Project Minnesota-León Bike Tour
After being sidelined from the bicycle touring world due to an injury, I have decided to give the motorcycle touring world a try. Although it doesn't align with my idea of making a low carbon crossing through the Americas, my sense of adventure remains and I am excited to visit many places I would have not been able to see on bicycle.
I am supporting Project Minnesota/León (PML) which is a non-profit sister state organization with Nicaragua. I am funding my own ride, so 100% of the tax deductible donations go to PML!
To learn more about PML, see their website at: http://mn-leon.org/
With a troubled, war-torn past, people may think of Nicaragua as a dangerous place to visit. Although it is the poorest country in Central America, it is also the safest.
Project Minnesota/León is a people-to-people organization that works to build relationships between the people of Minnesota and León in two ways:
PML facilitates group immersion travel from Minnesota to León and arranges home stays and experiential learning opportunities, in addition to volunteer projects and sightseeing. By traveling to Nicaragua through PML, you will form authentic relationships and learn about PML’s approach to working in developing countries.
PML's second goal is to facilitate community development in León, where they have collaborated on community initiatives and cooperative ventures since the 1980s.
In 2014, PML hired experienced development practitioner Rosa Lira Ulloa to work in the semi-rural San Carlos community on the outskirts of León.
Rosa deeply engages with the community, using a new model of accompaniment.
In this process, PML brings together groups in the community to
(1) identify their needs and resources,
(2) organize themselves, and
(3) seek and advocate for solutions to bring about sustainable change.
This model focuses on mentoring local groups through a process they define, rather than imposing goals or projects on the community.
See Bikerbil.com for a blog of the tour!
It has been a while since I posted anything about the trip. Over the Spring and Summer, I have been slowly forming a new plan of action for this tour.
My hip and knee are doing well. I have been building strength around my joints and rolling out my leg muscles often with a lacrosse ball as suggested by PT. Both methods seem to be helping. However, I do still have some pain after rides of 30 or more miles that I cannot simply roll out. It’s not as bad as before, but the pain is there and I worry that riding many long days in a row will cause me to quit the tour early. Therefore, I have decided against riding my bicycle to Nicaragua.
I wanted to ride my bicycle to Leon to challenge myself physically and mentally to complete such a long, adventurous ride. I also wanted this to be an opportunity to motivate others to ride their bikes more as a way to lower their carbon footprint. I am bummed about having to abandon these ideas for now, but the adventure remains!
I am still just as keen and excited to travel through and learn more about the culture of Central America as the day I first thought of doing a bicycle tour. The only thing that is changing is the means of transportation.
I bought a motorcycle at the beginning of June. The bike is a 2003 Kawasaki KLR 650 – a reliable, brute of a bike meant for touring. In mid-September, I will leave from Minneapolis for Leon, Nicaragua on this motorcycle. Using the motorcycle will allow me to cover more ground, it will provide a better sense of security and it will allow me to bring more gear for my move to Central America.
Thank you all so much for taking part in this fundraiser. I consider it a great success! I’m very happy that so many people donated and helped spread the word about PML. This money will be put to beneficial use by PML in Leon, Nicaragua. I still plan on giving a bicycle workshop and helping in other ways when I arrive in Leon.
From here on out, I will be posting all information and videos from the tour to bikerbil.com
I hope everyone is enjoying the nice spring weather.
Over the past several weeks, I have been learning more about my injury. I met with two surgeons and one physical therapist to discuss my options for injury management and prevention. Here is the simplified version of what I am dealing with:
Several years ago, I injured my knee. Months after the knee surgery, my leg looked more like a spaghetti noodle than a leg after loosing much of it's mass from being dormant. I gained enough strength back over time to be able to function normally.
However, there are muscles in my hip, butt and leg that did not recover to their original strength. I also have a common condition called FAI (my hip sockets are tight and less mobile). With FAI you are susceptible to hip problems and tears, especially if you don't have adequate strength. Because I had less strength in my left hip and leg and therefore less stability around the hip joint, the labrum in my hip slowly degenerated.
I have been given two options: Get a MAJOR surgery (requires complete removal of the labrum) or, build up the muscles around my hip the correct way and live with my labrum tear (apparently most athletes have labrum tears but don't realize it because they have a solid muscular structure to keep things in place).
I started physical therapy three weeks ago and things are going well. In July, I will start to test my strength on the bicycle. Hopefully the strengthening will allow me to do the ride from Minnesota to Nicaragua. If not, then I will upgrade to different, faster two wheeled vehicle: the motorcycle. Whatever the case, I will be leaving Minneapolis no later than September.
Also.. PML has a great event coming up on the 22nd of April called Climate Change Impacts in Central America. Check it out at First Universalist Church in Minneapolis starting at 6:30 pm.
After training hard for this tour, it seems like an injury that I had 6 years ago has flared up just weeks before my departure date and is causing me significant pain. I intend to have surgery ASAP, recover, and then depart for Leon, Nicaragua on my bicycle as soon as I can get back in shape. I will update you all when I know my new departure date.
Project Minnesota/Leon does fantastic work and your money is going to a great cause, but PML and I understand if you'd like to have your donation refunded. Please send me a message at email@example.com if you wish to receive a refund.
In 2010 I tore some ligaments in my knee and had a small tear in the hip labrum from a rugby accident. All tears in the knee were fixed, but the labrum was not. I have cycled for years without problems until now. My physical therapist is convinced that the labrum has worsened over time, is the cause of my current hip and knee pain, and that I will need to get it surgically repaired.
The departure date for the bike tour has been pushed back a few days to March 6th due to a minor leg injury that needed more time to mend. I'm feeling good now and can't wait to get on the road.
I hope you all have a fantastic week. Thanks again for donating!
Hey Kenneth, Thanks for your message! I will definitely check out the bike shops in San Juan. I imagine that my bike will be in desperate need of a tune up when I reach León.