White back home, 3,044 miles later
VAIL ” One of the first things Kerry White did when she returned to town Wednesday was participate in the Davos Dash on a tandem bike with her husband, Steve.
One might have thought that after cycling from Oceanside, Calif., to Atlantic City, N.J. ” 3,044 miles, to be exact, during 13 days ” in the Race Across America, a bike seat would have been the last place Kerry White wanted to be.
“I had been sitting in a car for like 30 hours and my feet were all puffy and swollen. I was like, ‘All right, it’s time to exercise,'” White said. “A lot of my (support) crew were wagering bets on how long it would be until I got back on my bike. My mom won the bet. She said 3 days. It was like 4 days.”
As tough a ride as the Davos Dash is, it was nothing compared to what White underwent on her trip that started on June 10 and ended last Saturday. She says she likely averaged just 2-4 hours of sleep per day, spending the rest of each day cycling.
White, who has type 1 diabetes, also was pedaling to raise money and awareness of her illness. Though she did not officially finish RAAM because she missed the cutoff time for racers in Effingham, Ill., her journey showed her courage and strength and provided inspiration to many.
Nevertheless she doesn’t find what she accomplished amazing.
“I had set myself a goal,” she said. “There was only one option. I wanted to make it to Atlantic City, and I wanted to prove I could do it. There wasn’t any time during the race when I said, ‘I don’t want to be here.’ That wasn’t an option.”
Scenes and support
The traditional family road trip usually involves assorted interstates. White’s journey showed her a different side of the country. She pedaled through 13 different states.
Each stateline provoked a different emotion. Leaving Colorado for Kansas was one of relief having conquered the Rockies. Plowing through Missouri is just one day produced immense satisfaction. Crossing though Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in 24 hours was another notch in her belt.
On an unforgettable trip, White had two particularly memorable moments. Cycling by Gettysburg, Pa., she was able to see the lay of the land and envision the Civil War battle.
Earlier in Kansas, she went through the town of Greensburg. On May 4, that town had been leveled by a tornado.
“We had been battling pretty hard because I was under time constraints. It was highly likely that I wasn’t going to make the cutoff. I had been really stressed and had been pushing hard.
“Then, we rode through Greensburg and I cried the whole way through the town. It was devastating. The physical view of what you saw the people of the town went through is unforgettable. It will be etched in my mind forever. The significance of making the time cutoff was nothing after going through there.”
Though she was in remote places at times, the world is becoming a smaller place with technology. Messages from her husband and crew kept pouring in, not to mention from her friends in Colorado and throughout the country.
At one point in Pennsylvania, strangers were giving greeting cards to her support staff as she was cruising through their towns.
“Knowing that people believed truly that I could do it too, I think that was all the mental strength I needed,” White said.
Dealing with diabetes
In addition to cycling, White also had to make sure she stayed healthy. She and her doctor had an insulin plan for the first five days or so, but it turned out that her body needed more.
She had hoped to use a glucose monitoring device which would save her the time of regular testing. That machine did not provide the necessary accuracy, so she returned to normal tests.
“I felt that the really important thing for me was more on the awareness side, letting people know it can be done,” White said. “I fulfilled my goal in letting normal people know and believe that whatever you set your heart and mind to you can do, whether you have diabetes or not.”
White also discovered that her diet changed. She had anticipated a carbohydrate-intensive diet. It turned out that her body needed more protein. She started each day with six eggs. (They were cooked, not raw a la “Rocky”). Chicken and cheese became favorites along with avocados, an antidote to heartburn.
After not sleeping for the first 30 hours of the race, White got about 2-3 hours of sleep per night in her support van, along with two 15-minute catnaps.
Welcome to The Boardwalk
Though the race was officially over, RAAM officials stayed in Atlantic City to greet White when she came in at 1:15 p.m. Eastern last Saturday.
“The race director and several of the RAAM officials stayed and met me and essentially escorted me to The Boardwalk,” she said. “I then had probably 30-35 people who had stayed to greet me. The cheers and the congratulations that those people gave me ” it’s hard to describe the satisfaction.”
After a a good shower and a two-hour nap, the rough equivalent of a night’s worth during her journey, she had a well-deserved dinner then conked out for 10-straight hours.
“I didn’t have an epic sleep, but I’ve been having epic sleeps every night since,” she joked.
She and her crew drove back to Vail in time for Davos. In addition to recovering from her ordeal, White also has a new task.
“I’m attempting to go through my e-mails,” she said. “I have a couple-hundred e-mails from local people and people from all over the country. I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I am by the support people have shown me.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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