Thanks from Claremont Academy

October 12, 2009 by
Welcome back Tyson.  Hope you had fun on your bike ride.

Welcome back Tyson. Hope you had fun on your bike ride.

Telling stories from the ride

Telling stories from the ride

Lots of good questions from the kids

Lots of good questions from the kids

We talked about how the riders worked as a team to complete the goal

We talked about how the riders worked as a team to complete the goal

Thanks to all the donors!

Thanks to all the donors!

Here are some pictures from the great reception Claremont Academy held to celebrate the riders completing the trek around Lake Michigan. We actually still have a few donations coming through — our total is $6,297 to date. Thanks again for all the interest, support, and donations. Keeping checking the blog as the school continues to make purchases of technology with the funds.


950 miles and over $5,000

September 18, 2009 by

Yesterday afternoon Chris, Matt, Evan and I pedaled across the Wisconsin/Illinois border and made our way to Chicago, completing our 950 mile trek around Lake Michigan. One of our longest days at 105 miles, the day seemed to float by easily as we began entering areas where we have trained. I think it’s safe to say on behalf of all riders there was a great sense of accomplishment in completing our goal.

We were truly blessed in terms of weather. During the entire 11-day journey it only rained for 20 minutes or so on day 2 (Grand Rapids). There were only two days where it was cold enough to warrant riding pants or jackets.

Due to inavailablity of sound internet connections we weren’t able to upload videos to the blog during the ride. Now at home we’ll begin a series of blogs to help introduce the class to the new technology. Please continue to follow the blog!

And last but not least — we reached and surpassed our goal of raising $5000 for Claremont Academy! A sincere thanks to each donor, friend and stranger who has made Pledge My Ride a success. We’ll also continue posting about purchases made with the donation funds.

Country signs in Wisconsin

Country signs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin dairy cows

Wisconsin dairy cows

Wisconsin dairy farm in kettle moraine territory

Wisconsin dairy farm in kettle moraine territory

A waitress tipped us on this path that helped even out the Wisconsin hills.

A waitress tipped us on this path that helped even out the Wisconsin hills.

On the last day -- left to right -- Chris, Matt, Tyson, and Evan

On the last day -- left to right -- Chris, Matt, Tyson, and Evan

Last day on Sheridan Road, the home stretch

Last day on Sheridan Road, the home stretch

Up and Over

September 13, 2009 by

We’ve flanked the Lake! We finished the first week of the ride after downing 602 miles from Chicago to Escanaba. Here are some pictures of the last few days — NOT in chronological order


This is me working on a slow computer — it took me 30 minutes to upload the pictures below.


Check out Chris’s triceps. I realize this re-enactment of the famous dual punch at the end of Rocky is undermined by our stretchy pants.


This is day 7 — Manistique to Escanaba after 15 miles.


Finally getting some laundry done after day 7 — how long can you wear a pair of skin tight riding shorts without washing them? Apparently the answer is 7.


This is somewhere between Charlevoix and Petoskey, MI, looking north.


We’re getting along fairly well now. Evan is comfortable enough to reveal a well cultivated farmer tan. Very nice.


Just today after we finished day 7.


Grand Rapids, MI — This is the crew with Colin and Bree who kindly hosted us Tuesday night. Thanks!


Mackinaw Bridge. This is the largest suspension bridge in the world. It’s five miles long. We weren’t allowed to bike across so the bridge authority gave us a quick tote.


We thought this was noteworthy.


Here is our cozy little room in Baldwin.

Mesick, MI

September 10, 2009 by


After a few great games of hearts last night, we slept in this morning knowing that today would be another short day – 70 miles to just south of Traverse City. We’re currently in Mesick for lunch.

Just a few miles into the ride Evan got a flat and on closer inspection it appears he has a slight wobble. It’s a little concerning, but we’re pushing on until we find a bike shop.

We had some more climbs today; 150 ft. and 130 ft., both over just a quarter mile or so. These aren’t huge climbs by normal standards, but throw in a few loaded bags and it become tougher.

Claremont: The fish in the sign in the picture above is a salmon. The city of Baldwin is famous for salmon fishing. Interestingly, the salmon that live in the rivers are only there for a few months each year. With the help of Mrs. Culp, can you use the internet to learn why the salmon leave and come back?

Baldwin, Michigan

September 9, 2009 by

Due to some inavailability of internet over the past few days we haven’t been able to update the blog until now. Apologies.

We’re three days in and I think each rider would agree each day has been better than the previous. The first day around the bottom of the Lake, through the industrial cities of Gary and Michigan City, were highlighted by a few great trails, oil refineries and one unfortunate accident. About 90 miles in Matt hit a patch of gravel and lost control of his front wheel. He took a nice tumble and Evan, who was drafting right behind him, also took part in the action. Chris and I are glad Matt wasn’t leading the pack :-). Gratefully, neither rider nor machine were damaged badly (See pictures above).

