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R4WH Day 2 – Julian to Westmoreland, CA

R4WH Day 2 – Julian to Westmoreland, CA

On morning 2 I scrambled around the church organizing breakfast and preparing the vans for the day of the travel with the rest of crew team Charlie. Our rambunctious Charlie crew consists of Jason, Erika, Nick, Sarah, and I. After we packed, I led our morning team cheer again to pump up the riders for a fun day of cycling. We than had another successful on time departure at 8:30. Erika made an awesome warning sign for the back of our van which read to have drivers proceed with caution.

I began driving the back up support van to trail the riders and protect them during the winding downhill roads which locals warned us would be treacherous during the fog with trucks speeding by.

We had our first run in with the cops as we were providing some extra safety during the treacherous downhill switchbacks heading out of Julian. The cop passed the car following us and waived me to the side. As he passed I was informed by bullhorn, “You are not allowed to create your own traffic break!” We gave pleasant waive of acknowledgment and continued slowly down the mountain. As the riders descended we followed and were in awe of the beauty provided by the raw untouched rolling mountain tops on every side of us. The riders were gifted this 4,500 foot scenic descent after the grueling climb of the previous day.

Brandon caught a chest cold a few days ago and unfortunately was unable to ride again on day 2. I was very thankful to have another crew mate to help me with rear support. His knowledge for driving SAG (Support and Gear) the day before and conversation helped immensely. We had a lot of time to get to know each other as we gave the riders some space, caught up to the last few, stopped and repeated the process.

While following the riders down the mountain we were able to capture some great action shots as they navigated the curves and we all took in the gorgeous valley views. We took an opportunity halfway down the mountain to take some group and individual pictures and soak in the picturesque area before we descended all the way into the desert.

As we made it to the desert Brandon switched to driving and I seized the opportunity to find out why he joined Ride for World Health. Brandon always knew there were health care disparities between where he grew up and around the world. He wanted to find out how to bridge that gap and he discovered it could be done through education. Health care is a field the spans the richest of rich to the poorest of poor. He attended Northwestern University and pursued a degree in biomedical engineering. Even though he wasn’t sure if he would pursue a career in healthcare, it was always in the back of his mind.  During undergrad he applied to Ohio State Medical School.

While interviewing at the medical school, the CEO of R4WH at the time talked to med school candidates about the medical program and also briefly discussed the journey his organization was going to embark upon. Brandon thought the endeavor was incredible and believed that any university which fostered an environment where Ride for World Health would be encouraged was where he would like to go.

As he began medical school at the Ohio State University, Ride for World Health gave Brandon a reason to start cycling. He participated in Peletonia, a cycling weekend that organizes riders to raise awareness and funds for Cancer research. The weekend includes people of cycling abilities by having 20 mile fun rides and ranging to a 2 day 180 mile ride that raises money for the James Cancer Center at Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. By participating in the 180 mile event Brandon became confident that he would be able to attempt to cycle across America. The R4WH organization soon became a perfect blend of two of his passions. He knew he would be able to help with global health disparities and have the opportunity to spread awareness across the United States through his new found passion for biking.

Four years later, Brandon has successfully finished Medical school. The 2014 R4WH leadership team had done a lot of the work over the past year to make R4WH happen. During the first few days arriving and leaving San Diego there has already been some small hiccups on the way which. Brandon was on SAG to see, help, and assist the riders. He was very encouraged the first issues were handled with tactfulness and ease because of great preparation and teamwork. Brandon is extremely excited that the ride is finally a great culmination of his medical education and the cycling over the past four years. The adventure will be a springboard not only for his biking career and his interests in spreading awareness for global health.

The desert gusts provided strong tail winds for the riders after as they descended from the Santa Rosa Mountains on their way to Westmoreland, California. The team followed the famous Juan Bautistio de Anza historical trail, named after famous Southwestern explorer who colonized San Francisco. Nicknamed the el Peregrino (the Wanderer), many famous areas were founded based on his collaborations with Native Americans. One fabled night in December of 1775, the colonists arrived in the region and gathered a celebration. The lively couples dance accompanied by hand clapping and song, dubbed a Fandango. The pastor was angered by the Fandango which he thought was “making festivities in honor of the devil.” El Peregrino allowed of community of weary travelers continue their celebration.
Erika, another member of crew team Charlie joined me for a quick run after we had a delicious pasta dinner provided by the school. Erika will be running in the Boston marathon in April and I was happy to help pace for a hot desert tempo run.

Today we continue to celebrate the explorations of de Anza and the brave colonosits that paved the trail across Southwest. The Westmoreland school community welcomed us and eagerly challenged us to a fun game of volleyball. House rules called for a teamwork styled game where 3 hits were required to hit ball over the net. This meant everyone had to work together on every hit after the serve to score a point. We were quickly schooled by the Westmoreland kids how team work is supposed to look. They handedly outscored us two games in a row. We then continued to combine teams and play together.

I imagine the teamwork that we learned for the Westmoreland children is similar to the explorers with de Anza learned from the natives in the area to explore and settle this amazing land. Our teamwork and camaraderie grow day by day as we trek across the United States of America in the opposite direction of the western colonists. Tonight we celebrated our first two days riding in the Westmoreland Basic School and had our own Fandago at the local watering hole. Celebration of great travels are deep rooted through history and time in this area.