Trip of a lifetime

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    • #127503

      I am new to the site but not to the sport. I apologize for the length of this and I hope people actually read…
      Long story short…Back when I was 20 I suffered a severe life changing injury to my neck, I was told I wouldn’t do anything I loved again. Five years later and I have backpacked the appalachian trail, sailed several hundred miles only to be stuck in a hurricane, started college, and have recovered remarkably well.
      I still have paralysis in my hands, muscle spasms, atrophy, and wasting but I am preparing for my return to riding next year (2016) and I have decided on a massive challenge…7,500 miles as it stands right now criss crossing the country riding some of the best, longest trails and legendary places (obviously I’m limited but I plan on pushing to a level where I can once again ride a few kickers/drops) I’m not overestimating my capabilities, I am working on many things for this trip including sponsors and fundraising…as this plan is still in its infant stages there is much to do…I am looking for people to join at any and all stages. Odds are if you’re on this site you have the skill required to consider this!
      I’ve missed riding and I am committed to this, so if you are at all interested in any capacity please let me know!

    • #127504

      I would love to see the proposed route, even just a rough idea to see how far away we are to where you may be at the closest point. I’d throw you a ham sandwich when you rode by if I could.

    • #127505

      Sorry for the delay, this is the route…pages are being setup after a few legalities concerning fundraising plans are straightened out, everything has to be 100% above board…

      Start on Kingdom Trails somewhere around Burke Mountain/East Burke

      Ride Stowe Mountain VT

      Ride Killington Mountain

      Ride Snow Mount

      Manchester CT, Ride Case Mountain

      Middletown CT Ride Trails at Middlesex Community College

      Guilford CT Ride West Woods

      Washington DC Ride Alleghany Trail and visit Johns Hopkins Hospital Patients for presentation, possibly setting up a ride of sorts.

      Mckeesport PA Ride Alleghany Trail,

      Wooster, OH Ride Vultures Knob

      Loudonville OH Ride Mohican Trail

      Nashville IN Ride Brown County Park and Valley Branch Retreat

      Indianapolis IN Ride Fort Harrison State Park and Southwest Loop

      Willow Springs IL Ride Bullfrog Lake

      Duluth MN Ride Piedmont and Mission Park

      Ironton MN Ride Cuyana Lakes

      Medora ND Ride Maah Dahh Hey

      Watford ND Ride Longs X Loop

      Roosville BC/MT Start Great Divide Trail (Will be riding the required 90% according to the organization of all three major trails for the bikepack triple crown)

      South Pass City WY Continue Great Divide Trail

      Denver CO Start Colorado Trail

      Durango CO Finish Colorado Trail

      Moab UT Ride The Whole Enchilada and Porcupine Rim

      New Mexico…Visiting friends.

      Fredonia AZ Start The Arizona Trail

      Tucson AZ Finish The Arizona Trail

      Los Angeles CA Ride here because we have never been

      Santa Cruz CA Forest of Nisene Marks and

      Tahoe City CA Finish this Adventure on The Tahoe Rim Trail

      Total Mileage Not Counting Side Trails: 7,543 Miles

      With Trails Estimated: 8,800 Miles

      Timeframe: March till November

    • #127506

      Also the overall plan for what we are doing


      WanderSpire: The act of wandering with the intent of inspiring others while finding inspiration for oneself.

      First things first Hello!

