Day 38: Concord, NH – Boston, MA
Distance: 75 miles
Vertical: 1,385 feet
Biking Time: 4:30
August 28th, 2016
A month ago we biked onto Revere Beach in Massachusetts just north of Boston to conclude our 38 day bike tour across the country. After 37 days of riding without injury or incident, I had my first crash within 100 yards of the Atlantic Ocean. While our dream of riding our bikes into the ocean died in that moment our yearlong goal of undertaking this bike ride and raising $20,000 had just been fulfilled. Lying in the sand after my sad attempt to pedal my way through the sand with my leg underneath my bike, I couldn’t have been happier.
As a goal setter and a planner, the accomplishment of completing this yearlong goal was possibly the most satisfying feeling in my life. Never had I set such an ambitious goal for myself and seen it all the way through. The anticipation, the doubts of others, logistical obstacles and our own doubts made this a very daunting task for the majority of this past year and I know I speak for all three of us when I say there were many times we questioned our ability to make it happen. But some combination of luck, persistence, hard work and a whole lot of undying support from our loved ones made this crazy dream come true. We shattered our own expectations and raised over $26,000 for the Kyle Charvat Foundation, biked over 3,500 miles across the country, kindled many amazing new friendships and learned more than we ever wanted to about one another.
We were so blessed and really surprised by the number of people who followed us on our journey through our website and social media. The first day we didn’t make a blog post we all got a number of concerned messages from people who wanted to make sure we were safe which really blew us away because we had joked with each other about how pointless the blog was because no one was going to read it. Yet here I am writing our last one because apparently you guys really enjoyed it! So thank you all so much for reading. I hope you guys had as much fun reading the blog as we did experiencing the country on our bikes and getting to tell you all about it.
In my month of being home I have gotten to see, hug, talk to, laugh with and enjoy the company of many of you who have followed our journey and I know that Matt and Nigel have as well. For those of you who we haven’t gotten to see and share our experiences with, I hope we cross paths soon! In the meantime we wanted to answer a few questions for you guys that we imagine you might have wanted to ask us in person:
Question: What was the most physically challenging aspect of the ride?
Answer: When we talked about this ride, we were always so excited for the second half of it. We thought that it would become so easy that we could do it in our sleep. While long distance cycling became much easier, we were surprised that each segment of the ride presented new challenges. The West Coast had lots and lots of steep mountains. The days were shorter but we had to work really hard just to make it 70 miles. There were 5 mountain passes that we went through in the first 4 days! We took our only rest day for the whole ride in Spokane so that we could recover from the brutal climbs. The Great Plains presented the challenge of fighting headwinds with no tree coverage or hills to knock it down. It also was depressingly boring at times due to the sheer lack of scenery. Once we got further into the Midwest and East Coast, we had to battle sweltering heat and unpaved bike paths. We would need to take long breaks in the air conditioning of a McDonald’s to prevent heat exhaustion and our averaged speed dropped due to a percentage of our pedaling power going into losing traction on the loose gravel. Factoring all of that in, we all agree that the Great Plains was the hardest region. One huge thing we learned is that so much physical power comes from mental strength. When you are bored, frustrated and tired it becomes difficult to fight the desire to quit. That being said, the single hardest day was the fourth day where we summited two passes totaling to 7,399 feet of climbing over 94 miles. We summited Sherman Pass, the highest pass in Washington, 57 miles into the ride! A nice 22 mile decent after Sherman popped us right out into headwinds that we had to fight against for the last 15 miles until Colville.
Question: What was your least favorite day?
Answer: Nigel and I agreed that our least favorite day was the day we biked 90 miles from Bismarck, ND in an attempt to make it to Jamestown, ND. We fell 30 miles short of Jamestown and had been biking all day. The headwinds slowed us down to an average of just over 12 miles an hour and at the end of the day we were worn down, disappointed with ourselves, miserable after fighting headwinds all day and had to stop because it was getting dark. Since Matt didn’t have to bike that day he concluded that his least favorite day was July 23rd, the day after his 21st birthday for “obvious reasons”. Very few people wake up from a night of drinking with the urge of going on a 95-mile bike ride… he now understands why.
