June 15th: Day 40
O Canada! Everyone is safe and well. Deo Gratias!
John and Mike Riding the Final 28 to the Border.
From St. Mary to the Canadian border at Waterton. Steve had actually ridden the shorter, flatter route to the border in Piegan on Saturday, but we all wanted to ride together on the longer but much more stunning Waterton route. Sunshine and a southerly tail wind were awaiting when we stirred out of the van at 5:15 am. The ride to the border was beautiful and I found myself humming “O Canada” most of the way!
It was wonderful to arrive at customs and see the Canadian flag flying in the breeze. …wonderful to have made the trip, wonderful for it to be finished.
I am now in Helena, MT (Monday) at my brother-in-law’s. Steve, John, and Christy are up in Glacier waiting for the “Road to the Sun” to open, hopefully on the 20th.
I head home tomorrow, work a few shifts, and then join many of you next Wednesday in Ecuador for the dedication in Santo Domingo. I want to send my deepest thanks to Steve, John, and Christy who did so much of the organization of tis journey and were true partners every inch of the way. I also want to thank all of you who have supported this effort financially and in other ways who have helped make it worthwhile and fun – especially my friend, Pat Sivesind, who joined us for four days to provide support in New Mexico.
Finally, I want to thank Dave Cutler who not only joined us again this year “on the road” (again with our other partner, Rob Martin and with Matt Rudolf who was just great fun to be with) but made the unbelievable $100,000 commitment to a matching grant in an attempt to help finish the funds needed for Hospital Hesburgh. We are still $40,000 away from the 200K goal set for this ride, but I have not given up hope that we will reach it.
And now really finally — my deepest thanks to Diego, David, and Fr. Ted who have kept this dream alive for all of these years and let the rest of us help out along the way.
June 14th: Day 39
Wind, Rain, and Cold all the way to St. Mary.
Jerseys sent by Dave Cutler. Arrived in St. Mary just after we arrived at the border via by brother-in-law Steve who had come from Helena to collect me and all of my gear.
From Browning over a significant pass to St. Mary was another set of challenges. We woke at 5 am to rain which had been falling all night. The temperature was 46 and felt colder. We geared up, duct tape around ankles over plastic bags and set off. 38 degrees at the top of the pass and then 8 miles down to St. Mary — teeth chattering by the time we arrived. Thank goodness for Johnson’s Café which my friend Craig had told me about before leaving Sioux Falls. Old time cookin’ seated next to a big wood stove…
June 13th: Day 38
From Augusta, MT to Browning started well with sunshine and a tailwind, but by mid-morning the skies had darkened with rumbles of thunder coming in over the mountains to the west. John and I were riding together and Steve was up ahead when the rain started. John and I were able to find shelter in the small post-office in Bynum while the hail fell and the lightening cracked directly overhead. Steve did not have hail or lightening but was hammered by rain and wind and still was able to continue riding. After the storm let up, Christy (who did a terrific job of driving support in vey difficult conditions) found us and ferried us up the road 10 miles to a construction site that was basically impassable on our road bikes. Steve had gotten through on his small “Bike Friday”…and then the winds hit. Continual, banging, gusting cross winds on a highly traveled road with narrow shoulders. For 25+ miles there was no let up, requiring continual attention fighting the wind, trucks, gusts…Steve through it all ended up riding 100 miles and John and I ended up with 68 – feeling like much more. The sign for “Browning” was a major relief.
June 10th: Day 35
In Helena at my brother-in law’s. Had to change our route because of major road construction on the original route.
Great to see Steve, do laundry, be in a house… Will head out early in the morning after I make pancakes for the crew.
Ahead of schedule. So it now looks like we will be in Browning, MT Saturday night. Sunday morning the rest of the crew will head west towards Marias Pass and then eventually to the Canadian border in Washington state. I will head north up through St. Mary’s and to the Canadian border by mid-day Sunday. So, if all goes well, I will be finished on Sunday.
