Are You Interested in Traveling Internationally on a Bicycle? Find Out How to Start!

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Hey, this is Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. Are you having the interest in doing national or international travel with your spouse or a close friend? My good friend Patty Huff is our guest today. And Patty and husband at age of 55 made a major life decision and started being bike travelers. We're gonna talk about that transfer and how she get started, and where they've been. They've been literally all over the world, or all over Europe. So Patty, how are you?

Patty Huff: Good, great, thank you.

Jim Dodson: Patty and I serve on the Florida Bicycle Association together. Patty's the current President. They live down in Everglades City, correct?

Patty Huff: Yes.

Jim Dodson: And has a unique experience having lived down there a long time. Her husband's a retired, or still working fishing guide.

Patty Huff: Sort of still working fishing guide, yes.

Jim Dodson: But don't think you're gonna go down there and book a trip with him, 'cause he only goes with his old cronies that he's been book fishing with for many years. So, Patty I sort of tipped everybody off that you had sort of a life-change experience at 55, and decided you're gonna be a cyclist. How'd that happen?

Patty Huff: Well it really started, my mother died at an early age, so when we turned 50, or 52, I told my husband, I said, I think we need to think about staying young and what we should do with the rest of the years we have. I said what have you wanted to do, and he said, "Well I've always wanted to take a bike trip "across the United States." At that time, we didn't really own a bike, and I said, well okay. That sounds good. We need to buy a bike, and so I researched it. We bought some Cannondales and we set out a goal of starting in June of 2000, when we were just turning 55 that year. So we started out from Everglades City and started pedaling day by day. But we had to prepare a little bit for it. So we went to the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia to see if we could ride up a mountain, because we weren't used to hills. And we did that as a trial run, the year before, in 1999. And then we just started biking to Chokoloskee and back. It was our first trip. That's a roundtrip of eight miles. And then started out the first day, we went to Immokalee and then stayed in Labelle. So the first day was about 65 miles, and we did about 65 to 80 every day after that, with two stops, one in Dodge City, and one in Pueblo, Colorado. Other than that, we were on the road everyday.

Jim Dodson: How many times have you been across the US now?

Patty Huff: Now it's been two. Well we did that, that year 2000 and then two years later, my husband said, "Well why don't we do it the other way, "starting in Washington State?" So we started in Washington, and in Port Townsend, went over the North Cascades, then came to Jacksonville. So we did 7300 miles the first trip, and about 3700 the second trip.

Jim Dodson: Alright, so your husband was still working at the time, and he has been a fishing guide for what, 50 years, I think?

Patty Huff: Years, yes.

Jim Dodson: But so you were really using that time, his down season, which I assume would be in the summer.

Patty Huff: Right, yes. I just took a leave of absence from my job. I was still working as a financial planner with Raymond James, and I had hired someone to help me and I was slowly getting out of the business. So I was able to take off the time too.

Jim Dodson: And you guys got started using Cannondale hybrids--

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: Which were not particularly expensive bikes. I think you told me they were about a thousand dollars at the time.

Patty Huff: Right, yeah. They're were around a thousand. I think mine was just under a thousand and my husband's was a little over. And we chose that because we researched it, and we wanted a bike that was made in the United States and was sturdy, and the hybrids, looked like they were the type of bikes that we didn't wanna lean over like a road bike. We thought we were too old for that. So we wanted to sit up a little bit, and that was a good combination. Plus the tires were really good. The Continental 2000 were good touring bikes and so if we had to get off road at any time, we were able to do that and it was fun.

Jim Dodson: And so you have transitioned into European travel in the last few years as well. Give us some idea where you've been.

Patty Huff: Well actually it started, our trip across the United States when we were outside of Pueblo in Colorado, we ran into a couple that were from the Netherlands, and we road with them for about three or four days. They were on the Adventure Cycling cross-country route. And they asked us to come to Europe the next year, in year 2001, so we thought, well that sounds like a great idea. So we went over there, the following summer, and spent time with them going through the Netherlands, and Germany and Switzerland, France and Spain. And we took a train back to Rotterdam, and then want back to their home. So that was our first European trip, and we enjoyed it so much that we want three years after that and met them again, and went with them through Italy and Slovenia, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. And since then, we've been back, I've been back four other times. We've been to Ireland and Scotland, the Inner and Outer Herbrides, the Pyrenees, again in Spain, went to Portugal, and then this year we're planning on going to Wales.

