Neva (the Beast), Jay (Frankenbutt) and I (Butterball) thank …
(Late addition: Our bikes would like to thank Joe Minichino and Ellie Kidd who ever so willingly agreed to bi
Art Heinrichs and his crew at Tampa BMX for embracing our dream and running with it. Art, you set a standard at our track (and in life) that brings us all up! We are better for knowing you.
Kirk at J&R Bicycles for reaching out to us and making our ride financially feasible and for keeping the Beast’s BMX bike in tip top condition.
Justin Travis at Ohio Dreams for being the first sponsor to sign on with us and for teaching us “foot down” so many years ago; to Chris and Val Ashcraft for making summer camp one of the Beast’s favorite experiences this past summer.
Mark at Riderz Ready Jerseys for the fabulous jerseys that make us feel professional and unified and strong
DJ of Smoothie King of Wesley Chapel, FL (and their corporate offices) for helping us reach our goals and making it delicious and nutritious all along the way
Comfort Inns and Suites for giving us something we all take for granted: a restful night
Jerry at BMXmania.com
for helping me reconnect with the writer within and giving us a voice where BMXers converge
to Jeff at Schwalbe Tires for discounting our tire purchase
National Bicycle League for connecting us with track directors
Also, thanks …
to Chris at Santos Bike shop for discounting our parts and telling our story on santosbikeshop.com
to Amanda at Femmebmx.com
for telling our story and showcasing the raw power and grace of women athletes
To Go2outfitters for discounts on our camping gear
to Ellie, our constant cheerleader since day 1, when Neva (the Beast) was only 4; for being a kindred spirit in Neva’s pursuits; AND NOW, FOR RIDING HER BIKE!!
to Sheena, for her unwavering support of everything in our lives and her daily quotes that put a bounce in our pedals
To Hara whose words made us laugh, cry and believe in ourselves
To Penny (“Pen-tertainment”) who has always made me laugh but also for being so supportive of our ride from the very start
to Cori, the Editor, for her many blog comments, edits and support of her crazy parents' dreams; we love you and can’t wait to wrap our arms around you; and go for a bike ride all together, too.
And to the following (by month) who helped us along the way:September
Thanks to Sales Director Angie at Suburban Extended Stay Hotel in Louisville who gave us a discounted room, bottled water and snacks to welcome us to Louisville on our first night.
Thanks to Kathleen Foreman and Track Director Richie Jones at Derby City BMX for the free camping during the Marathon weekend and the Grands.
Thanks to Forrest and Beth of Louisville, KY, (whom we found through www.warmshowers.org) who put us up for 3 nights in their home, made us some terrific meals, guided us to some of Louisville’s coolest spots and shared some great cycling stories.
Thanks to Lenny Hicks for a fun, comfortable and affordable ride back to Jersey.
Thanks to Track Director Brad and his crew at Toledo Speedway BMX track for 2 free nights of camping inside their registration office, 2 dinners out and lots of good conversation. Also, thanks for the official Toledo Speedway BMX track shirt.
Thanks to Bob of Bob’s Bike shop in Ohio for the free spoke.
Thanks to Sally and Gene of Oakdale Campground who made our stay the best campground stay along our route! Thanks for the camp chairs, the trip to the Laundromat, the float for the Beast to play with, and most especially for 2 dry nights in the cabin at no additional charge.
Thanks to track director Mike Taylor and his crew at Cindy Verburg BMX in Dayton, OH (including Angie, Matt Verburg, Shawn and so many more) for an awesome motorcycle escorted BMX rider parade, a plaque commemorating our arrival, a fun evening bonfire, breakfast sandwiches, chew bones for Coco, late night pizzas and drinks, and an official Cindy Verburg BMX shirt. Thanks to Mike and Vikki Taylor of Dayton, OH who gave us a fantastic night time tour of their city.
Thanks to Jeff Hampton of the Life Enrichment Center for a tour of his Bicycle facility and a fresh outlook on how bikes change our daily lives. Also, thanks for letting Frankenbutt use tools to work on our bikes.
Thanks to Five Rivers Metroparks officers who helped us plan a terrific bike route out of Dayton towards Cleves, OH.
