Friday, November 30, 2007

My Research

As most people know the reason why I am able to do this trip is because I was awarded a sabbatical from North Central Michigan College, which is where I have been teaching for the last 9 years. Initially, I was interested in looking at the broad subject of Group Dynamics and specifically leadership, conflict resolution, and group role formation. As with all ideas, they evolve. These ideas have coalesced into one main question which is: how do extreme adventure trips change people? I am defining extreme adventure as ones that last for more than one month in duration and have participants being active for at least 4 hours every day in an activity. I am intensely curious as the capacity in which these events change someone for the short and long-term. You may ask how I came to ask this research question? Well, it would be an obvious answer: THE NORTH POLE! The expedition that I did to the North Pole with 12 other women in 2001 led to me asking this question as I have contemplated over the years how this trip has changed me.

In the end, I am also asking how the group at large (in this case the 50 riders that are doing TDA 2008) influences or supports this change in the individual. I know that the 50 riders will break down into small groups of probably 6-10 people per group. I expect people to start hanging out with people similar in them to age and nationality. Gender will probably be an influence at first and then will cease to be that important. I will also be curious in these small groups the roles that develop as well as the norms. It might be hard to extract that sort of data but I'll certainly give it the college try.

I have constructed a pre and a post survey instrument that I am going to email to the riders that will measure how this trip changes them. I am hoping that most people will actually take the time to fill it out! I also have a free personality test for them to take, generously donated by Dr. Travis Bradberry and team of the Personality Code. Please check out their dynamic website at

I will be making my research available to the Tour d'Afrique company upon my return as well as anyone that is interested.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

46 Days until I leave for the dark continent

Waves of anxiety, excitement, and periodic calm states have enveloped me since I have been earnestly training for this trip in mid-October. I am trying to tackle a lot of things at the same time: research, training, obtaining sponsorship, and learning to use the electronics that I will take on this adventure. Like most things in life, with patience and hard work things, even huge projects do come together. My research is finally beginning to take shape and I now have a personality profile as well as two questionnaires developed. My training is becoming cumulative to the point that I feel I have a solid base of athleticism in my body.

In the next 46 days I will increase my workouts. Try sitting on a trainer for 3 hours straight! I did that yesterday and I might up it to 4 hours in the next week. I am trying to get my butt used to my new seat. Jeff, my bike guy who owns Kinetic Systems in Clarkston, MI says that getting my butt used to the saddle is the best thing I can do for myself. Per the research end of things, I will send out the questionnaires and hope for 75% compliance! It would be great if all the tour riders responded but we know about surveys and lack of responding. I also have to buy a whole bunch of stuff before I leave.

I think packing will be the hardest part. If you know me, you know I like to bring a lot of stuff. Not quite at the minimalist stage yet! I am sure I will be frantically scurrying around my parent's house during the final few days trying to fit this into a bag and that into a bag.

Well, tonight I have a hot date with my Group Dynamics textbook so I must be off!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007