Jim Dodson: So you do your own planning, right?

Patty Huff: Yes and right now starting to plan for Wales, yes.

Jim Dodson: And by and large, you do not go on guided trips with a tour group. You're not gonna do it the barge, your husband's not gonna stand for the barge trip.

Patty Huff: No, we just kind of plan it on our own met. My husband likes it that way. And, you know, we do really well together, 'cause he chooses where he wants to go that year, and then I do all of the planning. And I try to choose the coastal roads, or the roads that are not so strenuous, as I get older. I'm 73 now, and you know, we work it out together where we really do have fun together, just the two of us, because we keep on our own. And if we go with another couple, sometimes he feels like, I really enjoyed going with our European friends, but he said, "Oh they stop so much "for coffee and ice cream." And he wants to be on the road the whole time. But I enjoyed it thoroughly with them, so I could go either way. But it's just the two of us. He's very resourceful, so it works out.

Jim Dodson: A couple of unique things about the way you travel. First is that you primarily were doing camping, early on, correct.

Patty Huff: Yes.

Jim Dodson: Which affects, of course, what you're going to take with you.

Patty Huff: Right.. And we just really, I think I realized we camped out almost most of the first five or six years. It's only been the last maybe, really the last five years that we kind of stopped and decided well, why don't we just take two panniers, instead of all of the camping gear, and just stay in motels. At our age now we like a nice cold air-conditioned room, and a beer at the end of the day.

Jim Dodson: It does make a difference.

Patty Huff: Yeah, it's more expensive and I miss the camping, both of us kind of miss the being out in the woods, and cooking for ourselves and just being, it's so beautiful and quiet, but, you know, we can still do that around Florida if we wanna do that. But we're kind of spoiling ourselves now.

Jim Dodson: I wanted to lay out where you've been, because you've got some unique experience, for people who might be considering doing this. You did two things, I think is interesting. The first is you know where you wanna go, but you don't really have an itinerary, that you wanna stick to. Your flexible and you kind of change it on the fly. Why don't you, just kind of address that for a minute?

Patty Huff: Yes, I'm preparing for Wales, right now. I don't know why my husband just chose Wales, and that sounds great, I mean, because the UK, we've had a lot of fun in there. And so I'm on an email list to get the National Cycle Network newsletter and routing. And that's the network in all of the UK. So we found out about that when we were in Scotland. We didn't know about it before we left. But we chose to go, my husband, when we went to Scotland, he wanted to really go in the Inner and Outer Herbrides. So we chose Glasgow as the place to start. And so we just look up place to stay in that city. I haven't checked yet, where in Wales, or if were flying into London, or Gatwick or whatever we're doing, but eventually, I'll pick a site to fly into, and then we'll probably bike from there, and we normally, what we almost always have to do, and what we did in Portugal, is that we're taking our bikes us, and so it's in a suitcase. So we need to store them, somewhere when we go. Like in Glasgow, we found a hotel right in the city, and we arranged with them ahead of time that we would like to keep our suitcases there, and then after a roundtrip through Inner and Outer Herbrides, we came back to Glasgow, and we were able to stay in the some hotel, and then just pack up our bags and get a ride to the airport. So that's who we generally do it.

Jim Dodson: A couple of things, in terms of not having an itinerary, you and I were talking earlier about one of your trips across the US, you ran into a couple of days of really significant headwinds. They can be pretty daunting and discouraging.

Patty Huff: Yes.

Jim Dodson: And you were able to, we don't have a real schedule, so you changed your route, in route.