In some ways, would like to keep riding and ride over “The Road to the Sun” in Glacier National Park – but need to get home, work a few shifts, and get ready for Ecuador. Will do one more entry before Canada and then a final summary note once I get home.
June 8th: Day 33 and June 9th: Day 34
In Wisdom, MT. Arrived yesterday afternoon June 8th after 65 miles over the last two big passes before the Road to the Sun in Glacier. Head wind most of the day and a 13% grade the last part of the final climb. Wind wore us just a bit….amazing view though as came over the top of the last climb and started down and suddenly saw the Bitter Root mountains off in the distance to the west!
You may notice there are no biking pictures today. The is because we are spending an extra night in Wisdom and using today as a rest day – much needed. Team a little banged up and tired and a few dust ups with stock trucks yesterday, so a day off the road is timely.
Also took the rest day here so we could go 12 miles west of town to the Big Hole National Monument – the scene of one of the clashes that Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce had during their 1300 mile attempt to stay ahead of the US Army and avoid capture and removal from the Bitter Root Mountains to a reservation. Chief Joseph of “…I will fight no more forever…” A remarkable person and remarkable story…
Tomorrow it is 75 miles on to Deer Lodge and then Wednesday 75 more to Lincoln. A few low passes, lots of rollers and some wind forecasted. Beginning to think about the end – especially Steve who has ridden every mile and John who has ridden most of them.
Not sure where we are with our goal of $200,000 but I know thanks to every one of you that we are past 160K –amazing and I can never thank you all enough.
John over looking Big Hole National Monument battle site
Bitter Root Mountains
June 7th: Day Thirty Two
(Am listing this as “Day 32” because it is for Steve and John.)I rejoined the team as you know on June 4th in Jackson, WY, and then headed north the next day from Moran Junction, northeast of Jackson and road north on the east side of the Grand Tetons. If you have ever seen these mountains, you will easily understand why they are named as they are.
Moose, elk, bison, antelope – all along the way to Yellowstone. Crossed the Divide three times and each time, thought the climbing was done for the day only to discover that there was another crossing farther along that was higher yet. For some reason, that day (June 5th, Day 30) was difficult, a day that just required focus and concentration. Maybe because I was so quickly back at altitude, maybe tired from work in Sioux Falls with day/night shift changes — who knows, but already much better. Snow still along the way as you can see from the pics. All in all though, just a spectacular day..and really good to be back with the team – which now includes Christy, John and Steve’s sister who is just an excellent coordinator, support driver, etc.
As you saw from the quick notes that I gave Laura by phone, we had to carry bear spray canisters in our spare water bottle cage…a new experience to say the least. Thankfully, the spray was never needed.
Yesterday, June 6th, D-Day plus 70 years, was a challenging day. Rode out of Yellowstone to West Yellowstone and then John and Steve went on to a 40 mile plus section of dirt/gravel, wash board road that was so bad that I decided to not even try for fear of damage to my bike. John road 10 miles before stopped to save his frame. Steve continued the entire way (finishing this morning) on a small bike with thicker tires, but still just 40 miles of pounding…it was that route or a long detour south into Idaho in order to get across to the rest of our route along the Divide in Montana.
And finally, today which was an easy 67 mile run north to Dillon, MT despite a moderate headwind. Road north through what seemed like a 60 mile “canyon”, at times along the Interstate, at times along frontage roads that ran right next to fast flowing trout steams. Sunny all day and warm enough in the afternoon that we could get all of the layers of excess gear off and just feel the wind. Thank goodness!
We head to Wisdom, MT in the morning and will then take a rest day before heading on to Deer Lodge. One reason for the rest day in Wisdom is o we can spend some time at Big Hole National Battlefield, one of the places that Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce battled the US Calvary. More about that in a few days, but as many of you know, the entire Nez Perce story is one of the most remarkable and saddest I know.