Thanks to Jamie Bullens of Dayton Police Athletic League for providing us his own camper for us to use, for helping repair our bikes and for helping to coordinate the media for our arrival. Thanks to both Jamie and his wife, Linda, for a wonderfully relaxing day and delicious dinner at their home (and for letting us do laundry!).
Thanks to track Director John Peters and his family for free camping and for a wonderful breakfast before we left the Cleves, OH track.
Thanks to track Director Shane Kaysher of Columbus, IN BMX track for a free practice night and free track side camping.
Thanks to Tiffany and Russ Keller of Riverside BMX in Cumberland, MD for a pre-paid hotel room and for keeping the Beast overnight at their home, so we could have a romantic evening, YES!
Thanks to Hutch of the Cumberland Trail Connection Bike Shop for the discounts on much needed replacement bike parts.
Thanks to Mary Beth Pirolozzi of Cumberland, MD for coming out and supporting BMX and our ride into Riverside BMX and for her continued words of support.
Thanks to Kristie Yutzy of Riverside BMX who took and emailed lots of pics so that we could spend more time relaxing and socializing.
Thanks to Jim Chilcot and his crew at Johnstown BMX for a pre-paid hotel room, concessions and a fun time announcing their Sunday race. Also thanks for letting Coco race the Beast on the track.
Thanks to Jeff at Johnstown BMX for arranging the 50/50 wins to go to us; and thanks to Hunter Stiffler who won the 50/50 but decided to donate his half of the winnings to us, too. It was a humbling experience.
Thanks to George at Johnstown BMX who gave us money to help with our road expenses. It truly helped us keep up with the budget demands of this long ride.
Thanks to Bob Tedesco who took the Beast on a drag race thrill ride and hosted us for an afternoon of BMX talk.
Thanks to Mike, a cycling enthusiast, who gave us energy bars after watching us climb a particularly tough hill in Pennsylvania on our way to Westmoreland.
Thanks to track director Steve Barnes and his crew at Westmoreland BMX for a fun evening of riding, the clinic, and for driving our bikes and us to a pre-paid hotel room for the night. Also thanks for the Westmoreland track t-shirts.
Thanks to Michele of Westmoreland who gave Frankenbutt a REAL coffee cup and a delightful smooch!
Thanks to George and Dee Brain and their crew at South Park BMX for the free camping, food and the cool tent side shower they provided us. Thanks also for all the fire side conversation, cold beers and laughs.
Thanks to Bob J. whom we met in South Park; he gave us some much needed road cash to help us continue on our way.
Thanks to Mike Edens and the Virginia track riders who took the Beast out to dinner while we were at South Park and let her spend some time with her new pal, Cyann.
Thanks to Steve (of Westmoreland BMX) who coordinated our trip to the Duquesne and to Mark (of the Pittsburgh Duquesne Incline) who gave us an amazing behind the scenes tour of the historical landmark.
Thanks to Phil and Sheena who picked up us and our bikes in Pittsburgh, PA and spent 4 delightful days relaxing with us in Seven Springs, PA.
Thanks to Rick of E. Liverpool, OH for giving us a free night of camping in his yard, hot water bottles for washing up and for helping our budget.
Thanks to Evelyn of East Canton, OH for her words of confidence and for “buying us breakfast”.
Thanks to Justin Travis, Chris & Val Ashcraft of Ohio Dreams for inviting us to pool time, an amazing slip n slide experience and a free night of dorm life.
Thanks to Rick and his crew at Shady Lane BMX in Norwalk, OH for the free camping and food during their local race.
Thanks to Detroit natives Jason and Zack who offered us a safer alternative route to ride into Waterford, MI.
Thanks to Jennifer West and her crew at Waterford Oaks, MI BMX track (including the Parents Association) for the free camping, free concessions, spaghetti dinner, showers and free waterpark passes. Thanks also to Jennifer for coordinating a BMX escorted parade ride in to the track.
Thanks to Allison who made us a fresh salad, which I’d been craving, to go with our spaghetti dinner. Also, thanks for the souvenir cup cozy!
Thanks to Dawn at the Waterford track who gave me a new (larger) bath towel.
Thanks to Oakland County Parks who gave us a special plaque to commemorate our ride into the Waterford area.
