Newsletter #7

Here’s the newsletter from SeatoSea communications headquarters: The link for end of week 6!.

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Rainy Wednesday… Awesome Rainy Wednesday

Since my last writing… Dordt continued to treat us like kings and queens, fried chicken and pizzas for supper. Home made pies for dessert, and I do mean pies in the plural, there were so many pies there that we sampled a bunch of varieties each, myself: apple, peach and key lime. Key lime was the best by the way. Now if you think that’s not quite a cyclists diet you’re right but I was trying to drown my sorrows away as I had just had an opportunity to weigh myself on the first accurate scale in more than 5 weeks and the results were not good. I am down 6 whole pounds, that’s bad news for someone who was hoping that he could crack 200 lb for the first time in his life. I guess the upper body is really really gone, I haven’t swum in months nor paddled a canoe for a bit.

Well, or a more positive note the celebration service last night was once again a real blessing for us. To see so many people come out on a Tuesday night from North West Iowa and check up on us was encouraging right off the bat. The speakers then really re-enforced that idea with their words, thanking us for being a reason to re-think about poverty, something that doesn’t always seem terribly close to home in this rather affluent part of the country. These communities have been following along closely as the tour progressed, they spoke of their excitement as we grew nearer, how the news from the tour is a common topic of discussion amongst the people in town. While it feels a bit odd to say this, not like I know the minds of everyone in Sioux Center it did come across as though the tour had re-focussed attention and re-excited a community about being God’s hands and feet to the poor. Plus, singing “Be Thou My Vision” in a room with such beautiful acoustics is a treat unto itself.

We woke up this morning to a downpour. It was raining and raining hard! Within half an hour the rain had slowed from deluge to steady rain and by the time I had eaten breakfast it would probably be most accurately classified as light rain. It was one of my earliest departures to date 7:05 am. I rolled out of town in the midst of a bunch of people unsure of who my riding group would actually become. Within a couple kilometers though Hilena Zylstra, Eritia Smit, Nathan Beach and Katrina Miller had hooked up behind me and we were rolling along between 26 and 28 kph. Two churches from the area had set up support stops in town parks 25 kms and 50 kms out of town. The first had donuts and water that was so cold that it didn’t exactly feel good to drink when we were already on the chilly end. I guess it was the thought that counts and with all the discussion of heat they did have their heads on straight. The next stop had Protein Plus bars which I gave a big thumbs up to and gatorade. more smiles. We also joined up with Steph Webb here as she got a ride out a ways as she didn’t want to try and ride the whole day because the knee is in recovery mode. Anyhow we were now six.

From then on we proceeded to have a fantastic day, the rain grew lighter and lighter as we progressed and eventually stopped. The tailwind grew stronger and stronger and we found ourselves flying along in the upper thirties (kph) with no effort at all and really enjoying our day. The roads were paved very nicely and the sun eventually started shining and the discussions were great to boot. Before we knew it we had passed the 100 mile mark and were into unknown territory for a few riders as we pushed on to 114 miles. Just as were approaching Algona Marc VanOtteren and John Vanderveen came past. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity for a city line sprint to finish the day I went with them. The final hill into town found us rolling along at 60 kph… uphill. But no sign was to be seen.

Evening entertainment included a serious amount of fooling around on the slackline and some stargazing as the sky was clear and Algona was rather remote so the sly was dark.



All the slacklining pictures are of me because when I gave Hilena the camera she didn’t take any others. Maybe she was mesmerized by my beautiful new jersey?

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Dordt Grads Be Proud

If by chance there are any Dordt Grads reading this blog… be proud of your alma mater. Their reception for us here has been fantastic. We’re staying in the covenant center which has air conditioning meaning there are no tents to set up. All of our meals have been donated by locals for our stay here and they’re putting on a church service tonight as well.

dordt

There was also a local CRC (in the small town of Ireton) that hosted us for fruit smoothies and root beer floats at the side of the road today around the 45 mile mark of today’s 60 mile ride through rolling hills. We gained 2700 feet of elevation today which is considerable compared with even some days in the mountains. All of those little ones add up over the course of the day. Oh yeah, back to the hosted rest-break. They had enough chairs set out in the parking lot that all 150 cyclists could have arrived at exactly the same time and all had a seat it was great. The number of members of their church who were there to greet us was also exciting. Huge thanks to them for the rest-stop, and for at least giving us the option to be healthy with the fruit. Most of us ate ice-cream anyways as well.

