East Truckee CA to West Lovelock, NV
We did our staging and rearranging of the van at my friends Mike and Sandy Horn’s in Truckee. We also found a great eatery for pasta and pizza (Pizzeria Classico) that filled us to overflowing with plenty of complex carbs for our nights ride. We made our way to the hand-off point just east of Town under the Hiway 267 over crossing on Glennshire Road. We made ready and after a phone call from Team Two saying they were running late Jon, Greg and Allan took the first leg our through the Glennshire subdivision. Allan had forgotten the difficulty of some of the hills and also that he was at 6,000’ + in altitude, and soon found himself back in the van. Jon and Greg forged on towards our route joining Interstate 80 where we descended into the Truckee River Gorge and began the two thousand foot drop to Reno.
Allan rejoined them in Verdi and the three of them rode on into town through the Casino area and east into Sparks. About a half mile before rejoining I-80 Allan rejoined me in the van to gas up and get ready to ride with me for the final 30+ miles. We escorted Jon and Greg until we were somewhere east of Fernley where Allan & I took over in the very dark desert with the cold surrounding us like a cloak. We made our way east on the shoulder of the Interstate over one rise then another as we passed the end of the 40 mile desert and the junction of US 95 where it joined the Interstate. I was feeling the altitude and the miles as we passed 30 miles of riding, but I knew we were getting close. Allan had insisted on riding to my right the entire time when I had hoped that we could do some drafting along the way, but in the dark that was probably not the best of ideas even though he and I had the best head lights and blinking rear lights of the team. Quietly we rode on East until we arrived at the appointed mile marker along the freeway.
Where was Team One, they should have been there to meet us. A phone call let us know that they were riding the 5 miles west from Lovelock to cross the highway then begin their 120+ mile ride East. I thought this pretty crazy but as I was to find out through out the ride, they didn’t mind putting in mega miles and also rode mostly as a group of 6 not in smaller groups for faster shorter legs per person. Who knows?
We made our way towards Winnemucca in the dark where we arrived just after sunrise and about 25 minutes before the Griddle opened. The Griddle in Central Winnemucca is a tradition in my travels through Northern Nevada, and I looked forward to a good breakfast there. I had arranged for Jim Hansen a long time close friend who had moved to Winnemucca a couple of years earlier to join us for breakfast and it was not surprise when he arrived with his wife Debbi. We had a better than Denny’s breakfast before we headed out to Battle Mountain where Allan had booked us into a Super 8 Motel for the day time. Jim invited me to go on over to their place to spend the day and then drive me over to Battle Mountain, but I figured this was a team effort and I should stay with my mates.
We arrived in Battle Mountain somewhere around 8:00 and went straight away to the rooms which the management said we had to be out of before 1:00 because her “UNION” help would stay past 2:00 and she needed to the rooms ready. We were out of the rooms but the funny thing is the staff didn’t even get near our rooms and they were still there at 3:45 when we headed east for our next night time riding.
East Truckee CA to West Lovelock, NV
11:00 meet with Teams Two and Three the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento
We joined up with Team One when they arrived and with a Sacramento City Police Motorcycle escort we made our way to Capital Mall then East to the Capitol for our send off ceremony. After several speakers and a prayer by Pastor Bud Locke of River Life Covenant Church we mounted our bicycles for the remainder of our escorted ride out to Will Keifer’s grave, all of us had carried a rose from the Capitol and we gathered around the grave where we individually placed our roses on the grave and were led in prayer by Mike the Team One driver. We then made our way back to Folsom Boulevard and east to the parking lot at the corner of Folsom Blvd and Power Inn Road. From here Team Two riders had left at Noon headed for Truckee. The Team Two riders who were with us were to meet them along the route to reinforce them for their climb up and over the Sierra’s Donner Pass. Our team placed our bikes on the van and began the drive to Truckee.
