Andean Health 1500: Biking for Hesburgh Hospital



Friends of Andean Health & Development including Michael Heisler, the Chair of AHD’s Advisory Board, are cycling 1500 miles from Seattle to Sioux Falls to raise funds and awareness for Andean Health’s new teaching hospital in Ecuador. Their goal is raise $500,000! Funds raised will go toward bringing Hesburgh Hospital to full operation and financial self-sustainability.

Follow their progress below!

July 10, 2015

So six days have now passed since we arrived in Sioux Falls and finally got off the bikes. An incredible journey in every way.

First some data, just for fun. Dave Cutler’s Summary Data:



   Avg. Speed



6/13/2015 72.8 16.2







Hayden Lake/Clark Fork


83.4 16.2


Clark Fork/Thompson Falls


60.2 16.3


Thompson Falls/Ravalli


67.7 17.4




62 18




59.2 16.6


Helena/White Sulphur


70.2 16


White Sulphur/Harlowton


58.4 18.2




69.2 18.8




102.9 15.7


Forsyte/Lame Deer


58.4 17.5


Lame Deer/Broadus


65 18.3




83 15.4


Rapid City/Interior


64.2 20.7


Interior/White River


76.1 17.3


White River/Missouri River


94 16.5


Missouri River/Parkston


57.7 18.4


Parkston/Sioux Falls


66.4 17.5






Here is the “just for fun” data – all of which is not precise but still interesting:

– If a rider set a cadence of 75 rpm and rode at that average rate for 5 hours per day for 19 days – he/she would have made 427,500 turns over the length of the whole trip.

– If she/he had an average heart rate of 75 bpm, her/his heart would have beat the same 427,500 times while actually on the bike.

– If a rider doubled his/her normal cardiac output while riding (which is a reasonable average projection) and again averaged 5 hours per day for 19 days – they would have pumped 57,000 liters of blood through their heart which is equal to approximately 14,250 gallons.

– If you prorate that 14,250 gallons and adjust for the distance and approximate time each rider actually rode during the AH 1500 – the total cardiac output of the entire “peloton” was 139,500 gallons which is equal to approx. 28 tractor trailers fully loaded.

– If you do the same prorated process for miles covered, the approximate distance traveled during the AH 1500 by all riders is approx. 12,715 miles which is half way around the equator.

– Finally, back to some hard, “real” data: the total distance that Ann’s van travelled during the ride was 5,403 miles. Kevin and Pat’s van with the trailer covered 3,959 miles – why are we not surprised!

nonameYou may have heard about the “trial” at the Missouri River site, but you may not have seen the stunning views from up on the ridge looking down from the west at the Missouri River far below. Ann once again did her magic and managed to find two small cabins/homes right next to each other that were perfect for the group. Pat Sivesind was able to bring the trailer down a gravel road and through a small gate over a cattle guard right up to the large area in front of the houses, which was important mostly because all of the bikes needed major attention. The last part of the ride into the river was through a pouring rain, everyone was soaked, and the bikes were covered with dirt and grit. After dinner Nancy grabbed a hose and washed all the bikes and then we had a drying, chain cleaning, chain-lubing party as the full moon rose in the south and Venus and Jupiter appeared in the western sky.

The rural health awards in Winner and Parkston on July 2 and 3 were excellent and did what we hoped they would: recognize rural hospitals and clinics that are doing great work and meeting many of the same challenges that AHD faces in PVM and Santo Domingo.

The team received a boost in the last week from Earl Kemp from South Dakota. Barney and Nancy Cline joined us in Parkston and then Barney took over the title of “most remarkable rider by age” from Dave Cutler (78 year old vs. 73…) and then following Dave’s lead, proceeded to blow the roof off all expectations by doubling his previous longest distance while riding the last day into Sioux Falls including the ride up out of the James River valley.

Chris Avery, our main partner from Harlan’s Bike and Tour, also joined us for the last day and, no surprise, rode like a champion.

Speaking of titles and riding like champions and aware that the Tour de France is underway, here are the winners of the main jerseys awarded at the end of the Tour:

Yellow jersey (Yellow Jersey) for best GC (general contender) and the winner of the Tour: Dave Cutler

