Posts OR ID MT

27 June: Day 25 – West Yellowstone MT to Grant’s Village WY (inside Yellowstone)

58.1 miles (1470T) with 3350’ of climb. I cannot express the beauty and wonder of Yellowstone. It is a geology lesson and wildlife refuge. Witnessed a large herd of Bison with many calves, Elk, Midway Geyser/Crater, Old Faithful, and the natural beauty of the park. Camping at Grant’s Village included dinner at a nice lodge/restaurant (but no WiFi 🤷🏽‍♂️).

26 June: Rest Day – West Yellowstone

Attended iMax documentary on Yellowstone. I also went to the West Yellowstone Museum, walked the historic landmark walk, and talked to all the locals I saw. Did laundry, worked on video, talked to MB, and had delicious Elk Ravioli. These days off are necessary for mental and physical well being.

25 June: Day 24 – Ennis to West Yellowstone MT

71.8 miles (1412T) with 3602’ of climb. This finished the 4th of 12 Adventure Cycling maps, which indicates I am about 1/3 complete! I will take my 5th day off tomorrow in West Yellowstone (including 2 to visit Mark and Cheri…) which means it has been 29 calendar days. Reflecting on the trip so far, the people I have met are the biggest joy. Other cyclists, Warmshower hosts, and all the kind people along the way. The scenery is a close second, and the physical element of pedaling the bike and watching my body adapt is third. Have a great day everyone.

24 June: Day 23 – Dillon to Ennis MT

74.2 miles (1340T) with 2936′ of climb. Today was a full day broken into 3 sections. Dillon to Twin Bridges (about 30) which was smooth and easy with nice farming scenery. Then Dillon to Virginia City which was a more rigorous 30. After a nice lunch at the Virginia City Cafe, there were 14 miles left with a 4 mile climb (about an hour) and then a 10 mile downhill reward into Ennis. In Ennis, I was hosted by Rachel and Mike, and they were like more long lost family. They have roots in Grand Rapids, MI. So we had a lot in common. They are very industrious people with multiple interests, including everything outdoors. They also own a bike shop in MI. I’m hoping they can come and visit one day in Cleveland and I can return the hospitality. Mike does some business in CLE in education construction projects, so it is not out of the question. The view between VA City and Ennis was so beautiful, I literally cried (just barely). Photos don’t do justice to this amazing view and country we are blessed to live in.

23 June: Day 22 – Wisdom MT to Dillon MT

70.6 Miles (1266T) with 2956′ of climb. Easier than yesterday, but there were some real winds that helped, or kind of blew you over sideways, or occasionally hindered as the roads wound through the valleys and hills. Two climbs of 3-4 miles each made it challenging, and the reward for yesterday and today’s climbs was nearly 20 miles downhill into Dillon! Sunny, 74 and a steady wind, really good cycling conditions. Staying tonight at a biker/hiker hostel called “Bike Camp” that is just fabulous and ideal for cyclists. Check it out at http://www.bikewalkswmontana.org. One funny thing I found out during my shower tonight is that when I sprayed with DEET yesterday, I didn’t spray where I had clothes, and the mosquitoes bit my rump and legs through the shorts like 80+ times!! Also I wanted to highlight that now that you are seeing so many photos each day, it is easy to say “looks kind of like yesterday”. In reality, each day is a masterpiece that photos do not fully capture. I recommend biking or hiking trips for anyone who can possibly make it happen. Peace, and goodnight.

22 June: Day 21 – Darby MT to Wisdom MT

60.8 miles (1196T) with 4501’ of climb. This was a rigorous day and it was warm (not hot) with lots of sun. The terrain was beautiful as usual and I met 6 TransAm cyclists today, from Scotland, Boise, and ?. I got a flat on my new 650bx40 tire … it was a copper filament about thread diameter that worked its way through the casing and caused a slow leak. 🤷🏽‍♂️. The two passes I pedaled through were Lost Trail 7014’ and Chief Joseph 7241’. It was a 14 mile climb with 6 easy and 8 not so easy. When I got down the hill, there were literally swarms of mosquitoes as warned by Curtis. Luckily I have DEET and pedaled fast. Campsites are free at the Wisdom American Legion park. I feel very blessed that I have the opportunity to do this. Thank you to my wife Mary Beth and teammates at GARDINER who are carrying my workload while I have this adventure!

