Day 50+: Well, We Made It!!

On July 4th, 2016, the ten riders made it to New York. It’s now almost a month later, and to be honest, I still don’t know how to process this trip. Today is the first day I have sat down and gave myself time to think about the journey (and look at the 4,000+ photos of this trip).

Once we made it to NY, we were thrown into craziness. At the finish line many of our parents were waiting for us. I was lucky to have both my parents there, along with my sister and her boyfriend James. Also, Bob McCarick with Pacific States, the company that donated our van, was waiting for us as well! That night he threw us a huge party at Ravel Rooftop Bar in New York.

We visited the charity:water headquarters on the 5th, and were affirmed that we made the right decision to partner with them.

On the morning of the 7th, the girls team headed to DC in order to meet with congressman Eric Swalwell and share about the ride.

I then visited my dear friends Audrey and Nic in Virginia and Princeton.

On the 12th, Soph, Katie, and I began our road trip home, venturing up to Maine to ride at Acadia National Park, Montreal, Madison, Glacier National Park, and Banff National Park. I made it back to Nor Cal on the 24, and then headed up to Lake Oroville on the 26.

So, after to 73 days on the road (1/5 of a year!!!), I am beginning the post-journey reflection process. Maybe I will post more about this later. But, what I can say, is that I am still learning everyday the ways I have grown on this trip. This learning comes from the questions people have asked me, the ways I find myself approaching different situations, the way I am approaching my future and the current job search, and many other things. What I can say with certainty is that it is the people I have met on or through this trip that come to my mind more than any beautiful view or place when I think about this trip.

But, sadly, I don’t know how to express that fully. I find myself deflecting when people ask me “How was the trip?” and I simply say “Beautiful.” The words aren’t there yet to ADEQUATELY express what has been experienced. I don’t know if those words will ever be there.

So, for now, here are some pictures of arriving to New York and the road trip back!

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Dad. My number 1 man.
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crossing the finish line!
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The whole women’s crew.
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Realizing it is over.

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James, Mel, Mom and Dad with me. Having them all there meant the world to me.

 

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St. Mary Lake- Glacier NP
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St. Mary Lake
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Cutie Soph
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East Glacier Park

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Goose Island, Glacier National Park
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Ridable Road

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Top of Going to the Sun Road
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the descent

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Cutie Family I met at Glacier

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Going to the Sun Road
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View of Glacier From Canada
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Happiness
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Cutie Katie
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LOL
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Banff National Park
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Riding to Lake Moraine in Banff National Park
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Lake Moraine
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Me being cool, obviously
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the three amigos

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Lake Louise, Banff National Park
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Day 47: Birthdays and ‘Merica

York, PA to St. Peter’s, PA. 64 miles. 2,198 Feet of Climbing.

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What a fun day! As I mentioned before, we are doing team appreciation week, and since today is Kim’s birthday, it was also her appreciation day!

Now first, let me tell you, Kim has a weird obsession with America. She loves everything patriotic. So, one of our sponsors, Funkier, gave us these American flag jerseys, but rather than wear them on 4th of July we rocked them today for Kim!! We were all laughing hysterically when I put on the jersey because I have gotten so tan that I almost looked like a tourist trying to wear USA apparel.

Kim is hilarious. She decked out her bike with a giant red, white and blue star, and while we were riding she grabbed a flag off of a front lawn and rode with it FOR 60 MILES!! We had so much fun waving to people and shouting “‘Merica” as we rode. We definitely got a lot more attention wearing red, white, and blue than any day wearing our normal jerseys.

Today was also beautiful for the scenery. We got caught in the middle of a lightning and thunder storm, and had to take shelter. But for the hour before and after the storm the sky was so beautiful and it felt like we were riding into a perpetual sunset. (See pictures below).