White Jersey (White Jersey) for “Best Young Rider”: Cole Forrest

ºººPolka Dotººº jersey for “King of the Mountain”: Mark Betourne

Green Jersey for “Best Sprinter”: Tom Rolfs

Best Individual Time Trialist: Anne Debois

Team Leader: Ann Van Sickle

“Awards” aside, the real champions were ALL of the riders and ANYONE who took part in any piece of the AH 1500. What a fun, remarkable group of people! Rob Martin and his video crew; Mary and Al Harding who managed the chaos at Hayden Lake; Nancy and John Rudolf who hosted two fundraisers and rode the majority of the route in strong fashion just behind the Supreme Commander every day!; David Gaus who didn’t train and then rode up front every day; Rachel English who coordinated all of the first aid kits and with Pat, provided the vans which were crucial to a safe, efficient ride; Ann and Laura who put the entire madcap journey together; Mike and Nancy Hansen who as usual, started it all; Anne Dubois and Mark Betourne who committed 60 hours of pro bono professional services and then blew through all of it the first week (and did all of the graphics and the communications and all major bike maintenance and repairs); Dave Cutler who with Nancy started this whole thing in November, won all 19 “stages” of our tour and took lead on finding Huckleberry shakes every day; Beth Toomey who ignored her knees and rode way, way farther than even she imagined; Hahns Burg who, with Laurie McKeon plowed through Washington’s hills and fields; Dave Thompson, who made it to Thompson Falls without accidentally living up to the town’s name; Rob Short, who, out of nowhere, raced with the front runners; Jim Dunn, who kept up everyone’s enthusiasm even though this was his own first cycling trip; Bill Igoe, who came out of nowhere as a consistently strong cyclist, Mike Roemer who besides being an outstanding rider was a great team member in every way; and on and on and on…

This adventure that began with “Safe, Beautiful, and Fun” turned out to be exactly that. Everyone arrived at the end of their various stages safely. The ride was more beautiful than we had imagined. Whoever wrote “America the Beautiful” got it right! “Fun” – well let’s not even start with that one!

Along the way, we all made new friends, deepened current friendships, relied on each other, jumped in rivers, climbed passes that we thought we never could, shared great meals and good company – and as of today, raised $440,000 of the targeted $500,000 goal for what this was all really about: Hospital Hesburgh and improved rural health in Latin America.

The informal, low key 4th of July picnic at the Heisler’s was the final chapter in “Fun” and “Beautiful” with congratulations all around to the team there at the picnic and to everyone who had made AH 1500 a success!

Thanks again to everyone and we will see everyone down the road!

July 3: Missouri River to Parkston, SD

Barney Cline arrives to the AH 1500!










July 1: Interior to White River, SD

Where Would We Be?

Without Ann Van Sickle, travel master extraordinaire, the Andean Health 1500 team would still be trying to find their first hotel!

Day in and day out, Ann has greeted riders, supported riders, directed support teams, worked with hotel and restaurant owners – all to make sure we, the riders, would safely ride the miles of the day. It has not been unusual to see Ann as the first one to rise and the last to hit the hay. Her energy and smiles have been the true fuel of this ride.

So, to Ann, before another day goes by, we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts! We were glad to give you a “Pegasus” day yesterday and a day of riding today. You deserve every minute and more.

—From the core team going the whole distance: Mark, Anne, Dave, Mike, Cole; and the other troops of the day: Nancy, JR, Tom, and Earl.








Ann trying to get the meat off the wall for the hungry riders.







Ann, arriving after her first 65-mile ride, being greeted by Mike.


June 28: Broadus, MT to Deadwood, SD

Arrived in Deadwood, a South Dakota yesterday afternoon – Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming now behind us.

Our longest day so far at 83 miles and 4,250 feet of climbing. Once again heat and headwinds were a good part of the day, making it even more “interesting”.  Everyone did really well with no accidents, flats, and no one with any real nagging aches or pains.

Mark had come up with the route we rode, which was excellent because of the beauty and because it got us off a busy truck route and onto basically empty country roads.

We were able to stop near the top of one of the big climbs and look back behind us and down, off in the distance see Devil’s Tower – a magma core that rises up off the prairie, a sacred place to the native people in this area.

At the lunch stop Cole befriended a couple from the Netherlands who are riding from Seattle to Boston. After seeing the trailer and learning about AHD and our ride, they made a contribution and with big smiles said as they got back on their bikes, “Now you are internationally funded!” – one more example of the wonderful people we have met along the way.

photo (1)After dinner in Deadwood, we all had fun watching Cole turn a $5 parking coupon into $7.82 at a slot machine before heading back to our rest day lodge up in the woods north of town.

Part of the crew will leave in a while for a day trip to the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, and the “Purple Pie House” in Custer.

Earl and Kathy Kemp and Nancy and JR arrive today along with Tom’s daughter Eliza – we are looking forward to seeing all of them!

Tomorrow morning we leave early and head across the Bad Lands – sure to be a hot, but spectacular day!

Great support from Ann and Pat all day yesterday; Tom and Dave continue to just turn huge gears all day long, Mark and Anne keep making it all look effortless! A terrific and wonderful group!

