Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santa Delivered Bikes!

What a nice surprise it was to see a brand new, pretty, white bike under the Christmas tree! Adam struck a deal with Cannondale and they offered to give us two new Cannondale Touring 1 bikes and a box full of clothing in exchange for the rights to a few pictures along the way. I have an awesome husband! Take a look at some pics of the new bikes!

We were very excited about the deal, but a little worried at the timing. Times are getting tight and we have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Cannondale to send everything to us! It's probably pretty important to test out the gear at least once before you pack it up for a year-long journey. But it doesn't look like it'll get any real testing. After we got the bikes, we were tortured to sit on them in the basement and pretend to ride as the blizzard made it's way through CT. Roads finally cleared up and we were able to take the bikes for a little spin. We have a little adjusting to do as the trip was only 3 miles and my butt was a little sore by the end of it!!

As for the apparel, it finally arrived and we found some time one night this week at 10:00 to open it up and see our goodies. I have to admit, Cannondale has some good quality clothing. We just hope it works as well as it looks. What a bummer it would be to find out the rain gear isn't 100% waterproof while in the middle of one of those rain storms in California! Oh well, at least we'll look good!

On the other side of the world, someone else got a bike for Christmas. The 50 kids at Hope Destitute Children's Center in Uganda received four bikes for Christmas thanks to our fundraiser at Ballou's in Guilford, CT. It wasn't an easy task for our brother, Kimuli (Dave) Paradis to ride into Kampala, buy the bikes and bring them back.

Here was one of the stops along the way, where Dave's Brother-in-law works on the truck to keep it running.

Here is what Dave wrote about his trip. "Almost in Kampala and the clutch is lost, nothing. Get the truck to a petrol station where Gertrude's brothers come to fix it. They drop it off the next day at YWCA, but there were new problems: a hole in the water pump, and the front wheels, which were welded on to the axel, were coming off and all pigeon toed. We went for it yesterday, the two hour trip back home through Kampala road worrying about not being able to turn the wheels too hard or run the engine too hot. Things went well until half way home and the electric blows up. No lights, small fire in the radio, etc. Thankfully we were in a town and had Gertrude's bro with us."

TIA, huh?
Thankfully, they made it back to Lukaya and the kids enjoyed a fun-filled Christmas day with their new bikes! (Thank you Gertrude for reminding Dave to bring the camera!!)

So these past weeks have been a little trying on Adam and I with all we have to get done, but taking a minute to read about Dave's adventure in Uganda and seeing the smiles on those kids faces makes it all worth while. We were interviewed the other day for the New Haven Register (we'll be in the paper next week) and she asked us a really cool question. Alex, the reporter, asked us how we were going to keep each other motivated during this trip. There are so so so many ways to stay motivated, and this is one of them. Smiles.

It's been crazy, but I'm sure everything will get done. Somewhere in between the wedding Adam is photographing today, the 40 hours of editing he'll have afterwards, the family reunion this weekend, the packing, the shopping, the boxing and shipping bikes, the storing of all of our stuff that we're not taking, and the last visits to family and friends... it will all get done. Less than one week until we get to ride! Just gotta remember to smile!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mini-Moon: Honeymoon Training Video

 Check out the new HD video:

Bike to VT, Honeymoon bike touring from Adam Coppola on Vimeo.

Some other new additions to Give a Bike have been our web pages:

-Thanks to Jennie and Frank from Marina, CA for giving us this URL: giveabike.com.  They are supporting us beyond the URL donation.  They have even spoken to their mayor suggesting a send-off event for us in Marina, CA.

870 "likes" as of 11/8! That is awesome!  Thanks everyone.  There will be updated pictures, videos, and news on this page

We are new to twitter but we have learned quickly and this will definitely be helpful in giving quick short updates to everyone interested

This site is for anyone that would like to see our videos in HD quality

We are busy working on getting the media, small town publications, and magazines interested in our story.... it's a ton of work.  I have a huge appreciation for anyone in PR.