Patty Huff: And that's really what is helpful about not having a particular place that we have to go to every night. You have much more freedom to be able just to get on the bike in the morning and we all research it the night before. We say, okay we made it this far, where do we wanna go next? So we had a plan in Kansas, where to to go, and we started out towards that direction, but once we got to Garden City the headwinds were so hard, we said, well why don't we just go north instead. And so we just turned north and it went like 30 miles per hour. It was blowing us there. We got there in an hour and a half. We got to Scott City, we had a fantastic dinner at the Majestic Theater, and we had a lot of fun. It just turned out to be a better experience and so the day may start out rough, but then you find out it's fine. And that happened to us in Germany too. We started out, the rains were so, so hard. They were comin' down so hard we had to stop at a little tent. They happen to always have festival in Germany for some reason, and so it was a little beer tent, and they said, "Oh don't you wanna a beer?" And we said, no, we just started biking. They said, "We give our bikers have beer, half lemonade, "and you just keep on goin'." But we just had to kind of wait out the rain for about an hour, and then we headed out again, and so you have to adjust your schedule to the weather a lot. And that's the best part, you don't feel under pressure to get somewhere.

Jim Dodson: Well I think there's two kinds of people that travel. There are people that are that flexible in their attitude about it, that you are doing, and there's people like people that I know personally, want to know where they're staying. They're not gonna leave this place until they know where they're staying the next place.

Patty Huff: Yeah. That gives a lot of comfort

Jim Dodson: Yeah, but your kind of travel lends itself, to a lot of experiences, 'cause you and I were chatting and preparing for today, about you get to some place and you can't find a place. You thought you were gonna go 65 miles and find a hotel, and suddenly there's a festival goin' on. That happened--

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: One time.

Patty Huff: Yeah, that's actually, and we've had to have to call ahead a few times in the United States. We were around, I remember going around New York, around Lake Champlain, and we couldn't find anything. There was festivals all over the place there. And it was very, very difficult to find a place to stay. So sometimes you have to go an extra 20 miles, and that's really a hassle when you're very tired, and you've already gone 80 miles and they tell you, "I'm sorry, there's no place to stay.", and we have to go another 20, and yeah, you know. So that's the down side of it. And it did happen in Scotland too. We were planning on staying in the Isle of Skye. We were just leaving from the Outer Herbrides an going to Skye, and we had to go through the whole island. It's a very long island, and we stopped at all sorts of places. That was the Highland Games. And we had no idea. So we just got on the last boat, the next last ferry, to go to the next place which was Mallaig, and we got there, and it was raining and there was also no place to stay. So I went to a bar and asked them if they had any room in their hotel. They said no, but we were welcome to stay there until they closed at midnight. But they also suggested that we just go and keep walking down the road, that we might find a B&B, and that's what we did. We first saw a telephone booth. We thought we'd have to stay there, the youth hostel, the last room was taken. And then as we continued on, we did find a little B&B, that they had just changed their sign from no vacancy to vacancy. And we were able to go up and have a nice little scotch in the room overlooking the sea, and so it turned out to be a wonderful experience, but it was a lot of stress during that time period, you might not find something. But my husband's of the attitude, don't worry, we always find something. And we do.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Jim Dodson: I mean, I asked you, 'cause typically with a husband and wife, you've got one person's a stronger rider than the other person, and you have that sort of tension about speed and distance and ability level. How do you address that?

Patty Huff: Well, he's much stronger than I am. So if we're going up a mountain, usually that's it, up a hill or a mountain, he's up at the top and he'll wait for me. And I plod along and I finally get to the top with him, and then he goes faster downhill and he always has to wait for me. The only time it's a problem is when I tell him, when we get to a fork in the road, please wait. And I usually get a whistle, but he can't hear a high pitch sound, so it doesn't work, the whistle. So sometimes I've gotten to a fork in the road, and have no idea where to go. And I thought, well I'll just sit here, and eventually he'll come back for me, and find me, and I say, well you have to wait. I don't know which way to go. And there was another time in Ireland when we were staying at a B&B and we met an American couple the next morning at breakfast, and they said, "Oh.", when they heard we were biking, "We said, oh we felt so sorry for this young girl "that we saw her and she was pedaling along, "and the husband was up so far ahead of her." She said she told her husband, she said, "Don't you ever do that to me." And I said were they wearing yellow jackets? And she said, "Yes.", and I said well that was us, yes. We were the ones that were out there pedaling along slowly. So it works out. He waits for me and I just decide I can't go any faster.

Jim Dodson: He has a saying about this, what was that?

Patty Huff: Ah.

Jim Dodson: About the most difficult part of traveling?

