We have mentioned the details before. We've worked with Pedro Juan since 2012 and his church and its school known as The Center. That is why we ride. During the ride we raise awareness of their needs for the year and many of you jump in. I (Matthew) chuckle because if each one of my Facebook friends gave $9 this year's goal would have been met. It's the concept of "many hands make light work." But there are also other significant missions and social projects worth giving to and I totally understand that. Even as we rode and the hurricane ravaged the Bahamas we knew there was a lot that needed to happen to put those islands back together. What we have experienced though is the joy of long-term investment. The investment is in people not just buildings and people are far more exciting than buildings!
We did start this ride building a kitchen which is used almost everyday for the kids there. The school is doing a fantastic job impacting the children in this area - the next generation with the Gospel and with some practical helps to walk through life. As we mention in one of our videos, as fun as the riding is, it's about the school. It's about the people. The ride each year is based off of the needs of the school and for that we communicate with Pedro Juan to make sure we are doing what they need. So after talks throughout the Spring and the Summer concluded the need for $10,000 for teachers salaries once again this year was shared.
From there we were adding an element. The kids would be riding with us. Finley would be turning 12 on our ride and Piper (9) and Ollie (8) would really change the dynamic of the ride. Sharon and I had ridden 4 rides together and Matthew an extra 2 in years past. Questions swirled in our minds:
Would they be able to ride the distance?
How would we carry all the stuff necessary?
What would we do about food?
They seemed tough, but in past rides they had complained about almost everything. We were going to do this last year and had backed out. There is a fear factor when you go public with something like this as you feel pretty committed. We didn't want to say we were going to do something with the boys then bail on it.
After much training we determined the boys needed lighter bikes. From late 80's model kids Trek bikes to more "modern" bikes we got their bike weights down an extra 10lbs. This made SUCH a difference and increased their interest! It was early August and we decided we were going to give it a shot.
The date is also complicated. It would be fun to look ahead and find weeks without rain and wind. That's not possible so weaving one way or another through other things in life begins. Calendars and planning ... well basically Google happens. Google weather, Google maps, Google calendar and no we are not sponsored by Google. I should mention that the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) had been decided and researched last year. We still needed camp grounds and just a basic idea of where we were going, and whether or not there were hills. This planning phase was disrupted as Sharon headed south to spend a week with her Grandpa who was not doing well.
Upon her return we kept researching and planning. Basically, no matter how much planning one does for a tour, there is NO WAY to nail it all down.
So on September 1st, after preaching at Veritas Church, we loaded up our vehicle and headed for a college friend of Matthew's who lives in Cincinnati.
It's always hard to get out the door, but we did OK. Not knowing what was coming. I was excited to see my friend Kurt and his family and excited to get this ride underway. We had lots of variables that were up in the air.
Upon entering Illinois, our "new to us" vehicle which is fun to drive, became increasingly noisy. Eventually a slight wobble came. This was perfect as it was late Sunday afternoon before Labor Day. I was getting increasingly nervous and stopped. I figured the tires were separating or something. I found nothing and kept going but it only got worse. I called a friend who advised me to stop. Two sharp popping sounds made me pull over all the faster.
Two wheel bolts had broke and the other 3 were loose! Thank God we stopped when we did. The vehicle was loaded down with four bikes on the back bike rack and all our gear and Ollie's bike in the back area. We were calling around trying to make connections with Peoria, Illinois, so we could get help. After a solid 20 minutes I remembered roadside assistance! What a blessing that was!
This was our little map. You can see our "broken down" car at the top. That little tow truck couldn't move fast enough.
Being on interstate in trouble is a scary situation. It was a great personal reminder to move over when someone is stuck on the road. It was also a reminder that though we live in a cell phone saturated culture, I could still swing by and ask if they needed help. Two people stopped and tried to help.
After about 3 hours, we were finally able to secure the tire (though it wasn't fixed) and gimp into Peoria. I had a free tow if I was 15 miles or less from the destination. We were going to drive the 15 miles... but then just kept driving at a slow pace.
So much for getting to Kurt's house! Comfort Inn and Suites was our home for the night and the reality of leaving on bike from downtown Cincinnati by 9 am on Monday faded. Ugh, what would we do now?
While the boys swam, I drove to the local Walmart to see if their service center would take care of us in the morning. The boys were really overjoyed with the hotel pool and we all slept very well.
Tomorrow would be a big day! Finley turned 12, we needed a working vehicle, we needed to travel a long way and we needed to get this ride started.