Sorry it’s been a few days for my last blog, but it’s been crazy busy being back. I’ll start off with my last and final day coming home.
After breakfast last Friday morning, Judy said I could wait a bit hoping that I would miss the different colors of rain on the radar. So I waited till 11am or 11:30 at the latest. I had about 45 miles till I got to headwaters park in Fort Wayne, IN! I figured I would be totally fine and maybe even have to wait some place for an hour or two before heading into town. Yep not so much. It was sprinkling when I finally headed out, so most of the major rain had actually passed. I made sure all of my stuff was zipped in bags and my tent and sleeping bag was waterproofed with my awesome checkered vinyl waterproof picnic table cloth. lol. I put my rain jacket on and zipped all up prepared for rain…and rain it did. I put my phone in a zip-lock back too which I can still use even with my gloves on. 80% of the time I texted people I had my gloves on, kinda hard to text! Took me a bit to find old 24 out of Defiance because it started with a street name then turned into 424, then once in IN it turned into Old 24.
It basically rained for the first few hours nonstop. Sprinkling, then rain, then sprinkling, never really tooooo hard. I stopped several times along the way, not only to get out of the rain, but to get a Milk and a Snickers bar, or sometimes i had a large cheesy hot dog. lol
At one point there was finally a break in the rain and the sun started to come out! I stopped at a gas station to get some kind of hot food. One small pizza left under a warmer. Ah well, its hot! You could wring my gloves out and a nice waterfall would drip down. My hands my already pruny and I was cold. It was only about 3pm. 2.5 more hours to go, thinking and being told that there was nothing but sun and warmth in fort wayne! I got hot from wearing my rain jacket and unzipped the top a bit. Many times, i’m not sure how, I would put my arms straight down and a trickle or water would come from the INSIDE of my rain coat? Sweat, or rain? I’m not sure. It wasn’t fun. I figure I had about 25 miles and should get going. I took off my rain jacket so my shirt could dry out and it was really cold for the first 5 miles! Always windy. Always in my face. I turned on my Glimpse for my website followers for the last 20 miles when I hit the state line of Indiana.
FINALLY I make it somewhat close and i’m just on a 2 lane road and the large 4 lane highway 24 has been running parallel with me for the most part. So a cop goes by and I could see him turn around behind me in my little mirror. No police lights or sirens…just kind of half in the should with his headlights on like he is trying to scan my license plate or something. lol. He follows me like that for about 2 miles. Now Tim Kelly told me he had a surprise for me but never said what. I wondered if this was it? haha was he going to pull me over and handcuff me just for fun or what? He finally pulled up beside me and said I could get on the big highway 24 because he would be behind me with his lights on to make sure no cars ‘messed’ with me. Haha cool! He said he could only go to the Fort Wayne line and another cop would take me from there. Wow, that’s nice.. a small police escort riding me into town. I could see it was getting much darker and the sun had gone away and replaced with dark storm clouds. Guess its not sunny in Fort Wayne anymore. Luckily I had that small pizza and some fancy muscle milk that had 20 grams of protein in it. I usually stopped every so often to take drinks or just stop peddling for a minute to give my legs a break. I didn’t feel like I could do that now that I had a cop with his lights on behind me? Not sure why? Like I was just going to stop and get off and grab some beef jerky and refill my camel back, didn’t sound like a great idea for the time. And so…it started raining again. I was coming in through New Haven and as it seemed to rain more, coming into the city the wind was so much less, and the cop cars became more and more! There was no stopping. It just rained, harder…and harder.. I had to take my safety glasses off and hold them in my right hand while holding the brake. The safety of the glasses wasn’t safe anymore! (I would usually stop and put them under a bungee behind me, but not now) Cops had sirens on and were blocking off intersections for me, several were behind me, several in front. I had wondered what the people were thinking as I passed through intersections always giving a thumbs up to the cops that helped out. Like at one point i wondered when I had 2 cops behind me, that people would be like…”Is he heavily armed or what?? Why can’t they pull him over???” Haha! I had several people, who I couldn’t tell if they knew me or not yell, “You’re almost there!!”. Looking up from the pouring rain and smiling at them. Later on I found out there was only supposed to be one cop that would lead me through town, but I guess they had a few more than that! Going over the bridge from New Haven, into Fort Wayne, it rained SO hard and the wind was SO strong I felt like the rain was hail hitting my face and pushing my bike sideways. I would face down many times to see my sticker there. “Never Never Never give up” Challenge accepted. My legs hurt more than any other time, I had to stretch every few miles and found that if I peddled backwards for a few times, it would also help. I was told that was the hardest it had rained all year! …Lucky me. I couldn’t just ride in on a nice warm day with the sun shining… That doesn’t sound like me. This day HAD to be the hardest day with the most rain and wind throughout the entire trip. Maybe its weird, but the worse the weather, the worse the conditions, the worse life attacks me… is when I shine the most. You have to. Its like fuel for my fire.
