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journal-082Hi! My name is Bill Wagner and I live with my dog in rural NC. I hope to pedal my Mountain Bike from Banff, AB Canada to the US/Mexican border at Antelope Wells, NM in an effort to raise money and awareness for the MIMA Foundation.  MIMA is a small, grassroots non-profit that is involved in a variety of humanitarian projects in both Africa and South America.  I'm a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and have worked extensively with their Surgical Program and can personally vouch for the necessity and quality of their work.  Each year MIMA screens hundreds of poor and remote villagers who need surgical procedures but have no means to pay.  If it weren't for MIMA, thousands of children and adults would be denied basic surgeries merely on the basis of access to health care.  Not a single member of MIMA receives any monetary compensation and EVERY volunteer has to generate the funds necessary to travel with the group each year.

Please join me in my adventure along The Continental Divide by opening your heart and your wallet for a great cause. The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the longest off-road bike route in the world. It is over 2700 miles long, has over 200,000 feet of elevation gain (equivalent to summiting Mount Everest from sea-level 7 times) and crosses the Continental Divide 30 times. Take a moment to explore the site if you'd like and I look forward to seeing or hearing from each of you! Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I'm sure I'll need them.

NO SPONSORS: Please know that I had to personally buy the bike, gear, maps, airline flights, etc for this fundraiser.  ALL the money goes to MIMA.

Blessings,

Bill

Day 31 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Wagner   
Monday, 02 August 2010 08:25
Day 31--56 Miles 

After a bunch of much needed rest I was happy to leave my hotel room in Rawlins and get back at it. Today's ride had a nice change that involved abundant cloud cover, it was so nice to feel shaded for the majority of it. In the end It did rain quite a bit but I was nearly at the end of my day so it didn't matter much. I found a nice spot nestled in some Aspens and...yeah, did I tell you, I'm back in the woods!!! Dear God it feels so nice to be back amongst trees and streams. I found a spot to put up my tent and did so after the thunderstorm had stopped. It felt like a transition back into heaven to leave the high desert and return to forest and Aspens. I keep wanting to call them Birch but they are not, they really look the same to me.

Tomorrow I'll enter Colorado and then begin the REALLY HIGH climbs. I passed the half-way point a day or so ago and that was a nice milestone. A friend of mine that I hiked the AT with is coming to meet me in Silverthorne in a few days and that should be great. It's been ten years since that long hike and I feel a lot of the same reflexes on this trip. It really is a lot like backpacking but with a bike, bike-packing I believe the phrase goes.

It's got that black look up above so I best put this back under cover. I hope the donations will continue to come in as I enter the second half of this grand adventure. A sincere thanks to all who have donated or contacted me to say hello, it really means a great deal to me. Much Thanks.

I nearly forgot, a close second in highlights for today (after leaving the desert) was coming upon a herd of sheep. That was really something!

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Day 27, 28, 29 and 30 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Wagner   
Thursday, 29 July 2010 13:12
Day 27--80 Miles 

Day 28--88 Miles

Day 29--46 Miles

Day 30--Today--ZERO MILES!

Ahh where to begin? Yeah, it's been a few days since my mail drop in Pinedale, a few days of riding in the extreme conditions of The Great Basin and a few days of building up my confidence and fortitude that I can accomplish what felt like almost anything. Good God, Good Gracious and Good Heavens that Basin was hot, news flash! Of course I knew it would be but sometimes we underestimate things in our attempts at denial! But I got through it, as did countless many before me as will many after. The map describes The Basin as a..."an Unusual and Curious accident of geography. About 100 miles wide and 50 long. Within this expanse of terrain rain and snowmelt travel neither east toward the Atlantic nor West toward the Pacific. Rather, they drain internally within the basin, quickly evaporating or flowing into temporary lakes,whose waters also evaporate or soak into the thirsty ground...". And to add a little extra spice to the experience it added "As you climb steep out of Atlantic City be sure to notice the few trees around, those will be the last you'll see for the next three days!