      Next I am going to apologize for the length of this as it is quite a bit of information and has been complicated enough planning so I would imagine this may be a bit much…
      My name is Arthur Thomas Lillquist (Tom NineLives on facebook) apparently I’m the team leader for this project of ours…
      In an attempt at keeping this shortish I’ll skip the life story and get to the important parts…

      When I was 20 I suffered a severe neck injury, literally overnight my life changed. When I woke up my life as I knew it was over. I had essentially suffered a stroke in my spinal column C4-C7. As some may know; this area when damaged, often results in paralysis. When I awoke my ability too walk had been diminished, my arms and hands more or less useless, I developed a (thankfully temporary) seizure disorder, chronic (ongoing) pain throughout my neck and spine, muscle atrophy, spasticity, and wasting. I then was prescribed large doses (up to 300 mgs of oxycodone and 40mgs of valium daily for nearly 3 years) of medications that lead to a legal addiction…Subsequently depression followed.
      It was through all of this that one day I decided enough was enough and I told my doctors “I’m coming back from this better than before or I’ll die trying.”
      What followed was brutal, I quit the oxycodone cold turkey. I then made the mistake of quitting the valium in the same manner…thankfully several days in I had a physical, upon taking my vitals it was realized I was on the verge of a heart attack, I spent three days in ICU and then two weeks inpatient recovering. But I did it.

      I then began focusing on my recovery. I recovered to a point where I took on the Appalachian Trail a mere four years after these injuries, then a sporadic sailing adventure that ended in hurricane Eduardo off the coast of New Jersey, upon returning I set my sights on college and began courses with the end goal being a double major/double minor Mechanical Engineering/Computer Science and minors in Psychology and Outdoor Education…
      Now though I and my teammate Michael (whose biography will be added as soon as he has time off from work to complete it) are preparing for the greatest challenge either of us has ever faced to date. The goal (and what we need much help and support with in accomplishing) is a truly massive mountain bike ride. I used to love riding. I used to ride downhill and free ride Mountain biking… Loved it. I haven’t ridden in over 5 years but now I believe I am ready. Our goal is a 7,500+ mile cross country mountain bike expedition…

      I’ll let that sink in…7,500+ miles, mountain biked, I haven’t rode in 5+ years, still fairly injured, so many tangibles and obstacles. . .

      This isn’t just a ride for me or my teammates.
      We will be riding for the Stroke Challenge and raising money for them.
      We want to meet people along the way, have people join us for any amount of time…
      We want this trip to be as amazing and inspirational for others as it is for us.
      We will be filming and producing this adventure into a movie, and documenting the journey with updates online!

      There is so much we have to get done.

      My last savings are going into this trip and it isn’t nearly enough…I haven’t been legally or physically able to work since my injuries.

      My teammate is working 60+ hours a week and will be required to quit his job for this trip.

      At this time we need a huge amount of equipment. Any help would be incredible and we will be giving recognition to all who help.
      Depending on donation size we will be sending either individual photo’s, photo albums with stories of the picture attached, video+photo albums, and possibly much more! Everyone who takes part in helping with preparation with this trip will receive recognition at every opportunity, and if possible we will do what we can to do right by all involved! This trip is meant to inspire and help others; just as much as it is for ourselves and we wouldn’t be asking if we genuinely didn’t need the help…At some point I’ll probably post a picture of my bank account and the remaining .80 cents in it…

      A list of currently needed equipment

      2x Bikes…These are the most expensive items and we need to get training immediately. We also don’t want equipment that is going to break as we’ll be in mountains, deserts, and on occasion the middle of nowhere.
      Video camera(s)


      SPOT Trackers…these are critical because they map every mile, speed, location within a few feet etc…This way you will be able to see exactly where we are and know that your support helped get us there!

      Food, we will need lots of it, from past experience of a hiker appetite the food quantity is unreal!

      Sleeping Bags

      I hope you decide to join us on this journey. We believe a lot will come from this. We are continually adding to this plan. What we are adding is not for us, it is for those in hospitals, recovering from any injuries or illness; we are looking to find hospitals, scout groups, youth groups etc…that would welcome a visit or presentation on the trip so far, we will extend our trip as needed to accommodate any interested groups! If anyone would like to ride with us for any length we would love to have you!

      “When all this is done, I hope it inspires those in hard places or dark times, I want everyone to know that even when everything is against you it isn’t over until you decide, that if there is a challenge no matter how daunting, anything is possible, after all, if I can do it so can you!”

