By Tommy Sullivan
First off, I want to apologize for not keeping you all as updated as I had planned. We haven’t always had Wifi to post blogs or even the energy to write them. Our new plan is to post state-by-state updates.
While we are keeping busy on the road, there is still plenty of downtime, especially for Adam and me. The most rewarding waiting periods through Nevada (when I’ve had cell service) have been phone calls with family and friends. After a hectic, challenging semester, the slower pace has allowed me to catch up with loved ones and with myself, though I may feel bored at times.
We were spoiled in California, thanks to the likes of Dennis Whitcomb, Bob Arp, Uncle Steve, and many others. Nevada has felt more monotonous and has bred some agitation between riders. I’ve seen how hard it is on the boys, as their muscles get no time to recover before they are back on the saddle. For me and Adam, it’s been almost mind numbing to see mountain after mountain and desert after desert. We were used to grocery stores everywhere and homes to stay in. Now, the norm is Mexican restaurants and small convenience stores. Days feel like less of an adventure and more of a chore.
But don’t feel bad for us quite yet—we are still having the time of our lives. Each day has a redeeming moment—no matter how small—that makes the whole day worth it. It’s still be incredible to discover small towns barely hanging on and geographic wonders that lie hidden off the highway. The daily dedications continue to come in and inspire us as our journey keeps rolling along. While ending Alzheimer’s has been a dream of mine for a long time, it now feels more like a mission.
Our first day in Nevada was a rest day, which was much needed after the perilous trek up the Sierra Nevadas. We have to thank Dennis and Trish Whitcomb and Chuck and Sukeshi O’Neal for visiting us in Carson City and taking care of us. Uncle Dennis been one of our greatest blessings so far!
A quick mention in a blog post couldn’t capture the gratitude we have for Aly Badinger, our videographer who is the sister of 2016 rider Joey Badinger. She spent four days with us as we crossed from California to Nevada. Not only is she in the process of making an amazing promo video for us (airing this Monday!), but she helped the group dynamic by being our “older sister” for a few days.
Conrad and I were the only ones who got to see Reno during our stay in Nevada. I dropped Aly off at the airport on Sunday about an hour before Conrad’s flight landed. While it was sad to see Aly go, I loved having Conrad back. We got lunch, caught back up with the boys, and went to church later that night. We had few options for Sunday evening mass, but we got to go to a Spanish mass (where I translated for Conrad).
The women of Epworth United Methodist in Fallon were beyond generous. They gifted us with two coolers full of meat, cheese, and milk, which kept us well fed for a few days. We had the chance to do laundry (one of the biggest struggles out here!), shower, and sleep in an air-conditioned room. They even woke up before us to make breakfast. Our night in Fallon was a good break before hitting the loneliest road in America, US-50. On the way to Fallon, Logan and Alex wore bibs only for the first time and suffered the consequences. Their sunburns didn’t heal for a few days.
Middlegate ended up being one of our favorite stops to date. The town is more of a rest stop on US-50 than anything. Its center is a restaurant/convenience store/gas station. We thought there was a park to camp in there, but the waitress just told us to pitch our tent behind the restaurant. As we enjoyed the Stanley Cup final game and free Wifi in the restaurant, a musician stumbled into the place and began to play. After an hour or so, we were the only ones still there, but Paul Smith—our new favorite singer—played on. He took requests from Ethan to play the Eagles and from Adam to play the Beatles. Little pleasures like live music in the middle of nowhere are the gems that make me forget the hours I spent sitting in valleys waiting for the boys or the tense moments during our occasional arguments.
Our next stop was Austin, where we camped behind Austin Baptist church. We’d like to thank them for waiving the camping fee for us! While a few of the guys watched the sun set at Spencer hot springs, Logan and I stayed back, which gave us a good chance to relax away from everyone. It can be exhausting to spend so much time with the same people, but we each carve out our alone time and have gotten along well.
In Eureka, we stayed at Diamond Valley Baptist church. It’s near big farms outside the city, which gave us a chance to admire the landscape. A few of us went to dinner in town, and the rest of us made pasta at the church. The next day was the longest yet—77miles. As far as they biked that day, the boys still thought the bike up to Kirkwood, CA, was the hardest.
We stopped in Ely and stayed at the Northern Nevada Railway Museum. What an experience! We slept in the old chief engineer building, right next to historic train tracks. Personally, I’ve loved learning about the history of the West: whether it’s the Pony Express, telegraphs, railroads, Japanese internment, the women’s suffrage movement, or anything else. I’m sure everyone else is sick of me stopping at museums and historical markers and talking about each town’s history.
We are incredibly thankful for the Baker Community Church, which was our next stop after Ely. Roberta Moore and the rest of congregation were very generous, providing us with dinner not only the night we stayed there but the following night as well. Roberta taught us so much about Great Basin National Park and about national parks in general. We were able to explore Great Basin a little bit that evening—it’s an amazing place with gorgeous scenery. The following day we rode into Utah. Check back in a few days for Adam’s post about it!
To reiterate a point Adam made in his last post: The dedications keep us going. I compile them into a spreadsheet, so I have read all of them word for word. Though tragic and heartbreaking, they inspire and motivate. I started this journey for my grandmother, but I’ve continued for dozens of other grandmothers. While I fear this disease will affect my parents, I know it’s affecting parents already. We truly are riding for memories.
As always, stay tuned to our daily dedications, comment on this post with questions, and stay in touch! Can’t wait to hear from you.