I’ll keep this brief because I’ve got the rest of the bustling metropolis of Sioux Center to explore before dinner.

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Heading North?

Today we rode north into a headwind…

If we had been heading east the day would have been one of the easier ones but alas we’re going to Dordt College and that means we’re riding north for a couple days.

I got all the photos online from the past week (week 5 album link) so check them out. I probably won’t bother integrating them with the blog so you’ll have to mix and match with which stories go with which photo.

This past weekend we were staying in the town of Fremont Neb. There is no CRC church there and for sunday service we had the option to be bussed out to either Lincoln or Omaha for a seatosea celebration service. Upon our arrival to camp some of the riders who had opted to stay in Fremont had attended the Lutheran Church across the street from the hockey arena we were camping out front of. Within a couple hours of their church service finishing and learning that there were 150 people camping out in the 105oF heat their church had been turned into a hosting center for us. There were brownies being baked, endless watermelon and cool drinks. There was wireless internet available and they even let some of us sleep in their facility overnight to escape the heat and humidity for even a few more hours. What a fantastic example of partnership within the greater church, we all felt so blessed to become the first priority of some members of that church on a day they expected to be hosting no-one!

Last night I slept in the arena because it was downright cold and more like sleeping at home in Edmonton when it’s 30 below with the window open a crack… it was great. I decided to make the most of it and slept right until 7:15 giving myself 15 minutes to pack up, grab a lunch and put breakfast on my plate. I scraped by just in time as breakfast was promptly removed from the table at 7:30 because the very first people had already eaten 2 hours earlier. I made a mental note not to take any cottage cheese when eating breakfast so late, it’s something that is rather disgusting when warm. Anyhow, after getting sunscreened up and putting in my contacts and sitting around talking with Steph for a bit (she didn’t ride today so was also not rushing out of camp) I hit the road at quarter past 8 am… right at the tail end of the group.

The route this morning was spectacular and much enjoyed, I felt a wee bit like I was riding in the hills north-west of Edmonton just where the Alaska Highway starts. There were patches of trees here and there, the fields chock full of crops and there were loads and loads of birds flying around. That stretch of road lasted for the first 50 kms or so and then I dropped out of the hills into the Missouri River Valley, the rest of the day was spent on pancake flat land.

Rolling into one of the towns around the 85 km mark I heard some bad news. Eritia had T-boned a car about 20 minutes prior. I have probably ridden more kms with her than any other person on this tour so far, I’m comfortable enough with her riding to draft within 4 inches or so of her and the same the other way around. Josh has even commented that he was kinda surprised at our efficiency zipping down the road. I was not very pleased by the news having lost Tyler to a broken shoulder, one of the others I’d ridden loads and loads with, only a bit more than a week ago. While the story got straightened out it began to sound more and more like people were trying to get her bike fixed. That was good news, she intended to ride the rest of the day. I poked my head in the back of the gear van and said hi. With a smile on she was bragging about how she completely destroyed the driver side mirror. Later on at camp she seemed to be doing OK and has gone to sleep with Barb Mellema (Cyclist from the area) in a real bed tonight. No doubt though she’s going to be stiff tomorrow and likely have a couple bruises. Keep her in your prayers please.

From then on the story of the day was headwind headwind headwind. The final stretch of 20 kms Lawrence and myself switched off pulls and made really good progress into town… 45 kph effort for a 30 kph reward.

Thanks for all of the offers for help regarding the dérailleur hanger. I do have one in shipment that should be meeting me tomorrow at Dordt. I picked up a new chain at the bike shop today (almost 6000 kms on my last one) as well as a couple new tyres, some new handlebar tape and a sweet new jersey that was half off. It’s now my favorite and will make an appearance in some photo at some point this coming week. Stay tuned.

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A Week in Review

So the week passed without much news from me. That’s partly due to limited internet access this week but also due to the fact that my mind was rather preoccupied iwith things other than sitting down to write. I’ll accept your forgiveness in advance.

Monday morning we set out from Denver and for the first hour we followed a public bike path north along the Platte river which winds through downtown. We passed within viewing distance all four of the landmarks I knew of in Denver. The Pepsi Center (Colorado Avalanche), the Coors Brewery and the stadiums of the Broncos and the Rockies. After that first hour we definitely left the city and left any signs of being only a city away from the mountains, we were on bald prairie by 10 am and that was that.

