Hi! Jesse’s wife, Erin, down here in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama. Many of you probably already saw me in pictures and videos on social media riding along with Jesse and Dave. When our families started planning our goals for Roads to Giving and this ride for Dave and Jesse almost two years ago now, my goal was to make it out to ride along with them at least once during their Coast-to-Coast adventure.
Dave, Sarah, Jesse, and I spend many nice afternoons cycling around southern Illinois together, and it has become one of our go-to “dates” as well as a weekend activity we love to share with our kids. We have all said – being on the bike just makes you happy, able to decompress, enables great conversations, and for us, sparks life dreams and goals like Roads to Giving. No matter what kind of day anyone has had, being on a bike just makes you smile (unless you’re Sarah and your friends trick you into a 40-mile ride that we might have said would be 20)! Although, I think she was still smiling at the end anyway—I digress.
When Jesse and Dave departed, it initially looked like I wasn’t going to be able to join them for a day of riding. This was a real bummer, but kids’ activities, work travel for me, and dad visits for the kids all in that timeframe put us in a crunch. Fortunately, as the guys rode on, the schedule became a little more flexible without them having to use emergency days, and a weekend home with the kids became possible. It finally came together that I could pop down to Dauphin Island and ride with them to Gulf Shores, Alabama. So, on Monday, that’s exactly what we did! I was ecstatic to get to experience a couple of days on the road with them and share their “life as a roadie” even if only for a couple of nights. This was extra special to me because my dad has been leading the SAG rescue team since Day 1, so I got to do this with both my dad and my husband.
Thanks to Jesse’s friend, Pete, we were able have a place to change and get bikes ready on Dauphin Island and depart from his place straight after landing at the airport. We weren’t certain I was going to be able to ride one of Jesse’s bikes, but with putting the seat ALL the way down and a few little tweaks, it fit pretty darn good and rode great – perks to both being shorter people.
We rode 5 miles down Dauphin Island to the ferry that would take us over to Fort Morgan. While waiting on the ferry, we ran into another touring rider from Australia and had a few minutes to learn about his journey.
He had ridden from San Diego to Niagara Falls, then all the way down the east coast! We joked he’s hopping around the US like a kangaroo. It was cool to experience running into other cyclists touring the country and tell them our story, too. It’s clear that all these touring cyclists have common understandings, experiences, and even a language we didn’t know were out there.
Dauphin Island was a super cute, quiet, island town with lots of families riding around on golf carts. Like Jesse has mentioned throughout his riding, one of the biggest shames is not having more time to explore cool parts of America that you never knew about. This country is truly huge and has so much to explore. It has broadened our ideas of family vacations for the future.
The ferry ride over to Fort Morgan was a little chilly/windy, but it was a fun experience to be on there with our bikes and our SAG crew in the Bronco! Jesse’s sister, Corie, came in town to visit too, so she joined the rescue team in the Bronco for the day.
The ferry ride was only 5 miles but took about 35 minutes. I enjoyed hearing more stories from the entire team during the ferry ride—and since. They could write a book with all the experiences they have had over the past 6+ weeks living life on the road together. Something tells me I’ll continue to hear new stories about the ride for many months to come.
From Fort Morgan we headed for Gulf Shores. The weather was mostly sunny and nice on this side of the ferry with just a bit of crosswind blowing us. It was enjoyable to ride along and think about just how far these guys have come. With each pedal stroke, it became even more clear just how challenging but rewarding of an adventure this must be for them. Although it’s been busy and tough at times as moms with these guys gone, I am just so proud of their journey, effort, dedication, and commitment to this goal and Roads to Giving.
As we neared Gulf Shores, the Gulf Shores Police Department and our SAG crew was waiting for us at the edge of town to provide a personal police escort for Roads to Giving arriving into town.
There are no words to even explain how cool of an experience this was, and how lucky was I that this was the point I could join!? Not only did we have police escorts in front and behind us, and the entire road to ourselves with no worries about cars, but we got to have Detective Mike Houget ride along with us the entire way into town!
Detective Houget talked to us about the great city of Gulf Shores, his fellow officers, his family, and he shared some of his own experiences living in Alabama. This was extra special and meaningful because the Chief of Police of Gulf Shores and Detective Houget are from our hometowns in Southern Illinois and knew a lot of my family from back at home. Special shout out and thanks to an awesome department and welcoming us into town in such a unique way! We have since had fellow Gulf Shores residents reach out and comment on Roads to Giving and even donate to our cause. This is what it’s all about.
Once we arrived in Gulf Shores, we took pictures and thanked everyone involved from the department.
I think there’s a great chance they gave these guys the most memorable riding day on their entire 3000-mile journey. We wrapped up the evening with some amazing seafood at Bahama Bob’s! Jesse and I could have eaten our bodyweight in those steamed reds (a delicacy in the world of gulf shrimp)! MMMHH!!