Okay, this is long overdue, it's time to wrap up Ian's ride 2016. I want to share some of the stats and takeaways from my adventure. I had an amazing time and made some incredible memories. Thank you so much to all of the supporters who helped make this possible. This never could have happened without you.
Let's start with the stats.
I used Strava to record my mileage which all can be viewed here. The total journey was 335.4 miles over 10 days. This took me 53 hours and 18 min. of riding time with 9585 feet of elevation change. My average speed was just under 6.5 mph and my longest day was 40 miles exactly. We left Port Angeles on August 13 and arrived in Portland on August 23. After a couple days exploring Portland's accessibility we made it home on August 25.
I used Untappd to record and rate all the beer tasting; the data can be found here. We visited 15 breweries over 12 nights and sampled 107 unique beers. I did a flight/sampler at each brewery which was often shared between us. I'm happy to say I never overindulged on the trip and woke up each morning hangover free. The title of favorite brewery goes to The Dirty Bucket in Woodinville with my favorite beer being the Ruski Porridge Oatmeal Stout. Their staff was very welcoming, their beer was excellent, and the owner is a really nice guy who enjoyed discussing his craft and picked up our tab. I've been back a couple times since and am sure happy I stumbled across this gem. I highly recommend visiting this establishment.
I had to purchase a total of four umbrellas throughout the trip. It turns out these poorly performing parasols aren't made for traveling 7 mph in a headwind. Two of these shade providers flat out broke after flipping inside out one too many times. Despite Josh Blaustein's best efforts to keep these devices in working order the unrelenting wind proved to be too much for these parabolic sun protectors. In the future I will look into some sort of canopy that is more durable and less likely to fold in the middle of a busy intersection.
I feel I should mention some of the trails I enjoyed most while tooling down the state. My favorite trail ended up being the Centennial trail in Snohomish County. It's 30 miles in length, has a very smooth surface, and is well away from the road for much of the distance. There were beautiful pedestrian bridges, meandering rivers and streams, and lots of singing birds. Another noteworthy one was the Yelm-Tenino trail. This trail travels through some rural towns and keeps you far enough off of the streets where you don't hear road noise. We traversed the section during a very hot day and we welcomed the tall trees on either side of the trail that kept us out of the sun. It's only about 14 miles in length but well worth the visit if you are in the area. I used many others such as the Burke Gilman trail, the Lochside trail, the Green River trail, the Interurban trail, and the Sammamish River trail. All of these had their charms but the Centennial and Yelm-Tenino were the two that I would love to ride again.
Fundraising and Donations
I raised just over $11,000 for the ride. Total expenses were right around $6000 ($1000 of which went to replacing a crew members bike), which left $5000 for donations. Washington Bikes was the main recipient with $4000. I also donated $1000 to the Peninsula Trails Coalition. The PTC manages the Olympic Discovery Trail which I ride regularly. Both organizations were very appreciative of the donation which I'm confident will be put to good use.
Now for some takeaways
– Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you feel strongly about something, look to your friends, family, and community to help make it a reality.
– People are awesome. They love seeing someone overcome a challenge and often will support you in doing so.
– Washington is a beautiful state. Many of the small rural towns are quaint and charming with delicious mom-and-pop eateries. The most beautiful thing to me though, was the natural beauty. Our rivers, trees, and vistas are just spectacular. I believe you gain an even greater appreciation when you get to view them at 7 mph.
– Use a U lock when locking up bikes.
– Downtown Seattle is not easy to navigate in a power wheelchair.
– Don't let physical limitations deter you from your passions. Take chances. Go outside.
– Over three fourths of the ride was on roads and highways. This really developed my appreciation for bike lanes. Jon Snyder, who rode with us on day six, is an advisor for the governor and introduced me to the concept of "complete streets". I plan to advocate for this concept moving forward.
– Being Washingtonian of the Day is pretty cool.
– The biggest challenge turned out to be the heat. The shoulderless highways were challenging but expected. I had not planned for the heat and it really made for a couple difficult days.
–The biggest surprise was the outpouring of support, not just financial, but honks and fist pumps, Gatorade, buying of our dinners, and then the e-mails from veterans and recently injured as well as other passionate outdoor wheelchair users throughout the world. These were the things that really make me want to do another ride.
I can't say enough how rewarding it was to push my limits, spend two weeks with people I love, and do something I'm passionate about. It was also immensely rewarding to have encouraged and inspired others to get out of their comfort zone. It's been great being greeted and thanked on my home trail, the ODT, for being an advocate for outdoor accessibility, and getting to meet with the governor really made me feel like I did something of worth. All in all it was a tremendous success, and although nothing is planned, I had such a great time I will have to take another big ride in the future.
