A Couple Tackles the Great Continental Divide on Bikes for their 25th Anniversary


By Leslie Lindsay 

It’s that time of year again…a whole flock of new grads are setting forth from educational institutions worldwide, ready to take on the world. But what if, what if…your goals falter? What if, maybe, you’re not sure what you want to do with your life? Because forever is a mighty long time.

Recently, I connected with Carrie and John Morgridge. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary two summers ago by doing something quite arduous: they conquered the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with only their bikes, a few supplies, the support of friends, and a very strong will to finish.  They’re not your ordinary mountain bike trail riders. They manage a multi-million dollar Denver family foundation that supports education and encourages philanthropy. And then Carrie wrote a book, THE SPIRIT OF THE TRAIL: A Journey to Fulfillment Along the Continental Divide (Amazon, May 5, 2018) about their experience. I think you’ll find their story not only inspirational in terms of attaining your goals, but in fulfilling all facets of your life. 

Carrie has generously written this essay, which I think will touch many grads, dads, and those embarking upon their career. 

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Simple tips that will help you stay on track with your goals, especially when you feel like giving up

By Carrie Morgridge

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I took 60 days off work to bike across the country. It was no ordinary bike ride. It was the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the Mexican border. It crossed the Continental Divide 32 times, had almost 200,000 vertical feet of climbing; and, we went on this journey unsupported. This means we carried our food, water, tent, clothes and spare parts. We did get to stay in hotels when we could find them, and we were able to take warm showers and do laundry at least every fourth day. It wasn’t fun but it was an adventure of a lifetime, and at the end of the trip I had never been more in shape, more in love and closer to my husband.

If we hadn’t had the common goal of finishing the entire trip, we might not have. Here is how we got to the end of the route in one piece…

  • Grit – Grit might be an overused term but as Angela Duckworth puts in her book GRIT- The Power of Passion and Perseverance – was the first mantra for our journey. John and I are very passionate about exercise, mountain biking and being together. We added perseverance by never giving up, no matter how hard the days were. I knew I needed him to finish the route and vise versa. When I was a little girl my father would really push me to be the best I could be, no matter what the task was. From selling Girl Scout cookies or being on a sports team. Growing up with grit and never quitting was part of the fabric my mother and father raised in me.

“Carrie’s story of biking the Continental Divide is one of resilience, strength, and absolute entertainment. Cyclists and would-be bikers everywhere will enjoy her account of life on the road.”

~Mark Tercek President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy


  • Kindness – Our trip was hard, really hard. The harder it got, the kinder we became towards each other. In the past, I can be kind of a hard ass, but this trip changed me. I changed my attitude and when John was hurting or needed me, I was soft, kind and loving. I asked how could I help, what could I do in my power to make his moment, his ride or his day better. With just this simple act of authentic kindness he immediately responded like a mirror and was kind and loving on my hard days. When I got home from the ride, I talked differently to my kids and my colleagues. I am much kinder now, and people around me can feel the difference. If you are a recent grad, and you are just starting your first job, this is a perfect time to have a reset. Think about being kind and smiling at work everyday.  It will reflect positively right back to you.  You don’t want to just work at a job, you can personally create your own happy space to work at, and enjoy what you do, no matter what the task.

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  • Pride – There is pride – and bragging rights – associated with biking across the country. John will tell you it was pride in the common goal that we had to finish. At one point during the ride, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, as a muscle in my leg was so overused that it hurt really bad each time I took a pedal stroke. We slowed our pace, took 1.5 days off in Colorado and the pain went away. I was proud of myself to get back on the bike, determined not to stop. We both wanted our kids, our parents and our friends to be proud of us. It is now two years later, and our family still talks about how proud they are that we biked across the country.

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  • Set small goals to achieve your big ones. Each night before going to bed, John and I would review the maps from Adventure Cycling Association and a book written by the McCoys on completing the journey, tips on where to stay and to get food. We would agree on the goal we would set for the day. Then I would break down the daily goal into small achievable goals. Usually, we were on the bike by 8am and by 10am we would take a snack break. One hour later we would take another small break and just walk our bikes for a short distance. Lunch came next, and we would open a crystal light packet, add to our water and enjoy the treat. 3pm was another snack, followed by a 5 minute rest. 5pm is where the mental strength was needed, as most days we biked until a little past 7pm. This is where we would cheer each other on, talk about the day, look for the sunset and try to appreciate what we had just accomplished. You would be surprised how far 60 miles is per day when you do that 10 days in a row. I would celebrate each 100 miles by ringing my bell on my bike. I tried to find any reason to celebrate to the next spin. This helped us both get to the end of the route.

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We never could have finished this ride had we not been prepared. From the research, to the equipment to the 21 days of training we did before the ride. Set reasonable goals for yourself, stick to it and find the good in others.

For more information, to connect with the author via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE SPIRIT OF THE TRAIL, please visit:

Order Links: 

CMorgridge (3)ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Carrie Morgridge serves as the Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to invest in transformative gifts for educators and youth. Carrie is the award-winning author of EVERY GIFT MATTERS – How Your Passion Can Change the World.

Carrie and her husband John created the Student Support Foundation, a national organization that inspires youth philanthropy. For the past decade, they have celebrated and advanced the educator profession by creating mindSpark Learning which is focused on empowering educators to tackle the most challenging conditions in their schools through Design Thinking and other strategies.

Carrie speaks nationally to education advocacy forums, at poverty alleviation conferences, and many convenings, globally, that are philanthropically focused. She divides her time between Colorado and Florida. She and John have two children who both reside in Denver.

Carrie and John are avid athletes; in addition to recently mountain biking across the country on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route covering 2,774 miles from Canada to New Mexico in 46 days, Carrie has completed nine Ironman competitions.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

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LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#travel #biking #goals #dadsandgrads 

[Cover and author image courtesy of PRbytheBook and used with permission].

 

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