Wow – 7 days goes by awfully fast when you’re on the Healthy Active Places Tour! I can’t believe we’re back home in Sacramento and several teammates are on their way back to their real homes already. It’s been an incredible week and we all can’t help wishing we could keep riding for a few more!
Saturday was a perfect finale – we awoke to another clear crisp morning and started our final day with coffee and homemade muffins thanks to another pair of amazing hosts, Mark and Connie. We packed up for a final time and mounted up to ride a gentle 8 miles to the Pilibos Soccer Park for the community “Cumbia Ride”.
For those of you not of Latino origin, Cumbia is a genre of popular music played at parties and dances where you dance in a big circle to spy a potential partner across the room. It’s got an addictive up-tempo beat that you can’t help but groove to. A Cumbia Ride is a casual group ride blaring Cumbia music along the way from a giant speaker mounted on to a bike trailer – what’s not to love?
With the Cumbia music drawing honks and waves from people on the streets, we rolled a few miles around the neighborhood to see existing and planned bicycle lanes and trails, and chat about where improvements were still needed. When we returned to the park, we discussed with some local residents what they would like to see to feel comfortable bicycling in the area. A few bicycles were raffled off to local kids, complete with helmets of course!
The Cumbia Ride was organized and led by our amazing partners at the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), Fresno Council of Governments, and the Fresno Bike Coalition. We heard from each of them before and after the ride about their collective efforts to improve bicycling conditions in southeast Fresno, and particularly to engage the community in the improvement effort. This was certainly the first in a series of events to promote bicycling in the area, and to outreach to the community for participation in the Fresno COG Active Transportation Planning effort starting this fall. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will continue to support this work, and the Healthy Active Places Team was honored to be part of this fun event.
We capped off our time in Fresno with a visit to a local institution – Javier’s Mexican Restaurant – and shared our favorite moments from the trip over lunch. The collective feeling was that the week was a huge success, fun and educational for all of us, and we all felt sincere gratitude for the way each school and community embraced us and our message. We all hope to be able to do another Healthy Active Places Tour again soon!
We have so many people to thank for supporting the Healthy Active Places Tour…
First, we couldn’t have done it without the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Special thanks to the California Endowment for being a lead sponsor and to Craig Martinez for joining us for the final events in Fresno, to the Sierra Health Foundation, and to the Fresno Council of Governments. Thanks also to the dozens of other supporters across the country that donated an additional $6000 toward the Tour and creating Healthy Active Places nationwide!
All of our partners that helped coordinate our stops along the way also deserve our thanks: CCROPP, Fresno COG, Fresno Bike Coalition, Fresno Unified School District, City of Fresno, City of Stockton, San Joaquin County Dept of Public Health and Office of Education, San Joaquin COG, San Joaquin Bike Coalition, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, WALK Sacramento, and the principals and teachers of all the schools we visited.
We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to our very generous hosts – Jerry and Jeanette, Tom, Justin and Christine, Tim and Claudia, and Mark and Connie – for letting us take over their homes for a night, for feeding us and for their incredibly warm hospitality!
Last and most importantly, I want to personally thank each member of the HAP team for their enthusiasm, energy, and commitment to an awesome trip, and to healthy active places:
- to Jane, our supportive sage, whose untimely laryngitis never dampened her enthusiastic support despite limiting her riding. She always had a nugget of wisdom to share, a cooling neck wrap, or a roadside cheer at the ready!
- to Tricia, our image connoisseur, whose devotion to preserving memories from our trip, the smiling faces of the children we met, and documenting the state of infrastructure in communities throughout the Central Valley will ensure our experience lives on.
- to Steph, our captain of nourishment, who pulled together a series of delicious super food meals on a dime, wherever and whenever we needed it – on a sidewalk, in a parking lot, at the end of a long day of riding or in the pre-dawn before an early start. And she never failed to provide a little comic relief when we needed it 😉
- to Victoria, our surprise superstar, who inspired all of us by pushing through personal thresholds almost every day on the bike with joy and appreciation, and who shared her vast Safe Routes to School knowledge at every school and community visit.
- to Darlene, our eternal optimist, for her unflagging positive energy, super strength on the long climbs, and magic massage hands, and who was always there to lend a hand for any task anytime!
- to Aubree, Co-captain of nourishment, mechanic and flat fixer, and steady sweep on the road, who was a core leader on the team despite having to leave us for a couple of days mid-week – we sorely missed her!
- and to Anna, my co-pilot on the road and our social media director extraordinaire, who was always eager to pitch in with anything and to learn about everything. Except for a brief hiatus when her enthusiasm carried her away up the road into Annaland, she was the consummate team player and often my right hand!
What an awesome group of ladies, it was an honor for me to lead such a great team! Thanks again for a great week.
We hope that our journey made an impact, if small, on the individuals and communities we visited, possibly inspiring them to be healthier and more active places! We’ll stay in touch, and we’ll be back at it again soon!