Side note: It’s a fantastic February

This is a big month for me. The SFT resumes its travels AND I have an impending (significant) birthday. I’d like to take a moment to appreciate where I am at in life and where I’m headed.

A lot of folks ask me how I ended up riding my bike across the country. My answer always comes out as a series of rambling anecdotes rather than the alternative reply lingering in the back of my head: “Synchronicity“. This latter retort, of course, begs for an explanation.

It would take pages of writing to take you through the series of chance meetings and unexpected inspirations that I encountered to bring you to where I am today. Let me sum it up by saying that I jumped at each opportunity to connect with someone new and found a teaching moment in every interaction.

As my previous career as an elite nordic ski coach morphed into life as a graduate student, I found that my interests in youth wellness and health promotion intersected perfectly in the school food realm. I stumbled upon a fantastic internship with the Orfalea Foundation’s s’Cool Food Initiative in Santa Barbara CA that solidified this newfound passion. Then when graduation occurred concurrently with the peak of the recession and job prospects were dim at best, I turned inward and started to innovate. One fall morning during a trail run with my siberian husky Grizwald, I finally had my “aha moment”. Bikes, food, healthy kids, educate, inspire, learn, share, and adventure. The School Food Tour concept contained all of these components and so many more.

After countless phone calls, endless inquiries and hours upon hours of research, the SFT began to coalesce into what is has become today. I cannot overstate the essential contributions made by a few key players during the program development process. On August 19, 2011, the SFT officially hit the road. Now almost 3,000 miles into my journey I can safely say that this “resumé-builder” has become my life.

Once I arrive in Michigan this May I do not know where my career will take me. There are proposals in the works, but nothing concrete. All that I can hope for during this fantastic February is the chance to continue learning and opening doors until I find the one that sends me into the next wonderous phase of life. I will do my best to live up to the moniker given to me by a mentor: “The Queen of Synchronicity”.

Cheers and happy travels to you all. Enjoy your February!

-Sara

The School Food Tour plus two!

Last week I was lucky to have two wonderful friends along for 5 days of SFT riding through the Arizona desert. Felice and Brenna have supported the idea of the SFT from its inception and they were both able to squeeze a quick road trip into their busy lives.

Biker chicks.

The goal was to meet in Joshua Tree and then head east across the desert to Phoenix where Brenna could catch a flight back to Oregon. We hadn’t done a ton of planning – the only details I gave them were a solid date to arrive and vague directions to a campsite. However, knowing that they were both extremely intelligent girls, I was confident that they would track me down and be ready to ride on the designated morning. Sure enough, I opened my tent the next day to a beautiful sunrise and the sight of Brenna, curled up next to my bike and trailer.

A nighttime arrival makes the sunrise even more spectacular!

Brenna snuggled up next to my bike... "I knew you would return here eventually!" she said.

After a multiple cups of tea, lots of catching up and a delicious breakfast of whole wheat pancakes with homemade canned peaches courtesy of my dear friend Ben, Brenna and I hit the road on our bikes while Felice took the first turn at driving support.

Greeting the day!

Delicious pancakes by our favorite Chef Ben = happy girls!

Brenna and I roll out of camp.

50 miles later we arrived at our first camp of the trip. A small outcropping of rocks provided perfect shelter from the sun and a privacy from the nearby highway. We ate a yummy but healthy dinner, goofed around with our cameras, listened to an episode of Radiolab and it was time for bed.

Happily standing at the stove for dinner duty!

We soon settled into a routine. Up early, steel cut oats for brekkie, pack lunches, fill water bottles, load the car and roll out for the day. Either Felice or Brenna would drive ahead to scout camping and resupply food and water while myself and the other would start pedaling. Once the person running support had everything settled at our day’s destination she would hop on her bike and ride out to meet us; each day ended with three happy but tired girls giggling around a Coleman stove amidst cacti and dust clouds. After nights in Parker, Hope & Wickenburg, we safely rolled into Phoenix 4.5 days later, much in need of a shower and some time away from the sun.

I can’t tell you how special it was to share this experience with two dear friends. Their companionship and support was and continues to be priceless. Stay tuned for the girls’ perspectives on School Food Tour life – they will both be writing guest blog posts very soon!

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