"Divine Intervention" – Ashtyn

When I asked about miracles on her bicycle tour across the country, Ashtyn responded, “Oh gosh, there were so many!” Here are some of her favorite memories of “divine intervention,” after riding across America with her brother Justin last year. (My personal favorite? The Powerade Miracle.)

ashtynmanntransamericabicycletour.JPG

“There was some divine intervention happening on that trip.”

THE POWERADE MIRACLE - OREGON

Justin and I were on day eight of the journey, getting into better shape, but still struggling. Our trip that day was from Mitchell, Oregon to Dayville, Oregon: 38 miles, starting with a 6-mile-long hill right off the bat known as “Mitchell Mountain.”

Seven miles outside of town, Justin ran out of water, which wasn’t good because it was 75 degrees and the sun was beaming down on us. We were in the middle of a desert canyon with no shops for at least 20 miles each direction.

Then, the craziest thing happened… we were cruising along after a break and Justin stopped so suddenly, I almost ran into him. I thought something was wrong, but then I saw the smile on his face as he said:

“Is that a full Powerade?!”

I thought it was crazy until he picked it up…there it was, a full Powerade that had never been opened—the seal wasn’t even cracked. Just sitting on the side of the road, under the shade of a rocky indent in the cliff. It was Justin’s favorite flavor: white cherry.

That was our first taste of a miracle (pun intended).

BIG BLUE RESCUE - MONTANA

We met a couple, Art and Nancy, on our second day in Oregon. Art was cycling across America while his wife, Nancy, was driving their motorhome and meeting him every night at his destination. I truly believe they were our guardian angels. They saved us from giving up (possibly even saved our lives) countless times throughout the trip.

One such time was in Montana. We’d run into Art and Nancy again in Grangeville, Idaho, and over dinner Art told us that he would ride a century the following day. For those who aren’t familiar with what a century is, it means biking 100 miles in one day. Justin and I got cocky and said we could do it if Art could do it! (Art is 70 years old...but don’t underestimate him because of his age, he’s a badass cyclist).

ashtyncrosscountrybicycletour.JPG

“Biking 100 miles in one day… Justin and I got cocky and said we could do it if Art could do it!”

We were going to ride from Grangeville, Idaho to a campground just before the final ascent of Lolo Pass going into Montana. The ride was going to be 110 miles total, and over half of it was gradually climbing Lolo Pass through the forest—no service, no stops, just a highway next to a river and woods.

We left the next day around 9, which was pretty late for going 110 miles. The first part of the ride was beautiful and great, but after mile 70, things started to get rough. It was like being in the Twilight zone...no stops or signs telling us we were almost there, not to mention both of our phones died at mile 90, so no music to keep us occupied. We were only traveling about 10mph and we were exhausted. It started to get dark and both of us also had forgotten to charge our lights. We were feeling hopeless, and at one point, at mile 100, Justin stopped and said he couldn’t go anymore—it was almost 10pm. I told him we only have 10 miles left (which would have been another hour at that rate) and that we could do it. I passed him, which wasn’t a good sign because he was always in front.

Just as I was about to give up, we rounded a corner and saw a motorhome parked on the side of the road. Justin goes, “that’s Art and Nancy’s!!!” I didn’t believe him, thinking he was delirious at this point. But sure enough, we pull up closer and start calling their names. We see the motorhome light up, “Big Blue” as they called it. Art opens the door in shock, asking us why we were still riding; to which we responded with a question “Why are you parked here?!”

Art says: “I got tired!”

We all laughed and our bike angels let us sleep on their futon that night—both sweaty from biking over 100 miles, but we had smiles on our faces because they definitely saved us.

LIFE AND DEATH - KANSAS

Desi in Montana and Robyn in Kansas were also angels. Desi drove us 70 miles from Wisdom, Montana to Dillon, Montana to the nearest hospital because Justin got food poisoning and couldn’t eat or drink anything—something that is bad for a healthy person, but life-threatening to a diabetic. Robyn hosted us in her home in Eureka, Kansas and she was quite literally the most positive and amazing person I have ever met. Her son passed away many years prior right before his 21st birthday and she was so incredible and had the most positive outlook on life, even after experiencing such a tragic loss, that she changed the way I think about life and death.

ashtynmannwomangirlbiketour.JPG

“Robyn… had the most positive outlook on life, even after experiencing such a tragic loss, that she changed the way I think about life and death.”

MEETING KENNY - SOUTH CAROLINA

When Justin and I reached Chester, South Carolina, we stayed at the only motel in town. We ended up getting a ride to the laundromat two miles away, where a very nice woman offered to let us use her laundry card so we didn't have to purchase one. Afterwords, we decided to just walk back to the motel because we felt lazy calling a cab. As we were walking, we noticed the clouds were looking pretty ominous. It started sprinkling rain (we were both in t shirts and flip flops). It started raining harder and harder until is was pouring. We were not happy--especially since we were carrying our freshly washed laundry in not-so-waterproof bags and still had over a mile to walk.

That's when we heard a honk behind us. We turned and saw an older gentlemen pulling into the parking lot behind us. He rolled down his window and with a southern drawl asked, "do y'all need a ride?"

kennytheangel.jpg

“He rolled down his window and with a southern drawl asked, ‘do y'all need a ride?’”

We eagerly said yes and got into his car. We learned his name was Kenny, a 65 year-old who also had a son named Justin. We told him about our trip and he thought it was amazing. Kenny asked us to tell him our donation site when we stopped so he could write it down with a pen and paper. We chatted for a bit, gave him a bracelet and said our goodbyes. Before we left, I asked to get this photo of him (I take photos of everyone who helps us) to which he said he doesn't like photos, but will take one just for me since I asked. He refused to look at it with the reasoning: "if I wanna see myself I'll just look in the mirror.”

Justin and I went to dinner and when we got back to the room, the phone rang. Kenny had called the motel to find out how to get into contact with us. Justin gave him a call and Kenny told him he had to find a way to talk to us again because he couldn't stop thinking about how cool it was that we were doing this.

After a few exchanges, Kenny mentioned that his wife had passed away 10 years ago today. I could hear in his voice that he thought he had met us for a reason on this day specifically and it almost brought me to tears.

We thought Kenny was our angel when he picked us up on the side of the road to help us escape the pouring rain. But it was apparent that meeting us helped him in some way or another, especially today. You never know what people are going through or what kind of heartache they could be facing.

I saw a quote on a sign outside of a church that we rode by that day. It read:

"Being kind to others doesn't cost anything."

That right there is number one thing I've taken away from this journey.

ashtynmannbicycletouramerica.JPG

"‘Being kind to others doesn't cost anything.’

That right there is number one thing I've taken away from this journey.”


Ashtyn was born and raised in Woodinville, Washington and now lives in Chelan, Washington, where she works at two wineries. She’s planning on moving to Austin, Texas real soon. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashtynmann.


READY FOR MORE INTERVIEWS WITH WOMEN WHO LOVE BIKES? CLICK HERE.

HAVE A BICYCLING FRIEND I CAN FEATURE ON THIS BLOG? CONTACT ME!

INSPIRED? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.