    • #127507

      Also it may seem we have a lot to get in order prior to this happening but that isn’t completely the case…We are in discussion with several sponsors (sadly none yet for bikes) we have a couple who are committed and details are being figured out, as for if this is happening, regardless it is happening 100% myself and Michael are doing this. We welcome anyone and everyone to join for any length of time, because of my injuries my riding will be rusty but I expect I’ll adjust quickly (hopefully otherwise pictures from the hospital and some decent crashes will be shown:) If anyone knows anybody who would be interested in meeting up (organizations, hospitals, injured/ill family etc…) we are willing to extend our trip and go off route to meet up! Regardless we welcome any and all to follow along, this is months away but there is quite a bit happening, we are also always looking for help of any kind!

    • #127508

      It’s a pretty stupid question but are you going to be biking the whole thing, even from trail to trail?

    • #127509

      No such thing as a stupid question…Yes we will be riding the entire time! I’m not so much asking anyone here for donations (they would be a great help though or if you want to share the page) this is currently one page for the funding…It may sound like we are asking for a lot in terms of financial support but really this is only about half of what we are planning for this trip, the other half we are covering ourselves as well as Michael giving up his apartment and job, all of my last savings are going towards this, we have several partial sponsors, I am a O/R CORE member, we are in discussions with a total of 16 possible sponsors, several hospitals have expressed interest, two fundraising organizations Stroke Association and Cancer Association and are still working out the legalities regarding the fundraising and as this is an above average length trip the normal donation setup has to be changed as well, As I have said this is 100% happening regardless of finances raised, we are looking for support in a variety of ways, if you or anyone would like to join for a ride or just too hangout anyone is more then welcome! We will be riding to visit patients, hospitals, youth groups, anyone who is interested and we are willing to extend the trip accordingly!

      Again this link is for a page and honestly we’d love donations but understand fully how hard money is to come by so just check it out, share, comment, and if you have any input about trails along the way or anything please let us know!

      UPDATE- Just heard back from the Stroke Association, they will be assisting in creating a page for pledges and it should be up and running hopefully within the week! Still are working on being able to do a dual fundraiser so Cancer may be included but for now it is 100% confirmed we will be doing this for Stroke Association/Stroke Challenge.

    • #127510

      On your way from Willow Springs to Duluth will you be going through Milwaukee?

    • #127511

      We will be close enough that a side trip would be easily able to be planned in! There are places to ride around the area that we have looked at…The reason we didn’t include much in terms of planning for the state of WI is because the schedule as it sits is setup so that we can add to it as needed depending on timeframe originally we planned the trip as being 3 months shorter than it now is, due to the amount of support we have been receiving and interest generated (mind you this trip has been planned for under two weeks, as I said infant stages still) We extended the plan and gave ourselves an extra three months!

    • #127512

      Just a quick update, we have picked up several more partial sponsors and full sponsors, the official fundraising page for National Stroke Association will be up by Wednesday (that is the date I was told it would be completed)
      Things are coming a long nicely especially considering how early on this adventure is!

    • #127513

      I’d love to join you at some part of this journey. But it’ll all depend on when you’re doing this as I’m fairly nomadic and all over the place.

      I got a few things that screwed up my riding. Muscle condition ended up crushing the right side of my rib case and will flair up riding so I have a hard time breathing, same condition also tore of most of the muscles in my legs so I had to get PT and learn to walk again, have diplopia now too so I can’t see obstacles easily. Anyways, I basically know the feeling of loving a sport so much you don’t let anything stop you from riding. I can’t go fast and keep up with others so i end up riding alone 95% of the time, but I still love MTBing. I’ve gone through a number of sports in my life competitively and I’ve burned out of all of them. Cycling is more being able to be free for me. I don’t race or anything cause I love it too much to ruin the pure fun.

      Hope I can take a trip from where ever I’ll be to hop in on your adventure! Sounds amazing.

