She’s been down this road before

Roseville woman’s next journey, the Bike Ride Across America, is similar to a recent one
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Jessica Tanihana has been on a journey approaching three years, the gains showing in losses.

The next journey for the positive, smiling Roseville wife and mother of three is one she has yet to travel, yet it’s a familiar path.

Tanihana will pedal away from Seattle on June 20 on a bicycle bound for Washington, D.C., 3,300 miles to the east, on the Big Ride Across America, benefiting the American Lung Association.

On a previous journey, Tanihana lost 85 pounds in 15 months, a pound and a half a week. It took another year to lose 15 more pounds. Tanihana came to realize her relationship with food was one with which she had no control. She since has participated in triathlons and cycling and running events, including the California International Marathon.

“A lot like this ride,” she said last week. “The American Lung Association, other than the route map, doesn’t give us a lot of information. They tell us how to prepare. What road we’re going to go on and what each day is going to look like, they withhold all of that. And that’s kind of like the journey I went on with my weight loss. I knew the foundational stuff. I knew what I needed to pack. I just let God take control, and I just said, ‘Here you go, here’s my fork. You help me.’ It’s a miracle. It’s an absolute miracle.”

The Big Ride Across America will last 48 days total with 40 days of cycling and eight days of rest. There were 27 riders registered through last week and three crew.

From its start, the route rolls into Idaho. It will take eight days to cross Montana. From there, the group rides into northern Wyoming and then dips into South Dakota. Tanihana plans a rendezvous with her mother, who will travel to Rapid City from her home in Colorado. The ride continues through South Dakota for six days and then into Minnesota, followed by Wisconsin.

“I’m looking forward to ice cream and cheese there,” Tanihana said.

Then, it’s into Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania with a scheduled Aug. 6 arrival in Washington, D.C. The cyclists will average 87 miles a day.

“It’s an opportunity for me, much like a missionary or monk, to have some quiet time, do some soul searching, enjoy the splendor of this amazing country we live in,” she said. “I get to see almost a quarter of the states, and I get to do it at 16 miles per hour. I get to take in Sandusky, Ohio, at a slow pace, get to meet people along the way, moo at cows if I feel compelled to moo at cows.”

The cyclists will camp while on the road and sleep in college dorms and churches on rest days. Tanihana will take 70 pounds of gear, including a tent, sleeping bag and bike parts (six tubes, two tires, 12 spokes). They’ll rise about 5 a.m. each day.

“I’ve read blogs from other riders who said they woke up with four inches of rainwater in their tent because they set up in a low spot in a field,” she said. “That naturally makes me a little nervous. The wind makes me nervous.”

After running the marathon, Tanihana said she had that “What next?” feeling. Cycling across the country kept popping into her head.

“I thought, that’s insane. No one in their right mind would do that,” said Tanihana, who prayed about it for a couple of weeks. “I just felt God saying, ‘Ride your bike across America,’ and I kept getting the same message over and over again.”

Tanihana said her husband, Martin, offered his complete support.

She explored different rides, and the Big Ride felt right. She has a daughter who’s asthmatic and a sister-in-law with lung disease. ALA’s goal is to raise $250,000 to help find a cure for lung disease.

Tanihana has corporate sponsorship from Bicycles Plus owner John Crews in Folsom, and Independent Benefit Supporters put up the first half of her fundraising requirements. She has met her requirement of $6,000, but she has a higher personal goal of $10,000.

“I would love when my daughter is my age to have her be free of medications,” Tanihana said. “It’s a great cause. I have strong, healthy lungs. I wake up every morning and am able to breathe. If I can help raise awareness about lung health and help to find a cure, then why not?”

Jessica Tanihana of Roseville will embark this month on the 3,300-mile Bike Ride Across America, benefiting the American Lung Association. The ride starts in Seattle and ends in Washington, D.C. Anyone interested in making donations can visit