Laurel MD to Sandy Beach S.P. on Chesapeake Bay
Well this is it. We’re about to take on the last 30 miles of road leading to the wheel dipping in Chesapeake Bay. I believe that last nights work on my wheel which included the new Rim Tape and a new tube is going to work as I have kept air all night long. Yahoo!
A group of us all went down the street in the minivan to a local eatery for a good breakfast where we were treated to a waitress that had an ordering system that seemed organized and infallible. So we ordered in the order that she used and behold some 10 minutes later there appeared our orders in perfect synchronization. We all consumed our meals before hitting the road back to the Motel where we would join the rest of the teams for a celebratory finishing 30 mile ride to Chesapeake Bay.
We all were geared up the vans loaded and at the appointed 10:00AM we rolled out of the parking lot being joined on a rented bike by Will’s Father Ken Keifer. Other than a few misshaps the ride to the beach went well and relatively uneventful. We arrived at the State Beach to the cheers of some of the wive’s and families of riders. We all took our riding shoes off and walked or carried our bikes across the beach for the traditional tire dipping in Chesapeake Bay. Team One had dipped their rear wheels in San Francisco Bay and we were all together dipping ours at the eastern terminus of the ride. Afterwards we all gathered for a photo followed by a circle where we prayed for our safe ride and success of our efforts and thanked God for all those that we had ridden for. I also was thankful for Terri who couldn’t be on the East Coast as she had been two years ago, but knew that I would see her in a little over 24 hours.
Well it was done. Team Will had successfully navigated our way across the US for the second time in our effort to raise awareness and funds for Childhood Cancer. We had made visits to our young hero’s along the way as our jerseys attested to with their many an varied autographs.
I hope that you my readers have enjoyed this time and that you’ve found a few extra sheckles in your bank account to donate to our efforts. I know that the look on the young peoples faces and those of their families made it worth it to me and that we brought some joy and hope to families that are fighting for the lives of those little ones we were privileged to visit.
Thanks for coming along.
See you on the road,
Avon, Indiana to (the Ohio State Line in) Richmond Indiana
We awoke early again and went to the appointed Hand-off point on US 40. I was still quite droggy and so I didn’t hear the communications with Team Two and before long Jon was once again on the road to lead out the first 40 miles. With Greg still not at 100% we were once again going to break the nights ride into 3 sections, after Jon put in his 4 miles, we dispatched Allan who rode to Charlottesville before I mounted my iron horse to pedal the last 40 some odd miles to the Ohio State Line. US 40 in Indiana is a wonderful cycling road and I heartily endorse it if you’re going to be cycling in that area of the country. Unlike the two nights before there were no long climbs nor even short ones there were some rollers but I didn’t really face a climb of any stature until the last 100 yard to the border. We all had performed well that evening and I was particularly happy with my own performance, as I did was required without letting the Team down.
We were told that when we had finished our ride that morning that we were then to drive straightaway to Washington DC where we would join others at the CureSearch event and visit to Capital Hill. I don’t like dog and pony shows much but this was important for the Team as a whole and for the little ones that we were riding for in particular. So, off we went driving like people possessed for DC.
I of course went sound asleep in the back of the minivan and slept almost undisturbed for quite a while. We were dropping of a freeway somewhere in Eastern Ohio at a place called Ohio Valley, West of Wheeling W.V. on our way to a Denny’s for breakfast. We all enjoyed eating that morning including Greg who managed to start putting some food in himself in an effort to regain his strength. We had thought that this would be our last riding for the trip except for the last 30 miles that the entire Team would ride together, so we left after breakfast headed for DC again. We had stopped for a late lunch somewhere in Eastern Maryland when phones came out and the entire Team Will discovered that with people riding extra time et al we had left a leg from Chambersburg, PA to Laurel MD not ridden. So we abandoned the thought of a restfull evening and left immediately for Chambersburg where we began to ride yet another 120 mile segment after catching only what sleep we had achieved in the vehicle.
Chambersburg Pennsylvania to Laurel Maryland
We again looked like a circus clown act evacuating the minivan in Chambersburg. 6 grown adults in various states of dress, 4 of us still in our cycling gear from the night before, preparing to had out for another 120 miles.
