DSC parent Matt Lyman will be celebrating World Down Syndrome Day with a 3-day bike ride from Bellingham, WA to Portland, OR. This month we interviewed him to learn more about his family’s involvement with the DSC and what inspired him to create the 321 for 3/21 event.
How have you and your family been involved with the DSC?
We have been part of the DSC for nearly 7 years. We joined when we found out our daughter Phoebe’s diagnosis and have been active since. We’ve taken part in kid’s playgroups, events like holiday parties and the fashion show, gone through different programs like Read-Set-Kindergarten and the Learning Program, and I even spent some time on the board. We’ve also been very active in the Buddy Walk with the team named “Phoebe’s Fans”!
What does inclusion mean to your family?
Is it too much to say that it means everything? We believe inclusion is a cultural and community endeavor as it benefits all children. We advocate for full inclusion at Phoebe’s school because she deserves to have as many choices and opportunities as every other child.
What gave you the idea to ride 321 miles for 3/21?
I wanted to do something to celebrate Phoebe. When she was born, I went through a lot of emotions. It was extremely difficult for me to hear, to not know what the future would hold, to not know how to handle all of this. We did some different courses through Boyer Children’s Clinic and one of the videos they showed us hit me really hard.
The video, “Perfect”, was a story of a man who went through a lot of the same thoughts and emotions I did, but was able to work through it all through running marathons. And he soon began running with his daughter. This broke through and I promised myself I would do something similar – and this ride was the way that felt the most real for me. Something I could do. Something similar to rides I have done in the past.
Last year, I rode 32.1 miles, and promised myself that since this is March (3) of 2021, that there was no better time to go for the full 321. Now I just need to figure out how to get her included in it!
Tell us about the route.
A few years ago, I got a chance to ride the Oregon Coast to support the Arthritis Foundation, and when I realized I needed a map for 321 miles….it only made sense to look at riding the length of Washington. The route can be viewed here.
I have ridden each leg at different times or during different group rides. It is beautiful. And difficult. With over 8,700 feet of elevation gain, I can already feel my legs burning. The positive is going to be that the hills DO give back and I will have descents in about the same numbers.
Day One (3/19) will be about 130 miles. Starting at Aslan Brewing in Bellingham, riding the scenic Chuckanut Drive, through Skagit County, part of the Burke-Gillman trail, into downtown Seattle, and then staying at my home for the night.
Day Two (3/20) will bring me down the Interurban trail and then link up with most of the Seattle to Portland ride route – including the hill into Puyallup. The route itself will be about 90 miles and end at my overnight in Centralia.
Day Three (3/21) will take me through Vader and Longview, before crossing the Columbia into Oregon. I will then ride Highway 30 into Portland and will be ending the ride at Hopworks Urban Brewing in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
How have you been preparing for the ride?
It is a difficult time of the year to train in the Northwest, but thankfully I have an indoor trainer. I have been riding on Zwift and using the Conqueror Challenges to keep me motivated. Indoor riding is much more difficult than I thought it would be, though, as it is so mentally numbing.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on proper nutrition as well. This is self-supported, so I will make my own stops and eat what I have with me. What is best, when is it best to eat it, etc. So there actually needs to be some planning there.
What are you most excited about for the ride?
The awareness it is bringing. That’s completely true. This is something that is kind of nuts to be doing, and I love that I am doing it FOR the DSC and for my daughter. That part is super cool. And I have heard the excitement from different sponsors on how cool they think it is – and I love that.
Also, I am excited to be riding through some gorgeous locations. There will be a lot of hills, but it is beautiful and that will help. And the breweries, am I right?
Follow along on Instagram: @matt_keeps_pedaling