Friday, September 27, 2019

We Begin the Ride

Well we had made it to Peoria, Illinois and spent a night in a hotel. The last 24 miles driven slowly with three lug bolts in place. There are a lot of plans contingent on a pretty straight forward schedule. We were supposed to be at Kurt's house for the night and dropped off in downtown Cincinnati by about 9 so we could hit the road. 


I hope I don't sound bitter, everything happens for a purpose it is just so interesting to reflect on the feelings then as apposed to the feelings after the ride is done. This isn't the first time we have experienced something like this and going into this situation we knew that as well and I was trying to apply what had happened every other time our plans had fallen apart... everything had always worked out. I'd be tempted to rip Jeremiah 29:11 out of context to talk about my plans and God's plans... but that would be ripping a verse out of context...

Here was THE PLAN for if we left at 9ish in the morning. Sadly I can't embed the picture.

Anyway, in 30 minutes the spacer was removed and our tire was replaced on the vehicle. The cost for this whole fiasco: <$22.00! I guess I could count the unforeseen hotel room... but that wasn't the cost I was scared of. That was absolutely astonishing. A huge shout out to Tires Plus on 150 in Peoria. Thanks for getting us in and safely on the road.

Well we got to Cincinnati about 2ish and connected with Kurt who was gracious enough to drive us down to the center of Cincinnati on his day off. The area where the OTET trail starts is right between Paul Brown Stadium (the Bengals call this home) and the Great American Ball Park (where the Reds play. There was a Red's game happening so it was busier than expected. The Reds were losing by double digits so more people were outside the stadium. We couldn't find a place to park so we ended up pulling up next to a sidewalk and putting our flashers on.

It took about an hour and a half to unload the vehicle, put Ollie's wheels on his bike (his bike didn't fit on the bike rack), put the panniers on Sharon's bike, get Finley's bike loaded and set up the Burley. While pumping up the Burley's tire one exploded very loudly. It was awkward... and people are really jumpy these days. Thankfully I had a new tube and it was fixed easily.

Here we are ready to go! There are a lot of nerves in this picture. How are the boys going to do? Are we going to have bike issues? Are we going to raise the money for the school? Will any of us be hurt on this ride? Is it going to rain? Will we get lost? But that is how you start a bicycle tour.

We said our goodbyes and started pedaling.

It was pretty crazy, there were lots of people and lots of sights to see. Within about 100 yards, Finley got his bike tire caught in a trolley track and he went down hard. Thankfully he was not hurt.

These signs were very helpful in getting started. There were several local trails here and there and these kept us on the right path.

It was a beautiful day and as we road next to the Ohio River the sights were awesome.

After about 6 miles on the road we got to the "train track trail." This is where we would stay for about 200ish miles. It was incredible.

This cool cat was doing it! We were a little scared for Piper as we went... he was busy looking around and went off the trail at least a few times nearly wiping out. He also didn't get hurt which was amazing.

There were several massive bridges that we drove under that were pretty spectacular. Not significant for any other reason than for the fact that they were HUGE.

So we made it 31.2 miles by 8:15 or so in the evening. Two crashes (Finley and Piper) but no injuries! We were near Goshen, Ohio, at Lake Cozy-Dale.  We set up the tent and ate supper, showered up, celebrated Finn a little bit for his 12th birthday and played Skipbo. It was a fantastic day.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Road to Cincinnati

It's hard to know where to start as this has been an epic year but many of you are just hearing about this because of the bike ride. Please keep checking out the page as we break down the story piece by piece.

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. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

We Made IT!

Yesterday at about 5 pm we rolled down the last several feet of the trail, unloaded, marched through the sand and touched Lake Erie! 

I can't tell you what an awesome experience that is. It reminded me a lot of riding through North Carolina. The exhilaration, all the work and physical discomfort at time culminating in an achieved goal... mind-blowing.

Mostly, I'm proud of the boys. If our expectations were 5 on a scale of 1-10, they were at level 9.

Over the next few weeks we will break down each day with details, pictures and our videos. Please keep checking back in.

Friday, September 6, 2019


I confess...

Every time we go on a ride I want to keep this page up to date for those of you who don't use social media (I have much respect for      you) However, after riding a bunch of miles, scrambling to get the tent set up, helping make the meal and clean up that I'm pretty much ready for bed!

Here's the plan. In a couple weeks we will start the trip over on the blog. I will do my best to give you the best picture of how each day went. Here are the important things.

We are riding the Ohio to Erie Trail.
We started Monday September 2nd and will end Saturday September 7.
Our goal is to raise $10,000.
100% of the donations will go down to the Dominican Republic (except for the wiring fee).
-Your money doesn't pay for food
-doesn't pay for camping
-no bike stuff either
-not even a massage at the end of the ride.

We love The Center in the Dominican Republic and want you to love it to. The best way to do that is through relationship. We hope to share our relationship with you over time. If you ever have questions please ask.

