SpokeTales

A Vermonter with an addiction to spandex and a goal to ride across the country for affordable housing.
-Donate-Here: http://bikeandbuild.org/rider/5675
Made it to North Dakota! (Taken with Instagram)

Made it to North Dakota! (Taken with Instagram)

116 Miles into the Wind

Day 43: Devils Lake, ND
Miles: 116.64
Odometer: 2233.3
Avg pace: 14.2
High speed: 24

Events: 11 hours on the road, 20 mile rides, rice crispies, headwinds, cross winds, North Dakota border, tire destruction, route 2 horrible shoulders, flat tire, 5pm on the dot, movie brake watching, losing Rob, lady glory, singing delirium, cage.

One-hundred-sixteen and a little over a half miles. That is a ridiculous amount of miles. We left this morning as the sun rose at 6am sharp, quickly forming into pace lines as we hit the already blowing cross winds of route 2.

There was a sense of urgency in the air as we took to the road, knowing that we had to arrive by 5pm. Fairly quickly into the ride we came to the North Dakota sign on a bridge that was illegal to ride or walk over. We didn’t really have any other choice so after stopping for a photo ad quick assessment we walked our bikes over the small curb of the bridge.

Our group was formed at the moment of departure from the bridge and no man or woman would be left behind after that point, except Rob by accident for a little bit. Ashley, Hanna, Kelsey, Bryn, Debs, Rob and I paced it out twenty miles at a time. We chanted lady glory cries and cursed at the horrible shoulder of the road until first lunch. We shoveled food into our mouths and quickly headed back to the road, realizing how little time we really had. By our twenty-mile break I had a flat so we combined our rest time with flat fixing before getting back to it.

The crosswinds picked up before we hit second lunch an we started averaging 11-13mph. Pace lines weren’t helping with such a small shoulder and no way to stack. Riding double helped but riding in the front was barely different from the back.

We decided to stop for water at the first sign of civilization, a gas station, which turned out to be second lunch. We re-caffeinated, hydrated and ate lots of food until we were ready to face the demonic road yet again.

At that point I had lost all care of getting to the host by 5pm, or even at all. Kelsey got a flat shortly after lunch so we cut out our 10-mile quick rest. Suddenly we were closer, within 30 miles. It started to seem realistic.

At mile 100 with 16 miles left to go we took a quick break. We kept reminding ourselves that we were only going for a 20-mile ride. One 20-mile segment at a time. That truly helped me get through the day and when I realized there was only 16 miles left, the adrenaline rushed through me.

We devised a plan to ride two miles at a time in the front of the pace line. That would get us to the turn and we would be in the home stretch. We cranked up the speed as high our legs let us and pushed into the wind.

As the last mile approached we only had four minutes left until 5pm. We began yelling and making loud grunting noises as the beast mode in all of us came out. We pushed 23 mph, sprinting with ever last ounce of energy.

All of the riders who had already arrived at the host were outside when we showed up. We were yelling and counting down the last seconds before 5pm and as we hit 1 second, we stopped in front of the church.

Today was our longest day yet and out last official century. It was an accomplishment but also a sign that the trip is already coming to its end. Four weeks from now I will be in Portland starting my next adventure and missing these folks, who have become family, like crazy.

Baxter checking out the sunrise (Taken with Instagram)

Baxter checking out the sunrise (Taken with Instagram)

Add 116 miles to that sign and that explains my day. (Taken with Instagram)

Add 116 miles to that sign and that explains my day. (Taken with Instagram)

skatiepete:

Nate dancing with the grass

Day Off

Day 42: Crookston, MN
Miles: 0 (Rest Day)
Odometer: 2116.6
Avg pace: 0
High speed: 0

Events: Sleep in until 8:30!, library, job applications, Chinese buffet, prom dress finding, prom dress making…, watching Up, lots of napping, job prospects!

Our second of three days off. My goodness. My legs were in serious need of resting and my body certainly needed to recover. The best thing about a day off, besides not getting on a bicycle, is certainly the sleeping in.

Most days we wake up around 4:30 to hit the road by 6. This morning I lazily laid in bed until 8:30, a record four hours later than normal. When you are used to being in constant motion, though, it’s hard to suddenly slow down.

It wasn’t long before I was headed to the library to search for jobs and send away some resumes. Katie, Donnie, Erica and I busted out some work for a few hours before heading out in search of lunch.

We’re so use to being hungry that we can last a long time until we are suddenly hangry. We walked towards main st, urban spooning anything within walking distance but unfortunately there was not much sign of life in the small town of Crookston.

All of the stores we passed looked closed and abandoned. Luckily there were two women sitting outside who pointed us towards the Chinese buffet. When we arrived there was already a table of about 10 Bike and Builders chowing down on food.

In the afternoon I went back to the library to apply for more jobs and hit up a consignment shop for my prom dress on the way home. The awesome woman there pulled out some amazing bridesmaid dresses from the back. I paid $10 for an old David’s Bridal dress and edited it with scissors later in the evening.

The rest of the day was spent napping and laying low before an early bed time. Tomorrow we ride 116 miles, or longest day. I think I’ll just keep pedaling.