21 June: Day 20 Missoula MT to Darby MT

70.4 miles (1135T) with 2248′ of climb. The route follows the Bitterroot Trail from Missoula to Hamilton MT. It was nice to be off the road for awhile. Views of the Bitterroot mountains were on the right all the way. Hamilton to Darby (last leg) I took the scenic option which was largely gravel, but the best choice (thanks Curtis)! Views were magnificent and it just had this special historic quality to this 20 mile section. Darby is a quaint and real frontier type town. Staying with a cycling host, Curtis made this a special stay. He is a retired army guy with lots of interests. Especially biking. He had 6 cool bikes. Darby is where they film the series, Yellowstone, that is so popular right now. So you can imagine the views. I can’t say enough about the Warmshowers organization. This day was harder than it looks, biking wise, slightly uphill all the way with a light headwind.

20 June: Day Off – Missoula MT

A lovely day off in Missoula to: Get matching new tires on bike, shifting adjustment, clean-up, and I needed a new chain! The guys at Missoula Bicycle works fixed me up! Stayed at a fabulous AirBNB and did some work, laundry, took several showers and enjoyed the town. This day was topped off with an early Tuesday tour of Adventure Cycling HQ where I had a tour and learned all about what they do there and the history of the TransAmerica route. It was super worth taking the time. There is an impulse to push and keep moving, but the days off are like the spice that make the trip special. Missoula is a neat place with bike lanes and bikes everywhere. It has the “hippie” vibe but in a special way, and seeing everyone biking everywhere made me sort of dream of living there. My buddy Andy thinks Missoula could have his vibe and I agree. Intelligent, creative, kind, individual, and mindful.

17-19 June: Days 17-19 Grangeville ID to USFS Wilderness Gateway Campground ID to Lochsa Lodge ID to Missoula MT

178.2 miles (1,064T) with 8770′ of climb. Leaving Grangeville through beautiful rolling farmland for 20+ miles eventually yielded to a fast winding descent down lamb grade road into Stites that was quite harrowing. After Stites things got pretty remote without cell service or civilization. There were a lot of kayakers, rafters, and motorcycle riders. The road followed the Lachsa River for a 70 mile gradual climb and it was a beautiful winding road with some minor ups and downs. Camping at Wilderness Gateway was like a dystopian movie. The campsite was obviously closed for covid for the past couple years, and finally is open without water, electricity, showers, or workers. It was pretty overgrown, but I had packed water and food for 2 days, so no problem. Camping at Lochsa Lodge was like an oasis after Wilderness (and no shower since Council 4 days ago). The morning after Lochsa, the ride over Lola Pass was breathtaking. Lola Pass divides ID from MT. The 45+ miles after the pass into Missoula was all rain. Found a nice Air BNB to kick back for a rest day tomorrow. TWO TIPS I LEARNED FOR BIKE FIT: 1) My backside had been complaining quite a bit, and I realized that Brian Jenks, (custom bike expert who built my bike) had the seat originally about .5″ more forward but I had moved it rearward .5″ a few months ago (since I know better than the expert). I put it back to Brian’s original setting putting my butt closer to the handlebars. Moving the seat this small amount forward offered much needed relief. 2) Remember my barking knee? I put my cleats a bit back which moved my foot forward in the pedals, and immediate relief for the knee! One nice thing over the past week that became more clear is that you meet many touring bicyclists on this route. You will see people one day and chat, not see them for a day or two and then someone takes a day off or a short day and you run into them again. You also meet people coming East to West, and get to talk to them at a camp, or while having dinner. It doesn’t feel like I am alone at all in this adventure.

