By Ambassador Dean Liebau

In September 2021, my partner Ashley and myself embarked on a rugged 264-mile ride spanning the northern portion of Vermont known as the Vermont Super 8. While the promise of mechanical/technical failures and unpredictable weather are what traditionally make this route such a challenge, we found that the biggest obstacle was completing this with not only a teammate but a teammate that’s also a life partner. 

The benefits of not being alone are clear. You have the extra brainpower to help you problem-solve your way out of most situations and the warm body to share a tent with you in the night. The difficulties however are not so obvious and they make themselves known only until you approach your breaking point; struggling to find the patience to coach your partner with smaller tire clearance around the seemingly endless swamp track through impossibly dense forest at 12:00AM. Or conversely, when that person has to pull you back together and out of your own head after riding your latest unexplainable towering wave of anxiety the next sunny afternoon.
While the driving force of taking on a ride like this was born from our love of bikepacking remote corners of Vermont, we also felt compelled to raise awareness of suicide, which is something that hits close to home for both of us and during this ride, thanks to those that donated, we were able to raise $5000 for TWLOHA; a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
Our big takeaway from this experience was that though we were adding the unique and complex challenge of doing this as a couple to an already challenging ride, it was something that we would do again because like the mission we were raising money for, we think that difficult journeys are sometimes only possible together.

All photos by Peter Cirilli