Three years in a row, I road across country with a group of women and men raising money for Breast Cancer Research and promoting Early Detection. Each year, I also do a local Breast Cancer Ride from Barb’s H-D to continue our efforts to promote Early Detection and support the cure in our community.
This year I decided to take a “Solo Ride” just for me. Sometimes, you’ve just have to step out on “Faith!” My scheduled journey would take me through New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
On Friday April 27th, I departed New Jersey headed for my 1st stop (Northern Virginia Buffalo Soldiers Annual). My husband (TC Costley) road with me to Virginia. For the first time, I was leading the way and I was a bundle of nerves but TC insisted that I had to do it all the way. Well, you can’t wear the title “The Diva” and not rise to the challenge. So, off I go on my “Little Red Bike with White Walls with TC’s trailer in tow.”
Before getting on the road, TC gave me a real lesson on safety checks, tire pressure, trailer tire pressure and how to change the tire.
We sat down and reviewed the map of my route. TC insisted I become familiar with reading a map and paying attention to road signs and mile markers. He reminded me of the miles of road I had already traveled and assured me that I could do it and that he was very confident in my riding skills.
I had my motorcycle serviced at Barb’s Harley-Davidson where I know they take good care of their customers, so I knew my horse was ready and now so was I.
We arrived in Virginia on Friday afternoon and fellowship with a few friends in the motorcycle community. We went to the NoVBSMC Annual Barb-B-Que and as always we were in good company with old friends. This is where TC and I parted ways. He said our goodbyes and headed back to New Jersey. I was truly on my own and there was no turning back for me at this point! I would spend another night in Virginia to attend the dance with the soldiers and then depart Sunday morning on my own. I can’t imagine what he was thinking on his ride home but I could not sleep from the anxiety of beginning this journey alone.
Well, 5:00 AM Sunday morning came way too soon! It had rained the night before and the ground was still wet and the fog made the sky hazy and cold. I was prepared for every riding condition but hoped not to have to use any rain gear. I dressed in three layers of clothing, put on my reflective water proof jacket, heavy jeans and waterproof over-pants. I loaded the trailer, grabbed a cup of coffee, wiped down the bike and was ready to roll. I took a big breath and paused to ask for God’s Blessings. I never ride without prayer and giving God praise but then that’s just me!
I turned on my iPod, checked my map which was taped to my windshield bag with some trusty “Duck Tape” and turned on my GoPro to record the moment.
TC and I have a rule when we ride – we put in the 125 miles before we stop to eat and if we are feeling really good, we wait until lunch time to make the daylight count. After riding 2.5 days (1,674 miles) I arrived safely at my sister’s home in League City, TX.
After having a wonderful time visiting with my sister and friends I received a phone call from my Grandmother. I knew right away by her voice that something was wrong. She told me my mother was in ICU in Atlanta and it was not looking good. I called TC and told him the news. Without hesitation, TC told me that Atlanta was an easy ride for me from Houston, TX – almost a straight shot. Thunderstorms had already delayed my return to New Jersey but now all I needed was to be at least a day ahead of the storm.
Goldrush “Our Best Man” stopped by to see me before I hit the road. He has been a good friend to both TC and I over the years.
I said my good-byes to Pam and Ruffus, loaded up the trailer and was ready to roll again. This time, time was of the essence. My mother’s condition was unsure and I didn’t want to waste much time.
While en-route to Atlanta, I stopped in Alabama where I was greeted by our good friend “Smokey” from the Montgomery BSMC. Smokey and some fellow clubs in the motorcycle community were on a mission helping provide support to a Homeless Shelter and Food Pantry. The fellow bikers were full of questions and praise. We took pictures, shared a few laughs and I was off on the road again.
I was locked and loaded and made it to Atlanta in 1.5 days (850 miles). I arrived ahead of schedule to Atlanta.
I sent out an SOS to a fellow Soldier “Billy D” and while waiting for him to arrived I had the pleasure of meeting a “Fellow Survivor.” Pat was just finishing up chemo and her good friend Janelle introduced us after striking up a conversation with me.
Janelle said, she couldn’t help but notice me in pink, on a bike and pulling a trailer. We laughed and exchanged information. Pat and Janelle work together as Flight Attendants. Pat said, Janelle had been a great support during her battle with breast cancer. It is good to meet women who support each other in good and bad times.
I was greeted by Billy D from the BSMC of Atlanta. Billy D and Lady P opened the doors of their home for me to shower, rest, relax and to meet my Grandmother and Cousin before escorting us to our hotel. Not knowing what was ahead of us we were very thankful for their generous hospitality.
Lady P and Billy D have been supporters of Divas For A Cure since our inception and we remain forever friends.
Billy D escorted us to the hotel and helped up get settled. The next day we were able to finally see my mom in ICU. It was a bitter sweet moment. We spent Mother’s Day with Mom and it helped to brighten everyone’s spirit.
The ride home to New Jersey was long. My Solo Ride was nearing an end. I left Atlanta early in the moring 6 AM to be exact. After four gas stops and 500+ miles I was in Petersburg, VA with only 300 miles to go – I decided to take in on in!
Once again, TC celebrated me with a confident sound in his voice and told me, “Okay, if you feel up to it – press on!” A few more gas stops under my belt I called him to update him on my status. It would be dark and I don’t see well and have a rule that I generally don’t ride past dark. TC told me he would meet me at the Cracker Barrel just after I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge” and escort me home. I was relieved.
My Final mileage. (New Jersey to Houston TX then Atlanta to New Jersey) Total miles: 3,355.
The journey was worth every mile. I can now cross this off my “Bucket List.”