Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 6 - The End!

Well, we made it. Today, after 485 plus miles, dozens of Clif Bars, and a few flat tires we made it to the end of Illinois, the river town of Cairo.
We started the morning in light rain coming out of Chester, Il. We were in great spirits after the reception we had the night before and the knowledge that the end was near! The local regional paper, The Southern Illinoisan, did a great article on the ride. Yet another way we can get the word out to others about CAS.
The ride through the river bottoms was very peaceful, even though we were pretty soaked. We saw just a few cars. We headed east a bit and then south again, stopping for lunch in the town of Jonesborro, IL. A lady in the restaurant we ate in recognized us from the Southern article and gave us encouragement and a donation.
We got back on the road and headed south into a sky that finally began to show us some sun. We had a great pace and worked together to keep the tempo up on the last part of the ride. We came into Cairo just before 4:00 PM and followed the main street to the tip of the state, the merging of the great Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I have to admit, it felt great knowing that when we put the bikes away tonight, we did not have to get back on them tomorrow AM.
Will do a recap of our week and some final thoughts shortly. Thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rainy Ride

Back Home

Today, day 5, was our “rest” day – shorter mileage.
We left Columbia, IL today at 7:00 AM in a light rain that followed us all most all the way to Chester, IL.
The trail was very flat as we traveled through the river bottoms just to the east of the bluffs. We had a great ham salad sandwich at a small grocery store. This is not exactly the food the pro teams would endorse, but it tasted awesome on this rainy day.
As we got closer to Chester, IL the roads began to climb upwards again into the hills. We had some great views of the river.
We were greeted as we came into town by my coworkers with another great donation for CASANA. It was great to be at home and see my family. This evening there was a reception and concert benefitting CASANA in the center of town. It was a great way finish the day.
Tomorrow we finish the MAC Ride with a long day to Cairo, IL. At times this week seemed to go very fast, and other times, grinding up a hill for example, it seemed to move backwards. The forecast calls for rain, but we’ve been riding in and out of it all week, so no problem!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Left Turns

After a good night’s rest in Louisiana, MO, we crossed the Mississippi River and continued our trip back at Pleasant Hill, IL. We knew today would not be easy, but didn’t count on it being as tough as it turned out.
In some places, our map has indicated we’d face a lot of hills. Today’s section made no mention of them. However, somebody decided to put them there, about 30 miles of them. Not the highest ones we’ve climbed on this trip, but they were endless.
After the first hour or so, we came to realize we should dread left turns. When heading south down the river a left turn means you are heading up into the bluffs, not down into the flat bottom lands.
We survived and eventually got to some flatter ground. We got to visit with some nice folks along the way and had lunch in Alton, IL at the 70 mile mark for the day. Our friend and business associate Roger joined us in Alton for 10 miles on the ride. He and his wife Bekki have generously supported this event, and it was a real treat to have him with us today.
We had to really ride hard to finish the ride in Columbia tonight, but made it in before dark. Tomorrow is a rest day (shorter mileage) and we are back in my hometown of Chester. I’m looking forward to seeing my wife, sons, and other friends and family.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arrival at Rock Island with friends from Augustana

Day 3

We started day 3 a little late due to some rainy and foggy weather around the historic town of Nauvoo, IL. We had some fantastic views of the river as we headed south. Thankfully the winds of yesterday died down, and we were able to make good time today.
As we passed through the small river towns, we noted some great old buildings in every one of them. The sad thing, like a lot of rural America, far too many of them were empty. In each town, it was clear that no one was giving up. People were opening up new businesses and keeping their communities going.
We pulled into Quincy, IL about 11:30 AM and enjoyed a little time in a real chair at lunch. Found a place with another great view of the river.
We hit the road again and enjoyed favorable winds for another 51 miles, finishing at Pleasant Hill just before 5:00 PM. Tonight we are staying in Louisiana, MO. Big plug for the River’s Edge Motel……the Manager washed our cycling gear for us!
MAC Team Member Paul Milligan had to leave us due to work commitments tonight. He will be missed. Today Paul lead our group through some tough areas at a very good pace.
Throughout these days, we’ve tried to use every opportunity we’ve been given to speak briefly about CAS to the people we meet. Usually just a group of a few people, but an opportunity still.
Tomorrow we head into the St. Louis area. The ride will have a mix of everything, countryside, small river towns, and large urban areas.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 2 - Tough

Hello from Burlington, IA.

The ride today was tough, very tough.

Coming out Rock Island we were in great spirits, but a strong south wind started to zap some of our energy pretty early on. We also discovered the maps we have aren't 100% correct........Despite the rough day, we all finished strong, no injuries.

The countryside had been great and met some very nice people, including our hosts Chuck and Julie. They treated us to a great dinner which was much appreciated after a hard day.

Shorter miles tomorrow. We are going to bed EARLY.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 1 - Augustana Rocks!!!