Thanks for staying involved.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mini-moon; Honeymoon Training

Our mini-moon to Vermont starts a day late and a person extra. Those of you that know Adam and I know that our great planning ideas don’t always come to fruition and we’re always late no matter what…  even to our own honeymoon. So our packing started at 5:00pm on Monday night when we realized we had to take an hour drive to REI to get rain gear since the forecast for Tuesday looked gloomy.  We spent a good $650… still recovering from that shock… got home by 10 and started packing.  Of course, this pushed our trip back slightly, but at 10:00am the next morning, we were off with clear, sunny skies.  

In Africa, when someone leaves your house you give them what is called, a “push.”  Basically, you walk them out the door, down the street, and sometimes all the way back to their house.  I guess at this point it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that now that someone has pushed you all the way back to your house, it’s only right to now give them a push back home.  So Dave, feeling the African vibe, wanted to give us a push for our biking honeymoon trip to Vermont.  The plan was to push us a couple of miles to Guilford, but, as is the African way, it lasted a bit longer. The day turned out to be too nice to pass up a bike ride all the way to Cheshire (about 20 miles further).  

As we rode, I fell back behind Adam and Dave.  Not too far, but enough to see people’s puzzled faces as they saw the white flag Adam mounted to his bike which read, “Just Married,” and then Dave following closely behind.  I laughed to myself and let people think what they wanted, except for this one couple who congratulated them as the rode by.  When I caught up I yelled, “I’m the wife!”  Looking back, I’m not sure if this clarified things or confused the ladies even more. 

In our hectic scramble to get everything packed the night before our trip, Dave volunteered to start mapping out our trip for us.  It’s thanks to him we got to spend 6 miles or so on the Farmington Trail from Hamden to Cheshire.  No cars, no motorcycles, just walkers enjoying the day, runners getting their exercise, beautiful foliage, and us.  It was here that Dave really got to see what traveling with Adam is really like.  Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.  How could we resist, though with such beautiful shots around every corner. I find it funny that most of the pictures of the first day of my honeymoon are with Dave and I!   

After a while, Adam passed on the camera so we could get a few pics of the actual honeymooners. 

It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Dave after we shared lunch at a small Italian deli just past the end of the trail.  Though we were excited to start our honeymoon with just the two of us, Dave’s relaxed attitude and goofy demeanor are always welcome.  We have him to thank for setting the mood of the whole trip. 

Our next two days of riding were similar to the first.  Clear skies, warm weather, and beautiful foliage.  Check out some of the shots!!!

Generosity comes in all forms.  When Adam first told me about Warm Showers, I, along with many others, was somewhat skeptical.  It’s an app that allows bicyclers to find places to stay on the road while they are touring.  Adam was determined to use the app on this trip and after our first night of camping out on the side of the road all the while freaking out over the police across the river from us, we decided to try it out.   

We were about 20 miles outside of Pittsfield, MA when we called up Steve and left a message for him to see if he wouldn’t mind us crashing at his place that night.  Within two minutes he called us back and invited us over.  We weren’t really sure how this Warm Showers works. Was he going to let us camp in his backyard?  Was he going to let us stay inside?  What about having an actual warm shower??  Well, Steve has certainly set the bar, and set it high.  We walked into his place to hear Bela Fleck playing on his CD player (that’s right, I said CD player).  He invited us right inside, sat us by his wood stove, offered for us to take a warm shower, ordered pizza and gelato, and let us sleep in our room of choice.  How much better could you get, really? His generosity was almost too much for us.  We felt like we had to owe him something, anything… I even offered to share our Snickers bar with him.  But he declined it all and told us simply to pay it forward.  I wrote him a note when we left the following morning (he had already gone to work for the day) and in it told him how I can only hope that when we do pay it forward, we can be as generous and caring as he was towards us. 

But right now, it’s our turn to receive the generosity and it came to us again when Victoria from The Equinox, a beautiful hotel in the middle of Manchester, Vermont, found us sitting on the stoop outside of The 1811 House, one of The Equinox’s separate buildings.  We were calling all sorts of places trying to get a decent priced hotel, but it looked like we were going to spend upwards of $180.  When we told her we’d pay $130, she got right to work, calling up the receptionist, making a deal for us.  I heard her say, “We have these newlyweds who biked here from Connecticut and a bunch of empty rooms.  I’d like to make this work for them.”  And she did it!  We spent the night in the hotel, got to sit by a fire, and got breakfast served to us all for under $110. 

