FULL MOON, BEACHFLYER, WASHINGTON MONUMENT!

Hey team!!! Well, after hours of sanding and filing the BeachFlyer I got on the road and hit 4000 miles at the Washington monument. It has been my ride or bye since day one. Once again I pushed the poor thing too its limit which led to another moment of highs/lows and ying/yang.

When the negative comes to balance out the positive that’s where my perseverance comes into play. Some might call it stubbornness or hardheadedness, but it keeps me on the road pedaling.

So what is the negative and positive might you ask? I was pushing the limits, not learning from my broken wrist, trying to ride 150 miles to get to DC. I was super excited with many friends coming from far and near. 80 miles in I had 3 flats in 5 miles and became very annoyed. I decided to push the beachflyer 6 miles on the rim and destroyed the back tire. Making the aluminum very jagged. After the six grueling miles I reached 3992 miles which was very upsetting not ticking 4000 that day. I went out bought a file and sand paper and roughly 5 hours of filing, sanding, smoothing, coaxing, and sweet talks I and the BeachFlyer were ready to rock n roll. (Yes I talk to my bike) Where is the positive you’re wondering? I did a test ride and I hit 4000 at the Washington Monument on a full moon at 1AM!

My whole trip has been about ying/yang, perseverance, and a happy go lucky attitude. If you came at me with negative words or bad vibes I just flashed the ✌! ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially ridin #5000milesfor500scholars. However, if you are down in the dumps and ask for support I am there. If you gave support and encouragement I bottled it up and sent them straight to my heart, legs, and mind. Now many go to my wrist 😉

When I rode to the Washington Monument and reached 4000miles it was very surreal. It was 1 in the morning, I was all alone, and it was a full moon. A wave of emotion rolled through me, chills perked up, a grin curled on the corner of my mouth, and butterflies entered my stomach. I couldn’t help but recollect.  In 2 months I had ridden the entire West coast and across the United States. My eyes swelled with pride (one might call tears) as I stared at the night sky and full moon.

My family and I have a thing, when I am in Cameroon or traveling, we look at the full moon knowing we are together. It keeps me from getting homesick knowing we are super close compared to universe. We are nothing but dust on a larger piece of dust and eventually we will be replaced. It gives me a sense of calm and relaxation

When I looked up this night I couldn’t help but think about Cameroon, why I am riding, and the current crisis. My heart goes out to everyone displaced, who have lost family members, and it pains me I am not able to do more. I hope a resolution can be found soon.

The Washington monument stood as a rock, a foundation for my trip. There’s history behind it and it was built for one man. However, Washington had 10,000s of people behind him supporting his every move and had 100s help write his story. He did not do it alone. Yes, what he did was not easy and he can be controversial, but he led the best way he knew how to lead. Whether you’re a leader or a follower know we are in this together and you’re just as important as the next.

I am just one person simply riding a bicycle with yall my rock and stone. I am using my traits and characteristics to accomplish my goal of a unified world, with less hatred, and more understanding.  My views are not popular with some, but that is okay. If everyone agrees people tend to become complacent. Take time to listen to one another and have a friendly debate. Try not to shut your mind down with my way or the highway attitude. I have definitely seen many other points of views better than what I thought at first.

With that being said, I could not have done anything without you and I thank you from the bottom of my <3. Your kind words, donations, and comments are very well recieved. Yall have been my pillars from the beginning and as of writing this I am 300miles away from 5000milesfor500scholars!!

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This mini journey is almost complete and I cannot thank you all enough. Again your well wishes, donations, shoutouts, and support are overwhelming. I am $7,000 dollars away from reaching my goal of raising $25,000 for ScholarShop Africa. That will equate to $5/mile. Please consider a donation as we prepare for year 3! Again, every dollar counts! If you give $7 (stinking fees) to http://scholarshopafrica.org/give/ you will have sponsored a mile of my trip. If you give ~$55 and you will sponsor a child for the three month program!

Be the hand that extends!

IMG_0958.jpgThis guy right here has been an inspiration from day one. People ask where do I get my grit, determination, and perseverance from? It’s from pops.