2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
That verse kept repeating in my head as I peddled. I could feel puddles in both my shoes. Socks were soaked. I now had no rain jacket on, but being cold didn’t seem to effect me anymore. I was forced to ride through giant puddles and the waves went right onto my feet as I rode through them. My speed picked up as I got closer. In the country I could only do 11-13 miles an hour. Here in the pouring rain in the city I somehow managed to do 16-19 miles an hour. That fuel and the police certainly helped! I couldn’t stop now! I had many cops and people watching and wondering who I was! I swapped my safety glasses to the other hand, my left hand and slowly my entire left hand went numb. I had to shift with my right hand and almost dropped them several times. At some points I didn’t know exactly which direction to go and I would have had to stop to check my gps, but the cops would block off the center of an intersection and point me the correct way! I wasn’t sure if the police even knew where I was going. So once I got to downtown and was heading to headwaters park, I had to point far in advance what road I was heading down and they quickly went ahead, all seemed to talk to each other and very quickly and in an organized fashion manage to block off intersections within seconds of me pointing of what road I was going down. They were really awesome! I turned down my final road before headwaters park and I see 2 people standing on a corner right by club soda, one has an umbrella and is jumping up and down. My mom and my step bro Aaron. I don’t know what I was thinking but he was taping and held out his hand for a high five! I yelled, i’m going to headwaters!! ….but they were basically in headwaters..? I realized the cops couldn’t/shouldn’t go down a one way street, so I pulled onto the side walk then into the center of the parking lot for headwaters. Several cops came in and one even went over 2 curbs and some bushes to come into the lot. They pulled up and shook my hand and were telling me I was doing an amazing thing. Seven people ended up showing up in the rain to see me come in. Jarod, who I had seen several times riding along side me through New Haven while the police were escorting me, in his big yellow truck. His wife Mary eventually showed up. Nick and Cordi both showed up, my Mom and Aaron of course, Jon Gottschalk and Kevin Mullett from my work at Cirrus Abs also showed up. Thanks to everyone who made it, or to the people who couldn’t make it but wanted to. My mom said I should just throw my bike in the back of Jarod’s truck and he could take me home. My repsonse, “I can’t do that now, I HAVE to finish, by riding back to my apartment!” She got me to give her my saddle bags though. As we were all about to head out and had decided to go eat at Texas Roadhouse, Nice spots News Channel 15 roaming around, probably looking for me? He runs to go get the guy and he is in fact looking for me. My adrenaline has gone down and its getting cold now. So he pulls up and does a 10 minutes interview. Thanks for comin out Maverick! My mom keeps holding the umbrella over my head. Its really not necessary, i’m already beyond soaked…
So we all decide to meet around 8pm at Texas Roadhouse. I realized when my mom was leaving that my phone was inside her car, so if you noticed that my glimpse went to a house and then to Texas Roadhouse, that’s when I got my phone back.
When everyone left, I was AMAZED at how light my bike was!! I pushed it up to kick the kickstand out and almost pushed it all the way over! I started to ride and realized, it was a bad idea to ride home. I was soaked and freezing and now there was wind on me. Soooo I just rode as fast as I could to get my blood flowing again. I was going like 19-20 miles an hour most of the way home!
