Oh how time flies when you're having fun. I can't believe it's been over a month since I made it home from the big ride across the state. I will admit, it took me at least a week to decompress and rest my body after all those days on the road. After catching up with all the e-mails, messages, social media posts, and life in general I'm finally ready to express some post-ride reflections. But it can’t be done all at once. I need to start with the good people that were part of this. And there's quite a few who helped make Ian's Ride 2018 a success.
First off, I want to thank a few people who really helped in the background and haven't got the acknowledgment they deserve. I'll start off with Steve Smith and Russ Woodward. These two were the brains and muscle behind adding the lithium battery to the back of my chair. I never could have put the daily miles I did without the incredible ingenuity these two contributed. Steve is super handy with anything electronic, and Russ never ceases to amaze me with his incredible fabricating skills. Big thanks to both of you for all you did to help me in this endeavor. The next person I want to acknowledge is Kayleigh King. I met Kayleigh through my friends at Nelson Boyd Attorneys during my 2016 ride. She was a tremendous help with social media and even joined us at one of the breweries with her family. She is really awesome! Anyway, she came through again this year and really helped us out with aspects of the website and blog that we could not have dealt with ourselves on the road. She has a wonderful eye for design and a technical knowledge that proved invaluable. Thank you so much Kayleigh!
Now onto the crew… These are the people that were with me in the trenches. They put up with heat, smoke, long days, roadside food, and a slow 7 mph crawl across the state. They each set aside two weeks of their precious summer to spend time with me, and I couldn't have asked for a better group. I love each of them dearly, and the memories I have with them and this trip will be strongly cherished for the rest of my life. I'll try not to prattle on too long about each of them…
Josh Blaustein (Dr. B)
When it comes down to it, Dr. B is the reason I do these rides. He brought me on my first bike touring trip back in 2006 and has been one of my closest friends ever since. After I became paralyzed, he would schedule bike touring trips, so they would begin or end near my home in Port Angeles, so I could still feel like part of the crew. He's got one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know, has a sharp wit that keeps me on my toes, and has the kind of attitude that makes you want to be around him constantly. I'm so fortunate to have this man in my life, and as I've said before, he is truly the heart of these rides.
Josh Sutcliffe (Chauncey)
There is a lot to say about this guy. I met Josh several years ago when he was interviewing with me for a job as an attendant. I rarely hire males, but everything about Josh made me smile, and his keen interest in outdoor athletics made him the perfect match for me. I have never once regretted bringing him on the team. However, he is so much more than an employee. He is a close friend and really part of the family. His jovial demeanor, constant optimism, and willingness to help makes him someone I'm proud to have in my life. His willingness to go out on an adventure at the drop of a hat, and his physical ability to do so, makes my life a lot better. This guy can run dogs in the morning, climb a mountain with me in the afternoon, and still star in a Shakespeare show at the end of the day. He really keeps us all smiling during the rides and is always there for me when I need a hand. Thanks for everything Josh, I'm lucky to have you.
That brings us to Jimmy… Oh how I love to give this guy hell. I do so because the damn guy is perfect in every way. I mean for Pete's sake, riding his bike across the state wasn't enough; he had to run more than 180 miles of the way! He is an animal, physically, and one of the kindest, friendliest, most thoughtful people I know. His vast knowledge of natural history, beer, and all things outdoors keeps me in awe. He has taught me so much in our nearly 14-year friendship and some of my fondest memories are while in his presence. I've made a trip to California every year, for 10 years straight, to visit him and his family and I hope to do so for the next 10 years. He means the world to me. Cheers Jimmy, here's to an amazing friendship.
I have known Ben longer than I've known any of the other guys. We met back in 2002 when we were both attending Santa Barbara City College. We were both young and ornery and had a common interest in drinking beer, chasing girls, and playing disc golf. We became fast friends. He is a guy you can always depend on, super faithful to his friends, and has a never-ending fun-loving energy. He is not a distance cyclist, but he wanted to help and be part of the ride anyway. His contribution turned out to be critical to the success of our ride. Despite all the planning we never considered that the weight of people, wheelchairs, and gear were more than my minivan could handle. Ben really came to our rescue with the U-Haul truck he drove across the state. He was able to haul the bikes, gear, and an extra person to and from the start and end points of each day. Even more, he would deliver our stuff to the awaiting hotel room and make sure that the facilities were accessible. To top it off, he would take care of extra errands (such as beer runs, he is also a beer aficionado) we needed ran, check on us riders during the day, and he even got out there and put a bunch of miles in with us. He was essential. I don't get to see Ben as often as I would like, and to be able to spend two whole weeks with him was awesome! Thanks for everything Ben, I love you like a brother.
Teena Woodward (Mom)
That brings us to my mom. She is always the hardest for me to write about because I could never illustrate in words just how amazing she is. She is my hero, my role model, and my best friend. She has done everything she could in the past 10 years to push me to succeed in life as a paralyzed man. The role she played in this year's ride demonstrates just how incredible she is. Every morning, she would wake up well before I to get started with the morning routine. She would stretch me, prepare the wheelchair, proofread the blog, make sure the crew was all up and moving, get me in my chair and ready, and all of this before she could even have her breakfast. She would then drive us to the starting point of the day and begin managing all the publicist duties and the social media aspects of this endeavor. She would have an hour or two before needing to bring Jimmy his bike and delivering us all lunch. That is just what she had to do before noon, the afternoons and evenings could get even crazier. The amazing thing about my mom, is she did all this without complaint and with a smile on her face. I love you mom, and I know how lucky I am to have you.
Before I wrap this up, I'd like to thank a few others that deserve an honorary mention. I'll start it off with Todd Stabelfeldt, the Quadfather. He and his beautiful wife Karen drove all the way out to Spokane so they could start the ride with me. They both were also there on the final day to see me through the finish line. I love them both and was thankful to have them be part of the journey. Next, I'd like to thank Denise Smith-Irwin, Joe Meyer, and Tyler Schrenk. These three wheelchair users joined me on day 11 and really lifted my spirits. It was wonderful having some other chair users join me along the way to remind me of the importance of accessible trails. Next, big thanks to my dad, brother, uncle Al, and cousin Jason for driving/flying all the way to Washington so they could be there for the finish of the ride. My uncle Al drove all the way out from Wisconsin and the rest flew up from San Diego. I've got some great people in my family. I'd also like to thank one of my very best friends Matt Marks for also flying up to be part of this. Lots of love brother. Finally, a shout out to Kenny Salvini, Jesse Collens, Bonnie Richardson, and Marsha Cutting for making the final day that much better. Thanks guys for helping to represent the wheelchair trail riding community.
I could not do what I do without the love, support, and enthusiasm of the people in my life. Those mentioned here are just a few.