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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Evan Dana Reflects On Cross Country Bike Ride

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Seattle, WA (fin)

Here I sit in small diner chararacteristic of Seattle's unique style, reflecting on the past months of traveling and the preparation for it.

As the trip progressed, we not only learned about affordable housing issues across the country, but also about the origins of Bike & Build. Roughly speaking, the primary intent of Marc Bush (B&B's founder) was to influence youth towards community involvement and increased bike-awareness. He then chose to use affordable housing and biking across the country as the medium to wed and accomplish these goals. And, honestly, I do feel more of a desire to volunteer in my community and to bike instead of drive. I aim to combine community service into my career as a means by which to strengthen and broaden my skills and interests.

We biked roughly from 8am until 4pm, 6 days a week, and it was a time of mindless spinning and mindfull meditation. Being confident in my own pace proved to be the biggest challenge I faced the whole trip. (Ok, Shoshomi and Sioux City, you rest as the exceptions.) I was very self-conscious every time I sped on ahead because of the general "anti-competition" attitude of the group. Now, I wasn't racing against anyone else, but against my own willpower, determination, and burning legs. I spun smoothest and tolerated the hard saddle when I was pushing myself. What brought me to accept my own pace independent of others' was though discussing stories of another rider's similar struggle. Finding the viewpoint that there will be differing judgements regardless of my daily pace, helped me to choose my own path without worrying about possible disapproval. I see this mindset being helpful in making leadership decisions in a industrial design because of it's subjective nature.

I am honored to have shared the summer with 29 other amazing people, who each contributed positively to the group dynamics. With 2/3 of the riders over 21 years old, our group's average age was a bit higher than the typical B&B group. Everyone played some part in contributing to the calmer and more thoughtful attitudes that helped us to work together. For example, our weekly Town Hall Meetings (designed to allow concerns and compliments to be aired publically) became more enjoyable by starting with a getting-to-know-you-questions game. We also read anynonomous Way To Go's to bolster good feelings and recognize small acts of kindness. These tactics coupled with the non-competitive atmosphere really helped rollover petty personality conflicts without problems.

By traveling across the country, through places I may never visit again, I mulled the passage of time and circumstance. The weeks lurched by as we passed endless fields, hills, and towns of all sizes. By what scale should I weight my options for how I spend my time? Finding a balance between enjoying a good pace groove and poking around a small town store meant choosing between the physical moment and inquisitive mind. I listened to intuition and my body to decide where to go and at what speed, but most importantly, I was grateful for the opportunity to make the choice. Every choice yeilded a unique experience to enjoy and from which to learn. There are neat places I found unexpectedly hidden; neat and curious architecture, for example, that isn't charted on tourist information. Similarly, many people I met shared interesting stories and attitudes that weren't apparent from first glance. I am continually amazed by how much I don't know I don't know.

Riding down the chute through the finishline and splashing into the Pacific feels more like a transition than the end of the journey. I will move onward, more aware of myself and my country, promoting cycling and community service.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible though donations, organization, and of course, my fellow riders.

-Evan Dana

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