Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 04-12-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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12 LINCOLN APRIL 12-18, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION Lincoln woman, 67, to bike 3,000 miles up East Coast LINCOLN – Thirty years ago, Deirdre Bird traveled the entire West Coast of the United States from Canada to Mexico by bicycle. Three decades later, at age 67, Bird and her friend, Lisa Watts, are preparing to set off on a 3,000-mile bike ride up the entire East Coast Greenway. The pair will start their journey in the mild climate of Key West, Fla., and travel north up the Greenway to Calais, Maine, as the weather grows warmer. The journey will last about two months, with the cyclists averag- ing about 60 miles each day, and sometimes nearing 100. Bird, who lives in Fairlawn with her partner, Sally, was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where biking is the main form of transportation. "Before I was old enough to ride my own bike, my parents put me on the back of their bike and rode me to school. As soon as I was able to, I was riding my own bike to school," she said. Before she retired in December 2016, Bird cycled to work at Providence College every day for 21 years. "I'd ride to work in my girly girl shoes and skirt. I was renowned for biking all year round, even in snow," she said. "There aren't many people who come to school on bike, and no women." Her first long-distance bike ride was in 1983, when she rode 280 miles from Dearborn, Mich., to Lafayette, Ind. The following spring, she did her second long-distance tour, a spontaneous decision made while awaiting the outcome of her dissertation. Without having any idea of how to do a long-distance ride, Bird borrowed a leaky tent, strapped it onto the back of her bike and rode around Lake Michigan. It took her roughly two weeks. "I got sunburned, froze at night and I didn't know how to camp. It was a complete nightmare but I did it," she said. "I had a lot to learn and that really taught me a lot. It surpris- ingly didn't put me off." Bird met Watts soon after, when they were hired simultaneously by Northeastern University. "We sat down next to each other on the bus to orientation by hap- penstance and began to talk about our interests, including biking and running. That very weekend, we arranged to go for a bike ride, and we've been bike riding together ever since," said Bird. "We've enjoyed staying in touch and watching each other's lives grow and change over three decades." Their first ride was more than 40 miles, from Boston to Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. They've since enjoyed many rides together, cycling across New York state, Ohio and North Carolina over the years, as well as helping each other qualify for marathons. Their East Coast excur- sion, a celebration of their friendship, will be their longest ride to date. By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com DEIRDRE BIRD, of Lincoln, left, and LISA WATTS, of Durham, N.C., are preparing to bike the East Coast Greenway – 3,000 miles from Key West, Fla., to Calais, Maine. Continues on next page

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