Live A Big Life Ride

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Day 62: May 5th, Mount Pleasant to Huntington Beach, SC

This was a mess of a day, mostly because it involved us trying to ride our bikes on dirt/sand roads in attempt to escape South Carolina’s inhospitable highway system. But it wasn’t all bad!


We ate breakfast at the #1 rated bagel joint in Mount Pleasant, and it is called (no joke) Joey Bag-A-Donuts. There’s nothing really to say about it other than pointing out its name, which is spectacular, and it was delicious. Unfortunately from the moment we left Joey Bag-A-Donuts’s parking lot through most of the 75 miles we rode, we were on Route 17 just because there is no other road to take you up the coast. It’s a miserable road to ride on, lacking any shoulder and chock full of cars, trucks and trailers. Evidently it’s already “high season” in South Carolina, meaning tourism is in full force and the world of RVers is out in full force.

We noticed signs for the “East Coast Greenway” and thought that sounded exciting, and learned that its (supposedly) a trail of paths and roads that are bike friendly that go up the entire east coast. So when we got fed up with Rt. 17, which happened a lot, we tried to take detours onto the Greenway whenever possible. The problem is that, at least in this state, the Greenway seems to not be fully developed and the road would frequently stop being paved and turn to a miserable dirt/sand combination. We tried to ride ahead on the dirt/sand at one point and both fell over within the first 500 yards, before turning around and getting back on Rt. 17. Ick.


Downtown Georgetown

The major town of the day was Georgetown, which turned out to be an industrial town where we got mediocre Reuben sandwiches and outstanding ice cream.


There are hunks of peanut butter in this ice cream

We rolled into Huntington Beach State Park shortly after 6pm, but the guy at the entrance booth said all the camping was full. It never occurred to us that this would happen on a random Monday night, in fact all the parks before this one that we had called to check on availability had laughed at us before saying “uh yeah, we have room for you.” We sweet talked the guy into letting us check in with the camping ranger, and prepared a whole sympathy-inducing speech to convince her to let us camp on some free spot of grass. She was unimpressed with our efforts. By this point is was 6:45, and if we truly couldn’t camp there we had to get moving in order to make it to the next camp ground, 16 miles north, before dark. We pleaded with her, saying that we would go to the camp sites and just ask people there if they would be willing to share their plot with us, and she stone faced us and responded “the park will not allow that.” We resigned to ride the last 16 miles as fast as we could, and were on our way out of the park, when another ranger flagged us down and said that the Campground Host (an RVer who lives on the campground for an extended period of time and helps maintain the campground) had heard about us and would let us camp next to her RV! We were very relieved and grateful, and spent a lovely night in Huntington Beach.


Our new friendly neighbor

Days 60-61: May 3rd and 4th, Charleston and Mount Pleasant

We had big plans for our day off in Charleston, including sleeping in, drinking coffee for hours and not riding bikes. We accomplished all of that while we watched 5 episodes of Scandal (thereby finishing the series up to its current point) and ate an entire box of cereal, all without leaving a 30 ft. radius in Mark and Jenn’s super comfy home. Fortunately for everyone they weren’t there to witness all of these accomplishments, they were at their jobs like regular people. It was very glorious.


Luxuriating, within our 30 foot radius

We did manage to leave their house that day and joined them for an evening out on the town, which went until late and was thoroughly enjoyable. Charleston is a great place and we were glad to get to hang there!

When we woke up on Sunday, the 4th, we were feeling antsy and excited to start our trek up the East coast so we left our cushy room in Charleston and got back on our bikes. The route we chose leaving the city was beautiful, taking us straight through downtown Charleston and over a few bridges that gave us views of the city as well as the bay. Going over one, however, we managed to get on the 1.5 foot raised shoulder going the wrong way, had to walk our bikes over the bridge and then scamper across to the correct side in the brief break in traffic. Whoops.


Bike spandex and movie popcorn

It was all going so smoothly until about 20 miles out, where we suddenly (I’ll take the blame for this but use “we” and “our” to make Madeleine share my blame) realized that we were really tired, and feeling less of a fire under our asses because we had reached the east coast. So after a quick roadside strategy session we decided to throw away our plans of 70 miles that day and go to the movies instead! There was one 2 miles away, so we loaded up on candy and popcorn and saw “Draft Day”, the one about the NFL draft starring Kevin Costner. It was so bad. Really, a terrible movie. But it was incredibly luxurious to go to the movie theater, and we will definitely do so again on this trip and hopefully see a better  movie.

