Changing Lives and Bringing History to Life, One Revolution at a Time!

UGRR

July 16 – Houston – Leaving for Home

Today we begin our journey home, we will be taking a 10 hour road trip back to North Carolina in our van. I am excited to go home to my friends and family in Chapel Hill. Looking back on this trip I realize that I have gained a great deal more than I knew I did from it. I have learned information from the past that most people will never know. I have seen things that most people will never see, this trip has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about my past and I am very grateful for having this opportunity. Making this choice was one of the greatest decisions of my life. From this trip I have realized that there is a lot of history that we are not taught in school and I would sometime like to learn more about this. I think in college I will take an African American studies course.

This trip has been an overall great experience for me.

Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks. 
 Let’s Move Outside!
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July 15 – Kyvon – Niagara Falls, NY

Today was the last ride of the trip, and I think we were all excited. We were supposed to be riding from our hosts home in Buffalo, to Niagara Falls. While we were riding we saw that the “bike trail” we were supposed to ride on ended. Once the trail ended, we rode around in a circle for a while, until we finally got back on track. When everything was going fine, Chris and I crashed, and some of my spokes broke. Since that is something that you never want to happen, I was told that it was unsafe to ride with a wheel in that condition, so everyone had to take their bike apart and get in the van, because we all were going to ride or nobody was going to ride. We then drove to Niagara Falls and boarded the Maid of the Mist to take our long awaited tour that took us next to the Falls. After being able to see Canada on the other side, and to be able to see the Falls themselves, all of our hard work for the past month was worth it.


Friday July 15 – Itza – Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls!

Today is the second Big DAY of this lovely adventure. If you don’t remember the first Big DAY was June 13th, the day we departed from Chapel Hill. I can’t believe we made it to this point! Our 30 days of adventure has truly become a once in a life time experience.

So today I woke up in the lovely home of David and Molly. I woke up with my mind set on freedom. I had the 1st day of school feeling again. I felt like today was the day I’ve been waiting for for a really long time. I didn’t and I still can’t put words to the way I was feeling. All I really know is that I made it, we made it, we all completed an 1800 mile journey. Something 31 days ago was nothing more than a goal, an idea, a dream, a distant thought. We all made it to Niagara Falls! We did it!! I Can’t say it enough but I’m extremely proud of Jeimy, Chris, Mahlique, Houston, Kyvon, Ibn, Marshall, Mrs. Sue, Kevin, Mr. Brogden and Rich for doing this!

We left Molly and David’s home and headed off on our last bike ride. On our way to Niagara Falls we got lost. We were on a bike trail but the bike trail stopped and we hit a dead end. Everyone we asked said that we could ride a bike trail all the way to the Falls. With the dead-end ahead we decided to head back towards Ohio St and follow the directions we had printed from map quest or one of those direction giving websites. We eventually made it to Niagara St.

While riding on Niagara St. Ibn got a flat so we had to stop which gave us time to figure out where we were and how we were going to get to Niagara Falls. After Ibn’s bike was ready to go we set off in search of Aqua Lane. About a mile away from Aqua Lane, Kyvon and Chris get into a minor accident. Where 3 of Kyvon’s spokes broke making it not possible for him to finish the ride. The decision to call the SAG van and call it a day was made for several reasons one being that Kyvon’s bike was unrepairable at the moment and the other was that we still had 20 or so miles to go and it was close to 3pm. So if we kept riding we wouldn’t really get to spend enough time at Niagara Falls. When the SAG van arrived to pick us up the bikes and were ready to go. The front wheels were off the bikes. We all worked as a team to get the bikes on the trailer and locked.

Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls what a beautiful sight! This is truly one day I will never ever forget! My heart was racing like never before, I was getting kinda emotional and wanting to cry because I didn’t know another way of expressing how happy I was. We headed to the Maid of the Mist area and we got closer and closer to the falls. I can’t find words to describe the natural beauty before my eyes. Once on the boat I remembered my dad asked me to call him if I had signal down there and thankfully I did! I gave him a call and to hear his voice while on the boat made me feel extremely special. I was on top of the world while I was at the bottom of the falls.

Before getting off the boat I had to make sure I gave a big thanks and hug to my SnR family (except Houston who gave me a handshake since he doesn’t do hugs).

Once we left the Falls we headed to CheeBurger, CheeBurger which has 1,258,000 combinations of milk shakes. We all set down and had a wonderful dinner. We laughed and talked and then got back in the car and said bye to Buffalo, NY and here we come Chapel Hill. I could not have asked for a better last day than this.

– Itza


Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks. 
 Let’s Move Outside!

July 14 – Chris – Buffalo, NY

Today we finally made it into Buffalo, NY. Honestly, it was very surreal to me that we had actually made it to NY. It felt like yesterday we were unloading the bikes for the first time in Mobile, Alabama. I couldn’t believe it, we are one day away from finishing our journey.

