Taken from Will Owens’ blog @ jwillowens.wordpress.com
We start each day with the same routine. First, we wake up and pack all our stuff. Then we suit up, get our bikes out and make sure they’re good to go. Once the trailer is packed and everyone is ready to take off, we take a moment to remember why we ride. It’s a very serious moment for guys who usually make everything fun. We circle up and then one person leads us in prayer. After we pray, we dedicate the forthcoming day of riding to someone affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia. We love to start days off with that because its important for us to remember why we’re doing Bike4Alz and to stay humble. Today, we rode in honor of a very close friend. When I came to college, I met a lot of guys through the fraternity. One of those guys, Luke Simmons took me in and mentored me through my first two years of college, his last two. I made it through my sister’s graduation without even considering shedding a tear. Once Luke graduated last month, I balled like a baby. He truly is someone I look up to on a daily basis and someone I am very proud to call my brother. When he heard I was doing Bike4Alz, he mentioned a little bit about his grandfather and how has hadn’t been diagnosed with the disease, but Luke had noticed some tell-tell signs. His grandfather wasn’t the same person. Luke told me stories about how his grandfather had taught him how to shoot a gun, and how to play the guitar. Luke laughed when he thought about the awful toupee his grandfather would wear to cover his bald head. Luke was extremely fond of his grandad, but Luke could tell he was no longer all there. Yesterday morning, just before we left Monticello for Minneapolis, I received a text saying Luke’s grandfather had passed away. I instantly knew I wanted to dedicate a day to him. Luke had done so much for me, and it was the least I could do to try and comfort his family. Today’s ride was the first day we encountered major hills. It kicked our butts for 60 miles, but we persevered. Every time we reached a peak and saw the next peak up ahead, I thought of Luke and his description of his grandfather. I know that the Simmons family is hurting and I hope they find peace dealing with their loss. It’s stories like those that keep us going on this journey
Taken from Austin Lanter’s blog. Check it out at ajslbike4alz.wordpress.com.
6 a.m. couldn’t come quick enough. Wow, I think that’s the first time I have ever said that. On Saturday, May 20, we woke up at 6 a.m. in hopes of departing Bowling Green by 7 to head to International Falls, Minnesota, to begin our ride. Surprisingly, we managed to leave on time, something I was very excited about.
The drive to International Falls takes about 17 hours, and since we have a truck and trailer, it would probably take longer. Because of this we decided to stay around Madison, Wisconsin Saturday night. The drive through Indiana and Illinois was absolutely miserable. Indiana was bad because we were there for so long and it just seemed to go on for forever without anything to really look at. Illinois was a beast of a different kind, and for one reason: tolls. We had to stop at like 6 different tolls. The guys in the truck were particularly upset about this, because their toll cost more than my car did. One time they got slammed by a $16 toll. Ridiculous.
Then there was Chicago. Personally, I’ve never been to Chicago and enjoyed it. However, the other driver, Jonathan, wasn’t as fond of Chicago as I was. He was the one having to maneuver this huge truck and trailer through the Chicago traffic. I felt bad for him because I had no problems in my little Volvo. I must admit, Jonathan handled it like a champ. It was his first day driving with a trailer and he beasted it. He’s the man for taking on that job.
Finally, Wisconsin. I have never been here either and I found it to be a very pretty state. However, by this point I was just ready to get out of the car and sleep. Sleep was far off though. In fact, it wasn’t until about 5 p.m. that we knew where we were staying that night. Or at least we thought we knew.
We managed to get a hold of the president of Fiji at the University of Wisconsin and he graciously opened their house to us. Before I go any further, I must say that the Fiji house at Wisconsin is absolutely huge and a great house. Over 5 floors, a 40 foot balcony deck, and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was quite a site to see. Here is a view from their deck. It overlooks one of the lakes nearby.
However, with a huge trailer, it was not feasible for us to park anywhere near it and we did not want to leave it unattended.
Instead of staying in this huge house, we decided to camp on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. That is something strange in and of itself: camping on a college campus. It was great. We had guys in tents, hammocks, and the cars. I was one of the ones that slept in the car but I did not mind one bit, it was my choice.
The next day we woke up just as early to get a start of the day. This was partly because we wanted to go ahead and get on the road and partly because we wanted to get off that campus in case there were any repercussions of us sleeping their without permission.
It was another long day. Driving through Wisconsin was good, but trying to get out of Wisconsin and into Minnesota was a hassle. They took us along a very unclear detour, so that was not fun. Again, Jonathan handled that traffic and those turns like a man. Finally, we entered Minnesota and in my opinion, it is an absolutely gorgeous state.
Driving through Minnesota was good because I enjoyed looking around me and checking out the scenery. Like most of the other places, I had never been here either. That’s something I am looking forward to most, seeing all these different places and having all these experiences and memories that I can look back on.
Something that made the drive even longer was the fact that the truck was guzzling some gas. We had to stop every 200 miles or so to feed that gas tank on the truck. The stops were always good because it was a time for all of us to be together as one group.
We rolled into International Falls around 5:30 after over 17 hours and 1,000 miles of driving. Pulling into the church parking lot felt so good.
We managed to contact this church, Faith United, and they agreed to take us in for the next few days. I must say, we got a pretty sweet deal. They even had cookies for us upon our arrival. All I can say is, BAKED GOODS!
Granted, I couldn’t eat the baked goods because of that whole being deathly allergic to peanuts thing, but luckily I’ve got a nice little stash of baked goods from Ms. Becca Todd. Thanks Becca!
So here we are, in a church in International Falls, Minnesota. These past two days have been so surreal. We are actually doing this. We are actually biking across America for Alzheimer’s. We’ve been called crazy a few times already and that’s fine. Maybe we are crazy.
No, we are definitely crazy. And I love it.
This summer is going to be great, and it is already off to a great start. We will plan some last minute logistics while here and the guys will get some training in too. Also, something I am looking forward to, is going into Canada. We plan to do that in a couple of days and I can’t wait.
Something else that is worth noting is the accents people have up here. They are so thick and slightly amusing honestly, but I love it. They aren’t exactly as hospitable as people in the South, but that’s okay.
This church we are staying in has showed me that there are a lot of truly generous people out there and I am so thankful for this church and for everything else that everyone has done for us. It means a lot.
Thank you and God Bless.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Well guys, we’ve spent the last 8 months planning for this trip and its finally upon us. Sunday morning, the 9 of us will be packing the trailer and hitting the road north to the Canadian border! Excited is an understatement. It’s been so neat watching this whole ride take shape. We’ll all be blogging as soon as we get up there so be ready! Thanks,