Day 29: South Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, CA

Today was an incredible day of riding. I had several riders join me today—Bruce from Development, as well as Tom and Scott, both Notre Dame Law alumni.

Well, the way out of Tahoe is up, up and up.  We climbed and climbed to the summit of Echo. At the top was a spectacular view where we could look back and see Lake Tahoe.

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Day 28: Fallon, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA

Today we left Nevada and crossed the border into California.  It was a pretty mountainous ride from Fallon to South Lake Tahoe.

We made  a special stop in Reno to visit the Hempel family. Addison and Cassidy are identical twin girls who were diagnosed with NPC in October 2007 when they were four years old. Their parents, Chris and Hugh Hempel, stepped up with extraordinary courage and perseverance and joined the fight against NPC for Addi and Cassi like so many families who find themselves in such circumstances and respond with generosity and hope. In 2012, the Hempels drove to Carson City to meet me along the Road to Discovery route. This year, Addi and Cassi met me right under the Reno sign downtown with their little specialty bicycles. Seeing them was such an incredible inspiration. At the College of Science, we always say that’s it’s not just what we do, it’s why we do it. The Hempel twins are a great reason that we continue this fight against NPC. Thank you, Hempel family, for coming out to see me. Addi and Cassi, it was wonderful seeing you again—you inspire us all!

Visit with Cassi and Addi Hempel, and their dad Hugh

Visiting Cassi and Addi Hempel, and their dad Hugh

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Day 27: Ely to Fallon, NV

Today was a long and pleasant day on the road.  We were on Highway 50 the entire day, known as the loneliest highway in the country.  There were a few climbs and many down hills today.  The temperature was just right.  It was a day that was needed after the challenge of the day before.  When you looked ahead, all you could see was the long Nevada road tens of miles ahead—some stretches felt like I would never get there.  Although it was long; overall, the day was very good.

When we arrived at the hotel parking lot, I met a Notre Dame 2009 graduate and Naval Academy graduate. They are both officers on active duty and came over to ask about what we were doing.

Day 27

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Day 26: Delta, UT to Ely, NV

This was the worst day ever, in all of my five years of biking on the Road to Discovery. This was definitely the most challenging day I have ever had.

We rolled out of the parking lot at 3 a.m.  It was a bit windy, but coming off the best day ever, I was optimistic this would be another wonderful day.  The sunrise was spectacular, but as the sun came up, things started to deteriorate.

Day 26-1

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Day 24: Vernal to Orem, UT

The ride to Orem was beautiful today, especially the second part of the ride and the arrival into town. The morning seemed warm when we started, but as we descended 2,000 feet, the temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees. The mountains in Utah are simply spectacular and many of them are still snow-capped.

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Day 22: Granby to Craig, CO

Today started out very cold for biking; it was just over 40 degrees when we left.  I must say that the ride from Granby to Craig was the most beautiful stretch of the trip so far. There was hardly any other traffic on the Road to Discovery, but every direction presented sheer cliffs, sagebrush, and the white rapids of the Colorado River. Most of the mountains still have snow on them.

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Day 21: Denver to Granby, CO

The day started off wonderful with an interview with KUSA/NBC and a visit to Marley Coffee in Denver.  Marley has been such a great supporter of our cause.  The company’s headquarters in Denver is the coolest headquarters ever. I was even asked to ride my bike through it.  It was great to meet the wonderful Marley employees. Thanks for all of your support.

Interview with Gary Shapiro at KUSA in Denver

Interview with Gary Shapiro at KUSA in Denver

 

Today’s journey was perhaps the roughest I have experienced in all five rides. It started off so well.  Jim, a recent Notre Dame graduate and captain of the Notre Dame Cycling Team last year, joined us for the first part of the ride to Estes Park. On the way, we climbed to 8,000 feet and then descended to about 7,000 feet.

Jim and Greg

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Day 20: Yuma to Denver, CO

The ride was a bit wet today. There was mist in the air most of the day as we climbed from about 4,000 feet to over 5,000 feet. You can definitely feel the effects of the change in altitude on your breathing. We began the day in Yuma, which is a quiet and small town, like many small towns on today’s route, and biked to the busy and vibrant city of Denver.

We had a wonderful alumni event at the Spire.  Cindy and Mike Parseghian were there and Cindy presented her family story about their fight and the loss of their three children to NPC. No matter how many times I listen to the story, it never gets any easier to hear.  Because of their fight, courage and devotion, the Notre Dame family has rallied behind their cause. Erica from the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union also visited the event. NDFCU has been such a wonderful sponsor over the last four years. The credit union has a new program called Elevate that further supports our fight against rare diseases. Read more »

Day 14: Iowa City to Des Moines, IA

Today’s ride was hot, humid, and hilly. Who said Iowa was flat? The rolling hills were never-ending, and the farm fields stretched in every direction as a far as the eye could see. Deer were everywhere. It was a great day for riding.

Interview with NBC in Des Moines

Interview with NBC in Des Moines

It was also a great evening with the Notre Dame Club of Des Moines at Tursi’s Latin King Restaurant, a well-known Italian eatery. They had the best chicken I’ve ever tasted, and the meatballs melted in my mouth. I gave a Universal Notre Dame Celebration talk about Father Hesburgh, and included an update on our progress in the fight against NPC as well as our broader efforts against rare diseases.

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Day 13: Davenport to Iowa City, IA

Today we rode from Davenport to Iowa City, a wonderful place that is home to the great University of Iowa. The day was sunny with a slight headwind—nothing to complain about—and the fields were green with fresh growth as far as the eye could see.

As we pulled into Iowa City, a reporter called and asked me to meet him at Kinnick Stadium, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes and named for the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, Nile Kinnick.

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