I started out Monday with a group of about 6 but it quickly grew to ten and was a mix of different riding groups similar to the situation the previous Saturday that resulted in Tyler’s crash. I opted to leave that pace line and went off ahead by myself for about 2 hours. I caught up with Hans Doef and Gresham Veldhuisen just as Ryan Bruxvoort and myself had teamed up. The four of us agreed to finish off the ride into Fort Morgan together. A portion of this ride was along the side of an interstate and just as our quartet crested a hill we could see emergency lights and a half dozen vehicles pulled over at the side of the road. As we passed we realized that amongst the vehicles were SeatoSea support vehicles and an ambulance, someone was on a stretcher and there were about 10 people standing in the ditch. Doing much of anything while riding on an interstate is tough so by the time we could safely slow down and pull off the road we were a hundred yards further down the hill. The situation obviously didn’t require more people getting involved so we paused at the side of the road in prayer. The joy of a new week was dampened and we agreed to continue in prayer for the final hour into town.

As we arrived in Ft Morgan Ryan suggested that we head 10 miles further down the road to check in at a pizza shop he had visited three years prior. If we were to wait for the next morning we’d need to have pizza at 8 am so decided to go later in the afternoon. Besides another 20 miles seemed to fit with the theme of the summer thus far. Well, the pizza shop had gone out of business but the extra mileage was fun nonetheless.

Upon arrival at camp we learned that the rider who was injured at the side of the road was Cynthia Aukema of Chatham Ontario. There had been debris on the road that was blowing in the wind that caused her to crash and she had broken her pelvis. I had ridden with her on Day 1 for a few hours and again on Tuesday of week 2 for a few hours and then again on Wednesday of Week 4 for a stretch. She was a cyclist who was one of the early leavers from camp, eager to get out there and be on the road. Myself and others who liked to start more than an hour later than her group always loved to heckle them when we finally caught them (if we ever did, that wasn’t guaranteed) and Cynthia always had a good smile for us and often returned our comments about the joys of sleeping in with some quip in return. While I didn’t know her terribly well the fact that she’s now missing from the tour does change the community, we miss her.

Later Monday night I also got news that Grandma had died. I spent a good chunk of time on the phone and then hit the sack and tried to get some sleep, which was only mildly successful. Tuesday came soon enough though and I headed out alone figuring that I’d like to process some thoughts and remember memories. Well, getting me distracted from cycling actually tends to speed me up and the day really started to fly by. The first 20 miles took 57 minutes. The first 40 took 1:53, the first 100 kms were done in 2:58 and the first 80 miles were done in 3:51. I was on track to finish a century ride (100 miles) in less than 5 hours which is a rather significant milestone. The headwind for the day had started around the 30 mile mark and by this time it was really howling. I was now pretty much alone miles and miles ahead of the nearest cyclist and could hardly hear anything due to the wind. I think it was exactly what I needed as I felt like I had all the space in the world to think and pray. Well the final 20 miles and that headwind nearly threw a wrench in the 5 hour plan but I did roll into camp with 160.9 kms under my belt having departed camp only 4:56 minutes earlier.

The town of Wray (Tuesday’s stop) had a massive swimming pool with waterslides that our group had access to and we made use of them for a good portion of the afternoon before calling it quits for the evening. Camp shut down early with news of a headwind again the next day and forecast temperatures around 100 degrees.

Well camp shutting down early was only a sign of something yet to come as camp woke up the earliest ever the next morning. I left my tent around 6:30 and breakfast was nearly cleaned right out. By 7 am there were only 35 people left at camp, about 12 of whom were on sweep duty and another 20 who were support staff kind of people. By 7:30 when I was finally getting on the road (Which mid-range of what I’d consider ‘sane’ departure times) I was leaving with the second last group of cyclists. Within half an hour we had entered Nebraska from Colorado. Brad Geerlinks went way too early for the state-line sprint and I just caught his draft all the way up to the 50 foot mark and pulled around him for an easy win. Within another half hour we were beginning our detour into Kansas, this time the state-line sprint was a massive waiting game, no-one wanted to go first. Eventually it was just too painful to wait and it was all out craziness on an uphill towards the state line. John Vanderveen timed things a bit incorrectly as there was both a county line and state line within 30 feet and we won the county-line sprint but I snagged the biggie and was first into Kansas.