Jon took out the lead with Greg giving it the old college try before discovering that he wasn’t quite all there yet on the strength chart. Allan jumped out to join him and the two of them made there way through Gettysburg before making a right turn that they shouldn’t have in Central Gettysburg proper which was another couple of miles we had to make up to return to the route. Once back on the route we were doing OK time and mileage wise even if we had to deal with some inconsiderate drivers we were still doing what was required for achieving the mileage we needed in the allotted time. Finally with about 30 miles left I joined Jon on what could only be called the hilly part of the ride. We were riding a road that was at 90 degrees to the flow of the local creeks and rivers. So we would dive into the valleys and then be faced with 14% climbs up the other side as we worked out way Southeasterly into Maryland.
Finally after riding through the sunset in the rolling hills of Maryland North of DC we rolled up to a corner with about 4 miles to go. Where upon Greg felt like he had enough to finish out the day and he came out of the van to ride with Jon the final miles and I retreated to the back seat. We finished out the leg riding to the junction of the route with Interstate 95 Somewhere near Laurel. We all piled back into the minivan and headed for downtown DC where a hotel room awaited us arranged by CureSearch. We arrived about 10:30 checked in, ordered a couple of pizzas to be delivered and took welcome showers as we hadn’t showered that morning after our first ride of the day. We wolfed down the pizza before heading off to sleep that was going to be way to short, as we had a 6:00am wake-up call.
Salisbury MO to Pittsfield, Illinois
We drove to Salisbury MO on US24 which was quite an adventure with the Tom-Tom telling us to make a left turn to the entrance to a non-existent bridge then about a mile later when we had found the bridge by reading the traffic signs (gee what a concept) and in the middle of the bridge the Tom-Tom told us to turn right. Well at this point I lost any confidence I had in the electronic marvel and went straight away to my lap-top to study the route and the changes that would have to be made as the bridge across the Mississippi at Louisiana was closed due to high water (over the deck of the bridge).
An hour and a half later I had the route confirmed in my head and passed along to the rest of the crew as much information as their brains could absorb. We made it to the trade off point in the middle of Salisbury, ate from a convenience store – which sucked! Then we went out to the parking lot to prepare Jon for his early departure while it was still light due to the long summer day. Jon took off a little early and we all piled into the miniva.n and drove back to meet up with the Team Two minivan to get some more Team Will bracelets to hand out. With that accomplished we headed east again in search of Jon, we found him riding strongly just West of Moberly MO and paced him as he rode right into a driving rain storm. He stayed on pace riding strongly long after the rain. We stayed on US 24 longer than we had planned which took us to the town of Monroe City, which is West of Hannibal where we joined US 36 and headed East towards the Mississippi River.
After crossing the Mississippi the riders on the road took the first exit from what had become Interstate 72 at the Illinois border (in the middle of the river). I was going to ride the last leg of the evening as I had studied the maps and felt comfortable with knowing where to go with all the detours in place due to the mid-west flooding. I hadn’t ridden more than 200 yards when I noticed a Temporary sign along side the road that no one else bothered to read and I put on my brakes to circle around and confirm what I thought was written.