Day 2 — We got a late start — didn’t get out the door until 9:30 am, and immediately celebrated by stopping for a full breakfast at country kitchen. Despite the late start we made fairly good time. Each of us began to “click” with the other riders and we began to cycle cohesively as a team. Each one of us takes a turn “pulling” the other riders while the other riders follow behind. Having four of us really makes the trip a lot easier because we all share the load. This day we began seeing the first hills, a feature we’re not used to seeing in Chicago. Around 8:00 pm we finally pulled into Bree and Colin’s house. (Dinner and breakfast were AWESOME!)

Day 3 — Today was our first “short” day — 70 miles. Colin kicked us off with a good pace to start — 18 mph for the first 6 miles. We’re glad because we continued a great pace all day. Today, at Colin’s suggestion, we only took 2 mile turns in front and it work out really well. Monday we averaged 14.5 mph, Tuesday we bumped it up to 15.4, and today we rocked 16.5. The saavy cyclist will know these aren’t Tour de France-type speeds, but for us it’s a pretty good pace. We were able to get into Baldwin this afternoon just before 5 — that leaves us plenty of time to take a dip in the Baldwin River with a couple a salmon. The locals tell us their coming up early this year because of cool Lake Michigan temperatures.

Highlight of the day — a friendly gentleman named Eric introduced him self and pointed out a few great place to eat. He left the restaurant we were eating at before we did and picked up the tab for us! We’re greatful for all the hospitality we’ve been shown in the great state of Michigan.

Beautiful roads today, lots of hills.

Tyson: Over half-way there!

September 3, 2009 by


Friends and Donors,

Thank you for your enthusiasm and support for Pledge My Ride. We’re just a few days until the start of the tour around the lake and we’ve already raised $2500 of our targeted $5000. The riders and I are making last minute plans for our first day, making sure we’ll have all our gear in order to complete the 1000-mile trek. We’ll be meeting at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago around 7 am and start south from there.

The students, too, are anticipating the ride with excitement. Thanks to your donations they’ll soon be gaining exposure to technology and learning tools that wouldn’t otherwise be available. I invite you to engage with us over the next three weeks as both riders and students engage via the technology you’ve provided them!



Chris: Climbing to Higher Ground

September 2, 2009 by


This past week I continued to prepare for our trek around the lake.  I finally equipped “my ride” with two rear panniers (bags), as seen in the following picture.


To simulate the weight that I will carry during the trip, I loaded some of my old law books in the panniers during my daily rides.  Although the additional weight is usually not too noticeable, I found that it makes a big difference when riding into a strong headwind or climbing a steep hill.  During various steep climbs I attempted with the heavier weight, I reflected on the young men and women at Claremont Academy.  These young minds are currently climbing the academic hills and trying to develop much needed skills to be successful in a world that is so dependent on technology.  Without the required tools and training, even at their young ages, they may find it difficult to keep up with the tech-savvy world.  Your support will aid these students in their individual and collective academic climb to success.

Also, I recruited another rider for the trek:  Will Welch, Age 2.  As you can tell from the picture, he’s ready to go!


Meet the students . . .

August 30, 2009 by


(Above) Students taking time to “buddy study” 

Here are a few student spotlights to better aquatint you with the students in my 5th grade class. I have excluded their names to help them remain anonymous. These young students show great potential and I am extremely excited to watch them learn and grow through out the school year and beyond.

This first student spotlight is an excellent student, whose favorite subjects are math, computers and writing. Although his mother is currently in prison, he doesn’t let that act as an excuse to slack off in his studies or hold him back from his dreams. He hopes to one day have a good job so he can give back to his family. His family struggles financially, but tries hard to put an emphasis on school. He is extremely bright and sharp and like many of my other students in the class, is working to overcome incredible circumstances to create a brighter future for himself.

Our second student spotlight loves to play basketball. Her favorite subject in school is math. She loves to solve equations and practice her multiplication tables. She thinks that doing well in math is important because it can help her make good grades and then get into a good high school so she can go to college. Like most families in the school, her family lives in poverty. She lives with her mother, and has recently lost her brother to neighborhood violence. She says that she is going through a lot of changes since her brother’s death and that she wants to focus on keeping her family together. Her goals are to ‘get good grades this year in fifth grade and to work hard to make a better life for her family in the future.’ She says she wants to make her mother proud by her hard work and good grades. Her energy and enthusiasm for learning help make class a great place to learn and have fun.

