Vancouver: The Land of my Dreams

Retrospective blogging about the end of the best summer of my life sure isn’t easy, but a story as long and as epic as this one needs a conclusion.

 

After Sherman Pass, we continued to climb over more mountains – a total of 6 mountain passes in 5 days.  None were nearly as hard as Sherman in my opinion but everyone felt differently about every pass.  The most beautiful were for sure our final two climbs – Washington Pass and Rainy Pass in the Cascades.  We camped the night before and climbed up Washington Pass right out of camp and it was so incredibly gorgeous.  At one point the road turned around a bend and the trees disappeared and rocky mountain tops replaced them.  It was surely one of the most beautiful moments of the summer.  At the top of the pass 5,000 feet in the air we could look back and see the road we climbed – which looks much steeper than it felt to climb.  And to celebrate our final hard mountain pass, logically we had a dance party to Brittany Spears 🙂

 

After Washington pass our path leveled out some and we traded in our tents for roofs for our final three nights together.  Even though we were out of the mountains, we kept climbing hills – one hill on our way to Surrey B.C. was our steepest decent at a 13 percent grade.  Thats incredibly steep – so much so that you can’t see anything in front of you and its scary especially when you notice that the hill ends in a stop light :/  Canada has been slightly confusing with its Kilometers per hour and flashing green lights (and I still don’t know what those mean).

 

Our ride from Surrey B.C. to Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean was hands down one of the most amazing days of the summer.  Our ride was just over 30 miles and the last 15 we rode as a group of 30, dominating the streets of Vancouver.  We were even led by members of the Vancouver Bike Coalition to Stanley Park and Sunset Beach.  We yelled, sung and celebrated for the entire journey which was so much fun and definitely one of the highlights of the summer.  Once we were at the beach we took off our CamelBaks and ran right into the Pacific Ocean.  Hugs for everyone and songs of sheer joy were seen and heard by everybody at the beach by 30 Americans in spandex.

 

Adjusting back to regular life hasn’t been as difficult as we’d have imagined.  The hardest part has certainly been constantly being around people who cannot simply understand what Bike & Build is about.  No words can describe waking up on a Thermarest for an entire summer, bonking, napping anywhere, eating copious amounts of food no matter how it tastes, or being around 30 amazing individuals every single minute of an entire summer.

 

Lastly,  a note of thanks.  If your reading this then you have been an integral and necessary part of my summer.  To my donors – thank you for supporting me and helping to make housing more affordable.  To all of our amazing hosts from coast to coast – Bike & Build would not be possible without your generosity and support and your buildings truly became home for the night we were there.

 

I’ve seen the world changing from my saddle.  Americans truly care about one another and want to make our nation a better place.  You have helped make housing in our nation affordable for everyone.

 

Thank you for the best summer of my life.

Jake Winfield

Eat. Sleep. Bike. Build.

Washington: the beginning of the end

It’s been awhile again since I have blogged but now the end is in sight – six ride days left.  Weve crossed into and out of Idaho and now are in our final state – washington.  The past two days we have climbed 2 different mountain passes in Washington – flowery trail pass yesterday and Sherman pass today.  Both were pretty intense but today’s climb once a rough one.  We climbed up for 20 miles and it took me 3 and a half hours mostly chugging along at 5 mph (on flat land it would take just an hour and a half to go the same distance).  All of the team made it to the top and the views were great- the mountains all around were covered in trees and it was phenomenal to finally be at the top.  Some people claim that this was their hardest climb of the summer, but Bethel in Vermont is still king for me.  It may have been longer today but at least I could go for awhile without stopping and that wasn’t possible out east.  Coming down was a blast today I decended 10 miles in 20 minutes and smiled the whole way down from sheer awe at the beauty of the northwest.  We haven’t left the hills since we entered them back in Glacier and that was a lifetime ago but I can rock hills like nobodies business.  

Oh, there’s been a couple minor bike issues too but since were in the middle of backcountry Washington there aren’t any bike shops so quite a few people are making do and stretching it until our next bike shop.  We’ve not had too much good luck at the recent bike shops in Sandpoint – riders ended up with shoddy repairs and are pretty frustrated about both money lost and that their bike isn’t in tip top shape for these long climbs.  Rumor has it that tomorrow there will be a shop, but that doesn’t mean it can cater to our needs.                                           

We camp a couple times in our last week so if I drop off the blogosphere again that’s why, but I’ll do my best to fill you in on my last days

Central Montana: Cliff Notes Version

Since the last time I had Internet or energy to blog literally a ton has happened so here’s the super abbreviated version.  

– We just finessed an 11 day ride stretch without any build days or days off.  It was intense and everyone was exhausted by the end but we motivated each other to take it one at a day at a time.

– every gas station in MT has an attached casino (or every casino has a gas station…) and drugs are a big problem for the comma ivies based on the billboards against using meth and alcohol that are abnormally frequent.

– today we passed the 3000 mile mark meaning we have just 800 until the Pacific and only 13 days left.  

