We knew that day two would be challenging since it was nearly a 40 mile trek and we had eight aid stations to get set up, taken down, supplied, and ran by volunteers. There was a lot of stuff going on in the background with people driving tables, canopies, food, swag, and water to different locations and then another group coming from behind loading everything up later in the day. We also had vans at the ready to rescue wheelchairs that might get stranded. All the volunteers that took on this monumental task were amazing, and even though there were so many moving parts, everything ran like clockwork.
We started the day at 9 AM at the Elwha bridge where the cyclists completed the previous day. We were greeted by our volunteers and Keith from the Peninsula Daily News. After a quick interview we all gathered up and myself, five cyclists, and one running Jimmy began the long day. The first aid station was only 5 miles or so from the start and we quickly traveled that distance to some much-needed bagels and water to keep us fueled for the many miles ahead. A few other cyclists joined and we headed towards the Port Angeles waterfront.
We arrived to a bunch of people who were ready to be part of the group ride. There were eight other wheelchairs and dozens of able-bodied folk who were either wishing us well or joining us to ride. Our energy was high and we were about to ride one of the more beautiful sections with the Strait of Juan de Fuca on our left and lots of good friends around us. I slowed down to under 5 mph to allow the slower power wheelchairs and manual chairs to keep up. Josh Sutcliffe ran this section to help with pushing any chairs if needed. He ended up being a big help to our friend Sandra Boggs and pushed her the majority of the 5 miles. He was awesome and she was appreciative.
At this point our group size had more than tripled and we had a great variety of transport modes. Manual chairs, power wheelchairs, scooters, bikes, and runners were all out with us for that 5 miles, and we were feeling pretty good as we rolled into the third aid station. We enjoyed our snack and shared our appreciation for the great scenery we'd just rolled through. After that, many of the power wheelchairs went to go charge so they could continue on more throughout the day.
I discouraged wheelchairs from joining us on the next five or six miles just because it was hilly and would really wipe out some batteries. Kenny really wanted to push the limits of his wheelchair, so he motored along with us. All was going great for the first few miles, lots of great discussions among different sets of people riding side-by-side, a nice isolated trail, and then I had to go and ruin it by crashing into a ditch. You'd think after the thousands of miles I put on my chair, and the hundreds of consecutive days riding, I could keep on the pavement, unfortunately I got complacent. I was just riding along chatting with my buddy Dave Toman when my chair started drifting to the right. Instead of stopping or swerving left like I should have, I tried to slow the chair down and slowly drift back to the left. Instead I ended up in a ditch and needed all the people with us to help pull me out. I was fine, with nothing hurt but my ego. Thanks to everyone that yanked me out!
After the unnecessary excitement I provided the group, we powered on to our fourth aid station where everyone that was hungry got sandwiches or any other snack they preferred. There were lots of jokes made about me keeping the greasy side down, I chuckled along with them as we got back on the trail and continued east. A few miles later we hit Robin Hill Park where a special surprise was waiting. A local nonprofit, called The Sequim Wheelers, have wonderful bikes called Duets that allows a rider to sit up front in a chair while the driver pedals the bike. Two Duets were there, and my grandfather was sitting in one of them. I couldn't have been happier to have him be part of our ride. Seeing his face gave me all the energy I needed to finish up the day. As we powered along, we passed the Sequim airport where we were treated to the sights of a local festival called the Air Affaire. We got to see people wing walking, hot-air balloons, and huge remote-control planes that were doing all sorts of wild stunts. Shortly after, we made it to our fifth aid station and our group was getting pretty big. We had four young kids cycling along and my good friend Bonnie met us there in her hand cycle.
After the next 5 miles, we got to our sixth aid station at Carrie Blake Park and our group started to thin out a bit. Many chairs were out of batteries, some went off to charge more, and a few brave souls, Kenny, Marsha, and Shannon, all powered their chairs on with me. There were 10 more miles until the finish line, and they really wanted to see how far their chairs would go. Kenny and Marsha made it to the final aid station, although Kenny was pushed the last 100 yards. Shannon ran out of batteries and got a pickup. All three of them rode the furthest distance they had ever traveled in their wheelchairs.
At this point, running Jimmy was on his 35th mile and charging way ahead of the pack. He was in the zone and we knew better than to interrupt him. However, the guy just doesn't know when to stop. Fortunately, my mom was driving to the finish line and saw Jimmy way down the highway and went and turned him around to get back to the finish line. Thank goodness! Pretty sure he would've been in Tacoma had we not stopped him. He ran 40 miles. It was the longest run of Jimmy's life.
Todd tried to do the final leg with me, he used his van to charge his chair but ended up running out of juice a couple miles short. His lovely wife Karen continued along with us on her scooter. When we finally made it to the finish line at Diamond Point Road, all the wheelchair users were there to congratulate us, get a picture, and then head to the Peninsula Taproom for food and beverages. They had the Sea to Sound Session IPA on tap and we got to talk with a lot of people who had heard of our ride and wanted to know more details. It was a great time and a lot of fun was had. We then shuttled everyone who needed a ride to their desired location and went home to get some rest before the start of the third and final day.
Check back real soon to see how the final day went!