Patty Huff: Oh, yes, yes. Alright, well he just says, a lot of people ask him, "How do you travel this way and everything?" And he said, "Well the hardest thing is to find somebody "that wants to travel with you.", that to find a companion or someone you love that's gonna travel with you, because that is the hardest thing. I know a lot of friends that don't have anyone to go with and it does it make it a lot easier that we both enjoy it so much. We had no idea when we got married over 35 years ago that we'd be ending up biking together. Neither one of us had done any biking, really before age 50. So, you know, we had pedaled around town a little bit to go to the grocery or to play with our bikes, but nothing long distance. But now it's our life now.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, yeah, and it's amazing. So you've mentioned bicycles. I know that you started off on the hybrid, but you graduated to a much more, I guess a unique, and just tell us about your bike, you're using now.

Patty Huff: Well we started with the Cannondale hybrid, and we still have it. It's a hybrid, but my husband always wanted the idea of being able to put the bicycle in a, carry it with us in a suitcase. So he had looked at Co-Motion and researched that, and so we used to carry our bikes in boxes, and ship them to wherever we were going or take 'em on the plane with us, but in a large box. And so once about 10 years ago, or something we decided well, I think it was 2012, we thought we will go ahead and get a Co-Motion, where you can take, it's a coupler system. So you take the bike apart, and it fits into, where you can barely see the coupler system on the picture of the bike, but that's the little silver part on the frame. And it comes apart and it fits into a regular size suitcase. So we ship it with us now, and the bike is always with us on our travels around the either United States or Europe.

Jim Dodson: So those are steel bikes. So they're heavier than a lot of--

Patty Huff: Yeah, right, and that's good. I mean we like the heavier bikes as far as being sturdy, and being able to hold the panniers. We have the large panniers in the back there, which carry my riding clothes on one side, and my biking clothes, and then the after biking clothes in the other. Actually I do that in the front panniers. I can squeeze all that into the little ones. In the back ones we would have our sleeping bag and tent and the cooking utensils and everything would fit into the back panniers. But today, most of the time, if we're not gonna be camping, we just use the back panniers and then just skip the front ones. And then we have a lot of extra space.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, so I'm gonna talk about that. One thing about the Co-Motion, those are not inexpensive bicycles, that are made in the United States, but they're custom made, correct?

Patty Huff: Right, yes they're custom made in Eugene, Oregon. And so, I think ours were somewhere around six or $7,000, I think. And you go and they fit 'em to your size, and specifically for you-- and your arm length.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Patty Huff: And everything.

Jim Dodson: But for many years, and you and I were talkin' about this, you actually used, you're talkin' about boxes, you're talkin' about cardboard boxes-- like what a bike.

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: I would get a bike shipped to them in before they sell it, correct?

Patty Huff: Yes, yes, that's what we used for many years. And I know there are many online, but I think we got some of ours from the bike shops, and a local bike shop that we could ship 'em in, and then we got to a place, then we would also ship 'em back in another cardboard box. And we did that overseas too for a while, until we bought our Co-Motion.

Jim Dodson: I was curious too, because I've seen those, I've never done international travel like that. And I know that those boxes were available. You can buy them. You can get them at a bike shop, but you were telling me that you really rely on just one way. You ship--

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: The bike over there, and you get another box to bring it home. You're not gonna get two trips out of it.

Patty Huff: Right, the ones we got wouldn't survive probably a roundtrip. So goin' to Holland, we flew into Amsterdam. We just took the bikes out of the box, in Holland too, you can bike on any pathway, as you're leaving the airport. And then we just discarded the boxes at the airport there, and then friends of ours arranged to have other boxes for our bikes coming back. You know, it helps if you have a connection with a bike shop or someone that can help you with that.

Jim Dodson: So we've got the bikes and the boxes. Talk about your budget. What do you budget for your trips? Give somebody an idea what these trips cost.