John and Mike catching a break along the route to Dillon, Montana…”yes” – we are trying to make the letter “c” to say hello to a friend…
Memorial at the battle site at Big Hole National Monument
Meadow of wild flowers at Big Hole National Monument
June 6th: Day Thirty One
Steve on the “Bike Friday”. Riding the 40 plus miles of tough wash board gravel road.
Chillin’. In the touch. Trying to stay warm…
At the campsite – Somewhere, Montana
John – our resident shaman and kokopelli with a “mask” he found laying in a field by the campsite – a “gift” from a long gone heifer.
June 5th: Day Thirty
On the road north to Yellowstone
The Bike Ride Continues
I finished up all my obligations in Sioux Falls, put away my farming clothes and John Deere tractor, (kidding), and got back on my bike.
John and Steve and Steve’s sister, Christey, are now with me in Montana.
We rode from Jackson Hole to the Tetons and then road to Yellowstone.
The Tetons (picture courtesy of Google Images)
This is the first time in my life that I had to carry a large canister of bear spray with me on my bike .
Bear Spray (picture courtesy of Google Images)
There have been reports of bears attacking bikers. So I road all day with a huge bear canister. We passed moose, elk, and buffalo. Went over the Continental Divide three times yesterday. We passed Old Faithful and went to a Yellowstone campsite.
It was 29 degrees in the morning when we woke and up to 48 midday.
New Mex, Colorado, and Wyoming are now behind us, and we are in Montana, our final state.
We will send pictures soon when we have better internet contact.
Thank you for all the support!
Interim Note from Sioux Falls
So after the fun with the hitch hiking fiasco on May 19th, I left Colorado on May 20th and arrived in Sioux Falls on a muggy, humid, rainy day. Spent two days getting caught up with all of the things that were waiting on our 40 acres (including our 10 month old yellow lab, Luke [below]) and then began 8 twelve hour shifts in the eICU – before heading back to re-join Steve and John.
Steve and John spent two days with family in Leadville and then headed north over Loveland Pass at 11,990′ and Berthoud Pass at 11,315. They will pick up their sister tomorrow at Crested Butte and then head on up to Wyoming. The Boyers grew up on a large sheep range just across the Colorado border in Wyoming so they will be in very familiar territory for the next few days. John and Steve’s tales of young boys growing up on a range have been one of the unexpected treats of this trip so far.
Here is a photo of me at work in the eICU – a “drop in” as you can see with my focus still out west…
The eICU, by the way, is a growing technology that allows hospitals that have intensive care units but do not have critical care specialists on staff – to still care for critically ill patients. Our eICU serves 33 hospitals in a six state region in the Northern Plains — all linked to the “hub” by high speed transmission providing data, labs, vital signs, etc. We have a high resolution camera in each ICU room and two way flat screen monitors so we can immediately be “in” the room when needed. It is what I do when I am not having fun with the blog, or a bike trip or Andean Health or…
Four more shifts to go, then two days of other “chores,” then out to Jackson, WY on June 4th.
We will not bother you will further blog notes and pics until June 4th!…but tune in then for an update on Steve and John’s adventures and for more news from the west.
The ride over Monarch pass is behind us, the question was now how to best get from Buena Vista 92 miles east to the Colorado Springs airport to catch a flight back to Sioux Falls to work a block of shifts before re-connecting with Steve and John on June 4th in Jackson, WY to continue north.
John and Steve were heading north out of Buena Vista in the van on their way to a family get together and a few days rest in Leadville. I did not want to hold them up and thought it might be a mini-adventure to return to “days of yore” and try to hitch a ride since there was no easy way to get to Colorado Springs by public transportation. So I got a large piece of cardboard from the local bike shop, borrowed a marker and made my sign for the airport, and then was let off by John and Steve at a gas stop on Highway 24 east sure I would have no difficulty catching a ride. I mean this is Colorado for cryin’ out loud and here I was with my yellow biking jacket, my bike helmet clipped to my small backpack — no problem. It was a hot afternoon with blustery winds that blew small sand and gravel at me – still “No problem, one of these cars with bikes on racks would stop any minute…” Then one hour turned into two most likely, no very likely because of a small fact that John and Steve had discovered before they reluctantly had left for Leadville after my admonition that they should “Go, I will get a ride in a few minutes…”: I was hitching two miles away from the local prison…the fellow who ran the gas stop had said that catching a ride in the area was very difficult; he was, of course, right.