16 June Day 16 Riggins to Grangeville ID

54.0 miles (886T) with 5689′ of climb. Difficult day. Three in a row. Good news is that my barking left knee calmed down! Yesterday with the knee and the 2 flats, I felt a little worried. Today taught me that the world is good. Toughest and most beautiful climb day so far. The views from this secondary highway were gorgeous and there were only like 5 cars! The climb was about 12 miles (3 hours). Vince, I am almost ready. Today crossed a line. The views I went to sleep to last night and the views I saw today were beyond anything I have seen in my life. Feeling very blessed. Peace friends. I will be in pretty remote areas the next two nights, so if you don’t see a post till Sunday, don’t worry.

15 June Day 15 – Council ID to Riggins ID

70.2 miles (832T) with 2877′ of climb. One cool sideline today was stopping at Zim’s hot spring which is owned and operated now by the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. Another fun time was hitting a small pointed rock on the road and I got to change both tubes and one tire. Now I am down to a spare tire and a spare tube. I’m pretty tired and with a big climb tomorrow, hitting the sack early. Camp is set up at an amazing BLM site called Shorts Bar. It is right on the Salmon River. Tomorrow’s destination is Grangeville and over 5000’ of climbing. Goodnight John Boy.

14 June Day 14 – Oxbow OR To Council ID
62.4 miles (762 T) with 4826’ of climb. It felt big to cross from Oregon to Idaho… The planned Idaho route is super challenging this week to Montana. This was the most difficult 2 day stretch so far. on the one hand, I am getting used to long climbs … but my left knee is a bit sore. Luckily Mary Beth had me pack Advil! Tomorrow I pass a hot springs and may check it out. Todays longest climb was about 8 miles. Camping at the city park tonight in Council. Much of today was along the Snake River. Beautiful views.

13 June Day 13 – Baker City OR to Oxbow OR

70.3 miles with 4252′ of climbing. This was a very rigorous day with one climb at 6 or 7 miles. This area of Oregon is also beautiful and pretty remote with no cell service. Camping in Oxbow at the Idaho Power Campground was beautiful but no cell and the internet didn’t work reliably to post. I did get to sleep next to the Snake River though. Slept like a baby.

11 June: Day 12 – Sumpter to Baker City OR

30.2 miles with 792’ of climb. Easy half day in pouring rain. I plan to take an extra day in Baker City to wash clothes, answer emails, and let the legs catch up… and there is a lot of climbing in this next section to Missoula MT! Staying at a historic BNB in Baker City.

10 June: Day 11 – John Day to Sumpter OR

58 miles (599 T) with 5070’ of climbing. This was a challenging day with 3 Strawberry Mountain summits: Dixie Pass 5,279’, Tipton Pass 5,124’, and Sumpter Pass 5082’. Dragging a 94 lb rig up these 5-10 mile mountain peaks is a bit of “Vince” work. Oregon is getting me in shape for the rest of the ride. Today was another day of gorgeous views. I never knew I loved Oregon so much. I decided to get a room at the Depot Inn in Sumpter, which has a population of 245. Big town in these parts, partner! Had a fantastic spaghetti dinner at the “Mad Dog Restaurant & Saloon”. photos pale in Camparison To the real scene.

9 June: Day 10 – Mitchell to John Day OR

70 miles (541 T) with 4252’ of climb. This was my most productive cycling day so far through beautiful country that is a lesson in geology and history… The area I traveled today includes the east section of the Ochoco National Forest. Today finished through the John Day Fossil bed where many prehistoric artifacts remain from a time when this high desert was once a tropical jungle. Pictographs have been found from prehistoric Indians dating 50 & 80 centuries old. In modern times, this region was part of the gold rush with boom and bust towns. Mining and livestock are still the main industries of the area. Majesty is the word that comes to mind when pedaling through this section… Again, these photos pale compared to the real thing. I camped at the county fairgrounds with fellow TransAm riders, Stan ”the man” who ia a recently retired army guy (probably 40) and Faulker who I think might be from Germany.

