Biking for Blocks

$1,240 of $1,500 goal

Raised by 19 people in 13 months
Students and faculty who have participated in the Taft School Guatemala Trip have  built over 30 houses in and around Antigua, Guatemala during the past 10 years. Unfortunately, due to a recent US State Dept. reclassification, we were unable to make our annual trip in 2018. The purpose of this fundraiser is to continue to support the work of the God’s Child Project providing housing for families identified by their center in Antigua. Although biking across the US has little to do with housing in Guatemala, if all those miles are able to provide housing and continue the work we have done over the years, that would mean more than my sense of accomplishment. Please consider...
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August 16

Home again.

Below is a link to an “interview” with WDAY in Fargo. The interview went well - I spoke for about seven minutes about my bike ride but mostly describing my experiences leading high school students on service trips to Guatemala over the past ten years. The 49 second clip was broadcast on the nightly news and includes one comment taken out of context so didn’t capture my message. Oh well, it was a hoot anyways.

https://www.inforum.com/incoming/4609912-Man-biking-across-the-country-for-a-good-cause

Afterwards I rented a car and unceremoniously dis-assembled Lola to fit in the trunk and headed out to Upper Cormorant Lake in Minnesota to visit Jay Richardson who along with his brother Gordy and Stephen Poitras formed the spontaneous welcoming committee after meeting them on a bike path. They led me through the elm-lined residential streets of Fargo to downtown and the theatre marquee for a picture. We then headed to BrewHalla for a brief celebration. My arrival in Fargo was bordering on anticlimactic until my serendipitous encounter with these guys. It never occured to me that anybody would be there to welcome me - after all, I didn’t know when I’d cross the Red River into ND. On my car trek home I stopped in Chicago to visit Bill Dugan, a pal from my years in San Francisco.

“It’s the journey, not the destination” may be cliche, but I am reminded of the benefits of slow travel every day on a bike tour. While I have numerous scenic pictures of vistas and sunsets, the people pics are the most meaningful; and even they don’t capture the welcoming and random acts of kindness of which I have numerous examples. While people are genuinely curious about my journey, I have found that uncovering their stories to be most interesting.

Sea to shining sea...

2018: Port Townsend, WA to Fargo, ND - 1991 miles
2019: New Haven, CT to Fargo, ND - 2332 miles (no flat tires!)
Total: 4323

What’s next…? Time will tell… The Southern Tier, Lewis and Clark Trail, Route 66, Baja California? The Eurovelo routes in Europe? Alas, probably don’t have the moxie for a Cairo to Capetown ride.

I wrote in an earlier “Biking for Bricks” post, that I hesitated to launch a fund-raising effort until I was sure that I was capable of a long distance ride. There were moments, at the beginning of both my eastbound and westbound journeys when I doubted if I could see this through.

I’m close to meeting my goal ($1500) of funding a house through the God’s Child Project in Guatemala. Hence, a last attempt to articulate why this cause means so much to me. The environment in which many families live, day after day, are not just oppressive, they shape the lives and hopes of the children who grow-up under this uncertainty. These are not homeless families, but they are living in crowded and unhealthy conditions.The houses that the GCP builds, with volunteer labor, have concrete floors which diminishes disease. They are designed to last 50 years. A better house helps a family in numerous ways. The GCP headquarters, the Dreamer Center in Antigua, also provides education and medical outreach. Their schools (elementary and secondary) are truly amazing. They have a facility for infants who come from food insecure families and have a long range plan of building a hospital. On our trips Taft students participate in a number of the GCP initiatives in addition to house building. These are profound experiences. I remain hopeful that Taft we will be able to continue these trips in the future. We have built over 30 houses and have a considerable legacy improving the quality of life for the families that live in those homes.

As I often say to fellow cyclists I meet along the way: happy trails and safe travels.
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August 15

Home again.

