Linda Beiler hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years, but in March the Ahwatukee Foothills resident plans to pedal 3,100 miles across the continental U.S. to raise money for the nonprofit organization that changed her life.
“A lot of decisions in my life have been based on fear of failure. I just decided that this was the time, I’m turning 50 and I was going to do this,” she said.
Click http://www.ahwatukee.com/video/?videoId=52501417001&lineupId=1291944045"> here to see the video of Linda Beiler For the last seven months Beiler has been training for her upcoming ride with Woman Tours and trying to meet her goal of raising $50,000 for Connecting to Serve, an organization that connects people with ways to serve in the community based on their strengths and skills.
“I thought, what a great way to let people know about connecting to serve,” she said. “They empowered me and so I decided that I could ride across the country kind of in return or as a way to say thanks.”
Sheila Coonen, executive director of Connecting to Serve, said Beiler is an example of how the organization can help to enrich lives.
“She got connected to Connecting to Serve and she is using her gifts to help make a difference in the lives of others,” Coonen said.
The ride is completely organized and supported by Woman Tours, which puts together small group bike tours of various lengths all over the U.S. The cross-country tour will begin on March 4 in San Diego, Calif., and end in St. Augustine, Fla., on April 30. Riders will have to pedal an average of 58 miles a day for 58 days.
Beiler said the idea for the ride came from her sister, an avid cyclist who convinced her to get back on a bike last April and will be joining her on the trip.
“I think a lot of people doubted me. Didn’t think that I could really do it,” Beiler said. However, she added that while other people may have been surprised her husband has been very supportive.
“On mornings when its cold or hot, as it may be in the summer time, and I don’t feel like getting out and riding he kicks me out of bed,” she said.
Michael Sheldon, also a volunteer with Connecting to Serve, said Beiler’s idea was both unexpected and exciting.
“I thought it was a fantastic surprising idea. It kind of came out of left field ... but when I heard about it, it just made perfect sense for her to kind of challenge herself and see what she could do.”
Sheldon said he has complete faith that Beiler will meet her goals, even raising $50,000 in a bad economy.
“I’ve yet to pick my next phenomenal challenge but its inspiring me to dream about or think about what challenge I need to put in front of myself,” he said.
Beiler said what she most looks forward to about her venture is the end.
“It will give a huge sense of accomplishment I think that I have completed something … to the end and look back and say, ‘Wow I could actually do that.’ That’s what I am looking forward to,” she said.
Until then, Beiler will train four times a week, riding around 100 miles, to prepare for her journey in March.
For more information about Beiler’s ride, go to http://www.connectingtoserve.org/ridetoconnect.html.
Alyson Zepeda is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.