8 June: Day 9 – Prineville to Mitchell OR

49 miles (471 total miles so far) with 2900’ of climb. This section is through an area known as the high desert plateau and also the Ochoco mountains… The climbing today was less severe than the McKenzie Pass, but real. I found myself marveling at the landscapes … This is a really beautiful region. I also find myself reflecting on all the wonderful people I am meeting along the way. Camping tonight at the city park in Mitchell OR… There is a hostel here for cyclists but it is full with the TransAm racers… It has been fun meeting racers from all over the world. By tomorrow they will all be ahead of me. I keep saying I’m not in a race, I’m in a “slow”. 😂

7 June: Day 8 – Sisters to Prineville OR

So nice riding the 52 miles and 1400’ of climb between Sisters and Prineville. It should have been 48 miles, but the rolling countryside was so lovely, I made a 4 mile missed turn detour🤷🏽‍♂️. When I got to Prineville, I was welcomed by a cycling host family; Anne, Marcel, Lou, Lilly, Lena, and of course, Sherpa! This family was such a joy to be with, they opened their arms like I was a long lost uncle.

6 June: Day 7 – McKenzie Bridge to Sisters OR

Fun day riding 44 miles over the McKenzie Pass. This was 4400′ of climb over the Cascade Mountains. It turned out the pass was not yet open to cars due to snow, but open to bikes with a “cleared” path. I waited till about noon to start as it was raining all morning. The ride was 15+ miles up without much relief, but at least it was 40 degrees and raining a cold steady rain for the entire time. There was also a flooded section where I got to ride through 12-16″ of water and soak my feet in icy mountain water. This ride would be a good warm-up for Goggins (and Glen Pawlak). There were some interesting views including the most recent volcanic flow in the US from Belknap, Little Belknap and Yapoah craters. The “Three Sisters” name comes from 3 active volcanoes in this area of the Cascades. The reward for the climb was an equal descent, a bit less steep and sunny!! When I got to Sisters, I decided to stay in a Bunkhouse and be comfortable. Sisters is a lovely “Old West” town, updated with gentrified money. A little bit of a movie set.

5 June: Day 6 – Eugene to McKenzie Bridge OR

Day 6 covered 66 miles (326 to date) and 2126′ of climb. It was a mixed ride with city riding in Eugene and Springfield as well as a nice stretch along the river park bike trail in Eugene. One nice thing in Eugene and Springfield is that all the roads have bike lanes. Out of Springfield, there was a nice section of quiet road along the McKenzie River, followed by route 126 which is the McKenzie Highway. It is a 2 lane secondary highway with wide shoulders, and reasonable speed limits. The Oregon drivers are generally cautious, and mild in the speed category. 126 is a scenic byway that becomes more scenic the farther you go up the mountain. There were some areas that showed signs of the wildfire a couple years back and lots of homes and cabins being reconstructed or recently replaced. Towards the end, I was riding in a steady rain… not heavy, just steady. When I got the the campground it was just a strong rain, and everything at the camp site was soaked and pretty much all puddles. I decided to see if I could find alternate sleeping arrangements, and found cute little cottages a mile down the road right on the river called “Caddisfly Cottage Resort.” The McKenzie river is right outside my deck, and there is a kitchen, bedroom with bed, living room, shower, electricity, WI-FI, etc. Nothing like a solid & dry nights sleep before pedaling over the Cascade Mountains tomorrow!

3-5 June: Cheri, Mark, and Bella Visit

I rented a car at Eugene Airport, and drove the 200 miles to Ashland to visit my Sister Cheri, brother-in-law Mark, and beagle Bella. The rental car saved 400 additional “side route” bike miles with 2 mountain passes. I just didn’t feel comfortable adding that much to my current plan so early. We attended Cheri’s art exhibit, hung out, went for walks, ate a lot, and basically spent some quality time together. Side visits like this are really important to making the most of this adventure. I wish we lived closer to Cheri and Mark, and the only bad parts of the visit were that Mary Beth & Cadaxa weren’t there. But luckily all of us but Mark were together recently at Cadaxa’s MSU MFA graduation.