After the detour to Kansas things started to heat up, all the clouds were gone and it began to get really blazing hot. When stopped to refill water we noticed that some bits of rubber were starting to split on my tyres and peel back from the casing. They had been in OK condition when checked at the Nebraska border. From there on in to camp I was in a race against getting flats and gave up on my riding group in favor of trying to cover as much ground as possible. Well that concept worked for a bit but I did eventually go flat. A quick tube swap and I regrouped with my riding group just as we entered a new town, John Vanderveen won the sprint from the front with both Brad and myself in the draft. That’s the best way to do it, and both Brad and I were rather humbled. We then realized that the sprint had been on display for a group of cyclists sitting in the shade at a town park and the humbleness turned rather quickly to sheepishness as we filled water while John got to recount his victory a couple times.

From there in to camp I got another slow leaking flat which I opted to try and pump up and ride and then re-pump. I was getting about 4 miles covered with each pumping and did that about 5 times before giving up and changing the tube again. That was that fortunately for the flats for the day and I arrived in to McCook 20 minutes in advance of suppertime. All of those stops to pump had really drained a ton of time. I got an earful about leaving earlier… don’t worry it wasn’t about to change my mind.

Thursday’s ride started out on rolling hills and I was pretty much alone for the day. I had a borrowed tyre on (Thanks Jon Elzinga!) and my only goals for the day were to get a new tyre and ride 100 miles. From the point where the hills quit a tailwind started to pick up and I decided that I should have stayed in bed even longer as I would have had a tailwind even earlier in my ride. I cruised along easily at speeds in excess of 40 kph for long stretches and when rolling through one of the towns I caught wind of a “sporting goods” store. I stopped in and asked if they had any 700 series tyres. The lady led me down into the basement of a brick building that dated back probably 80 years and showed me her selection. One tyre. It was a folding armadillo (a racing style, flat resistant tyre), 23mm wide, red sidewalls to match the bike… and pretty much exactly what I was looking for. Well with that kind of luck I felt pretty blessed and after we had crawled out of the basement she asked me if it had a price tag on it. Well, it had been hanging there for a few years and there was definitely no price tag. “Well if it’s got no price tag I guess that means you can have it for free, you’re a good guy to give it to” was her response. After a huge thanks I headed out of the door with a 60 dollar tyre in my back pocket.

After another half hour of cruising at 40 kph I caught up with one of the new riders who joined us in Denver. I slowed to his pace and rode in the last 20 kms with Terry Barnes, of Grand Rapids Michigan. After a little bit of exploring to top off the quota of 100 miles and locate the local pool I headed to camp set up my tent, gathered some others to visit the pool and set off to go for a swim.

Much later that evening I switched that tyre on to my bike but must have included some dirt or grass or something because when I woke up at 6:30 to start riding it was no longer at 125 psi. Oh well, breakfast and a bonus tyre change. I was out of camp at 8 am, the very last rider not on clean-up duty that day. I needed to ride 50 kms in the first 2 hours to the next town so I’d have cell phone reception to call in to the funeral for 10 am central time zone. Well I needed almost the whole 2 hours because I was alone and dealing with a killer headwind. I did find a little restaurant though with a few minutes to spare and got some coffee cake and a cup of coffee (one of the best cups this summer). After about an hour on the phone I headed off with another 2 hours before the public memorial service and another 50 kms to cover. This one I managed with not a ton of trouble and had time to pick up subway before sitting down in the shade to get on the phone again. While standing in line I talked about the seatosea trip for about 10 minutes with an older gentleman who had seen us on TV the previous night and wound up not paying anything for my sub.

After another 45 minutes on the phone I set off north the wind now mostly from the side and caught David Teitsma who had taken a nap in town and was setting off to finish the day’s ride well behind schedule similar to myself. We’re not exactly the same speed but as soon as we turned east into the headwind and he was able to draft we made a good pair for the trip though the corn-fields on the way in to York.

York is an interesting town, it’s got a Christian college with beautiful old buildings and huge parks up on the top of a hill and cobbled streets and huge trees lining the roads… and it’s smack dab in the middle of a bajillion acres of corn. Well, I certainly enjoyed riding some cobbled streets as I added to my total for the day to rack up my 100 mile quota. From there on it was a serious amount of eating, a bit of bike tuning and a little bit of fiddling around on the slackline and then it was bedtime.

