Although we’ve done a pretty subpar job updating the blog recently, I wanted to make sure we got at least one last post in. Below is one of our final blurbs for this year’s Bike and Build trip. When I get back to Chicago, I’ll be putting together a summary video that we’ll post as well.
And then there were 12. There are only a dozen of us Bike and Builders left on the West Coast now. The rest of the team has headed home, back to real life, school, work or AmeriCorps, with us remaining members soon to follow.
After 73 days of the most physically and mentally challenging summer of our lives, we rode into Half Moon Bay, our final destination and about 30 minutes south of San Fran, 3 days ago on the 18th. With a short 29 mile ride from Palo Alto to Half Moon, the end had finally arrived! All 30 of us stopped a mile from the beach to get one last
moment in. We knew as we pulled up to the water, everything would change and this family that is Bike and Build Providence to California 2012 would never be quite the same. Parents, family and friends were waiting and would overwhelm us with questions, hugs and pictures. It’s hard to understand how each of us had worked so hard to get to there, yet everyone sat stalling at mile 4,149/4,150… no one wanted to finish.
Eventually, we succumbed and made the final pedal strokes down to the water. I can’t explain the bittersweet joy and excitement I felt as we saw the beach, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to shedding a couple of tears. People on the shore erupted in cheers as the 30 of us held hands and ran into the ocean together. We hugged in a big circle, singing and cheering together while our friends and family watched
from the sand with their video recorders and cameras on full blast, never quite understanding exactly what we went through this summer. We experienced the highest of highs, the lowest of lows and everything in between together, as a unit.
As I type away, sitting outside a tiny cafe in the Mission District in San Francisco early on a Tuesday morning, my eyes catch people of all walks of life strolling by. Some are busy chatting to their partner, others are tapping away at what seems to be a very important email on their iPhone, while others look to be tourists as they take pictures of arbitrary buildings and stare aimlessly at an enormous map of California. Regardless of their prerogative this AM, almost everyone seems to be walking with a purpose, in some sort of hurry. With a strange sense of anxiousness, I can’t help but fear that this will be me in 10 days. Floating back into the same routine of balancing work, life, travel and family without paying much attention to the world around me.
The trees shedding their leaves, the bench on the corner with a broken leg, or the sun setting in the distance… These are the things I noticed on Bike and Build. The man on vacation with his
family from Boston who wanted to buy a few of us dinner, the elderly woman on the corner asking for spare change, or the kid with the skateboard curiously inspecting my x-large road bike on the rack outside the gas station… These were the people I met on Bike and Build. More importantly, these are all part of the seemingly insignificant things that will make up the memories from this summer.
This trip has taught me to slow down and embrace my surroundings, whether that be a desolate desert in the middle of Nevada, the everlasting corn fields of the Midwest, or the beautiful mountain
ranges across West Virginia. We saw the country in a different light and those memories will never fade.
To say this has been the adventure of a lifetime would be selling it short. This physically exhausting, social experiment of a bicycling trip across the country with 30 strangers has taught me more about myself than I could have ever asked. When I first started the application process, a quote on the bottom of the final page caught my eye and read, “This will be the best summer of your life. It will be impossible to replicate and unexplainable to those that weren’t there.” I signed it without thinking twice. It’s funny to see how a few sentences sounding so insignificant at the time have now depicted this whole summer in such an appropriate way.
Until the next adventure.
Peace, love and bicycle grease,
Jacob and Kyle