Day 7, breakdown… #TransAmRide4TBI 7/15/17

We woke early again, trying to repeat yesterdays plans. Unfortunately the bugs woke up before us the they were swarming bad. Jr quickly packed and abandoned camp. So quick he evidently left the tie downs for his solar panel behind. 
Took me a bit longer, but I finally got out of there. Found Jr waiting for me well down the road. He kept stopping, then bugs would find him again, he’d move, they’d find him…

Our first goal was to restock on water because we were almost out. We stopped in Bruneau, ID to restock and got breakfast. Spent longer than we meant to, but met a wonderful local lady, Bonnie, who was 91yrs young. Had a great chat with her, and she gave us a copy of a book she wrote about her life and the area. We had a great time. 

By time we got on road again though it was starting to get warm. Miles started sliding by quickly, when,  PING, tink, tink,tink, tink… I quickly pulled over to find I had broken a rear spoke. Wheel was rubbing badly against the frame, and I couldn’t ride the bike. 

Jr quickly got on Google maps looking for a bike shop, while I tried to get bike rideable (fortunately I had brought spoke wrench for my wheels which require a special one). Jr found a bike shop 17mi opposite direction we were going, located in small town, which would have added 35mi onto our trip and cost us a lot of time. It was also a small shop in a small town and unlikely to have parts or new wheel. Other option was 80mi in town which was our intended destination anyway.

I got wheel straightened enough that it didn’t rub on the frame anymore, but had to open up rear brakes quite a bit. This meant rear brakes were almost useless. I tried riding it and it did ok. By this time Jr had contacted Cycle Therapy in Twin Falls, ID (our goal town), and they were going to help us out. I decided to cross my fingers that the wheel would hold and go the 80mi.

We got going again, and it felt like I was riding a bucking bronco. Back wheel was wobbling, and no longer round, more egg shaped. Wasn’t comfortable, but we were moving. 

Unfortunately we weren’t on road long when started suffering GI issues and had to keep stopping. Then the nausea set in. Made for slow going and temperatures kept rising, making things worse. 

Finally we called a halt in Hammet, ID. We took long break at gas station, drinking cold beverages while I waited for the meds I bought to kick in. I started to feel a bit better and we went for lunch before starting again. Just before hitting road again I stopped in hardware store to get some oil for cleats. I’d been having trouble with them for couple days. Ladies there hooked me, and we we’re back on the road. 

Bike was still wobbly, but I was feeling better. We elected to get on I84 (legal in ID) the rest of the way. It would save us 15 miles. It was hot, and noisy, but we were going to get there quicker. 

About 10mi down the road Jr suddenly disappears from my mirror. I look back and he is just coasting along looking down at his bike. I stop and wait and when he rolls up he tells me his rear hub broke. His pedals are just spinning and nothing is grabbing. 

Fortunately we are by an exit and he pushes his bike off the highway. We find a tree nearby and stop in the shade.  after We stopped I put down kick stand Jr had made for my trailer and it broke. My bike and trailer fall over. I get it righted and we take off his rear wheel but can’t figure out a solution, so he gets back on phone to bike shop, AAA, and few others trying to ride, help, etc. I keep looking at wheel searching for solution, but it looks like our day is done and we’ll have a missing gap in our TransAm ride.

I finally notice part of the hub is loose and realize it probably isn’t broken just needs tightened. I do my best, but without correct tool, I give up. Jr gave up on phone and sat down to look at wheel. He realizes I’m right, and tried smacking hub into place. While thing shifted and he was able to tighten up enough for it to work again.

(Several people stop, offer us water, help, tools, etc while are there. Unfortunately nor could transport us, bikes, and trailers to our destination or had bike tools)

Elated he called bikes shop, tells them, says were in the way again, but now have 2 wheels for them. We won’t make it before they close but mechanic gives him his number and days he’ll meet us at hotel when we get in. 

We hop back on highway and start moving along again. By this time it is scorching hot and we are just crawling along. We aren’t much further down the road when bike starts feeling worse and I start hearing the wheel rubbing. We pull off at a rest stop to see if I can do anything to improve it. 

I quickly realize rub is coming from opposite side of wheel and find that I broke another spoke. That is it I think, we’re really done this time. My wheel doesn’t have many spokes to begin with, so two gone, I doubt I can make it rideable. Jr again gets on the phone while I try what I can.

Numerous people stop to ask us about our  ride, offer water, and one wonderful woman even gave us some apples and nectarines (absolutely delicious and much needed).

I finally get wheel to stop rubbing on frame, but had to remove brake pads to do it. Now I was definitely down to front brakes only, and that is not good. But we were out of options, so it was back to the highway. Now I was riding a steroid ridden bull and he was angry. 