Saturday was oddly enough the earliest morning of the week, up at six because the temperature just never went down. Efficiently packed up and on the road by 7. Eritia and myself headed out of camp together and rather quickly tacked on to the back of a double-pace-line. These beasts are efficient for cross-headwinds which we were experiencing but aren’t something you just decide to pass, it would require you going three wide in the shoulder which just doesn’t work. Instead we joined up and spent probably 5 kms working our way towards the front of. When we were both finally up front I asked her, “shall we stay with these guys or go?”, the response was a hilarious smile and we both shifted up two gears and made history of the group. We heard about it later though.

At one of the water stops we gained Josh Nyenhuis one of the riders going Denver-Grand-Rapids and our trio worked well into the wind. We jogged north a couple times from our predominately eastward route and the cross headwind turned into a cross tailwind. The average speed jumped from high twenties to low forties (kph) and made excellent progress on fantastic roads. The rolling hills were great and broke up the corn-fields which are managing to border on tedious after a whole week.

While rocketing north with the tailwind for the final time I quit the trio and stopped off in the tiny town of Colon and paid a visit to the Catholic church for a while. The steeple was visible for about 5 kms in advance and I figured it was a good reason for a stop. I needed to rack up an extra 25 kms of riding today and didn’t want to arrive at camp in town right away, preferring to do my extra miles out in the countryside. From Colon I headed back south into a headwind for 12 kms to the previous town and hit up the DQ. After recharging and making use of their air conditioning I set off to blast back north along the road to camp. One more stretch of headwind and I was in Fremont. The week was done!

The totals for this week are something I could hardly have imagined doing a few years ago, 6 century rides in a row (100 miles each day this week) and enough extra kilometers thrown in the mix to make a grand total of 1006 kilometers in six days riding. I haven’t added up the hours yet but it’s sure to be more than 35 which is certainly a record again. Thank you for your prayers over the past week. The last few days have been difficult I’ll be honest. I wished at times that I could have been in Brampton for the funeral. It was abundantly obvious why families gather together to mourn the deaths of other family members. Remembering is something that’s much better done with a group of people, grieving alone at a distance has been tough. When we’re sitting around on the grass recounting the stories of the day over supper it’s something that works so much better when you’ve got people with the common experience. I laughed pretty hard when some people were trying to communicate a few SeatoSea phenomenon to family members who are visiting this weekend in Fremont.

  • P.S. – Sorry River Park Church for no update this week. I had no successful internet connections between Tuesday and Sunday morning… normally I don’t think that far in advance.
  • P.P.S. – Grand totals for the summer: 4056.5 kms covered in 143:50 average speed 282. kph. This week: 1006 kms in 34:40 average speed 29 kph.

totals

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Newsletter #6

Here’s the newsletter from SeatoSea communications headquarters: The link for end of week 5!.

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Who was Wilma Walinga?

My grandmother passed away last evening (Monday).

Growing up Grandma lived halfway across the country, meaning I didn’t see her as frequently as might have otherwise been possible. It did mean that when we were together we were spending lots of time together.

Grandma was someone whose influence in my life was one of caring and giving. For years and years we’d have dozens of jars of pears in our pantry, she’d get Pake to pick them from the tree in the backyard and can them and send some of them out west for us. She’d have fruitella in her purse for the grandkids all the time. When her eyesight was getting poor enough that she knew that her days of knitting were limited, she began an ambitious project to knit an entire afghan for each of the grandkids (10!). When her husband of more than 50 years had progressed in his battle with Alzheimer’s to the point her needed to move into a home she moved in basically across the street and would pay visits religiously to spend time with him, talk, and eventually feed him his meals.

When in early elementary school I skipped around between friends at school, not always satisfied by my situation. When complaining to mom at one point during that time she told me that Grandma prayed every day for me, that each day good friends were on the prayer agenda for Joshua out in Calgary. It was something I thought about on and off throughout the next many years. Grandma prayed individually for her family each day of our lives. Eventually I think I forgot that story from mom but when making profession of faith in 2003 I received a card from those grandparents… in it was written a bible verse…

    “Ever since we heard about you we have never stopped praying for you”

That verse reminded me of what I had forgotten during the ~8 years. I had someone reminding God to look out for me on my behalf each day of my life.

When Grandma passed away yesterday it was certainly her time to go. Her health had rapidly declined and the period of suffering was kept brief. It doesn’t mean she won’t be missed. I was able to speak with her 2 weeks ago on the phone, the conversation was short as anything more than a sentence at a time took a lot of work. Even so she didn’t leave me without a blessing for this summer’s ride and the subsequent return to school.

