVINCED SAVED MY SKULL. Broke the lens of my sunglasses, and scratched up my right shoulder and arm. Thankfully, I landed on grass, so the road rash could have been much worse. I finished the flip sitting up, but quickly laid down since I’d had the wind knocked out of me and couldn’t breathe. I know now why but at the time….it was all panic and adrenaline.

The car that came too close (or hit me) didn’t stop as far as I know, but five wonderful, sweet, generous Omahans did to check on me, one of whom was a physician’s assistant, so I was immediately well taken care of. They asked me lots of questions, even checked my Road ID and questioned me when I only gave my shortened name (not the full name listed). It didn’t take much for me to agree to a ride home at that point, since I wasn’t sure of the status of my bike (pretty sure it’s fine). A wonderful woman named Teresa and her two daughters loaded my bike and drove me home. I will never know who she is, since I was far enough out of my head to not ask for her number.

A hot shower, two conference calls for work, and one call to my mother later, I figured out that a trip to the ER might be necessary since I couldn’t take deep breaths and had some serious pain in my side. Enter the cracked rib. Do you know how much they hurt?! Holy crap, I can’t move without wincing. Xrays at Methodist SUCKED since they kept moving me around and twisting me to get the right pictures. I walked out of the hospital with a prescription for painkillers, orders to take it easy for the next few days and instructions to not ride for two weeks, and if it still hurts then, to give it another two weeks. The prospect of four weeks off my bike makes me ill, so we’ll see if I even make the two weeks.

The lesson: Now, I know I’m insanely lucky when it comes to my injuries. We’ve all heard stories of much worse, or even attended the funerals of cyclists killed by cars, so I’m not going to pretend my injuries are that important. But this little scare has convinced me of two things.

1. Helmets save lives. They don’t always completely prevent injury, but if I hadn’t been wearing mine, this would be a much different post, I’m sure (likely from a hospital). Should I ever see you, your kids, your friends, whatever without one…I will personally brain you to avoid the ground scrambling your brain. Please wear them, for me?

2. Omahans are incredible people. I may not love this town, but when it comes down to it, the people here are generous and genuine. If those people hadn’t stopped to assist me, I would have likely laid in the grass until I got my wits about me and then walked home, which would have been incredibly painful and taken me half the morning I bet.

So, the next time you see someone crash or on the side of the road, stop and ask if they’re okay. While I know my cyclist friends do, not all of my friends/readers are cyclists. For those of you who aren’t, this is a plea to not only be aware of cyclists on the road and give them their due (which is the entire lane technically, but we’ll settle for three feet), but to slow down and stop if you have to. While a driver may be a few minutes late due to a cyclist on the road, the cyclist may be injured or worse due to a driver coming too close.