After we spent the night in The 1811 House, we reluctantly got on our bikes in the pouring rain and cold.  Our plan was to ride 30 miles to Rutland, VT just so we could shave off a little distance for our last day.  

 About 20 miles in, Adam’s hands were soaked and we decided we’d look for a place to stay the night.  Instead of a place to stay, we found a welcome restaurant in Wallingford, VT and stopped in after getting rejected from the only two Inns in town.  We were discussing our worry that we wouldn’t be able to find a hotel in Rutland tonight and I said, “Well, there’s always churches.”  I guess this sparked some interest in the older couple sitting next to us.  They immediately offered for us to stay in their “barn.”  Lucky for us it was on the way, seven miles towards Rutland, down beautiful back roads.  Even though we were cold and wet on the ride to their home, our spirits were high and we enjoyed the last of our rainy ride.   When we arrived, we realized this “barn” was a 3 story studio.  The bottom floor was used for wood working and stone work, the second floor was a decorated studio with marble floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and the top floor was the bed room.  What luck!  So Jen and Art set us up here in their studio apartment for the night and left saying, “I hope you have a minute in the morning to look out the window and enjoy the view of Killington before you get on your way.”   Ahhhhhh.

But it isn’t just these huge acts of kindness and generosity that have made our trip, it can be something so simple.  It’s the people who stop in their cars and offer us help when we stand on the side of the road looking lost.  It’s the people who drive by us and notice the “Just Married” sign and honk as they ride past.  It’s the people, on roads with barely any shoulders, who follow patiently behind us until we get to a straightaway when they feel comfortable enough to pass.  This world is truly filled with good people. 

Our last day was uphill.  You can take that any way you want because it all applies.  It was cold and wet, we had to ride seven miles up Mt. Killington (there was actually snow at the top), the downhill afterwards was frigid, and though we had a fulfilling breakfast, I didn’t have any coffee.  I need to come up with some backup plan for coffee… it’s not fun for either of us and when Adam noticed I was in no mood to take a picture of the “Moose Crossing” sign in the middle of our seven miles uphill, he just pedaled on ahead and steered clear of me for a while. We did break at the top for a picture with the snowman, then took the icy plunge down the mountain until we landed upon a little Vermont restaurant.  I got my coffee, we thawed out, and we finished our trip in high spirits.  

Even though we just biked up Mt. Killington, no hill on the whole trip compared to the driveway of our cabin (especially after we had just packed our bags full of breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, and wine).  We had just biked 240 miles and there was no way we were walking our bikes now!  We used that logic all the way up the driveway and happily parked our bikes outside our cabin. 

So yes, we rode 240 miles in 5 days but we weren’t quite done.  We had one more task we needed to complete.  At our wedding, Adam and I gave away tree saplings as our favors to our guests.  For 240 miles, a little tree sapling hung strapped to Adam’s bike.  We wanted to plant it at the place we were engaged.  So we hiked into the woods a bit, found a little clearing, pulled up the grass and weeds around it, and planted our tree.   

Who knows if it will escape the perils of the winter snowmobiling, but a little piece of us has been planted in Vermont.  Hopefully the other 180 tree saplings from our wedding are scattered around New England and beyond, excited to see what life brings… I know we are.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Plan

Ok, so until now, we've been a little vague as to what exactly our plan is for next year.  That's partially due to the fact that we're not totally sure what charity we want to work with, and partially because we're still figuring out the logistics of how exactly this will work. 

Here are the important pieces we know so far:

1.  My brother, Dave (now Kimuli) is in the Peace Corps in Uganda.  Adam and I visited Kimuli last summer. We saw, and were inspiried by, the good work he does for the people of Africa who are in desperate need of any and all help they can get.

2a. We want to give back.  Last May, we organized a 1/2 marathon (ran in the middle of the night to accompany Kimuli running in Uganda).  We raised over $1,000 and had close to 15 people participate in the run (Adam won).

