Healthy. Active. Awesome. Week!

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!

photo 1 (1)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”.

photo 2 (5)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?

photo 1 (3)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!

IMG_4314The 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.

photo 2 (2)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…

Riding past an inspiring #Health4All billboard outside Planada

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.

photo (2)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!

Planada’s Huge Welcome …And, a Ride into the Mountains

The HAPT Team rolled into Houlihan Park in Planada yesterday morning to find over 100 parents, teachers, school administrators, and students ready to walk to Planada Elementary. The school even arranged to have the buses drop kids off for the event so that everyone could get exercise. The energy was high and kids were excited to have their picture taken with the  HAPT Team and their school mascot.




After a short walk to the school we led an assembly for several hundred students and -in partnership with the school and community members- gave away FIVE (!!) bikes. Planada’s community has so much going for them. Already they’ve made improvements – and we can’t wait to see what is in store!



The ride from Planada to our campout at Indian Flat Campground was beautiful, hot, hilly, and wonderful. We rode through rolling hills of grasses and crept up arid foothills until we were riding through a sparse pine forest that peaked at town Midpines before a huge 7.5 mile descent that dropped down to the last winding 12 miles along the Merced River.

We’re halfway through the tour, and while we can’t wait to be home, we don’t want the experiences at schools to end.


DAY 5: Yosemite by Bicycle!

“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. …This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment…. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.” John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938).


After a great night’s rest at the Indian Flat campground, west of El Portal on route 140, the HAP Tour team headed uphill to Yosemite National Park. We took a planned “day off” from our school visits to remind ourselves how much fun time spent cycling with good friends on a beautiful day in a beautiful place can be. Yosemite National Park is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and we shared John Muir’s love and admiration for Yosemite and the entire Sierra “Range of Light” as we spent a magical day riding in Yosemite Valley under a clear blue sky.

IMG_4290Whether climbing up one of many climbs into the park from El Portal, or out of the park past Wawona, we each spent part of our riding time today thinking how much fun cycling can be, how healthy and exhilarated we feel on the coast downhill following a tough climb, how fun it is to smell the dry grass, the scent of pine trees, and to see the heights of Yosemite’s grandeur without having the view blocked by the roof of a vehicle.

IMG_4293Cycling can be many different things to many people, but whether one rides for transportation or for fun and recreation, the importance and enjoyment of physical exercise, outdoors in nature seems to fill a basic human need. John Muir said,

“I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found”. – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938). Cycling is a great way to help keep our air clean for all to breathe and enjoy.

IMG_4299The Healthy Active Places Team agrees with Muir after. “Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality. My First Summer in the Sierra (1911).

IMG_4305We wish this experience of joy and freedom, outdoors, whether walking or cycling for all our friends and children in the California Central Valley.

good grower upper?

Ahoy folks! So we were up early this morning and arrived at school 1 of 2 buzzing to meet our first school, Great Valley Elementary. The kids were electric. I remember being that age and so impressionable. How did the simple experiences, like riding a bicycle, stick with me to influence who I am today? Maybe the bicycle rodeos at school clung to me more than I thought? Maybe the desire to go my own way, self powered was stronger than I realized.
The central valley is populated with all sorts of folks, from all socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences. I wonder if all the relationships I’ve made through cycling, places I’ve been on my bike, and mental gymnastics I’ve worked through while riding my bicycle will be experienced by an elementary school student that I stood in front of today? Is it possible they will be riding their bicycle in 30-ish years and be clinging to the serenity, curiosity and strength they have found on their bicycle? I tell myself holy heck I hope so! My grandiose side says riding a bicycle might end up being the most positive thing in their lives.
Riding to the first school this morning I thought about how thankful I am to have people in my life who want me to be better, who introduce me to new things, who teach me about what they are passionate about and who encourage my growth. I’m pretty sure I am over estimating the influence of our 20 minute presentationphoto 3 (1), but my mentors always taught me to aim high.

Posted by Aubree

First official day of our HAP Tour

Send off crew
Send off crew
Jim Brown (SABA) talking about the work being done at 58th and Fruitridge
Jim Brown (SABA) talking about the work being done at 58th and Fruitridge
Aubree's street
Aubree’s street
Lunch roadside
Lunch roadside
In the paceline
In the paceline
Stretching out - 10 miles to go!
Stretching out – 10 miles to go!

After a good night sleep our team was high energy and ready to go. We started with a beautiful overcast day riding to the Capital of Sacramento where we had a warm welcome of many cyclists that rode with us to our next stop. Jim Brown from Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates (SABA) lead our ride after he shared important information regarding bicycle safety and sharing the road with vehicles. Jim also told us about many improvements that have been made in the area. We passed many fellow cyclists and the kids in our group were smiling ear to ear. Jim lead us to the corner of 58th Ave and Fruitridge Rd where he explained the blessing of a much needed traffic light after a terrible tragedy when 16 year old Michelle Murigi lost her life trying to cross the busy street.

Our team thanked everyone for this great sendoff as we rode south. Thanks to Vanessa for driving our support van and giving us a chance to all ride together. With great momentum Vanessa joined us on her bike and finished the day riding with us. She had to take the train back at 10:30pm to make it to work in the morning.

The ride was pretty flat, and we saw goats, bison, cows and a zebra! The view changed with strawberries, corn, grapes and even a last minute wine tasting 5 miles before we arrived to meet our evening hosts. We finished almost 50 miles in Lodi and met our awesome hosts Jerry and Jeanette. They opened up their outdoor living room to us. We loved their outdoor kitchen/dining with fire pit and hot tub, our own hot shower and coffee pot with coffee for the morning. We will sleep in their garage with 14 bikes a canoe and some fold up beds and air mattresses. Very cozy… slumber party!! Tomorrow will be a big day with school visits and more miles to pedal.

Posted by Darlene

Dinner with our hosts
Dinner with our hosts

photo 2

Pit stop!
Pit stop!


Events page is live – see what we have planned!

CumbiaRideFlyerEnglishAll of our stops for the HAP Tour are confirmed!  We have a new EVENTS page on our website so you can find all the details in one place.  Check it out!

Details for our finale event in Fresno on Saturday morning, October 4 are in the flyer at right.

We would love to have you join us for one or several of these events. We’ve already invited local partners, elected officials, and media to meet up with us for the Healthy Active Places experience. Please contact us for more details or let us know where you’d like to connect with us along the way.  Hope to see you!

Help us reach our goal! 6 days left!

IMG_4061With less than a week until our journey down the Central Valley kicks off, we have raised over $4500 through individual donations – THANK YOU to our supporters across the country that have given generously to support healthy active kids and communities!

We are just over $1000 shy of our pre-tour fundraising goal of $6000 from individual contributions and we need your help!  Every dollar we raise will help us make a difference in the communities we visit, and support advocacy for Safe Routes to School in communities all across the country.

Help us reach our goal this week – donate today!

Virtual HAP Teammate – Stephanie Weber

Steph with her daughter and friends riding to school last fall

The excitement about the HAP Tour is spreading… all the way to Virginia!  Stephanie Weber, Regional Network Manager at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, will be riding along with the HAP Team by logging miles in her own community during the week of the Tour.  We’re thrilled to have Steph’s virtual support, and welcome you to virtually ride along with us too!

Here’s why Steph is motivated to ride with us:  Continue reading Virtual HAP Teammate – Stephanie Weber