Thanks to Kirk Morrison and his guys at J&R Bicycles for a fun upside down taco dinner while in Waterford, MI.
Thanks to Chad of Powers Bike shop for giving us an eventful ride to the Walmart to replace the Beast’s eyeglass frames.
Thanks to Gmom and Pop Pop for putting us up while we were in South Jersey, wonderful meals and for car sitting for us.
Thanks to Hara, Dustin and Rivii for inviting us to their home and making a wonderful dinner for us while we stayed in South Jersey.
Thanks to Penny “Pen-tertainment” Shipman for inviting the Beast for some sleep over and swimming fun with her daughters while we stayed in South Jersey, following the Pottstown, PA Memorial Classic race.
Thanks to our daughter, Cori, who met us in Pottstown, PA and drove us to NJ to see my mom, Gmom and friends.
Thanks to Cathy and Glen Knapper of Trilogy Park who gave us a free night’s hotel stay and a cake to celebrate our ride forward out of Pottstown.
Thanks to Barb and Jerry Patterson and their crew at New Paltz, NY track for the free camping and for feeding our family through the weekend.
Thanks to Amy G., of the New Paltz track, who gave us camp chairs to use at the Empire National race and also coordinated the media for our arrival.
Thanks to Terri, of the New Paltz Track, who made the Beast a huge, cool birthday cake in celebration of her 13th birthday.
Thanks to school principal, Lisa, of the New Paltz track, for giving the Beast a cool necklace and remembering her birthday.
Thanks to Andrei, whom we met at Spokes Bicycle shop in Shoemakersville, PA for lending us his map and giving us a good bike route to our campground in Shartlesville, PA.
Thanks to John Luxx of DeLuxx Bikes in Lebanon, PA who gave us free shifter cable replacements and t-shirts when we stopped at his store.
Thanks to Jen, Drake, Brittney and Josette for making the Beast’s stay at Thousand Trails’ Hershey Campground especially nice; for taking her to lunch and for giving us fresh herbs for our road camping meals.
Thanks to Cathy Knapper for coordinating a “BMX day at Hershey Park” for us and other Trilogy Park riders complete with discounted tickets.
Thanks to Sherman Lynn and the crew at Hagerstown BMX for the free camping and lunch during their Maryland State qualifier. Also thanks to Diane for the hot pancake breakfast, hot coffee, the track t-shirts and the personal insect repellant device.
Thanks to Rick, Lynn and Eleni Hanson who met us in Winchester, VA for a fun and relaxing evening with friends mid-ride.
Thanks to Ben Cary and his crew at Winchester BMX who gave us a hotel room while in town, coordinated the media coverage for our arrival and gave us dinner during the local race we attended. Also thanks for the official Winchester BMX back pack.
Thanks to Track Director Jason Jones of Palm Bay BMX who took us to dinner at Texas Roadhouse and candidly discussed the state of NBL BMX with us.
Thanks to Track Director Donnell Wright and President Michelle Messing of Jacksonville BMX for 3 days of being spoiled! They put us up in a magnificent suite (with private bedroom) at the Staybridge Suites (via “Visit Jacksonville) and arranged an exciting agenda for us during our stay in Jax. In addition, they gave us a gift bag with all kinds of goodies including Cracker Barrel gift cards, Foot Locker gift cards and official Jacksonville BMX t-shirts. Michelle also brought some of our favorite beverages to our suite.
Thanks to Champion Cycling in Jacksonville, FL for servicing our bikes, compliments of Jax BMX.
Thanks to Tori who gave the Beast a private surfing lesson via an arrangement made by Michelle Messing of Jax BMX.
Thank you to Steve and Elise of Stuntlife Inc. who gave us 3 Hydro Flasks: the most effective water bottles we’ve ever used; ice cubes will last up to 12 hrs in the double wall aluminum design. Niiiiiice!
Thanks to Catherine with Cycle Gear who gave the Beast and us a few pairs of protective eye goggles and some cool Fox t-shirts.
Thanks to track director Mitch Moon and his crew at Augusta BMX track who arranged a police escorted BMX parade ride in, a family party night at the track … with only 3 days’ notice that we were coming. PLUS, they arranged for TV news coverage of our arrival.
