Day 2 started early with a 5 am wake up followed by a Crew Chief breakfast and Circle Up. Circle up is where we meet as a team and receive information on the days ride, our friendship visit, meals and lodging. The great news was that we had a friendship visit with Guardian Angels, a group that works with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in the Cape Coral area and advocates on their behalf. As we get a chance to visit them each year, there is a quite a bit of excitement both with our team and the clients who greet us each year. The other news we received at circle up included the scouting report of the 70 mile ride to our visit, and there was some bad news. We send out a scouting team the night before to check the first 30 miles of the route, mark the turns and check the overall condition of the road. We found out that 12 miles of construction had reduced a 2 lane with median road into a 1 lane each way, and that the shoulder fully disappeared for the last 5 miles of the construction. That meant we may have to “rolling rack” that portion, meaning all cyclists would be stopped and had to load their bikes onto vans to ferry them through the section, as cyclists, we were prepared for the call if the project manager deemed it un-safe to ride that portion. We headed out of our lodging around 6 am and got onto riding, As the sun rose, it got hot. Sure enough, 20 miles into our ride we were given a Red Flag to fully stop and rack through the unsafe portion. We couldn’t be prouder of the crew for getting all the cyclists through and onto the other side as quick as possible. Based on the delays and road conditions, we also were informed we may not meet our rack point, which is the mileage by a certain time in order for us to arrive on time for our friendship visit, Once again the team rolled with it and were determined to ride every mile possible until we needed to get in our vans to make it to the visit on time. The sun got hotter, and the headwinds came to challenge us but the team rode on. The crew were encouraging at each crew stop, making sure we had the water we needed and just kept our spirits up playing music out of their vans. They gave us reports on road conditions ahead and let us know how much time left till we would need to rack to make sure we were on time. Everyone rode every mile we could, but we just couldn’t make up time lost. We racked to about 1 mile out from our friendship visit, formed up into our double pace line and rode into our visit with smiles on our faces to enthusiastic smiles and signs from a welcoming party waiting to greet us. We all had lunch together, spending time in various classrooms learning the skill sets being taught and the talents of those we met. We saw artwork created by various clients, some examples of other pieces that were sold prior to raise funds for their various banquets and the day to day skills that are taught, many by peer teachers. Like most friendship visits, a dance party broke out with everyone getting out there and enjoying themselves. Dance moves were exchanged, smiles shared and everyone’s spirits were lifted. We fielded questions like “Where do you guys sleep?”, “How fast do you go?” and our favorite, “Will you be back again next year?” which was met with a resounding “Yes!” by the team,
With our visit concluded, we traveled to our lodging for the night at Bishop Verot High School in Ft Meyers, organized by sophomores Conor and Cassidy. Conor started his involvement with the Gear Up Florida team while in his 4th grade class, as his teacher Ms. L was our sponsor at the middle school he attended. Each year he would get up early when the team was in town to help serve breakfast and see the team off. At the same time Conor moved up to High School, Ms. L retired and moved up to North Carolina. Seeing no sponsor relationship, Conor took it upon himself to secure a spot at his new school. After preparing and presenting to the high school administration, he then had to reach out and receive approval from the Archdiocese himself for a final approval. His believe in the impacts we make and his desire to see them continue is a touching example of our mission, using shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders. Conor and Cassidy are just the most recent examples of how our mission impacts more then just our brothers, showing others how to serve.