Hours after the ride was complete, my heart is full and my body, especially me feet, feel the effects of riding 110 miles. I knew this would be an emotional experience with so many ups and downs in just over 6 hours. Riding in leg 11, I started the day remembering those who died in Kayseri in Ottoman Turkey and those who died in Kigali, Rwanda.
As we started under spectacular blue skies in New Mexico, I couldn’t help but think of the Native American community and how much genocide has affected their families. Crossing into Oklahoma, we stopped in the small town of Keyes, population 300, where we were invited to use the facilities. Talking with the men gathered for coffee about our ride, one man blurted out, “I know about the Armenian genocide, I heard about it on NPR last week.”
Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows about atrocities, because taking part in LA2DC I have researched genocide in a way most don’t. Which is why riding with Sos, Vasken, Greg, Setrak and Krikor was the most eye opening experience. Each shared part of their story, where they are from, and why this ride is something they must do. Sos, Vasken and Setrak are riding the entire distance, 110 miles a day! They are incredible cyclists who insisted, “we started the day together, we ride together, we finish together.” So, I learned the art of grouping, proper form, hand signals, you name it. Armenians aren’t shy to show you the right way to do things!
Our ride ended in Kansas, where following a delicious meal prepared by our chef we got a chance to hear how everyone is impacted by this ride. We shared stories, our experiences, laughs, emotional moments and it is clear that our lives are forever changed because we chose to participate.
Behind the scenes, we were supported every step of the way with an incredible SAG team. And back home, our social media efforts are over the top! Check out the www.la2dc.org website, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Amazing.
I was able to bounce in for a day from Denver because my step daughter, Elisse, agreed to come along and drive around helping out anyone in need during the day. There’s more to come on her journey, suffice to say she is one year sober and this was her transition from Venice, CA to Loveland, CO, hanging out with me and the LA2DC gang. What a joy to share with her how this community of people is working to spread genocide awareness.
At the end of the day, I have never been more proud to be part of a cause that is changing how we look at genocide.