Sunday, August 23, 2009

Team Jackson is our name, Adversity is our game

Sunday August 23

We had such high expectations for today. The weather didn’t let us down. Although it did rain buckets overnight. The morning was actually cool enough where a jacket would have been nice to take the edge off. Overnight temperatures were chilly enough to warrant crawling into the sleeping bag for the first time in weeks. The high temperature today was in the middle 70’s. Nope, the weather was just what we would have hoped for.

Next you might guess that the hills finally got the best of us. Actually, the hills have tamed down from just a couple days ago. While we will be tackling the monster mountain of the trip in just a few days, today, for a change, we never got off the bikes to walk a hill!

Maybe it was the fact that this morning, Donnas bike tire was flat. Over 4000 miles and not one puncture until now! While the rest of the trip is in jeopardy, it has nothing to do with Donnas tires. Lets get on with the day. We left the Baptist Church Biker/Hiker Hostel by 8:00 and rode to the only restaurant in town for a traditional breakfast. By 9:00 we were back on the road as a 70 mile ride was our goal to get to the house of Dr. Lee in Radford Virginia. We made very good time today as we averaged over 10 mph and had ridden just over 30 miles when the wheels fell off. No, not literally, figuratively.

Lewis took control of this trip today when his foot slipped off his peddle and ended up between the chain and the chainring. This has happened twice on the trip before today. Both previous times I was expecting the worst as I helped Lewis get off the bicycle with tears steaming down his face. Both times, the injuries were superficial scratches to his ankle when his shoe became captured. But today, his foot was involved. As soon as we had him sitting down on the side of the road and removed his shoe, I knew that he wasn’t so lucky this time. His sock was soaked in blood. His big toe was punctured twice from the chainring with one of the punctures going through the toenail. I could feel his pain as I had a similar injury 10 years ago when I had a fingernail ripped off my finger. The incident occurred just as we were approaching the town of Wytheville Virginia. This is easily the largest community we’ve cycled into since entering Virginia. With over 7000 residents I was certain we could find at least a redi-med clinic or reasonable facsimile to have Lewis’ foot checked out. We put a bandage over his toenail (so he couldn’t see it) and got him back on the tandem. He wasn’t going to be pedaling but that wasn’t anything new for me. Sure enough, a half mile down the road we found a road sign indicating a hospital was near. We followed the signs and 10 minutes later we pulled up to the emergency room entry (not unlike an ambulance might) and I carried the patient in.

Within 15 minutes a physician had looked over Lewis’ foot and speculated on the possibility that the toe may be broken. This would mean no more bicycling. The wounds were cleaned up and neosporin was applied liberally. The x-rays came back negative meaning no broken bones! He will probably lose his toenail but not right away. According to the physician, Lewis was fortunate that he received the puncture in his nail as it allowed the blood from the damaged tissue to escape. Otherwise, a hole would have needed to be drilled into the nail to do the same thing! Lewis didn’t feel lucky.

Forty five minutes after we arrived at the Hospital, we were good to go. But where! We spent another hour in the lobby making phone calls to truck and car rental agencies, We discussed renting a truck to drive us back to Shelton, We discussed renting a car and buying a bike rack and driving to Washington DC. We discussed sitting in a motel room and having more discussions. We settled on thelatter one.

It has now been over 8 hours since this happened. The bleeding has almost stopped and Lewis has been hobbling around the motel. The physician said the best treatment is to allow his toe to breathe. If he wears shoes and socks, we have to worry about foot bacteria and cleansing. So no socks and only flip flops for footwear for sometime. In the meantime, what are we going to do? We aren’t sure yet. Right now we are considering riding on tomorrow. It will be Lewis’ deciision to make. Walking is going to be harder for him than riding.

Are you asking yourself how this happened? I’ll tell you regardless. Lewis doesn’t always pay attention. Donna was witness today. We were pedaling past a golf course when Lewis happened to see some golfers teeing off. He turned around and looked behind us to get a better view and while turning back, his foot slipped off. If he were riding his own bicycle he never would have turned around like that. But because he has complete trust in me he gets away with things that a solo bicyclist would never consider. If you have been following this blog from the beginning you probably remember when Lewis nearly fell off the tandem while goofing around in back of me. Today he wasn’t so lucky.

The first thing we’ll do tomorrow is have breakfast. Then a bike ride to a bikeshop to get some cages to make sure his feet stay on the pedals from here on out. As it now stands, we are going to ride away tomorrow and conclude the ride that we had hoped to finish today. So another easy day to see how Lewis handles adversity. This sounds familiar doesn’t it? He won’t have to walk tomorrow (or pedal for that matter)and possibly the next day as well. But if we continue, by Wednesday we will be riding up the Blue Ridge Parkway with the steepest grade that this entire trip will throw at us. We’ll all have to walk then (or get a ride). Perhaps Donna and Lewis can hitch a ride and I’ll meet them at the top. But first we need to see what happens tomorrow. He rode the bike today within minutes of the injury so we know he can do it. Will he want to is another question.


  1. Donna, I'm so glad you were able to reacquaint your family with Dan & Ellie. What a bright moment of the journey!

    I am hopeful Lewis will be resilient enough for you to complete the trip to D.C. one way or the other. I keep remembering his little face in Eugene saying he wanted to see the Smithsonian and the President. I know you are ready for this adventure to reach its conclusion so you can just go home and remember this trip with a check-mark "Complete/Finis/Done That."

    However you finish this adventure, we are very proud of you!

  2. Lewis: You are so brave, glad that you are doing okay, and keep on going so you guys can reach yourgoal, it is so close.
    Love, Mom

  3. Hi, Lewis. I hope you're feeling better today. By now you probably have a toe-ache. I've heard that ice cream is really good for that (to eat, not to put on the toe, although that would probably feel pretty good, too!).

    I'm wondering if you've ever heard of Paul Bunyan, the legendary lumberman of the Great Lakes who roamed the forests and rivers with his giant blue ox, Babe. He cleared the land and drove the lumber down the rivers to the mills, much like you see in Shelton. It's been told that the 1000 lakes of Minnesota are big hoofprints Babe left behind. If you haven't learned about them, yet, I hope you will read about them this year. I bet your Dad grew up knowing about Paul Bunyan and dreaming BIG dreams because of it. He can draw from his strength to pull you all the way across the country--and without Babe to help! (Instead he has your Mom as a cyling Babe, and that helps just as much.) Lewis, you are strong like your Mom and Dad. All your aunts and uncles and cousins in Michigan are very proud of you--we believe you can do anything you want to do and you are proving it! Love, Aunt Paula

  4. You guys have persevered through some real challenges! I am so proud of all of you. You are to be admired! Look forward to seeing all of you in a few weeks.
    Love you all,