Cleveland woman undertakes cycling journey

Published 10:03 am Thursday, June 20, 2013

ASHLAND, Ky. — Enjoying the air conditioning in Starbucks, Miranda Bernabei sipped her well-deserved decaf iced coffee.

Bernabei’s stop at the Ashland, Ky., coffeehouse marked a milestone — 300 miles on the dot since the 53-year-old peddled away from her Cleveland home last Tuesday.

The short version of Bernabei’s story is she wanted to lose weight so she threw herself into a cycling journey from her home with a final destination of Asheville, N.C.

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But the long version, as Bernabei tells it, is one of a woman who thrust herself into a seemingly impossible challenge, with intentions of failing at the task.

“When I told people I was thinking about taking this trip, they said, ‘Oh you can’t do that. That’s too far,’” far,’” Bernabei said. “And I said, ‘Well, you’d probably say the same thing about me if I said I was going to row half way across the Atlantic in a boat.’ Well, if you dropped me right in the middle of the Atlantic in a boat, I would row half way across because there would be no other choice.”

It had been about 14 years since Bernabei’s Giant Sedona bike had seen the light of day. The bike had been in storage, only logging about 10 miles before it was stowed away.

It was no wonder the woman’s friends thought her Cleveland-to-Asheville trip was a pipe dream.

But Bernabei knew the challenge had to be all or nothing for her to succeed.

“I’m the kind of person where the easiest way for me to perform is to take away all the options for non-performance,” Bernabei said. “…I kept thinking, if I could just get out and get away from anything that would break my rhythm, basically strand myself to the point where giving up was not an option. Turning back was not an option. Giving up was not an option. The only way through it was to go through it and that’s what I wanted to do.”

So for the past week, Bernabei has seen the back country of Ohio from the vantage point of a bicycle at about 15 miles per hour, logging about 50 miles a day, give or take.

Already Bernabei’s skin has turned from a fair shade to golden from a week in the sun. Her long silvering hair pulled back in a ponytail is slightly matted from being underneath a helmet.

And the ride has been relatively smooth, with only a few hiccups along the way, including some not-so-friendly dogs staved off with mace and a blown out tire repaired with the help of a friendly family.

Having reached her halfway point in Ashland, Bernabei said she hoped to reach the Virginia boarder within of two days. As far as getting to Asheville on a specific schedule, the woman said she will get there when she gets there.

Looking ahead to the end of her journey, Bernabei said she expects to feel accomplished.

“I see a lot of people and I know a lot of people who get in kind of a rut,” Bernabei said. “For me, this is a way to break that cycle of being in a rut. Doing something completely different. Challenging myself in a way I haven’t done in a long time. I’ve been through a lot of challenges in my life but this is one I sought out on my own. This is going to be one of those things when I look back on it and I’ll say, ‘Wow. I really did that.’ This is kind of personal.”