“ROAD CLOSED IN 5 MILES DUE TO FLOODING”
Well this put my automap internal brain program into action and I told everyone to “follow me”. Everyone did but the trust factor wasn’t there in my team mates as I was questioned at every turn. We returned to the freeway and forged on eastward for another 10 miles before taking exit #11 to Kinderhoof and then on towards Barry. Again I was questioned and again I explained where I was going and why. When I turned right in Barry to return us to the route apparently none of them followed me, because after about 4 miles the minivan pulled up along side and I was informed that they were all back in Barry still. I informed Amber that I would slow down and wait for them as I wasn’t that far ahead. She turned around and I just coasted or pedaled very little for another 10 minutes before the minivan returned and one of the other riders made it known that he know more than me (?) and that we were taking another road. I stood there not believeing that there was so little faith in my route finding before putting my bike on top of the minivan, climbing into the back of it, pulling on my fleece and going to sleep. I awoke in Indianapolis some hours later in front of a Starbucks that we had stopped at, before continuing on for a Hospital visit at St. Vincent’s, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Visits like this and others that the Team was making were what Team Will is all about. We spent two hours visiting the patients and staff in the hospital on a Sunday morning. The parents were stunned that a bunch of people who don’t even know their child would do such a crazy (they called it amazing) thing. We assured them that all we did was to ride a bicycle but we were there to support the little ones that were fighting for the very lives. We were especially lucky to spend about half an hour with Doctor Joanne Helden, who is head of the Hospital and spoke about the joys and foibles of children’s oncology and the need for more funding and research to keep the success rate up and even improving it. She is a true warrior on the front lines of this battle along with the other Doctors & Nurses not to mention the researchers in the labs that were making such a valuable contribution. Thanks to them all.
After leaving the hospital we made our way to what could only be called a “by the hour” Motel. If this is what Super 8 is using for a standard, I think I will stay at Motel 6 from now on. I managed to wash out a few things in the sink before getting 5 hours of sleep.
? to Riley Kansas
Again we lit out just a little early around 7:30 with some day light to be had and Team 2 running just behind us. Jon was going to take out the first 40 miles. Because of Greg’s illness we had decided that we all needed to do 40 miles each that night. I worked out fine with Jon taking on a half hour of driving Midwestern rain and Allan and I each having some hills to climb during our section of the ride. Jon kept his usual manic pace even through the cloud burst, before Allan took out the second leg. When I took over the temperature had dropped to about 54 degrees but there was no rain or wind so I just bent over the handlebars and pedaled into the night. The earlier clouds had dispersed leaving an almost cloudless night with a good moon to light the landscape as I rode along. The Fireflies were out in force along with the cicada’s with their noisy mating calls. I also shared the road with Box Turtles, Foxes, Raccoons and a few Hedgehogs along the way.
The climbing was not steep but was continuous and on going as I made my way towards Riley. The last miles to Riley from Clay Center had some slow arduous climbs that again weren’t steep but by that time of the early morning did present a challenge to my tired legs. Finally at just about 4:00am I found myself at the appointed intersection in Riley, and chose a well lit empty parking lot of a closed convenience store as our Hand-off spot. Team 1 was having trouble finding the right corner and by the time they arrived, I had pulled on my fleece and was warmly wrapped in the back of the minivan sleeping like a baby.
I am not sure how far we drove that morning before I was awakened in the parking lot of a motel somewhere and I just “zombied” my way through the next 7 hours. I have no memory of eating, the motel or anything else from that morning. I guess I was tired –Duh?
Central Denver Colorado to Flagler Colorado
While Team 2 was running late and we were ready to go about half an hour early the rest of the team in the mini-van loaded the cooler with ice and drinks and the tank with gas before we made our final stop at the second of two Subways to procure 12” subs for the nights culinary delight.
We followed the route east on Colfax until we entered I-70 without seeing Allan. We immediately made for the first exit and turned back towards Denver to find Allan. It was just about that time that someone’s phone rang. It was Allan who said he was hiding out from the weather in a Shell mini-mart on the north side of Colfax. We located Allan and along with him was the Ambassador Team in their car. I convinced Allan that there was no danger from the lightning as the storm was 15 miles away and moving southeast at 15 miles an hour while we would be going East for the next 20 miles before turning Southeast.
So Allan forged Eastward joining I-70 and in a little over 2 ½ hours. Jon took to the road next pushing his 30 miles fast and hard as he usually does. Then it was Greg’s turn but what we didn’t know is that Greg was not feeling quite himself so as good as he was he was still slower than the usual Greg. I got on the road somewhere West of Limon and began what was mostly a gradual down (with a few small ups) over the next 34 miles to Flagler I felt like I was absolutely flying most of the time. As the miles flew by I felt good and strong counting the mileage signs along the Interstate. At the assigned exit I pedaled up the exit, made a right and rode into the oversized parking lot of a well lit all night gas station at exactly 4:00AM. A good ride and still at altitude when you consider that Flagler is higher than Denver. We all piled into the mini-van after Team 1 arrived and we headed for Colby, Kansas where we would spend the day.