Thanks to Michelle Messing of Jacksonville BMX who tracked us online and let us know that we should consider a stop at the Augusta BMX track; it was one of our most memorable track stops!
Thanks to Brett of Out Spokin’ Bike Shop in Augusta, GA for the replacement tire tubes and for opening early so that we could purchase some much needed gloves, and replacement parts.
Thanks to the Lexington, SC track who fed us and transported our bikes and us to our hotel room when darkness caught us.
Thanks to the Clemmons, NC Tanglewood BMX track for free camping and concessions during the Dixieland National event.
Thanks to Donnell Wright of Jacksonville BMX for a fun evening out and yummy dinner together with his and Paul’s family at the Clemmons, NC Ruby Tuesday.
Thanks to track director Mike Edens and his crew at VMP BMX in Petersburg, VA who welcomed us, fed us and allowed us to camp overnight in their registration office. VMP also gave us a cool BMXer ride in, a fun night of racing, and a crazy opportunity to announce the race.
Thanks to Christina Lemon who came prepared and cut our hair under the big blue skies of VMP. What a fabulous experience!
Thanks to Brad, a random fan, who bought Frankenbutt his first Wawa cup of coffee in Richmond, VA.
Thanks to Art Luck and his riders at Richmond BMX track for a thrilling ride in parade from Monroe Park to the track during evening rush hour.
Thanks to Bud Higgins who lobbied for us to stop at VMP BMX track in Petersburg, VA; he also arranged many of the details for our stay in the Richmond, VA area. He and his sons, Cameron and Marshall, also took us out for an incredible meal at Kuba Kuba, compliments of the Richmond BMX track.
Thanks to the mayor of Richmond who welcomed us to the “Bike to Work Day” trip through the center of town and to the Virginia cycling clubs who joined us on the ride and later bought us breakfast at Perly’s in Richmond.
Thanks to St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA who gave us an amazing church sleep over via their parishioner and our friend, Bud Higgins.
Thanks to Cathy and Glen Knapper of Trilogy Park, Pottstown, PA who made our stay in Pottstown enjoyable, exciting and relaxing.
Thanks to the Pottstown Borough Council and the Pottstown Parks and Recreation Department for arranging an escorted parade BMX bike ride in from Pottstown Memorial Hospital to the track.
Thank you to Rita’s Water Ice of Pottstown, PA who donated a refreshing end to our ride in parade.
Thanks to Elise of Morgantown, PA area who gave us dark chocolate bars as we rode into Pottstown, PA.
Thanks to Jack Bontorno for the belated birthday cake we all enjoyed at the Memorial Classic race.
Thanks to the Pottstown Parks and Recreation for presenting us with 3 dining gift certificates for downtown Pottstown restaurants.
Thanks to the management of VIP Diner in Pottstown, PA for a wonderful lunch.
Thanks to the management of the Brick House restaurant in Pottstown, PA for an incredible dinner and dining experience.
Thanks to the management of Juan Carlos restaurant on High Street in Pottstown, PA for a wonderful dinner and thanks to Rich Farside and his family for puppy sitting so that we could go out together as a family.
Thanks to Maribeth of Virginia Beach BMX Designs for the wonderful chain link bracelets she made for the Beast and the Editor.
Thanks to John DiRenzo of Tri County Bikes in Pottstown, PA who serviced our road bikes via an arrangement made by Trilogy Park.
Thanks to my Gmom who put us up, fed us and let us do laundry following our week in Pottstown, PA.
Thanks also to my mom who put us up, fed us and made us laugh for the rest of the wonderfully relaxing week following the Memorial Classic in Pottstown, PA.
Thanks to Ellie who put us back in touch with our roots via a trip to our first (and now closed) track in Mullica Hill, NJ.
Thank you to Kathy Bostrum of Sarasota BMX who arranged for free camping at the Easter Classic race.
Thank you to Joe, Renee and Brooke Minichino who brought us tea and coffee and took the Beast for a fun evening of swimming at their hotel, during our stay at the Sarasota track.
