The first question that came to mind when we decided upon this trip was inevitably why?
The answer was pretty amorphous at first: for Patrick, for awareness about distracted driving, for grieving, for re-prioritization of goals.
While all of these answers are true, the fact remains that our trip revolves around one thing: community.
In the wake of Patrick's death, it would be narrow-minded to assume the only one's reeling were those closest to him. Individuals around the world who never even met Patrick have given pause to reflect on what makes life worth living.
We are going on this trip to prove that extraordinary things can come out of tragedy, and we don't necessarily mean biking 8000 miles. Relationships make life worth living. People make life worth living. And this trip is meant to inspire community—from the individuals we meet to the memories we carry with us.
It's a huge feat to embark upon this adventure and we know not everyone is able to ride along with us or to live close enough to our route in order to host us. However, we still want to give our family and friends the opportunity to feel connected to our cause by donating.
All donations are apart of an "on-the-road" fund meant to cover costs related to bike maintenance during the trip along with a small food budget (read: jars of peanut butter) and the occassional hot shower.
Expect to hear from us by postcard, phonecall, or blog post at www.pro8000.com, but no matter how you choose to contribute, we hope that you, too, will continue to Ride On.
We pedaled through the gravel and snow of Alaska. We camped on the breathtaking land of Yukon and British Columbia. We climbed through the Pacific Northwest and coasted down through California. We rode through the desert and the forest and the bayou. We've eaten countless peanut butter sandwiches, fixed countless flat tires, watched countless incredible sunsets, and most importantly, had countless conversations with amazing people. About grief, about travel, about distracted driving, about Patrick.
It is the people that have made Patrick Rides On 8000 the journey it has been, and because of that, we want nothing more than for you to join us for our finish celebration in Key West.
The Patrick Rides On 8000 Finish Celebration!
Saturday, March 11 at 12pm
Zachary Taylor State Park
601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040
We'll be pedaling in between noon and 1pm, and following with a barbecue there at the State Park! There will be stories, tears and beers. Please bring a snack or drinks to share. Will likely wind down around 4 or 5pm.
State Park: There is a entrance fee (like $2.50-$4 depending on transit mode) per person, so you know! Also, we will send a follow up email with the exact location in the park-- we're still waiting to hear from the rangers.
Getting There: Flying into Key West works well, as does flying into Miami and driving the three-four hours down or driving all the way down! If you need need a place to stay that night in Key West and are willing to crowd on a floor, shoot us an email. Staying in KW is rather pricey, but accommodations are cheaper 30 miles north in Big Pine Key or way cheaper 170 miles north in Miami.
ALSO If you'd like to ride the final day with us, we'd love for you to join! We are riding 30 miles from Big Pine Key to Key West. Very slow and easy pace. Many bike rentals are available nearby! More details to come.
Final Ride Days
We'd also like to invite you for the ride from Miami to Key West! It will be four ride days, and a great taste of the PRO8000 life on the road. We're working out places to sleep, so all you need is a bike and a way to carry clothes, a sleeping bag, snacks and tubes. The riding will be flat and easy, with the schedule as followed:
Key Biscayne: March 7
Homestead Bayfront: March 8
Key Largo: March 9
Big Pine Key: March 10
Key West: March 11
Please contact us in the next week if you'd like to join for this! The number of people will determine many details with tents and hosts.
PLEASE RSVP IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING
This will help us make sure it's the best celebration possible!
We really hope to see you at our finish! We are so grateful for all you have done to make this crazy dream a reality.
Suzette, Rachel, Megan, Greg, Abbie, Blythe and Eric
We began riding on July 31st, one day after the anniversary of Patrick's death. He would want it no other way. We started on the Arctic Ocean coast, so bundled up in layers to fight the below-freezing August weather. We faced gravel roads, 20 mph headwinds, and even a snow storm, which certainly tested our fresh bodies. The stretch was unbelievably remote: there are very few permanent populations along the 400 mile stretch of the Dalton Highway (it's also the stretch of road featured on "Ice Road Truckers"). To sum it up, we sweat, froze, suffered, cried, and absolutely loved every minute of it.
Arriving in Fairbanks felt like a true paradise. We ate enormous slices of strawberry rhubarb pie and showered away what felt like an inch of sweat and mud. We said goodbye to Patrick and Suzette's parents, who followed us in a pickup truck on the Dalton (affectionately known as Carol The Camper) and to Eric, who rode with us for the stretch and planned with us for months.
For now, we're on the road! We've just enjoyed a breakfast of salmon and wild blueberries with an amazing host in Delta Junction, and are now headed to Tok to stay with an Iditarod racer and his 20 dogs. We've meet a half dozen touring cyclist like ourselves (one of whom biked from the southern tip of Argentina, another from Germany to Beijing, and a South Korean couple on a tandem) which has made our trip seem all the more part of a larger, connected community.
You, too, are part of our community. Thanks for riding with us!
Next stop: Canada!
Kindness has taken many forms:
We’re grateful for the friends and family who said “bon voyage” with cards, parties, pictures, and free couches or beds to sleep on as we navigated moving out or expired leases.
We’re grateful for the baggage counter attendant who checked our bikes at half price.
We’re grateful for Tricia Wurtz and Knut Kielland and their daughters Flora and Eleanor, and Sam Hopkins, Flora’s boyfriend, who greeted us at the airport, transported our bikes and gear, and have hosted us in Fairbanks for the past two days. They have opened up their home and their hearts and we can’t say thank you enough (especially for the moose meat tacos!)
We’re grateful for the hundreds of individuals who not only contributed to this fund, but then emailed, called, and talked with friends about this journey and advocated against distracted driving.
Seeing the contributions snowball to reach and then exceed our financial goal confirms what Eric said last night on the Kielland’s porch swing:
“The more this trips evolves, the more confidant I am that you guys are going to accomplish something great.”
As we start on our journey tomorrow morning towards Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Coast from Fairbanks, we want everyone to know that we are riding for you. We’re riding for our community and our shared belief in safer roads. We’re riding for those who no longer can.
We’re Riding On for Patrick.
We can't wait to see you in Key West.
Not in Alaska...yet! But we'll be there in LESS THAN A MONTH.
If we've been off the online grid, it's because we're busy on the ground finishing college (Suzette), finishing Americorps service hours (Megan), finishing teaching (Rachel), and finishing leading an ecological expedition of Costa Rican jungles and patrolling sea turtle nesting sites (Greg).
But in between all of that, we've scheduled flights, designed business cards, customized jerseys, secured official sponsorships (an update on this soon!), purchased gear, tracked training miles, contacted hosts, and finalized our route.
If that sounds like we've accomplished a lot, it's nothing compared to the support we've received from friends and family like YOU. The Pro8000 community has been integral to this process and we can't say it enough, but thank you, thank you, thank you!
We're in the home stretch and we're so close to reaching our online fundraising goal as we just dipped under $2,000 more dollars to raise.
Help us reach our goal by participating in the 50-40-30 Challenge! We need $50 from 40 people in the next 30 days before we fly to Fairbanks.
All of our pre-existing donors along with new contributors will get huge shout-outs on our Thank You tab on the Pro8000 website!
No matter how you choose to support us, be it through a Facebook post sharing Patrick's story, referring us to a host, or a monetary contribution, we are so grateful.
Suzette, Meg, Greg, and Rachel