We made it!
It took us 2,817 miles and 40 riding days to cycle from San Diego, California to St. Augustine Beach, Florida along our modified version of the Southern Tier.
This is the end, but as Kevin said a couple days ago, it’s not over because the memories and stories from this trip will last a lifetime and be told—and retold for at least years to come. Cycling across the country has always been a dream of mine, and I never imagined getting to do it at 40 years old.
I didn’t know what to expect doing something so extreme, and so daunting. I loved how cycling forced me to disconnect and slow down. I noticed the butterflies flying by and the hawks flying above. I noticed the mountains off in the distance and the wildflowers nearby.
I appreciated the time alone in thought and the stories from the people we met. At the beginning, sitting on a bike every day, all day, didn’t feel like real life. Two months and 2,817 miles later, it became our reality. Not riding every day will be strange. Each night and morning, I won’t have to route plan for the next day, check the weather and the winds, pack my snack bag, fill my waters, or air up our tires.
There is a lot to unpack from this trip, and that will take time to process. Until then, I wanted to thank some people for making this the ride of a lifetime because the “we” in “we made it,” includes many people, not just Dave and me.
Erin: You didn’t know it, but when my motivation or morale was low, I would always play your vows to keep me going. Like you said then, I will say now: We made it, love. You are my heart and soul, and I couldn’t have done this without you. You had to become a master juggler in my absence for 57 days. While I was gone, you ran your own company, ran our household, shuttled our kids to and from their many extracurriculars, planned visits to come see me with the kids, and organized the biggest celebration party for our finish that anyone riding the Southern Tier has ever seen. Amidst all this chaos, you managed to be the best mother to Eli and Ivy that they could ever ask for and to support and encourage me throughout this ride. Being without your wife for two months is tough, being without your soulmate for that long is excruciating. I appreciate you more than words can say. Thank you for being you and being my rock. Thank you, Erin.
Eli: Before I left, I told you – you had to be the man of the house. You fully embraced your new role. You started doing more around the house, you made meals for everyone, and you offered to help Mom countless times. Despite all that was placed on your shoulders, you never lost who you were—a sweet, kind, and sensitive soul. Thank you for stepping up and gaining new independence while not losing what makes you, you. I’m so proud of you. Thank you, Eli.
Ivy: You have such a big heart and the love you showed me from Day 1 to Day 57 helped keep me going. You hand wrote me a letter that Paw Paw Tom snuck in my bag on Day 1 and continued to write notes to me along the way. In one of those notes, you said you wish you could miss 57 days of school so you could have stayed with me each day. I wish you could’ve, too. It would have been great to finish my riding days and be greeted by you each time I finished. You were always excited to talk to me and entertained me with bedtime stories. From all the stories I heard, you also helped me keep a vow to Mom. In my vows, I promised to frustrate and challenger her, and you helped me keep that promise. But most importantly, you show me your love each and every day. Thank you, Ivy.
Tom: You took great care of us and were our guiding father-figure on this trip. You volunteered 55 days away from home (something you haven’t done since the Navy) to make this happen. When Kevin had to be away, you had to take sole responsibility of the RV after only having one week of on-the-job training, and you did an amazing job with it. You kept us fueled with breakfast, after-ride charcuterie boards, and dinners. You kept us pointed east, our rubber on the pavement, and always riding forward so we accomplished our mission. Thank you, Tom.
Kevin & Corie: Thank you for supplying the RV. That was our “home” for 55 days, and the trip would’ve been incredibly tougher and more challenging without it. Not having to worry about where we were going to sleep or how we were going to make breakfast and dinner allowed us to enjoy our rides. Even the little things made a bigger difference than I originally knew. For example, other people riding the Southern Tier would sit out rainy days because they didn’t have laundry readily available and would be stuck with wet clothes for days. We had a washer and dryer on the RV, so we could ride in the rain to stay on schedule, and not worry about dry clothes. Thank you, Kevin and Corie.
I also want to thank Kevin for helping with the SAG team and volunteering so much of his time, but more importantly, for always making sure we had fun. Some rides were tough because of weather, distance, climbs, a lack of motivation, or a combination of all of them, but Kevin always made sure that never ruined the rest of our day when we made it back to the RV—no matter how tired we were. I look back, and I remember all the fun and laughs we had because of Kevin—including beating him and Tom at pickleball after a 100-mile ride. Thank you, Kevin.
Donna & Rebecca: Thank you for getting Dave’s Bronco out to Arizona so we could use it as our support vehicle. Dave and I counted on that Bronco to save us many times from flat tires or forgotten items. It also gave us flexibility in our routing that allowed us to coin the term, “Bronco Pick Up.” That allowed us to ride farther or shorter depending on conditions and motivation, and to visit places we might’ve missed like Rutherford Beach, Louisiana (a spot that ranked highly on everyone’s list of favorite stops).
Kenny, Rick, and Juan: Handling the RV and Bronco was a team effort. All three of you dropped what you were doing to take turns filling in while Kevin had to be away from Tucson, Arizona to Austin, Texas. We would’ve had to scramble to figure alternative plans without your help, which undoubtedly would have added stress for everyone involved, so thank you Kenny, Rick, and Juan.
Dave & Sarah: Dave, thank you for agreeing to do this trip and riding by my side each day. Outside of Erin, I couldn’t imagine cycling with anyone else across the country.
What a life-uniting experience we got to share together and lifelong memories we created. I’m sure you and I will re-live them over and over.
Sarah, thanks for loaning Dave to me despite having to endure many of the same challenges Erin had to navigate. Thank you for telling me before we left, “This is a ride, not a race.” I constantly reminded myself of that to slow down and take everything in. Thank you, Dave and Sarah.
Uncle John: Thank you for fundraising for us and donating yourself. Dave originally planned to get all our bikes and equipment back by driving the Bronco home at the end instead of being able to fly with his family. After 55 days away and 5 days of celebrating with everyone, having to drive 12 hours was the last thing he wanted to do. You volunteered to do it, and it made all the difference. Thank you, Uncle John.
Everyone: There are so many other people to thank that this blog post would never end, but I want to thank our families and friends for their support and encouragement throughout the ride. We felt it each day and were very thankful for everyone that came out to celebrate with us at the finish. There is no better way to end this ride than to celebrate with the 55 friends and family that saw us dip our front tires into the water.
I also want to thank everyone that has donated. We keep chipping away at our donation goal, and I am confident we will get there as the donations keep coming. Roads to Giving is a dream of both the Roberson and Rochman families, and now we get to focus on spreading our mission with the funds the ride raised and the money we raise in the future.