We could not have asked for a crazier first day.
Feeling like kids on Christmas, we woke up at 4:45am to make our final preparations before heading out to Payson. Biking 80 miles with a 4,500 foot elevation gain on 3 hours of sleep? No problem.
With so much excitement and anticipation flowing through our veins, the first hour felt like 5min. Then our asses began to hurt. Then it started drizzling rain. Then the uphill started. I fell twice while trying to clip in/out. Joe laughed at me. I named my bike the struggle bus. Joe waited for me to catch up. I ran out of water. Joe gave me some.
Honestly, that is what we expected. What made today so insane was what we didn’t expect to happen.
About 35 miles into our journey, riding along AZ-87, we spotted a large dust cloud on the other side of the road. We rode across to check it out. A woman had lost control of her gold PT Cruiser and smashed into the brush/trees. Joe and I were among the first people on scene. As I ran back to our bikes to grab the first aid kit, Joe and a trauma nurse debated whether or not to move the woman out of the vehicle. She was agonally breathing with a faint pulse but the nature of the crash implied a severe head/neck injury. There was no way she was going to survive without intervention so Joe made the correct call to get her out of the car and start compressions. Two nurses, Joe and I began performing compressions on a rotating basis. A few more CPR certified people stopped to help and were added to the rotation. Unfortunately, nobody could feel a pulse or recognize any signs of breath as she turned bluer and bluer. After 25 min of compressions, a doctor that had stopped to help, called it.
As I sat there dazed at what had just happened, one of the nurses said something to me that really resonated, “At least we stopped to help. She had a chance and that’s all anyone can ask for in this situation.” But it wasn’t just medical professionals that stopped to help. Throughout the ordeal, strangers approached us and offered everything from blankets, clothes and towels to water, food, and Gatorade. Regardless of medical training, people just wanted to help in any way they could; it was overwhelming in the greatest sense of the word. All of my water bottles were filled as we rode on.
A few miles down the road, it started storming. With my clips and shoes wet and slippery, I fell again trying to clip in. A minivan stopped to ask if I was ok. My ego was bruised and my elbow a bit bloodied but I was fine. Luckily, we were not too far from a bridge so we took refuge underneath as we waited for the storm to pass. One of our goals for the trip was to feel like a homeless person. Being dirty, smelly, wet and cold underneath a bridge = goal accomplished.
But then a truck stopped and a guy named Larry offered us a ride to Payson. Joe and i had never hitchhiked or taken a ride from a stranger, but knowing the inclines and rain that awaited us, we gladly accepted. Larry looked like the Marlboro Man. On first meeting him, we thought we might end up dead in a field. However, the ride up to Payson was filled with him telling us the history of: oil, the Vietnam War, the founding of major religions, Scottsdale, and the Manhattan Project. It was like a day in college going to 20th century history, comparative religions, and the history of science. He was hyper-intelligent and supremely interesting. He dropped us of at Walmart in Payson where I spent what felt like an hour fixing a flat tire.
Famished, we took a suggestion from a local and ate at some grimy Mexican food place. Walking up to the restaurant, we were quite a sight. Outside, a family asked us what we were doing and we began talking to them about our ride for organ donation. Joe shared his story with them and they seemed excited to register. The positive response hit us in a weird way. We realized how much of an impact we could actually have and became even more excited for the next 5 weeks.
After lunch we put the bro in bronate and chilled hard at a park. Joe arranged for a place to stay through warmshowers.org and we rode over to our host family’s house. Warm showers is a great website where people offer their homes to travelers at no cost. We were blown away by our host family. They gave us full access to their guest room, showers, washing machine and kitchen. Devin, the father, cooked us an amazing meal and we got to know his wife, Laurel and their two children. Originally, our plan was to leave in the morning and ride on to Heber, but the forecast called for rain all day. Without hesitation, Laurel and Devin offered us to stay with them as long as we needed. We have spent the day here sleeping in and watching movies in their home theatre – it’s great.
If you haven’t noticed, the theme of this post has been the amount of incredible people we’ve met. Our faith in humanity has never been stronger; the kindness of strangers has been staggering, surprising and up lifting in an indescribable way. It doesn’t take much to see the connection to organ donation. Your organs save a stranger’s life. Inspire someone else’s faith in humanity and go register.
Love from Payson,