Hi from Fort Smith, Arkansas! Today marks our fifth state and halfway point on this journey which is exciting but also bittersweet. The journey so far has been challenging, rewarding and meaningful and I feel lucky to be surrounded by supportive, upbeat and energetic teammates and friends that always keep me laughing.
My dad flew in Friday night to join the ride for a week. I picked him up in Tulsa on Saturday morning and we went back to Erin’s parents’ house where we were staying. He met the team and we all headed out to the Tulsa solidarity ride together. There were options to do fifteen or thirty miles and despite the rainy conditions at the beginning a group of us did the thirty mile ride– it actually turned into a beautiful day after about ten miles. It was Pankti’s last ride before she headed back to Columbus so I was glad that a group of us could all finish the ride together as one last hurrah for her. We miss you Pankti!
After the Solidarity Ride we headed to McNellie’s in Tulsa where we had a delicious complimentary lunch and then we went back to Erin’s to nap, relax and enjoy a barbecue and some live music courtesy of Chris, Will and Kyle at night. It was a day of great food and great company– for the umpteenth time on this ride I was reminded of how generous people have been along the way to the team. I was especially grateful to Erin’s parents who took in and fed the entire team and offered their washing machines, showers and common space to 25 loud, hungry 25 year olds covered in bike grease.
Yesterday we had a late start (10 AM) for our ride from Tulsa to Muskogee. The ride was about 50 miles but we had a pretty strong (20 ish mph) headwind for most of the ride so this “short” ride was definitely not a piece of cake! I thought it was a good first official ride for my dad so he could get acquainted with the logistics of each day such as how the road markings and rest stops work.
For me it is a tremendous blessing that my dad is able to join the ride for a week. He has always been a role model for me because of his determination, sense of adventure, genuine curiosity about the world, perseverance and positive attitude. One of my main motivations for doing this ride was his fond memories of his own cross country trip so being able to experience this together means a lot. Life gets busy with demanding school or work schedules so I feel very fortunate that we were able to find this time to enjoy biking and being outdoors together. Getting to share even a week with my dad makes this incredible experience even more meaningful.