Orono doctor preaches work-life balance, plans cross-country bike trip

ORONO, Maine (WABI) – An Orono woman will have plenty of adventure and exercise later this year when she sets off on her bike for a cross-country trip.

“I’ve been cycling since I was a kid,” Michelle Toder explained. “I loved riding a bike as a kid because it was my first feeling of freedom. It was a way to get away from home.

This spring, Toder sets out to find the same freedom she felt as a child.

“I had it in my head that I wanted to cycle across the country. I was like, ‘Well, that’s on my retirement to-do list,'” she said.

Dr. Michelle Toder is a pioneering surgeon at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. Over the years, she realized that she wasn’t quite ready to retire, but didn’t want to put off her personal goals any longer.

“I love my job. I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my family. But, I haven’t had an ‘all about me’ adventure since I was at the start of the twenties,” Toder said.

She says she approached the hospital to take time off and thanks them for being open to the conversation about the importance of work-life balance.

“They kinda scratched their heads and I said, ‘Because I’m going. I just need to know if you want me back. And when they thought about that, they said, ” We absolutely want you back. Please be safe!’” Toder said.

On April 30, Dr. Toder plans to land his rear tire in the Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park and set off for the Oregon Coast. She plans to take a combination of routes well known to adventure cyclists.

“I’m going to drive through Kansas, which sounds terrifying to me. It seems very flat and very hot and very windy, and I don’t really know the people there. So, wow! Yeah, Kansas. Oh my god,” Toder said with a laugh.

His first step in preparing for the trip was to find a well-fitting bike. She loads it with just the bare travel essentials, most of which are made in the USA and sourced locally when possible.

If all goes as planned, by the first week of August, she will have pedaled and won on the shores of the Pacific.

“I’ve never been on a multi-night trip, and so this is a big trip to start with. Am I as fit and capable, and am I going to enjoy it as much as I think? So, it “It’s kind of in the back of my head. But, I’m pretty determined as a person. I can’t imagine I’m going to come out, say, ‘No, I’m not,'” Toder said. I think the freedom is going to be amazing.”

Dr. Toder will document his journey on Instagram. You can follow on @mt_and_ooo.

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