2b. We applied for a grant through the Timocracy Foundation and received $5,000 to be given to Lukaya Polytechnical Institution, the organization that Kimuli works for in Uganda, to help build their resources so they can become a more self-sustaining organization.

3.  We talked to someone in the field of sponsoring trips like this.   His advice: find something you are passionate about and go with that.

4. Adam and I are passionate about the outdoors, about being active, about helping at-risk youth and communities, about Africa.

5. We are also passionate about sushi, and one night when we treated ourselves to some at our favorite restaurant, Hanami, we came up with this crazy plan, drawn out on the back of our placemat, to bike ride all 50 states and have fundraisers in each state to collect bikes for those without.  This was our first draft of our plan and it has since evolved, but the basic plan remains the same.  Adam and I talked about, and are still debating, different charities and organizations that will help us attain our goal: Holding bike collections in every state to send bikes to Africa as well as to local people in need.  We feel that now is an even more important time to be promoting bicycle use, especially on the heels of the oil spill.

I realize this is still vague... but it's what we've got.  We'll keep posting updates so keep checking in!

(all photos by Adam Coppola)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

RI Bike Trip VIDEO

Adam Here: Just finished making a video of our bike trip... check it out!  I'm a photographer, not a videographer but I'm learning.  Sorry for the no-shirt and spandex scenes.

Rhode Island Bike Tour from Adam Coppola on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

190 miles/ 4 days

Yee-haw! We made it through our trial bike-ride.  And we couldn't have asked for better weather.  It rained twice.  The thunder and lighting storm that had been talked up to unyielding proportions was no more than a passing shower as we gulped down Blue Moon's at Chaps in Westerly, R.I.  And there was a bit of a pour as we, er... at least I... rested peacefully under the shelter of our waterproof tent.  Adam woke up from the sound of the people passing by with a boom box blasting and he felt the urge to take some video from inside our tent that night (you'll notice I was not so excited).

The first day was hot hot hot. We got up early to beat some of the heat, but I guess I should have done a better job warning my mom and Scott that traveling with Adam means stopping at any and all opportunities for a nice picture, even if it means stopping before we get out of the actual driveway.  And that was only the first!  When we got to Old Lyme, we took a detour down Rocky Neck State Park and shot some video and took some pics. The mile ride down to the shore was nice at 10 in the morning, but we regretted it later on when our butts were sore and our legs were tired. Our last photo shoot of the day was in Mystic where Adam and I conveniently stopped right in front of an ice cream shop to wait for Mom and Scott. We had to grab some ice cream and some pics and when the woman behind the counter heard of our plan for next year's 50 state honeymoon bike trip, she laughed and called it a "torture-moon." After a long, long ride (65 miles), we made it to our campsite while Mom and Scott traveled a few extra miles to an air conditioned hotel room.  A ll we needed was a swim in the lake and some good meat at a nearby restaurant that we traveled to by taxi, all thanks to Mom and Scott, and we were ready for bed.

Day two promised to be another scorcher and Mom and Scott had the right idea with sleeping in and spending the day at the beach.  But Adam and I trekked on, our sites set on Mashamoquet State Park in Pomfret, CT, 49 miles away- hoping there would be a campsite available when we arrived.  It was a rough start for our bottoms but we got up bright and early, trying to beat the heat again, and enjoyed the most beautiful scenery of the whole ride that morning. There were brooks, ponds, rivers, corn fields, horse pastures, cow pastures and best of all, tree cover!!  As the day progressed and the sun got hotter, the tree cover subsided and we took refuge under a lonely tree near a softball field.  We ate some ciabatta bread, cheese, pepperoni, and strawberries that we picked up at a grocery store earlier that day... all part of our effort to spend $40 a day or less (which is a tricky task as we quickly found out).  The shade was so perfect that we even spread out our tarp and took a little nap before continuing on.  It was with achy joints that we left our little haven, but even achier butts that we finally zoomed into the State Park later that afternoon.  There were sites available and a pond for swimming... what more could we ask for?