I will not be leaving the seatosea bike ride to attend the funeral. Grandma is no longer there to visit, the rest of the family can be visited at a later time, my situation this summer is one that does benefit from a sense of continuity and there is a loving community here alongside me at this time. Also the prospect of getting from the middle of Nebraska to Ontario is a tough one. I will connect with the service this coming Friday via phone.

I’ll catch up with news from the road another day. Two of us are doing 6 century rides in a row this week. Today’s took 4:56 gun time with a total of 4:48 with the wheels turning.

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Denver Celebration

The celebration service this morning was once again excellent. Rev. Jerry Dykstra spoke on the topic of taking action towards creating a world with a greater sense of justice. That while we believe God is powerful enough to make those changes, we’re in this world with the capability to take steps in that direction ourselves.

We all rode in to the service on our bikes this morning which is the first time we’ve had 140+ people all together within a few hundred meters. I filmed the following video, I was only a third of the way back so tried to film over my back by got a lot of my helmet and two people. Unfortunately it was a “one take only” kind of production…

The news on my bike… Still riding with the same bent hanger. The so called “Cervelo Dealer” here is not so much of a cervelo dealer as a cervelo seller. Their drawer with cervelo parts consisted of one spare seat-post. I was thoroughly unimpressed. I’ve put some feelers out to try and track one down and have it shipped to me. I have a full range of gears at the moment but there is potential that it will break at some point now if I stress it again. We’re setting up for 2 weeks where one of our main sources of entertainment while on the road is city line sprints (definition below) and they’re not particularily gentle on components.

    City Line Sprintsitē līn sprĭnt:
    A race that spontaneously occurs when riding in a group. Points are awarded for the first rider for any sign that introduces the boundary to a town, county or state. Riders may or may not see the sign, occasionaly suspicion of a sign initiates a sprint race. In theory there is a point distribution and the points are tallied for the day, typically however, no-one bothers to keep track.

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A ton of elevation

We departed Winter Park and set out for Berthoud Pass at 7:20 am with anticipation of what might be our most exciting detour to date. A damper was put on the excitement when there was a crash in the paceline and Tyler Buitenwerf broke his shoulder in two spots. He is done riding for the tour. Please pray that he’d manage this devastating news well and that there will be full healing in those bones. He appeared in good spirits when I arrived in camp and he told me the news later on in the evening.

Berthoud Pass rises to 11307 feet above sea level. Compare this with the summit of Mount Temple near Lake Louise at 11624 feet which is the peak of the highest mountain in Banff National Park. This was merely a pass between two peaks and was nearly as high! The climb was gentle at 4% and 5% grade which is quite manageable but the air does get thin and people were breathing hard at the top. I was absolutely no exception and my heart rate stayed way high for a solid 2 minutes once at the top, my body just racing to try and catch up with the oxygen supply.

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Descending from the pass I clocked a new personal speed record of 84.2 kph! I even was wearing a windbreaker because it’s cold at those sorts of elevations and that certainly didn’t help with aerodynamics. I filmed the following video on the descent, my fastest riding video to date. You can see where I decided that riding with one hand was unwise and grabbed the handlebars with two. That was when I eclipsed 70 kph. (Reuben is the rider drafting the SUV and Eritia is the one passing me in a tuck)

After the very quick descent we continued to loose elevation but the speeds were manageable to co-operate in a paceline.. and hence easy enough to film. I caught my meter on camera going ~50 kph.

We then continued along the “official” seatosea route to the town of Idaho Springs where we turned right and began climbing once again starting from 7526 feet above sea level. I should identify “we” at this point: Josh Krabbe, Reuben Vyn, Nicolas Ellens, Alex VanGeest, John Vanderveen, Eritia Smit, Lawrence Bakelaar, Brad Geerlinks and Peter Kranenburg. Reuben and Alex had parents visiting and they served as our personal support vehicle for the excursion. We climbed 14 miles to Echo Lake at 10600 feet above sea level and took a break and then continued up the road to the summit of Mount Evans at 14130 feet above sea level. Needless to say, the air is thin up there. We were greeted with rain and a temperature of 45 F or 7 C.

