“Life Begins At the End of Your Comfort Zone” – Neale Donald Walsch
When Jaime’s son, Carter, decided to set a goal of riding from Oregon to San Francisco, he knew it would be a daunting task for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old. Not only did Carter accomplish that goal, he set his sights on an even grander journey the following summer – a biking adventure that would take him on a Coast to Coast Ride of Confidence Building in Europe. While he might not be sporting a Tour de France jersey just yet, he never imagined he’d finish this coast-to-coast bike ride that built both his confidence and calves. Learn more about his fascinating trip. And even better, find out what happens when you set your goals high and aren’t afraid to pedal past the boundaries – even on a beach cruiser.
Seven Country Ride Through Europe
The Oregon trip is rated as a 6 out of 10 on the Apogee Challenge Level. The Europe trip is rated as a nine out of 10. This scared Carter at first, but he kept his fears to himself. “I really struggled at times in Oregon. And, Europe was going to be twice the miles,” Carter said.
Seven countries, four languages, two seas, and one outstanding European adventure.
When Carter first read these words on the Apogee Adventures website, he wasn’t sure. He’d never been to Europe. He would be without his parents and his support group from home. He sat down and studied the website copy a bit more closely. The group would start at the North Sea near Amsterdam, ride to the Adriatic Sea and finish in Venice.
While Carter was nervous, he was also excited about the possibility of exploring Europe on his bike with other teens. He continued to study the website, reminding himself it was just a leg at a time. He never mentioned to his parents he was nervous. Instead he began preparing for the adventures that were ahead of him. And, he kept reminding himself of these European highlights:
- Ride past rural Belgian and French villages seemingly untouched by time
- Time off in Paris to sample croissants
- Pedal through Germany’s Black Forest
- Challenge yourself up and over snow-capped mountain passes in Austria
- Finish in Northern Italy, riding all the way to Venice
Coast to Coast Ride of Confidence Building
Beach Cruising Along the Coast
Each teen brings their own bike from home, dismantling and shipping it on the plane in a cardboard box. Unfortunately, Carter’s bike was lost in transit and didn’t arrive for three days. The counselors said he could ride in the van the first couple of days. But Carter didn’t want to miss one pedal of the trip.
He approached the counselors with an idea: he would ride one of the spare bikes – a beach cruiser. And no, he never complained about the lost bike. Instead he just enjoyed the fun of it all. “Those two days were the hardest days of the trip. With the road bikes, you have dozens of gears and the beach cruiser doesn’t have anything,” said Carter, who grinned from ear to ear upon his arrival.
Once he was united with his bike and a couple weeks into the trip, he found his rhythm. Soon the group was headed toward the hardest climb of the trip – the Alps in Austria. Imagine riding your bike nine miles straight up. With 34 switchbacks, it was intense. With burning thighs and pumping hearts, Carter and his mate, Leo, led the way. The duo finished 20 or 30 minutes ahead of the group. Most teens would just lay down in the grass to cool off. Maybe take a nap? Nope. They ran down the road to encourage the other bikers as they finished.
Carter’s confidence was spiking on a daily basis. His family back home checked the website religiously for photos and updates. They all remarked about how much he was beaming in so many of the photos.
Early Risers: Coast to Coast Ride of Confidence
Each day the alarm went off for the group at 5 am. For most teenage boys, you flip the pillow over to the cool side and start snoring again. But not Carter, not in Europe. He’d hop up, pack his 30-pound equipment bag and help others pack too.
In addition, the teens made their own breakfast and lunch each day. For dinner they frequently tasted the local cuisine. Or made dinner as a group. Chicken was popular. Everyone pitched in and helped cook – something Carter really enjoyed.
I left my Heart in Venice
Venice was Carter’s favorite city. Maybe it was the lack of roads and paths to ride? No, he loved the uniqueness of the waterways and ferry transportation. And the pizza and the pasta.
Because he was a tad homesick after more than a month away from home, he thought he was ready to come home on the last day. But once everyone started boarding their flights, Carter felt super sad. “I wish we could have gone further,” he said. “I’m ready to go on a longer one now.”
Thankful for the Growth Experience
In the beginning of one of his college essays, he writes about how upset he was about being signed up for the Oregon biking trip. He writes he basically went along with it because his mom signed him up.
As the essay progressed, Carter detailed how thankful he was for the experience despite its challenges. In Oregon, he fell in a deep ditch and had to be extracted with ropes. The trip was hard, but he ended up loving every minute of it. Carter closes the essay thankful for having the experience that pushed him out of his comfort zone. He’s ready to experience gains and growth that might not have been imagined before the trip. He came home with a wish to go again and find other ways to push himself. He loves the challenge.
Jaime glows when she talks about Carter what a growth experience it was for him. “When he returned home, I saw a different level of maturity and confidence in him. And we were not surprised when he promptly joined the high school cross country team to continue to push himself,” added Jaime.
Carter is ready to take an even longer bike trip in the future. He’d like to join a cycling club too. When he turns 21, he plans to return to Apogee to work as a summer youth counselor and inspire and encourage others to find their joy in cycling, too.
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