July 11 The Mecca of Cycling?

The morning was filled with excitement as the team knew that the ride was going to be filled with adventures in hot springs and an eventual arrival to one of the most infamous bike friendly cities in Missoula, MT. After the 76 mile ride our team was lucky enough to be treated to a buffet style pizza dinner from Freemo’s Pizzeria! Once again, the surprising generosity the team has received along the trip has been amazing. Thank you very much Misty and everyone at Freemo’s!

This morning six of our riders—David, Sean, Marc, Maggie, Linsey and Ron—had the opportunity to visit Camp MĀK-A-DREAM in Gold Creek, Montana. It was about an hour away from our stayover in Missoula, MT, so they left at 7:45 as others were still sleeping. Although I was not with the group that traveled to the camp, those who attended greeted the rest of the team later on in the day with nothing less than smiling faces and an eagerness to share stories.  Camp MĀK-A-DREAM caters to children whose siblings are suffering from cancer. Meanwhile, the rest of the team hopped on their bikes and pedaled over to the building that puts Missoula, Montana on the map as the mecca of cycling in the minds of I4Kers. It’s building with bright green handlebars for door handles and a wall laden with sticky notes of all the adventurers that have passed through (including past I4K teams!). We later discovered that this touring cyclists’ haven, Adventure Cycling, makes it on the map because, well, they make the maps.  They have been routing the country for cyclists since 1976 when the first Trans American tour of 4,000 cyclists took place. Their goal is to change the way people see cycling: it’s more than a toy, more than a sport, more than just a mode of transportation. Instead, cycling is a means of adventure for all ages.

When we arrived, we were greeted with a hearty barbeque, and were privileged to hear numerous cycling stories from men and women that all share in our love for it. Many compelling stories were told casually over lunch by a woman named Mickey who had been a participant in the Trans Am tour of ’76. With 66 years of life behind her, 33 years of cycling, 66 countries toured, and 6 years as a cancer survivor she was an inspiration to all of us and never at a loss for words. When she began cycling, it was hardly about going on an adventure because, back then, a bicycle was little more than a child’s toy. In fact, she embarked on her first cycling journey with her 4-year-old son sharing her saddle because she didn’t have enough money to move by any other means. It’s fascinating what people can do with the resources they have.

One quite unusual story she shared with us seemed average at first but quickly turned into something shocking. In short, as Mickey was hiking, her leg was punctured severely by a large piece of wood. She pulled it out and cleaned it as well as she could but, knowing she would need stitches, she impatiently pedaled to the nearest town with a hospital. Choosing the cheaper of two hospitals in that town, she got her stitches and moved on. If the story had ended there, it would have been unfortunate but nothing especially unique. The twist was that a year later a chunk of wood resurfaced and pushed itself back through her skin. What a doozy!

We also found ourselves crossing paths with a student from Ohio State University that began his solo, self-supported cycling journey in Denver, Colorado and will eventually arrive in San Diego, California. Although we’ve met a fair amount of cyclists also travelling across the U.S. since we’ve been in the west, this young man was the first we could identify with as a fellow college student. We invited him to spend the night with us as our Missoula stayover and, although hesitant, he could not resist the offer of a warm shower and a free bowl of oatmeal.

After taking individual photos for the wall and entertaining group photos—especially when the boys decided to really show off their gnarly tan lines—we dispersed in various directions to get prepared for the next day of riding.

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