It's the night before departure and the reality of this thing is really hitting me. We've made list after list, trying to prepare for every possible contingency. Eventually you just have to leave it up to fate… I'm feeling really confident in our preparation and we've done everything we can to make this a success. The bags are packed, batteries are charged, chair is lubed, and our spirits are high. Here we come Eastern Washington!
We head towards Spokane in the morning where we will pick up three of my California friends that will be joining me all the way across our hot, smoky state. Josh Blaustein and Jimmy Quenelle will be flying up from the San Jose area to reunite with their bikes and begin razzing me. Ben Boyd hails from the Sacramento area and will be flying into Spokane, where he will pick up a very stylish 10 foot U-Haul and be an addition to our road crew. We should be quite the site. My third cyclist, Josh Sutcliffe, will be joining my mom and I in the van for the long drive over.
I've got mixed emotions now that the ride is finally upon us. I'm super happy and thankful that I can take a break from all the administrative aspects of planning and preparing for this event but I'm also quite nervous. There are so many concerns. Is my route over ambitious? Will my chair and skin hold up? Will smoke or fires force me off the planned route? Will the air-quality be a problem for me or my crew? Will the heat be too much for my paralyzed body? Will I let everyone down if I don't complete what I've set out to do? All of these things are swimming through my head, but I remember how wonderful it was having other people in chairs join me along my 2016 journey, the thanks I got from the bike community, and the messages I received encouraging me to keep it up. Thinking of all the positives that came from my last ride make me forget all my doubts and get me excited to start day one.
I'd like to mention, once again, why I'm attempting this harebrained journey. There’re three reasons. First, this is what I do. I love long rides in my wheelchair. Today I completed my 648th consecutive day out riding on trails or roads. I did over 4700 miles last year. That’s over 12 miles a day. I also loved bike touring before I became paralyzed, and this is a way I can reconnect with that passion. The second reason why I do this is to advocate for more safe, accessible, connected pathways for people with all abilities. Bicyclists, runners, moms with strollers, dog walkers, and so many others benefit from these connections. My brothers and sisters in wheelchairs can also benefit. Which brings me to my third reason, I want to encourage all people to GET OUTSIDE! We live in a world with so much natural beauty, way too often it's underappreciated and underrepresented. See what wildflowers are blooming, what migrating birds happen to be flying by, or just take a peek at your backyard garden. Find a way to connect with the natural world. It's what helped me find my solace after my injury and in general puts a smile on my face. I encourage others to try it for themselves.
Finally, I'd like to list my finalized route. It really hasn't changed much from the proposed route but we will be going a slightly different way from Snohomish to Edmonds. I'll mention it once again, we LOVE ride a longs! If anyone is interested in joining us for a few miles or the entire day, please contact me.
Overall Route: Coeur d'Alene to Port Angeles
Note: to see the whole route on one map, click the link above, scroll down on the left side of the screen, and click "show all on map".
Day One, August 12: Coeur d'Alene to Spokane
Day Two, August 13: Spokane to Davenport
Day Three, August 14: Davenport to Hesseltine
Day Four, August 15: Hesseltine to Whitmore Lookout
Day Five, August 16: Whitmore Lookout to Okanogan
Day Six, August 17: Okanogan to Winthrop
Day Seven, August 18: Winthrop to Bridge Creek
Day Eight, August 19: Bridge Creek to Newhalem
Day Nine, August 20: Newhalem to Darrington
Day Ten, August 21: Darrington to Getchell
Day Eleven, August 22: Getchell to Edmonds
Day Twelve, August 23: Edmonds to Discovery Bay
Day Thirteen, August 24: Discovery Bay to Home