On arrival in Colby we checked into our motel before finding a local eatery and with the exception of Greg had a hearty breakfast. I think I found the best Biscuits and Gravy in the whole country at the restaurant, which were two thick fluffy biscuits with a paddy of sausage between the top and bottom and then covered with sausage gravy with huge chucks of sausage in it . . . um good. I left most of the gravy but ate every last bit of the biscuits and sausage. Next was back to the motel for some laundry (about an hour) then some sleep before arising around 5:00 before Allan and I went to the local grocery concern to procure items for the Team as well as some special diet items for Greg who hadn’t eaten breakfast and was having a really rough morning.
NW of Green River Utah to East of Palisades Colorado
We were able to get a small head start due to the tailwind that Team 2 had over Soldier Summit and down past Price and south towards Green River. We met them at the appointed place about 45 minutes early then set about getting our riders on the road.
Allan & Greg were going to join Jon for the initial riding. South we headed on Highway 6 for about 7 miles before entering the East bound onramp to Interstate 70 / US 50 towards Grand Junction.
Jon and Greg were setting a pace that Allan just couldn’t keep up with so after about 10 miles he bowed out gracefully to return to the mini-van and assist me in making drinks for Jon & Greg. Of course the thought on everyone’s mind was, “how far is it to the top of this hill”? I of course knowing the route told them that when the road takes a sharp turn to the right that the border was only a few hundred yards beyond. This wouldn’t happen until approximately mile 60 of our 120 mile plus ride that evening so I just kept my mouth shut and passed out drinks, water and Cliff Bars.
Finally even Greg succumbed to the pace that Jon was setting and returned to the vehicle. Jon was on the shoulder of the Interstate by himself riding along at a furious pace as he climbed towards the border to Colorado. Finally after several hours of climbing we were there. We all left the van to get our bikes off the roof before caravanning Eastward on I –70 in search of Exit 11, which would take us to US 6 to parallel the Interstate without the accompanying hills. After several descents and the accompanying ascents we found our way to the Exit and settled into a nice riding pace on a flat straight piece of Highway that would take us into Grand Junction. Unfortunately this was the point at which I began to get punctures about every half hour. We were discover later that it was a bad rim tape that was causing all the trouble but for now we just kept putting new tubes into the tire.
Finally after 4 tubes and winding our way along the roads through Grand Junction, Fruitvale and into the Eastern part of Palisades we were at the hand off point at almost exactly the right time. Allan and I had made the last 20 miles with Greg and Jon in the minivan attempting to get some sleep. We met up with Team 1 and handed off the riding duties to them as we returned our bikes to the roof of the minivan and started the long drive to Denver where we were to have a hospital visit at 9:30am. The time was 4:10am as we headed East on I-70 into the lightening morning sky.
We made a stop in Rifle for gas and another in Dillon for Starbucks before entering the Eisenhower tunnel and beginning the descent into Denver. We arrived about a block from the hospital, removed our bikes from the roof and rode them into the hospital for photo-op for the press that had assembled to capture our visit with the kids.
We were first taken to the hospital board room where a board of directors meeting was in progress. We were introduced and Ken Kiefer said a few words about our mission before we received and embarrassing standing ovation from the Board. I say embarrassing because while we are indeed riding our bikes many miles the children that we were here to visit are fighting for their lives every minute of every day. It is a humbling experience to meet these little “Hero’s” that we have adopted and are riding for all these miles. There spirit and strength gave me energy to forge on into the dark when I thought about them and prayed for their health and strength. We spent a couple of hours in the wards of the hospital before returning to the van and heading towards the days accommodations in Aurora.