Day 10 – 1,000 Miles in 10 Days on by Bicycle – Part V

On August 9, 2017, in Crazy Stuff, Mom, by Jennifer McPherson

Day 10 – I Cannot Believe It

GREAT to have Friends Like These Three!

Day 10! I could hardly believe it when I woke up. This was the first day since Day 1 that I jumped up out of bed and rushed to get on the road. The FINAL 100!  How I made it this far I still to this day am completely amazed. I quickly did my routine, make noodles in the microwave, eat a ton of pasta and rice, drink my cup of coffee, fill up my Camel Pack with water and Skratch, load up on sunscreen and OFF I went. This day – I could give it my all and then some. There was no need to hold anything back knowing I did not have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. So I did – I pedaled harder than I had this entire journey. I was going to get to Greeley as fast as I possibly could pedal.

I have to say this entire adventure would not have been possible without the support of my husband and children. They met me each day as I rode my 100th mile for that day with nothing but smiles and encouragement.  were the most amazing champions of this adventure. Also the encouragement from

David, Jackson, Maisie and my Friend Amanda Roadside Support

friends who came out and met me along the way – not only this day but many other days. I had strangers stop me who were tracking me to give me a boost in spirit. Of course, friends stop by and bring me wine (cough cough, Jordan), and who came and found me when I was lost in Windsor (ish) and help me find my way when a portion of the Cherry Creek Bike Path was closed for construction – Jim.  And the countless people who across Facebook gave me encouragement the whole time. Oh and of course Scott, for posting all the updates on my status and flat out encouraging me.  Just straight up unbelievable.

The Final Moment

What does it feel like to win a million dollars?  Honestly, I don’t know. But I imagine it feels very similar to the moment I rode onto the grass at Island Grove Park in Greeley, CO. I mean I literally just rode 1,000 miles on a bicycle, in 10 days. I cried, not ugly crying of course. Just a few tears of pride. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it.

It Feels Amazing to Do What I Want!

Was it Hard?

Um – Yes. Of COURSE it was hard, difficult, challenging, etc. You name the word – it was all of them. I’ve had people say: I don’t know how you can sit on that seat all day long. The truth is my butt nor my legs were very sore at all. The worst pain was in my wrists, right foot (it kept falling asleep) and my neck. My right foot would go completely numb and every 4 or 5 miles, I’d have to unclip from my pedals as I rode and shake it out.  My left wrist and hand was so numb within the first 2 miles. In fact my left hand has not even regained strength yet from the ride.

What was the Best Part?

The best part, of course aside from raising money for Honor Flight Northern Colorado was how much I learned about myself during this 10-day journey.  When you are all by yourself turns out you have a lot of time to think. And think… and think…. Amazing things can happen in life if you work hard and task your mind to something and don’t give up. It proved to me that if I set my  mind to something my body will compensate and rise to the occasion.

Finish Line Supporters

 

What is Next?

Who knows! I am impulsive and do a lot of things on a whim. I am not quite sure what is next. I will continue to ride my bike but not quite as far for as many days that is for sure.

This whole ride was to support Honor Flight Northern Colorado. This is a non-profit 100% volunteer organizations that provides free trips for veterans to WA D.C. to see the memorials that were built to honor them. I had the privilege last September to be a guardian on an Honor Flight and it changed me more than you can even know. The men and women that serve our country now and in the past pay the ultimate sacrifice in their lives to ensure our freedom. Some lost their lives, others are altered for the rest of their lives either physically or mentally or both. Honor Flight provides veterans a way to see first hand how much they are loved by our country. This (particularly with Vietnam Veterans) is something that is not always clear.

How Can You Help?

Ever have spare money? $1.00, $5.00, $100., $500. or heck $1,000?  It is easy to donate and is tax deductible.  Click Here. Click on the Donate tab and you will be walked through how to donate.

My Route

My Route – Day 1-5

My Route Day 6-10

Day 9 – Tears All Around

When I changed my route after day 3 I decided I would just head straight east across Nebraska.  It is fairly flat and the roads are relatively good for

Road to Papillion

cycling. As I mapped each day I discovered I was heading straight toward Papillion, NE where my dad grew up. I thought how cool it would be to end day 9 at the cemetery where my grandma and grandpa are buried, so the plan was set! I decided to keep my destination a secret and never told my parents.  They had been watching me on my tracker map every day and I thought it would be a fun surprise to have them watch me as I headed toward the cemetery just outside of Papillion.

