Wowza, it’s August 19th and on July 19th, exactly one month ago, my uncle, my cousin, and I boarded a charter bus to the RAGBRAI start line in Rock Valley, Iowa. It seems only about a week or two ago that we awoke to the surreal experience of a flag-lined exodus sending us on our way amidst ~18,000 other riders.
And as I look back on all of the fun and memories, I realize that one of the biggest pieces to the whole experience was something I didn’t really share, probably because I was so focused on getting the word out about the campaign– spending time with family. Which may not seem relevant at the outset, but in fact, we were a crew of Fil-Am family members bicycling in the Midwest and supporting a cause for one-half of our heritage~ the Philippines! I felt this more and more throughout the ride as Rich (my uncle) and Bill (my cousin) would field questions and answer remarks about the bambike on my behalf. At one point Rich found me stuffing my face with a shaved-ice treat the size of my face, and walked me over to the Primal Wear booth to meet Dale Hentzell. He introduced us because Dale wanted to tell me all about how their company helps organizations raise additional money by creating custom apparel through their “Give Back Program”. Both Bill and Rich were so excited to connect us (me too!), and I wouldn’t have met Dale if Rich and Bill weren’t spreading the word about the campaign.
Not only did we talk and share stories with each other and folks we met on the way, but we had a blast biking through Iowa towns. We ate food from local vendors and drank beer in local bars, heck, we even threw toilets in Burt, IA on the Karra’s Loop (the same day we biked over 100 miles)!
But most of all, we got to hang out with each other, which we’ve actually never done with just the three of us. I know we will ride RAGBRAI again, and possibly other rides as well, but it won’t be like this first time. This time was special, we got the chance to talk and play around and push ourselves and joke around and to me, that was the best part.
What’s also cool is that they weren’t the only family members who came to Iowa to witness the ride and support us, my wife Natalie, aunt Teri, cousin Charlie, and my Grandma met us at the end towns on the last two days. It was wonderful having my West Coast family members see the Midwest and to see it through their eyes. They absolutely loved Iowa City and really appreciated the rolling hills of corn and soybean, and of course, they were completely blown over by the People! Every day I heard at least one person remark on how nice people are in the Midwest (Iowa nice!), from friendly folks at the grocery store to farmers waving from their tractors, they couldn’t get over how welcoming folks were. And I am so thrilled to have shared their experience of visiting the Midwest, a place so vastly different then their San Diego roots!!
Thank you Family for the memories and experiences (and the bicycling shoes!), we hope you come back real soon!
AND NOW… begins a new ride for the BONGGA campaign. Tonight I spoke at the potluck for the marchers and their supporters in the Great March for Climate Action. They are marching from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC to tell the country and our legislators about the need to take action on climate change impacts now. They began their journey in March of this year and will arrive in DC in November and they are a wonderful group of folks that I am excited to get to know better. I will meet them at the rally tomorrow in Iowa City and then begin riding/ walking with them on Thursday. Don’t worry, I’m not quiting grad school just yet, I’ll be in class next Monday 😉
I will be blogging from the road where I will hopefully have ample internet to upload pictures. So stay tuned!!