AORE Partner News March 2018 - Page 11

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inaugural self-contained TransAm group for folks under 30. Because Adventure Cycling had generously decided to offer a tour for young adults at cost, the trip proved to be as affordable as, if not more affordable than, it would have been to ride across the country on my own. With that logistical barrier out of the way, I warmed up to the idea of riding with a group. After all, as my dad put it, riding across the country is an experience best shared with others.

Having spent so much of my childhood hearing glowing stories about my dad’s trip through the U.S., I fully expected riding the TransAm to be amazing. It proved to be even better than I’d expected! From the hollers of Appalachia to the expansive fields of the Plains to the awe-inspiring presence of the Tetons, on the TransAm you see, in a way that most people don’t, the heart of the United States. From the suggestions of the myriad other bike tourists we met, the endless tips from my dad, and the surprisingly large collection of family members of our group who had also done the ride, we were awash in great advice on the best natural hot springs in Idaho or the best café for pie in Kansas. Even when we rolled into towns knowing next to nothing about what we would find, we were met with unparalleled generosity. In Kentucky we were served a beautiful dinner prepared by a pastor’s wife who cooks for hundreds of cyclists every year. In Missouri we found ourselves camping in front of the local sheriff’s office and on a small airfield. In eastern Colorado we celebrated the 4th of July at a potluck with the entire population of a town of 65. The list could go on and on.

What I hadn’t expected was how special it would be to ride across the country with a group. Our cohort was made up of 14 incredible young people from all over the country (and a few other countries, too!), bringing with them an amazing range of backgrounds, interests, and personalities. We were comprised of engineers, physical therapists, educators, designers, translators, bike mechanics, organizers, students, and more. While no one had substantial touring experience, some of us had been riding bikes for years and others had spent almost no time in the saddle. Still, whatever differences there were between us quickly paled in comparison to the innumerable things we shared every day. When you ride the same roads, weather the same elements, and eat the same peanut butter sandwiches for nearly three months, you really do become a family.