Thank you to John Hundley of Hundley Farms in Central Florida. He gave us much needed water as we rode between Port Charlotte BMX and Okeeheelee BMX. John also emailed us regularly check if we were staying hydrated
Thank you to Amanda Carr and her crew at Charlotte BMX who provided us free camping and stayed open to cook us dinner even though weather forced the track to close for the evening.
Thank you to Track Director, TC and his crew at Okeeheelee BMX in West Palm Beach, FL, including Mitch, Marilyn, Michelle and all their volunteers. They provided us with free camping, concessions and lots of good laughs and memories.
My apologies if we have forgotten any one’s name or help you’ve given in our pursuit of this dream. You’re all a part of this and we truly hope we made you proud. Now, GO OUT AND RIDE YOUR BIKE!
Well, our bike journey is over and so is the NBL’s last Grand National Championship of BMX bike racing. Our arrival in Louisville was a bittersweet moment for all three of us. We were proud of our accomplishment but the reality that our ride was over, was a bit sad. Don’t get me wrong; we are eager to get back to some of our creature comforts, namely our own real beds. But that will still have to wait for a while longer. We are currently in NJ visiting friends and family before we head home to Florida.
On Friday, we saw lots of friends that we’ve known for years and those whom we’ve met along the way. We were prepared for the moment we ran into Art Luck of the Richmond, VA track. When visiting Art’s track in May, we asked if anyone had a bungee cord they could spare since we managed to lose one along the way. Art brought us a blue bungee that was a bit worn but still had life in it. He handed it to Frankenbutt, holding onto one end as he said, “I want this back. I want you to hand this to me AT THE GRANDS.” It was such a cool gesture and it became a sentimental item that we carried along our journey. When we saw Art, Frankenbutt slowly pulled the bungee from his pocket and Art smiled. He hugged us both and said, “I’m so glad to see you all here.” We were glad, too!
When the races started on Friday evening, we watched as the best of the best rode and jumped and flew over the Derby City track. It was our 7th trip to the Grands and Frankenbutt and I quietly hoped that it would be the Beast’s time to shine; maybe even her first time to make the main and take home a giant trophy.
The Beast was excited to be at the Grands and couldn’t wait to see her BMX friends. I noticed that most of her excitement was about seeing friends and less about racing. I assured myself that she is 13, a very social age, and that her focus would naturally be more about the social aspect and less about the racing. As I was falling asleep that evening, I thought about all the times my daughter has wrestled with staying in BMX; all the times we encouraged her to continue to race, even when she doubted her own abilities.
I decided, then and there, that I trust my daughter to make her own decisions about BMX racing from here forward. She has proven to me over the course of this long ride, that she is mature, insightful and thoughtful. She has devoted 9 years, on and off, to BMX racing. She has had times when she was driven and times when she was indifferent about her sport of choice. She has seen most all of America, experienced other lifestyles and cultures and often speaks with wisdom beyond her years. It’s time for us to listen. I fell asleep feeling a little more mature myself.
On Saturday morning, Frankenbutt was the first one up and checked out the moto boards. The Beast was in Moto 146 and had gates 1, 4 and 8 in her 3 qualifying rounds. I had the 2nd shift of scoring and figured that they’d be running 100 motos per hour; meaning that I’d probably be able to watch her first race before I started scoring. I wished the Beast luck, told her to go enjoy riding and that Frankenbutt and I would be watching from the final straight. She smiled and headed up into staging.
When the gate dropped and the six 13 year old challenger girls in her moto blasted out onto the track, the Beast was slightly in the rear of the pack as she cleared the first triple. She dove into the first berm and quickly skid out and fell. I was frozen in place and couldn’t breathe as I watched the corner marshall run down to help her. Two other track officials surrounded her and I couldn’t see if she was ok. I ran towards the finish line to wait for her, knowing that it was best to let the officials do their job and wait to see if she was able to get up and ride.
In short order, the Beast was back up and the announcer said, “that’s Neva Warren, one of the Ride the Nation family, who rode her bike over 3500 miles from Florida to here. She’s back up and ok. She’s as tough as a $2 steak at the Waffle House.” I found tears streaming down my face, relieved that she was ok. When she rode into the finish line area, I wrapped my arms around her and asked if she was ok. She said she was but that she realized that the fall really screwed up her chances of advancing.
