AAH! When I had got to know that I was going to be going on this Great American Bicycle Ride, I was more than elated. This was a programme which had interested me since long and now that I had become eligible to go my excitement was uncontrollable. But little did I know that this interesting programme was going to be a life-changing or should I say a life-enlightening encounter. The thing with GABR is that it starts from the moment you decide to go for it. The build up to the programme is way more fun than the cycling itself. Right from attending the orientation to making countless rounds to Decathlon for sleeping bags, helmets, duffel bags, etc. The moment you sign up for GABR it becomes an integral part of your life not for the 23 days you go but for your entire lifetime. It is one trip you cherish and reminisce about when you are in your classroom, bedroom and subsequently on a job somewhere. The trip helps you bond with strangers, bond with nature and bond with a foreign lifestyle.
It has so many little enjoyments: from the ice-cream at Tillamook cheese factory to the sandboarding at Jessy M Honeyman park, from the occasional dining outside to the pancakes, sandwiches, and dal-chawal at camp. You meet new people who are themselves inspired and amazed when they hear your cycling story. Cycling through the toughest of weather but the most scenic routes leaves an indelible impression on your mind and gives you something which live on with you forever. One should opt for GABR obviously for cycling, scenic routes and a foreign experience but most importantly for attaining knowledge, outdoor know-how and for an amazing group of people who continue to talk to you even after the programme is over.
Many feel that GABR is pure cycling and becomes rigorous but little do they know that it is more of a life skills expedition. More than cycling you learn to adjust and live with your friends, you learn to stay together through thick and thin and most importantly you learn the value of determination and perseverance. I still remember when on one of the days we had run out of food supplies how a kind man gave us goodies to eat free of any cost. And how on the day of climbing the Leggett Hill we encouraged each other to finish it inspite of exhaustion. It is moments like this which make GABR an unmissable programme. It is not your routine INME programme, it is truly a life changing experience. It makes you love it and hate it too sometimes when the uphill climbs come :) but in the end it just doesn't leave you. GABR stayed with me even after it got over, some of the days of cycling are still fresh in my mind and how I wish even now that I'm given one more chance to go for it. It is really a once in a lifetime chance, if given, go for it without batting an eye. Go for the tough cycling, go for the good interactions with nature and people alike, go for the learnings you get from tough experiences, go for the beauty and scenery of the West Coast, go for the ice-cream, go for the sandboarding , go for the uphill climbs and subsequent downhill ones, go for staying in national parks and tents, go for the ultimate ride on the Golden Gate bridge and lastly
GO FOR IT BECAUSE ITS GABR!!!!!!!!