As a investigative journalist it is always a blessing when a story comes along the fascinates me to my core. Uli Schackmann simply made a decision one day to ride a bike from Alaska to Key West. A decision that would not enter most peoples realm of thought, let alone to see it through and dedicate her time and perhaps her life for a ride of this magnitude.
I understand her riding to Key West, 165 miles over 2 days, not my cup of tea but I get it. But to ride from Alaska to Key West, that I could not comprehend, I needed to know more, I needed to understand.
What drives a person to do it, to take on a task larger than themselves. How does one build the mental fortitude to persevere.
I would say I always have been very curious and I think my curiosity has pushed me forward into some amazing adventures
I hope I don’t disappoint you when I say I wasn’t in top shape. People look at me and think I am in great shape because of my small body size. In general I would saw I was in OK shape.
I trained in South Florida on flat terrain with my trailer, Jackson in it, and my four saddled back packed with old paint cans and books. I increased my riding time to increase my endurance and to build strength.
Many people think that I must be HIV positive as I have been involved with the HIV/AIDS bicycle fundraiser rides for over 20 years. I am not personally not effected by HIV though I am affected by HIV/AIDS.
After I shared the ride and my vision for a cure for AIDS by 2020 with so many people it became a living thing and everything seemed to fall in place. Trusting and surrendering was the biggest mental lesson.
Not at first. I was too excited to be on this adventure to feel scared. I started to feel scared, and small when I was riding the on the lonely highways exposed to the elements, and wildlife. The fear of bear encounters really grew as I was warned by every person I encountered in Alaska. The bears just came out of their hibernation and I was told that at that stage that they are very hungry and aggressive. The scariest moment was when I encountered a grizzly with two cups. It really made me question my journey and gave me a whole new respect for my environment.
My biggest asset was my determination, my curiosity and my adventure spirit. My openness to trust and to surrender to whatever showed up.
I was told I couldn’t so I did, because so many cannot take on a challenge of this magnitude due to physical limitations.
I was looking for something that would challenge me and make me feel alive again.
After participating for the last 20 years in local HIV fundraising cycling events, I needed something bigger to help find a cure for HIV/AIDS.