Out of Thick Air

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IMG_6483From the beginning, one of our major goals was to work with NICA in an attempt to help build an Alumni Network, to inspire, and be inspired. Unfortunately, our limited time on the road, the multi-sport nature of our trip, and the difficulty of matching our schedule with those of very busy non-profit organizations has made it much more challenging than anticipated. We’ve had limited opportunities to interact with high school mountain bike teams, but that changed this weekend with a very successful rendezvous in Minnesota.

First, however, I must answer the question of how we got from New Paltz, New York to Cuyuna, Minnesota…

After getting rained out for a few days in New Paltz, we finally managed to escape the rain. First by way of our new friend Felicia inviting us to stay with her and her husband Joe on the fourth, which we greatly appreciated, and eventually by a break in the clouds. We managed two great days of climbing in The Trapps and got to explore some of the best intermediate trad routes the East coast has to offer. On the 7th, we dropped Alyssa off at the Albany Airport and continued North only to find more storms. New York League folks put us in touch with Rob who was generous enough to show us the way amidst the maze of trails in Pittstown. It ended up being a bit of a multi-sport day given all the swimming through rain we had to do.10557445_10203604021514611_4308798150278875005_nIMG_6519

From Pittstown, we headed to Brattleboro where Nathan’s old friend Simeon put us up for the night. From there, we opted to make the 8 hour drive up to Maine and found ourselves camped in Acadia National Park. We took it easy and enjoyed our time at the Atlantic ocean doing some tide-pooling, hiking, and swimming. The next morning, we got up far too early to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, the first sunrise in the USA. After several more hours of driving, we traversed Maine and New Hamshire to arrive in Burke Vermont, home of the Kingdom Trails, some of the best single track on the East Coast. The Kindom Trails are all on private land, which means it’s pay use. It was very expensive for our budget so we put in almost 30 miles and 5000 feet of climbing in order to get our money’s worth. Much of that money goes toward building high quality trails, so we were content to ride all day. That night, we met up with some friend from the trail, Harry and Todd, shared a campsite, swapped some stories, and slept very well. You can check out Harry’s blog and his post about the weekend here. IMG_6546photo(3)DCIM103GOPRO

DCIM100GOPROFrom Burke, we went to Barre to ride the trails at Millstone Hill. The riding was again private, expensive, and very high quality. To wrap up our expensive weekend, we stopped by the Ben and Jerry’s factory for some samples. At last we got back to budget by way of staying with my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ralph in Burlington. They graciously put us up, fed us, and shuttled us back and forth from the truck repair shop. Having given the truck some due loving (we’ve put over 10,000 miles on it in 4 months), we got back on our way West having had a nice and relaxed visit.

photo 2With an upcoming commitment four days and 1,500 miles away, we hit the road. Our first day of driving brought us to Toronto where Nathan’s friend Joy generously fed us and housed us for the night. The following day, we drove into Michigan and even had a couple hours of daylight to check out the trails at Yankee Springs State Recreation Area. The lack of elevation around the lakes took some getting used to, but showed us just how effectively a small amount of elevation can be used. Thursday, we made the drive to Madison, Wisconsin by way of a quick swim and some exploration at Lake Michigan and some real Chicago deep dish pizza. In Madison, we again stayed with some of Nathan’s friends. Hanna, a friend of Berkeley Mike’s Bikes, and her parents Kent and Carol, were very generous hosts.photo 1

Friday, we arrived at our destination, on time, to hang out with the Edina High MTB team in Cuyuna, Minnesota. Bruce Martens, the Coaching Director for the Minnesota League, had insisted the trails in Cuyuna were some of the best in the Midwest, and we were not disappointed. Saturday, we went on a group ride with almost 40 riders, coaches, and parents. We opted to hang back a bit and dip our toes in to get a feel for how the weekend might go. After several hours of riding and a bit of chatting with students, we headed to Scott and Tori’s lakeside cabin for a barbecue with the team. The Barbecue turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to talk to parents and students about what we’re doing over great food, yard games, and even a bit of wake boarding, a first for both of us. That night, we returned to camp inspired by the thanks and generosity we received simply for offering our experiences.

The following day, we jumped in head first on another ride with the team. We were given the opportunity to teach a couple lessons and lead the group down a few great, but too-short, descents. We even swapped bikes in order to give the students an opportunity to demo some Marins, which are a bit more slack than their usual cross-country race rigs. After a dip in the lake and some goodbyes, we again hit the road West and spent the night in the self proclaimed “Corn Capital of the World” Olivia, Minnesota. Yesterday, we drove across South Dakota (which seemed much flatter than Kansas) and camped in the Black Hills, home of Mt. Rushmore. Earlier today, we went exploring and got a couple different views of some very important people. From here, we will continue working West with our remaining 6 weeks.IMG_0587IMG_0592

IMG_6728Although we’ve spent less time charging hard in the last few weeks than any other time on the trip, it’s been a great experience. We’ve both inspired and, more importantly for us, been inspired by other’s stories, generosity, and appreciation for what we’re doing. Thank you to all we’ve met a long the way who helped to make the last few months so excellent.

“Todd and I were deeply impressed with the passion, intelligence, and unstoppable optimism of  these two young fellows. They infused our tired souls with much-needed zest.” -Harry

photo(1)“You are both doing something great and I want you to know how supportive I am of your endeavor. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of your journey and look forward to any opportunity to contribute further.” -Bruce

“I just wanted to say thanks for letting me try out your bikes, talk to my friends and I about your trip, help me work on my skills and ride!” -Ben



One thought on “Out of Thick Air

    Steve said:
    July 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Hey dirtbags– It’s been great to follow your travels and adventures — Super fun to hear of your adventures up and down Appalachia: rhodedendron bushwacking, climbing in the gunks – mtb biking in VT and hanging on the Maine coast — sounds like its been a wet and wild summer back east. Glad you’ve made some great connections with folks all over the country. Njoy the rest of your adventures on the road. See you guys on the flip side.


    Steve (living a bit vicariously and remembering the good ol days of long road trips!)

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