IMG_2258 IMG_2249 IMG_2248




Screenshot 2015-06-30 10.20.59

















June 27: Lame Deer, MT to Broadus, MT

Hot, head wind, hills.  65 miles. Last 25 miles all mental. Arrived in Lame Deer and then returned back up the road to Colstrip for lodging. Ann, Pat, Cole, Mike went to the opening ceremony of the Northern Cheyenne Nation  pow wow.  Rest of the team went to dinner and wisely rested.

Today, June 27th we left early from Lame Deer on the bikes at 7 am because of concern about heat which was predicted to get into the high 90’s.  Fortunately only got to 91 but we were glad to all be off the road and having lunch in a local park  by 1 pm. (Tom, Mark, Dave, and Anne had actually arrived around 11:30 am and had to pass the time in the local ice cream shop having huckleberry shakes…)

Tomorrow is a big day: 81 miles, 5000′ of elevation, but at the end, we will be into South Dakota – hurray!!!   Monday is a rest day in Deadwood which we will all appreciate.  Earl Kemp joins us on Monday and Nancy and JR rejoin us Monday evening.  We are looking forward to seeing all of them!

photo 2 photo 1















We had a picnic lunch today at a park across from the rodeo arena in Broadus, MT.  They were practicing barrel racing for tomorrow’s rodeo – very fun!

June 26: Vananda to Lame Deer, MT

We knew Roundup to Vananda was a long day at 83 miles. What we did not know was that we would have rain for the first time on this journey – lasting basically the first half of the day.  We were also not counting on a head wind that lasted most of the day.  Fortunately, we had decided to make an early start knowing that we needed to be in Vananda by 1:30 pm so that Ann would have time to get Kevin, “Master Sherpa” to the airport in Billings.

She made it in time, Kevin made his flight, and Ann then picked up Tom Rolfs who has re-joined us now all the way through the South Dakota Badlands. It is great to have Tom back!

Ann also picked up Pat Sivesind, my good friend from Sioux Falls. Pat drove support last year in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado when Dave Cutler, Rob Martin, and Matt Rudolf  joined us for part of the Continental Divide ride. So with Pat and Tom we are kind of “getting the band back together”.

We will see Kevin again on July 4th when he comes over from Minneapolis to help welcome the crew in on the last day. As always, Kevin was a star, put up with all of our endless demands with good humor.

For the record, the Supreme Commander rode all the way into Forsyth so had a 102 miles day in addition to the rain and the head winds. The man is bionic!!!

Tomorrow should be a bit easier with only 58 miles from Forsyth to Lame Deer…we will see.

Sure seems like a long time ago when we all first met in Seattle. We miss all our fellow riders/adventurers and continue to appreciate everyone’s incredible support.

Three days left in Montana and then on to South Dakota and the Black Hills!

Northern Cheyenne Summer 2015 Opening Ceremonies, attended by Andean Health 1500 team members Mike, Cole, Ann and Pat.

Special Thank You…

noname (8)We’d like to extend a special thank you to Kevin Kearns who leaves today.

Kevin has been driving, parking, maneuvering, packing, and unpacking the big yellow trailer for two weeks now with the team…all with a big smile on his face.

Kevin, we love you. Thank you!



June 25: Harlowtown to Vananda, MT

So we now have another “controversy” as part of AH 1500.  There are at least two versions of this event:

Version number one:  Cole and Mike in an attempt to enjoy the cool morning air, low head winds, not disturb their fellow riders, and actually have a chance at not being the last riders into town, decided to create their own version of the “Great Escape”. They carefully planned this amazing adventure, buying cereal and milk yesterday afternoon, packing all of their bags last evening, and getting their bikes and riding gear ready before hitting the hay. This morning they quietly ate, pulled everything together, and then boldly walked out their door, cut between two buildings, and hit the road at 7:40 am.

photoFollowing Cole’s lead they cruised eastward at 17 – 26 mph arriving in Roundup at 11:55 am.  A “Great Adventure” by all counts and finally into town well ahead of the Supreme Commander and the two members of the U.S Cycling Association Team on loan to AH 1500 – Anne and Mark.

Version number two: Mike and Cole, unable to win anything fair and square and certainly not able to hold a candle to Dave, Anne, and Mark, took the devious route of “slinking away” before anyone was aware and then riding as if they were actually part of a Tour de France “break away” forgetting the crucial point that in le Tour the riders in the break away ACTUALLY START THE RACE AT THE SAME TIME! (rather than and hour and a half ahead of the peloton).

And in this case there is only one photo of Cole and Mike getting ready to climb on their bikes – i.e. there is no video, so this controversy will continue for a least a few days with the truth to be determined out on the road – not unlike the Tour when the peloton finally reaches the Alps. Fortunately for Cole and Mike, Cole now has  biking shoes, a hair cut so he can dump heat more effectively, lightening bolts shaved behind his ears to give additional speed, and legs that just keep getting stronger!!!

