It’s hard to describe what I’m feeling the morning after the conclusion of LA2DC,  an amazing cross country ride and running event.  After an opening marathon and ride, a team of cyclists and a support team crossed the United States to raise awareness for genocide, boosted with an impressive social media presence.

Riding into Washington DC yesterday afternoon, joined by a team of runners, the event that so many had dreamed of came to an end with families and friends on hand to support those who were part of the event.

Reflecting on this feat, what I hold dearest in this adventure are the people I have the privilege to now call friends.

imageLike Vasken Melikian, Sedrak Gumrikyan, Krikor Gevorgyan and Hans Kiefer who did the unbelievably hard work of riding 110 miles every day for 14 days, an extraordinary feat. And yet if you had the privilege of riding with them on any given day, they were gracious and welcoming.

 

 

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Race director Sabra Nagel, seen here with Hans who never took a break on this ride, made sure everyone had a clear, safe, route, food and lodging throughout the ride.Taking calls and texts nonstop, she managed to provide us all with what we needed on very little sleep.

 

 

imageAnush Ricci was the undisputed queen of the ride, riding over 600 miles as she started in Los Angeles and was there for the conclusion in Washington DC. She would complete a ride then board a plane or bus to get back to work in New York. So impressive!

 

imageAnd then there’s Vatche Soghomonian, my new role model.  He will be 82 next month, and when we pick him up at Dulles Airport, there he is, solo with his enormous bike case arriving from Fresno, CA  with a huge smile and lots of stories to share.  Then on our final day into DC, he joins us and rides up to the National Cathedral, inspiring everyone he meets. He even invites many of us to join him for another ride in Armenia this summer for charity.  He doesn’t stop!

imageEvery moment, whether riding together or in transport vans, our conversations ranged from the latest biking tips to personal stories of why we were riding together. Nearly every rider was a descendant of an Armenian Genocide survivor, and they chose to be challenged by this ride in tribute to those whose lives were lost, those who survived, and also to acknowledge that in the past 100 years, 100 million people have been killed in genocides.

Waiting to go home to Denver, I sit in awe of those who put this ride together, those who kept it going, and those who made it possible for us to take on this challenge.

Genocide.  Who would have thought it would bring us all together?  I am so glad to have been with people who want to shine the spotlight on this difficult issue, and whose goal is to stop future genocides by recognizing past genocides.