Location: San Francisco, CA
Marital Status: Married
Education: B.A. from Miami University, Oxford, OhioMasters from University of Paris, Sorbonne
So, kickoff is in less than a month…How’s training so far?
Three days ago, I had to ride to the top of Mount Tamalpais, three thousand feet up. I did not look forward to this. But I just went and went and went. When I got to the top I saw a couple my age and the man’s chin dropped. He asked, “Did you just ride up here?!” I said, “I sure did. And I’m 58!”
What are you most proud of?
That I just got back into game. Years ago, I used to run marathons and kayak. Then for 22 years I raised children and wrote books. Until this challenge came along I didn’t really get back into extreme sports. When I started training, one day I looked in the mirror and said “Oh my gosh, Marybeth you’re an athlete again!” It felt so good.
Why are you biking for osteoporosis?
The disease runs in my family. Between my sisters, mother and myself we have lost 6 inches in height. It’s the “silent disease” because you don’t feel your bones get weaker. Sometimes people don’t realize it until they have a fall.
What do you want to tell other FOFs about this disease?
To take care of yourself, at any age. Moms, take care of your daughters: 85-90 percent of a woman’s bone mass is developed by age eighteen. And daughters, you need to say, “Hey Mom, what are you doing for bone health?” After menopause is a very vulnerable time. Women lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass. It is never too late or too early to take care of your bones.
You are so inspiring! Who inspires you?
There all so many courageous women out there and I hear from a lot of them through e-mail. I got an e-mail from a wonderful woman from Texas, who said “My daughter was diagnosed four years ago with juvenile osteoporosis. If you were riding through Texas I would come to the road and cheer you on with cookies.” That gives me goose bumps.
I also get a lot of inspiration from my mother, my greatest cheerleader and supporter. Her attitude was always, “Try, and if you don’t succeed than so what? You played with the big boys!”
I read that your daughter came to you with the idea to bike cross-country, is that true?
Yes. She and her best friend climbed Half Dome in Yosemite last summer and decided that their next challenge would be biking across America. Then they looked up how much it would cost to go with an organized group, and it was expensive, so they decided to invite me. “She’ll make it happen,” they said. I was so flattered.
Some women say to me, “Gosh, your 22-year old daughter wants to spend two months with you?” I’m very close with my daughters. I can’t think of anything more fantastic then to spend two months with her.
Before this, you wrote books for National Geographic, what were they about?
I have written 11 books, all about women’s travel. One of my favorites is called Gutsy Women which got me on Oprah. It’s about how important it is for a woman to take a break–from her marriage, her children, her job–even if it is one night away. My last three books have been with National Geographic and they’ve all been Girlfriend Getaways.
You are obviously well traveled thanks to your job. What’s your favorite restaurant anywhere in the US?
There’s a place in San Francisco called the Beach Chalet. It’s a microbrewery. You can get a sampler of 8 little shots of beer. They have great burgers and crab cakes. But the best part is the view; 5 miles of beach and surfers. It may be in a city, but to me it says vacation.
What about a favorite store?
Thrift shops. When I was writing my book, so many women told me “We love to thrift shop with our girlfriends. We take $10 and try to get something really funny for the other person.” In New Orleans there’s no place like Trashy Divas on Magazine Street.
Do you have a favorite park or secret place where you like to bike?
In Chicago, I rented a bicycle and rode along the lakefront and through Millennium Park. I thought the only thing that could make this day more perfect would be a massage. Ask and you shall receive. In the distance there was a little tent set up with local masseuses. I got a thirty-minute massage next to the lake. Can you believe it?
You can follow the “Bond Girls,” (Marybeth, her daughter Julieclaire and goddaughter Laura) or donate to their cause, on their blog: http://bondgirlsbikeamerica.com/blog/