Patty Huff: Okay, we'll you know, we like to, like going to Europe, it depends on the country you're going to and then the exchange rate were you are. So that's depending a lot. We usually count it's gonna cost us, if we're staying in a large city like Lisbon, or somewhere like that, it's gonna cost a couple of hundred dollars, at least to stay at a nice little B&B, or a nice little hotel, and then out on the roads, we usually go to the countrysides. We go to very small villages, very small towns. So it's anywhere between $60 and $200 still. But more around $100, I guess a night, again, depending on the exchange. And then we spend about $100 a day on our meals. So it's about $200 a day, is what we count on. Years ago, 19 years ago, we were spending a third of that. I'm sure we were stayin' at little mom and pop motels for $35. We weren't camping. But--

Jim Dodson: Right.

Patty Huff: It's gotten a lot more expensive.

Jim Dodson: And you obviously traveled pretty lightly--

Patty Huff: Yes.

Jim Dodson: The photo shows just four panniers, even with camping gear. And now that you're not traveling with camping gear by and large, you're down to two panniers, right?

Patty Huff: Yes.

Jim Dodson: And that makes the bike a lot lighter and just describe the difference to me that you feel when you have kind of downsized.

Patty Huff: It's a lot. It makes a difference when you're going up some hills and mountains on whether you're carrying an extra five or 10, 15 pounds. I try to put only five pounds of clothing in each of the panniers. And sometimes if I get too high, I look at myself and I said, okay, I can lose five pounds or I can take five pounds out of this pannier, and that's true. You wanna take as little as possible. And the first thing when I started researching about traveling across country, I read a book called Bicycle Across America, by Barbara Siegert. And she was a grandmother, and I was a grandmother at the time I started, so I thought, if she can do it, I can do it. But she had some good advice about traveling light. And she even weighed her toothpaste. I mean, she weighed every single thing. And I don't do that, but we carry very little. Like just as an example, in the first handlebar bag, I used a removable one, because when we wanna go into a restaurant or anything, most of the time we don't, we carry a lot for our bikes, but most of the time we don't have to do it, but it's a removable handlebar bag, so it becomes your purse as you go into it, and there I just carry everything very light. I used to have a very light camera before I got an iPhone, but I'll carry my iPhone and my wallet, very light, very lightweight that'll have everything in a very small wallet. Wet Ones, a little tiny medical kit with me, just basically bandaids and something to you know, Neosporin, or something just to catch any cuts you may have along the way. I'm thinking with the handlebar bag, I probably don't carry much more in there, and maybe a little notebook to write notes. And then in the panniers, I just carry as light as possible. I think three shirts is enough for biking. I always wear long sleeves to protect myself against the sun. And if it's cold, then I may wear some long biking shorts, but normally I carry three biking shorts, three tops, three pairs of socks. You can get Crocs, very light sandal, Crocs, they can go in and out of the shower, but also you can walk to diner with, look dressed up in. Lightweight tennis shoes, if you wanna do any hiking or anything. But everything is lightweight now, especially with Patagonia clothing. Always carry a rain jacket, always sunscreen though too. And then a lot of times my biking top will double for afternoon, night clothing. So in the evening I'll have one pair of long pants, just like a very lightweight Patagonia shorts and a skirt. But if you carry three or four different tops, then, you know, you've got a lot of different outfits. And you come home and you look in your closet and you think, what am I doing with all these clothes, I don't need 'em, if you spend with, you know, a couple of months on the road with you know, very lightweight stuff. So--

Jim Dodson: Yeah.

Patty Huff: You can get it to work.

Jim Dodson: I think we were talking about what's the biggest mistake most people make when they start traveling by bike?

Patty Huff: Definitely carrying too much stuff, just stuff. Whether it's too many clothes, or too much bed things. And the other thing that's really nice with the Patagonia too, you can wear the puff-ball. I have a puff-ball vest, and a puff-ball long sleeve thing. And you can layer. The most important is to layer lightweight things and also things that are rainproof too, and waterproof. But I definitely cut back, put all the things out there you wanna take and then cut in half. That's the hardest thing is taking too much on the road. And several times we've shipped things back, because it was just too heavy and I didn't wanna lug it up another mountain.

Jim Dodson: What would you tell somebody in terms of if they're thinkin' about doing this, how would they get started?

