Columbus, IN Bicycle Tour - 5/3/14

Bikes are awesome. Flying across terrain, using only the God-given power in your legs and a touch of nifty science is just incredible. When I’m on my bike, everything seems so simple. You go up the hill, it sucks, and then you zoom down and have the time of your life. There’s really nothing better than that feeling of bugs, raindrops, leaves, and the rest of nature’s finest pinging you in the face as you nearly lose control of the bike that’s hurtling down a hill you gravely underestimated. Typically there’s a stop sign glaring at you just as you climax on speed, but, you know, when life gives you lemons, do what you want and hope there’s no oncoming traffic. I kid; road rules are very important and I advocate strict adherence – that is, with all the clout of a seventeen-year-old girl.

However, sarcasm aside, I think a seventeen-year-old girl on a bike has some significant potential. I can get where I need to go in a timely manner. Tack on the healthy exercise and lack of gas expenditures; you can see that a bike is a valuable tool. Plus, sometimes it’s neat to be just a little independent, especially in a country so reliant on automobile-accessed Walmarts. In my experience, cyclists are cool people. Often interested in organic foods and small-business products, we promote a culture of self-sufficiency and quality over convenience. We’ve got some drive – and not the engine-powered type.

            However, motivated and driven though we may be, sometimes stuff gets in the way. For me, it’s arthritis – Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). I’m not much of a whiner, but it’s a real roadblock. I can’t play contact sports, and running went out the window when I found I didn’t have the knees for it – in middle school. This isn’t just me, it’s 300,000 other kids under 16 in the U.S. who were diagnosed with a disease that wasn’t supposed to hit until middle age. Arthritis is one of those unique, essentially incurable autoimmune diseases, and you can learn more about at the Arthritis National Research Foundation that I’ve linked in here. The way I choose to describe my condition is this: lame. I’m a dreamer, and I don’t want a lame thing like arthritis to get in the way of my dreams, or anyone else’s.

            So, being me, I’ve got a dream. I’m a junior in high school drowning in my college search right now, so I decided why not mix it up a little? I want to bike to a school that’s really hit my fancy, a liberal arts institution called Macalester College – in Minnesota. I live in Franklin, Indiana. Seven hundred miles, one week. Finally, I have found something epic enough to do before I turn eighteen! But epic isn’t enough – I want to be a part of tackling JIA, as a disease. To do this, I want to raise money for the Arthritis National Research Foundation, a great organization working to research this complicated disease and eventually cure it.