    • #127514

      Our gofundme page has the route we will be taking, again I’m attaching the link,
      Alternatively if you don’t want to use the gofundmepage feel free to add me on FB name there is Tom NineLives, from CT….
      please check it out we love having people interested in riding. We would love for you and anyone else to join! There are so many developments happening. I should point out, right now we are really trying to simply spread the word, sharing the page is a huge help, this adventure is expected to cost more than double what we are trying to raise through pages, we do have affiliation with National Stroke Association and I wish we had that page up as further proof but as we they are setting the page up for us it requires coordinating everything and Betsy the director is out until early next week working on a current event and upon returning our page will be up!
      This is an adventure that so far to my knowledge and that of numerous others I have spoken with has never been done before.
      We have attracted a total of 5 partial sponsors, 2 full sponsors, and are in discussions with numerous others and are discussing details.
      Here is the link, check it out, if you like it share and spread the word, send me a message with a way of getting in contact and as we go we will keep anyone and everyone updated!

    • #127515

      Unfortunately not the update I wanted too give, my teammates father had a heart attack this morning at 2:00 a.m…Just asking for some prayers for them at this time.

      Due to this we will be delaying the debut of the National Stroke Association page as I am now looking into a duel ride for both National Stroke Association and National Heart Association.

      I’ve seen that this topic has been viewed nearly 350 times in around a week of being up, thank you all I’m assuming a lot of the views are people vaguely interested and that alone means something.

      Thank you.
      Tom Ninelives

    • #127516

      Update…First of all it wasn’t Michaels biological father who had the heart attack, it was his step-father. He is recovering well. We have confirmed we’ll be riding for two organizations National Stroke Association and most likely National Heart Association, we are just waiting on confirmation from Heart Association.
      Beyond that some rather massive developments butttt it’ll be awhile before we announce all that, let’s just say it’ll probably make nearly everyone jealous…As always we are always looking for help beyond just financial,
      if interested in anyway please don’t hesitate to message/comment/find me on facebook Tom Ninelives…

      once again here is the link containing all information.
      Also because of recent developments we are making a secondary route (same length) only heading south and then west then doing Bikepack TripleCrown northbound…

    • #127517

      If you’d like a guide in Tucson let me know or even better, will give you access to many local riders.

    • #127518

      We would be grateful to have a guide! As I have said, we need help of all sorts, if anyone is interested in helping in anyway please let me know! I know this is a long ways off but this takes a surprising amount of effort, more then I initially anticipated. It’s great though and once everything has come together it will have been well worth it, this much I’m already certain of.

    • #127519

      I can always send you as many Clif Bars as I could get my hands on?!?!

    • #127520

      I love clif bars. That’d be a great help! We actually reached out to Clif Bar but we haven’t heard back yet sadly…Other news going on…Mikes step-dad is recovering well from the heart attack, it was fairly minor overall! I fractured three ribs, Mike and I are meeting up today and going over everything…We still need help across the board/country/finances/everything of course…Though we are set on sponsors/support for Bikes (yeah that happened) Clothing, Stoves, Bike Shop…We also are now in discussions with a beverage/sports drink company.
      Still looking for sponsors who could assist in providing food, cameras, other miscellaneous items.

      National Stroke Association is completely on board. We are delaying the page for them until we are confirmed with National Heart Association (they are unrelated)
      Also reason for delay, I really don’t want to have too physically hold onto the donations as this always causes some sort of problem, we are working on setting up an electronic pay method where all donations go directly to the organization!

      We also would as always love to meet people, were looking to have a good time, ride, hangout, ya’ll are welcome to come join for any length of time from a minute to days or weeks, its going to be an awesome time, biking and camping! Sorry I would post more but my ribs are acting up

    • #127521

      Fundraising page information has been completed, just waiting on the link now. Woke up with several messages from various news agencies, Michigan and Northeaster Wisconsin have officially been added to the route…So we are looking for people from those areas who are interested in helping…If you’re in one of the following states and may be interested in someway please let me know! VT, MA, CT, MD, PA, OH, IN, IL, MI, WI, MN, MT, WY, CO, UT, NM, AZ, CA we WILL be in your state!