Our final day began after a restless night of sleep. I’m not quite sure what caused the restlessness; excitement about our final day, the giddiness over Jimmy’s surprise arrival, or the espresso stout I brushed my teeth with. In any case we made it to our starting point at Summit Grove, albeit a little behind schedule and began the final leg of the trip toward Portland. The route today contained few trails, lots of roads, and lots of cars. We found there to be more traffic today (even before Portland) than most of the other days, especially what we’ve been dealing with since Seattle. The highest traffic areas did have (debris filled) bike paths, but the riding was still a little stressful.
After helping super mom pack up everything up from the hotel Jimmy joined us on the road, for what turned out to be a mild 21.5 mile run. Yes, he ran the last twenty plus miles. I know what your’e thinking, Jimmy is a stud. That may be true, but being nine feet tall he didn’t have to take too many steps to get to Portland. The temperature was on the warmer side today, but not too hot. Jimmy did break a sweat around mile fourteen.
At the base of the Interstate Bridge spanning the Columbia River, which connects Washington and Oregon, I conducted one last interview. A reporter and photographer from The Columbian met me and my crew, asked a few questions, took some photos, congratulated us and wished us the best. The time had now come to roll into Oregon and find the pot of gold (aka breweries) at the end of the rainbow (aka riding my wheel chair across the state of Washington).
The Washington-Oregon border is located along the bridge. Shortly after crossing into Oregon a representative from Nu Motion was waiting on the bridge for me with some much needed parts, a microswitch and some screws we lost along the way.
Once off the bridge we (poorly) navigated our way toward downtown Portland, to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Along the way we were joined by another runner (Dane) and long distance skate border (Cory). I was able to live out my Forrest Gump fantasy finally. As we approached the waterfront we were greeted by two women (groupies) who were super sweet and cheered us on.
We made our way across one final bridge and were coming down the home stretch enjoying the people and scenery. When we arrived at the Tom McCall Park we were greeted and cheered by family, friends, and fans numbering in the single digits. It was an emotional finish for us all. After twenty minutes of feeling like we topped Mount Everest and taking in our moment of glory we rolled another mile to our luxurious hotel.
While celebrating with a pre-brewery beer in the hotel room we were met by Ian from New Mobility. We chatted for awhile and then made our way to Cascade Brewing to sample some, actually all of their sours. Ian joined us which was great, because he also helped lead the way to the brewery. It was nice not to have to rely on the Joshs for directions. It’s amazing how much faster things move when you’re not constantly making wrong turns.
Also joining us at the Brewery to help celebrate were friends and family even surpassing the single digits. We all enjoyed the atmosphere and the sours. They take their beer very seriously at Cascade. In addition to the tasty beverages, Cascade gave us some shirts, paid for most of our bill, and took some time to just sit with us and talk about some of their brewing techniques.
The night was still young as we left Cascade, so we stopped into The Commons Brewery to sample a few more beers and some delicious food. I’d like to give a nod to The Commons for their musical choice, some old time folk/country/bluegrass was making my ears happy.
Now for the trip back to the hotel. Can we make it? Jimmy, Adam, the Joshs, and myself walked and rolled our way back to the hotel, with minimal difficulty, other than a ten minute wait at a train crossing. Once back at the hotel we began to sum up our day which you’ve now just read. Trying to sum up our entire journey can’t be done justly here, and most likely I’ll never be able to fully explain to someone everything I’ve experienced over these eleven days. I used Strava and Ride With GPS for the entire ride, and will do a full recap when I’m home with more technology.
This all started with a crazy idea. My crazy idea was met with support from all the meaningful people in my life. Everyone made me believe I could do it. Guess what? They were right. I have experienced many up and downs along this path and I’m happy to say I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I would have put those bikes in a safer place so they wouldn’t have been stolen by some punk ass bitches. I accomplished what I set out to do. I raised money for a good cause, raised awareness, made new friends, and spent time with old friends. And now I need some beer and a some rest and some more beer and some more rest.
Day ten of eleven had ups and downs, but in the end, well, it turned out to be one of the best days. Rider Josh Sutcliffe (JS) was responsible for mapping out today's route. "I'm not really to be trusted with directions," he warned. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I had no choice in the frenzied days leading up to the ride. So i wasn't horribly surprised when we had to turn around in a train yard.
The road twisted up and down along the Cowlitz then Columbia River, with little-to-no shoulder and traffic. The noise from the 5 was a little annoying, but the weather was really nice again. Most of the car traffic was safe and patient, with a lot of encouraging support!
I am happy to report the return of a third rider: my brother Adam! He hopped on one of the loaner bikes and rode the farthest he ever has by double! It's so great he was able to come down to join us for the rest of the ride. Thanks, bro.
Coming in to Woodland, JS put a giant hill on the route that climbed 700 feet in 2.5 miles. It is a true pleasure to watch JS nimbly dance upon the pedals as he gracefully yet aggressively ascends the ever-steepening grade. Was that a grimace or a smirk on his face as the road twisted upward, his sinewy legs spinning, sometimes swaying the bike side to side like a metronome, or casually sitting, wheels turning like some kind of metaphor for life. Onwards and upwards, my fellow passengers on this tiny speck of dust in the vastness of everything!
