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Missoula, Montana, United States
On August 13th 2010

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Best of Bozeman

Bozeman, Montana welcomed both Amy and I with wide open arms.  We kicked off our stay with a couple of cold micro brews, a warm bonfire, and great friends.  It felt so natural to set up camp and relax in the cool mountain air again.  I can’t believe this journey has begun!

Waking up early Thursday morning was the start of Project Life Flight’s mission.  We quickly began setting up my bike so I could go on my first hand cycle ride in the new altitude.  Bozeman’s elevation is about 4,000 feet higher than St.Paul, Minnesota, and I was very anxious to find out how my body would react.  After dealing with a little brake issue I was off to tackle my first Montana training ride. 

As I struggled to ride into the hot sun I couldn’t figure out why everything seemed so tough.  At first I thought that my disc brakes were rubbing the rotor, but after listening closely, I knew the tire was rolling without obstruction.  Then I started thinking that my lack of training in the past few weeks had caught up to me.  Due to the heat wave that passed through Minnesota I was unable to train as much as I needed too.  Moving at a whopping 3 mph I was sure that I had ruined over 800 miles of training.

I made it three miles up the road when I had to turn around due to the setting sun.  As I turned around I quickly realized why I was going so slow, the road was a lot steeper than I thought.  Once I was cruising at about 18 mph I began to let myself relax.  When I reached the bottom I had some time to go for another small run, only this time I rode with confidence, and my average was twice the speed it was before.  While I took my last ride down I was sure I could smell the fish fry in the air.

Our good friends, Jared and Andrea, were two of the most generous hosts that anyone could ever dream of. Every night we would have our friends over for dinner at their house.  It was really awesome to watch all of our friends get to know each other.  Everybody was meeting someone new, but the awkwardness was nonexistent.  I guess when you put a lot of good people in one room they just naturally get along.  Amy and I both felt like we were right where we needed to be.

On top of training during the day and sharing amazing food at night, we had a lot of filming and photos to capture. On Saturday Greg, Tyler, and I went out to shoot some footage of me riding along the Bridger mountain range.  One of them would drive the car and the other would hang out the back hatch and film or take pictures.  Tyler was taking photos for the Pioneer Press in St.Paul, MN.  Along with these amazing pictures, my story will be printed in the Pioneer Press on Thursday, August 11th.  I am now realizing to what extent my story has begun to spread.

My favorite day this past week was Sunday when I had the chance to get out of my chair and lay down in the cold Yellowstone river.  Brian, Greg, and I went out to Paradise Valley to do some filming, where afterward we made our way down to the river.  Since my accident, I haven’t been close to a Montana river and I must say, I had a lot of mixed emotions.  On one hand it was hard to see everybody jumping off the bridge or heading out for a day of fly fishing.  These were the things I would have been doing less than one year ago.

On the other hand I was so pumped that I was in Montana less than a year later.   I was able to get myself down to the river, lower myself onto the rocky shore, and drag myself into the cold, clean Yellowstone river. Its times like this that I think about a Townes Van Zandt lyric “Your gonna drowned tomorrow if you cry too many tears for yesterday”. This lyric really helps me focus on what I can do and not dwell on what I can’t.

Our week in Bozeman was gone in the blink of an eye.  Everyday was filled with so much fun and the good times continued into the night.  We kept our goodbyes short because we knew we would be returning at the end of the month.  Now it is time for the journey northwest for the big ride. 

We hit the road with our natural timing of things, only 6 hours behind schedule.  As we cruised deeper into the Rockies things really started to look familiar. The view of these mountains sparked the memory of the last time that I was in Bozeman where I learned how to speed fly.  While I made my drive back to Missoula I couldn’t help but daydream about flying in the mountains.  I found myself doing this again as we made the same drive west.  This was an odd feeling.   

As we entered the valley that is Missoula, I looked to my right and there it was, Mt.Jumbo.  This was not only the mountain that I crashed on, but it was the first time that I was seeing it since the accident. As I imagined where I used to fly, it felt like I was starting right where I left off.  The sun was setting the same way it was almost a year ago while the great men from the life flight carried me down the mountain. 

Here we are driving into the same sunset on our way up to Glacier National Park for the biggest adventure of our lives. As the mountain disappeared so did the sunset.  Just a few more hours down the dark highway and we will be in Kalispell, MT only to wake up, gather our gear, and head for the Going to the Sun road.  The next time I post, my goal will finally be complete.  I have put in a lot of hard work and I hope that it will all pay off.  Wish us luck!

1 comment:

  1. Joe, our family was visiting Glacier and we saw you climbing up to Logan's pass. My husband rides bikes so we were floored when we saw you owning that grade with a hand bike! After our hike we stopped at Many Glacier lodge and I saw an article about your story, so when we passed by you later about Avalanche lake I was moved to tears at your strength. A close friend of ours had a c4 injury so I realize how amazing your feat is, much less so soon after your injury. To come this far so soon after such a huge trauma is truly super human. You will continue to be in our prayers. Taylor's - Gresham Oregon


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