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Tête-à-Tête Tuesdays with Molly

I met Steve Garufi about a year ago through the wonderful world of Twitter. I was drawn to his infectious energy and intrigued by his daily biking adventures. According to his website, he's a counselor by day, mountain climber, photographer, road bicyclist, adventurer, and most recently, writer living in Buena Vista, Colorado. In 2008 and 2011 you rode your bike across the country. What compelled you to take these trips?

I took on cycling in my 30s, and was really impressed with the cardiovascular workout it gave me. I’m not a guy who races others. In fact, I’m known as a “tour biker” – a guy who takes his time and goes long distance.

In 2003, I spent a week vacation biking across my state of Colorado, and the seed was planted in me to go cross-country. I figured if I can go across my large and mountainous state of Colorado, why not do a series of states across the nation?

Were there times that you were ready to give up? If so, how did you motivate yourself to get back on track?

Only once on my 2008 did I have a really bad day when I considered packing it in. I continued to have flat tires and mechanical problems in the Arizona desert and wasn’t sure I could keep going if I had all those problems. Thankfully, that one awful day was an aberration.

My short answer, as to how I motivated myself, was to constantly remind myself to “take one day at a time.” I know that is often used as a cliché, but it worked for me. Truly, I told myself everyday that I simply needed to focus on the day’s task at hand. Get from Point A to Point B … period.

I also told myself that bad days would inevitably happen, and that I shouldn’t be surprised or alarmed by them. To the contrary, I should expect them.

What did the trip teach you about America? Were there places and people you met that particularly stood out?

I learned much of America is a whole lot of nothing. Much of it is rural with a large amount of people living in cities. As for people, I met so many along the way. On my 2011 ride, I met three people who were also crossing the country – two were biking like me, and the other guy was walking!

You recently completed the trip again. How was your experience different from 3 years ago.

On this trip, I was fully involved with communicating with friends and sharing updates via social media websites, namely Twitter and Facebook. It made my ride feel much more as though people were right there with me. I took many pictures with my camera, posted it online within 24 hours and had numerous comments from friends and family. The immediate feedback helped me feel not so alone.

You're in the process of writing a book about your first bike trip. How is the process of writing similar to biking across the country?

Well, I don’t have a writing background so I’m learning as I go. The main similarity I see in both book writing and a long-distance bike trip is one must be patient. Never stopping believing in yourself. And never give up!

The plan is to complete and publish my memoir about my first bike ride by the end of 2011. It has become the biggest goal.

In some ways, life in general can be compared to a marathon bike ride; requiring strength, involving uphill climbs with the occasional easy ride and beautiful view. How have your trips helped you in your own life?

You are indeed correct. What a person might experience on a marathon bike ride is quite similar to the things we face in life.

Personally, I feel stronger and more confident in myself. I have less “self-talk” that shoots down big and wild ideas that come to mind. I’m also very grateful. Among my cycling friends, many would love to do a cross-country ride but don’t have the time and money (at the same time) to do it. And I have done it twice!

What kind of wisdom can you impart about not giving up to those of us pedaling towards our goals?

1)     Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

2)      Be willing to take risks (although easier said than done).

3)     Surround yourself with caring friends who will encourage you as you take things on.