2 June: Day 5 – Corvallis to Eugene OR

Day 5 took me 53 gentle miles through the Willamette River Valley which runs about 150 miles between the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Oregon Coastal range to the west. Photos don’t do justice to the beauty of this region. Did you know this valley produces more than half of the worlds grass seed (the kind in your lawn, Boogie). My host Sam rode the first 11 miles along the Willamette River out of Corvallis to start the day. I was ready for a hearty Mexican lunch in Harrisburg. Food tastes better when you earn it from biking. I ended in Eugene and had a nice evening in the Whiteaker area where I stayed in a little airstream airbnb. The next couple days will be off the bike visiting my sister, Cheri, and brother in law, Mark, in Ashland OR. In case you are wondering about the daily miles, I didn’t want to be too aggressive on miles … the first 3 days included more climbing than I normally experience. Pedaling a 94 pound bike vs a 20 pound road bike is quite a difference. I would say on the flat it takes 120% of the effort, but on hilly days, 200%. So a flat 50 is like 60 and a hilly 50 is like 100. I just take more beaks, gear down and slow down while keeping the cadence where I like it (80-90).

1 June: Day 4 – Gran Ronde to Corvallis OR

Day four featured a shared beginning ride with one of last night’s hosts, Reynaldo, joining for the first 10 miles followed by 45 more for a total of 55 miles that were half coastal and then half in the Willamette River Valley with 1765’ of climb in the first section. The Valley is one of the most productive agriculture regions anywhere. Biking through this beautiful region was a treat… I made stops at Basket Slough wildlife preserve to chill and Monmouth for lunch where I met several bicyclists familiar with Oregon bike secrets. My cycling hosts were Sam and Beth in Corvallis. They have a lovely home and welcomed me like family, cooking a nice meal and sharing stories. Sam is an accomplished adventure cyclist and completed the Transamerica in 2016, plus rides in Peru, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. There were lots of stories and advice I received…

31 May: Day 3 – Cape Lookout to Gran Ronde OR

Day three covered 54 miles with 3871’ of climb. I also made a wrong turn which cost me an extra 9 bonus miles. I rode from the Cape Lookout campsite to Gran Ronde OR. This route took me from the ocean to rolling country where the rivers, creeks, and fields were calming and lovely. I stayed with cycling hosts Linda, Jerry, and Reynaldo. These folks also opened their home and hearts to me and it is quite special. I’m beginning to realize the people I am blessed to meet along the way will be the best part of this adventure.

30 May: Day 2 – Manzilla to Cape Lookout OR

Day two was 50 miles with 1850’ of climb from Manzanita to Cape Lookout State Campground on the ocean… I visited Tillamook Creamery and cheese empire and stopped at several scenic areas to enjoy the serenity. Adventure Cycling stated the three capes scenic alternate was closed, but John B said you could do it on bike … so I did.. it included one nice climb and the scenic views were an awesome reward. Tonight is my first camp setup and it is a beautiful campground… the bike/hike primitive area offers views of the ocean and sunset through a small stand of sparse woods. $8.

29 May: Day 1 – Astoria to Manzanita OR

Day one was 48 miles and 3200′ of climb along the coast from Astoria to Manzanita OR. This is a beautiful ride with hills (two of them were 2 miles long), Oceanfront towns, and scenic Lewis & Clark trail sections. I stayed with a cycling host, so I haven’t tested the camping gear yet. That comes tomorrow. John (my host) is an avid cyclist accomplishing a lot of road and gravel cycling adventures. He was so kind to open his home to me and also cook a delicious meal for dinner. He feels like a longtime friend already.

28-29 May: Astoria Visit

We spent two days in Astoria, shopping, eating at cool cafes, and fine restaurants, and just walking around looking at all the cool houses and flowering vegetation. Astoria is a sort of magical place. It is right on the Columbia riverfront where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean. It is a port city and the oldest city in the state of Oregon and the first American settlement west of the Rockies.

25-27 May: Train Trip from Cleveland OH to Portland OR

We rode the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited from Cleveland to Chicago, then transferred to the Empire Builder which took us from Chicago to Portland. I was able to take my bike on the first leg in the bike specific section of the baggage car, and at Chicago I had to pack it into a box for general checked luggage to Portland. My panniers went into a large checked duffel. Everything went smoothly. The Train ride was a total of 57.5 hours and was an adventure of a lifetime. We had a small sleeping room appropriately named a “roomette”. The views, and the community traveling together on the train was a delightful experience that I would recommend. Another perk, is that if you have a sleeping accommodations, you eat on a dining car where the meals are prepared fresh by an amazing chef and rival some of the very fine restaurants. White table cloth and fresh flowers at dinner. I have attached here a few photos from the train ride.