He removed the word ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary, taught me my never give up attitude, and if there’s a will there’s a way.  When I was 6 weeks old I was literally crop dusted possibly causing my severe asthma. Having to use a nebulizer for 15 minutes before going out to play with my siblings was torture. Being told I wouldn’t be able to be an active child caused a chip on my shoulder very early on which is still there. My dad, Jeff, never let the asthma deter me, put me in many sports and pushed me too my limits and beyond. Proving to me anything is possible with the right mindset.

Dad taught me from day one, once you start something you better finish, no matter the circumstances. He knew life has its highs and lows… its rollercoaster movement which easily transferred to the world of sports. His teachings, scolding me when I said can’t, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself molded me into who I am today.

When I injured my wrist, in St. Louis, I knew I would continue. My first thought was: “At least it’s not my ankle, but I hope it is not broken.”  Anyone who knows my childhood and athletic career knows this injury could have been expected. As well as, riding 250 miles with an ace bandage. Throughout my sporting career I have had: a broken ankle, broken fingers, concussions, dislocated elbow, torn hamstring, numerous stitches and staples, tongue half bitten off, both meniscus removed, Osgood Slaughter and more, I learned to wrestle and play through pain.

During the rough days dad was there to give advice, help me put in extra practice time, and give encouraging words. The good days he congratulated me, not without his coaching and lectures, of course, but never let me be content.  He instilled a drive and fire within that is unmatched.

Many people told me, “You made it 3800 miles and crossed 3/4th of the country why not stop and let your wrist heal and get surgery?” Well, if I stop now, in my mind, my mission would have failed and the people donating to my cause should be reimbursed. I set out on #5000milesfor500scholars just for that: Ride 5000 miles and help 500 scholars. Not 3800 miles to help 380 scholars.

In life we will always have a setback. How you bounce back, to me, determines how much heart, love, and passion you have for the intended goal. If one can easily give up, obviously, the task was not their passion. Bouncing back doesn’t necessarily mean completing the task at hand, but picking yourself up, brushing off the dirt, and how your attitude/mindset is moving forward. I tend to fall often… literally and figuratively. However, I am blessed because I know no matter how long the fall  there will always be a hand extended from above. Pop’s hand.

 

Even though dad and I disagree on many things, the love I have for him is unmatched. He makes it clear he wants me home in the US, but his love and support for my goals and dreams has never wavered. Anything I set my mind to, whether he likes it or not, he is always by my side as a number one supporter.

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Little did he know the many summer hours playing ball, cutting wood, shoveling the basement (that was not a passion so never got completed), sitting by the fire telling stories would stick with me. 

When I had trouble finding a ride to Ohio he dropped his weekend plans to drive me so I could continue. We stayed up last night talking, telling stories, and celebrating world whiskey day. Through our many conversations at the fire and last night I now know where I get my stubbornness, hard headedness, and grit. As they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

As I had a set back, breaking my wrist, now in a cast, it does not compare to the daily struggle many youth in Cameroon have. Difficulties for basic school supplies, lack of buses to transport to school, no electricity to study at night, not being able to pay fees to attend school, not able to purchase basic medical necessities such as sleeping nets to help prevent malaria, and the list goes on and on.

Just like I have a hand reaching down from pops, I try to be the hand that extends for the youth of Cameroon.

Let us join hands and extend them to reach far more corners of the world!!

This is how I continue to ride with a wrist needing surgical repair.

This is what #5000milesfor500scholars is about.

This is why your donations mean so much.

This is how you can help “Supply today to secure tomorrow”

Birthday celebrationS!

I had a fabulous birthday weekend showered with gifts, well-wishes, and great news.  

To start off the festivities, I was showered with blessings (literally) while I camped out.  I pitched tent at Fort Cobb State Park in Oklahoma. The area hadn’t had a measurable rain since September 11th where they received only 1/100th of an inch. My neighbors knowing the rains were coming early morning gave me extra blankets and brisket with tortillas. It was DELICIOUS. The day before it was 85 and sunny and I tool my shirt off for 1 hour.  I didnt get burnt, but had an extremely irritated back that itched like crazy. Turns out it is called hell’s itch. Look it up. 

