Bike & Build - Stacy's Cross Country Bike Trip
In the summer of 2015, Stacy biked across America with Bike & Build, to raise funds, spread awareness, and build homes for affordable housing.
I could not even begin to describe how it feels to say "I biked across the United States of America." It still does not feel like it truly happened. Just a week ago we were crossing the state line from Arizona to California. As we've come to expect the state sign was unimpressive. It was, however, a wonderful treat to swim in the Colorado River, the natural border that separates the two states.
Immediately after crossing the state line, it the atmosphere was truly Californian. Cactus were replaced by palm trees and the smell of authentic Mexican cuisine filled the air. Our hosts that night astounded us with an incredible dinner of carne asada. Most of us agreed it was the best meal we've had on the entire trip.
Perhaps it was because our bodies were worn from thousands of miles on our bikes, but the final rides through California were surprisingly challenging. We encountered a true desert landscape between Blythe, CA to El Cajon, CA. It was the first time the temperature reached over 100 degrees on our trip. We also had one of our greatest elevation gains from El Cajon to Julian where we went from about 400 feet below sea level to around 4,6000 feet elevation. Overall, riding through California was bittersweet. The realization that our destination was just a little ways down the road gave us the energy to press on; however, the reality that an incredible summer would have to come to an end was a heavy feeling. Spending 72 days with the same people 24 hours a day is truly the way to build a strong family dynamic. Getting closer to the coast meant that we all would have to go our separate ways.
The final ride into San Diego was a fun and steady descent to the coast. With only 20 miles to ride, we dragged out our last few miles by taking a long break at Starbucks and then meeting at a park just 4 miles away from the coast. The entire team met up at the park so that we could ride in as a group. I had tears in my eyes for the last few miles. It finally hit me that I had biked across the country with this incredible group of people. As soon as we set eyes on the shoreline, we dropped our bikes and helmets in the sand and sprinted for the water. I was overwhelmed with happiness. Everyone hugged in the water. We jumped. We danced. We screamed. It was truly unforgettable. After the impromtu celebration in the ocean, we all went back to collect our bikes and ceremoniously dip our front tires in the Pacific Ocean.
I'm still not quite sure how to process everything that has happened. By accomplishing this dream, I definitely feel more confident in taking risks to achieve the seemingly impossible. I also have discovered how impactful a passionate group of people can be when rallied together for an important cause. What has probably influenced me the most is the love that I experienced getting to know my Bike & Build family. It hit me when we all met up in front of the Grand Canyon Park entrance. In order to avoid the individual park fee and pay as a group, we had to load our bikes in to the trailer, 15 at a time, and ride the van through the entrance of the park. I rolled up on most of the group waiting to get loaded into the van. Somehow I lost my balance and couldn't clip out of my pedals and tumbled onto the street. It wasn't a bad fall but I busted open a scab on my knee and cramped up my foot. Not really because of the pain, but I found myself laying on my back with tears coming out of my eyes half laughing half crying. But looking up at the sky, so many smiling faces reassured me that I was taken care of. Abby shaded me from the sun. Zach pulled my bike out of the road, Vinny asked me laughing, "Why did you do that?" Hunter poured hydrogen peroxide on my open wound. It was in that moment that I knew I was loved.
From a broad perspective, by taking hundreds of young adults across the country every year, Bike & Build is empowering some incredible people to make a substantial impact on the world around them. I now have a stronger sense of social responsibility, an huge appetite for adventure, and a great love for my Bike & Build family. Thank you to all of my donors who helped to fund this journey, everyone I had the pleasure of meeting across the country, all of the strangers and friends who offered us hospitality along the way, drivers who gave us three feet of space when passing on the road, all of my Bike & Build family members who laughed and cried with me, and Bike & Build for giving me the most amazing experience of a lifetime!
Stacy Sprewer is an artist who rides a bicycle. She uses her creativity and love of cycling to inspire positive change in society. During the summer of 2015, Stacy biked across America on a charity ride with Bike & Build.