Tuesday, July 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Ride for a well

// Couple funds well with a bicycle built for two

David Smith and his wife Leanne, both Fife High School class of 2004 grads and now New Mexico residents, have passed the midpoint of a cross-country adventure together they will likely never forget.

They are trekking from Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore., on a tandem bike to raise money for a nonprofit effort to build a well in Nicaragua.

They put their feet to their pedals Aug. 2 and are on schedule to end their 3,000-mile trip after eight weeks of between 40 and 80-mile days, every day to raise the $3,000 goal by late September. Like their journey, that goal is about halfway done as well, clocking in at $2,175 for Living Water International, a Christian nonprofit organization that provides clean, drinkable water to villages and communities throughout the world.

All along the way, the couple has chronicled the cross-country tour on a two-seater bike through their blog,


While many of the posts are inspirational, others deal with the shear work and daily challenges of taking on such an endeavor that involves dive bars, cheap hotels, smelly camping gear, exhaustion and frustrations as well as the simple pleasures of hot water.

The posts are riddled with days like this, outside of Augusta, Mont. “Our final hurdle was an empty water supply around mile 75 with only a tiny blip of a town on our map in the next 40 miles. Experience has taught us that tiny towns are wildcards, with fluctuating populations and transient businesses that can very easily fall into ghost-town status. We neared the edge of Carter, MT with high hopes of a water spigot and a restroom, but we didn't let ourselves get too excited at the sight of a bar until we confirmed that it was in fact OPEN! With pro-gun paraphernalia plastered on the walls and country music blaring, we sat at the bar and drank a Rainier, then ordered warm blackberry rhubarb pie with ice cream and washed it down with lemonade in a mason jar. … We were 100 percent rejuvenated, and despite overall fatigue, we still made it to our motel in Great Falls by six. … Our must-see tourist stop of the night was the Sip 'N Dip, a post-WWII era tiki bar that probably hasn't seen many updates since. The main attraction is a large tank behind the bar where a woman dressed as a mermaid swims back and forth, waving to the customers. Yes, seriously. She even has a hoop that she can swim through.”

They hit a parade of challenges, for example on Aug. 30, somewhere in Wisconsin that was described in a post entitled “Ups and Downs.”

Leanne wrote: “Believe it or not, we spent our first five days in Wisconsin trying to find milk that wasn't from Texas or Minnesota. This is extremely frustrating when you are biking through America’s Dairyland and constantly breathing in the smell of cows. So on Wednesday when we biked passed a roadside sign for a creamery and bakery, we took a chance. We wound up at Farmstead Creamery and Cafe. I knew we had found a small piece of heaven when we walked in to see a plate of fresh-baked blueberry muffins being put on the counter. They had such an impressive selection of local dairy goods that we had trouble narrowing down our choice to a large glass bottle of chocolate milk. We were excited to find the milk was non-homogenized, because it was a new experience for us, and we kinda liked the floating bits of extra cream, David had coffee with his blueberry muffin, and I picked out the most amazing looking loaf of bread I have ever seen to bring with us for our PB&J power snacks. I couldn't say no to their strawberry rhubarb jam and fresh-picked carrots, and they even enticed me with a fresh chocolate chip cookie as we were leaving. Overall, it was exactly what we had been looking for and exactly what we needed to prepare us for what lay ahead!”

But the good day got bad quickly, she wrote.

“A few miles later we came across a road closed sign, and of course we assumed it couldn't apply to us, so we biked the extra few miles to find the road completely torn away. A bit dismayed that we'd have to return over the hilly terrain we had just conquered, we found an alternate route around the lakes that brightened our outlook. Just when it looked like we had made it through the wilderness, I thought to myself how I wished I had taken a picture of the road closure sign for the blog. And that’s when we happened upon our second road closure sign of the day (great photo op, not so great for morale). Another few miles out of our way (all hills, of course,) and we were redirected to a major highway, where we were forced to bike for nine miles in 90+ degree heat with no shade and plenty of fast moving cars – oh joy. Once we were back on our map, the heat and the hills seemed intensified by our poor spirits and we barely made it to our campsite in Birchwood. We've biked 1,660 miles and are exactly four weeks in. We're tired of camping and believe it or not, our tent actually smells like cows. We miss our dog like crazy.”

To sponsor mileage for the Smiths’ trip to benefit Living Water International, visit