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Lagattolla: On a bike, and on a mission

Ann Tardy talks with truck driver Kurt Mette in Effingham. Tardy, a St. Charles native, is biking across the country and talking with people about why they love their jobs.
Ann Tardy talks with truck driver Kurt Mette in Effingham. Tardy, a St. Charles native, is biking across the country and talking with people about why they love their jobs.

When Ann Tardy climbed aboard her bike in May, while standing on the Golden Gate Bridge in California, a longtime quest began. Twenty years ago, while she was a student at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, the St. Charles native decided that she wanted to bike across the nation.

She put those words on paper in 2007, writing near the end of her first book, “Life Moxie,” that she wanted to ride her bicycle across the country.

Tardy, 40, rode into St. Charles this week for a rest stop at the home of her mother, Cathie Tardy. And she knows her quest is nearly complete.

Tardy is on “The Moxie Ride,” a trip in which Tardy, the founder of a consulting business called LifeMoxie, is determined to ask people why they love their jobs. She’s gathering the material for her third book, and she’s having it filmed for a documentary. She’s also been producing a blog.

By the time she finishes the trip – projected to be July 23 in New Jersey, where she now lives – she will have talked to more than 100 people and traveled thousands of miles on her bike. And she’ll also have a sense of accomplishment.

“When I turned 40, I looked back and said, ‘I’ve been talking about this for 20 years. What happened?’ ” Tardy said.

She talks to people wherever she can, and she wants to talk with anyone who is up for it. Tardy has talked with a flagger for a construction company in Nevada, truck drivers and farmers in many towns, a woman named Bonnie who runs a greenhouse in Colorado, a youth pastor at a church near Denver and many more. So far, she’s talked with 85 people.

The trip has been rewarding. She said she has heard from so many who delighted in explaining why they love their job. Too often, she said, she’ll hear that people aren’t happy with their job. She mentioned a 29-year employee of a business who said the best part of his job was the retirement party. But something keeps people at their jobs, and so she’ll ask why.

So far, she has traveled more than 3,195 miles. She also has a road kill count going on her blog, and that is up to 1,163.

Weather has been kind to her. There was a dust storm that almost blew her off her bike, and there were tornado warnings in Kansas and Missouri, but she was not on the road at the time. She fought through chilly weather in Utah and extreme heat in central Illinois. She said she’s amazed at how each state is different, and that even the color of the road will change.

She has had company for parts of the trip, and her husband, Rob Rosiello, has been with her since she reached St. Louis. He’s planning to ride with her for at least part of her journey toward New Jersey.

Rosiello says he is not surprised that his wife has been able to stay strong for so long.

“She embodies that can-do spirit,” he said.

Rosiello said taking part in the trip made him appreciate her feat a great deal. He said he struggled through the heat as they were departing Champaign, for instance, but that she stayed strong.

“I knew she was in amazing shape,” he said. “I’ve only done this for five days, and the fact that she’s done it for 50 is astounding ... and she’s just as eager to get on the bike as she was on the first day.”

But beyond the fact that she’s accomplishing a lifelong goal, and even greater than her business purpose, Tardy hopes her trip will mean others will go for their dreams, too.

“It’s so easy to say, ‘Someday, when I have time,’ ” she said. “Or, ‘I’ve always wanted to.’ I hope what I’ve done might be inspiring someone else.”

The ride: To learn more about the trip, visit

The blog: To read Ann Tardy’s blog, visit

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

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