Finally after two and a half hours my cell phone rang: John calling from Leadville to see if I had found a ride. Discovering that I had not, he headed back to Buena Vista to rescue me, pulling up 45 minutes later saying with a sly smile saying that he had “just busted out of the joint, stolen this rig, and was on his way to the Nebraska border, did I want a ride!”…
So Steve and John will be in Leadville for a few days and then head back out on the road. I will be in Sioux Falls working shifts until the beginning of June and then head back west as mentioned.
There will be one more blog entry in two days and then we will re-start on June 4th. Catch you all on Friday!
Cold morning (am I starting to sound like a broken record…) but
warmed up quickly on the way up Monarch Pass. The attached pictures say it all.
Steve led the way over the pass and then north into Buena Vista. Once John
And I reached the top, John took off and flew down the east side of the pass
to Poncha Springs while I organized all of my gear in preparation for my break
away for two weeks to head home and work a block of shifts in the eICU before
returning on June 4th to meet up with John and Steve in Jackson, WY.
More about John and Steve’s plans in tomorrow’s blog along with the
tale of my unsuccessful attempt to hitch hike the 90 miles from Buena
Vista to the airport in Colorado Springs and how John saved the day!
Day 13: at the top of Monarch Pass – just an example of the stunning scenery
Day 13: At the summit of Monarch Pass – this pic is for Alisa, my partner from last year who rode the passes like they were flat and always liked the “bike over the head” shot!
Day 13: “Steve and John heading up the west side of Monarch Pass at 7:30 am”
Day 12 was scheduled as a 56 mile
ride from Lake City, CO to Gunnison – a
welcomed relatively easy day after the two cold, snowy
climbs and then tough descent the previous day. The
plan was for me to ride the first long climb out of
Lake City and then catch up in the van with Steve
and John somewhere along the route to Gunnison, but
they both flew up the route so I did not see John until
a few miles from town and finally caught Steve in Gunnison
making phone calls! The scenery on the way north was
excellent with snow capped mountains far off to the
north after topping out each climb.
After lunch, we decided to take advantage of a brisk
westerly tail wind so Steve and I took off and rode
the wind another 31 miles sitting at 18 to 26 mph the
entire way…a blast and, as Steve said, a “freebie”.
We camped up a beautiful little canyon next to a
stream – a fair trade off for the chilly morning because
the sun could not get above the sides of the canyon.
The ride continues to be a challenge at times (along
with great riding, stories, and laughs with Steve and
John). On those days when I find myself wondering
what in the world we are doing out here (almost always
at 5:45 am with the temp below 32) — I hear from Laura
about another contribution to AHD from one of the many
friends and family who share my passion for the
great work that Diego and David and all of the team in
Ecuador are doing…so thanks to everyone!
Day 12: A “shout out” for Harlan’s Bike Shop in Sioux Falls who we’re amazingly supportive and helpful with all of my preparation for this trip – including serving as co-conspirators with Jean on the purchase of the new Bianchi seen in the photo!”
Day 12-“Steve getting the bikes ready in Lake City, CO”
Day 12: “Two old cowpokes hang in’ on the fence after a long day!”
Day 12: “Campsite on Day 12 up near the end of a box canyon – which meant complete quiet save the sound of the stream, stars dropping out of the sky, AND 22 degrees this morning because the walls of the canyon blocked the early morning sun. Who keeps coming up with these ridiculous bike rides in sleet and freezing temps!”
