As I cruise into the busy streets of Charlotte on our final true day of riding, heart racing slightly as the afternoon traffic rushes by me, I feel a sense of accomplishment, yet also feel humbled by this feat we have just completed. I begin to think a lot about what this Tour means, it is not simply an autonomous achievement where one races the 600 plus miles from point A, to point B, to point C…. (you get my point…) and then walks away with a sense of self satisfaction, amazed by what their body achieved. It is the consummation of a team objective, with everyone playing integral role; whether it be the support team member who always looks out for you, ensuring you’re hydrated (and lubricated – my fellow cyclists know what I mean), the rider who lends you his extra seat when you were just to sore to sit on yours another day, or the cherished new friend who made sure you both crossed the finish line when it seemed your legs wouldn’t carry you another mile. An inter web of support that ensures each rider achieves personal milestones and goals.
The knowledge that the friendly and wonderful Professor Elwood Pricklethorn instilled in the children we met with today in Camden was met with bright eyes and a yearn to learn. His energy and knowledge will certainly be shared amongst their friends and families the evening, as they continue to relish in their assistance with a tree planting, a simple joy that the TREE Fund makes a priority and that we might all do well to share with children more often, they most certainly went home and read their copy of “I Can Name 50 Trees” with a parent or sibling.
The rendering of the STIHL Tour des Trees in it’s entirety and the messages that will ripple through families and communities across the country and across the continent is significant and integral. With riders coming joining together from coast to coast, now on the cusp of returning home to their communities, and friends, family and colleagues undoubtedly inspired by their pursuit, the ripple effect of the tour becomes more than many participants realize. Perhaps this will be an inspiration to become more active, a push to engage in philanthropic efforts more regularly, and hopefully an inspiration to participate in the endeavors of a future STIHL Tour de Trees.
Written by Tour rider, Shanon Hewett.