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NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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Post-Graduation Trip Proves Uphill

By: Amanda Rivera
Posted: September 25, 2008

PHOTO: Michael Dubovsky“I thought it would be challenging and it would always be progressing forward,” says JMU alumnus Michael Dubovsky of his decision to pursue nursing in college; a statement appropriately themed for his cross country cycling expedition as well.  Participating in the Triathlon Club his freshman and sophomore years of college, Michael was inspired by two of his friends that had toured the greater expanse of the United States via bicycle.  Hearing that they had reached the Pacific, he made his own plans for a cross country trip after graduation.  Pushing this goal to the back of his mind, Michael shifted his concentration to nursing school for the last two years of his JMU career.  He says, “I went from training 20 hours a week to studying 20 hours a week.”

After taking the nursing state licensure examination, Michael revived his long awaited dream of cycling across the country.  While a plan four years in the making, preparation for the expedition appeared seamless for the nursing graduate.  “I didn’t really train like some people think you may have to,” says Michael.  Athletically fit, with a sleeping bag and tent to boast, all that remained was an itinerary.  For a feasible cross country route for cyclists, Michael used a website sponsored by the Adventure Cycling Association, a non-profit organization.  Course in hand, he tailored the journey to fit his own needs.   “I wanted it to be a vacation.  I didn’t want it to be a race,” he says.

PHOTO: Michael DubovskyFollowing a plane ride to Oregon and reassembly of his shipped bicycle, Michael began pedaling what would become a 41 day, 4,148 mile excursion across the United States.  With a friend riding beside him for the first day, Michael felt dismayed at the prospect of carrying on solo.  “The second day I was biking by myself, no more company and I kind of look at the map and then there’s this realization that I’m all alone…It was just really daunting and I was totally overwhelmed and I kind of sat on the side of the road, like ‘what did I get myself into?’”  Picking himself back up, Michael prepared himself for, literally, the ride of his life.  Touring sites including the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Yellowstone National Park, Michael recalls biking on the highest paved road in the country, an elevation of over 12, 000 feet. 

With the ups came the downs however, and Michael was met with several barriers along the way.  The JMU graduate recalls camping in a RV park in Kentucky saying, “It started [to] torrential downpour and I heard thunder coming.  Then lightning started to hit every five to ten seconds.  You could just hear bolts hit the ground around you.”  While he awoke the next morning unscathed, his bike was not so lucky.  Michael noted two neon blue streaks along the fork of his bike, which RV campers confirmed was the work of lightning bolts.  Just a couple of states due west, his bicycle rack had already sustained a break.  Piling his gear on his handlebar, Michael rode for about thirty miles before he stopped at a store, where one of the employees volunteered to fashion him a rack out of PVC piping.  “He made me this rack that supports my saddlebag and I still have it to this day,” Michael says. 

“And just like that it was over...like I suddenly snapped out of a trance and it was over. There I was, standing right where I wanted to be standing,” Michael states in his online blog of his last day..  Averaging 110 miles a day, Michael reached his final destination of Sugar Hollow, Virginia where family and friends were eagerly awaiting his arrival.  Finally meeting his goal, he says, “It’s solely not about the end, I realized; it’s about the experience…I got back to my house [and] my legs were kind of itching to get going again.”  Michael soon found, however, that this “itch” would be difficult to ignore.  “Every day, even to this day, I’ll think of the whole experience and kind of randomly just zone out…like I’ll pick a random day of the trip and replay it in my mind.”  The avid cyclist has planned a 7,000 mile trip for next year, which will encompass ten national parks.  For now, Michael prepares for his new job as a traveling nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Georgetown University Hospital.  Read Michael’s blog that he kept throughout his cross country journey.