She seemed to look at me with a question she wasn’t asking. I answered it any way. I said, “I don’t mind if you don’t win. I’m just really glad to know you’re ok.” She smiled through the tears and then Frankenbutt arrived and he wrapped his arms around her and asked how she was. They walked off together towards the chairs we had in the shade as I made my way to the finish line to score.
In the second moto, I was at the finish line scoring and didn’t see the beginning of her race. I noticed that she crossed the finish line in 5th place out of the 6 riders. When I finished my scoring shift, I found the Beast and she told me that she had fallen over in the gate and therefore had to race like mad to get the 5th place finish. She also acknowledged that it would take a miracle during Sunday’s 3rd round of racing in order to advance to the mains. We both knew it was unlikely and I told her to just relax and have fun with friends.
We prepared our Ramen Noodles and Broccoli dinner and just as we were about to serve it, Ellie called and insisted that we join her, Mike and a bunch of other friends at a local Barbecue restaurant. I resisted at first and then realized “resistance is futile!” We went and had a really good time, really good food and managed to leave the restaurant with a souvenir, a wooden pig! After such a fun evening out, I didn’t feel bad at all about wasting the 75 cents of Ramen Noodles we tossed out.
I fell asleep in the thick humid night air, reminiscing about all the fun times we’ve had with Ellie and Mike Kidd and all of our BMX friends over the years. As I rolled over, I felt something hard under the edge of my sleeping bag. It was a little wooden pig. Hmm. That’s funny. I didn’t recall bringing it back to my tent. I resolved that the pig would find a new home on Sunday; maybe somewhere in Ellie and Mike’s trailer.
On Sunday, we awoke to cooler weather and overcast skies. The Beast prepared to race her 3rd moto and Frankenbutt and I took our place along the fence on the 3rd straight. She finished last in her group of 6 riders although she looked great on the track. We met her as she came out of the finish line area. She was quite emotional and I assured her that we were proud of her. Frankenbutt said, “All I care about is that you did your best.” The Beast looked up nervously and said, “I don’t think I did. I didn’t try as hard as I could. I just didn’t think it would make a difference.” The tears rolled down my face and I smiled through them, thankful for her honesty.
I really don’t know what lies ahead for the Beast, as far as BMX is concerned. I’m sure we’ll talk about that soon. But there was no time for that since I still had 2 shifts of scoring to do. I typically help score the semis and mains at national events but I get a little nervous doing that at the Grands since the final rounds are truly the fastest riders in the country. But it’s also an opportunity to witness the thrill of first place finishes and the agony of lesser finishes, lost by mere inches. It was really great to see some of the Beast’s friends win their first time trophies at the Grands.
When it was all said and done, Frankenbutt, the Beast and I piled into our friend, Lenny Hicks’ Suburban. He had offered to drive us back to Jersey together with his 13 year old son, who raced amazingly well and won a trophy as tall as him. We had a blast riding with them and laughed our way through several states, arriving at Gmom’s in the wee hours of the morning. (I didn't even mind that Lenny almost ran a red light before leaving town and missed his first turn onto the highway out of Louisville; I just figured it was going to be another funny BMX memory!)
As we quietly slipped in her front door, I noticed a paper taped to the glass front of the screen door. It said, “Welcome Bikers”. I smiled. Gmom’s been following our ride all along via our blog. She is one of so many people who has helped us in some way to accomplish our crazy dream. In fact, I still have at least one more blog to write, acknowledging each and every person who has played a role in our journey. I may also write a “what worked/what didn’t” informational blog for anyone considering a bike journey. And then finally, I hope to write a blog about our ”random fandom”, including the messages we’ve been sent by people who passed us along the road, looked up our website and shared their thoughts with us.
Forgive me for not getting this and other blogs posted in a timely way. I have many excuses but none of which I will drone on about. (FYI, I reminded Gmom to take the Bikers Welcome sign down; on a rainy day like today, cyclists might get word of her sign, show up and hang out in the comfort of her home, like we did!)