We made it to Philadelphia! Kim’s family is from Philly, so it was so fitting to make it here on her birthday! Some highlights from the night:

  • Meeting SO much of her family and having them throw a pool party and BBQ for us.
  • Getting to hold baby Avery, who immediately let me hold her. I miss having kids around!
  • Joking with Kim’s grandma and having her call me a “dirty girl” which is an ongoing joke among the team. We all call each other that when we get mud and dirt on us, so it was hilarious when she called me that.
  • Kim’s aunt letting me use her IPad to blog!!!

Finally having an early morning to sit down and talk with a family. It’s so beautiful when a family allows you to share a morning with them. Kim’s family has been so generous, and yesterday when we pulled up they were wearing their Ride for Water shirts! SO cool!

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Day 46: Reaching Our Last Peak

Day 46: Burnt Cabins, PA to York, PA. 83 Miles. 3,098 Feet of Elevation.

Today we began our ride in Burnt Cabins, PA, a small town named after the government burnt down the town as a statement of their control… Hmmm.

After yesterday, 3,000 feet did not seem like a bad amount. One of the most beautiful things about today is that we reached our very last peak of the trip. As we reached the top I stopped before the start of the downhill. As I watched my team approach me and reach the top of their climb, I couldn’t help but feel appreciative. We all took a moment, there at the top of our last peak, to be thankful for this journey. To take a moment to recognize all the mountains we have conquered, both literally and metaphorically.

For me, this trip has been one of the hardest things I have done. But, it has been one of the most beautiful things I have yet to experience. On day 1 I wrote in my blog “There is no place I’d rather be.” Then as we reached our heat waves and 500 mile weeks I questioned my strength and mental toughness. But now, seeing as we are 4 days out, I realize how strong I have become. However, I could not have done this without my teammates, family, and friends who have supported me endlessly throughout this trip. I’ve had so many conversations with people over the fact that there were so many days on this trip that I probably wouldn’t have made it through if I didn’t have these girls with me or my parents to call. So this is a big thank you to everyone I know supported and believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

This trip has brought healing, newfound adventure, new faces and friends, and has changed my heart. We have heard so many stories and so many people have become part of our story, and these are the things I hope to carry with me. Cheers to the past 46 days and the “mountains” we have climbed, and let’s see what these next 4 days will bring!

Day 45: Climb climb climb

Day 45: Rockwood, PA to Burnt Cabins, PA. 93.4 miles. 5,939 Feet of Elevation.

Well, we knew today we would have the most climbing of any day of this trip. However, I totally got us lost (and I’m admitting to it!) and probably added an additional 1500 feet of climbing… Oops! But it was fun, and Sophie, one of our teammates, came super close to hitting 50 mph bombing down those hills. Worth it? Maybe for the story.

As we are in the last week of our trip, our team has been doing a teammate appreciation day. Soph’s was on Monday, Emily on Tuesday, and me today! We all thought that it was fitting that we had the most amount of climbing on my appreciation day. I know I have said this over and over again, but the climb is such a testament to how strong we are. After 45 days, I still believe that. I have watched myself get stronger, mentally and physically, these past 45 days. And I am still expectant of the next 5 days.

We finished our ride bombing down into Burnt Cabins. My max speed of the day was 45 mph (sorry dad).

Since it was my appreciation day, we headed out to a bar and I FINALLY got some good nachos, which I have been craving all trip, and have been thoroughly disappointed by most of the nachos I’ve had. Aaron and Emilio, two of the guys from the boys team, met us at the bar for a drink, and it was a fun night.

I’m thankful for the ways the boys and the girls have been trying to come together the past few days. 5 more days and I will be in NYC. Craziness.

 

 

Day 40 And 41: 5 Flats and NFL Players and Evening Rides!

Day 40: Perrysburg, Ohio to Collins, Ohio

69 miles (lol yes we did that on purpose) and 429 feet of climbing.

5 flats in 12 miles. It was a rough day. We intended to do a century today, but with spirits down we cut our miles and planned to add more on in the next few days.

We knew our night would be fun as we planned to head up to Cleveland for the night. A friend of ours who went to APU recently got picked up by the Cleveland Browns.

