Tom and I wrapped up our Norther Tier ride just a little over a week ago and have some final thoughts we’d like to share, some numbers and finally one last video. Thanks so much to family, friends and followers for the love and encouragement.
Tom and Deb
I am sitting here in my kitchen thinking about this past few months. It all kind of seems like a dream. An experience of a lifetime and hard to put in to words. Here a list of my thoughts:
- It took about two weeks to peel away the layers of a lifetime of work and not think about work, emails, projects, etc.
- Going to bed at night thinking about the upcoming weather, wind direction and knowing it is totally out of our control
- Looking at the maps and planning out our next weeks of riding with a goal of averaging 70 miles a day.
- Looking at the next days ride and planning out our 2nd breakfast about 20 miles down the road
- Walking into the Saloon in our spandex and every cowboy’s head turned at the same time to give us the eye as we walked through the front door
- Pulling out of our campground the third day and going the wrong way, about 8 miles the wrong direction down a big descent. Turning around and now going back up in the right direction. Learning to never start a ride with out turning on my Garmin and finding the course first
- Getting our morning camping routine down:
- Tom pack up the sleeping bags, thermarests, tent
- Deb fire up the stove and cook up coffee, and oatmeal with Craisins and walnuts
- Pushups and Planks
- Prayers of gratitude for yesterday’s ride and prayers for today’s ride.
- Eating Paydays and peanut M&Ms – not on the post riding diet 😊
- My 15 mile chats with God, praying for so, so many things that were absolutely answered
- Waking up each morning for the first few weeks with a little uneasiness of riding on the busy roads with little shoulder with semis/logging trucks. By the end of the ride, having no fear, and 100% faith that God is sheltering us from drivers, mechanical issues, and providing us with mental/physical strength to finish each day.
- Applying layers and layers of sunscreen
- Getting the blog done at the end of each day (hoping we had phone connection)
- The comfort of getting into the tent while camping and being so comfortable and the wonderful satisfaction of a good day of riding.
- Making the decision to get Deb a front rack and having her front bags shipped to us in West Glacier. Also getting her new touring tires: A no brainer after the fact
- Looking back at our daily videos and seeing our happy, happy faces totally enjoying our journey
- Doing a Fred Flintstone the final short hill to our finishline, brakes fully engaged, but having to stop myself with my shoes. Perfect timing for my brake pads to expire with over 5000 miles on brake pads and tires 😊.
- The greatest memory will be all the wonderful, kind people we met along the way!!!!
It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 12 miles an hour with my true love.
Each night I still dream about the bike trip, in a good way. Yet when I’m awake the bike trip seems like a dream. Did Tom and I really ride 4,132 miles across the country, camping out, pedaling hard up mountain passes and coasting wicked fast down the other side, eating like teenagers, and spending over 23 hours a day together? Dang!
The night Tom and I returned to Indiana we were able to see all of our bigs and littles and realized on our way home from Sahm’s Place we heard sounds in Indiana we didn’t hear in any of the 11 states we visited. Indiana night sounds. And we’d missed them. Well not as much as we missed the fam, but still, we missed them enough to “camp out” one last night on our screen porch. It’s as if knowing we were safely home, there was still one last little bit of our ride we didn’t want to let go of, sleeping outdoors, even with the stank bags.
Although I acclimate quickly, I am missing the silence I experienced during a good part of the day on the bike. There is so much busy-ness and noise in most every moment and this chases away quiet time and thoughts.
And this… Cycle over 4,000 miles across the country, legs not sore. Run four miles at a 9:33 pace a week later, sore as heck! The saying , “use it or lose it” appears to be true. And that goes for most anything. Rote tasks performed before the bike trip now take some thinking. And I forget everything. It will all come back, including the running and most of the rote memory, but I will say it’s refreshing to look at the world with “new” eyes.
I’m so grateful for Tom who helped make this cycling adventure unforgettable as he navigated and led us safely across the country. All I had to do was follow Tom, not follow the map. He waited patiently at every turn so I wouldn’t miss it, redirected me a couple times when I did, and was always up for an ice cream, second breakfast and breaking out another Pay Day. He is a font of positivity. What do you think it’s like to live with a person like that? What do you think it’s like to BE a person like that?
Fr. Jim’s prayer for us was: I pray you are both well and that each day’s journey continues to be a gift from God. May God give you the strength you need to endure and the presence of mind to grasp the beauty of God’s creation and the kindness of strangers. Prayers answered, Fr. Jim.
What’s next for us? Unquestionably there will be more bike tours, although probably not as long as the Northern Tier at least for the next couple years. Not sure we will ever do an organized tour as it’s a lot of fun doing our own thing. And we have our eyes set on a long distance hike but haven’t chosen one yet.
For now though, the sleeping bags are laundered and stowed, the Whisperlite stove retired and replaced with a Jenn-Aire cooktop and the old 1995 Cannondale Touring bike has been thoroughly cleaned and lubed. That bike will always be my favorite.
Contributions are still coming in for St. Vincent de Paul and Back on My Feet and these links have more information on each organization and how to donate. If pledges were made for number of miles ridden, nights camping or century rides completed, see the above infographic for stats. If your circumstances have changed, any amount is appreciated.
Tom and I were back running with team members from Back on My Feet last Friday and were welcomed back with the rain. No worries the miles and smiles made the rain hardly noticeable. And besides, we’re used to it. This Thursday evening we will head back to the SVdP Food Pantry.
Thank you to those who have already donated. Both organizations are careful stewards of your donations.
What About the Prayer Intentions:
I’m still praying. I’d welcome an update if prayers are answered or need to be changed. Click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are confidential. 🙂