Day 134, Miles Ridden Today (Thursday): 0, Ridden Overall: 3842, Camping: $0, We are staying overnight at Derby City BMX, Louisville, KY (compliments of the track)
- To track online our current location, see instructions on the “Ride the Nation Route Plan” page of this website
- Also, Follow us on Twitter, search “ridethenation”
- Check out our blog on www.bmxmania.com for exclusive details you won’t find here.Today’s Blog written by Frankenbutt:The idea of this trip began 4 years ago when I bought a book called, “Around the World on Two Wheels”, a book about a Jewish mother from Boston who rode her bike around the world. I’ve always been drawn to these types of non-fiction adventure stories. Butterball read the book after me and upon finishing, declared, “we should do this.” The idea got filed away while life threw what it had at us. The idea re-emerged after a short but exhausting bike ride last year. Butterball may have originally brought up the idea but it was me who was “gung-ho” and wouldn’t let the dream die. It was something that I daydreamed about, read about, and spent hours researching. The dream slowly became reality and Butterball was supportive but nervous and the Beast just thought we were both nuts. The pedaling is now over and there are some things I’d like to publicly say to these two women whom I’ve followed for over 3800 miles.There have been many comments made to me about a twelve year old girl doing this epic journey and I, of course, had my own doubts and concerns about the Beast. To her I’d like to say this: You have handled this trip better than I would have ever imagined. I know you often have your doubts about your abilities as a bike rider but you have done better than any riding partner that I could have hoped for. You are, without a doubt, a better rider than I could ever hope to be. You have amazed me every day of this ride.I have had several times when I didn’t think I could go one more foot and I’d look up to see you pedaling your bike in front of me, without complaint, and seemingly without effort. I’m humbled by the person you are and I’m so lucky to be able to call you my daughter. And to my wife, I want to say: I don’t think there’s a greater compliment than “You did it!” Regardless of how critical you are on yourself, there’s no way of getting around the fact that you rode your bike 3,842 miles. I watched you ride all that way in front of me and conquer any obstacle that stood in your path. When it was hot, you rode. When it was raining, you rode. When you were injured, you rode. When you were tired, you still rode. I watched you pedal your bike on smooth roads and gravel. I watched you revel on the downhills and curse your way on the uphills, and of all the hills and mountains we faced, there wasn’t one that could stop you. You found the will and determination to get over every single one when so many others would have quit. I know how hard of a journey this was for me, both physically and mentally, and I don’t know if I could have done it without you there. I find comfort knowing that whatever lay around the next bend, I will face it with you by my side. I love you,Jay and Dad
Day 132 & 133, Miles Ridden Today (Tuesday): 11 & (Wednesday) 13, Ridden Overall: 3842, Camping: $0, We are staying overnight at Derby City BMX, Louisville, KY (compliments of the track)
- To track online our current location, see instructions on the “Ride the Nation Route Plan” page of this website
- Also, Follow us on Twitter, search “ridethenation”
- Check out our blog on www.bmxmania.com for exclusive details you won’t find here.We awoke Tuesday morning, dressed and rode out into downtown Louisville. The Beast got suggestions from Beth (our warmshowers.org host) as to where to find Victorian fashions. She recommended a few places, wrote the addresses and directions to each and we set out on our bikes. We first stopped at the Joe Ley Antiques store and Frankenbutt was fascinated with the collection of antique bikes they had. The Beast wandered for a long time and was captivated by all the statues, vintage clothes and shoes. Coco and I found a shady spot on the sidewalk and lounged while they shopped. Later, we checked out Crazy Daisy’s antiques and the Beast was in heaven! They had several dresses, petticoats, handbags, shoes and more from the Victorian era. We found a sidewalk café to linger over lunch as the cars rushed by to and from their many places. It was quite nice to have “down time” without a plan or a schedule to follow. We rode around the city and found ourselves drawn to the park that borders the river, where cyclists, joggers and young lovers all gathered as the sun was setting. We lounged in the shade while the Beast read her new book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I returned some emails, contacted a few more media; Frankenbutt provided his thigh as a pillow for my head. When our bellies growled, we rode to a Papa John’s and ordered some takeout pizza and ate it on the sidewalk. When it started to get dark, we turned on our flashing tail lights and headed back to Forrest and Beth’s home for the evening. Beth insisted that we do wash before we leave, even though I thought we might be imposing. She was so nice and said she understood the rigors of long distance biking and assured me that we weren’t imposing. On Wednesday morning, we awoke and started packing down all of our stuff, loading our bikes and preparing to leave for the track. The Beast had been crocheting a hat for Beth and finished it just before we planned to leave. She gave it to Beth who looked genuinely thrilled with it; Forrest said it reminded him of one of his favorite South Park characters’ hats. The Beast smiled and thanked them for all of their kindness. Frankenbutt and I also thanked them and wished them luck in their future adventures. We rode our bikes into the sunshine and towards the track. We had a few groceries to pick up so we stopped at a Kroger store along the way. As I stood in front of the pasta shelves, I thought to myself that I’m definitely not buying Knorr’s Pasta sides, Ramen Noodles, or Shells and Cheese dinners when I return to regular food shopping in Florida … at least not for a while. I bought some broccoli to go with the pasta, some bananas for Peanut Butter and Banana breakfast sandwiches, a few packs of Ramen Noodles and a can of chili, and a loaf of multigrain bread. I loaded it into different panniers on my bike and we again rode towards the track.