– we’ve been to a Rodeo (a ton of fun) and a dinosaur museum in Malta where they a mummified dinosaur.

– Wind can change in an instant – one day ERI and I struggled into Chester with a nasty headwind that turned into a tailwind foe the rest of our team and that was demoralizing.

– we’ve started the process to determine which affordable housing grants to fund and that is pretty stressful knowing that next time we meet people might get very defensive about certain projects.  I saw some truly unique and inspiring grants and honestly wish we could give to them all to make housing affordable but that’s not possible…

– I had my final day sweeping the group with Dank into Cut Bank which was essentially a 70 mile conversation that rocked.

– Today was the last ride for 2 great teammates JY and Caitlin who both had to leave for RA training.  It’s sad not being able to finish but it feels like were leaving part of our team behind…now we are just 30 strong to finish the journey to Vancouver for affordable Housing.  

– Last night we camped out in Glacier National Park which was insanely gorgeous.  I ended up being keeper of the fire pitting my scout skills to good use.

– oh yeah, today we climbed Logan Pass in the park in the Rocky Mountains!!!!!  Elevation of 6646 feet and the climb up today was 18 miles but not hard at all.  The hardest part was getting out of the park before the road closed to cyclists and never have I pedaled so hard in my life to make it through. Every mile was so pretty that it was almost unbelievable it was real – the past two days in the Rockies have been jaw dropping and have made me shout out of sheer wonder.  Northern just biked the Rocky Mountains!!!!!

– lastly. Tomorrow is our final build day of our summer here in Whitefish MT.  It’s unreal

The Wild and Windy West

Montana – the land of winds and great plains.  Since my last post we hit another realy rough windy day, but since then our minelage has increased and the winds have gone down.  Much more interesting than our struggles on the bike are our adventures at our host sites. 

In Wolf Point we were invited to the Wadopana Pow Wow which was a unique cultural experience – I wish that I knew more about the culture of Native Americans to appreciate it more.  Our next stop was Malta MT where we were able to go to the North East Montana Fair and go to a Rodeo.  I loved the rodeo – it was a blast to watch and the people watching was amazing too.  Today we rode into Chinook MT, a nice 67 mile ride.  Sadly, the terrain is still empty plains that I have stopped really enjoying, especially in this 11 ride day stretch we are 7 days into.  The best part about today’s ride was that in the distance in the south we could see moutains in the horizon even though we are still about 3 rides before we start to climb up the Rockies.  Simply put, the overbearing moutains bring exitement to me that has been lacking on these empty roads.  I cannot wait until we climb out of Glacier National Park in the Rockies!!!!

Lastly, a note to the Rocky Mountains: Get ready for team NUS11 because you haven’t seen anything like us, ever.  And, we will conquer you and see America from your  great mountain passes.  Give us your best – we wouldn’t dare take anything less from our last major hurdle until Vancouver.

Headwinds Blow

Headwinds suck, like really really suck.  Our 55mile ride into Wolf Point MT turned into one of the hardest days of the summer just because of the wind.  And we heard bad things about the few towns in between Culbertson and Wolf Point which seemed slightly exaggerated but decided not to have a lunch stop.  It got really hot and I started getting low on liquids without a place to refill which riding slow into wind was really stressful.  I’m more tired now than after our 116 mile day and my legs felt like jello on the road with an entire hour left to bike.  Once I made it to our host,  I literally sat down on a couch and fell asleep sitting in my cycling clothes which aren’t that comfy.  On the positive side, the ride was almost all on a Native American Reservation.  While it looks no different from the areas around it, tonight we are headed to a pow-wow with dancers from all around the nation and even Canada (which is only 60 miles away).  The entire team is looking forward to this experience and is excited for it here out in the wild wild west

MONTANA!!!

We finally made it to Montana!!!  Everyone has been looking forward to the state and it certainly has not disappointed 22 miles in.  The hills in North Dakota have flattened out a ton so that the state really is big sky country.  Today’s ride was super short at 44 miles so we had a ton of fun and took our time.  Our hosts here in Culbertson have been all we could dream of and even directed us to the Missouri River.  A group of us went down and the river was absolutely phenomenal all around us.  Off to bed even though tomorrows another short day, but that’s how I roll

Ice Cream Makes Everything Better

It’s weird when 80 miles is a short day to us.  We all made it quick to lunch with a tail wind but then the wind turned against us making the last 40 miles into Williston ND rough.  Between the wind and the traffic we hit at the end of the day it was a challenge for sure. Once we got to the host our day turned around at dinner.  Were staying at Williston State College and had to ask local businesses for dinner food and it turned into a feast!  Dessert was definitely a barbaric feast on a Dairy Queen ice cream cake – 11 of us devoured the entire cake in 10 minutes.  It was an awesome time that just proved to us how much we can eat without even thinking about it.  Most importantly, after the long last 40 miles I needed a good pick me up and devouring the ice cream cake with the team did just that