We had an awesome day today.
We hit the road very early at the Wisconsin border and headed south into Galena. It was really spectacular coming through the hills into Galena. Several hot air balloons were up as the sun rose. Unfortunately, what goes down must come up, so to speak. This hills up and out of Galena were very, very tough.
Once we made it out of the hills, we had a great ride down to Savannah, IL and again started making some good time. Had a good lunch in a small Chinese restaurant there. The daughter of the owners was hovering around our table. She was very cute and interested in us and our bikes, but at 4 years old, she did not speak much. When she did it was not very clear. Funny how your mind works, but I was thinking, this girl clearly has some type of speech issue.
About 20 miles from Rock Island, we had our first flat. Got it changed and going again, but the rain came too. It was a cool rain and we were pretty cold by the end. There was however, a great crowd of Augustana students and faculty there to meet us at the end. About 25 folks walked us to our hotel, we got cleaned up and they took us to a picnic near their clinic on the campus.
We had a great dinner there of food provided by the students. Afterwards we had a really moving presentation and discussion. The students made a tremendous donation to CASANA, and the family of Collin, a wonderful young man receiving therapy at the clinic did as well. We got the chance to visit with a great group of young men and women who are the hope of families facing Apraxia in the future. Augustana and Illinois have a lot to be proud of in these students and teachers. We played a mean game of bean bag toss with Collin and then headed back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we have our longest day, 120 miles. It will not be the hills that we had today, and the rain should move off. We’ll try to have some pictures up tomorrow as well.
Stay tuned and keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twas the night before MAC Ride.

Made it all the way north today to the really neat town of Galena. (They have hills in Northern Illinois too!). Weather looks good for tomorrow and our group is ready to ride! We have about 30 miles of some rough hills tomorrow AM, and then easier going for the other 71.

Thanks again for your interest and support!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Night Before Departure

Tonight we picked up “MAC 1” – a 2010, 15 passenger van with only 120 miles on it! Thank you Enterprise! Been working all week to get things together, and I believe we are in pretty good shape. I am excited to get on the road.
The night before we head out, I wanted to say a few of the many thanks that need to go out.

Cliff Bar’s support of donated product.

Ken Wagner and the staff at Blazing Color for design and production work.

Our friends and family who have been extremely supportive of our event.

Most importantly, my wife for all her support, help, and understanding. She is our son’s #1, unstoppable advocate and my best friend.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned next week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"To Tom & Jackson, Good Luck on Your Ride. Livestrong!"

This time next week the MAC Ride team will have completed it’s first day, and I’m guessing feel pretty tired. The week ahead will be spent getting a bit more riding in, double and triple checking our gear, and making sure we’ve got a place to lay our heads each night. I’m sure the week will go fast.
I had two great surprises this weekend.
First, read a great article about the work being done to overcome CAS by the wonderful students and faculty of Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. Check it out at The students there are being very generous and hosting a reception for us. We will also have the opportunity to speak with families who are receiving services from their clinic.
Second, last week my friend and brother-in-law, Dave, had a photo shoot assignment. With the help of my wife and sister-in-law, Kelly, he secured and took along one of the two MAC Ride jerseys I had made for the ride. During the course of the day, Dave asked the person he was working with to sign one of my jerseys and MAC Ride brochure. They presented these to me today. The shoot was in Austin, Texas and the subject of the photo shoot was Lance Armstrong. I was really thrilled to get these items and very grateful my family would go to the trouble to make this possible. Dave got to talk a bit about CAS and the ride to Lance, who apparently was very interested in the condition and the event. What a cool way to start the week before the ride.
Many thanks to all our friends and family for their continued support.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I’ve been fortunate to work with a great coach the past several years through Carmichael Training Systems. My coach, Max, has helped me train for a number of events including an iron distance triathlon (didn’t finish, but not Max’s fault!). Max is a great, level-headed guy who does everything to help me achieve my goals, while realizing we’ve all got to keep a balanced life. We’ve been through some up’s and down’s both, personally and in athletic endeavors. He’s always maintained a very positive attitude and was excited when I told him about the plans for the MAC Ride. I’m confident the plan Max laid out has prepared me to complete these upcoming long 6 days of riding.
We’ve been very lucky to work with some very dedicated and talented “coaches” in our family’s battle with CAS as well. Jill, Christina, Mark, Julie, Carol, Mandy, Becky, Marilyn, Casey, Dave, Cindy, Brittany, and many others have helped our son and our family meet and overcome many challenges. We know that they and others with their same dedication will be there in the future for us and other families facing CAS.
However, even dedicated coaches will only be effective if they receive the right training themselves. One of the most important services that CASANA performs is the education of therapists (aka coaches) in the best techniques and latest advances in the treatment of Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Thanks to all the coaches in our lives who lay out a plan, help us stick to the training, and allow us to achieve things we weren’t sure were possible.