The Best, the Worst and Other Parts of My Trip

I’ve been thinking about a post summing up my ride. Here are responses to the most common questions people ask me in the past week.

Best moment

On the first morning I was about a mile into the ride when I passed a herd of bison. They turned and began running with me. They paced me for about two minutes before they stopped and went back to eating. It was magical. It felt like an omen of strength for my ride. I love those moments of connection with nature.

Annie also saw a grizzly cross the road just after I passed somewhere around here. I was totally unaware of that.

Worst moment

The morning of July 23. It was the end of my second week of riding. I was tired and just wanted to get the day over with so I could rest and recover a little. I woke up with a soft tire. I went to change the tire and punctured the new tube with my tire levers. I patched the tube and did it again. And again. And again. I finally put a tube on and filled it with air.

We drove half an hour to the start point and found that the tire was flat again. At this point, part of me wanted to give up. The other part of me asked Annie to go borrow a tire from Kelly’s husband, who was a few minutes down the road while I got the current tire off. I gave up on Grand Prix tires and went back to my Gatorskins. They were a little heavier, but they are excellent at repelling flats. After losing two hours dealing with the flat tire debacle, I finally started.

One minute into the ride, a pack of feral dogs came after me and I had to fight them off. Between the fatigue, the frustration, the dogs, and heinous headwinds, I honestly cried a couple of times.

Biggest frustration

Flat tires and construction closing off parts of my route.

Greatest Inspiration

Rich Linton. He joined me for the ride from Kanab, UT to Bitter Springs, AZ. Rich is a senior missionary living near Page, AZ. He’s been riding bicycles for many years but given the fact that he’s a couple of decades older than me, I was inspired by his fitness and speed. Yes, I was almost two weeks into my ride, but it was a lot of work to stay up with him as we rode. I hope to have his level of fitness as I age.

What I learned

I learn something new from every endurance event. What I learned from this one was what an amazing support network I have. The $11,400 we have raised so far represents hundreds of donations from people. I work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My co-workers prayed for me in meetings. Strangers, relatives, and friends invited us into their homes, fed us, and joined me on the ride. The Bike Shoppe in Ogden replaced my chain and didn’t charge me. The physical therapists at Therapy West in Richfield, UT helped me with my hamstring, gave me an ice cream sandwich, and wouldn’t take anything in return.

Annie and my children spent three weeks of their summer driving a support vehicle and helping me achieve my dream. By the end of the ride, the constant running to support me left them almost as tired as I was.

I learned of how much more we can do together and my dependence on others. Given how hard I have tried to be independent, this has been a humbling lesson.

Funniest thing

As I was climbing Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, I passed a woman, and she thought I must be on an electric bike because that was the only way anyone would be moving up the hill as quickly as I was. It was flattering, but 10 minutes later, someone passed me. And he wasn’t on an electric bike either.

What I would do differently

If I were to do this again, I’d probably add a couple of days to my trip and make each day a little shorter. As it was, my entire day was riding, recovering from riding, preparing to ride again the next day, and sleeping. I’d like to spend a little time off the bike seeing some of the amazing thins around me.

I would screen partners more carefully to make sure we had compatible paces and were equally committed to all parts of preparing for the ride and fundraising.

I’d stick with my Gatorskin tires from the start. It would have saved a lot of trouble.

I’d insist we buy more ice on that Saturday night since all my recovery meals went bad over the weekend.

How do I feel now?

Believe it or not, I gained weight on this ride. Maybe it’s inflammation. I’m slowly coming down to my preride weight. My muscles were sore for about four days after I finished, sore enough that I never got that massage that I had promised myself, because any sort of prodding was agony.

My saddle sores cleared up within two days. Same with my inflamed hamstring.

I lost feeling in two of my toes sometime during the first week. I still haven’t gotten that back yet.

I’m still tired. It feels like recovering from surgery, that’s how wiped out I am. I’m ridiculously tired in the evenings. I haven’t gotten back on my bike yet. Of course, it’s in the shop getting some love and I’m getting the bearings replaced in my pedals. Those went out on the last day, making it harder to pedal.

What’s next

A lot of people ask me what my plans are for my next big adventure. I think this question comes from that morbid sense of curiosity that makes people slow down and stare at car accidents, watch celebrity train wrecks, or cheer on adolescents who think they can drink a gallon of milk without throwing up.

This is a ride that I’ve been thinking about for 25 years. There’s nothing else on my bucket list like that, at least, nothing else that’s feasible before I retire. I would like to do the triple crown. Right now, I’m doing home renovation projects that my wife has been asking for. I replaced a toilet and painted closet doors this morning.

Next season I’ll probably finish my project to ride the hardest climbs in Utah. I still have four left. I’m going to do some backpacking trips next summer. I’m planning to ride the Triple Bypass or Ride the Rockies next year. In five years or so, I might do the TransAm Bike Race or maybe participate in a relay team in the Race Across America. We’ll see.

2 comments on “The Best, the Worst and Other Parts of My Trip

  1. Great way to put Shem . Know exactly what your thoughts and physical pains . But numerous times would say to oneself and say there are people in the this world who fight this on a daily basis . Once again congratulations. Possible of doing RAAM in the near future ? That could be only a 12 day trek .

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