Camping that night at a local KOA Campground was nice as always, we even had a nice little pond to look out on as we ate our PB&J.

The Very Best Reminder of Why We’re Doing This

About a month ago I got a text message from the guidance counselor at one of the schools with which STOKED works. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of biking from Point A to Point B, but the bigger goal of what we’re doing and why we’re doing sticks with us every day. It’s not about that Point A and Point B, it’s about everything in between: the local roads, the people, the random conversations and explanations of what we’re doing, the local flavors, the hills, and what we can take away from every place we go.

This is us Living Big, in the unusual or unorthodox way that we’re doing it. And we’re working continuously to create that opportunity for the youth of STOKED, where I used to work and a program that is very near and dear to me. Our fundraising effort is currently just below $5,000, which means that we’ve nearly created 10 scholarships for the future class of STOKED and high school graduates. We are so excited about that! But still have a very long way to go of achieving our goal of creating 100 scholarships.

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Text message from Ms. Smith

Christine is a special kid and one that I really enjoyed working with at STOKED. For three years I watched her push herself, learn new skills, meet professionals, put her best foot forward. I taught her how to swim and was there when she surfed her first wave in Far Rockaway and gave her a high five when she told me how great she felt because of it. She’s going big places and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to help her get there in whatever small way I could!

Getting this message was a simple reminder of why I loved working for STOKED so much, and why I’m so excited to be working to create this scholarship program. Here’s to making more dreams of living big come true!

Days 49-51: April 22-24, Atlanta!

My sister, Marisa, has lived in Atlanta for about 10 years and I had somehow never managed to come visit. Ridiculous, but we were excited to be able to schedule in a few days to see what she does and where she does it! Here are the excellent ways we filled our 3 days in Atlanta:

  • Woke up each morning and had 2+ cups of coffee without having to rush to get on our bikes and ride all day
  • Had toast, made in a toaster, which is not available at our campsites
  • Sampled the local beers, a big time hobby of ours, which turned out to be delicious
  • Went to see the Atlanta Braves play, which turned out to be a boring game but very fun nonetheless
  • Cook! In a kitchen! And not on a camp stove!
  • Madeleine joined Pintrest, on the influence of Marisa, and the two of them went to town
  • Home improvement projects, including putting wheels on a table of Marisa’s
  • Made ourselves look like people again: haircuts and pedicures
  • Watched many episodes of Scandal, our not-so-secret-but-kind-of-embarrassing tv fix
  • Snuggled with Hazel, Marisa’s adorable little doggie



Popcorn, beer and an impressive photo bomb in back


An addition to a local brewery that will be in our next home

All in all it was a grand few days, we had a great time exploring all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods and getting to see Marisa’s digs!

Day 48: April 21, Pine Mountain to Peachtree City, GA

This weekend we have a wedding to go to in Peachtree City, and my older sister lives in Atlanta, just 30 miles away. So we made our schedule to arrive in Peachtree City on Monday, leave our bikes at the bike shop to get some maintenance done, be picked up by my sister and hang in Atlanta for a few days before returning for the wedding! Mission: Accomplished.


This is how excited we were to give our biking muscles a rest for 6 whole days

We only had 50 miles to ride, but having a hearty breakfast makes every difference in the world so we went into the town of Pine Mountain and did that. The daily special was another example of the benefits of small town dining: an enormous breakfast and unlimited coffee for $3.50. As always we stuck out like sore thumbs in our full body biking spandex outfits, so the other patrons asked us all about what we were doing. Everywhere we’ve gone, strangers are universally curious, kind, and send us off with genuine well wishes. This morning, we were sent off with our first foot-in-mouth quote: “Y’all don’t go and let yourselves be hit by cars now!” We laughed uncomfortably and got on our way.

Western Georgia is beautiful! And we had perfect weather to crank out the miles, and before 2pm we cruised into Peachtree City via local highways and the extensive golf cart pathway system. The guys at the bike shop were confused/curious about why we’d brought so much luggage into their shop, but promised to take good care of our beloved bikes and my sister arrived to whisk us away! It’s like dropping the kids off at the babysitters: no bike worries for many lovely days.