Oct 19, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 10/19/2014
In my last post, I gave you all an update about what I've been up to recently. Mainly busy with dental school. Exams and fun things like that.

Let's pick up where I last left off, which is in the middle of my summer cycling journey from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR. I had left Baltimore on June 1st with the 4K for Cancer Team Portland on our mission to bike across the country to spread awareness for young adults with cancer. At the beginning of the trip, we had no idea what was ahead of us, what an incredibly wild ride it was going to be. We experienced literal highs from climbing mountains, kindness from strangers, crazy thunderstorms, a terrible tragedy, and an incredible, unbreakable bond among my teammates, which I now call my 4K Family.

 Our team was scheduled to arrive in Portland, OR on August 9th. However, the last day that I rode on the trip was July 18th, riding from Lander, WY to Dubois, WY. It was a tough day, fighting headwinds all day. I was literally losing speed going downhill if I stopped pedaling. At times, I felt that I was riding into a wall. I was getting weary and decided that I wanted to drive the support van the next day. It was my turn for van duty, anyways. Little did I know that I wouldn't ride again for the rest of the trip.

The next day, we were riding into Jackson, WY. It was a gorgeous ride through the mountains, and we were greeted by the Tetons as we approached Jackson. Fun fact: the Tetons, which means "breast" in French, are named so because I guess they looked like the breasts of the earth. So we were treated to lovely views of the earth's breasts. And let me tell you, it was breathtaking. I was riding in the van, which I kind of regretted because it would have been an amazing ride. But it's funny how things work out for a reason. I'll get to that later.

I was in the food van, which meant my job was to go around restaurants and grocery stores to beg for food donations. Our team was running low on food since we were passing through increasingly remote areas. Jackson was our best bet to stock up on food, since it is a touristy town with a lot more shops than we've seen on the road for a while. We also had a rest day in Jackson, so we would have more time to ask around.

In addition to our food-begging duties, my teammate, Helen, and I were responsible for securing camp sites. We usually stay at host sites, such as churches and schools, but we weren't able to secure one for Jackson. Which meant that we would be camping for two days. Camping is usually fun (and it really was), but when you're on the bike for over 10 hours a day, it's nice to have creature comforts such as a solid roof over your head, showers, and hosts that feed you.

Helen and I got lucky and we were able to get a huge group camp site for the team. It was three times larger than we needed, and in a pretty great location. With that out of the way (which was a huge concern), we drove into town to try to get shower donations at a gym, and some food donations. We got the food, but not the showers. Oh well, we would just bathe in the ice-cold stream by our campsite.

Funny story as we were going around town asking for donations. As Helen and I were walking back to the van in the parking lot of a strip mall, a car drives by us and honks. A woman in the car waves and gets out to introduce herself. Turns out, she's the sister of a host that we had back in Louisville, KY. She recognized our van with all the 4K logos and window paint, and knew who we were. Helen and I ended up chatting with her and her daughter. We had a long, pleasant conversation and she was even kind enough to give us a donation.

After a few hours of asking around and getting a few donations, we decided to head back to the campground to set up. We actually got a box full of raw chicken from a grocery store, and even though at first we had no idea what to do with it, we took it (beggars can't be choosers). I was determined to cook the chicken and have it ready for when our riders got to the campground so that they would have a lovely snack waiting for them, so I got a roll of tin foil and BBQ sauce and planned to cook it over a camp fire.

Since it was just the two of us with all the camping gear and the rest of the team was arriving later in the afternoon, we got to work setting up the campsite. We set up ten tents, collected a pile of firewood, cooked the chicken, and unloaded the 15 passenger van of all our teammates' duffel bags. It was exhausting, but we got it done by the time everyone got to the campground. And the chicken was delicious, by the way.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, the team settled in their tents, bathed in the stream, a few of us went into town for dinner while the rest of the team cooked their dinner over the campfire. I was determined to get an elk steak, so that's what I got. We sighted moose, hung out by the campfire, stargazed and saw shooting stars. Then crawled into our tents to get ready for the next day. It was a going to be a great rest day. Jackson was such a great location to have a rest day since there's so much to do. I was looking forward to going hiking and seeing the mountains up close. And I did. I had the best, most spectacular view of the Tetons, but I'll get into that more next time.


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