Flat MoDE Kids Bike Across the US
This summer, Flat MoDE Kids are joining Conner Flatt on a bike trip from California to Washington, DC, to raise awareness and money for The Ability Experience, a program which empowers individuals with disabilities. Conner is a member of Phi Kappa Pi and is joining about 25 other Pi Kappa Phi brothers on this two month journey. Along the way, Conner is keeping a blog and will be sharing photos of himself with Flat MoDE Kids on his FaceBook page. His crew will also be traveling with Flat MoDE Kids. We will share these posts on our FaceBook feed.
Conner Flatt is a senior Health Sciences- Pre-Professional student at the University of Missouri. MoDE advocates have enjoyed getting to know him the last couple months and we look forward to cheering him on his journey.
To support Conner's ride and learn more about it, go to his Journey of Hope webpage.
Before heading to California, Conner met with MoDE kids to tell them about his upcoming trek.
Journey of Hope
Conner's journey begins in Santa Barbara, CA and ends in Washington, DC, covering 3,663 miles over 59 days. Below is a map of the trip. A detailed itinerary of the Journey of Hope South Route is located on The Ability Experience website. We will be sharing photos of Conner and the crew with Flat MoDE kids as we follow them along the adventure.
Conner's team will be biking the southern route from Santa Barbara to Washington DC. Unfortunately the middle route through MO was cancelled this year.
Where is Conner Flatt with the Flat MoDE Kids?
The first week, Conner rode 460mi from Santa Barbara, CA to Lake Havasu, AZ. The heat (temps over 110) and the altitudes (climbing over 3000mi in15mi) have been intense. Flat Lilly and Flat Nathan blew away as the bikers were passing Disneyland. (Can you blame them for wanting to stay and have fun?) From the ocean to the mountains, the scenery has been amazing. Conner texted us sharing that it has been grueling at times but knowing that MoDE kids are cheering him on helps him keep going.
Week two began with a day of rest in Lake Havasu, Arizona. The journey took the team to the Grand Canyon for a day of sightseeing. There were a couple Friendship Visits, where the bikers spent time visiting with individuals at local camps. Money raised from this cross country bike trip goes to these camps which empower individuals with disabilities. Conner had his first century ride with over 100mi in a day, from Kingman to Williams, Arizona. Flat tires continue to plague the riders, but the greatest obstacle of the second week were nearby fires. The riders had to drive from Flagstaff to Payson passing through Phoenix because the smoke wasn't safe for riding. Over 400mi were biked this second week.
Conner, the Journey of Hope team, and our Flat MoDE kids are crossing New Mexico during this third week. A Native American reservation being shut down due to COVID forced a detour. Conner's knee started bothering him into day 16 and eventually had to come off the bike to let it recover. The riders had a day off from riding to enjoy Albuquerque and the 4th of July. While riding through Roswell, the bikers made aluminum foil hats to protect their brains.
Conner, the Journey of Hope team, and our Flat MoDE kids have left New Mexico and are in Texas. The two Flat MoDE kids who flew out of Conner's bag near DIsneyland returned to him in the mail. They had fun souvenirs to show off. After a day off to recover, Conner's knee is much better and he is riding full force. Rain seems to following the guys, even through what should be dry areas. One van got stuck in the mud for four hours. The riders had a friendship visits along the way but couldn't take photos.
Conner, the Journey of Hope team, and our Flat MoDE kids spent the 5th week riding through Texas. One highlight of the week was family weekend, where Conner's parents where able to visit him. (Fun fact: Conner's mom worked with Missouri PTA a few years ago and helped a few MoDE moms start a Special Ed PTA in Columbia. We didn't know the connection until after we met Conner.) The storms continued to cause problems for the riders. Towards the end of the 5th week, they crossed into Louisiana.
Week 6 has taken the riders from Louisiana, through Mississippi, and into Alabama. Can you imagine riding a bike through three states in a week? The heat and humidity of the Gulf states have been weighing down on the team. They had a few friendship stops over the week. At one friendship stop, Conner tried out an accessible fishing rod. The team has hit the foothills of the Appalachian Mts making the ride a bit tougher.
The Journey of Hope South team rode from Alabama through Georgia and into South Carolina during week 7. Conner wrote, "Day 43 we road from Birmingham to Carrollton, Georgia. The ride was 130 miles with 8000ft of climbing. The ride was very difficult and tiring. It wasn’t until the last 40 miles that I really had to look inside and dig out the strength to finish the ride. During the ride there was a 1000ft climb to the top of a hill that was on a 3 mile stretch. The challenge of the big climb once again helped me rediscover why I ride. I thought about all my flat kids that I have been carrying and how I have been trying to do my best to give them the vicarious experience of the journey." The team had the chance to spend some free time at the Braves baseball game and at Clemson.
This is the final full week for the team. They wrap up their journey and ride into Washington DC on Saturday, August 14. They kicked off this week with a visit to the Ability Experience headquarters and the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity in Charlotte, NC. From there they rode to Virginia. Conner wrote, "It’s crazy to think that sometimes we can climb up some pretty serious hills faster than we could ride on the flat 2 months ago." They had a friendship visit and Conner had the chance to practice his sign language. They have ridden over 3000mi and have just a couple more days to go.