June 14, 2015. R&R’ing at Shal’s aunt and uncle’s home in Page, AZ. 102F.

F*yeah! We did it! We completed the 750 mile AZ BDR, one of the most challenging physical and mental experiences either of us have ever had – wrapped in absolutely stunning scenery.

Now we can stop wondering how hard it’s going to be. We were told it is the most technically challenging of all the BDRs and for months leading up to this route we speculated what that would actually mean to us – on our loaded bikes, with our skill level. There are brief descriptions about the route and understandably can’t mention every obstacle since conditions impact the route significantly. Just like life, huh? We still have 3 BDRs in front of us and even though they don’t have the reputation of AZ we’re not taking anything for granted.

We learned that even though the description of part of the route may say “mellow” dirt road there is always the chance that the mellow road could be washed out. The last 150 miles of the route was by far the easiest yet we were presented with one of the most technical challenges of the entire route in the final 5 miles…a washed out road – a dip filled with mud with an approach and exit made of thick, soft dirt. By now we know not to celebrate our success and consider a section complete until we actually cross the line. “Its not over ‘til it’s over” resonates strongly with us. By reminding ourselves of this we can avoid the roller coaster ride of expectations and disappointment. By the way, Shal rode both bikes through that last mess like a pro.

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Feeling rejuvenated after a visit with our friends Daniel and Heidi.

We had lots of opportunities to practice what we preach – Ride YOUR Ride. About half way through the route Steph ran out of steam. As much as she wanted to continue she realized (with Shal’s help) that she was depleted. The physical demands, stress, heat, and not consuming enough calories put her on the road to disaster. The ride was turning into a chore to get over with rather than a fun adventure. Nothing is fun when you’re depleted. We wisely decided to get off the bikes for a bit and let our selves be cared for by our generous new friends in Sedona. A few days of rest and nourishing food made all the difference.  Its good to know one’s limits.

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Its a balancing act. Marble Canyon.

Another thing we came to appreciate was our ability to work as a team. Prior to this challenge we considered ourselves to be a good team – each bringing her own unique strengths required to undertake such a challenge. Accomplishing one of the most difficult and stressful challenges we’ve ever encountered highlighted that teamwork. We can both now say that we make a fantastic team. We trust the other to lead in her domain and can put our egos aside. Usually.

Our deep appreciation for the opportunity to pursue our passions and choose to put ourselves in challenging situations prompts us to engage in giving back with action. We want all women to have the same opportunities. In 2015 the scales are still tilted in favor of men when it comes to economic advancement and power. Washington’s women and girls have made significant gains, yet they continue to face unique challenges in these areas. We need to keep the momentum going to build on this progress, address the challenges at hand and push harder than ever for women and girls across the state. We must not slow down until every woman and girl has the opportunity to reach her full potential. When women and girls have the skills, knowledge and capacity to participate fully in shaping society, families, communities and economies are all strengthened.

We’re using the visibility of our adventure to bring attention to the need to continue to help others get the same leg up in life. We would love your support! Please donate any amount to our fundraising project for Women’s Funding Alliance. Click on the Crowdrise logo to go to our funding page – do it now so you don’t forget.   Crowdriselogo

With an attitude of gratitude, Shal and Steph

Ice "cakes" in Maine
Ice “cakes” in Maine

Written by Steph

Explorer of adventures.

6 comments

  1. So, so awesome!!! Keep rocking, you two. And keep inspiring us all!! Thank you for ALL you are doing to advance great work for women and girls!

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