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The rains started at 2AM and didn’t stop until 11! I felt extremely blessed witnessing the joy in the locals’ faces when the rains started and saturated the farmland.  I thought if I became annoyed or upset, I’d be selfish only thinking about me and my trip rather than the farmers of Oklahoma who needed this rainfall. 

Turns out my rain jacket and weatherproof pants fell off the back of my bike three days before this rain.  I planned to buy new rain gear the next stop in Oklahoma City, but Mother Nature brought rains early, I guess to test my ability to still maintain my “happy go lucky, go with the flow” attitude. I packed my bike with all 80 pounds and went to the local store. The hosts were wonderful. Allowing me to dry my clothes on the space heater, giving me breakfast, and offering me a place to stay. I said I need to take the good with the bad. Luckily, I packed a couple extra heavy duty trash bags so I was able to make a makeshift rain suit. Now ready with my new rain gear on- I headed out. Special thanks to the place with the coldest beer in Fort Cobb, Stevie Rays, for taking me in as their own!  To my blessing- the rains stopped at 11:00 and I had a clear chilly ride with a tailwind the rest of the day to Norman, Oklahoma. 

My hosts in Norman were Kwame and Natalie. We met in Cameroon while Natalie was working on her PhD research.  They stayed with me in Cameroon, for a couple of weeks, while looking for a place to rent. It was wonderful to see them again after 3 years and they were very gracious.  We bought tickets to the OKC- Utah game 5. Before this game started, sadly, I watched the Pacers lose on a buzzer beater by Lebron, so it put a damper on my mood. However, the atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable and the comeback led by Westbrook’s 20 third quarter points was a site to see and a roar to hear! I stayed a few days to rest and enjoy my birthday.  Two days of grilling out and listening to music in sunny 80 degree weather was what my body needed! For those of you who know me grilling out and listening to music are my favorite things to do. The first two days were about me and I treated myself.

I got back into ScholarShop mode, checking emails, talking to my counterparts, etc… I received WONDERFUL news. Sean, co-founder, of ScholarShop Africa welcomed a baby boy into this world the day after my birthday on April 27th.  Baby, momma, and pops are doing well and I cannot be happier for two people so near and dear to me.

The weekend of celebration continued as I chose the winner of the “name the BeachFlyer competition” and was able to give the news to the young lady herself via webcam.  A student in my sister’s first grade class came up with the name, Dragon Wheeler. I named the bike Cliff the Dragon Wheeler which is a hybrid from another student in a 7th grade class.  The first grader chose the name because dragons are her favorite animal and bikes have wheels so she put the two together.  I chose Cliff because I rode close to a lot of cliffs on the west coast and I thought that was appropriate. After talking with the winner we held a Q&A session about my ride.  I am trying to figure out how to upload that and when I do you will be able to see questions first graders can ask! Or add me on Facebook and you can see it there! They were quite good and comical too.

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BUT the competition isn’t over! Cliff the Dragon Wheeler retired itself in Los Angeles.  So, a new competition has started, I am still accepting names for my current bike!  

That same very day, April 30th, while visiting the wrestling HOF I received more great news! One of our ScholarShop students was accepted into African Leadership Academy in South Africa (ALA).  ALA is one of the most prestigious 2 year academies in Africa and less than 150 students throughout the continent are accepted each year.  Yoland, is a very gracious, humble, intelligent young lady who has huge aspirations for her future and community! Yoland could not have been a better choice for ALA.  You can read her story on the ScholarShop website.  Her hard work, determination, volunteering in her community, continually being top in her class and her dreams:  she will be a great student at ALA. Scholarshop helped Yoland reach her dream to stay in academia! Your donations helped us help her stay in school, purchase necessary items, register for exams, and taught her volunteerism, community awareness and giving back.  The cost will be high to send Yoland to ALA, but if I have found anything on this trip the world works in wonderous ways.

