- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2001

CULPEPER, Va. —Linda Burgdorfs bicycle trip around the globe began, oddly enough, with a stationary bike.
A physical education teacher in Culpeper County, Miss Burgdorf, 48, took to the go-nowhere bike to help rehabilitate an injured knee in the early 1990s.
"It is without a doubt the most boring thing you can do," she said.
So she bought a bike, the first one since her girlhood, and took to the outdoors. About four years ago, the new bike enthusiast saw an advertisement for a yearlong bicycling trip around the world. Miss Burgdorf, who had never before left the United States, was bitten.
She mortgaged her house for the $40,000 trip, trained for three years her dog, a papillon named Ryder, often rode in her front basket and finally took a years unpaid leave from her job at Emerald Hill Elementary School.
On Jan. 1, 2000, she and 246 others began their 17,000-mile journey in California, at the Tournament of Roses parade. Sixty riders finished last month, Miss Burgdorf among them.
After starting in California, the group headed to Mexico, then to South America before boarding a plane to South Africa.
During that first stretch, Miss Burgdorf re-injured a knee in Chile and also contracted an intestinal parasite somewhere along the way. But she persevered, moving on to mountainous Italy, France and Spain, often under rainy or snowy skies.
"There were a lot of ups to it, and not always downs on the other side," she quipped.
The riders also encountered their share of animals, including a stray bull in Spain. "We were all riding on the wrong side of the road because this bull was in our lane. We went through a number of goat herds, sheep, cows."
The group returned to the United States for a tour of Washington and New York, at which time Miss Burgdorf decided to take two weeks off to recuperate at home. But while biking in nearby Fredericksburg, she encountered a dog, fell to the pavement and broke her collarbone.
How did it feel to travel the world, only to re-injure herself so close to home?
"It was just something else to deal with," she said. "I didnt really entertain the idea of stopping. The best part of the trip was still ahead."
And so, just 10 days after the injury, she rejoined the group in Montreal, Canada. From there, the group traveled through England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Then on to Scandinavia, where ferry rides across fjords afforded the cyclists 15-minute to 4-hour periods of much-needed rest.
The next part of the journey took her to Australia for the summer Olympics, where she took in the womens marathon and mens platform diving finals.
Asia followed. There, children in a rural Chinese village clamored for the cyclists autographs. "Their teacher told the kids theyd never see that many foreigners again. We were besieged by children who wanted us to sign their books," she said.
The tour continued to New Zealand and Hawaii before ending exactly a year later in California, again for the parade preceding college footballs Rose Bowl.
Beyond the beautiful sights she took in during the year, Miss Burgdorf says she learned how important attitude can be when striving to achieve a goal.
"After everything Id been through, I couldve been really down on the whole thing," she said. "It doesnt matter so much what situation you find yourself in or what you encounter. Its your attitude toward those circumstances that make you perceive it as either a problem or as a challenge."
Miss Burgdorf is still choosing the challenging route. Her collarbone didnt heal the first time, so she is still in a sling and out of a bike saddle for the next few months. But that hasnt deterred her.
"I can still run,"she said. "Im thinking I want to do a marathon next."
Without a doubt.


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