Thursday, September 10, 2020

Getting Packed Up

 Wow, the day is here! In less than 12 hours we will role out toward Northern Minnesota. The plan is to spend a night with family then head for Baudette, MN. Like most trips, the plan is laid out and then before you know it the day is here. Packing a bike trip for 5 people is complicated to say the least! 

5 sleeping pads

5 sleeping bags



bike shorts


long pants


hats (cause it's gonna be cold)

The list goes on and on. Then there is food. We will blog about food in the future. As for now, it is complicated. The beginning of the trip is when you have the largest load and then after several days when you go stronger, you are out of everything and the trailer and bags feel so much lighter! Last year we found it helpful to freeze a few meals and use those meals as ice packs for our cold bag for a couple of days. Hamburger helper worked really well for this and this year we added taco meat. The plan will be to grab some chips at a grocery store prior to going to the camp site then pigging out once we get there. Anyway, here is a look at our preparation to camp. If you have any questions please feel free to ask below. 

We are nervous. It is going to be a big trip. It will come together.... it will. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ride for the Dominican 2020

 Check out this video for an update on our 2020 Ride! We look forward to having you follow along. As we have learned over the last several years, it is very difficult to ride lots of miles, camp, maintain social media and blog presence so therefore the blog gets the last of our energies. We are sorry if this is an inconvenience. Our goal will be to post our ride over time throughout the fall and winter. 

We love our friends in Santiago, Dominican Republic and look forward to seeing the completion of this worship center. If you are interested in supporting the mission please check out THIS LINK

If you have any questions about the Ride for the Dominican or about giving, please let us know in the comment section below. 

The Morkens 

Ride for the Dominican 2020

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.