We all seemed to notice the “BMXers Welcome to Louisville” sign about the same time. We pulled over in front of the convenience store at the corner of Westport Rd. and Freys Hill Rd. and took a quick pic. We were disappointed that we didn’t have an official sign to pose in front of when we came into Kentucky … so, this will have to do.
We got back on our bikes and pedaled the remaining mile or so to the track. We started seeing riders on bikes with race plates on their handle bars and I started getting butterflies. We also could see, from the road that wraps around the park, that camping was open, although it was only 3 in the afternoon. Yeah! We pulled in and found out that Derby City was also not going to charge us for camping and we thanked them; at this point in the ride, we are definitely over budget.
We found a grove of trees with a gap in the middle that looked like the perfect shady spot for our tent. We set up the tent, threw our gear in, locked up our bikes and started walking around the track. We ran into DJ from Smoothie King who congratulated us on our ride and told us to help ourselves to free smoothies at his vending trailer. Niiiiice! We LOVE Smoothie King smoothies!
We also ran into so many families who we met along our way. Several of them asked to take us to dinner but we told them all that we have the dog and we don’t feel comfortable leaving her alone in the tent. They all said they understood … except one. When we stopped to see my good friend, Ellie and her husband, Mike, they asked to take us to Outback Steakhouse, a favorite restaurant of ours that holds lots of great memories from a night out so long ago with Mike, Ellie and their sons, Ryan and Jesse. When we told her we’d love to go but that we couldn’t because of the dog … Ellie showed us her camper and told us that Coco could stay with her dog, Sticky, in the a/c while we were gone. Sticky and Coco got along great right from the get go and the Beast looked at us with pleading eyes. Knowing Coco would be OK, we accepted.
Frankenbutt and I rolled on a little more deodorant, changed shirts and met Mike and Ellie at their camper. The Beast stowed her bike and was all smiles to be going to one of her favorite restaurants. We all jumped into Mike’s truck and headed out, recounting funny stories from that night out so long ago. It’s so hard to believe that the Beast was only 5 and that her boys were teenagers and now they’re men with amazing careers. Where does the time go? It made me think how glad I am that we took this bike journey with the Beast before she, too, grows up and starts her own life.
Once we were seated, Ellie asked if I was ordering my old favorite, Appletinis. Although that was appealing, I ordered a Foster’s instead, since they had it on tap. She and Mike ordered Coronas, Frankenbutt ordered a dirty Martini and the Beast had a Pink Lemonade. We toasted being together at the end of the ride and it was a perfect ending to our long adventure. Ellie said she wanted to do something for us; that she felt she hadn’t done anything for us, during our ride. I had to tell her how wrong she was. From the time we started training, Ellie has written us blog comments that ranged from supportive, to funny, to a “whack” when we needed it.
I told her how often her comments helped all of us get through the ride; how reading them made me get up and ride when I’d rather have just stayed in bed and relaxed. Ellie was our first BMX connection, when the Beast was only 4. Back then, the Beast saw something she wanted to do and figured out that Ellie was the path to get to where she wanted to go. It was perfectly fitting to mark our arrival in Louisville over dinner and drinks with a remarkable woman who has helped all three of us get to where we wanted to go.