Here's how you can give

If you find the giving page confusing this video can help.

Thanks for following us. Thanks for cheering us on.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Welp... that wasn't what we expected!

It is the first of September, the day we set out for Cincinnati! The plan was to leave after church and head for a college friend's home there.

The goal was to get out of the house by 2PM.... and we made it out at 2:02! 

But we didn't make it to Cincinnati! 

After driving into Illinois a ways we noticed that our vehicle was getting pretty loud. No big deal, we just turned the music up louder, but with time it began to have a little shimmy action going on. I stopped at a rest area to check the tires to see if they had any bulges in them. Nothing. We got back on the road, the noise was louder and the shimmying could not be ignored. We were scoping out places to pull over and I (Matthew) was seeking advice from a wise man when more of a popping sound happened. That was the place we stopped and sat for roughly 4 hours. 

For some strange reason two lug nuts broke on the driver's side back wheel and the others were loose! 

We set the Burley out back in an effort to not get run over by crazy cars on the interstate! 

After several minutes I realized we had roadside assistance! That was pretty cool. There is nothing like looking for help on a Sunday afternoon...on a holiday weekend. 

Slowly but surely the little tow truck icon made its way toward us. He was there within 45 minutes then tried to help for nearly two hours. We couldn't quite solve the problem but were able to tighten remaining tire bolts and gimp the last 20 miles into Peoria, Illinois. 

We are really grateful to God for several things. We were not hurt and our stuff wasn't damaged at all, Peoria wasn't that far away and the mechanic was pretty cool. 

This will definitely impact the trip and we are trying to get to another mechanic first thing in the morning. I was bummed not to get to Kurt's place tonight. I haven't seen him in several years. I'm hoping we can still connect sometime tomorrow. Will we ride tomorrow? That is the question.

Hey, this is only the beginning of the adventure. While we get to tell our story, there is a greater story going on in the Dominican Republic. WE love The Center in Santiago, Dominican Republic and want to share it with all of you. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. 

If you are interested in supporting PLEASE CLICK HERE.

If you are unsure how to give at that link please watch this video.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Ride: 2019

It is with great excitement we announce our ride for the Dominican Republic.

This year, we will ride through the state of Ohio!

This year, the whole family is going!

While we are excited and nervous for this on our end, we are really excited for what is happening at The Center in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Each fall they gear up for 60-80 children and teach them English and music along with other things to increase their opportunity to thrive.

The goal this year is to raise $10,000! Sounds insane, but it costs $15,000 to pay for a full year of teachers salaries at this school!!! That also seems crazy. These teachers are making an impact in the next generation of Dominicans. 

 Would you consider supporting our ride? We will be the first to admit that there are a lot of great organizations to support. There are many doing amazing things. We are passionate about what is happening at The Center and its impact on children in that region. If you have any questions please ask and we would be happy to connect and discuss the school and the opportunities there.

So this is how we are doing it. $10,000 divided by 330 miles, divided by 5 riders comes out to 6.07 a mile. When miles are sponsored it is a fun way to encourage us to get going even on the difficult days with a headwind or lots of hills. Sponsor a mile, sponsor 10 miles... or even more. Know that 100% of your tax-deductible donation, apart from a wiring fee to get the money in the hands of Pastor Pedro Juan, goes to the school. No donations are used for bicycling or any part of that trip.

Keep an eye out on this website as we add updates from the journey. We want to bring you along!


For instruction on how to give  you can WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Day 5 (Sharon)

(Sharon) Day 5. The last day of the ride. I've struggled with how much detail to write about. The previous night was rough. The morning was rough. It was so cold. We had issues. But we hopped on our bikes and hobbled (ok, WE didn't hobble, I hobbled) the first 15 miles until my butt was "used" to the saddle again. I say used in quotes because at some point you start praying for your butt to go numb. I've said it many times and I'll say it again. Almost anyone's legs can take them across a state in a short amount of time, but their butt can't.

This was the day that we needed encouragement and that encouragement came in the form of the most precious video from Pedro Juan, a couple of the teachers and several of the kids at The Center in Santiago! It was just what we needed to give us a good kick in the pants to get it done. We stopped at The 4-Square Restaurant in a tiny town about 30 miles from Dubuque for cheeseburgers. Believe me, we've learned our lesson in not skimping on the meat. The farmers there for lunch weren't accustomed to seeing people in skin-tight pants and we got a couple of questions and more than a few stares, but we got our cheeseburgers! 

Roadkill Report for day 5...
There were a lot of dead moles in one area about 30 miles in
many, many frogs
5 birds 
4 possums
1 skunk
1 cat
The road got busier the closer to Dubuque we got, so the Roadkill Report took a back burner. There were an awful lot of birds circling overhead throughout the ride on day 5, so there were either a lot of dead animals along the way, or I was in worse shape than I thought! 

Thank you so much for all of the support, likes on Facebook, encouraging texts and messages. We know The Center will use the money raised to reach more kids and their families for Jesus.