Question: What was your favorite day?
Answer: Nigel’s favorite day was the ride from the Twin Cities to Wabasha, MN. The headwinds were so bad that day that he and Matt biked side by side laughing about how difficult it was, making jokes, playing road trip games and having competitions of who could say the city names they passed in the dumbest accent. Matt’s favorite day was the second day where we summited Washington Pass. While the riding was extremely difficult the views were unreal and it was unquestionably the prettiest scenery of our entire ride. It was also really fun that the three of us got to ride together that day because we still had Nolan with us who was driving the support vehicle. My favorite day was our second to last day where we biked from Norwich, VT to Concord, NH. We were seriously biking up a mountain pass at 30 miles an hour. Obviously we had a tailwind but there was no way in hell that we would have been able to put that much power consistently into our pedals at the beginning of the ride. It was a testament to the progress we had made physically which was awesome.
Question: What crazy thing are you guys going to do next? Are you still cycling?
Answer: What aren’t we going to do next? I seriously feel like I can accomplish anything after doing this and I have a ton of challenges I want to tackle next. Next summer I want to try and bike across Washington in two days. I would do the same route that we did across the state but in half the time. I think all of us really want to do some mountain biking also. When we stayed with our new friend Sean from Rockford, IL, he told us about the “Whole Enchilada” in Moab. We looked up some videos of it and started to watch a bunch of mountain biking videos. I’m practically addicted to the sport and I don’t even have a mountain bike. Finally we all are really interested in doing the RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) which our friend Scott Deitz told us about. While Iowa isn’t necessarily the most interesting biking terrain, the event sounds amazing and it’s definitely made it near the top of my bucket list. So yes, we are definitely still biking.
The day that we made it to Boston we failed to write our last blog post and let you all know that we had made it across the country safely. Now, a month later, I don’t think I can stir up the same emotions that I felt on that last day so I’d like to leave you all with what I wrote on my own Facebook account that evening. Some of you may have seen it already but it sums up the feelings of our arrival far better than I could right now.
Before that though I just want to make sure that I wrap up this last blog post with one huge thank you. I know that not everyone who has made an impact on our ability to do this trip is reading this blog post, but to those of you that are, I can’t communicate it strongly enough how impossible the Cycle for Charvat would have been without you. The amount of people who took time to help us was unreal. Whether that was finding us a place to stay, hosting us, connecting us with other people, providing us supplies, reading our material online, sharing the Cycle for Charvat on Facebook, talking about us with their friends, getting us news coverage or just simply letting us know that they’re watching out for us. You guys are unreal and we are so blessed to have had your support on this journey. Thank you.
It was a bittersweet symphony making it to Boston... I can't believe I had the opportunity to experience America this way and I would do it 100 times over again if I could. Matt Gaylor, Nigel Hall, Theta Chi at the University of Washington, I love you guys. Thanks for being my brothers and being with me every step of the way.
More importantly, Dad, Eric Bean, I know you've been watching out for us every step of the way. When I pushed myself for nearly an hour busting my ass up Sherman pass. When I got the crazy adrenaline bursts through the headwinds. When there were storms all over Minnesota and we happened to be in the city without them. When I wanted to give up. When I could feel the wind in my hair, on my face, the blood rushing in my legs, the sweat dripping down my back, all the simple sensations of living this life that you brought me into. And when I saved your jersey for the last day of this ride. I miss you so much, and so much of this has been for you. I love you and I can't thank you enough for helping me become the person I am. Even from way up there you've been my biggest supporter through all this.
Now I'm crying... but that's okay. 'Cause it's okay to get sad about some things as long as you don't let those same things keep you back from living your life. I wish cancer hadn't taken you so early but I'm going to do everything I can to continue helping others who have to go through the same reality that you and I did.
Here's to life and the people who make it worth living,