Monique Ades, a 16-year-old junior at Yosemite High School, is going on a bike ride this summer – a 40-day trip that will have her pedaling 2,700 miles from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
The daunting plan is to bike the entire Great Continental Divide Mountain Bike Route with her father, Mike Ades, to honor the memory of her great-grandfather, Troy Shackelford, while raising $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. She’s calling the trip the “Ride the Divide for Alzheimers.”
“My great papa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000,” explained Monique. “At the age of 79, he succumbed to this cruel disease. I remember great papa as a kindhearted, brilliant, organized, detail-oriented, patient and compassionate man. He taught me about rocks and birds. He showed me jewelry that he had made and rocks he had found, shaped and polished. On Sundays, he gave me the funnies from his newspaper. He taught me that peanut butter makes waffles taste better, he helped me pick oranges high up in the tree, and how a simple porch swing can be exciting if you simply enjoy the moment.”
In addition to honoring her great papa, Monique said she wants to give a voice to those who have forgotten theirs. The journey and fundraising is also serving as her Yosemite High Senior Project.
Monique was a member of Yosemite’s championship varsity volleyball team and also played soccer. She was also a member of the Badgers’ swim team, but had to give it up to put more time into her bike training.
And she’s sharp in class, said her Spanish teacher, Steve Browning. “Monique is a very dedicated, hard-working student. She dedicates herself in every class and has a reputation for being very devoted to her studies.”
Two years of planning
Monique explained that she and her dad with some pre-planning and logistics help from Monique’s mother, Amanda) have been planning the ride for two years. It started with researching long-distance bike routes across the country; Monique said she picked the Great Divide because it’s well-known and in the West.
“Ever since I was about 5, I’ve always had this dream to do a long, long bike ride,” Monique said. “My Uncle Chris (Shackelford) told me stories when I was little about the ‘cross country’ – bike rides he did when he was in elementary school with classmates in Santa Ynez in Southern California. When I was little I started doing some five- and 10-mile rides with my dad and the rides started getting longer and longer as I got older.”
The Great Divide route is one of the most recognized off-pavement cycling routes in the United States, if not the world. The route, first mapped in 1997 by the Adventure Cycling Association, is considered by many to be the birthplace of bikepacking as a sport.
The route is 90 percent on dirt and gravel roads and trails. It is a tough test of endurance based on the sheer length of the route, along with more than 200,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.
In preparation for the trip, Monique is trying to ride 100 to 200 miles a week.
“There are sections of the trail that are more than 11,000 feet in elevation, and those areas will be tough,” said Monique. “It would be so amazing if my dad and I complete the trip and for a cause that means a lot to me. I am so glad my dad is doing this with me. We have always done outdoor things together and this is so awesome we are doing this epic trip as a father-daughter team. I’m sure I’ll remember this adventure for the rest of my life.”
Mike Ades, 39, is currently attending UC Merced to get his masters degree in electrical engineering.
Toward her $10,000 goal, Monique is inviting the community to join her for a silent auction, noon to 5 p.m., May 20 at Idle Hour Winery. Wheelhouse will donate live music and Trelio restaurant will give gift certificates to the first 30 attendees. Cost of attending the silent auction is $10.
To learn more about Monique and her project or to donate you can visit her Facebook page, Ride the Divide for Alzheimer’s, or visit her website, www.bikeforalzheimers.com. She has a YouTube channel, also called Ride the Divide for Alzheimer’s, and tracks her training on Strava.