- Reid ("Wade")
Day 4 started with waking up at 6:00 A.M., repacking all the tents, and getting breakfast which is all becoming more and more mechanical as we get into our morning rhythm. As a team we all scarfed down about 2 dozen eggs, and a box of sausages before we began our 78 mile ride. The ride turned out to be quite deceptive, we all thought the first 30 miles would be easy, a strong head wind and a flat tire on my end would disagree. Eventually, the headwind died down, but the ride did not decrease in difficulty. As the wind stopped pushing us back, gravity soon took its place as we began our 35 mile and 2400 foot assent. It was tough but the 12 miles of downhill soared by as we were greeted by fellow cyclists into the lovely town of Republic. It was a great day, and after 3 days of mountains and climbing everyone is looking forward to a day off.
- Reid ("Wade")
I think the sunrise, followed quickly by alarm clocks, came a little bit too early for all of our sore legs, backs, and butts (and everything else). This morning seems to have been the coldest one we have had so far, so packing up our wet tents was a slow, soggy, painstaking process. (Visual: Jade bobbing her arms up and down like a penguin (kinda), completely seriously, trying to warm up her arms and hands.) Thankfully, we had some delicious pancakes waiting for us for breakfast.
After we had eaten breakfast, we put on as many biking layers as we could find. I, for example, was wearing a base layer, a biking jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, two jackets, and full fingered gloves. Was I still cold? Absolutely!
Seriously though, all of that made today sound terrible. It really wasn’t. Today has been pretty good!! A lot of our ride was downhill, and that was fantastic. It was a relief to be able to move on our bikes without pedaling! We did have one big climb today, but we had all the skills needed to tackle it after yesterday’s climbs. Apparently we have a good amount of climbing to look forward to tomorrow…. We’ll keep y’all posted.
At the end of today’s ride we pulled into a very cute town called Okanogan. Most of the team jumped (or slid into) the river! The mayor and the town put together a delicious dinner for us! They were probably surprised by how much we ate… We’ve all worked up BIG appetites. Webby represented the team and gave a brief speech with a flawless explanation of our trip and the mission of Ride 2 Recovery (I hope he sees this so I can get brownie points).
We’re camping in a park in Okanogan tonight, and thankfully there are showers here. Since we didn’t have showers last night, we were quite a smelly bunch by the time we finally arrived. I think all of the parents are glad that we’ve cleaned up! The showers may be great, but the mosquitos are not so great. If you see lots of red bumps all over us in pictures soon, you’ll know why. Too many cyclists, too little bug spray!
Follow @spscyclists2015 on Instagram and stay classy, everyone. Lots of love (and Advil?),
And came the infamous Day 2, talked about in hushed tones behind closed doors. The 6,000-foot climbing day that came far earlier in the trip than any of us thought we’d be ready for. After a delicious 6am breakfast of eggs, sausage, and potatoes (prepared professionally the night before my Mr. Van Everen), we kitted up and started the 30 mile calm before the storm, with a pack that our Ride 2 Recovery escorts from day 1 would be proud of. Far sooner than any of us had expected, Washington Pass arrived. We paired up with a kindergarten style buddy system in preparation from the spread that would develop over the process of the climb, and I was lucky enough to have the both beautiful and amazing Jade Thomas as my partner. Accompanied by the beats of our favorite DJ, Steve Aoki (quick shoutout to the Thursday night banger), we began the many faux peaks that deceived us along the ride. Overcoming the pain in our quads and the shots to our egos accompanied by a consistent 6-7mph speeds, we managed to trudge up the hill for two hours before our lunch stop. Jade and I pulled into the lunch stop and celebrated before realizing that we were only halfway up the pass. Our lengthy lunch break ended too quickly, and we started the slow climb again, but by that point the quads were really feeling it, but we kept on keeping on, and finally (after another two hours) made it to the top of the pass, thus bringing me to what has been the best moment of my life so far. Lo and behold, we ended with a much faster cruise halfway down to our campground. Thus ended day two. Goodnight, and follow me on instagram @web_thompson.
Today it really all began. We all just fought back and forth over who is going to write the blog post for day 1 because it’s a struggle to sit down and really put it into words. I’ll take a crack at it:
After a surprisingly efficient process of breaking camp, we downed a sizable breakfast (how are we already hungry!?), met up with Patches, Jamie, and Bryan, and then headed down to the beach. We all fiddled with our bike computers to set them to 0 miles ridden for 0 hours and 0 minutes, then we backed up and dipped our back wheel in the Pacific ocean. It was ceremonious, but almost hard to really let the reality of it sink it. My gut tells me that it’ll sink in once our front wheel makes sweet contact with the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of this beautiful country.
After the wheel soaking ceremony we rode on over to the ferry docks where we met up with some supporters that were eager to ride the first few miles of our journey with us. This included the Chief of Police of Anacortes, some Harley Escorts, and Kevin Meenaghan who has been undeniable support in working out logistics thus far. We were super thankful to have Kevin leading us through and out of Anacortes as it was turn after turn of confusing directions that none of us guiltily made an effort to memorize.
