Debra shares her nomadic life on the road as a cyclist: goals, upcoming adventures, and road trips.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Family? Career? Where do you live?

I have three children and seven grandchildren that include our newest members of the family, boy-girl twins!
My home bases are West Michigan and Southern California. I’ve had an interesting and diverse career.  I’ve been entrepreneurial nearly my entire working life. I founded two bookstore/coffee shops, published a local children’s newspaper, launched a public relations firm, and finally – Lambers Creative Studio & Marketing (an offshoot of the PR company). I develop websites, create digital marketing campaigns, journals and newsletters. I am also a consultant for those that are launching new businesses. This last chapter in my career suits my lifestyle. I’m nomadic and live in my converted van (VanGo) close to nine months per year.  It was perfect when the pandemic hit. I could isolate yet move VanGo from the beach to the desert or into the mountains. Cycling definitely helped with the anxiety when the pandemic first hit.

How did you get into cycling?

I’ve cycled since I learned how at around age six. I’ve become more competitive (with myself) within the past five years. I really stepped it up when I started living and traveling in VanGo four years ago. When I’m on a bike, an extreme sense of happiness comes over me. I love the freedom I feel when I ride. As I travel I’m able to experience endurance cycling in the mountains and some of the most beautiful places imaginable. I LOVE riding country roads but there’s also something to be said for navigating busy cities via bike rather than a vehicle.

Tell us about your bikes.

My road bike is Specialized and my Fat Tire is a Trek Farley 5. I have a bike crush on both. I fit two in or on VanGo. One in the ‘garage’ portion of my tiny home on wheels and one on the back. I leave room for a friend’s bike when needed.

Any fun adventures planned with the fat bike?

I’m new to the fat tire experience and I’ve been having a blast riding the snowy trails in Michigan. I plan to put smaller tires on it and ride in Moab and Canyonlands this summer before I explore British Colombia and Alberta, Canada in June. I will then drop down to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming as it’s my second favorite state to ride. Sedona with the fatty is definitely on my list in 2022 – they have great trails.

What has cycling done for you? Physically? Mentally?

Oh wow! Great question and keeping this concise will not be easy because cycling has had such a huge impact on me.
  1. I have scar tissue on my lungs from pneumonia – so cycling helps keep my lungs as clear and strong as possible.
  2. I have a bad left knee due to a motorcycle accident and cycling is low impact.
  3. I will turn 61 years old in 2022 so the riding keeps me strong both physically and mentally.  MTB requires quick strategic thinking and balance. Endurance riding requires self-discipline and that’s something I’m always trying to improve.
  4. That sense of freedom I spoke of earlier. The best way for me to explain it is this – when I ride I’m often overcome with a sense of pure happiness and accomplishment. It really jacks up the endorphins and dopamine. I’m grateful for my health to experience such beauty while doing something healthy and fun that I’m passionate about.

What are some goals you still want to accomplish with cycling?

I really love endurance rides. This year I want to accomplish three-century rides, work on elevation gains and ride in new, beautiful areas around the United States. I would also like to experience my first bike tour, maybe in Eastern Europe this fall. Fingers crossed regarding that goal!

What is your favorite activity to do outside of cycling?

Definitely hike and kayak. Mountain views are the best and I can’t get enough of kayaking alpine lakes. I would like 2022 to be the year I improve my rock climbing skills – I really appreciate the physical and mental challenge of climbing.

What would you tell someone just getting into cycling?

  1. Be patient with yourself and don’t set your goals too high.
  2. Make sure that you’re always having fun. If it isn’t fun, most likely you won’t continue.
  3. If you’re not sure that cycling is going to be your passion, don’t spend a fortune on a bike(s) in the beginning.
  4. Most importantly, be safe. Know your surroundings and always be on the defensive. Set up a beacon or tracking device, like an Apple Watch, or use Strava’s beacon so someone always knows where you are.

Anything else you would like to tell us?

While I ride mostly solo – I recently joined a Fat Tire bike group and an MTB group. It’s a lot of fun learning from others and sharing stories with like-minded peers.

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