Today we got up at 5:30 am as usual in order to eat, get
organized, and be on the road by 6:30 or 7. The trade
off is the cold starts (it was 23 degrees two days ago) in return
for having most of the day finished before the afternoon
winds come up.
We camped near the head waters of the Rio Grande
River last night just south of Creede, CO – an old
mining town that became a ghost town when the
price of silver dropped dramatically in the early
Today was a 52 mile trek to Lake City, CO over
Spring Creek Pass at 10,898′ followed very quickly
by Slumgullion Pass at 11,361′. There was snow on the way
up both passes and then along the steep ride off
Slumgullion to Lake City.
Tomorrow we will head for Gunnison – hopefully a little
Everyone is still doing well; staying ahead of our calories
thanks to John who is not only a strong rider, but
also the main cook and the source of a daily reading
about life which is a very nice way to end each day.
Example of the scenery that we rode through all day today. Beautiful but cold and windy
Campsite last night along the Rio Grande river south of Creeds, CO.
Steve and John catching a nap after another long, cold day on the road
First pass today (5/17)
Second pass today (5/17)
Steve and John made it through Wolf Creek Pass today, while Mike provided support. Resting up for tomorrow’s trek!
Really cold with a head wind yesterday between Grants, NM and Pueblo Pintado. Arrived at 2 pm and then a wonderful thing happened: the folks at the Pueblo Chapter House invited us in to use the bathrooms, stay warm, use the internet and at 5 pm came over to the truck and just gave us the key to the entire building for the night. Amazing!
This morning Dave Cutler, Rob Martin, and Matt Rudolf arrived with Pat Sivesind from Farmington. Pat, my good friend from Sioux Falls, met the crew at the airport in Farmington after flying in from Seattle. Dave and Rob rode Mount Evans with Alisa and me last summer.
This morning it was thirty degrees in the truck when we woke and stayed near forty max for the day. We had snow flurries during the second part of the day.
Everyone did well with Steve leading the way.
Tomorrow will be 86 miles north to Dulce with two crossings of the Continental Divide and then Wednesday on to Colorado!
Note from Pat: two words describe today–grit and determination–they did great!! Looking forward to tomorrow!
P.S. Pics of Pat in her big black Secret Service SUV to follow in AM!
Looking forward to Dave, Matt, Rob, and Pat getting here in the morning.
Have been getting up at 5:30 am to try to get an early start so we are finished before the New Mexico winds pick up which they do every afternoon – which is great except that it means we left this morning with the temp at 38.
Thank goodness it warmed quickly as the sun broke up over the eastern ridge.
One big climb today to 8200′ and then a long run down into Quemado.
Everyone doing well. So far two flats, a cracked rear derailleur hanger and a few Rattle snakes in the road…the scenery has changed from dry desert to alpine forest and huge mesas off in the distance. Bright burnt orange paintbrush wild flowers along the road – all spectacular.
Tomorrow 85 miles north to Grants.
Safely in Silver City, NM.
I say “safely” only because we had to deal with 22 miles of Interstate 10 this morning before finally turning north and heading up over the Continental Divide for the second time, this time just shy of of 6,000 feet. We got up at 5 am and were on the road by 6 am so we could beat the pounding head winds.
Cold morning but the a beautiful classic sunny New Mexico day with three good long climbs AFTER the Divide.
Steve and I both hit 39 mph coming off on of the hills but the wind started to buffet us around so we had to back off – but still a blast!
Steve and John doing great as expected and excellent traveling and riding partners!
Finished up today in Silver City and celebrated with large chocolate shakes.
Day One was terrific. For the first 65 miles we had a tail wind and we averaged 24 mph! We biked passed the areas of the comanche raids and saw some breathtaking scenes and landscapes.
As fate would have it, the biking gods got back at us the last 7 miles, as we faced 40 mile per hour HEAD winds that made the end quite difficult.
That said, we’ll take that scenario everytime! Looking forward to another challenging day tomorrow.