Before we got there we headed to Chipotle for dinner. As we walked out of the van a group of women said they were so excited to see a group of women cyclists! They said they had heard about charity:water and were so happy for us! They gave $50 to our campaign and we got their phone numbers as Adrienne, one of the girls, wanted to come party with us!

When we got to Cleveland, we found out we were staying in one of the nicest apartment complexes in the city. We met up with the guys and our friend, and we went out to a bar and played corn hole! Kim and I have an ongoing battle with Emilio and Aaron, two of the guys, of playing different games and loser has to but the next round. Let’s just say, Kim and I have earned a lot of free drinks!

As I was talking to our host, he openly admitted that he may have used use some of my notes in class without me knowing. So of course, I manipulated him into agreeing to paying for the rest of my drinks for my entire life when we are together! We shook on it! Haha 🙂

After a long night of bar hopping and exploring Cleveland, I decided that it was one of my favorite cities so far. We partied until 3 am, and I found that I like piano bars! Cool!

Day 41: Collins to Hartville, Ohio. 72 miles.1850 feet of climbing.

Katie, Sophia, and I got up early this morning and walked through downtown Cleveland to get coffee. After a crazy night in a city that is still high off their NBA Championship, the morning was so quiet and peaceful.

When we got back our host so kindly cooked us a big breakfast! He then set us up wth a tour of the Cleveland Browns stadium! We got to run out of the tunnel and see the locker room, and it was such a cool experience. (Pics to come!)

After the tour, we said bye to our host and went on our way. We didn’t start riding until about 2:30, so we were booking it. We made it about 72 miles before the sunset, which was beautiful! We also found some amazing bike trails!

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As we pulled up to a Mexican restraint to get dinner before heading to a church that was hosting us, I made a joke saying “Do You guys want this or Taco Bell?!” All of a sudden this lady was like “oh my gosh that’s not even a question you have to eat here!” She was so kind and asked us about our ride. She immediately have is $20 for our campaign and told us her name is Kay.

Stoked, we went inside the restaraunt to order food to go. As we went to pay, the man said “I’m sorry, you can’t pay. Kay called and has already pod for all your food!!” That was crazy. People are so generous.

It seems everyday we meet people like that who give so generously. We have met people who are so open to talking to strangers and hearing others stories. It makes me want to be more open and receptive when I return. I want to be able to just give $20 without thinking when I meet someone who I believe in. Being on the receiving end, it feels good to know that people are meeting us and want to support us. Again, this is an example of how this trip is growing me in more ways than I thought.

Finally, we have made it to $45,000 in our campaign, with a goal of $80,000! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far! And if you want to learn more, check out rideforwater.com!!

Day 38: home, at least for a moment.

Well you know how I said that I would make up those blogs that I missed? Well I probably won’t… LOL. It’s been a hectic week, filled with physical and emotional exhaustion, and blogging was the last thing on my mind. But I’m ready to share a few stories.

New Carlisle, Indiana to Brushy Prairie, Indiana. 82 miles. 346 feet of climbing (I just made up that number but it sounds right)

Today was one of the best days in a while. After our ride, we made a trip down to Warsaw, Indiana in order to visit a company called Mud Love. Mud Love is a company that makes jewelry and mugs in order to support water projects. They invited us down when they heard about our cause, and were so welcoming. They gave us a tour and showed us how all their products are made. They throw each ceramic mug and handmade every bracelet.

I decided to buy a mug for my parents and sent it home, and as I was shipping it one of the employees, Liz, asked me which mug I wanted, for FREE! So so sweet.

Later on, Liz sent me a message on Instagram and was super encouraging. She reminded me how important this ride is, and it was cool how we are able to have meaningful conversations with perfect strangers.

After Mud Love we headed to our host family which we were so lucky to get. Emily, our communications coordinator, called over 60 places, and no one responsed. So, she called a church and Greg, someone affiliated with the church, so generously sent out a mass text to people he thought might host. We got the cutest family ever!!

The Porters, Josh and Erin, have three kids Isaac, Elise, and Katelyn.

Favorite moments with them:

how social the kids were and how hard they tried to remember our names.