I ended up taking a 30 minute shower. I can’t believe this apartment is mine. Everything in my room and my BED! We went out to eat and I ate a ton. I was sooo tired, I was about to fall asleep at the table. The next day I end up waking up at 7:30 or 8 am and I just lay there. I can’t seem to fall back asleep, too much on my mind.
-My Coming Home Party-
There was a good turn out. I’m not sure how many people came…20-30? We had pizza and a fruit bowl and cookies. My saddle bag (luggers they call them) friends April and Nathan came out and April came up with a big list of questions to ask me and it was like a small Q + A time. The party was supposed to go from 5-7:30pm but ended up going to 8-8:30. They asked about the stories that you have read in my blogs and all the questions I have answered already here.
-Being Home / Wrap Up / What I Learned-
Even today (Monday) i’m pretty sore. It seems my body was almost becoming one with the bike! My hands don’t want to straighten, my legs are sore when I straighten them out all the way. My palms are sore from the handlebar. It seems the sun has finally caught up to me and i’m peeling on my arms and legs. I have amazing sun tan lines from my gloves and where my socks were. The hairs on my arms almost look blonde!
I thought my legs would be larger when I got back, maybe they are? I have lost 7lbs but my thighs and calfs are like rocks. I can fit into my middle school jeans again! lol. I got kind of used to wearing spandex and my helmet, where I would forget I had them on sometimes. I am now overwhelmed with things I need to do in the next few weeks before school starts again. I have not unpacked my saddle bags even yet, haven’t had time! i spent today adding up how much I paid and how much was raised. In all with people giving me cash on the trip (I had to estimate) and all my expenses and everything, I paid $5,436.68 and so far I have raised $4,741,80! Which is before I cut the check to the Jack and Jill foundation. I figure i’ll throw it whatever I don’t make to 5 grand just to top it off and write the check for 25% to them. $1,250 doesn’t seem like much, but I guess anything is better than nothing.
Throughout this ENTIRE trip, I didn’t run into ONE mean person. I actually forgot my knife ‘for protection’ at home and didn’t even feel the need to touch the mace my mom got for me. God found an amazing place for me to stay every single night, and I will try to always remember what its like riding in the rain, camping in the rain, riding through the heat and humidity. I have come to appreciate that I have a roof over my head, and that I can eat whenever I want to, or even what I want. The people I have met along the way, make life worthwhile. To learn about how I inspire people and give Hope to people I barely even know is so impressive.
This trip wasn’t a vacation. I wouldn’t even call it ‘fun’. I don’t know how to thank people who have kept up with this blog, people who have sponsored me, given me donations, prayed for me, given me shelter, a shower, and some food, cared for me, checked the weather and thought about me. I pray God sees your heart and blesses you as you have blessed me. I was out to prove you can do ANYTHING if you focus and point your mind to it. I believe I have achieved that. 3 months ago, 3 miles on a bike, today 1300. When I look back, i’m glad the hills and mountains were first. I’m happy I had to go through so many elements. I’m satisfied with having 40 lbs of saddle bags. Those things made me much stronger, physically and mentally. My faith has grown exponentially on this trip. When it comes down to it, I was taught. you can ALWAYS depend on God. He is ALWAYS near and listening. Never fear. He is always around and carries you through the toughest times. You can never tell what he is doing, but when you look back you can see how he had his hands on everything. He leaves his fingerprints everywhere! lol He shows you signs when you ask, you just have to be paying attention. He REALLY helps when you really need it most..
If you want something bad enough. Start taking steps to get there. One step at a time and eventually you will be there. For me, it was one peddle stroke at a time. If I looked at the overall picture, I got depressed and lost hope. One day at a time. Do what you dream! You’re never too old to start! You just have to…..do it.
Carpe Diem (Sieze the Day)
Never Never Never Give Up. -Winston Churchill