We started the day off with a pretty easy ride. It was flat and the weather was cooler than usual. I liked the atmosphere of NY so far. We rode to Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo where they would hide escaped slaves right before they would try to cross over to Canada. We got a tour of the church and part of the city from a  man named Kevin Cottrell, a local historian and tour guide. He was really passionate about the UGRR and knew a lot of history. He said he really admired us for doing this because he had traveled the UGRR many years ago but it was in a van not on bikes, like us. I thought that was pretty cool. He really knew things that I had never heard about from a teacher or read in a textbook. In my opinion talking to people and really listening is the best way to learn.

The day ended with us driving to another Quaker family’s home. David and Molly were so very nice. David’s wife was pregnant with their first child and still welcomed us into their home. We tried to help her out as much as possible. We didn’t want her doing too much at all, so we washed the dishes for her and I helped her cook breakfast. Anything we could do to help out we did. After everything was done we all fell asleep on the floor watching napoleon dynamite.


July 15 Mahlique – last day Niagara Falls

Today was the very last day Spoke ‘n Rev would hit the saddle. I believe it was with a sad feeling for all of us that we would be leaving the next day to head back. It all seemed so surreal to me. I had just finished the Underground Railroad tour on the seat of a bike. A feat not many people can say they have done; let alone by high school students. Anyway, we made it to Niagara Falls and it was one of the most magnificent sites I have ever got to see in my short life. As a bonus I also got to see a part of Ontario!

When we saw the Falls we got to ride the boat that took you out to the base of the falls – The Maid of the Mist. To me the bike trip to get here was worth every hardship we encountered. Now I have a great story to tell my children and my grandchildren.

After the falls we got in the van and headed off back to North Carolina. For dinner we ate burgers & shakes; and let me tell you that the food was superb! After dinner we headed down the road till we found a hotel to stay in for the night. And that is how my last day of the tour went. It was one of the best feelings to know that I am one of the only teenagers to have completed the Underground Railroad route. I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped Spoke ‘n Rev get to where we are and allowed us to complete this tour.


SnR UGRR Tour 2011 ~ July 15 Ride Day 30

As Promised, Niagara Falls, NY
I awoke first again, almost for the last time of this tour. I’m sure I’ll awake first Saturday morning, as well.  I walked through the wonderfully creaky and beautifully spacious home of David and Molly and set myself up to blog.
It wasn’t long before Rich was up to join me. After a few pleasantries and light conversation we were nose deep in our work. Rich doing his thing and I, mine.  Shortly after, Bob arrived and talk of the day’s events, politics, religion, and “Sarah Bachman” were in full swing.
The 30 min Goodbye


It wasn’t long before bets were laid as to when we would actually be ready to leave our gracious hosts and head to Niagara Falls. It was now 08:30am. Bob placed the time at around 10:30am, I said 10 and Rich gave no opinion. Later, Bob modified his guess to 11:00. We actually left at 11:30.

The flipped egg breakfast was cooked up by Rich and garnished by Molly with  fixins of craisins, walnuts, english muffins, butter, cream cheese, donuts(?), juice, water, milk and of course, Quaker Oatmeal. The breakfast was comparable to, if not better than, any hotel restaurant could have provided. As a matter of fact, come to think about it ( I said it before to someone else along the route) we pretty much had a Bed and Breakfast Tour almost every day of this tour. As for the food, it was delicious.
It is now 11:00. We are outside gathering our bikes together and mapping the route to Niagara Falls. There’s supposed to be a route that we can take that is pure bike path. Bob didn’t think it was possibleand chose not to lead the ride for the first time. So, for this day Rich lead the team and I brought up the rear. We were using Google Maps to get us there. No tried and true Adventure Cycling maps were available.
The bike path was nice. It rode along the water and gave astounding marina views. We were having a great time enjoying the comfortable ride with even pavement and nothing to worry about but other cyclists also enjoying themselves.
It wasn’t long before Kyvon ran off the path. We giggled as this has become a staple in the rides. His falling off his bike is like the sun rising in the morning. You know its going to happen even if you don’t always know exactly when.  Five minutes later he was flying over his handlebars because his foot became stuck in his front wheel spokes while trying to fit his foot into his pedal stirrup.  We all rushed to his aid to ensure he was alright; he was. With that relief laughter rose from everyone; Kyvon included as he explained what occurred.
The boys who were lagging behind sped ahead as Rich suggested that they take the lead. They were confident that the ride would be all bike path so they zoomed ahead only to return a short while later to inform us that the bike path would end a few hundreds yards up. Now, we had to double back.
We went back far enough to see where we should have made a right turn. This took us off the bike path and onto the surface streets of bicycle friendly Buffalo. Soon we found ourselves winding our way around people, sidewalks and trolley cars until we got back to the Marina. There the bike path picked up again and we thought we were home free. But that ended, too.
Back on surface streets we road the sidewalks of Buffalo and Takawanna. By the time we checked the GPS we realized that we were still 20 miles (by bicycle) away from Niagara Falls; not even approaching Grand Isle, yet. We’ve already been on the road for 2 hrs. This was turning into another LONG day.  We pressed on. This was not turning out to be the Grand Finale of the tour due to the mishaps we were having. As we moved forward as a group word came that Kyvon had fallen behind and Chris was with him. As I doubled Chris told me that Kyvon’s spokes had broken.  After inspecting the damage I assessed that there were three spokes broken and one bent. He could not continue with this amount of damage.
After calling Suepinda to come pick us up I asked how did Kyvon’s spokes become broken. Chris confessed that his pedal touched Kyvon’s back wheel breaking the spokes.
After Suepinda arrived we packed the van and headed into the Falls by car. Not as momentous as we would have liked but arriving in Niagara Falls, nonetheless.  As I stayed in the van working and watching the bikes the Youth Cyclists had a fantastic time at the Falls. The took the tour of the Maid of the Mist and enjoyed EVERY dripping moist moment of it. The collected souvenirs and came back to tell me of the joys they had.
Leaving Niagara we went to eat at Cheeburger, Cheeburger. You guessed it, a burger restaurant.  Everyone had a great dinner and finished it off with a delicious shake that had 1001 combinations!
With everyone fed we moved on down the road to get as far as we can before taking in a hotel/motel for the evening. As I type it is 2:30am and we are bedded down in the Days Motel in Meadville, PA. I’m done for the day/night.  I think I’ve finally caught up to this blogging thing.
Thanks to the National Park Service for assisting us in making this happen. Our wonderful and many donors who gave generously and from the heart. We are forever grateful to you. Thank you to the webosphere and families for your support, comments and following us on this magically adventurous trek through middle America. An America they refuse to show us on the ID 10-T box. Your America. My America. And the wonderful, kind and giving people in the stretch of land that has been labeled the Underground Railroad.



Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks
 Let’s Move Outside!

July 15 – Houston – Niagara Falls, NY

At long last, today we completed our journey and made it to Niagara Falls, NY.

The falls were one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life, they are tremendous and the water looks clean and swimmable. I have never seen a waterfall that enormous before and seeing this for the first time is awe inspiring. The state park revolves completely around the falls so you can see them the entire time from all sorts of angles. We also went on the boat tour called Maid of the Mist which took us right next to the falls. The mist from the falls was everywhere and because of this there was a rainbow next to the falls. Seeing these falls means a lot to me, not just their majesty but their historical meaning.

To me it symbolizes freedom and accomplishment. People on the Underground Railroad worked tirelessly to get to these falls and for me to be here after traveling the Underground Railroad myself is so rewarding. I could not think of a better way to end this trip.

Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks. 
 Let’s Move Outside!

Thursday July 14 – Itza – Evangola to Buffalo

Today we left Evangola Camping ground and headed towards Buffalo, New York. We ended up doing 51 miles today instead of 30miles because we got lost somewhere in between.

 However, when we arrived to Buffalo and saw the signs we all let out some crazy noise. We let out a victory scream. We then road down till we got to Michigan St where we took a right turn and met Kevin Cottrell and 2 really nice reporters. We were invited inside the church and got to listen to the importance of Buffalo in the Underground Railroad movement. 

We also visited a park were we could see Canada for the 1st time. Canada was just within reach. Even though we weren’t going to cross over it was just incredible being able to see it from a distance and knowing we are so close. the thing is that I didn’t really realize that we made it to buffalo till we got to David and Molly’s house where we spent the night. The great thing about spending the night at David and Molly’s home is that we started our journey with a Quaker family (Sara and Darryl from Blountsville,  Alabama) and we ended our journey with a Quaker family. This was a great day!

– Itza

Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks. 
 Let’s Move Outside!




July 15 Chris – Niagara Falls

We finally made it. It took 32 days and countless amounts of pedaling, but we did it. We made it through everything and got to Niagara. We were looking across the falls at the place where enslaved people traveled hundreds of miles on foot to freedom. Some of our ancestors took on the challenges of traveling the UGRR so they could make a better life for themselves and the families. Present and future. I wish I could go back in time and thank them, but I can’t so hopefully I’m honoring them and making them proud by being one of the first youths to cycle the trail they walked. At the moment when we reached the falls I felt so proud of myself, and also my SnR family. We made it together.

It was a tough journey but I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it with such a great group of friends.


SnR UGRR Tour 2011 ~ July 13 Ride Day 28

Leaving Sara’s Campground.
I awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the lake.
Blogged a little until my battery ran down (there’s no quick access to power on the beach) and awoke the Youth Cyclists at 7am. 
Breakfast was of champions (because our cyclists are champs) but the fear of birds and their droppings ruled the morning. While getting ready for the day we fixed other cyclists’ bikes (a ReCYCLEry Mobile Repair Day). To show their gratitude they rode with us to the top of the hill outside the camp.
The ride was (another word for great) and 68*-73* . Fantastic! We crossed the New York state line today.
After I got in the van to start work the riders continued on. Bob moved at a comfortable 16 mph pace but even at that speed one delay puts you 1/4 mile behind. Soon, he was far ahead but the group continued on at their comfortable pace.  Suepinda, Ibn and I headed to the campground. We passed Bob waiting patiently for the rest of the group. While waiting, he attended a vintage car show and saw many cars.  He was in Bob heaven.
Last night was COLD. 

Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks. 
 Let’s Move Outside!