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Life Is Like a Bike

"I’ve been living on my bike since spring 2015,” jokes Lynn West Salvo ’71, who set a Guinness World Record as the oldest woman to cross America by bicycle.

To do so, she spent September and October cycling coast-to-coast across the United States: a 3,163-mile, 13-state, 59-day trek from Oceanside, Calif., to Bethany Beach, Del. 

Though cycling has been one of her longtime passions, it was not until September 2014 when Salvo sold MathTree—a business she incorporated that offers summer math camps to children—that she felt free to pursue more ambitious rides. She became fixated on the prospect of a cross-country cycling endeavor echoing the Race Across America route and trained rigorously, preparing her mind and body.

“I repeated to myself an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: ‘Do the thing you think you cannot do,’” she says, and she did just that—everything from changing her own flat tires to riding on traffic-heavy roads to keeping a blog of her adventures:

“I wanted to enjoy an incredible route on my own terms,” says Salvo, “while meeting the rigorous requirements to set a Guinness World Record.” 

And she’s not stopping there—Salvo is applying to attempt another record by biking across Canada in 2018. 




Lynn’s Four P’s: Bike/Life Tips

1. Places

I constantly drew inspiration from all the stunning, diverse scenery I traveled.

2. People

I assembled the best support team, saw old friends along the way, and met wonderful new people. 

3. Preparation

I cycled more than 6,000 miles in 2016 to train, planned my daily route with contingencies months beforehand, and referred constantly to my prep work in a 3-inch-thick binder that traveled in the support car.

4. Prevention

I avoided issues like heatstroke on 100-degree desert days by pouring cold water over myself and tucking ice in my pockets every mile or so.