In June of 2014, 32 bicyclists and I dipped our rear wheels into the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine and headed out onto the road. Our goal: To travel 4,000 miles, raising funds and support for Affordable Housing organizations across the country, before reaching the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, California.
Due to the diagonal path our route took across the U.S., we wrote "It's All Downhill from Maine to Santa Barbara" on the side of our support van and trailer, a decision we'd soon curse as we climbed the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania, the rolling hills of Missouri, and the Continental Divide between New Mexico and Arizona.
Yet our journey was memorable for far more than the mountains we faced. We tallied our adventure by the number of houses we worked on, the scoops of ice cream consumed, and yes, the number of flats each rider experienced on the road. We all knew the journey would introduce us to regions of the United States we'd only previously seen from the window of a plane, but we still had no idea of what we'd experience as we rolled on down the road.