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Inspired Living

Celebration Ride 2 (Mixed Emotions edition)

Sarah Stanley

Perhaps it was driving 3,128 miles in nine days. Or running a half marathon then jumping in the car to drive to San Francisco. Or from seeing some amazing, breathtaking sights along the epic trip. OR maybe it was meeting a complete stranger 18 hours before the adventure that cared for me beyond comprehension. This wasn't an ordinary road trip. This road trip had a mission - as is par for the life I attempt to live. I like to celebrate my birthdays by giving back AND that has a sweaty, challenging piece to it too. This year the plan was to ride my bike from San Francisco to San Diego. And raise money for Kids on Bikes (still time to donate, btw!).

The project was pushed back twice. The first time because I couldn't find SAG (Support And Gear). Rescheduled it and then a dear friend suddenly passed away. Rescheduled for a third time. I guess three times is a charm, because it finally worked. The trip was six days away and I still didn't have SAG. In the back of my mind I knew something would turn up.

I had posted three weeks previous on Craig's List requesting to share a ride to California. I said a prayer and let it be. Then I was traveling in San Jose and I received an email - someone was interested! I left him a voicemail and he - Joshua - called me Monday morning. I was barely awake - being on PST time :).

We talked for a few minutes and by the end of the phone call, I not only had a ride to California, BUT also SAG support. A true answer to prayer. The ride COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED without Joshua. Joshua was a former bike mechanic, worked for a non-profit, Trips For Kids, and always wanted to drive down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1). We both scrambled to get things together. I flew back from California and was STOKED that it was really going to happen!

During the week I started getting sick (traveling and racing nonstop was catching up with me), but focused on the tasks at hand. Joshua had an '86 Toyota pickup truck and we were going to use that for the trip. But when he arrived at my place Saturday evening, we started talking and concluded it would be cheaper and safer if we rented a car. Cue chaos. So at 7 p.m. that night I scrambled to find a car to rent. Never mind that I had to run a half marathon in t-minus 10 hours!

Several people were skeptical that I would drive with a stranger. However, I have always had an inherent good or bad gut feeling. This was a good gut feeling. I always live life on the edge and I have absolutely no regrets. I have more stories then you can shake 97 trees at. (They will be in my book.)

Anyway, back to the story. Joshua and I meet for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 at 7 p.m. We clicked instantly and I knew it would be a great trip. I just didn't know how great it would be.

The next day after getting up early, racing a half marathon, picking up the car, getting a quick shower, trying to make sure we remembered everything we would need for the drive plus the bike ride, Joshua and I left Denver, Colo., for the first leg of the journey.

Now anytime you start out on a road trip, you wonder how you will get along. Add two complete strangers to the mix and the stakes are even higher. However, Joshua and I were alike in so many ways, it was almost scary. Not only was he also health conscience, but he was also a cyclist. We also had very similar childhoods and I think that might be why we bonded so quickly. And our sense of humor was dead on.

He drove and I was the co-pilot. We marveled at the sights driving through Colorado. We stopped so I could skinny dip in the freezing cold Colorado River. Afterwards we laughed hysterically at the husband of a nearby couple who was in complete awe of what I was doing. Note: I was discreet. We started the license plate game. Which was a ton of fun!!

We watched the most amazing sunset in Utah. We walked the Utah salt flats at 11 p.m. We laughed when we finally arrived in Salt Lake City and it was gone before we knew it. We drove on to the Utah/Nevada boarder line and spent the night in Wendover, NV at the Golden Nugget. One of the eight buildings in the town (?). And the buildings were all casinos, by the way!

The next morning we tried to find something healthy to eat. Which was a task in of itself, but still we laughed. We continued the drive onward. Joshua at the wheel, me in the co-pilot seat. A perfect match. He liked to drive and insisted he do so.

We drove through miles and miles of mountains, semi-trucks, random small towns and herds of cattle. We started envisioning what we hungry for. And we really wanted a Target. We forgot towels. So for 1200 miles we looking for a Target. Finally in Vacaville, Calif., (we laughed at the name!!) we finally found one.

The other thing about us? We both love Kettle Corn! Yes, perhaps that is my one and only vice.

So here it is, almost five weeks post-ride and I have yet to wrap my head around the epic week. Partly because I am sad it is over. Partly because I am sad Joshua is no longer by my side. And partly because I am exhausted!

However, I have hope that whatever is supposed to happen will. And I'm already planning for Celebration Ride3!

Stayed tuned for the epic recap!