 

As I rode closer to Lincoln the landscape changed from flat to rolling hills. I was having a blast going up and down hills again.  Working hard pedaling up hill pays off 10 fold as you fly down the other side. One thing that stands out in my mind and I wish I had stopped and took a picture of it was a garage sale sign. I was in the middle of no where and there was a dirt road off the main road.  There was a sign pointing down the dirt road that said: Garage Sale, 4 1/2 miles ahead.  I laughed out loud and thought you have got to really be desperate to go to a garage sale via traveling 9 miles total down a dirt road to look at someone’s junk!

I was in Lincoln, NE and I texted my  mom to asked if my dad was tracking me? She said, yes, that he was crying in the basement. He had figured out my trajectory. The cemetery where my grandma, grandpa and an entire host of relatives are buried is in a rural area of rolling hills outside of Papillion on a dirt road. When I arrived at the cemetery the first thing I did was call my dad, needless to say it was a very emotional conversation.  David and the kids were waiting there when I rode up. They had stopped and purchased a couple of plants for us to place on my grandparents grave.  I walked around and took photos of all

My Grandma & Grandpa’s Grave

my relatives headstones to send to my dad. Unfortunately I was still 4 miles short of my 100 miles needed for the day. I decided I would call my dad and find out the address of where he grew up and just head in that direction until I get my 4 miles in then we could load the bike up and drive the rest of the way so I could get some photos of the house that he grew up in. It is funny how the mind works, my dad cannot remember a conversation from two days ago and yet when asked where his house he grew up in was he rolled off the cross streets like he lived there currently. Some things stay with you forever I guess.  I entered the location into my GPS and immediately got goosebumps and tears in my eyes. The house he grew up in was exactly 4 miles from the cemetery. Sometimes fate is subtle and other times it is so evident it knocks you to your knees in amazement. What a beautiful day this was.

Jackson & Maisie Setting Plants on their Great Grandma & Grandpa’s Grave

I Seriously Rode My Bicycle from Colorado to Papillion, Nebraska!

 

As soon as I started off toward my dad’s old home I noticed my tire was really low.  I was 4 miles away from my 100. Could I make it on the dwindling air I had? You have to understand, when you are only 4 miles from your daily goal, which is a BIG deal when you have ridden 900 miles because it means getting OFF the bike and not getting back on it until the next day, you do NOT want to spend 25 minutes wrangling with a tire but rather spend 15 minutes riding the final 4 miles. I decided to wing it and see if I could just pedal my ass off and beat the flat tire. By the time I got to my dad’s childhood home, it was pretty near where I was not going to be able to ride it another mile.  I WIN!

My Dad’s Childhood Home

Hello Random Little Piece of Metal

As soon as I took pictures of my dad’s house we loaded my bike in the truck and hightailed it back to Sterling, CO. Which mind you, is a 407 miles away and because we were hauling the camper we could only go around 65 MPH. The FINAL day was just hours away. Day 9 was by far my favorite day. Getting back to my family’s roots and doing so by riding my bike all the way across Nebraska – I just cannot find the words to describe this day.

My cup runneth over.

 

Day 3 – Friendship Ride

New Fantastic Friends!

This day was AWESOME, AMAZING, ENCOURAGING, MOTIVATING, HUMBLING and so much more. Truth, in life people come and go

and many never will leave a mark on your spirit.  But this is NOT the case for the incredible friends who joined me on this leg of the journey. A few of my coworkers and I had been talking about my ride for some time and they decided to join me on this day.  Steve is an avid cyclist and Amy is literally the most athletic person I have ever met…ever!  Steve put the word out to his cycling group and I ended up having 5 riders complete the 100 miles and another 3 join for a portion of the ride.  It was the BEST DAY EVER!

I had 200 miles under my belt and was ready to rock and roll on another 100.  We traveled from Strasburg, down through, Elizabeth, around the Aurora Reservoir Trail which I now have on my list of places to visit with the kiddos to play in the water and ride bikes along the trail.

Beautiful Day for a Ride!

What I did not really expect was the number of long hills through Elizabeth and then returning to Strasburg. Let’s be real. I am an extreme novice cyclist at this point in my life.  I used to cycle a lot but I had kids, then more kids and then life just got in the way of doing any real cycling.  The last long distance ride I did was 16 years ago when I was 31.  I did the Seattle to Portland, also known as the STP, two years in a row. The second year I rode in it I called David during the middle of it and told him if I ever say, I want to do the STP again under NO circumstances should he allow me to do it!  But you just cannot tame CRAZY and David of all people knows this.

Day 3 – “Rookies” Ready to Roll!