The insane lightening storm and tornado warnings (the tornado touched down 8 miles from us!)

Asking Katelyn and Elise, jokingly, what their majors are and one saying Soccer and one saying “Well I’m part animal!” Haha

Watching  Josh and Erin crack up at us as we try to catch fireflies. But more importantly, seeing how much laughter their relationship fostered. Everytime they started laughing they would look at each other and their eye contact would trigger more laughter. It was really a special relationship to witness, and it reminded me to keep fostering joy and laughter in my life. I also loved seeing how they share the same passions and hobbies.

After the kids went to bed, they asked us to go on a walk with them. As we were leaving, I saw Elise standing in the doorway. I said “looks like we have a spectator.” Josh and Erin look at each other and then say “okayyy, you can come out!” Elise runs out and starts catching fireflies with all the other girls. As she is running around I say to Josh “she is so cute.” He nods and as he is walking away I hear him say under his breath “I am so lucky.”

Wow. I am so lucky to briefly take part in other people’s stories. I am learning so much about thankfulness and love. Being with their family reminded me of how good my family is and I felt at home for night, if even for a moment.

 

Day 35: To My Dad

I realize that I have missed a few days of the blog, and I will get back to them. But I need to post day 35. Day 35 is Father’s Day, so this post is for my number one man, Jim Summers

Hi dad. I’m sorry I can’t be celebrating with you today. But I just wanted to tell you that you have been the most amazing father to me. I want you to know that not a day of this ride goes by where I don’t recognize that I wouldn’t have been here without you.

From a logictical standpoint, you were the one who took me to get fitted for my bike and to get the proper parts. You held Saturday bike school for me as I learned to fix flats and clip in. You held me accountable to getting in miles as I pushed through my final semester at school. And finally, beyond that, you and your company have given beyond what I ever could have hoped for with the van and donations.

But the preparation for this trip began long before I even knew I wanted to do it. You raised us to learn, to search, to adventure, to discover, and to give. I remember the countless times you told us to look up words in the dictionary because answers would not be handed to us. We had to search. You pushed us in school and sports because you wanted us to discover our strengths and passions, and learn those valuable lessons.

You set an example of integrity in everything you do. You are the man who has worked hard, honorable and endless hours to provide for us while also making a lasting impression on all who you meet. You remember names, you remember information, and you make everyone feel loved.

You also set an example of fun. Although we are often embarrassed of your dance moves, you have taught us to let loose every once in a while. You have taught us to find the perfect balance of seriousness and fun, and to be those people that our coworkers would want to hang out with outside of work.

Dad, while on this trip you have been my go to guy. The number of times I have teared up just hearing your voice have been endless. You know that this trip has been one of the hardest things I have ever chosen to do.  As I deal with heartache and with a craze of emotions, you have never stopped reminding me to make sure I live in the moment and to take in and learn as much as I can. You have been the constant reminder that I am strong, smart, capable of so much, and that my future will be amazing, no matter what I choose to do or who I end up choosing that future with.

Dad, those moments when I see parts of you in me are some of those most beautiful moments I have encountered on this trip. Thank you for how you have raised me, for loving me, for investing in my friends, and most importantly, for believing in me. I’ve seen the people you have chosen to believe in, and I’m honored to be one of those.

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Day 30: We’re Famous!!

Marshalltown, Iowa to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 81.2 miles. 1900 feet of climbing.

Today we woke up and we’re excited to find out that Liz, Larry and Barb’s daughter, was going to take a half day at work and join us for our first 20 miles. So cool!

As we were about to head out from their beautiful home, Larry got a phone call from Jim, one of the men we met yesterday! He said to tell the girls to come down to the Times-Republican, the local newspaper, as they want to a story on us! So we headed down and were interviewed. So cool! The man interviewing us has been involved in water projects as well.

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So, after the interview we headed out. Once Liz left us and we said bye to Larry once again, we were on our own. It was another day full of rerouting and unpaved shoulders.

We did, however, finally make it to a Starbucks, and that will always get the teams morale up.

