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. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Post Ride Financial Update

Hey all,

Thank you so much for supporting the Ride for the Dominican Republic. Amidst the busyness of the bike ride I want to be continuously mindful of the purpose of our ride.

The purpose:

It is important to me that you see the people we are connected with and hear about their needs and the plan from them.  We love Pedro Juan and his staff. We wish you could get to know them as well.

The Plan:

The ask:

660 (2 cyclists) miles at $17.42 ($18) = About $11,500.

The project is estimated at $9,000 and we added $2,500 to go down and further our relationship with the school and see the project getting done.

So now the moment you all have been waiting for, where did we END UP!

*Drum roll please* 

Currently we have 150 miles sponsored or just under $2,700! 

We are SO grateful for the many who jumped on board with us on this adventure! Every dollar boosts this project forward and we are humbled by so many gifts! Thank you, thank you!

We will keep the giving open for about another week and a half in case you want to JUMP IN. If you have any questions about the project or the ride, please let us know.


If you need help giving please watch the video below.

We are grateful,
Matthew and Sharon

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Day 5- Strawberry Point to Dubuque

The last day is upon us! The previous night was amazing and brutal. Earlier that day we sat in a restaurant in Waverly and discussed the location of where we would camp. There was some small campsite showing up on Google maps yet upon further inspection it seemed to not actually exist. My trust in Google Maps was strained on this trip to say the least. A new search had an RV right in Strawberry Point. So many RV parks don't allow tenting so without much optimism I gave this place a call to see if they would allow us to tent there. They said they would have us! We rolled in about 7 PM and were met with so many blessings.

Wally and Dana Rowcliffe own Lil' Bit of Country RV Park. They greeted us and shared with us their heart for a ministry in Haiti. While we love the Dominican Republic, we love Haiti as well. Hispaniola needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wally offered us a trailer with a carpeted floor since rain was coming and it was awesome. We had an incredible bathroom and laundromat and trailer. Anytime we don't have to unpack (and repack) the tent is amazing. Thank you Wally and Dana Rowcliffe!

Given the weather situation and the forecast for day 5 we left our bags in the trailer and raced for the boarder! Sharon had been riding with about 35lbs while I was pulling about 45lbs so to ride without all the weight was AMAZING.

Did I mention it was cold. MAN IT WAS COLD. Leaving our luggage behind meant we had to make decisions about stuff... and I made the wrong decisions about stuff. I had a long sleeve T-shirt and a rain jacket but that wasn't really cutting it with the 46 degree temps!

This angle of the camera doesn't show you the hill that is behind us, but it was fairly large and was one of Sharon's first big hills.

About this time we received this message from Pedro Juan at the school in Santiago.

It is good to be reminded what we are doing this for, especially on cold, rainy days.

This last leg of State Highway 3 was so beautiful. The weather was super gray but the view and the roadway was absolutely fantastic.

The wind was blowing across us for most of the day which added to our gratefulness that we did not bring all our gear.

We love these signs for obvious reasons...

After all the bad luck we had had with train track trails we tried one more as we entered the city of Dubuque. This one was legit!

After riding for several miles on the trail then weaving our way through the back streets of town (thank Google Maps!) we made it!

It was incredible and would have been more incredible if we weren't frozen to the bone!

Ride for the Dominican 2018 had covered 340 miles from Akron, Iowa to Dubuque, Iowa in 5 days.

Mega kudos to Sharon who rode these miles with very minimal practice!

The Mississippi River has always been an awesome spectacle/mystery even from my youth. I love its hugeness and grandeur! The City of Dubuque is so awesome along the river as well.

It was a great place to end a ride!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Day 4- Allison ~ Strawberry Point

We had stayed in Allison at a great camp site. 

As we rode down the driveway into the camp site someone greeted us who had seen us several miles down the road. They were incredibly encouraging and fun to talk with. They got us hooked up to the host of the camp area and we were set. Given the fact that the weather looked/felt brutally cold once again, we splurged and rented a tiny cabin instead of sleeping in a tent. It was such a great change. We were right next to the shower house and it had heat! What more could a person want? Unlike every other night we didn't unpack and set up the tent. We didn't unroll the sleeping pads and pull out the sleeping bags. We had a bed and it felt amazing. 

As we did unpack many things we began to hook electronics up to their cords and Sharon realized that her Garmin watch was missing. It was hard to fathom where it could have gone. We rode a couple detours and then did a mile on some TERRIBLE rail rode track. Where could it be? We decided that in the morning I would head back to the spot where we saw the kittens (She can tell that story) while she headed forward. 

Thursday morning we awoke, ate breakfast and gathered our things. It went much faster as we didn't have as much to pack up and we didn't have to wait for the tent to dry out. We just stuffed it in and hit the road! I went west and Sharon headed east.  

It was really hard to believe but when I approached the area where we had seen some kittens there lay Sharon's watch in the gravel! We were pretty pumped to have found that.