This day and all these hills made me realize that I needed to change the entire rest of my course.  I lacked the power to effectively perform on the hills and my route through Wyoming would present hills 3-4 times as long and challenging. Compared to the people I rode with on this day my novice ability was shining like a lighthouse beacon! On WAY  more than one hill, Chris (one of my new found cycling friends via Steve) literally rode along side me on the hills and pushed me while riding his bike up the hill. I still don’t know how anyone has that amount of energy or strength but it was very much appreciated. Everyone who rode with me on this day came out in support and encouraged me leaving me feeling incredibly humbled.  People are good. This day was DA-BOMB!!!!  THANK YOU FRIENDS!!

 

Day 4 – Start of the Plains

BOOOOM!!!  300 miles on the books! I am ACTUALLY DOING THIS.  Not that up to this point I did not think I would complete this but not gonna lie, there was PLENTY of time during my long rides to think and every now and then I had doubts creep in.  Today was different. I had just come off a day full of friends and support and could not let their efforts be for naught!

Long Empty Roads & Miles of Fields

Wind was my friend as I headed northeast toward Sterling.  I was cruising like crazy!  Hour after hour when I looked at my speed I was consistently between 17-19 MPH.  At one point I hit a bump and my waterbottle fell off my bike, I circled back and got it then stood on the side of the road taking a few photos of the vast fields that seem to never end and the empty roadway that went on forever.  I vividly remember thinking how blessed I am to be in this moment.  As I stood there alone my phone rang, it was my dad.  He had been tracking me and saw I was stopped and was wondering if I was eating lunch. It put a smile on my face as he was telling me about how he has been tracking me each day and then would pull up Google maps and zoom in on my location to see what I was seeing.  My dad has always been a man of few words but being able to share this experience and have him actively participate brings tears to my eyes just thinking of that moment. He grew up in Nebraska and I told him I felt like I must be seeing his childhood landscape all day long. WIDE open fields full of some sort of crop that I could not identify that went on for miles and miles. And a roadway that was as empty as an unwatched cookie jar in a preschool! It was lovely….. Peaceful – so incredibly beautiful and left you feeling minuscule in this great big world.

This day was also very special as my super amazing friend Jordan found me via my tracker and delivered to me a bottle of wine! We stood on the side of the road for probably 45 minutes chatting. As we stood there a truck slowed and stopped and asked if we were OK and then he said… I am XXXXX (sadly I cannot remember his name) and I’ve been tracking your ride via the website! He works down the road and thought he would come and give me some encouragement. The amount of encouragement I received in person and on Facebook was just amazing and really helped push me to continue on.

Cool! Someone Found Me on My Tracker!

LOVE Jordan! Surprised Me with Wine and Nothing but Support!

Day 5 – Leaving Colorado

My first thought this day – after today I will be half way there! I was incredibly excited and proud of myself.

Welcome to Nebraska – the GOOD LIFE!

Riding 100 miles on a bicycle in a single day is hard, knowing each day after the day you just rode 100 miles that tomorrow you have to get up and do it all over again creates a mental internal war-zone that is straight up hard to explain and likely not many people could even understand it. However, when I make it to 500 – I am 50% complete! Mentally – this feels like you are WINNING!

Today I crossed the border into Nebraska. As I said before, my dad was born and raised in Nebraska until he joined the Navy which took him to Hawaii where he met and married my mom and finally they landed in Kingston, WA.  I was born and raised there and spent the first 30+ years of my life causing all sorts of chaos. My dad’s mother, my grandmother, moved from NE when I was a baby after my grandfather died. She moved to Kingston to be close to my family. She was the only relative I really grew up with other than my parents.  I have a fabulous photo of her at 14 years old that I cherish more than anything else I own. She was an amazing woman. She is buried in Papillion, Nebraska. Hmmmm maybe I ride all the way to Papillion???

Trains Trains Trains!

I have always loved trains.  There is something about the amount of sheer power they have that leaves you feeling a sense of excitement and danger.  Who doesn’t love that! There would be 15 or more a day that paralleled my route. The trains would frequently block the cross winds that came directly from the south to the north. When they passed I would kick it into high gear and enjoy a mini 5-10 minute cross wind vacation. Honestly, while riding alone on the road day after day, you find ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING you can to be excited about.

As I arrived at my 500th mile – I could hardly believe it! I mean WHO does this?  Especially someone who is a complete novice and is 47 years old! 50% Complete!  500 down, 500 to go!

My FABULOUS FRIENDS made signs of encouragement for me and David secretly placed them along the entire ride! I AM BLESSED!!

WHAT is NOT to love about this sign….

 

MORE to COME!!!  Part III – Day 6, 7 & 8 Coming UP Next!