Hey there, Ian’s Ride followers! It’s time for another big adventure. I’m ready to do it again! Click here for 2016′ s ride in review. The beauty of our state was so enjoyable in 2016 that I’m going to try and ride from East to West. This August, we are going to start in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and finish in Port Angeles, Washington. That’s just two short months away! The exact dates and route will be coming soon. The route in particular is still up in the air. I’ll be reaching out for as much help as I can get in this department. Crossing the Cascades in a safe and realistic way will be tricky.
It was brought to my attention that my platform for the 2016 ride was really important, and that I should try to carry my message forward. Ian’s Ride the nonprofit was formed and I’m officially an executive director and even have a board! With all of my mileage and elevation testing in 2017, I think I’m ready to brave crossing the desert of Eastern Washington and doing the long climb over the Cascades. Here is a link to my 2017 adventures.
Here’s the plan so far. I have three bike riders joining me for the entirety of the trip. All three of them were also part of the 2016 ride: the two Josh’s and tall Jimmy. They will do all they can to keep me alive. They have agreed to this knowing it will be a 450+ mile ride with over 25,000 feet of elevation gain at the slow pace of 7 mi./h. This means they will have to do long hours of climbing without the reward of coasting freely down the other side. They are pretty special, and I’m lucky to have them.
Heat and elevation gain will be my biggest obstacles. Going through Eastern Washington in the middle of August will certainly be a challenge for me. If you recall, I cannot regulate my temperature. I can’t sweat in response to heat or shiver in response to cold. This creates some difficulty if you’re doing a wheelchair/bike tour for long hours each day in direct sunlight. So I have four main strategies to help keep my temperature controlled. First, try to start out each day with my body temperature as low as I can get it overnight in an air-conditioned room. Second, I’ll use a canopy over my wheelchair to shade me from the intense sun. Although the umbrellas were entertaining during the last ride, we want something a little sturdier this year. The product I have in mind is rated for up to 50 mi./h winds. Third, I will be using an ice vest to hopefully keep my core temperature down. Finally, I’m working on an easy to use mister that can be mounted right to the chair. This should offer some evaporative cooling and be a nice form of artificial sweat.
As for the elevation, it’s going to be a little trickier. There will be some days that require big climbs and nothing saps a wheelchair’s battery like going uphill. I will definitely be bringing a second wheelchair that I’ll keep fully charged and could swap into once my first chair is out of juice. In addition, I’m hoping to have a second bank of batteries on my primary chair. Our plan is to use lithium batteries to keep the weight down and have them lightly secured to the back of my chair. Fire hazard is the biggest worry here, so we’re working on something easily detachable if disaster should strike. I wouldn’t want to use these batteries if I were riding alone, but I feel confident enough in my team to use them for the big elevation gain we will be facing.
I guess I better also refresh your memory on why the heck I do these daunting rides. Before I was injured, I had a great fondness for bike touring. This joy was lost, or so I thought, once I was confined to a wheelchair. A few years after my injury I finally started getting back out onto the trails, this is where I found my solace and was able to reestablish my identity. I eventually traveled all of the trails in my area and wanted to expand out. Ian’s Ride 2016 was born. It soon became much more than this. I have met so many great people with spinal cord injuries that also love being outside, they often lack safe access to the outdoors. Being outside has given me a feeling of independence, joy, adventure, and a return to who I was before my injury. Because of this, I am happy to advocate for others to get outside and enjoy the healing qualities of the experience. If you want to read more about my story, click here.
Now you may be asking, what can I do to help? I need route suggestions (my next blog post will detail what I’ve got so far). I certainly welcome any financial help. I’ll need to fund this journey with the majority of cost going to hotel stays and food. I will be seeking corporate sponsors to cover the majority of the cost. I am happy to share my story, so I could use some media involvement, any connections with TV, newspaper, radio, etc would be welcome. I always welcome ride-alongs. If you’re in the area I am riding through (see the coming route blog post for maps) I would love to have some local expertise or just a friendly chat while slowly charging across state. I’m just a normal guy wanting to go on summer ride. This wheelchair is my bike. I am of the firm belief that more people, not just the mobility challenged, should get outside and pursue a passion.