Day 8 – Ride Across America

Being a counselor in the GTG program is an incredible honor and privilege. I feel truly blessed every day to be able to join kiddos in their pain, anger and confusion. My hope is that our program can be a small part of their healing process and that they can find comfort in knowing they are not alone on their journey. – GTG Counselor

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Dear Readers, Today is a rest day for us and our bodies need it! Nonetheless, it is a busy day with laundry to do, a thorough bike maintenance and cleaning, a brisk walk of 2 miles, a visit to the bike store for new gloves and few other items, cleaning our water bottles, visit Francois in the hospital, stretch and catch up on sleep. Most important, it is a time for me to talk with family, my partner and friends. And, since the first day of the trip, eat enough to satisfy my exercise induced appetite.

We have covered 847 miles ( about 25 miles less for me due to the ambulance ride yesterday). We’ve done 3 of the 5 days of more than 130 miles/day. Tomorrow is a ride of 137 miles to Las Vegas and May 25th is a ride of 137 miles to Dunkirk, NY.

Recovery from exercise is an important factor in muscle care both in building muscle when training and in preventing overuse that can reduce muscle output. The device I use to follow our course and keep track of my performance data recommends rest recovery of more than 24 hours based on age, miles ridden and cardiac output. So, except for today and the rest day in Springfield, I will not get the full recovery recommended. So, keep a steady pace, eat and drink well and rest whenever possible.

On this day of rest, I feel grateful for this wonderful opportunity to see the country by bicycle. I am supported by family, friends, my partner and you, the readers of this blog. I have received education from the Growing Through Grief staff and we can share with readers the quotations the team has gathered from students, teachers and family members. The Park Nicollet Foundation team, especially Paul Danicic, has helped me organize the fundraising effort and given guidance on the blog and communications. The Communications department of HealthPartners has arranged interviews with Cathy Wurzer and Eden Teller. And, many others have helped me along the way. It brings me great joy realizing that we are all working together to raise money for Growing Through Grief.

An update on Francois. He will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow and will take a train back to New York. The bilateral pneumothorax is a contraindication to travel by air for weeks. After many months planning for this trip he is disappointed, but accepting of what he must do. We’ll miss his humor, his French accent and his colorful clothing.

Now, some additional photos for your interest. And I’ll hurry off to sleep for a 5 am breakfast.

Thorough check both inside and out of Jen’s rear tire following a flat. I found the little wire from the steel belted radial tire of a semi that went through her tire. We are just inside the NM border
Leading Judy on the road to Sedona
Jim doing mechanics on our bikes this morning. The most experienced, patient and thoughtful mechanic I’ve ever met.
Cleaning bike, chain, gears, checking spokes and wheel rim at insert of spokes looking for cracks. Apply new lubricant to chain. Hotel parking lot, Albuquerque.
Taking flight near Sedona, AZ
Getting ready to ride in van past road construction, yesterday.
On the road to Gallup, NM

Finally, when you can, please visit YouTube and check for a video on Bugs Bunny and Albuquerque. An old time cartoon favorite and appropriate for this leg of the trip. “I should have taken a left at Albuquerque!”

Day 7, Ride Across America – Gallup to Albuquerque

Riding to raise money to provide counseling and support for grieving children.

Today was remarkable and memorable in many ways. Gallup was very cold this am – low 30s when we loaded bikes at 6 am. We were required to get a van lift past construction to the site on the road of the Continental Divide – see photo. After photos, we biked to the local gas station and gift shop for a bathroom. I heard Navajo language being spoken by one of the clerks talking on the phone – a very soft and pretty sounding language and a reminder of the Code Breakers of WWII.

Much of the ride was on old Route 66. Along the way, a few towns still exist and hundreds of scattered homes are lived in. However, most buildings, businesses, homes, churches and municipal buildings had been abandoned and were in decay. In the background, Interstate 40 hummed with semi trucks and motor homes – greatly outnumbering cars. On the other side of us,, trains past every 45 to 90 minutes, each with 4 – 6 locomotives and hundreds of cars. See photos of some scenes along I 40.

Interstate I 40 also runs through the northern side of the El Malpais lava flow south of the town of Grant. (see the picture of cactus growing from lava in Relive video.)

Lunch finished by 11:45 and we started biking again. At noon, I passed Marco standing a few feet off the road. At dinner, he explained that in the Netherlands on May 4th at 8 pm, the people observe 2 moments of silence to remember the Dutch victims of WWII. Tonight, he also included all peacekeepers who have died in service since then. Our noon time is 8 pm in the Netherlands.

Biking downhill at 2:25 pm, about 25 miles outside of Albuquerque, I saw one our bikers laying face down on the shoulder just in front of a sign that spanned the width of the shoulder. Francois had fallen hitting his nose, left side of head, left shoulder, hip and knee. Fellow bikers immediately controlled the scene by directing traffic, another called 911 and Mike our leader. I cared for him until the ambulance arrived and I went with him to the University of New Mexico Hospital. Francois had sustained a concussion, fractured his left collarbone and had bilateral pneumothorax. At 6 pm, he finally remembered trying to ride around the sign, but he caught the edge, lost his balance and fell. It is expected he’ll get out of the hospital tomorrow and he’ll be able to go home. The ABB staff will ship his bike for him. We are all concerned about his welfare and saddened that he will not continue with us.

Below is the abbreviated ride due to the van ride to the start and ending the ride at the accident. The speed of 72 mph occurred during a van ride for a few miles to get passed construction.