Today began at 6:30am with a nice cool morning of just under 74* We ate an oatmeal breakfast and headed out of the Lewis & Clark State Park for a fabulous ride with the wind at our backs. We saw a dead mocassin that someone went out of their way to ensure was dead. We also crossed “Dead Frog Lane” while leaving the park. Well, that’s what we called it because there was carnage. It reminded me of what it would be like if sea turtles had to cross a highway to get to the sea. yea, it was that bad.
Now that I’ve depressed you, let me tell you of a guy Suepinda and I met at the park which just goes to show you that leadership training comes in all forms. He had a young man out camping to get him away from home and be out on his own, well, with him and his girlfriend. But the point is that people see the need for young adults to be guided and given the opportunities that they, themselves, won’t get otherwise. Because at this stage in life teens have stopped listening to the expert advice of their parents and outside intervention is of great help.
The youth cyclists are doing fantastic! For the second day they have completed over 70 miles and are staying enthusiastic with lots of energy at the end of the day. Speaking of Jeimy she tells me that she never sweats and is superwoman! I must agree that she is outstanding and is right up their cycling with Bob B.
As usual, Itza says she actually feels great and cannot wait until tomorrow. She’s so excited. She also rides with Bob. But that’s not surprising. Her and Jeimy only held back last year to make sure I didn’t pass out (hahaha).
My daughter Maysa is certainly the rockstar of the group. She was a last minute add on and is having the time of her life! With no training at all she is riding in the middle pack of cyclists and smiling every (hmm… not every step, is it?) rotation of the wheel.
The boys, Mahlique, Kyvon and Damaris are certainly very strong riders. Showing their prowess by catching up with us after they took a rest break at the local Burger King in Souix City, SD.
Sammy rides hard and strong and takes it upon himself to wait for the meanderers (those who take their sweet time). Well, at least that’s what he’s telling us.
Joseph actually accepted Bob’s challenge of a race during the last section of the ride before making camp and, of course, got dusted. But he was proud of the fact that he was brave enough to do so and laughed the whole time.
Khin surprised herself by going over 20 mph during a part of the last leg. During the first ride she was dogging it with the gremlins holding back her wheel. With the wind at her back she was definitely sailing!
Lastly, and I mean lastly. Kate and I are having the time of our lives bringing up the rear and making sure that no one is left behind. Riding on what Itza calls “endless roads” as they went on and on into the horizon as far as you could possibly see and then disappeared into the haze.
I began working today at 1pm so my cycling experiences ended at the Souix City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The place where the only person of the entourage of pioneers died. But there are other wild stories that I hope the youth cyclists will tell. I know a little bit of a guy the group met named “uncle Steve” who was with a friend bar hopping on their bikes. Yikes!! He was given my number to call but I didn’t get it.
Tonight we’re sleeping in the actual campsite of Lewis and Clark as camped along the Missouri River at the Lewis and Clark Heritage City Park in Elk Point, SD.
Today’s ride was a good ride but somewhat tiresome. It has to be the fact that I stayed up too late making final preparations on several bikes. We awoke at 6am and the cyclists were ready to go. I think we made record time in gathering up our sleeping gear and rolling the bikes out to the street.
As I said we stayed at the Council Bluffs YMCA as the guest of Executive Director, Leo McIntosh, who was extremely gracious enough to take the time out of his evening to see that we were comfortable. Then he met us in the morning for a helpful send off.
At our first break we met Kyle who is training for the RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 40th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in Ithe world.) He was kind enough to ride with us all the way to our second stop for lunch and even joined us for a sandwich. He said he enjoyed riding with a large group, which he doesn’t do often.
We rode 72 miles today with 2 stops (1 at 25 and the other at 40). We rode from Council Bluffs, IA to Onawa, IA with a crosswind that was just high enough to slow you down to 9-10mph. I, of course, stayed in the back to ensure that no one needed parts (I’ll continue to milk that story until someone else takes it from me). We camped at the Lewis & Clark state campground. For a change from last year we arrived early, ate well (portable stove this year with spaghetti!!) and I am able to give you an update before 1AM. Life is good.