We didn’t quite get back to highway, stopped on the on ramp, when Jr came up with great idea of putting as much of the stuff from my trailer as possible in his. This would lighten load on my rear wheel.

As we start to do this, Barry, a guy we’d meet at the rest stop, and his wife pull over in front of us. He gets out and offers to take our trailers to our hotel.  He can’t fit is and bikes as well, but this would give us better chance of making it. 

We decided to keep Jr’s to car all of our tools, water, and everything we might still need, but I gratefully sent mine with him. I was slightly more optimistic that the wheel would hold. We still had 40mi to go. 

Back on the highway again it was still hot and we were emotionally and mentally beaten down. It was all we could do to just keep turning the pedals, but we kept moving. 

About 10 more miles down the road we had a flat tire to deal with…

This one wasn’t ours though. We came across a car of the side of the highway with a woman and her son standing there. Despite the day we were having we couldn’t just pass them by, especially after so many people had helped us already. 

So we pulled over, and asked if they needed help. They had a flat tire so I grabbed the jack, Jr the lug wrench, and we went to work. It was our quickest and easiest repair on the day. After making sure she knew about safe speed with the spare and getting changed immediately we were all underway again. 

Jr and were still just spinning out miles the best we could. We finally got off highway a couple of exits before Twin Falls. Back roads at this point would get us there just as fast but without the noise and traffic. We were just moving on autopilot by this point. 

A few miles later Jr ran over some dried branches in the road because it was just to much bother to go around them, and I got showered with their debris. He didn’t mean for that to happen, but it was my final breaking point. I was done. I kept spinning pedals but could put no effort into it, and our already slow pace, got even slower. 

Just before reaching the hotel we crossed a beautiful gorge. Despite the day we were having, we had to stop and get pics. There was even a group of people about to jump off the bridge with parachutes into the gorge. We thought of staying to watch, but the motel was within sight, we were exhausted, starving, and had to get bikes fixed, so we left before they jumped. 

When went to check in my trailer was there. We had forgotten to give Barry Jr’s name, and when they didn’t have a reservation in my name, he booked us a room with his credit card. We were able to make sure room was cancelled and he didn’t get charged. Barry went above and beyond on that one, and I know I will never be able to fully thank him, and will be eternally grateful. What a wonderful person! He really saved us. 

Bob and Mike from Cycle Therapy were there shortly after we got there. Bike shop had long been closed, but they showed up with several wheel options for me. Bob took both our wheels with him, put my cassette on new wheel, rebuilt Jr’s hub (had to custom machine new part), and had them back to hotel by breakfast the next morning. Again, service above and beyond, we’ll always remember him. 

We stayed at the Hampton Inn, and the young lady on duty (LeR…? Sorry did exhausted by then I’m struggling in the name) was very friendly and helpful, and really went an extra step in helping us get settled in after such a tough day. 

The day was finally over, but as hard as it was, it is nothing compared to what people with #TraumaticBrainInjury often face. Things we take for granted they can struggle for years to try and relearn, sometimes never being able to. Things like speaking, basic personal care, and walking. Things they remember being able to do, and simply aren’t able. There can even be changes in personality, struggles with memory concentration, and focus. Hearing and sight issues. They may lose ability to filter their thoughts and words, often losing friends and relatives as a result. Some have help, but many suffer alone, often disbelieved by others that anything is wrong. Our day was bad, but we knew things we could better, they don’t, and know the next day will be just as tough. So please help them:

#TransAmRide4TBI 3600mi for #TraumaticBrainInjury #TBI 

(I didn’t take many pics on day. Hope to have some of Jr’s to post soon. Sorry) 


About Douglas Sawyer, MS, ATC

I am an athletic trainer who is also a very avid athlete. My first love is running, but I also love cycling and triathlons and many other activities. I'm not a swimmer though, I just don't drown for 2.4 miles... As a athletic trainer I work with sports injuries. I currently work at a school with athletes in 7th-12th grade in a wide variety of sports. I can be found on twitter at two different names: @IronmanLongRunr - where I tweet about run, bike, tri, & more @Longrunr - where I tweet about athletic training
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4 Responses to Day 7, breakdown… #TransAmRide4TBI 7/15/17

  1. ibelievebooks says:

    A well written documentary about a magnificent venture and a study in perseverance. Proud of my son in law, Doug Sawyer.

  2. Marlana Francis says:

    Doug and Jr.
    I hope the two of you have a much easier few days to make up for such a difficult day. Thanks for sharing your adventures and teaching us about brain injury.
    I am very proud of the two of you.
    Love Aunt Marlana

  3. Alison says:

    wow, what a day. it’s very heartwarming to hear of the help people gave you when you need it, and also the help you guys gave when it was needed!

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