Day 63: Finish

pic3It’s over.

3,000 miles. 8 states. 12 riders. 5 crew. 1 Babs. It was a helluva ride.

We left Palatka about 11:45 as we only had 32 miles and were meeting the police escort in St. Augustine Beach at 2:20. As it was, we got there about 25 minutes early. The weather was warm and a bit windy (from the east, of course) and we hardly broke a sweat. A few miles down the road we looked up and saw Lynn’s brother in his Cessna flying overhead taking pictures of us. Mark that down as another first… a fly by!

At mile 20 we decided to pull over at a convenience store for our last rest stop and to toast each other with a chocolate milk. Chocolate milk has been the go-to choice at rest stops for most of us for most of the tour. Something about it on long rides is so satisfying. We had, as Mike calls it, “a Kumbaya Moment” where I told the group how wonderful it was to ride with them and thanked them for being part of this life-long memory, followed by hugs all around.

We then rode the remaining 8 or 9 miles to the checkpoint and waited for our police escort to arrive. Now THAT was cool… following a squad car into town with his lights on! The riders were in front with Babs close behind. When we got to the restaurant there was another squad car directing us to turn right toward the beach where we saw a nice crowd of about 60 people all holding signs and banners and cheering their hearts out. Wow… what a moment! A couple people were holding a tape and the riders all lined up as we approached them and broke the tape together. Followed by hugs and pictures and more hugs all around. We then shouldered our bikes, went out onto the beach and officially completed the journey with a tire dip in the Atlantic. A couple of bottles of champagne appeared, we doused ourselves and had a few gulps and it was now time to go to the restaurant and celebrate!

It was a wonderful celebration and we talked about all the riders and crew, even those that weren’t there. Before I knew it, it was getting late in the afternoon and I was saying my final farewells to each of the team members as they were getting set to go off their separate ways. More hugs.

So that’s it. The ride is over. 3,000 miles. 8 states. 12 riders. 5 crew. 1 Babs. It was a helluva ride. But our cause remains.

Thanks for your support. You have no idea how much it meant.

Love and Blessings, Allen.

The final seven riders. That big dude on the right? That's Ivan. Whenever you have strong headwinds it's highly recommended to have an Ivan on hand.
The final seven riders at the start of today’s ride. That big dude on the right? That’s Ivan. Whenever you have strong headwinds it’s highly recommended to have an Ivan on hand.

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The last few yards.
The last few yards.
Couldn't have done it without Mike! It's easier to hold up a bike than Babs!
Couldn’t have done it without Mike! It’s easier to hold up a bike than Babs!
A terrific poster done by Allison Fontana that was hanging up at the restaurant where we had our celebration. Thanks Allison!
A terrific poster done by Allison Fontana that was hanging up at the restaurant where we had our celebration. Thanks Allison!
From both of us... Thank You. Allen & Gayle
From both of us… Thank You. Allen & Gayle

16 thoughts on “Day 63: Finish”

  1. So proud of all of you (but – of course – especially of my Little Quaker classmate Lynn)! Great to see that photo of all the riders holding their bikes overhead.

  2. So wish I could have been there for “the moment.” But have loved virtually traveling along with the team on your amazing journey. All of the fun, none of the work.

    Congratulations to all of you for this amazing accomplishment. And to Allen and Gayle: Many blessings for your dedication to bringing awareness about mental illness.

    Diane Lade

  3. OK, I’m tearing up reading your blog about the final day!! Soooo proud of the RTA team….CONGRATS to all. Sorry to see the ride end in a way but know you will continue to work diligently on spreading awareness of mental illness. My plan for this winter is to be in FL sometime in Feb/Mar. Will let you know for sure so that we can make plans to get together and ride!

  4. Hope all of you have a few days to relax and recoup before heading back to “the real world.” May the friendships made last as long as the memories of this life changing journey. Thank you for sharing it with us!!!

  5. Congratulations to all on one fantastic voyage for a wonderful cause…the journey continues!
    Special Kudos to you my friend for the leadership you provided and your continued determination to make a difference. I salute you!!

  6. We are so proud of you all! It took incredible amounts of courage, determination and fortitude to take on and reach such a goal. Congratulations again!
    I was so happy to meet all the bloggers I’ve followed for the last 2 months!

  7. Thanks for all you shared and for all the sharing yet to come. Truly a great effort for a great cause. Let the wheels keep turning:)

  8. Allen, you got them all home safely, that is a massive accomplishment. In the meanwhile, you guys have truly raised my awareness. I have friends, clients and family affected by mental illness but your stories and information really helped me put this in perspective….. one of four of my siblings is affected and one of three of my wife’s, so that makes us an average family, I guess. And I now can clearly see, stigmatizing disease is completely nonsensical and counterproductive. I followed the ride because I like to ride and am interested in long distance touring but I got an unexpected benefit in having my consciousness raised. Thank you, congratulations, and keep raising awareness!

  9. I have goose bumps as I read your blogs. Tears with smiles…I love that I could follow your life changing journey. Thank you thank you!!!! RTA Rocks!!

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