Through ScholarShop Africa, donors like you will continue to grow the program, send Yoland to ALA, educate more youths and supply them with necessary school supplies and help change the next generation one youth at a time.  

Please consider helping ScholarShop Africa to help students like Yoland achieve their dreams and go farther than even their dreams have went.  Visit Scholarshop’s website and help  ScholarShop to expand beyond Cameroon.  

Thanks again for the birthday wishes and I hope everyone has a wonderful May!

Camping in the Redwoods March 22nd

Blogging this now,  as I have sketchy internet and had many miles to ride.  Enjoy!

It is currently 8:45PM on March 22- very chilly and I am sitting by the fireside. The crackle of the red woods alongside the hoot of an owl makes one wonder why we ever developed and invented technology.  This is life. My eyes burn of smoke from blowing the fire, all my senses are on alert, the air smells of burning redwood, and my eyes keep gazing up at the marvelous amount of stars glittering the sky. There is a little opening in between the redwoods where I can see the heavens above and I’m thanking my lucky stars for beautiful weather. More on this in a few…

Today, as I was doing my morning routine I felt an Earthquake 4.6 magnitude about an hour South of where I am staying.  I hadn’t taken off on my trip and was startled by the house shaking along with the toilet. (TMI?) But imagine sitting down and there’s a pretty large rattle beneath you. The lyrics shake, rattle, and roll definitely popped into my head along with my eyes popping out for sure.  There is supposed to be a massive quake within my lifetime that will cause a tsunami and wipe out entire cities and cause massive flooding.  It amazes me people still choose to live here with that being inevitable, but if you saw the beauty of the redwoods, smelled the fresh air, and felt the cool ocean breeze from the coast brush up against your face like the flicker of a cats tail you’d most likely stay put as well. A new understanding of west coastal living, I suppose.  We have tornadoes in Indiana, but feeling the power of an Earthquake a few miles away makes me be in awe at how small and feeble we are compared to nature and Mother Earth.

As I set the camp fire,  the wind is beginning to change directions and the temperature is dropping.  A plume of smoke just danced its way under my nose bringing along the aroma of burning redwood filling the night sky which brought me out of thinking about this morning….I am sitting here looking at my shelter and belongings: a single man tent, BeachFlyer, and two panniers holding my clothes, tablets, chargers, and bike tools.

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What am I doing? I continually ask myself.  Not in doubt or uncertainty, but to remind myself why I am biking and who I am biking for on this trip.

I am traversing across the Pacific coast, seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, right in my backyard.  I have travelled thousands of miles seeing wonderful and gorgeous views ask over but the Pacific Coast, USA is among the top.

Some would call themselves lonely but how can you be when you have nature surrounding you and so many thoughts, prayers, and well wishes being sent your way? People from all over the world following your every step or pedal? I have 100% support from my family, friends, and colleagues. I have y’all who are amazing, supportive, generous, and every good- natured-word imaginable pushing me and following along my journey.

I ask again, with owls hooting, wind blowing leaves, and the branches playing a concert, with some cries of undetermined animals, how can one be lonely? Loneliness is a mindset. I have life and living nature all around me talking, interacting, and sending me good vibes I can never and will never be alone.

And….

Speaking of creatures and undetermined animals, I am really hoping to see Bigfoot or a fairy or possibly an elf maybe even a hobbit. Sometimes I feel like Bilbo Baggins. Just wandering off on adventures with no real aim in sight.  I have a goal and a destination, but looking for my preciousss, but this will not be my last journey.  I apologize for my tangents and thoughts quickly changing,  but that’s how my mind works. One second I am in fantasy land and the next real life hits.

Well,  real life just hit! and my fire went out and its beginning to drizzle showers of blessing. There is another couple camping here and I asked them for a piece of wood. I went scavenging for little twigs and branches, but nothing is dry.  I hope there will be enough smoke to ward off the pesky little creatures. But hey, if only I had  JackLinks beef jerky to lure in Bigfoot!!!! It is about bed time and my stomach is grumbling. Sadly, no fishing or hunting allowed here so I will dream of eating some jerky and lay a little path for Sasquatch!