Headwind

Day 41: Crookston, MN
Miles: 93.91
Odometer: 2116.6
Avg pace: 14.3
High speed: 22.5

Events: Pace lining awesomeness, strong headwinds, 4:45, double flats, han horrible flats, ode to sweep, more route two, Erin’s bday, root beer/orange soda floats, out on the town, switching clothes, creep, hardcore parkour, grass dancing, Ashley’s softball alter ego.

It’s easy to tell when there will be a strong headwind when the wind is already blowing strong at 6am. Lucky for me I tagged on to an awesome pace line early on and felt great as we cruised into first lunch and dead on to second lunch.

Unfortunately that’s when it all started to fall apart. Route two turned treacherous and covered in rhythmic bumps, grass crevasses and glass. Hans popped another flat, I believe his 3rd of 4 of the day. We waited while he repaired his flat and just as we were ready to go, my back tire went flat.

I fixed it up, popping various bits of route 2 out of my tire. Not a quarter mile later it went flat again. I had to do a quick tire rotation on the side of the road to get my somewhat holey tire off of the back where most of my body weight sits.

Luckily that worked but the multiple flats caught up to us and soon enough sweep caught up to us. The last ten miles in to Crookston were the worst with winds coming in from every direction and no ability to draft it out.

Eventually we could see the water tower in the distance and joked that this small town in the middle of nowhere was hiding behind one tree. The last stretch of road was lined with sunflower fields, which was a bittersweet end to a somewhat bad day for nearly every one.

Total there were about 14 collective flats for the entire group. Luckily our awesome host had root beer and orange soda floats waiting for us when we showed up. We spent our night before the day off celebrating a ridiculous day.

Paul Bunyan and the blue ox (Taken with Instagram)

Paul Bunyan and the blue ox (Taken with Instagram)

DREAM

Actual Day 40: Bemidji, MN
Miles: 72.93
Odometer:2022.6
Avg pace: 14.1
High speed: 26.0

Events: lone ride, in at 12:30, Dairy Queen, lake, Paul Bunyan, prom proposals

I have been mostly writing about my adventures, rides and overall trip action so today I’d like to touch upon specifically what inspired me to get on a bike for 6+ hours every day for the whole summer.

In 2006, my first year at Champlain College, I joined a mentoring organization called The DREAM Program, inc. DREAM, or Direction through Recreation Education Adventure Mentoring is a youth-based Village Mentoring organization.

DREAM builds communities of families and college students that empower children from affordable housing neighborhoods to recognize their options, make informed decisions, and achieve their dreams.
Within the first few weeks of joining this awesome program I started to hang out with an, at the time, 11-year old girl named Samantha. After attending Winter Adventure Camp, a sleepover in February outside at DREAM camp in Fletcher, VT, I knew that we had a special bond. Shortly after that weekend I asked Sam to be my mentee.

We spent plenty of one-on-one time together and were soon finishing each other’s sentences but we also had a strong bond with the rest of the group.

The summer of 2008 I had the opportunity to intern with DREAM to plan and execute programming for the entire community. I was able to take a group of kids to Maine to experience the ocean in addition to daily programming in and around the community.

With DREAM I have been fortunate enough to spend summers up at camp where kids are able to attend a week of camp for free, play in the snow at winter adventure camp, talk teen issues at teen retreats, play with kids every friday and explore new places on culminating trips. We traveled to Salem, Maine, Sturbridge Village, Boston, and that was only while I was in the program. The kids have also traveled with previous mentors to NYC, Montreal, Howe Caverns and another trip to Boston. Other DREAM programs have taken their mentees on high adventure trips to Alaska, California and Florida.

All trips are fund raised, planned and executed by the mentors and mentees in each program. The Chanplain College chapter also plans a beautification for the community they work with every year to clean up trash, reprint benches, plant flowers and make the overall community a little bit shinier.

My mentee is about to turn 17 and I am so proud of how far she has come. She has grown up to be such a strong and independent woman who is starting to look at colleges. Over a birthday dinner when she was 15 or so I asked Sam where she thought she would be without DREAM. She told me that it was very possible she would be in a bad place and may not have some of the high goals that she has now.

Working with the kids in these communities is crucial in ending the cycle of generational poverty.

“Adolescent girls in poverty are much more likely to become teen mothers.

Those who experienced poverty as children are much more likely to be poor as adults.

Poverty in early childhood is especially associated with lower cognitive scores and school achievement.

Increasing supervision during non-school hours reduces opportunities for youths to engage in high-risk behaviors.”

DREAMers are family, no matter which community you work with, and I can not appreciate enough how much this program has also helped me grow. In a few days Samantha will be 17 and I am so happy to have been a part of her life this far. I hope she, and all the other kids, know I’m biking for them to give them a voice and make them see that they can also achieve big goals if they put their best foot forward.

DREAM has programs throughout Vermont and Boston at various colleges. If you would like more information please contact me or visit the website: http://dreamprogram.org

DREAM runs through 5(?) full time staff, volunteers, donations, and grants. They are currently in their summer appeal. If you like my blog and want to support the cause I will be donating my $500 to please take a few minutes and donate even just $5 here: http://dreamprogram.org/support/index.htm