Why you should read Crazy Cycling Chick
A life of irony, and a life of overcoming
This isn't in the book, but this gives a good idea of what is:
I hate my dad for caning me. I love him for filling the house with books.
I was often abused, angry and in despair. I was always lonely. In spite of all that I was and am in love with life.
My freedom is labored for by my parents who worked two jobs each when I was growing up, and by my husband who never stops nudging me in the direction of my calling and purpose. To them I owe everything.
Excerpts from Crazy Cycling Chick
Now, these two chapters are from the book:
Growing up in a frugal household in Malaysia with an extremely strict father, I lived in constant fear.
I feared my father flying off the hooks and caning me in his anger. I feared my school grades did not match up to his expectations of me.
One day when I was twelve, after I had been whipped several times with a cane, as blood oozed out of the tender, split skin on my buttocks, I shut the door to my bedroom, dropped to my knees, raised my clenched fists to heaven, and declared, Someday, I will get out of this misery. I will not be intimidated by my father. I will escape this pain and do something remarkable in my life.
The idea for cycling across America wasn't simply birthed in 2014 - it was a dream that took many years in the making, one which sprouted out of that inner resolution I made when I was twelve.
Of course, I didn't know then that I would ride across America. I just knew that someday I would do something that pushes myself to the extreme; something big; something I would be proud of.
Fast forward over twenty years later, when I conceived the idea for Angie Across America, I decided that it would be a dream I would relentlessly pursue and accomplish, despite my fears:
Will I be able to complete the journey?
Will I be able to raise the funds I need?
Will I be in danger?
Will there be racism?
Will I meet rough characters?
Fear is paralyzing. Like a thick fog that blurs the vision, it creates an illusion that the path ahead is more dangerous and risky than it really is. Fear concocts excuses and stops me from moving forward.
I learned that the only way to overcome fear is to face my fear head-on. And when I did, it was liberating. My internal language started to change. I found myself asking:
What if I can't fail?
I noticed a bicycle propped against the wall outside the only cafe open that early in the morning. Wisdom, Montana is so small it has only two motels and two restaurants, one of which we were headed into for breakfast.
We walked in, hoping to find Eric devouring two big plates of stacked-high pancakes. Instead, we found a stout woman in her 40s sitting in the far corner of the cafe, and a man in his late 50s sitting at a table next to her. They were chatting like old friends.
We took a seat at the table closest to them. A little town gossip wouldn't hurt. Besides, we were wondering what happened to Eric and thought maybe they would know.
After we had placed our orders of the usual - two pancakes, a sunny-side up egg, and a cup of coffee for me; omelette, toast, and a cup of orange juice for Derek - there was still no sight of Eric. Could the bicycle belong to either the man or woman?
The man was wearing a cotton buttoned-up shirt and jeans. The woman was dressed in a loose black top and black pants. Then I spotted a bicycle helmet resting on the table next to her plate of food.
We asked if the bicycle outside belonged to her and she chirpily responded yes with an Australian accent and broke into the warmest and most radiant smile.
She was bright and glowing. I couldn't tell if it was the film of oil on her skin or the sun's rays streaming into the cafe through the window near where she sat.
While we had a horribly cold and wretched time riding over the steep and snowy peaks of Chief Joseph Pass, arriving in Wisdom past 9:00 p.m., Joanna Abernathy, we later learned, didn't arrive in Wisdom until 1:00 a.m. She had hauled a loaded 50-pound bike up Chief Joseph Pass with slow and dogged determination.
"Wasn't that just utterly miserable?" I gulped, referring to the laborious climb, freezing cold, heavy load, and late arrival in town. Any two of those variables would have broken many cyclists, much less all four.
"Nah, I just went slow and focused on every single pedal. I had to keep pedaling or I'd slide backwards! My bags were so heavy! Cars were honking at me but I didn't care. I was just happy to be cycling."
"I'm riding in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King," she went on. "I was a little girl of 14 when I saw his stirring I have a dream speech in Washington D.C. He gave hope to millions of people. I was truly inspired. I'm riding now, as an adult, in tribute to him. I started in Astoria, Oregon and hope to finish on the steps of the Washington Capitol building."
I didn't ask any more questions. I didn't have to. She'd proven to me how much she was enjoying her ride with a positive outlook while I'd been beating myself down with a sour attitude.
Our breakfast arrived and we ate quickly as we had another long day ahead of us. In between huge bites of pancakes and eggs, we overheard the man telling Joanna that she should tell others about her adventure through social media. He was teaching her the nuts and bolts of setting up a Facebook page. Occasionally I'd glance back at Joanna and could see her smiling sweetly back at him, though I had the feeling his intentions were misguided. Like us, Joanna just wanted to get on her bike and ride. He was holding her back. Still, Joanna never betrayed her impatience.
I remembered that warm and enduring face as we got up to leave.
Three months later, I found out on Facebook that Joanna was knocked dead on the road in Indiana, just five days away from her destination in Washington where she would have concluded her epic ride in tribute to Dr. King.