Guest blog by Felice: “A change of pace… but always moving and always learning!”

Introducing my regular guest blogger, Miss Felice! This time, her take on history & the joys of traveling by bicycle. Enjoy!

Fabulous Felice - School Food Tour support crew superstar!!!

With a West Coast and Gulf Coast chapter of the School Food Tour under my belt, I was excited to seize one last opportunity to join Sara on the Tour for a ride up the East Coast. After a hectic couple of weeks of work and travel, I was keen to return to life at bicycle pace! I arrived in Charlotte, NC and collected my bike from the friendly folks at Uptown Cycles – who I must thank for caring for my precious machine. By the time I met up with Sara along the road, I had been struck by the beauty of the area – particularly the vibrant green fields and abundant blooming azaleas. And even though my nose started to instantly itch at the pollen in the air, I knew I was in for a great week of riding.

As we pedaled towards Richmond, VA we encountered many encouraging and inquisitive folk who asked some common questions: Where are you riding from? (Oregon … yes that’s right, Oregon!) Why are you riding so far? (The School Food Tour, of course!) Do you have a sponsor? (Yes – thank you John Wayne Cancer Foundation) and, What is it like? Well… the last one is a little more difficult to answer! It is especially tricky to describe to someone who will not even get out of their car to talk to you what it is like to explore the beauty of the world at bicycle pace, and how much more scenery you can appreciate compared to zooming along in a car. On my previous stints of pedaling on the School Food Tour, I had thoroughly enjoyed marveling in the natural wonders of the country – deserts, forests, rivers, mountains, beaches, wildlife and weather variations. But this chapter of the tour changed tune for me. Riding through the maze of roads in rural areas of North Carolina and Virginia I appreciated the chance to observe quaint farmhouses, grand plantations and estates, and spectacular gardens.

Beautiful scenery kept us happy during long days on the bike.

Traveling at a slower pace also gave us time to consider the area where we are riding. Since Sara and I were pedaling through a region so rich in history, we decided to learn more about the establishment of the United States of America. Being Australian, my education on the American civil war was spotty at best, so I got a crash course in US history! I was interested to learn about the numerous battles, the abolition of slavery, the secession of the Confederacy and the reconstruction of the Union following the war. The facts and figures were bolstered by some local tidbits of information that we found on roadside plaques that also gave us an excuse to have a snack and take a break from the headwind!

Using our brains while on the bike to take in a bit of history!

My favorite plaque was about the first major sporting event in the nation, horse racing at Long Island, which was the beginning of enthusiasm for sports spectating in America!

This love of sport also means that I must return to my work in the sporting arena, so I am sad to say that my time riding with the School Food Tour is over… A HUGE thanks to Sara for letting me join her on the adventure and I send best wishes for her onward journey to Michigan, and future endeavors. I strongly encourage anyone who can join the School Food Tour for a pedal, even just that final mile, to do so… you will enjoy the view of the world from your bicycle, and you might just learn something!

Thanks, Felice for the great recap of our journeys in North Carolina and Virginia. I can’t thank you enough for your dedication to the School Food Tour! -Sara

Guest Blog: Felice recaps a week of SFT travels

Note from Sara: I am lucky enough to have my dear friend Felice along on the SFT for a few weeks through the desert southwest. Please enjoy her tales of life on the road! 

While taking a break from my job working with professional athletes, I have found myself volunteering my time and pedal power to the amazing Sara on her School Food Tour journey.

I spent the past summer surrounded by elite cyclists in my work as a “soigneur” for the Giant Mountain Bike Team and Team USA. My job title means I “care for the athletes”, providing massage and physiological support to elite cyclists at the highest level of competition. This amazing role presents me with numerous challenges and takes me to many beautiful locations across the world. In the last few days, the School Food Tour has presented me with new challenges, adventures and amazing scenery, and I have learned that the task of carrying out the Tour is an equally immense and admirable challenge as competing in world championship competitions.

The first chapter of my School Food Tour experience commenced with a drive from hometown Bend, OR to Joshua Tree National Park, CA with my neighbour and local endurance academy coach, Brenna Warburton. We gained a new appreciation for the impressive distance that Sara had already travelled on the Tour since departing Bend in August when it took us 14 hours of zooming down the highway in my trusty Silver Subaru to find her.

As an Aussie I had never seen a joshua tree before (and didn’t quite comprehend Brenna’s comical description), so it was spectacular to wake up to the cartoon-ish views in the National Park and be re-united with my old roommate for the first time since she commenced her pedal powered journey! Equally spectacular was the serving of whole wheat pancakes cooked up by Truckee, CA Nordic ski coach Ben Grasseschi. The delicious meal and amazing views set the scene and kick-started the School Food Tour proper for Brenna and I.

With our bikes re-constructed and water bottles filled, we set out on Sara’s declared route in the direction of Phoenix. The next 5 days were filled with pedalling, camping under the stars, eating healthy food to fuel our legs, and most importantly, laughing our way across the desert from California and Arizona. Brenna and I swapped up the task of driving ahead to scout for camp sights, gather provisions, and ensure we had enough water before backtracking on bike to meet the crew and finish up the day of pedalling with Sara who was going the whole distance.

This opportunity to provide my friend with logistical and physical support is incredibly rewarding and I am so thankful to have a chance to see parts of this truly amazing country that I would never see if I wasn’t on the School Food Tour. There are far too many highlights to note… so I have picked 5:

  • Seeing saguaro cacti and joshua trees for the first time! So cool – token tourist moments necessary!
  • Lying under the desert sky and counting shooting stars and satellites with great friends.
  • Riding up a big hill and into the head wind for 5 hours (yes, I actually enjoy this kind of thing!)
  • Discovering an unexpected amazing camp spot on the Colorado river (which was later deemed not-so-brilliant when the mosquitoes came to feast!)
  • Finding out how fast I can sprint on a bike when there is a feisty dog in hot pursuit!

The realisation of how far you can actually travel on a bicycle is incredible and I’m having such a blast that I have signed up for the next chapter of the Tour from Arizona to Texas. When are you going to join Sara?

University High – Santa Monica

“I used to be obese. Up until middle school I was 40 pounds overweight. Then my mom started buying healthier foods and I began playing soccer. Now I feel like a much healthier person.”

This story was shared by a student today at University High School in Santa Monica during our goal setting exercise. Period after period, classes filed into the campus outdoor amphitheater located on the site of the sacred Native American Serra Springs. The students learned about bikes, healthy food and the School Food Tour

An attentive class of high school students.

Our morning of School Food Tour talks culminated with an exciting bike giveaway during lunchtime. Students earned raffle tickets by demonstrating healthy habits, asking relevant questions during my presentations or bringing a wholesome lunch to the rally. Great DJ-ing was sustainably supplied by Jeff from Focus Entertainment who was set up with his solar panels and amps. He started rocking the music as soon as the lunch bell rang and soon a crowd gathered and the pile of tickets grew.

The lady who made it all happen - Nance!

The students crowded around as I drew the winning ticket and a very deserving young man ended up with the bike. After high fives and advice from me to “take good care of it”, he proudly scampered up the hill to show off to his friends. I am confident that he will  be an excellent owner of his brand-new Giant. More photos coming soon!

The crowd begins to gather!