- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - When Lin Bruce pedals up a long hill on her bicycle, she never looks at the top.

“The top is too discouraging,” she said. “I look ahead and off to the side. Sometimes I count pedal strokes and guess what the number will be when I get to the top.

“What I learn and relearn every ride is that I just need to do today’s ride and then I need to do today’s ride. And it gets me where I want to go.”

Bruce, 77, has ridden 18,000 miles on her bike since she was 60, reported the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (https://bit.ly/2b1fv8r ).

A few months before her 60th birthday, she decided to take the fun of cycling seriously and has made several long-distance trips across the country since then.

Bruce recently spoke to fellow members of the Cheyenne High Class of 1956 about her cycling adventures and about one in particular.

She rode her Salsa bicycle 660 miles from her home in Northfield, Minnesota, to Cheyenne as an event for the reunion.

Her husband, Bob, 81, drove and biked alongside her during the trip. He carried supplies and gear, serving as the SAG.

He found places to stay and charted out a route that would keep the wind at her back as much as possible. “Without him, the trip wouldn’t have been possible,” she said.

On June 24, Bruce left Northfield and arrived July 8 in Cheyenne. Her trip was a pre-reunion event.

Bruce made her bicycle trip ahead of time because she also wanted to ride in the Tour de Wyoming, a six-day adventure that started July 16.

“I wanted two days to ride in the Snowy Range at the 9,000-foot elevations to get ready for it,” she said.

This year’s Tour de Wyoming was a no-nonsense 355-mile trip through the mountains. The ride started and ended in Sheridan and featured rapid elevation gains and nail-biting declines as riders cycled through the Bighorn Mountains.

Her adult niece, Elizabeth Williams of Laramie, rode with her on the trip. Husband Bob helped, too.

The Bruces returned to Cheyenne for the actual reunion, where she spoke to classmates.

“You’ve inspired us all,” alum Beverly (Colgin Joder) Collier said. Bruce’s classmates gave her speech a standing ovation, and gave her a Tour de France-style yellow shirt and an Olympic-style medal to wear around her neck.

Bruce is not a newcomer to the Northfield-to-Cheyenne trip.

She rode her bicycle from Northfield to Cheyenne 10 years ago for her 50th class reunion and pedaled about 800 miles.

She only told a few people about the first reunion ride. But now, she wants to share her story with anyone who might be rethinking possibilities in their lives.

Wearing a neon yellow jacket and body-hugging bike shorts, a trim Bruce looks much younger than her years.

She was never an athlete and didn’t take much interest in sports in school, she said.

“But I discovered that if I sit on a bicycle seat for a long time and I pedal for as long as it takes, I can cover a lot of miles.”

Bicycling has given her such confidence that she now is a motivational speaker with a website of stories about her trips.

She began the destination bicycle trips in 1999. Since then, she has finished many trips, including from Washington State to North Dakota, along the coast of Washington, the Pacific Coast, Alaska and the coast of Maine.

Her interest in bicycle riding came later in life.

After she graduated from Cheyenne High, she attended the University of Wyoming where she met Bob. He also was a student there.

They married and moved several times because of his job as a librarian. They have four adult children, one who was born during their stay in Afghanistan.

When she neared her 60th birthday, she said she needed to mark it in a big way. She wanted to do something adventurous, challenging and “something that was all mine,” she said.

By all accounts, her life was successful. She had a busy massage business, raised four children and her husband had a successful career.

But she felt as if she had put a lid on what was possible for herself. “If I didn’t do some kind of bust-out thing for my 60th birthday, I might just slide downhill for the rest of my life,” she said.

While thumbing through the newspaper one day, she spotted an ad about a business that organized bike trips for women 50 and older.

The next trip was from California to Florida and was to start March 13 - her 60th birthday.

She decided to do it, and trained for months on a stationary bicycle in the basement of their home. Bob supported the idea; her adult kids were shocked.

So was she, and said she often woke in the middle of the night, terrified about the trip.

But she stuck with the training, took the trip and liked it so much that she signed up for others.

Bruce often makes up songs while she’s on her trips, setting the lyrics to popular tunes.

Bruce sang several songs for her former classmates, including one to the music of “Down in the Valley.”

“There is a question, a question for me,” she sang. “Why do I do this? It sets my soul free.”

Bike days are not easy. “I get tired, I get too hot, my backside gets tired of sitting on that seat.

“I love the simplicity. I like the fact that what I’m doing every day gets me on down the road.”

Her guide from the first ride told the women riders that the experience would change their lives.

Bruce doubted that, until she asked one of her sons if they noticed a difference. “He thought about it and said, ‘I think you have a far greater sense of possibility.’ And he’s right,” she said.

“I do have a far greater sense of what might be possible in my life. And that has been a fabulous gift for me.

“I started these rides when I was 60, not a particularly unusual person, and I’ve had extraordinary adventures by riding one day, one mile, one pedal stroke at a time.

“For me, it wasn’t too late to say yes to something bigger … I’ve had adventures and dreams that I never would have thought possible.”

___

Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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