Pedal for a Cause
By Rodd Strobel and Kristi Spurgeon
Five intrepid cyclists. 1,800 miles. From Canada to Mexico, they battled heat, wind, flat tires, and at least one harrowing crash to fight the deadly cancer that had claimed a beloved friend and family member. Teri Kuhlman, a longtime employee of the Health and Physical Education Department at Walla Walla College, died of melanoma in 2004. Kuhlman was the wife of WWC faculty member Curtis Kuhlman. The Endless Ride 1 (TER1) is named in her honor and was created to raise awareness of the disease—and money to help eradicate it. Rider Rodd Strobel gives us a glimpse of the road from the saddle.
Day 1 Monday, July 1
The Endless Ride adventure began, ironically, with a long car trip. After spending the morning loading the trailer with food, bikes, food, tents, sleeping bags, food, luggage, and more food, we took off for Curlew Lake, Wash., where we camped before the next day’s ride.
Day 4 Thursday, July 13
Lind, Wash., to Hermiston, Ore.
The inch-and-a-half wide shoulder (OK, it might have been two inches) from Wallula Gap to Hermiston proved challenging, but we passed the skinniest sections as quickly as we could.
The only real mishap of the day occurred when David got a flat tire and broke another spoke. We are beginning to suspect that he carries a pair of cutters and just reaches down for a quick “snip,” when he decides he has ridden enough for the day. Despite the distance covered today, we all felt pretty good and were glad to have Washington behind us.
Day 9 Tuesday, July 18
Mitchell, Ore., to La Pine, Ore.
Today Marv had an unfortunate encounter with a rock a few miles
north of La Pine.
It was a pretty scary moment, as his front tire blew out and sent him swerving into the middle of the southbound lane. I looked back just in time to see him hit the pavement in the middle of the lane and to see his bike bounce across the centerline. Keeping his wits about him, he quickly rolled to the side of the road where we checked to make sure all his parts were in the right place and tended to his splitopen right elbow.
Because his helmet cracked—saving his noggin—he will need to procure a new one before he resumes his journey.
Day 10 Wednesday, July 19
La Pine, Ore., to Diamond Lake, Ore.
Today started out bad and steadily got worse. When Marv woke up this
morning, he discovered that laying down and sitting up were OK, but anything that put weight on his right hip was not OK. After much deliberation he decided it would be best to recover from his injuries at home, though we hope he will be able to rejoin us somewhere in California.
Our ride today can be described rather briefly. Longer than we expected. Two flat tires. Headwinds most of the day. A seemingly endless hill. Other than that, our seats hurt, our feet hurt, and we are tired. We face another
century [100 miles] tomorrow. And right now I am too tired to even care if it is uphill or into the wind.
Day 15 Monday, July 24
Arcata, Calif., to Piercy, Calif.
Today we discovered that although you can get so hot it feels like you will burst into flames, it doesn’t actually happen. The ride through The Avenue of the Giants was more like a ride through The Avenue of the Giant Heat Lamps. When our delirium diminished enough that our vision returned, the scenery was actually quite beautiful.
If we thought that The Avenue of the Giants was hot, we were mistaken—that was actually the cool part of the ride. When we were in Garberville, the thermometer in the truck had a reading of 121 degrees. None of us doubted that the temperature on the road was any less.
Day 20 Saturday, July 29
Donna Baerg, sister of Marlene Baerg, of WWC School of Engineering fame, very kindly let us camp at her house for the weekend. She was gone, but left word with her friends that a bunch of dangerous looking people may be seen hanging around her house for a couple of days. (Seriously, that’s what they told us. I guess our fame precedes us.) Instead of calling the police, they welcomed us when we arrived and invited us to lunch after church.
Tim Kubrock, whom I knew from my days teaching in Southern California, is the principal at Monterey Bay Academy now. He came by to ask if Curtis would share a little about our trip at church. As usual, we met several people at church whom we know, or who know people we know, so it was nice to make connections and expand our church family. It turns out that Dave Thomas, of WWC School of Theology fame, has a cousin (Natalie) that we met here as well.
Day 22 Monday, July 31
Big Sur, Calif., to Morro Bay, Calif.
Nothing like starting the day with a climb. Even getting out of the
campground required going up hill.
David has objected to calling all of the rollers we have to go over
“kickers,” so we have come up with a definitive categorizing system.
If we can stay in our big chain rings, then it is a “roller” or a “kicker.”
If we shift into our small chain rings, then it is a called a “hill.” If we
have to shift into our two lowest gears, then it is officially a “climb.”
Misidentifying any of the above categories runs you the risk of being
called a Girl Scout.
Day 26 Friday, Aug. 4
Dana Point, Calif., to Mexico
What a day. The towns rolled by with seemingly little effort, but that
may just have been because we knew we were on the home stretch.
Wanting to prolong the fun, we took the scenic route and finally
caught up with our expanded support crew a couple of miles from the
“actual” border. Reaching the border, we took a few pictures for posterity
and rode back for more hugs, more pictures, and some cold drinks.
Day 27 It has been an incredible journey.
When Curtis brought up the idea of a fundraising ride for the Teri Lynn Kulhman Cancer Foundation, I don’t think this is quite what he envisioned. The truth is, even after a year-and-a-half of planning and organizing, none of us really knew what to expect.
It turns out that The Endless Ride 1 is a lot like life. Times for planning and dreaming, and times when dealing with the realities of the day consumes all of your energy. Moments of ease and comfort, and seemingly endless moments of fear, pain, and uncertainty. We have been blessed in innumerable ways by having gone through this experience. We are tired, but we have been made stronger.
In many ways, we will miss the rhythms of sleep, eat, ride, sleep, eat, ride that we have become accustomed to. But we are also ready to return to the comforts of our “normal” life. As Curtis and I shook hands and hugged at the border yesterday, I said something to him that he has told me is the only way he has survived through the tough times he has faced. “One day at a time, my friend, one day at a time.”
Curtis Kuhlman, WWC faculty
David Green, WWC student
Marvin Denney, WWC faculty
Kraig Scott, WWC faculty
Rodd Strobel, WWC staff
Julie Scott, Kraig’s wife, Week One chef
Roger and Dorita Strobel, Rodd’s parents, Week Two-Four chef and crew
Andrew Scott, Kraig and Julie’s youngest son, TER1 videographer
Average miles per day: 89.41Average Speed: 17.43 miles per hourTotal riding time: 107.7 hoursLongest ride: 126 milesShortest ride: 65 miles
Last update on November 7, 2007