Day 3 took a different turn, literally.  Instead of traveling 40 miles northwest to Dan and Hannah's followed by 65 more miles south the day after to get home, we opted to head towards home and split the distance a bit, 45 miles followed by 30 more the last day.  Though we tried to keep our spirits high, the lack of a good breakfast, the pain in our knees, and the constant up hills on a busy road didn't help our cause.  It was a quiet morning, but when Adam saw this sign :

we knew things were changing for the better, and boy were we right!  Each time we thought we were running into a dead-end, the world just opened up and helped us out.  It was getting late into morning and I hadn't had a proper breakfast or coffee (a recipe for disaster that Adam knows only too well)  when around the corner was a little gas station with actually yummy coffee and some muffins.  After our $4.95 map of CT proved useless and Adam's IPhone dangerously low on batteries, we just happened upon a little library in Hebron with internet!  When we wanted a break from speedy cars, we found some pretty fun trails to bike down and get away from traffic for a while.  And a big thank you to the man who left his campsite at Devil's Hopyard a day early- we got a sweet site for free!!!  We did forget to grab any food for the night, but not to worry, Campground Gene came along in his pick-up and Adam grabbed a ride with him to the local Mom and Pops store for dinner and breakfast food.  Things really couldn't have lined up better for us yesterday, that's for sure!

So this brings us to today.  Day Four.  We booked it.  It took us 3 hours to ride 30 miles and we were home by 10:25 AM.  I guess our butts needed some well deserved rest and relaxation.

So we learned a few things on this trip:
1. Training is a must.  It will not be any easy thing to bike 65 miles a day and our 3 training rides of 25 miles just didn't cut it.
2. $40 per day will be tough to stick to.
3. Adam can eat 3 full meals after a day of biking.
4. $40 per day will be impossible if Adam always eats like that!

*** Pretty Awesome Side Note: Even on our trial bike ride, we felt the effects of charity powering us through the tough parts of the day.  Two nights before our trip, our friends held a lobster-fest fundraiser for us.  Our friends Jason and Katrina bought a bunch of lobsters to feed to the group, and everyone pitched in to donate to our charity without even knowing the charity yet!  We're still working on exactly how this trip will work, but we do have $208 ready to go to our charity.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Camera Bike Trial

Adam here: Today I received some new camera/bike gear for our road trip.  I have been trying to figure out different ways that Christy and I will be able to get some amazing images/footage from our road trip...

Problem.... how do you use a camera hands-free while you are biking!???

Solution... See Below. 

Camera Bike Trial from Adam Coppola on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The First Day

Have you ever heard it? It’s like this constant knock, not at your front door, but from somewhere inside, telling you you’re meant to do something different. It’s something that makes people tilt their heads in question. It’s something that makes your mom shake her head after supporting you through years of college and graduate school. It’s something that means leaving your cushy teaching job, your opportunity at a career after graduation, your comfy, dry, warm home, your friends, your family, and maybe your dog, too. Hmmm… Adam and I have heard that knock for too long and we got curious as to who was at the door.

I can’t imagine a person out there who doesn't have an obstacle that blocks the road to their dreams.

Adam’s biggest obstacle is gone. For a long time he didn’t answer the knock because he was in grad school, studying to be a school counselor. He’s been in the program for four years, as long as we’ve been together, and for the same reason as so many other people, that took priority over this dream. He was in the program because it’s the “right” thing to do. I mean, everybody should go to college and get a degree and then get a job that has to do with the degree, right? I guess the only flaw there is, what if you're not ready for that? Don’t get me wrong, Adam would be, and still may be, a great school counselor one day. I guess what we’re questioning is the way this path is designed… it’s not one size fits all. It just doesn’t seem to fit us well.

My obstacle, other than my family, friends, and dog, is my job. Tonight, I sent in my letter of resignation.  I say "I'," but it was both my finger and Adam's that pushed the send button together. That was tough.  In a time where many teachers are receiving pink slips, I have decided to leave my job, my salary, and my health insurance.   I informed my principal, my coordinator, and my close colleagues that I would be leaving in the fall to embark on a new journey with my new husband. :)  I was amazed at the support from everyone I told and am excited and nervous about what this will bring. 

Nothing is holding us back anymore, we’ve cleared aside the excuses. So, after hearing the knock for so many years, together, we are finally answering the door.