23 May: Gear List

Gear Piles

Bike: Waterford steel custom gravel touring bike – 650bx47c comfort tires with fenders, racks, 3×10 ultra-wide gearing, flip-flop SPD/platform pedals, 3 water bottle cages, Ortlieb panniers & handlebar bag, flag, blinkie lights, front dynamo powered headlight, dynamo front hub can also charge phone while riding – hand built by Brian Jenks – Hub Bub, Kirtland OH

Camping: sleeping bag, klymit air pad, 1.5 & 3 L water bladders, Optimus lightweight stove, utility cord, Big Agnes one person tent with vestibule and footprint, Bear sack with liners, camp towel, insect screen, small amount of dry camp food, camp knife, multi-tool

Bike stuff: 3 spare tubes, 2 spare tires, chain master link, bike tools (in sock), chain lube, patch kit, 3 water bottles, bell, small tire pump, 2 bike locks, gear lock cable, bungee, helmet w/gopro mount, fizik hike/bike shoes with SPD clips

Personal: 2 wool t-shirts, 1 long sleeve wool t-shirt, 3 pr biking socks, 1pr wool socks, flip flops, tennis shoes, 1 gym shorts, 1 nice shorts, 1 pr hiking pants, 3 pr boxers, 2 bike bib shorts, 3 biking shirts, 2 bike skullcaps, 2 pr bike gloves, rain jacket, regular ball cap, extra glasses, contacts, sunglasses, toiletries, Chamois butt’r, sunblock, insect repellent, bear spray, air horn

Technical: GoPro, iphone, misc cables, MacBook Pro, chargers

Big Blue

Total weight bike & gear (fully loaded before water) ….. drum roll please…. 94 lbs!

20 May: Countdown

Only 9 days till I start my ride here is my bike… I’ll post one later with all the panniers loaded and a list of what I’m packing!

17 thoughts on “Posts OR ID MT

  1. The train ride looks amazing!

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    1. yes it was AWESOME. Highly recommend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep up the great work Big Mikey! You are a true inspiration to us all! Maybe one day we can hit the old dusty but until then… Burn that rubber! #440

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Get it Mike! Oregon looks incredible. Looking forward to each update of your journey!

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    1. All right Matt! So far this is better than work!

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  4. Mike,
    I am thrilled you are finding the people and the scenery what you hoped. Thank You for the great pictures and blog – Amazing trip! Our Prayers are with You for safe travels,
    Bob

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    1. Thanks Bob, learning a lot about life. Drivers have been pretty courteous and the roads we take are usually less travelled and HILLY!!

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  5. Looking good Mike Ball!! You’re very inspiring. Safe travels and soak it all in! God bless.

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    1. Thanks Rich… wish you were here!!

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  6. Been loving the posts Mike – yes, the best adventures I’ve enjoyed while traveling have been the human part. Guys in the office are excited for you, and we’ve enjoyed the posts around the dinner table at home. You continue to carry the love of many 🙂

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    1. Thanks Ted for your kind encouragement!

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  7. You are doing amazing! All that climbing!!!!! I would definitely have to have an E-bike. It is wonderful that you are meeting great people and not feeling alone. Keep up the great biking and I will keep praying for a safe trip.

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    1. Thanks Bob, you could do it though! You sort of get used to it.

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  8. Dirk Woodland July 4, 2022 — 7:47 am

    Mike, been enjoying your blog, praying for strength and endurance.

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    1. Thank you Dirk!! I’m really having a great time

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  9. After listening to you carry on for the better part of 3 years about how desperately you wanted to make this trip, it is beyond thrilling to have watched your progress across our country. I am truly honored and privileged to participate… It was exploration, “adventure and freedom” that brought me to the bicycle as a kid, and facilitating these remains our core mission all these years later. I know you had many, many reasons for why you needed this adventure to happen, and I do hope all of them, and more, were fulfilled. Congratulations!!

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