Patty Huff: I would do research. I mean, first Adventure Cycling has a lot of information. I'm a lifetime member of Adventure Cycling, and I think they have so much information online and through their magazine. I would also read books like the book that I mentioned of Barbara Siegert, if you wanna do long-distance biking. She wrote that a long time ago, but that helped me a lot, was to read about other people's experiences. A lot of times, people will just call me on the phone, and ask me how do I start and what do I do, and I sort of tell 'em the same thing. And then just get out there and ride everyday, and just start out, you know, short distances, five miles, 10 miles, and then you can build it up. And eventually, I remember our first trip, when we were doin' 60 miles a day, and we weren't used to that. We would get these cramps and oh we felt so sore and everything. We had muscles we, you know, were using we had never used before, and we thought we were gonna die all the time, the first week. It took us about two weeks to ride 60 to 80 miles a day, before the pain stopped, but you can do-- prepare for that.

Jim Dodson: It's uncomfortable.

Patty Huff: Ahead of time.

Jim Dodson: Yeah.

Patty Huff: And we did take Advil a lot or something at night to release the pain, but I think if you can just start out at your home and do, well we didn't prepare as much as we should have. But now I can get on my bike and do 40, 50 miles, and it doesn't even phase me. Somehow my muscles remember that they were once strong and so I can do it now, but it takes a while to get used to it.

Jim Dodson: How many miles are you averaging on your trips typically now?

Patty Huff: Now, I think when we went to Portugal, a couple of years ago, we did between 35 and 50. Sometimes we may have done 60. In Europe, the towns are so close together that you can ride as long as you want to, until it gets too hot in the afternoon, or a good place to stop. In the United States sometimes you have to go a lot longer. So going across the United States, most of ours was averaging between 65 and 80. And I told my husband, I preferred 55 to 60, and he preferred 70 to 80, so we averaged it 75, usually. And that was our compromise. And so there are many times though, we had to go over a hundred just because there's no other place to stop. We got to a town, that we thought was the town that would have a hotel, they said, "Oh no, all the hotels have moved out to the interstate.", which was 20 miles away. So those were back in the days before we had Google and iPhones so now we don't have that problem anymore.

Jim Dodson: Let me just interpret for a second. I hope you're enjoying the program with Patty. If you watch us at all, or listened to me speak in the past, you know that I'm kind of a safety advocate for technology, insurance, lighting and helmetry. I'm doing a program next week on the new Trek WaveCel bike helmet, that they're making some really huge claims on in terms of it's ability to prevent concussions. We'll be talking about that. But, you know, sometimes in spite all the things we do from a safety standpoint, people still get involved in crashes and drivers make bad decisions. And if you know somebody's been involved in a situation like that, been hurt in a crash or any type of an injury case, just call. You know, if you want straight answers, we're here for you. We have a passion for representing cyclist, whether you've been injured on the bike or in a car, anywhere else. And I'm dedicated to give you the best information I can and work hard on your behalf. So Patty, we talked earlier, I think one of the things that's most difficult in the US, particular when you have long distances between where you're going out west, particularly, is carrying water-- your experiences with that.

Patty Huff: Yeah.

Patty Huff: Yes, we try to carry as much water as we can. My husband carries three water bottles on his bike. I have two on mine. But if we know we're gonna be going long distances, he'll carry another gallon or so on his bike somewhere. And he usually has another part of another piece of equipment on his bike, where it's like a little cooler, on the top of the railing there, and so he can carry the more. But he's stronger, he can carry more water. But there have been times that it's been a little scary. We're out in the middle of nowhere. We think there's gonna be a crossroad, from an intersection or something coming down, and then we get there and there's no facilities at all. And that happened to me out in southwest Washington State, southeast Washington, and so we just went for miles and miles and I was getting nauseated and lightheaded, so we had to stop at a farmhouse and someone let us in and was nice enough to give me a glass of water and cool me down, before we started again. But that'll never happen again. I'll always make sure that I have enough water. And having electrolytes with you too, some tablets that you can put in your water, will also help stabilize some of the sweating. And you really have to keep hydrated whether you know it or not. I was going around Lake Okeechobee. We were gonna do a trip around there, and suddenly I had this rapid heartbeat. And I had no idea what was happening. So I called my son-in-law who's a doctor in California, and started asking him what to do do. He said, "Well call 911." I said I'm on a mountain in the middle of nowhere." He said, "Well you called me in California! "Call an ambulance." So I called an ambulance. They took a while to find me, still my heart's racing. When they got me to, when they finally found me, and put me in the ambulance, my heart rate had been beating about 217, I think for about 10 or 15 minutes-- and so.