Below is a link to an “interview” with WDAY in Fargo. The interview went well - I spoke for about seven minutes about my bike ride but mostly describing my experiences leading high school students on service trips to Guatemala over the past ten years. The 49 second clip was broadcast on the nightly news and includes one comment taken out of context so didn’t capture my message. Oh well, it was a hoot anyways.

https://www.inforum.com/incoming/4609912-Man-biking-across-the-country-for-a-good-cause

Afterwards I rented a car and unceremoniously dis-assembled Lola to fit in the trunk and headed out to Upper Cormorant Lake in Minnesota to visit Jay Richardson who along with his brother Gordy and Stephen Poitras formed the spontaneous welcoming committee after meeting them on a bike path. They led me through the elm-lined residential streets of Fargo to downtown and the theatre marquee for a picture. We then headed to BrewHalla for a brief celebration. My arrival in Fargo was bordering on anticlimactic until my serendipitous encounter with these guys. It never occured to me that anybody would be there to welcome me - after all, I didn’t know when I’d cross the Red River into ND. On my car trek home I stopped in Chicago to visit Bill Dugan, a pal from my years in San Francisco.

“It’s the journey, not the destination” may be cliche, but I am reminded of the benefits of slow travel every day on a bike tour. While I have numerous scenic pictures of vistas and sunsets, the people pics are the most meaningful; and even they don’t capture the welcoming and random acts of kindness of which I have numerous examples. While people are genuinely curious about my journey, I have found that uncovering their stories to be most interesting.

Sea to shining sea...

2018: Port Townsend, WA to Fargo, ND - 1991 miles
2019: New Haven, CT to Fargo, ND - 2332 miles (no flat tires!)
Total: 4323

What’s next…? Time will tell… The Southern Tier, Lewis and Clark Trail, Route 66, Baja California? The Eurovelo routes in Europe? Alas, probably don’t have the moxie for a Cairo to Capetown ride.

I wrote in an earlier “Biking for Bricks” post, that I hesitated to launch a fund-raising effort until I was sure that I was capable of a long distance ride. There were moments, at the beginning of both my eastbound and westbound journeys when I doubted if I could see this through.

I’m close to meeting my goal ($1500) of funding a house through the God’s Child Project in Guatemala. Hence, a last attempt to articulate why this cause means so much to me. The environment in which many families live, day after day, are not just oppressive, they shape the lives and hopes of the children who grow-up under this uncertainty. These are not homeless families, but they are living in crowded and unhealthy conditions.The houses that the GCP builds, with volunteer labor, have concrete floors which diminishes disease. They are designed to last 50 years. A better house helps a family in numerous ways. The GCP headquarters, the Dreamer Center in Antigua, also provides education and medical outreach. Their schools (elementary and secondary) are truly amazing. They have a facility for infants who come from food insecure families and have a long range plan of building a hospital. On our trips Taft students participate in a number of the GCP initiatives in addition to house building. These are profound experiences. I remain hopeful that Taft we will be able to continue these trips in the future. We have built over 30 houses and have a considerable legacy improving the quality of life for the families that live in those homes.

As I often say to fellow cyclists I meet along the way: happy trails and safe travels.
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August 9, 2019.

I’m done. Crossed the Red River into North Dakota early afternoon. Good to be here - Fargo is a bustling place with energy and growing pains. My serendipitous tour guides - brothers Gordy and Jay and their friend Stephen, whom I met on a bike path in South Fargo, took me on an impromptu ride around Fargo. Befitting the flat terrain, the city is a grid with stately homes and bungalows on streets lined with elm trees and ornate street lights. Downtown is bustling with restaurants, brew pubs, the classic theatre marquee among bookstores and gourmet ice cream. One has to wonder who will be buying gelato when the temperature hasn’t risen above 0 degrees Fahrenheit in over a month. There are huge campuses which include Microsoft, Sanford Medical Center, malls, convention centers, big box stores, etc. On the outskirts, Fargo seems to go on forever. High schools (and their football stadiums) and some churches, are enormous. My guided tour ended at Drekker Brewery, also referred to as “Brewhalla.” Not the first brew pub to be housed in a former warehouse/factory, but very cool nonetheless.

