August 2, 2010

Professor cycles across America

Professor Joyce King dips her back tire into the Atlantic Ocean, a TransAmerica Bike Trail tradition.

This summer marked an important milestone for Joyce King. On her 60th birthday, the assistant clinical professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing embarked on an exciting adventure.

“I am an avid runner and cyclist, and I wanted to take my passion to the next level this summer,” says King. “I saw the TransAmerica Bike Trail in 2008, and I knew it would be a journey of a lifetime, so I decided to bike across America for my birthday.”

The TransAmerica Bike Trail stretches 4,325 miles from coast to coast, beginning in historic Williamsburg, Va. and ending in the Pacific coastal town of Eugene, Ore.

King’s 83-day trek began on May 22 — her birthday — with 13 other cyclists from around the world whom she had never met.

“Getting to know my fellow cyclists was one of the highlights of this trip. Everyone was special in their own way,” she says. “I definitely established some lifelong friendships during this journey.”

Members of the group ranged in age from 22 to 70. Some traveled from as far as Australia and Wales to bike the legendary trail. Beginning at 5:30 a.m., the group biked 60 miles on average each day.

“While I was biking, I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery across our great country. The terrain we covered was remarkable, especially the Blue Ridge Mountains,” she says.

King’s adventure was cut short after a nearly fatal collision with a coal truck in the Bluegrass Region in Kentucky.

“After four weeks of biking and 1,200 miles completed,

it was a very difficult decision to leave my fellow cyclists and abandon my adventure,” she admits.

During this life-changing cycling excursion, King learned the importance of discipline and endurance.

“While I was unable to finish the TransAmerica Bike Trail this summer, this trip taught me perseverance and challenged me to keep my sense of humor when I’m faced with adversity,” she says.

Although her experience ended early, King is determined to complete her original goal.

She has big plans for next summer: “I want to finish the second segment of the bike trail before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.”

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