Let the games continue!

June 24: Harlowtown to Roundup, MT

Characters of the Open Road

-Anne M. Dubois (aka Toro Chiquito)

We’ve just completed day 9 on the road from Seattle to Sioux Falls. For each of these nine days, we could recount story after story of the events, people and places along the route. But, the characters of this open road are starting to take their place in the Andean Health 1500 history book.

First it was the Seaside, OR couple, probably in their mid-sixties. They were heading to western Connecticut, paniers on board their bikes and loving every minute of their travel. When asked how they managed to live with only two sets of clothing for six weeks, they replied almost in unison, “Who cares about fashion?” True grit sans Prada will be getting them to their destination.

Then, there were buddies Jason and Donovan. Again, the paniers but this time topped with bed rolls and other gear. They would be sleeping under the stars, riding the road and, in general, having the time of their lives as they made their way from Billings, MT to Boise, Idaho. Sure, not cross-country but their spirit and energy were infectious.

School on the open road? Yep, we met a group of six from University of Montana. The six-week course was taking the four environmental study students through western Montana to examine the effects of climate change, study geologic formations and gain a new understanding of wind power. All this on their bikes laden down with 80# of gear. They were ambitious and seemed fiercely determined to learn from their journey through these magnificent lands.

PMailman-photoerhaps most heart wrenching was the elderly gentleman Ann Van Sickle met in the small town of White Sulphur Springs, MT. Spying boxes of mail in his truck, Ann asked if he was the local postman. “Well, I am now, I guess,” he said. “My wife used to be the mail carrier but she passed away and her contract wasn’t up so I’m working to fulfill the contract in her honor.” Only in small town America.


And, that’s partly what this trip is about. Small town, rural America. We are spending some days honoring health care systems that deliver high-quality care despite challenges. But, as importantly, we pay tribute to those characters who are the backbone of our nation and who triumph over personal trauma, achieve personal goals and, together, make our world a better place.

Tomorrow we head to Roundup, MT. Eager to see more, learn more and hear more stories.

Next post on the Characters of the Open Road: The horse whisperer, the clock maker, the pickup truck nice guys and who knows what else.

June 23: White Sulpher Springs to Harlowtown, MT

Great ride over from Helena yesterday.  The beautiful weather is still holding with sunshine and deep blue skies.  We are still waiting for the mysterious prevailing west tail winds. The Supreme Commander continues to lead the pack with Anne and Mark  sitting just off the lead waiting to make their move. Cole is back with us today after a day of fly fishing with Uncle Steve. Our hotel, the Spa Hot Springs Motel, was a soothing balm yesterday afternoon and then again last night for part of the crew.  After breakfast we head east for Harlowton with our first forecast for rain possible around mid-day. Maybe the Supreme Commander can wear his stunning new helmet to convince the rain gods
to hold off until later in the day!  More tonight!

2015-06-21 21.03.11









June 22: Helena to White Sulpher Springs, MT

June 21: Rest Day in Helena, MT

Arrived in Helena yesterday afternoon.  The ride from Helmville, MT to Helena over the McDonald Pass and the Continental Divide was incredible. Enormous vistas, snow capped peaks off to the south, perfect weather, high 70s and light cloud cover.  The ride up the west side of the pass was a bit if a test, but not nearly the challenge of Stevens Pass on Day 1.  The 7 mile run down to east side was a scream –  Dave Cutler over 45 mph, Mark Betourne over 47. Everyone rode really well!

Our numbers continue to shrink.  Nancy and John Rudolf and Dave Thompson left yesterday afternoon, Mike Roemer early this morning.  Cole is taking a day off tomorrow to go fly fishing with Uncle Steve so we will leave in the morning with only 4 riders – a huge difference compared to Skykomish! Our numbers will begin to pick up on  the 25th when Tom Rolfs rejoins us, which we are all looking forward to – great team member and very strong rider.

Helena to White Sulfur Springs in the morning after a much needed rest day.  Cleaned bikes, napped, had local fresh made ice cream after dinner with friends from the Helena Notre Dame Club.

The weather for the next few days is expected to be low eighties and no rain, but out here that can all change very quickly so we will keep our fingers crossed.

Hope everyone is well, had a good Father’s Day, and enjoyed the Summer Solstice!

More later…

~Mike Heisler

June 20: Helmville to Helena, MT

June 19: Missoula to Helmville, MT

June 18: Thompson Falls, MT to Ravalli, MT

June 17: Clark Fork, ID to Thompson Falls, MT


 June 16: Hayden Lake, ID to Clark Fork, ID

June 15: Rest Day in Hayden Lake, ID


June 14: Orondo to Wilbur, WA

June 13: Skykomish to Cashmere, WA

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