By Mary Alice Murphy
Monique Ades called the Beat from Steamboat Springs, Colo., on Thursday, July 12, 2018, to talk about her senior project.
The 16-year-old lives in Oakhurst, CA, south of Yosemite. She and her father, Mickeal, are bicycling the 2,796 miles from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, NM, in support of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Monique chose this project in honor of her great-grandfather, whom she calls great-papa throughout her blog— https://bikeforalzheimers.com —which she is keeping to chronicle their adventure.
She and her father began their journey in Banff on June 20 and hope to finish about 75 -80 miles a day and end in Antelope Wells around July 27.
"I'm doing this ride for my great-grandpa, who passed away from Alzheimer's," Monique said. "He was my best friend. I was only five years old when he died, but I remember things he taught me.
"As I got older, I did research on Alzheimer's," she continued. "It's an awful disease."
When she was five years old, she also told her father she wanted to ride a bicycle across America.
"When I was a freshman in high school, we started planning a ride down the Continental Divide Trail," Monique said. "Dad and I have been bicyclists together for a long time."
They've had several adventures on their trek down the trail. At Flathead Canyon in Montana, they were going off a 2016 map, "but since then a bridge has gone out. We rode through water for five miles. We also had to cross it, about 40 feet in width, in mid-thigh high water."
The day before she called, they had run into a large thunderstorm that pelted them with 45 minutes of hail. They took shelter under a tree.
She said the trail angels had been fantastic. "Our first experience with one was north of Helena, MT. We stayed at a lodge in a cabin that was fully stocked with food. We have met super kind, welcoming people."
At Ovando, MT, they stayed in the historic center, and had a choice of the old jail, a tepee or a wagon, paid for by donation.
In northern Colorado, they stayed at a lodge, where the owners made them dinner and breakfast. "It's set up for bicyclists and had everything we needed."
When asked about adversities they had encountered, she said the ride and walk through the river near Flathead filled her internally cabled bicycle with water. "I had to empty it, and we had to restore the derailleur and externally cable it. We've had a lot of flat tires."
Her career goal is to study neuroscience and perhaps go into neurosurgery.
"This has been my first real backpacking trip," Monique said. "My goal after this is to complete the Pacific Crest Trail."
She said the trip and the scenery have been "gorgeous, and the people you meet so wonderful."
Monique's goal is to raise at least $10,000 for the Alzheimer's Foundation. "It's a great foundation with a great message."
As of July 16, the amount raised is over $7,300, with about 16 days to go on their trek. Those interested in donating to the cause, can donate from Monique's blog at https://bikeforalzheimers.com.