Jim Dodson: Wow.

Patty Huff: Immediately they did an EKG, and then I converted back to normal. But they told me, they put me in the hospital a couple of days, couldn't find anything wrong with me, but what he said, he said, "I think it's electrolyte imbalance." He said, "Did you drink a lot?" And I said, no, it was raining and I had on my rain jacket, and I didn't think I needed that much water. And he said, "No when you're sweating inside "that rain jacket, you're losing a lot of water." So I found out the hard way, to make sure you're always, always hydrated. And they told me, from then I've never had another incident like that. But they said, "Before you do any physical exercise, "that's gonna be strenuous, drink a lot of water, "and stay hydrated." So I learned--

Jim Dodson: Yeah.

Patty Huff: The hard way.

Jim Dodson: The hydration issue is a big issue for anybody on road cycling or if you're traveling like Patty's describing. I've done a lot of work on programs on hydration before too. It's kind of funny that my son's a physician and the last thing your family member's who's a doctor wants to receive is a phone call from you a long way away, asking them to diagnose you, because they don't wanna be wrong.

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: 9-1-1.

Patty Huff: Exactly, I know. So I made the right decision in calling. But, you know, you just have to, and that happened to me out in a mountain bike trail in the Fakahatchee, and recently too. I didn't take enough water with me, and I got cramps and everybody else was giving me their water, but it was my mistake of not taking enough with me, or drinking enough. But you definitely need to find a way to carry enough with you.

Jim Dodson: So everybody who sits here in Florida, and is thinking about taking a trip anywhere, whether in Europe or here in the States, and you go outside of Florida, they get a little intimidated with the word, mountain.

Patty Huff: Oh yes

Jim Dodson: How are you, you had an interesting perspective on it and so just how did you handle the mountains?

Patty Huff: Well, I'm intimidated by 'em too, 'cause my husband is not at all. And every time I look, I said, I don't wanna go on that route because it looks like it's mountain. And he would always say, "Listen it's nothing "you haven't done before." And he's right. I mean we climbed up over the Hoosier Pass. It was over 11,800 feet or something. But it was a slow progression. But I just try to think of something as I'm going up the mountain. And my husband and I, if we're traveling on a lonely road and there's not any traffic and we can talk and we can bike next to each other, then he had the idea that we start learning the Gettysburg Address, 'cause we did bike through Gettysburg one time. We were very impressed with everything there. So he learned the Gettysburg Address. So he teaches it to me. So we practiced the Gettysburg Address. And then my father had a poem called The Seeker, and we say that, and then we learned all the Presidents of the United States in order. And then all their wives, and all the states they were from. And so we just practice things, and that gets us through the long stretches, but it also helps me go up the mountains and I'll start saying the Gettysburg Address or The Seeker or I'll just start counting. And I don't look up as much as I look down, and watch the lines on the road. And sometimes I count to a hundred, because you just have to keep pedaling along, and you think someday you're gonna make it up there to the top, you know, so.

Jim Dodson: Well mountains, there's two aspects. You go up and then you have to come down-- and.

Patty Huff: Right.

Jim Dodson: I don't really like the feeling of being out of control coming down a mountain, having a loaded bike, adds a lot of momentum. You get a lot of physics going on there. Your husband's clearly faster coming down as well.

Patty Huff: Yeah, that's why we will never have a tandem bike. Everybody says, "Oh you gotta Co-Motion, you have a tandem." And I said, no we would get a divorce. I do not like to go fast down the mountain, and he loves it, he loves it. So he races down, just going as fast as he can, and I'm going at my own speed. I've learned not to really burn my brakes up much. And I've learned to go a little bit faster. I started going down my first mountain, I think at five miles per hour. I was pushing on the brakes every second, pumping them back and forth. But now I can go down a little bit easier, and I feel more comfortable. But you have to be so cautious, because some little animal could jump out in front of you, or a rock jump from a car. And I had one time, I wasn't going down a mountain, but I was on the road, and a car went by and hit a piece of wood, and it came flying right in front of my face, but luckily it didn't hit me. But you have to be constantly, constantly looking at your surroundings and looking at the road, and enjoying the sights though. You know, I'm talking about some of the hardships, but the best part is being out there and riding and enjoying every minute of it, and realizing it's good for your mind, body and your soul, and it's the best experience in the world.