OK, so the only thing I really got out of that was 'Thirsty' & 'Evaporate'. You want to talk about dry, WOW, this is the place. It makes a potato chip look like a soggy sponge! And it really could have been much worse. How the original pioneers crossed this thing way back in the day is the ultimate testimony of a human beings spirit or persistence. At least I knew, well, sort of, where some of the water might be. Which, out there, literally makes all the difference. Once you commit to going in, baby you be in! To make matters a little more challenging for me was the untimeliness that my odometer battery decided to, as they say in the South, "up and die" or "up and quit". Yep, about an hour before the end of Day 27 it just died! And you might guess that the "towns" listed on the map were really more of a decoration than anything. The 'stores' the map listed either didn't exist or they chose the only day I passed through to be closed. I tell you, the irony was thick as molasses. The place along this whole journey that really had me a bit worried was this darn Basin, and now I didn't have any ability to know how far or soon the next ANYTHING would be. And as God would have it, all is well. There was a critical place 26 miles in that had a pipe coming out of the ground with water flowing from it that you basically HAD to find and 'camel up' if you were to reasonably make it through without major dehydration that I did find, slowly, with a lot of begging and pleading. Which really made that day quite manageable with water. Sure I had to carry two gallons but it was all gone by the end of the day. Again, what in the he'll did the pioneers do?! They all make me look pretty puny in comparison.

I slept at the A&M reservoir one night and met a few CDT thru-hikers and that was a real treat. It was also great fun to 'run with the Antelopes' as they sometimes would run ahead of you in a herd as I biked along. I'm certain there will be stretches in NM that are hot and dry but now I'll at least know where I am thanks to a new battery!

The highlight of coming out of the oven was stumbling upon Grandma's Cafe'. I needn't tell you how thrilled I was that she was open..."I usually open around 5 and close up around 3, unless it's real busy, then I call my daughter up and she helps out a bit. Those are all my grandchildren on the wall. The second one is a self-portrait since I told him I didn't have a picture of him. Most of the biker's are pretty good, except the ones that come in and start to eat their sandwich in here. I tell them there's a picnic table out back for that. One even took off his shoes and said his feet were hot, I told him to put his shoes back on. In the winter I'll burn up a whole log each day in the fireplace, the wind can be a lot. You watch out for rattlesnakes as you head to Rawlins, they're out there you know!"

So here I am in Rawlins, taking a much needed day off to catch up with the site and my sleep. Got in yesterday afternoon and laid down for a nap around 4 and got up this morning at 5! I also had to go to the bike shop to true my rear wheel and hopefully get a new small front chain ring as The Basin chipped off one of the teeth. But, as typical, it was a small shop so hopefully I can get it fixed in Steamboat Springs as I'll be there in a few days.

All of it adds up to the adventure. Feeling utterly exhausted out in the vast nothingness of The Basin and not knowing if I'll make it to 'somewhere on the map' until my water runs out was a scary thing. But I believe that's part of the magic of it all. To truly feel scared and powerless and ask for help is a humbling and also beautiful thing. There are no guarantees of course, but it does feel precious to almost be in tears and come upon that place the map had promised would be there, eventually. All that after feeling 12 miles back I was certain I didn't have another pedal stroke left in me. Maybe I didn't? Maybe it was something else, someone else? That's the real prize.

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Day 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Wagner   
Saturday, 24 July 2010 22:42
Day 26--35 Miles 

Today involved tremendous focus...Get up as soon as, well, before I want to, and get my butt to Pinedale before 11:00 when the PO closes. It is Saturday, after all. The only reason I brought my wrist watch was because it has an alarm on it for this very occasion, so last night in my tent by headlight I set it for 5:30 am. It never went off, but miraculously I was up at 5:33! Crawled out of my warm cocoon to see my breath as I packed up and got pedaling as quickly as I could. 35 miles later and before the PO even opened I was in Pinedale! Ahead of schedule so I'm going to have to try and forward the mail that I may have missed to Silverthorne, CO.

I got a room in town and will sleep like you can't imagine!

All is well, blessings everyone.

 
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