CAMBRIDGE — Joyce Kelly, of Ellicott City, is a hearty woman with a good sense of humor. For her 80th birthday she wants to ride her bike 80 miles through Dorchester County. She has already had three knee replacements.
“One doctor botched the surgery,” said Kelly.
“Biking is knee neutral. It’s outside; it’s fun. I think the first 60 will be easy. The last 20 will be a bear,” she said.
The plan is to leave the Cambridge Walmart at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, get on Route 16 toward Smithville. Then hop on 355 toward Hoopers Island. She will stop at Gootee’s and then head toward Egypt.
“It will take all day. There are headwinds predicted. We will take rest stops every 20 miles. If we are lucky we will get a tail wind,” she said. “I thought it would be cool to do something healthy, set a goal and make me feel happy.”
Her husband will be driving the “sag wagon.” He will have snacks like apples, bananas, energy bars and water and Gatorade.
“And chocolate!” she said with a laugh.
Kelly had a substantial career as an environmentalist. She has a Master’s in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked for the U.S, Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency. Kelly said she was so good at her job that she got on Secretary of the Interior James Watt’s political hit list during the Reagan administration. She was previously the president of Defenders of Wildlife and the Wildlife Habitat Council.
She worked with companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Koch Industries to plant native grasses, butterfly gardens and install blue bird boxes.
“I was really proud of getting union, management and the community to work together on these initiatives. When you see kids come on site you might think of the community a little more,” she said.
She is happily retired now. She loved the programs and getting out in the field, but said she got tired of fundraising.
There will be a total of 11 riders with Kelly on her birthday journey. They won’t try to stay together. They will let a natural distance occur. Monday was her last training ride.
There will be two members of the group who are going to split the ride 40 and 40.
“There are two women in the group. They’re all faster than me. Usually I am the caboose. We average 10 to 13 miles an hour. More like 10 for me. One gal is a nurse,” she said.
Kelly has mapped out every turn and every mile of her route and given herself easy right or left arrows to follow. On the last turn she has written “Left, you did it!!!!”
She seemed fired up about the challenge ahead.
“I am revved. The adrenaline is kicking in,” she said.