Giving thanks for a life-changing year

2012 is winding down as a very big year for the RASR team. Our spring ride from Key West to San Francisco was life-changing for all of us, and we are now scattered all across the country pursuing new adventures!  As we reflect back on our amazing spring cross-country tour and what has ensued for each of us since then we have many things to be thankful for this holiday season:

From Chelsea in Missoula MT:

I'm thankful for all the wonderful people we met, and connections I can still make through my experience. I'm also thankful for the awesome bike that got me across the country and is now allowing me to get wherever I need in Missoula, as my only vehicle - he just got a tune-up today! Luckily, I can get to each of my jobs (I'm working at a daycare/preschool and a bread bakery) very safely and easily with the great network of bike lanes that Missoula boasts. I have enjoyed transitioning a bit to mountain biking, for which Missoula has an abundance of trails, some starting a quarter mile from my house. This fall, I continued my craze for endurance events in a ultramarathon in West Virginia and had an awesome time. My boyfriend Brett, Kappy my chocolate lab, and I are living the good life and looking forward to the next adventure! (The doggie trailer is practically business as usual now for Kappy, who rides whenever the distance would be too taxing for her to jog or walk. Maybe another team member in the making?)

From Jane in Washington DC:

The inaugural RASR ride from Key West to San Francisco was one of the most wonderful, amazing, and inspiring experiences of my life.  I'm thankful for Jeanie, Chelsea, Stephanie, Darlene, Caitlin, and Hannah who all helped plan the ride, contacting all the warmshowers hosts and other friends who hosted us, rode long miles under all sorts of condition, and willingly fixed meals and flat tires, cheered each other along the way, and took turns driving the Manatee. What a great experience to befriend biking or walking advocates in clubs and city governments along our route. I'm thankful for having the good health and energy to enjoy the ride and become stronger each day as we crossed the country.  It was wonderful to take three months to be outdoors, exercising so many hours every day and enjoying seeing so much of our country close up- the good and the not so good.  I'm very happy to know there are so many others across the country who are working to make their communities safer and more welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists of all ages.  I'm glad we had such a mild winter with mostly great weather for our ride and that we completed our trip safely.  It was great to have the support of George Washington University Exercise Science Chairwoman, Dr. Loretta DiPeitro, whose tremendous support made it possible for me to use our active transportation work and report from our ride to complete an internship towards my Masters of Public Health degree. 
Thanks to all our hosts and donors of funds or bike support who helped make this possible.  Thanks to all the school staff and the kids who were excited about cycling. Thanks to Steve who supported us all the way on this project and for most of the trip stayed at the home front, taking care of our pets and working to pay our bills!  Most of all, I'm so glad to have had three months on a mission with two of our daughters, and many wonderful friends!
Love you all, Mom/Jane

From Stephanie in Naperville, IL (soon to be Miami, FL!):

After riding my bike over 5,000 miles across the country you would THINK I got enough traveling in for one year...THINK again. After getting over my 'end of trip blues' I worked in the Chicago area for the Student Conservation Association leading a crew of 10 high school students in the forest preserves of Cook County. Once the summer was over I spent 2 weeks traveling around southern Alaska enjoying the mountains (Denali, WHOA), ocean, seafood, and rain storms. Then it was straight out west for a 1 month road trip to California, Utah, Colorado (my personal National Parks Tour) and home again for the holidays. After the new year I am moving to Miami where I can ride my bike all year long! WAHOO 

From Jeanie in Sacramento, CA:

What an amazing year.  Truly, I feel so blessed!  A year ago I was dreaming up this idea to bike across the country, knowing it would be a powerful experience, and hoping it would help me realize some of the big dreams in my life.  My wishes came true and so much more... riding across the country for safe routes turned out to be a more amazing experience than I could ever have dreamed, and it landed me in a state that is the mecca for all outdoor activities, in a job that I love advocating for safer routes for which I grow more passionate every day!  Phew, what a year!   

Thankful is hardly adequate. Humbled is closer to how I feel. I couldn't be more thankful for every bit of generosity we received on our spring trip from nearly everyone we met, even in the most surprising places (an observatory in the Davis Mtns of West Texas, or a Mexican restaurant in a sleepy town in the middle of Oklahoma are just a couple of the many places that come to mind...)!  This country is home to some wonderful people, and there's no better way to meet and befriend them than from the saddle of a bike.  Thanks to all of our new (and old!) friends and supporters, we couldn't have done it without you and hope to see you all again on a future tour!

Speaking of future tours... we are in the early planning stages for a regional tour next year!  Probably late spring, possibly in the northwest, definitely another life-changing experience.  Stay tuned, and drop me a line if you're interested in participating!