Jim Dodson: Do you have any experiences you wanna share with our viewers?

Patty Huff: Any particular-- experiences?

Jim Dodson: Yeah.

Patty Huff: You know, it's wonderful. My husband and I have been talking about maybe doing one more bike trip across the United States, and I'm really for that, because I feel like it takes two or three weeks to be on the road to get into the rhythm of biking or so many miles every single day. When you just go for two weeks or three weeks, you're just getting started and just feeling comfortable. But there's just so many wonderful times. I mean, just crossing over the Big Sky Mountains in Montana. There's just nothing like it, or through the sunflower fields in France and Germany. It's wonderful, every part. And the best part of going to Europe, especially is meeting the people, the culture, the food, and when you go on a bike, they receive you a little bit differently than you just driving up in a car. And they're just wonderful. Everybody's so generous and really welcome you and you get to experience so much more by bicycle. I mean every place we've been, we've had a great experience. We love Ireland. We love Scotland. We love Portugal. We love it all. So every part of it's been wonderful. But the safety part is the most important part, I think that we're always conscious of.

Jim Dodson: And you told me earlier that you sort of became aware of how safety conscious and what the infrastructure they've done in Europe to assist cyclists, which kind of drove you to join the Florida Bicycle Association, after one of your trips.

Patty Huff: You know, really even from the very first trip, when we landed in Amsterdam, and found there were five different choices to bike on five different bike paths, you know, you could--

Jim Dodson: Right from the airport.

Patty Huff: Yeah, from the airport, and a fast route, goin' straight by the interstate or just taking a few different scenic routes and you know, I even proposed that I think to Orlando one time, that it would be so wonderful if all the European visitors coming into Orlando, why they don't have bicycle paths going from Orlando to every parts of Florida. It would be idea, but that's what they do. That the way they think in Europe and think in Amsterdam. And so it was so safe, and they even had little stop signs and I took signs of places all over Europe, where they were designed specifically for bike paths in Europe. And I come back and we're biking again through the United States, and I'm just realizing that we don't have any of the facilities, and this was back in 2001. I mean, things are changing a lot now-- with rail trails.

Jim Dodson: Yeah.

Patty Huff: And more trail towns throughout the country, and Everglades City was just designated a trail town. So we're very excited about that. But this is what we need. We need more trial towns, more connectivity between the towns through individual bike things. But that's what I notice. I said, I'd like to try to work on something in the United States and so I did, like I said, I joined Adventure Cycling and the League of Bicyclists and American Trails and then also joined the Florida Bicycle Association early on, and then just mainly for the safety factor. We're pushing for safety for everybody out there. And it's safety for the motorists too, if we have separated pathways or wider bike lanes. So that's what I think is the most important thing that we don't want anyone else out there getting hurt.

Jim Dodson: You know, and I think that one of our offers, I think Kati's got stream on NASBA there that we're actually urging people to join the FBA. There's a link to join the FBA. You know, the FBA, we have an Executive Director, which is really our only full-time employee. And I'm the Secretary, Patty's the President. It's the voice of cyclists in Florida. Becky, our Executive Director's in the Legislature for every major committee hearing relating to any cycling-related bill. We have some opportunities to share to get some distracted driver legislation done. There's some other things we're working on. So we really live by individual memberships, which are only $25.00 or $30.00 I think for a couple. So if you're watching this, we'd love for you to go join. We need you and you need us. So take the advantage and join the FBA today. Patty you've been a great guest. I appreciate the opportunity. I could spend more time talking to you.

Patty Huff: Thank you, it's a lot of fun and I can't wait to get back out there.

Jim Dodson: Thank you very much. We'll see you, actually see you Friday at the next meeting.

Patty Huff: Yes, thank you.

Jim Dodson: Take care.

Patty Huff: Bye-bye.

Jim Dodson: Bye-bye. That's it from the The Florida Bike Guy. Be safe.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.