Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | July 7, 2016

Day 24: Some notes and a note of sadness

Day 24
Destination: Douglas, Wyoming
Wednesday’s mileage: 53. Total: 1,360

Wednesday was a sweet day for me and a sad day for many friends in Minnesota and around the country. I’ll start with the sweet.


Kenny Goehring’s mobile bike repair unit.

  • After getting swamped a little on Tuesday, I found a bike repair guy in Casper who was able to clean my bike up and give me a second “gatorskin” tire so that — hopefully — I can survive at least for a while — without another flat tire. I’ve had five on this trip and that’s quite enough. The bike repair was done by Kenny Goehring of Bates Creek Mobile Bicycle Repair. Kenny is a young guy, 31, who started this mobile repair biz a year ago and seems to be plenty busy. He’s also talented and smart and conscientious. Kenny’s dad is helping him make a go of things (and is hosting the mobile unit in his driveway). He gave the bike a good washing. Then Kenny went to work tightening a few cables, reoiling the chain, truing the rear tire by adjusting a few spokes and generally getting me ready to roll. When we were done, my bike looked good as new — again — and I was off for Douglas, 53 miles away.
  • Phil's photo of me on road to Douglas

    Phil Harnden’s photo of me on the way to Douglas, which will be part of a story and photo display in the local weekly newspapers here.

    On the way to Douglas, we met a photographer/reporter from the Glenrock Independent and Douglas Budget newspapers in Wyoming, Phil Harnden. Phil was taking photos of me while I rode through his coverage area. He’s a talented photographer — check out his work here, Phillip Harnden Photography — and he took some sweet shots. We had a great chat with him once I made it to Douglas (home of the FIRST Jack-a-lope); the results of his interview/our conversation will show up next week in the newspaper and online (

    CHarlie vietnam vet 2 better wider

    Charlie had some words of encouragement when we met at the edge of Glen Rock, Wyoming.

  • In addition to meeting Phil on the way to Douglas, Melody and I also met Charlie Ambrose, a Vietnam vet who was fired about about my ride and our journey. He waved me over to his pickup truck when he saw my bike. “My brother used to ride a bike like that,” he said. He told me he was proud of me “for following your dreams. I wish I could do it, too.” Charlie had recently suffered a stroke, which has kept him off of his beloved motorcycle. But he was hoping to get back to 100 percent so he could again start feeling the wind through his hair. He is 75 (and looks great!) and his heartfelt words inspired me. “You’re a hero,” he said. “You have to finish!” I teared up (under my sunglasses) and I promised I would. He gave me an emotional boost and I sped off toward Douglas from Glen Rock, where we met.

    Melody Gilbert Photography: I was racing to beat the storm, but it closed in fast and I had to take a break and let the worst of it pass. It was fun to race the clouds, though. That’s why I’m smiling, I think.

    The ride itself had its own thrills. I had some nice big hills to climb, including one the locals call “top of the world.” It was a great climb, short and steep, and the decent was a blast. … Rolling hills greeted me the rest of the way and while I tried to outrun a rainstorm, I pulled up short and waited while it passed over and ahead of us. Melody was along with me, taking pictures, and so I sat it out in the car, munching on a peanut butter and honey sandwich and enjoying the short rest.

  • One of the great things about this trip is that we’ve been offline a lot and away from the news. But that also means we’re insulated a bit from the conversations of the day. Yesterday’s latest police shooting of Philando Castile brought that home when I woke up to stories and social media posts about this tragedy. I don’t know enough — and as a white man can’t possibly relate to the horror of being pulled over for a faulty taillight and being shot by police. But it’s a story that continues to repeat itself in various forms and it leaves me feeling impotent and sad and angry and confused. It’s also a reminder that I ride through this country and get treated supremely well in large part because I’m a white male. People turn their heads toward me when I enter a bar or restaurant or gas station looking for a sports drink or a piece of pie. But I’m an oddity because I enter their realm in brightly colored bike clothes and spandex shorts. I choose to do this. But when I take off my bike clothes, I look like most everyone else in “the heartland.” We have a problem in America when white folks of all types (and we’ve seen plenty of them on this trip) can openly carry guns with impunity. But a black man, sitting in his car with his girlfriend and a child, is immediately considered a threat because he’s a black man in a car whose hands you can’t see. There have to be other ways for cops to deescalate these kinds of situations. We need to confront our demons on this issue. Race. Guns. Violence. Lack of training. Lack of empathy. Lack of common sense. I’m reminded of a story that happened months ago in Minnesota when a cop shot at a car leaving a shopping mall after a report of a shoplifting. The cop put himself in front of the car, and when the car didn’t stop, he fired — I think three times — in a SHOPPING MALL parking lot. For a SHOPLIFTING COMPLAINT. That’s not smart. That’s not measured. That’s an overreaction to a potential threat. We have to figure out a way to do better. I hope we can. In the meantime, I’ll ride on.


  1. It’s real hard to make any sense of the news these days. But it’s great to see that along your way, most folks seem good, kind people willing to share and willing to help. You’ve got me dreaming of pies, ice cream, beer, honey and peanut butter sandwiches….

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