At some point the pictures all look the same, I realize that, but the vastness of the countryside and the ability to cross it on a bike blows my mind. Get out on an adventure sometime!

Click on the previous picture and zoom in. It was exciting to see a sign that said that!

We ate out in Waverly at a pretty incredible restaurant. The food was amazing and this burger brought joy to my soul like no other burger I have had recently. 

Bike trails are such a great relief. They free us from the cars and the constant noise and thinking in the back of my mind, what if we get hit. We pretty much had no luck with bike trails. The first one we were on by Humboldt was only for a little bit. The second was horrible because of the rock and debris on it and this one pictured was closed because they were working on a bridge! UGH!

Thankfully there was an easy way out!

I took this picture because Sharon's sister Holly is married to Sumner. I thought that was special.

Long and flat was the lay of the land. It was good to have many miles of flat ground for our legs.

Overall the week was pretty grey. It seemed like we were always between a handful of storm clouds.

It was grey but beautiful. 

All in all the day went OK. We had two detours, one that wasn't too bad and the other took us a few miles out of the road. A lot of the projects were intended to be complete by September except the rain had thwarted their plans. Iowa is replacing a lot of bridges!

After another long day of riding we rolled into Strawberry Point and met some incredible people.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Day 3 Humboldt ~ Allison

Woot woot... Day three got underway. The previous days didn't get off to such a smooth start but this one had promising signs. The wind was in our favor and we were only a little bit off of highway 3 when we camped. 

It was the coldest night of camping I have ever experienced. We showed up late the night before, threw our tent up and headed for the showers. The shower house was really nice. That is such a blessing after a long day of riding. When we got back to the tent it was time to pull out all the warm clothes and extra blankets and try to sleep! We survived. 

When we got into Humboldt there was a detour as they were replacing a bridge. No worries though, a great train track trail was right there. 

It was crazy because the bridge I show at the end of the video was crossing the road we needed to take!

We got down and headed back out to highway 3.

It was beautiful, again. 

I honestly cannot remember what town this was! 

The wind was at our backs and we were sailing!

We crossed Interstate 35 today. I guess that means we are in the middle? It was really interesting getting to the other side actually. The cars were a lot less forgiving. Throughout the trip we have been smiled at, waved at and encouraged along. After I35 there were a number of angry honks and people yelling out their windows within the first 10 miles. It was a bit discouraging and scary at times. 

So let's talk about this picture. Google Maps shows a bike path that is gravel covered for 10+ miles that will actually lead us to our campground towards the end! How great would that be, no more cars and it leads us right to our campsite?! Well, we looked forward to the peace and quiet of a train track trail and this is what we got. After driving a mile or so off Highway 3 on gravel towards this trail, we found it in need of a lot of work. The first part looked as if they had just pulled the railroad ties. Golf ball size rocks all over. We committed to taking it for one mile and at a couple points it seemed a bit better but for me most part large rocks, large holes from animals all over, and at one point it was so sandy we were sinking in.YUCK! Very frustrating after a pretty good day of riding.  We were fortunate that nothing broke and there were no wrecks on our one mile stretch. Google Maps and me are at odds for the moment.

Sharon is all business.

All in all we made it to the end. An important piece of information is that our giving went from $400 to just under $2,000! Thank you all for being a part of this with us. We appreciate you.

Day 2 crossing Iowa

Cherokee to Humboldt, Iowa!

After a great nights rest we were up scrambling to get our gear packed before the downpour came! It came! We had just gotten everything down to an "indoor picnic area" and it poured.

Rain makes it easier to write the blog I guess.

We were unable to hit the road till just before noon.

We took this photo to show Jeff (the guy that gave us the ride the night before) that we were alive and ready to GO GO GO!

There was no paved shoulder to ride on but the wind was definitely in our favor!

We were following the rain. For the most part the roads were dry.

We found some wind makers! Actually, we stopped in the middle of several of these and listened to the sound they make. It was kinda eerie! 

Weird picture of me, but the big deal here was the sun. It was 5:02 PM and the sun was making its first appearance for the day!

Iowa is beautiful.

We were so excited see continued sunlight as the clouds rolled away. 

Sharon getting some photos.

Just outside of Pocahontas, Iowa we came across a detour. Detours on bicycles are scary. This one could have been worse but only resulted in heading one mile south and then 3 miles on gravel which we can do although gravel is not our favorite with all the weight on the bikes.

You just started... how can you quit so soon?

Wait for it...

Because we left so late at we ended up riding into the dark. We've never done this before. We each have lights on the back of our bikes and the traffic was not bad at all. If ever there was a road I wanted to ride into the night on it was this one.

This picture is unimpressive, but the moon rose right in front of us. It was so huge that it seemed like it would fall at the top of the hill and role down on us! Best moon rising I've ever seen. 

The day was great, harder than it needed to be but we made it to our campsite before 9 PM. We enjoyed amazing showers and settled in for a very cold night.