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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Interview with Long Distance Biker, Ruth Kee | Part 2 of 2

By Megan Maxwell
Last week we visited with Ruth Kee, a long-distance cyclist, in Part 1 of this interview, and she talked about her 1,500 mile bike ride from the coast of Oregon to Wisconsin. This is Part 2 of her interview.

Ruth and her love, Snickers bars.  Photo: Meredith Kee.

Q: What kind of bike were you riding? Did it suit you well, or would you get a different bike if you were to do it again?
A: I ride a FX 7.5 Trek bike. I really love it and would ride it again. It is suited more for commuting, as that is why I usually ride it, but it was also great for bike trips.  

Q: How much gear do you actually need for a bike trip? Did you have any unexpected pieces of gear that were particularly useful? Did you have any gear you thought you would need, but could have gone without?
A: Lots of camping supplies, clothes for ALL weather (even gloves) and sun screen, lots of sun screen. We found our radio to be super useful, sometimes hanging out all day is a little much and it is nice to hear what is going on in the world. I brought my pretty nice and big camera and really did not use it much - I could have done without it, or could have taken more photos.    

Q: Where did you sleep every night?
A: We slept usually in our tent, my sister in her hammock, when there were trees, and around every 9 days in a motel or with family/friends that we visited along the way.  

Q: How much money did you budget per day for your trip? Overall? 
A: $30/day was the average when you include flying with our bikes to Portland and getting a ride out to the coast. Lots of campsites let bikers stay for free and we did not eat out too frequently.  

Photo: Meredith Kee

Q: Biking right next to cars can be daunting. Are there any safety precautions you would recommend bikers take?
A: Make sure that if you have to bike at night, when it is cooler, you are well lit from both directions. Also, do not pull into the lane without indication. Just be careful and do not wear headphones in both of your ears. I understand wanting to listen to music, but you also need to hear what is going on around you.  

Q: You sort of got into a worst case scenario by hitting your head and getting an injury. Tell us about that. Has that turned you away from biking or are you still excited to do it? 
A: I did suffer from a bad fall and cracked my skull. It was a traumatic brain injury and I had to spend a month in the hospital and three months in rehab, which was a little unexpected. I am not allowed to ride again until my year mark and am actually counting down the days and planning on finishing the trip when I can. I learned that helmets are SUPER important. I would not be here without mine. Luckily my family, friends, and job are amazing. Since I am pretty much back to normal at this point I can look at it as a learning experience and a time of extreme luck that things have turned out so well.  

Q: Is there anything you learned from long-distance biking that you weren't expecting?
A: That America is a lot more interesting than I thought and that people are very interested in hearing about your trip when you are a cycler. I have traveled a lot around the world, but my trip helped me regain an interest in seeing more of the states.   If you’re driving across the country with your own bike, don’t forget your car hitch bike rack.