An Epic Trans-America Ride To End Sexual Violence
Where strength and resilience often emerge from the darkest corners, Sarah, a passionate and determined cyclist, embarked on an extraordinary solo mission. Pedalling across the vast landscapes of the USA, she undertook an awe-inspiring, cross-country journey to raise awareness for the charity Rape Crisis.
The FLAB team riffled through the samples store to help her on the way. The journey from the East Coast of America to the West Coast using the 4,400 mile trans-America trail took two months of cycling. The ride started in Yorktown, Virginia, and winded through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and finally finishing on the west coast of Oregon.
We spoke to Sarah mid-way through her journey to catch up on her adventure. “The trip has been hard in ways I didn’t expect. I thought it would be the hills that would be the biggest challenge, and they have been hard, but jumping in and out of peoples lives so constantly has been really intense.”
“Since I’m raising money for Rape Crisis, a degree shared of vulnerability is baseline in a lot of interactions with new people, but building these connections then jumping back into solitude takes a lot of mental energy.”
“The beauty of the landscapes has helped power me through emotionally low days, and having the physical challenges of hills and headwinds often create a physical challenge that is easier to navigate than being a bit grumpy with the day.”
What have you learned on your journey?
“It’s tricky to condense everything I’ve learnt! There’s practical bike knowledge, getting better at reading people and situations, balancing plans with unexpected events. Then there’s the fallout from hours of solitude on my bike - time to reflect on mistakes I’ve made, people in my life, and possible futures. But one big thing that the combination of interacting with the world and getting lost in my head has shown me how deep my mental health goes.”
“As someone who struggled with an eating disorder during my teens, and experienced PTSD after being raped, it’s been liberating to tackle so many challenges over a long period of time and see that my brain is healthy, that the umpteen therapy sessions have had a lasting impact.”
What were the challenges that you faced?
“Two weeks into the trip I got a little homesick, which I didn’t expect since I’d never experienced it, despite spending months away from home in different countries. But the polarity and excess of American culture with the weird language barrier between English and American was only amplified by my birthday being spent in Missouri. It took adjusting my expectations to overcome this. I viewed it like any other trip abroad - use local mannerisms, learn common phrases, and view differences endearingly instead of searching for similarities.”
“Adjusting my expectations has been a consistently useful way to overcome difficulties. Everyday I set the bar low and find myself doing better than when I aim high and feel overly pressured. More acutely, I couldn’t get into smallest gears on my bike as I neared Teton National Park. So at the top of a mountain pass I had to redo the break cable and indexing with the crushing knowledge that I was completely alone and ~200 miles from a bike shop if I messed up. Thankfully it worked and I could finish my 108 mile day into Teton and Yellowstone!”
How did you fuel your body? What’s your go-to snack?
“Favourite snack! It has to be apple and peanut butter wraps. I’ve eaten them on mountain passes, by lakes, the edge of highways. It’s always the right time to slather peanut butter on a wrap with apples slices. It also forces me to stop, get off my bike, and use my hands for a task that takes some focus so I break my day up and recentre.”
Support Sarah by donating to Rape Crisis
“I am fundraising for Rape Crisis UK to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of sexual violence. Rape and sexual abuse are devastating crimes that are unfortunately common. 1 in 4 women, 1 in 20 men, and 1 in 6 children have been raped or sexually assaulted. The harm caused is unacceptable, and support is crucial for survivors.”
Rape Crisis England & Wales:
- Raises awareness of the prevalence and impact of sexual violence and abuse in all its forms
- Advocates for systems change to create better responses in justice, health, education and across society
- Ensure that specialist support is available
Her inspiring journey stands as a testament to the power of one person's determination to make a difference. As we applaud Sarah's extraordinary achievements, let us be inspired to create positive change in our own communities and advocate for a world free from sexual violence.
Donate to Sarah's Just Giving Page here.
Find out more about Rape Crisis here.