That's the last time I let JS have creative license with the blogging. Anyway, the hill proved a challenge for my chair as well as the riders, as I ran out of juice again today! This time at mile 22, ten miles less than yesterday. Super-Mom came to the rescue with a fresh chair and sandwiches, we made the swap, and continued the last tenth of a mile to the summit.
Then it was time for the downhill, which is really scary for me especially since my crash last year. I don't want to go too fast, but if I slow down too abruptly I could topple over. It's not easy.
We made it to our planned destination and kept going for an additional seven-to-eight miles, giving us a little earlier arrival time in Portland (show up at 2pm, the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, in Portland. If you want to get there in time to see me at the finish, we will by the fountain near Hawthorne Bridge) for a total of 34 miles today. I'm tired, but overall feeling very good.
Since it's Monday and all the pubs are closed, we instead had a delicious bbq dinner (Josh Blaustein had a quinoa salad) in a park prepared by Julia (the dinner, not the park), a former employee of mine who now lives in the area. Thanks for bringing us such a delicious spread! It was great catching up with you, Julia!
I have a good friend Jimmy, who I really tried to guilt into joining me on the ride. Earlier today he said he would't be able to make it. So when we were getting settled into our room at the hotel, who should we see? That bastard! Jimmy will be running with us the last few miles into Portland. This trip has been awesome.
I've really enjoyed my ride, but I'm looking forward to finishing in Portland. I'm exhausted, both of my chairs could use a tune-up, I have a collection of broken umbrellas, but there's a beer or two waiting for me at Cascade Brewing calling my name. One more day! See you in Portland, friends!
The weather report forecasted temperatures to be twenty degrees (Fahrenheit) lower than yesterday. I mention Fahrenheit because we are a global sensation and must be specific with temperature units. We were all very excited about this. The Joshs needed to wear extra layers as we started rolling. I’m a little tougher than they are. The route today contained no trails which made me a little nervous following some rough roads and hot days recently. It turns out today’s riding was very pleasant for the most part. Roads were relatively smooth with little traffic. When we did encounter cars we were given plenty of room. The temperature remained relatively mild and we were treated to beautiful scenery with a cloud scattered sky capturing our attention the entire day.
The mild temperatures allowed me to ride the entire day umbrella-less, which worked out great since my umbrella mount was destroyed yesterday. While we were enjoying the wonderful views, my mom was on the hunt for a new umbrella (Versa-brella) we had seen my friend Joe use early on in our trip. She managed to find the umbrella and bought two. She looked like she had found a unicorn and was so excited. Speaking of excited, Dr. B. is extremely excited about trying out the new umbrella. By “trying it out” I mean throw it off a bridge because as he puts it “umbrellas are the Devil’s rectal thermometer.”
We really felt the support of everyone we met today. We were met by many friendly honks and waves. A woman stopped ahead of us and said she’s been following us and she’s inspired. I’m very happy people are getting behind me and enjoying what me and my team are doing. We had one individual however who didn’t seem all that supportive, although there’s a chance his message was lost in translation. I didn’t catch his name. While we we enjoying the sights and sounds of the road a black dog ran through a gate barking and began chasing us. The two Joshs sprinted away and left me behind. One of them yelled “we don’t have to e faster than the dog, just faster than you.” Okay, that was a lie.
We made it to Castle Rock, which was our original destination for the day. After eating a delicious lunch at a local bakery we decided to keep on moving. The weather, the roads, the scenery were ideal for putting some miles on the chair. We made it about seven miles beyond Castle Rock when my chair rain out of juice going up one final hill. I knew it was coming, but wanted to push my chair to the limit. Dr. B. gave me a little push to get to the peak and I coasted to a shady area and waited for super mom to pick us up and get us to the brewery. We all had a good laugh. This was the furthest I have ever ridden on a single charge, 32.5 miles in five hours. To finish out the daily stats, we had an elevation gain of 1200+ (feet, not meters). My lips are tired.
Shortly after arriving at Ashtown Brewing Company we were joined by my brother Adam who will be riding the last two days with us. I’m very excited he’ll be with us as we finish our journey. I think Dr. B and I drank a teeny tiny bit more than we should have. Don’t judge us. Josh S. behaved responsibly, because someone has to. The brewery was very generous and provided us with our uniforms (t-shirts) for tomorrow. The atmosphere in the brewery was great. We met a lot of new people interested in my story. When we went to pay for our drinks we were told our tab had already been paid. We’re not sure who the made this kind gesture, but we think we know. I’ll just thank everyone we met for providing us with a good time and making us feel welcomed.
We ended our night on the town with a delicious dinner at a Chinese restaurant a couple from the brewery had recommended. We ordered five dishes. Three of the dishes were for Josh S. Adam, my mom, and I to share. The other two were for the pain in the ass vegan Dr. B. I don’t know where he puts all that food.
Looking back I would give today a huge stamp of approval. Good riding, good company, good beer, good food, good spirits. Onward to Portland!