Once we finished we headed over to our hosts in Iowa City, Tom and Sue Hill! They honestly have one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. It looked like something straight out of a magazine. I got my own room!!

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Sue made us an amazing dinner and I was able to try a Mocha Stout, but it was not my favorite. Tom is an an avid cyclist and is about to participate in RAGBRAI this year. I could tell he wanted to join us for the rest of the ride, and he was more than welcome to!

Later in the evening their son Ryan and his wife Mary Kay came over, both dentists in Iowa City. Ryan was so kind as he plotted our whole route for the next day!! It was nice to not have to worry about it.

I fell asleep to lightning and fireflies outside my window.

Day 29: reminding ourselves to have fun!

Des Moines, Iowa to Marshalltown, Iowa. 60 miles. 100 feet of climbing.

After an amazing rest day with the team after 8 days and 700 miles with no break, we were rejuvenated and ready to get going! Here are some pics from the rest day.

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It was fun and necessary for our spirits to enjoy each other’s company outside of riding. We got to get dressed up and have fun, and I think that set the tone for today’s ride.

We started today with the intention of pushing about 15 miles past Marshalltown in order to cut more miles later this week. But, as the day went on, this did not happen. We anticipated another bike path, but to our disappointment we only found gravel for quite a ways. We spent a good amount of time rerouting. We did eventually find a bike path leading us into Marshalltown, and when we got there our host dad, who is my professors uncle, met us!! The resemblance between the two is insane.

He planned to meet us to tell us the best route to go for our last 15 miles, but by the end he convinced us to go to the local water park, and we couldn’t say no!! While riding to the park, we met a guy named Tom, who has rode his bike across Iowa with RAGBRAI 31 times!! So amazing. He took us to the water park where we then met the previous mayor of Marshalltown, and then they both paid for us to get into the park!! We are so spoiled. But what I’m also learning on this trip is to say yes. I’m learning to accept gifts humbly. I was able to talk about this with Larry, our host dad. He says that is an amazing trait to learn when you can learn to accept a gift without  feeling some sort of indebtedness. And he is right.

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He then went and paid for our bike parts and tune ups… Oh Larry.

His family is amazing, and his daughter is also a cyclist and on the board for making bike trails in Iowa!! So cool.

They not only spoiled us with the trip to Black Tire Bike Shop, but also had a full on BBQ for us!

Thank you Professor Schrum for setting this up!!

Lastly, I learned how liberating is to ride a bike in a dress… 🙂

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Cant wait for tomorrow!

 

Day 27: Bike Trails and Loving Iowa!!

Atlantic, Iowa to Des Moines, Iowa. 90 miles. Around 2,000 feet of climbing.

After an exhausting day in the heat yesterday, we had our minds set on waking up as early as possible to get going on the road. One of my professors from APU, Dr. Schrum, who is from Iowa, sent us a map of all the rideable roads in Iowa. So, today we looked forward to taking a bike path into Des Moines after about 50 miles of riding!

Let me tell you, that bike path was amazing!! After riding on highways for the last 1,000 miles, having a shaded, quiet bike path to ride on filled with other enthusiastic cyclists was quite a feeling. The whole team was so excited and was dancing on our bikes as we reached our path. This was fun because lately, I think we had all quite different understandings of what enjoying the moment means on the bike. For me, that often means pushing my body as hard as I can, to test my strength, and see how hard I can go when no one else is looking. For others, that means hanging back and thinking, and others it means cruising and having good conversations. But today, when you can tangibly feel everybody enjoying the moment together, even with something so small as finding a bike path, it really reminded me how lucky I am to be working with this team. In the end, I couldn’t do it without these girls.

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When we got to Des Moines, which is beautiful!!!, we went and got coffee from a cute place called Ritual Cafe and got free massages donated by Katie’s grandma!! We are so spoiled. Then, of course, we had to get milkshakes 🙂

looking forward to a rest day tomorrow.

Also, side note, my computer completely crashed and is in a box on its way back to Livermore. So, I will be writing these blogs from my phone which is just not the most fun task.