Larissa Powers, 29, eighth-grade science teacher and the varsity bike team co-coach at
Mary Institute Country Day School is about to embark upon the adventure of her lifetime. She is joining 17 other biking enthusiasts to ride across America, departing Seattle June 18 and arriving in Washington, D.C. August 4.
Riders are raising money on the Big Ride Across America for the American Lung Association.
This is the 14th year of a ride that travels some 3,300 miles in 48 days. The riders get the luxury of eight days rest during these three summer months.
Patch caught up with Powers for a 1 on 1 interview:
Patch: Why are you doing this.
Powers: This is a great way to spend the summer and see America. I am the adventurous type. I spent part of last summer doing a video documentary of life on a sail boat. We sailed all around Newfoundland.
I'm doing this ride because I have had asthma my entire life and that I believe strongly that clean air must be protected for the good of the public. I also believe that lung diseases are preventable and the American Lung Association does wonderful work helping people reduce their risk.
They also support research to treat and cure these diseases, but I'm glad that one of these organizations is actually looking at prevention.
Besides, if I paid to go on a trip of this type, it would cost me about $16,000.
Patch: What is the general route you will be taking.
Powers: We depart Seattle Monday, June 18. We go through the Cascade Mountains of Washington, through Idaho, through parts of Montana, cut down through Wyoming, all of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and finally into Washington D.C. There is another ride taking the southern route which is much hotter and much harder.
Patch: How have you trained for this ride.
Powers: I’ve been riding my bike since December intensively. I did a 105 mile ride on Memorial Day which took me downtown and on to Alton. I work with the MICDS varsity team (the only one in St. Louis) and we do two major rides each week. I lover to bike. I live in the Tower Grove South neighborhood and I leave at 5:30 a.m. and bike the 11 miles to school. It can get quite congested around the St. Louis Galleria.
Patch: Are you doing any other kind of training.
Powers: I have a personal trainer. He has kind of taken control of my whole life. I am really fit and ready for this ride.
Patch: Will you be sleeping in clean sheets each night.
Powers: No, we will be camping out of doors. If we want to stay in a motel, we have to pay for it. We might sleep 10 on a floor and split the costs some nights. We might do this just to get some air conditioning. The Lung Association gives us three meals a day and snacks in between. On our off days, we will have time to do our laundry; work on our bikes and get some rest. The Lung Association has a sag wagon to carry all of our supplies and provisions. We have a paramedic riding along and he’s a bike mechanic too.
Patch: Are there any rules and regulations.
Powers: Oh yes. We cannot wear head phones. We have to remain alert. Our bikes must have a rear view mirror and strobe lights front and back. We are not allowed to draft each other. We will be doing plenty of riding in the dark. Some of our riding will be on interstate highways. That is how we cross the Cascades in Washington but the shoulders are very wide so we should be safe. I’ve been practice riding in traffic, seeing how to work alongside cars.
Patch: What if the weather turns bad.
Powers: We are likely to get into some heavy rainstorms and maybe even some hail. If we see lightening or thunderstorms, we will duck inside somewhere and find cover.
Patch: How much are you expected to raise for the American Lung Association.
Powers: We have to raise $6,000 and pay a registration fee of $150. I’ve raised $7,000 and my goal is $9,000. My mother made an awesome quilt and I raffled it off for $2,000 to get started.
Patch: Where might people donate to sponsor your ride?
Powers: Here is the link to donate to sponsor my ride.
Larissa will be maintaining her own blog of the trip as the journey goes along, and she will be posting accounts on the Ladue-Frontenac Facebook page, making comments on the Ladue Twitter account and updates will appear on this site throughout the summer.
Stay along for the ride of year as Patch reports the progress of these dedicated bikers.
Note: Right after the first Patch article was published, two $100 donations were made immediately.