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Day 17: Tallahassee

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Today was the day everyone was waiting for, looking forward to, and dreading. Arrival day is the definition of bitter sweet. Knowing that its over is both sad and exciting. Sad because you have to say goodbye, you won't be waking up with your boys, and the memories are about to end. But exciting because this is tally. Exciting because you get to say you finished, hold your bike above your head, see your family cheering, and having the pride within yourself. 

 

For myself the day was crazy. Wake up was busier than usual because we had a lot to pack, throw out and get ready to finish. We sent the boys off and they looked good and excited. I drove to tally and was overwhelmed with memories from riding the same route last year. It was riddled with rolling hills but the boys did well and overcame. I met them all at stage up and got them ready with the police escort. 

 

I got to lead the arrival in the van and I could not be more proud. I led them again to the steps and got to speak on the teams behalf. It was a surreal moment and I'm pretty sure I repeated myself a few times...

 

After that, we took a bunch of pictures and headed to the hotel. We got our rooms, packed up the bikes and got ready for the banquet. That was fun with good food, funny introductions, proud moments, Wiles getting the Bruce Rogers award, and an amazing sideshow. After that the team went out and celebrated and said our goodbyes.

 

-Its good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end-

 

[Written by Sam Reihs: Project Manager]

 

Check out the pictures and videos on our Flickr page by clicking below:

 

https://flic.kr/ps/26qUA5

Day 16: Live Oak

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Today we had a cycling heavy day and were presented with the task of riding 100 miles from Jacksonville to Live Oak: our longest ride of the trip. We woke up at 6:00 AM and had an amazing breakfast at our hotel thanks to our amazing sponsor, John C. Powers Sr. We left around 7:30 and had a relatively easy route. It was predominately flat with only a couple large, but easy hills. We completed the ride an hour before our rack time and had some time to take a much needed nap. It's honestly amazing to see how far the brothers biking skills an have improved since our first ride to Clewiston. This route was 5 miles longer and no one seemed to struggle with the ride like they did on the first day. The progress everyone has made on the bike has shown the passion that this GUF team truly has for The Ability Experience and the people we serve. I personally have always felt that we had an awesome group of guys since Day 1.

However, this was proven to me today by everyone's determination to dominate the trips most daunting ride.

We had a wonderful final friendship visit with the Arc of North Florida and had a nice spaghetti dinner with the clients. It really hit the guys hard that this was the last friendship visit. The cycling has its ups and downs but the friendship visits are what really makes the trip as great as it is. I personally have learned so many amazing things from the people we have met and it's going to be hard to go back to an internship after tomorrow. However, just because the trip is over does not mean I can transfer the lessons I have learned here into everyday life.

 

[Written by Jon Moore]

https://www.flickr.com/photos/abilityexperience/albums

Day 15: Jacksonville

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Starting off with a 4:30 wake up, we had a quick breakfast, the crew headed out and shortly after the cyclists were released. We rode from Gainesville to Jacksonville, a good 62 mile ride. It was a rough day on the road for both cyclists and crew. Between many close turns to mark and poor road conditions, we were fortunate to all travel safely into Jacksonville. 

Once we all arrived to the stage up location, we double pace lined into a friendship visit with the Lighthouse Learning Center where we learned about what services they provide. At this specific location, they provided childcare for children with special needs and integrate them into the general school system. We had a blast playing with the kids and enjoyed a lunch sponsored by Challenge Enterprises of North Florida. 

Afterwards, we headed to Holiday Inn, very generously sponsored by Mr. John Powers before heading to Bowl America for a friendship visit and dinner. We had a blast bowling with some of the clients from Challenge Enterprises. After bowling, we headed over to Mr. John Powers house for some deserts with the Zeta Zeta Alumni association in which we got to mingle with some of the alumni from the University of North Florida. It was an amazing experience being able to talk to some very influential alumni, included many members of the board members for the Abilities Experience. 
[Written by Stephen Kapp]

Day 14: Gainesville

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The day started out rough with a 4:45 wake up. It was surprisingly cold, and mistakes were made early on. After the first couple of marked turns the crew was set up and the cyclists were on there way. It took what seemed forever for the first pace-line to arrive at my crew stop, but it allowed me to enjoy an amazing sight that I have only through this trip been able to enjoy, and that was the sight of the sun rising over the horizon. Little did I know, the day would only get better.

The day later progressed and we arrived at Gainesville at approximately 10:30, and then were staged up and escorted by police to our only friendship visit of the day. Arriving at Arc of Alachua to cheers and claps of a bunch of people was truly amazing! We ate, danced, talked, and said our good byes. The day then ended with a delicious sponsored meal at an alum's house. And the day was wrapped up with a Pi Alpha ritual which really helped bring everything together after a long hard day! 
[Written by Jose Montez]

Day 13: Ocala

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Today we started with and early morning wake up in Orlando at 5:30am. Everyone was well rested from the day off and ready to ride. The days ride was 90 miles to Ocala. During the ride it was tough, it was the first time the team experienced some really big hills. It was difficult for much of the team, but everyone was strong and rallied behind each other.

Lunch was provided at mile 60 and was quick but filling so we could quickly get back on the rode. My pace-line lead the way and kept a steady pace for the last 30 miles and the team finished well before the planned arrival. We were scheduled to arrive at 3:30pm at Blessed Trinity, but instead arrived at 1:15pm.

At 5:30pm we arrived at a sponsored dinner and friendship visit at Tomorrow's Equestrian Center thanks to the volunteers and Pi Alpha Mr. Matthew Brooks. Here we learned about how this facility gives people with special needs the opportunity to ride horses and competed in the Special Olympics. Many of the clients had actually won medals and placed in their events. Overall it was a great day and the team is ready to get up bright and early for our ride to Gainesville!

[Written by Adam Doody]

 

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