Time for me to get a few sleepy winks. It’s 9:30pm your time, 8:30pm here but I’m pooped! This will be a first for me bedding down THIS early.
13 hrs later SnR youth cyclists arrive at the first overnight stay @ camp Trimble! Tomorrow the rest breaks will be shorter!
Everyone’s excited about the upcoming tour. One of the many discussions was the “National Park passport” that Bob has where he gets a stamp for each visit to a National Park. He was happy to say that he will be getting quite a few more on this tour. Suepinda and I decided to get one, as well, to record out visits as we’ve had a few that would have been included that Bob didn’t. That made him laugh as he said Suepinda had better hurry and because we’ve got a lot of ground to make up and he’s not stopping to wait for us.
After a long ride we finally reached the wonderful home of my bother and sister-in-law, Brad and Jen, in Indiana. Our first stop on the tour. It was that final stop of a not-so-grueling, but long, trip across NC, WV, KY and then Indiana.
Normally a quick 10.5 hr journey it expanded to 13 because each stop became a joyous visit to the restroom, coffee shop and snack counter. I don’t think we want to continue having lengthy stops like this or we’ll never make it to our destination to start cycling. hehehe
My mother-in-law had cooked a good Thai noodle dish for the crew and Brad grilled chicken legs to round out the meal.
After dinner we sang “Happy Birthday” to newcomer youth cyclist, Sammy. Afterward the girls dropped out of sight with my nieces to play “Just Dance III” and the boys went off to play a round of basketball with my nephew, Dillon, while I played with the very little ones a game of cat and mouse.
To round out the night we collected music to play on the van’s MP3 player. We’re ready to roll in the morning.
This past weekend I swept the dirt and leaves from my garage and built a bike rack to keep the youth cyclists’ bikes out of the elements. We have seen an unprecedented donation of quality bicycles: Cannondale, Kona, Fuji just to name a few. This year we have 13 cyclists taking a journey of a Lifetime and making a commitment to themselves and their future. That’s an increase of five from 2011.
But it’s not all about riding bikes for the teens, that’s just the hook. This is a youth leadership program that changes lives and moves teens in a different and for some, a more positive direction.
As an example, at the beginning of the almost 1800 mile 2011 Underground Railroad tour, one cyclist never thought he could go a day without television. Another gained a greater appreciation of the efforts those who came before us made. All of the cyclists walked away from the experience more educated than they were before they began. The National Park Brice’s Crossroads visit just off the Natchez Trace Parkway made an exceptional impression on the Youth Cyclists as they were told of the 55th and 59th USCT US Colored Troops’ bold defense of the retreating Union Army. (http://www.nps.gov/brcr/the-battle.htm)
We’re not just grooming the next generation of cyclists and critical thinkers we’re also building appreciation for history and great outdoor activities.
Quoting Milton Chen, a senior fellow and executive director emeritus at Edutopia, “This is project-based learning at its best, combining travel to powerful places with authentic experience of history and geography, collaboration towards a common goal, and intense physical activity. And using the Internet to document the trip…”. The blogs of the Youth Cyclists can be read here https://spokenrevolutions.wordpress.com/category/ugrr/
Since the spring of 2010, SnR youth cyclists have contributed hundreds of community service hours locally, regionally, and nationally. Engaging them in community service builds self-efficacy and in turn they recognize that they can make a difference. The program promotes strong relationships between youth and adults – creating confidence and knowledge that people care about them. The SnR Leadership Program empowers participants to take leadership roles in their schools and communities. Several of the current members serve on local town boards, community boards, and are peer mentors for younger students.
We begin this summer’s westward tour following the Buffalo Soldiers’ 1896 bicycle route and the Lewis & Clark Trail on June 22, 2012. At this time we can use all the help we can get. Will you stand with us in support of youth leadership and development by making a contribution now?
Your support of $5 or more will go to buy tents, or hydration packs, healthy snacks or much needed fuel to power the vehicle that will follow them along the way. Your help is needed.