Day 11 (Tuesday, August 3): Snyder to Breckenridge, Texas: The Longest Distance!

In front of Hubbard Lake

Today was our longest ride so far and the longest planned—we rode 120 miles. After yesterday’s intense ride, we decided not to let “Mr. Sun” get to us today, so we started pedaling at 3:30 a.m. By the time the sun rose, we had already biked halfway. By the time we finished at noon, the temperature was again over 100°F. We felt very strong today, and perhaps this was our fastest ride. We still cannot seem to catch a break with the wind—we have had both headwinds and crosswinds, but few tailwinds. Fr. Hesburgh, could you check with your boss to see if he can give us a tailwind as we head north to the Dome?

The sunrise this morning was gorgeous! You would have loved it, Peter. Wish we would have known how to capture that on film. Peter from our support-team and our unofficial, yet professional, photographer left two days ago. Wendy took his place and we are learning how to use the camera so we can really share with you all that America has to offer. We met a little boy and his sister at a convenience store today along the way—he told us that he loved Notre Dame and would only cheer against them if they played Texas Christian University. He was curious about all of the signatures on the van and wanted to write us a little message himself. We told him to ask his mom who was in the store. Well, asking his mom sort of got lost in translation—instead of writing on the van, she thought he wanted to ride in it. She came outside on guard, ready to deal with the strangers who wanted to give her son a ride in their vehicle, but we cleared up the confusion and he and his sister were happy to sign the van. We gave the little boy a Desert to Dome t-shirt; he was thrilled to have a Notre Dame shirt.

When we got to the hotel and checked the blog, we noticed that a current ND student’s brother saw us ride by in Texas today. We wish he would have stopped us. So if any of you see us biking in your neck of the woods (Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana), don’t hesitate to flag us down and say “Hi!” it will energize our day. It is awesome to hear a “Go Irish!” or a horn beeping the fight song along the way.

Cooling off at the end of the day

The scenery today during the ride was fine, a lot of agriculture to start out and then a lot of vast, wide-open land as far as the eye could see. As we approached our stop today, Breckenridge, a big beautiful lake appeared—Hubbard Creek—it was simply gorgeous to behold. Renate wanted to swim across the lake, but Ironman triathlons will have to wait. Instead, we jumped in the pool (with no time to change) as soon as we reached the hotel. It was a wonderful day! Although 20 miles longer than yesterday’s ride, it was a great one. What a difference a day can make.

I’ve told you about my passion for entrepreneurship. Today, riding through all the small towns, with the small stores and all of the agriculture, I started to think about entrepreneurship again. I was involved in starting two companies based on the results of my research. One of the first things I did when I got to Notre Dame was start a course called “Scientific Entrepreneurship” to help undergraduates see how research discoveries can be translated into products that make a real difference in the world. We have some of the best and the brightest students in the country at Notre Dame; they are enthusiastic to learn and understand how to create value out of discovery. About 40 students took my course in the spring semester last year, and the energy they brought to the subject was really exciting. Teams of students took real discoveries by Notre Dame faculty and developed business plans, mission statements and elevator pitches necessary for starting companies based on the products. They presented their results to a panel of real investors (many connected to Notre Dame in some way), who were as impressed as I was. Some of them expect to keep moving the projects forward.

These days, with industry investing less in basic research and in very sophisticated science, accessible only to highly-specialized professionals, we have to find ways to capitalize on the discoveries in university labs and move innovations forward to the point at which they become attractive to investors. With great minds like those of our students at work, we are going to solve the problems that we face in such critical fields as energy, environment and health. I am looking forward to teaching the course again in the fall, and I hope to bring some examples of what I have seen along the way into the classroom.

13 Comments so far

  1.    Nicolle Haley on August 3rd, 2010

    120 miles!!! Wow! I hope in the Texas heat that many more pools greet you at the end of the day. Think cold!

  2.    joe whitehead on August 3rd, 2010

    Man! You guys are living the life! Hang in there and be careful in the heatwave that has gripped the southern part of the country.


  3.    Tim Joines on August 4th, 2010

    Keep on cranking. You guys are doing great.

  4.    Luke Golesh on August 4th, 2010

    I like the comment about Fr. Hesburgh’s boss- those winds can be tough.

    Greg, I was behind you, in line at Dick’s Sporting goods when you were purchasing lots of electrolite packets in early July (I think for this trip). I didn’t know what it was for, but as a grad student in architecture at ND, I came across the video and information and recognized your face. I was impressed at the time and I am all the more impressed now. What a great cause. I feel all the more attached to the ride and will be watching it all the way.

    Keep up the great work. Many people behind the both of you!
    All the Best.

  5.    Jeanne Fowlkes on August 4th, 2010

    Great Job and I am enjoying the pictures be careful in the heat!!

  6.    Jeanne Fowlkes on August 4th, 2010

    What time of day on August 13 will you be in Warrensburg that is 39 miles from Lees Summit,that is where the Fowlkes live.

  7.    Todd Woodward on August 4th, 2010

    I can truly say I am in awe. I thought about trying to do half your distance daily as a sign of silent suport but couldn’t pull it off. I have told my kids about what you are doing and they are following you now. We are including you nightly in prayers (they have some power when all 4 of them are at work). God bless and may the wind be always at your back and may the sun shine not so brightly on your faces!

  8.    Tom Molnar, ND Development on August 5th, 2010

    Nice effort getting through this long ride! It will pay off big time later on. Everyday is a new blessing and you guys are a huge encouragement to me and I know many others. Keep moving forward no matter what. We, and Our Lady on the Dome, will be here to welcome you home before you know it…

  9.    Bonnie Hiatt on August 5th, 2010

    Stay safe and enjoy the ride. Your gifts in this effort are truly wonderful. And wear your SPF50!!!

    Bonnie Hiatt (ND Mom)

  10.    Rob Durham on August 5th, 2010

    It was great meeting you guys during your stop in Breckenridge. The leap into the pool looked awesome, but a leap off the Hubbard Lake bridge would have made a much better picture! LOL! We hope your stay was more than hospitable and we wish you safe travels during your ride. You’re an inspiration to many for putting your lives on hold to sacrifice for others. Good Luck and God Bless!

    Rob Durham, editor, Breckenridge American newspaper

  11.    Gregory on August 5th, 2010

    Dear Jeanne,

    Thank you so much for the nice message! We are actually getting into Warrensburg on August 12th. The ride schedule on the front page of the blog shows the departure dates for each place we stop.
    So far, our estimated time of arrival in Warrensburg is around 2 p.m. There is a club event in Kansas City, MO on that day as well. I will email you the details as soon as I confirm the time and place. Renate and I would love to see you and your family there!