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Turning around we blasted down the mountain back to Echo Lake wearing every scrap of clothing we could find. Some was even borrowed from Reuben’s Mom who could ride down in the heated car. Once off the main stretch of the mountain we stripped down to normal riding attire, ate again, regrouped and then set out to catch one more pass (Squaw Pass) on the way to Denver. From the base of the Mount Evans road on down into the first suburb of Denver we averaged 45.4 kph for 53.9 kms. That’s blazing fast for an average speed. It included a 9.4 kilometer stretch where my speed never fell below 50 kph. By the time we had reached camp our total for the day was 224 kms in 8 hours 2 minutes (27.9 kph). After a bit of work online pouring over many resources we tallied up the total elevation gained for the day to 11550 feet. That’s more elevation gained in a single day than if we had somehow started at sea level and summitted Berthoud!

The RCA and CRC churches in Denver have been excellent hosts for us. Ice cream, haircuts, care packages, billets for some of the riders and lots and lots of cookies.

I also received mail here from River Park Church in Calgary with a huge stack of encouragement notes from all sorts of people from the congregation. Thank you so much if you wrote! It was great to roll into camp, eat some of that ice cream and then read through so many messages that people are praying for my safety on the road and that this summer would be a powerful experience in my life. I also got a copy of the Saturday Globe and Mail which is now a week out of date… but who cares, I’ve missed out on that luxury for 5 weeks now.

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The short one

Today is the day that many have been looking forward to since rear-ends got sore earlier on this week with a bunch of longs days in a row. We had only 55 kms to cover between Kremmling and Winter Park. Ed mandated that the morning wasn’t allowed to start until 6:30 with breakfast. Many of us rejoiced prematurely expecting to get that extra half hour of sleep which wasn’t to be, clanging of tent poles began as usual around quarter past 5 am. Some said it was below 10 degrees this morning when they woke up. By the time I was on the road it was plenty warm enough for just a jersey and shorts though. There really is a difference between 5:00 am and 8:30 am, and one is certainly better than the other in my opinion.

I did my best during breakfast to recruit a few other riders to come with me for a climb up to the local ski hill before getting to camp. I figure that I’ll likely not have the opportunity to train at altitude again for at least a couple years so should soak up the opportunity while possible. That argument didn’t convince very many people, it was only Eritia and myself who were headed for Sol-Vista today.


Before reaching our little detour we passed through sulphur springs canyon just north of the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. It was amazingly beautiful, so beautiful in fact that we decided to do it twice just to make sure it was also amazing in the other direction. Here’s the video:

I have a good internet connection so I got another video online from Monday it’s posted along with it’s corresponding blog entry

We did indeed then make the climb up to the ski hill which was pretty interesting. I’d guess that three or so years ago plans were made for a massive resort expansion surrounding the village, the roads were paved and the lots went up for sale. The bad news is that most of the lots are still up for sale. The good news for us was that there was nice pavement weaving all over the mountain side. Eritia set a personal best for top speed on the way down by drafting off me but the same cannot be said for myself. I cracked 80 kph but what once was a huge milestone isn’t quite as special anymore unfortunately.

Last night Dave Geerlings suggested that we try riding with only one gear on our bikes today. It would give us the opportunity to meditate a bit on what it means to be stuck in poverty. The focus of the effort supported by our fundraising is to try and break those cycles of poverty. After riding 100 miles on Wednesday with only 2 gears and knowing that my knees wouldn’t be pleased with another round of it I didn’t stop shifting gears just made a point of thinking about the luxury each time I had to. What begins as the obvious limitation is selecting a gear that is easy enough. In so many ways many individuals wind up in poverty due to being dealt tough cards. Their place of birth, their family, their acquired skillset, their vulnerability to addiction. What Dave’s exercise with shifting gears did for me though was teach a lesson about the other end of the spectrum. When the gear isn’t hard enough, when there’s no way for me to spin my legs fast enough to make any progress with the pedals. When situations are subject to massive inefficiencies it’s just as difficult to make much progress. When there are loops to jump through to ensure that welfare cheques arrive the focus can wind up on maintaining rather than escaping the situation. When farmers in the third world sell their crops into multinationals corporations for unfair prices their inefficiency in lifting their standard of living is too big an obstacle to overcome alone. It’s here that I feel like I’d like to make a comment about the need for co-operation, about looking out for the bigger picture, Maybe relate the experience with one gear to drafting in one another’s slipstream. Unfortunately the metaphor breaks down about 2 sentences ago so I won’t try to continue.

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