If you are a cyclist there are two bucket list items you should mark down, the Anchor House 500 mile ride I finished last week and Bike the US for MS ride I’m currently a part of; each are so different but it is great to be back “home”.
Montana to Seattle is part of what is called the Northern Tier, a ride from Bar Harbor, Maine to Seattle, Washington. My nine full time teammates left Bar Harbor on May 28th and have traversed through Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and now Montana. WOW!!!
This team is so much different than my team from last summer. When I finished last summer I described the 2012 Trans Am team as a dysfunctional family and for sure that is what we were. The 2013 Northern Tier is the polar opposite, a total in sync, hang out together family. Last summer, at the end of the day we went in opposite directions, this year the team all hangs out together. Last summer, most of the team was racing to get on the road by 6am, maybe 7am at the latest. This year the team is just starting to rise at 7am and if we are lucky we are on the road by 8:30am. Everyone stays up late as a team and hangs out in the morning as a team. It is just one big team thing this 2013 group.
Joining the nine full time riders and four full time support leaders are five part time riders including myself. And we are quickly becoming just as much a part of the family as the cost to coasters.
But what is similar is how we break apart during the ride. I rode with three different groups today, each rode differently but each were fun.
Add all of this fun team stuff to one unbelievable state called Montana and you’ve got a little slice of heaven. We knocked out an easy 60 miles, which felt like only 20 miles to me. The air is dry and the morning ride was just incredible riding in 70 degree weather with no humidity. It is simply amazing how much easier it is to ride in these types of conditions. Especially coming off of last week’s ride in 90 degree heat with 50%+ humidity this is a breeze.
Today we passed greenish blue lakes and from what I can gather it is runoff from the glaciers. Rolling hills, long uphill’s at a 2-3% grade going 17 mph and downhill’s screaming at 30 mph. Everywhere you look there are mountains, it’s beautiful! Behind me as I write this blog, four miles away is Canada.
Making this ride different from last year’s is that my son, Andrew (turning 16 in November) is along for the ride with me, working the support vehicle. Today he rode with Liane and was working on navigation. Matt, our stellar mechanic has visions of training Andrew on changing out tires. A huge shout out to Matt for offering up his small bike to move Andrew around.
Part of the Bike the US experience is that we camp out each night and generally we are a bit out of town. Now last year we had the RV and Dylan would drive us around. This year no such thing so the bike is your best bet into town for WIFI and dinner. But I never considered how we would move Andrew around. Well that was already figured out by the time I arrived in camp tonight. Matt brought a small little bike with him that he likes to mess around with. Rebecca and Matt (yes we have couples on the ride this year) determined that this would be a good way to move Andrew around and let him try it while I was riding.
So, we are winding down the day with a brook running behind us under a crab apple bush in the shade protecting us from the 90 degree heat. A quick trip to the brook with perfectly clear mountain water to rinse out my bike shorts and shirt with a sun dry on the wooden bridge crossing the brook. This is so relaxing and I must make sure the next 13 days are slow, steady and chock full of wonderful memories.
As you travel around the US you come across some great signs and today was no different. Lunch was at Jerry’s Saloon and one of the better signs was present, “Disposable Bullshit Bag, Seals BS In”. The picture does the sign more justice.
Dinner is around the corner in Eureka and the town seems pretty cute. Last night I turned in early and left Andrew with the team, I am pretty sure they made it to 10pm; I only made it to 8pm. Tonight I will turn the page and hang with the team to the bitter end. I feel great, my body is adjusted to the altitude and I am ready for the trek to Seattle.
The best part of all of this surrounds the fact that we are all doing this for the cause I am so passionate about, MS. What is even more remarkable is that three people on this ride have MS, one is a part time rider and two full time riders. You would never know that they have to deal this insidious disease every day. Their medicines are being carried and kept cool. Their attitudes are incredible and they ride like the wind. Just watching them is inspiring me and reminds me of the true purpose of the ride.