This next student spotlight is grateful that his father just got out of prison. He says he loves having his dad at home. Their family has had a hard time with his brother’s medical conditions and expenses, but he says that they are ‘doing fine holding on to each other.’ He lives with his brothers and likes to play basketball with them. He says that he is trying to stay out of trouble and avoid the gangs in the neighborhood. He wants to be a doctor or lawyer when he grows up and has a goal to get all A’s and B’s this school year. He is always smiling and happy at school and spreads his good attitude to all his classmates.

My last student spotlight is excited for his fifth grade year. Most of the past two years He and his brothers and sisters have lived in a homeless shelter near by. He is looking forward to his mother getting a new apartment. He says that his favorite subject is ‘math and reading because you need both to do well in school.’ He says his biggest goal in life is to graduate from high school and to go to college to get a good job. He is an excellent student with a sweet personality. He has many friends in the class and is successful in his studies.


Meet my ride

August 28, 2009 by

Matt here. Down below, Tyson introduced you to his ride. So I thought I would introduce you to mine—it’s far more interesting. Meet my kind-of-1993 Univega Alpina Uno. The frame, handlebars, front derailleur and bar ends are the only 1993 left of the original bike that I purchased from Peregrine Cycles in Midvale, UT. For your viewing convenience, I have marked everything not part of the original bike with virtual red dot stickers.

1993 Univega Alpina Uno

1993 Univega Alpina Uno

I will describe to you the transformation of what my bike was then to what it is now, in chronological order.

The seat tube was the first to go. A few weeks after I got my new bike at age 13, I was screaming down the second biggest hill in my neighborhood and apparently was not paying the amount of attention the road really demanded and I hit a rock large enough to cause me to endo. I was a little scraped up, but upon inspecting my new, untarnished bike, I found that the saddle had broken off from the seat post. This was a big disappointment, as I had just spent a significant amount of savings on my bike (the bike had cost about $400). You can imagine how thrilled I was when I took it in to the shop and found out there was a recall on that seat post. I got a new one for free!

Not much changed from that point until 2007 except for the usual: tires, brake pads, tubes. But in 2007 I showed it to a coworker and friend of mine, Seth, who reassured me that the bike was good enough, but it needed a little work. This summer as I started regularly commuting to work, I had a couple of major problems. First, after lubing my chain, my crank started slipping due to chain stretch, wear on the chain. Furthermore, I broke my rear shifter. I know people commute on fixies, but I wasn’t enjoying being stuck in my highest gear. Seth helped me on my first major bike repairs (and when I say helped, he mostly did it while I watched). He helped me replace my rear cogs and chain, as well as trading out my rear derailleur for the one pictured here. He also helped me find a new rear shifter, and supplied me with a spare brake lever he had laying around. At that point, I was also interested in a little more performance, so I traded out the old plastic pedals for some Crank Brothers Smarty pedals and purchased cleats.

That got me through the next year or so. The spring after beginning school in Chicago, I began commuting on my trusty bike. Things were going splendidly until I started slipping through my chain again. The crank had worn with the chain I had just replaced and was not meeting the new chain as it should. So, this time with the help of my brother in law, Collin, I purchased a new crank, pictured here, a new chain and a new rear sprocket, just in case there was any wear. I wanted a new start.

The fenders were also new additions to accommodate my city commuting. While fenders would have never flown with my teenage self, I find now that i really don’t mind the somewhat dorky look. It’s better than wet socks and skunk stripes.

The front tire was really my most traumatic replacement. I had ridden in to school on a nice summer day and had locked my bike in front of my school. I noticed it there before going to lunch, but on return, I noticed it was a little different than before. It was missing a front wheel. The front wheel had somehow walked off in broad daylight on a busy down-town street in Chicago. I felt violated. And I felt pretty sheepish dragging my bike home on the ‘L’ with only a back wheel. A new wheel was acquired from Working Bikes—the most awesome graveyard of bicycles I have ever seen—for only 15 bucks.

The last acquisitions were made for this ride. I bought a new back wheel because the brakes had worn grooves into the sidewall of the wheel. While there was relatively little chance of the walls bursting on the ride, I would rather take no chances. Last of all, I just got a new saddle. As it turns out, I have been riding on a women’s saddle all this time. I think my friends tried to clue me in earlier, but it just didn’t matter—until now, when I consider the chaffing I would have surely suffered.

So this is my ride. Call it a beast, call it a steed, it doesn’t really matter. Because he’s a good old friend of mine.

Chris: CENTURY!!!

August 23, 2009 by

100 MILES!  That should say it all.  Yesterday I decided that I would make my first 100 mile ride.  I knew that it would be a great test.  I also knew that if I completed the 100 mile ride, it would provide me with mental confidence when I “hit the wall” while riding out on the trail.  My ride started off in Naperville, IL and continued down to Seneca, IL.  It was quite the trek, but it was a beautiful ride.  Here are some pictures from the ride: