Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Final X-USA Thoughts

Well, in just 8 hours I begin a new school year. So, from Bryn Mawr, I wanted to leave you with some lasting thoughts.

First off, thank you again to all my supporters, friends and family, for making this journey of a lifetime a reality. 

To view just a glimpse of this experience take a look at my completed album:

Worst Day
Climbing over 25 miles up Thompson Pass in the freezing rain to cross the Cascades from Idaho into Montana. It was our first large climb of the trip and as we ascended the temperature got colder and the rain got harder. I was drenched and shivering when I reached the top, so I got into the van with many other riders and proceeded to strip almost every layer I was wearing to just take in the heat. I said to myself at that moment, I hope this marks the worst day of our trip. Luckily, it did AND the day only got better from there. A few of us decided to ride down. The storm let up and the sun came out. There were even parts of the road that appeared to be dry. As Tsvi and I rolled towards the bottom of the mountain we were excited by a large sign that read: Pizza. We were pleasantly surprised to enter the Wild Coyote and end the day in great merriment!

Interestingly, while there was no way of knowing this at the time, the best and worst days juxtaposed one another back-to-back. The day before we climbed Thompson Pass, we entered the panhandle of Idaho on the Coeur d'Alene Trail. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and it began with a 3 mile downhill after many days of climbing. This trail is flat and newly paved, which made for excellent riding conditions. It cuts through the center of Lake Coeur d'Alene and the surrounding marshes, which contain spectacular flora and fauna, including the bald eagle I saw, pictured in the above album. That day was simply a pleasant and beautiful ride that I will always remember.

Greatest Challenge
  1. Headwinds
  2. Living with the same people in "close quarters" for 10 weeks
The Take Away

  • Surprisingly, no day was boring. 
  • Long-term pluralism is hard, if not impossible.
  • This country is COMPLEX. We, on the coasts, compartmentalize the U.S. into money and academics and then everything in the middle. But, "middle America" has a lot to offer.
    • Farmers are not stupid. They are smart business people and scientists. They know what they are doing and also have political opinions. Try talking to a farmer. 
    • The rest of America matters. You'd be surprised how many liberal people are out there. All you have to do is engage them in conversation. 
    • The issues we discuss on a daily basis, be it food, environmental, healthcare, religion, etc, have many more aspects than we often think. Only a ride across the country and hundreds of conversations will teach you this.
  • Your body is stronger and more capable than you think.
  • I highly encourage EVERYONE to ride their bike across the country at some point. You'll understand when you're done! 

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