The Team Jesse Foundation
Mission: To provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams


Mission: To provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams

Flooded River (Day Forty)

  We set on our second day on the Katy Trail, and it was a milestone in that our days on The Ride had reached the forties.  Although today’s course was a measly fifty miles, it would find ways to become a full day in terms of significance and challenges.

We would spend most of the day riding alongside the Missouri River, which brought with it some beautiful views.  We’d been hearing all week about the flooding and that we should be mindful that certain areas of the trail could be shut down and that we could possibly be taking some detours.   Well, they were right!  Ten miles into the course, we had to dog-leg around the trail because it was shut down.  We looped around into a small town called Rocheville.  While there, we had a great stop – there was a small bike shop/café, and also, shaded seating.  Can’t even begin to describe how hot it is here, and the weatherman’s consistent urging that people ‘stay inside, don’t go outside, and sit in the air conditioning’ for the entire week has gone, and will continue to go, unheeded.  So, shaded seating is a luxury.  It’s still over 100 degrees in the shade, though, so we weren’t slackin’!

Anyway, while at the bike shop/café, we were able to get some new supplies; because of the trail, we had been ripping through tires and tubes at a very aggressive rate.  So, stocking up was a good idea, especially since Mama Bear and Papa Bear were there with the support vehicle and could pack the extras.  Also, we got some new insulated water bottles.  Because of the heat, our regular bottles heat up and get the water to temps of over 100 degrees in minutes.  Even if we use ice only, it’s converted to bathwater in less than 5 minutes.  So, the insulated bottles would help tremendously where this is concerned. 

As we were getting ready to strap on, click in and ride off, I was greeted by a young woman who was also taking a short break from cycling on the trail.  She asked where we were riding.  When I answered ‘New York’, it began a dialogue that was to be a meaningful one for all of us.  I told her about our mission and that we were raising money and awareness for the Families of Fallen Soldiers, she began to tell me how wonderful it was and then began to tell me that her husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan.  Before she could say too much more, I watched a giant teardrop hit the table where we were standing.   I gave her a hug as she started to explain how it had been a really tough week.  Her husband is a Navy Corpsman, or in other words a medic, and he has seen a lot of hard times in the past few weeks.  The Taliban has been very busy with IED’s and her husband’s Kandahar post has him seeing a lot of action.  As a group, Mama Bear and Kevin joined me in comforting her, and before we had parted ways, she’d gotten a lot of encouragement and even some ideas from Kevin about how to get some stateside support, particularly from FRG (Family Readiness Group).  Her name is Tara, and she told us that she had recently picked up cycling to deal with the loneliness of not having her husband around as well as the anxiety that comes with having him deployed to a hot area.  We pedaled away with purpose, and it was not lost on any of us that our opportunities to help can come up suddenly.  We also were happy for Tara that she’d seized the opportunity to help herself in a proactive fashion.  Tara, thanks for your inspiration and for the sacrifices you’re making, alongside your hero of a husband, to keep our way of life.

We got back on the trail and found it to have been recently flooded.  It was swampland on either side of the trail, and the trail itself was recently wet.  Always the optimist, I noticed that it made the surface much more solid and stable, and even a little cooler.  It definitely made for an interesting landscape, though, as we cruised through.  Sudden vistas of the river popped through trees, and it was clearly moving fast.  This was no place to try to swim!  The currents were ripping through and carrying logs and other debris with it.

Our next stop was miles away, and it was also about the people.  Once again the film crew AND support crew happened to be there, and we came to stop at an old train depot.  We arrived to see Mama Bear talking to two long-distance cyclists.  Jeff and Amy were their names, and they had recently graduated from Rutgers.  They had flown to San Francisco and were making the trek back to their home in New Jersey on bikes that they’d purchased out on the west coast.  They were great people, full of life and out to capture truth along the journey.  We rode with them for around 12 miles, and during that time heard and told stories, rode each other’s bikes and shared some experiences.  I had a great time relating to Jeff, and before long we were finishing each other’s sentences.  These people were great to meet we’re going to be keeping in touch with them and connecting with them in Philly.  In the end, we decided that they needed our new water bottles more than we did, so we gave them up.  It felt great.

It’s all about the people!

For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit.

 Care Creates Community,

Matt Sauri

RideMatt S