I’m ending my bike ride thankfully. Relieved that I’m in one piece and that I did what I set out to do - to bike across the US - sea to shining sea. There were a number of glitches that bugged me and fed my personal demons as I pedaled along. The lack of planning for details that would have made my life simpler. The final week, crossing Minnesota, turned into a race against time and consecutive big mileage days. After some dark and ominous clouds along with thunder and lightening on Monday morning, the weather cooperated with perfect summer weather. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, a fierce headwind, especially in fields or prairie. While a good portion of my route was on Minnesota’s impressive trail network, the Lake Wobegon Trail and Central Lakes, I deviated from the Northern Tier in order to follow Google Maps on the most direct route. Hence busy roads with truck and vacation traffic with little or no shoulder; nerve-wracking! I was determined to reach Fargo, today - exactly one year after arriving in Fargo on my 2018 journey eastbound. Some nice symmetry there I guess.

Thanks to a lot of folks: Emily and Sara at the God’s Child Project in Minneapolis and Bismarck for their support, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Karen May for her interest, if not fascination, for this undertaking. She was always curious about details and logistics. Thomas and Hanna (my kids) who immediately made a generous contribution after I launched the Biking for Bricks campaign. The PEG Committee at Taft School for their support towards travel and personal goals. Also at Taft, Kaitlin Orfetelli and Bob Falcetti for their promotion, ideas, and enthusiasm.

Again, a huge thanks to contributors for their trust. More to follow as I process my bike ride.

August 10

Interviewed by local station today for broadcast tonight. Will post as soon as available - probably Monday.
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August 6th - St. Cloud
Crossing the Mississippi yesterday was not the thrill I anticipated. I got a late start and had a hot (but no humidity!) headwind for 30 miles before reaching St. Cloud. It felt like a solar powered hair dryer was attached to my handlebars and a I was dragging a brick. I’ve been lucky with dogs… they bark and I whistle back. But today’s close encounter was terrifying. I heard a distant bark and then found a snarling pit bull about three feet behind me and moving a whole lot faster than me. This could have been ugly. I’d like to think I set a world record for acceleration but swerved onto a busy road with a fair amount of traffic - including trucks. I was rattled for the rest of the day.

My mileage is 2131. So my math is off. I expected this to be the easier, lower mileage trip compared to last year’s ride from the Pacific, over the Cascades and Rockies and east across the plains to Fargo. According to my records, when I arrived in Fargo on August 10, 2018 my mileage was 1911. My meandering route this summer through Michigan was hardly direct. The extra miles to include the Upper Peninsula when I could have taken a Lake Michigan ferry. I wanted to see it all! It’s the journey…

It has been fun, when asked where I’m headed, to reply Fargo, North Dakota. The responses range from skeptical and incredulous (is that possible…? well, you won’t make it tonight!). Moving beyond the Coen Brothers notoriety, Fargo just sounds exotic to easterners. Now that I am close, the question is reversed. You biked from where…? Connecticut!

The corn here in Minnesota is as high as I’ve ever seen, a reminder that most of the sumtheremer has passed. On the bike I quiz myself: where was I a week ago, two weeks ago… yesterday? Google reminds me daily where I was a year ago today. Almost there...
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$1,240 of $1,500 goal

Raised by 19 people in 13 months
Funds raised will benefit:
The GOD'S CHILD Project
Certified Charity
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Bismarck, ND
EIN: 450422423
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JR
$50
Julie Reiff
4 days ago
JM
$50
Jean McGavin
5 days ago
JR
$50
Jay Richardson
7 days ago
BD
$150
Bill Dugan
9 days ago
VA
$100
Valerie Anthony
10 days ago
JL
$50
James Lehner
25 days ago
$50
Emily Schaefbauer
26 days ago
VA
$100
Valerie Anthony
1 month ago
AT
$100
Anne Turner
1 month ago
MS
$100
Marni Schwartz
1 month ago
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