    • #127522

      I could probably travel up from Milwaukee. At what time of year are you expecting to be in Wisconsin?

    • #127523

      Depending on our start date as March in Vermont often has snow still (We don’t mind cold temperatures) it will probably be sometime around May-June that we will be in Wisconsin.

    • #127524

      Our official page for National Stroke Association is up … pxfid=6750

      we also need some help still getting word out about the gofundme page…We are riding regardless but for someone in my situation some help is sadly needed.

      Thank you all
      Tom Ninelives

    • #127525

      So it has been a few days since I updated…it has been a crazy time all around….I begin classes as a CNA as I’m taking this year off from college (when I attend college I’m a double major/double minor) so this certificate program is a means too a end as well as funds this adventure…I plan on starting riding within two weeks (Bike is getting ordered shortly) just need to wait for my ribs to finish healing…Michael has been doing his preparation and is on schedule…
      Please take a look at either

      or support our National Stroke Association fundraising page.

    • #127526

      I’m trying to post less frequently as there updates are expected to be fewer until we get closer too our starting date…However due to some I guess fortunate misfortunes if that makes any sense I’m expecting to purchase a bike pretty much a few days to two weeks from now, I really couldn’t be more excited about this…over five year’s forced away from the sport and thinking I would never do anything of the sort again I can’t wait. For those wondering yes I do know I can still ride a bike, hopped on one a few days ago and was actually shocked my hands worked well enough for a few hops…Also got some passes from a friend for some places up in VT…So when I start riding anyone in CT, MA, VT interested in riding? Yes I’ll post this in the Northeast section once I get started again.

    • #127527

      It has been awhile since I posted, a fair amount has happened…My teammate has lost around 30 pounds in two/three weeks, several more sponsors have either joined or expressed interest, and I finally began riding again! 12-16 miles yesterday, certainly riding a bike that exceeds my current capabilities (not my past ability) but massive thanks to The Cutting Edge and Santa Cruz the V10 is just amazing, I have a ways to go before I’m back in form but that was expected, what I didn’t expect was to be overall as able to ride as I was…Anyhow hoping to have my hands strengthened and working well enough for some downhill asap
      For those interested, muscle on average works in three week cycles, due to nerve damage this will take longer if it is even possible at this point for me, if it isn’t surgery is a option and I can get tendons (in some cases from a kangaroo) switched and the treatment has shown remarkable success rates overall…Food for thought, Kangaroo tendons…

    • #127528

      That would be an awesome conversation starter!

    • #127529

      In my first week back riding I have put in a estimated total of 35 hours, rode till the point one of my hands absolutely needs a break so now I’m taking a day or two off until it is better, also beginning the certification classes tomorrow.

    • #127530

      That’s a large amount of hours the first week! How do the legs feel?

    • #127531

      Legs get tired but my main issue is my hands, as they have paralysis/limited strength, I’m still getting them adjusted.

    • #127532

      Obviously they get tired though, I purposefully got a more difficult bike to ride but that’ll pay off later during the trip, prior to this, I was a avid rider of all sorts, so I couldn’t be happier overall with how everything is going, and when I feel great (compared to normal) I’m excited by the progress I have seen so far.

    • #172514

      Ok its been awhile since I posted, have had issues with the site lately…Anyhow riding has been going great overall, 95+ hours of riding in my first three weeks back, I’m riding skinnies with confidence, have hit a few jumps, several drops up around 7 feet high or so…also first set of injuries since being back, small non-surgery tears in my knee (3), bruised ribs/abdominals, mild concussion…It’s been several days since all this and not only do I feel great but I’m ahead of schedule in all aspects! I also have a full spot open for this ride as my former teammate has been removed due to several problems that simply were unacceptable. If anyone is interested please message me for details and or questions!

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