Patches, Jamie, and Bryan, the three R2R representatives, were super helpful with throwing out tips and pointers to help us ride more efficiently. Today for all 66 miles we made an effort to ride as a pack. All 8 of us stayed together (with positive heel biting from the R2R reps) for the entire ride learning how helpful close drafting and team camaraderie can be. We held an astonishing pace of 18-20mph for quite some time which is faster than we’ve ever been able to maintain during training rides this Spring.
When we pulled into Concrete, WA (pop. 705!) to be greeted by mayor Jason Miller and some helpers hosting an entire BBQ for us! It was awesome…food is food on a long ride - we’ll take it! Some potato salad none of us will forget. Thanks, Concrete!
Food was so good that we were generous to ourselves and you could say we felt it on the next 10 miles that took us into a beautiful campground at the base of the North Cascades. We’re sleeping under the 5400 ft elevation gain that we’re about to climb tomorrow. Here we gooooooo!
Lightning Round: “most memorable part of today”
Oliver - Eddie bumping “yeah” by Usher in the R2R support vehicle
Jacob - posterizing (dunking a basketball into a portable hoop behind someone) Webster mid serious convo
Jamie - amount of food consumed in day 1
George - how flat the route was
Eddie - driving down the road and constantly looking at the HUGE mountains on the side of the road
Wow. After nearly fourteen months of planning, it’s happening. Tomorrow the eight of us are going to wake up and hit the road. Today we met Jamie, Patches, and Ryan, three Ride 2 Recovery staff members that are going to ride with us tomorrow. We had a sendoff dinner with two veteran motorcycle clubs that will be riding with us for the first few miles. I think that seeing so many veterans and hearing some stories from their lives set the mood for our group, and helped put the whole ride in perspective. When I was riding in the PMC, a local charity ride for cancer, my mom never let me moan, and never let me quit because of whom I was riding for. She would tell me that there are kids my age that would give anything to go out and bike and not worry about anything else. For me, the dinner tonight reminded me that our ride is so much more than my personal struggles, or those of the group. We are riding first and foremost for those that risked everything to protect our freedom. We are riding to support those that suffered debilitating mental and physical injuries in the line of duty. For the veterans – Thank you, we’ll try to make you proud.
In a mere couple of hours we’ll have dipped our wheels in the Pacific and pointed our bikes east. I’m nervous, and anxious to get started. This whole thing feels surreal, even lying down in the tent I can’t believe we’re about to start this journey. Thanks to all of the parents and friends and family that have made this possible, I think we’re ready for our little trial by fire.
It is 5:26am on the morning that we all travel to Anacortes, Washington to reunite for our prep day tomorrow, and day 1 of the journey on Friday. I am wide awake and there's no better way to describe my mental state right now than to say i feel like a child (or just me because i LOVE Christmas) on Christmas Eve. I can not believe that today is the day that our trip actually starts and in just 2 days we will legitimately begin mile 1 of 4000. It's completely surreal that the overwhelming phenomenon of riding across the United States of America for our veterans that we have prepped for and talked about for over a year ACTUALLY STARTS NOW. This task has been a discussion for so so long and just now became so so real.
I'm excited out of my mind and can not think of anything I've anticipated more in my entire life. When I realized I was laying here very much awake and it was definitely no later than 5:30am, i decided to text Mary Elmore to survey her thoughts. She was awake also (whoot whoot go time change) and confirmed that she's feeling the same overwhelmed-Christmas-Eve-like feelings too.
I got in touch with Peter Finger, a photographer in New Hampshire, yesterday. He sent me the attached photo and I was immediately reminded of how much fun we had this spring on training rides. Our positive working dynamic on rides together (yes all 8 of us + Karen sometimes!) was so strong just in training rides that I can't wait to see what we can do in the real deal.
Jacob also texted our flock yesterday saying "Can't believe I'm getting on the plane tomorrow for this ride. Kinda surreal. Anyone else freaking out?" (Sorry Jacob). We all feel this ridiculous wave of excitement... Here we gooooooooo!
P. S. I bought a beach ball yesterday. My goal? Include this beach ball in a photo of the group at every state border.
Check out this article on our flock published in the local newspaper of Anacortes, WA - our starting location.
Yesterday after struggling through packing up our dorm rooms and helping with dorm clean up we met Eddie to help pack up the trailer. Eddie arrived with the trailer beautifully cleaned and decorated with a huge 'SPS Cyclists' logo and colorful stickers from a handful of our supporters. The outside is cool, but I can’t even begin to describe the beautiful intricacy of the inside. It’s extremely organized and everything fits so nicely. A huge shout out to Eddie and Karen for making this happen.
We loaded our 8 stallions into the trailer along with some gear we’re taking along. Eddie takes off this Friday to drag our wheels across the country to our starting point in Anacortes, WA.
EIGHT DAYS TO GO!!!