Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bicyclist's Trip Puts Her Back at Home ; Volunteers Will Work, Ride

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bicyclist's Trip Puts Her Back at Home ; Volunteers Will Work, Ride

Article excerpt

Diane Bies will trace her roots down the Natchez Trace Parkway next month - and she's doing it on two wheels. The Evansville woman will participate in the Fuller Center Bike Adventure, a 400- mile antipoverty ride from Nashville, Tenn. to Jackson, Miss.

Bies was born in Nashville 58 years ago.

When she was a kid, her grandparents lived in Greenwood, Miss., where the cyclists will make a stop to make physical repairs to homes. Her dad grew up there.

"It's really exciting to kind of go back home," Bies said.

She started riding with the Evansville bicycle club 15 years ago and since has put close to 18,000 miles on her old 2000 Trek 5200, which has a U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team paint job.

"I've been really riding - like tons - like thousands of miles - for probably six or eight years now," she said. "I love being outside. It's the fresh air. It's exercise.

It's mental therapy. Most of all, it's the people I ride with.

I've met so many people on a bicycle that I would have never crossed paths with - and I mean literally cross paths with - otherwise." Bies completed the same trek down the Parkway last year and said she remains friends with a lot of the other riders.

"My fondest memories are of the people on the ride," she said. "The experience of being with 20 to 30 people for a week - who you've never met before - interestingly didn't scare me. I didn't know anyone going into it last year. But the people are so amazing - the love that they have. The Christian spirit there is unbelievable."

Along the way, communities open churches and homes to the cyclists. Bies said they often sleep on church pews.

The crew rehabbed homes in Tupelo, Miss., last year

. "One of the women - she was a councilwoman - sounded like my grandmother," Bies said. "The accent was the same. One of my greatest pleasures was listening to that Mississippi woman talk Mississippi talk."

The idea of riding 400 miles in nine days doesn't scare her.

"I've ridden 100 miles in a day at least once a month for 37 months," she said. "I do ride a lot and because I ride a lot, I'm able to ride comfortably for longer distances. …

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