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If you are reading this I survived that night and was not attacked by any hungry animals.  Hey maybe it was the fairies and elves looking after me as I continue on my quest down the Pacific Coast riding #5000milesfor500scholars!

This is why I am doing this. For the students.

Here is a little Haiku for y’all!

CAMPING:

Simmering red glow

Embers flickering in wind

Gentle fire fading

If you are enjoying following my #5000milesfor500scholars.  Please consider a small donation.

http://www.scholarshopAfrica.org/donate

 

Cameroon!!

 

I wrote this post in Sept. 2012 I remember that Wednesday very well. Fast forward to a Wednesday nearly 6 years later and I am taking off on another journey with the same mindset to help improve Cameroon. Check out my first blog post as a wiry college gaduate.

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No looking back now! I left Indianapolis on Wednesday at 6AM to begin my journey. First stop to ATL then off to Philly. I arrived around noon and took a cab to the hotel to begin my journey as a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). I wore a Wabash College collard shirt just by chance I would run into a group member who knew of the place or an alumni. The latter happened and instantly the bond between two Wabash brothers was felt. Our orientation leader, BJ Whetsine was from Wabash I believe graduate of ’04. After checking our bags we went into a conference room and for 7 hours learned about the Peace Corps and answered many questions our group of 55 had to ask.
The Peace Corps could not have picked a better person to lead a group of raucous middle-aged people (with a few older women) for 7 hours. He kept our attention, was very engaging, and clearly demonstrated he loved what he was doing. He kept reassuring us this was a great and the right decision and the time won’t always be cherries and roses, but will be the best 2+ years of our life. Once again a peace and calm entered my body and I could exhale easily. After the orientation we all breathed a sigh of relief and went upstairs to put away our luggage.
What does one think of when they hear Philadelphia? Well, the Eagles or perhaps East coast, but the food connoisseurs definitely think of the Cheese steak. We asked the bell-man where to go for the best cheese steak and he led us to a small hole in the wall cafeteria on South street called Jimmy’s. Yes, I am convinced Jimmy John’s stole the idea of the “crazy-fast assembly line” from Jimmy’s. I could tell this has been around from the hundreds of signed photographs on the wall including Denzel Washington, and many other actors in black and white as well as musicians. A group of 6 along with myself went to Jimmy’s and we all had a blast. After my ginormous cheesesteak filled with extra meat, mushrooms, American cheese, onions, and banana peppers we went to TGIF’s for a few drinks and listen to the Jazz band. At TGIF’s I knew our group would be a wonderful group not only to accomplish what we were set out too, but I have not stopped laughing since. Well, I am now in JFK waiting for the last hour of departure time to tick away and say so long to the US I love!

Sat, Sept 22
A few fun facts about Cameroon: (Some of these I took from Tubbs, a new friend made along the way)

• Africa begins and ends with the letter A
• It is about the size of California
• Population around 20 million
• They use the Franc as currency
• The have frogs up to a foot long (future pet)
• Cameroon is derived from the Portuguese word Camarão meaning (shrimp)
• Largest religious affiliation is Christianity also many Muslims
• It is known as Africa in miniature with its many different climates
• Over 250 languages and indigenous tribes

Sun, Sept 23…

Wow, what a fast weekend it has been. The food here has been delicious and I leave every meal stuffed to the max. In pidgin they say “my tummy has folded” Well, today after two heaping plates of double spoons of pasta, some delicious veggies and meat a prune (very sweet) 4 crepes chocolat and some very delicious pineapple! My tummy has double folded! I am in heaven right now and my PC mates are wonderful. We went to a cultural dance last night and wow was it fun. I have pictures, but the Internet is too slow and will up date at a later time. One of our very own PC staff married a Cameroonian woman and we were able to see and hear traditional Cameroonian dances and songs. What a very enjoyable experience. Tonight we are dressing formally to have dinner with our Country director, an ambassador, and many important angencies. I am very excited yet nervous to see how my lack of French will hinder me. Welp, off to take a bucket shower!- J’arrive

(literal translation means “on my way” which in a sense I will be tomorrow on my next post!)