USF Student Vet Completes Ride Across USA

Kiersten shows off the nail that flattened her tire the last day of her ride across the USA. Photo credit: Biking_USA

Kiersten shows off the nail that flattened her tire the last day of her ride across the USA. Photo credit: Biking_USA

A flat tire on the last day of her two-month journey did not slow down Kiersten Downs.

The former president of the University of South Florida Student Veterans Association cycled into Washington DC this afternoon, August 5, 2013.

She started the trek in San Francisco June 2, 2013 by dipping her rear tire in the Pacific Ocean, a tradition by cross-country cyclists.

Her goal was to raise awareness about student veterans and to raise $50,000 for their non-profit organization. She’s accomplished both.

Congratulations to Kiersten. Several of her USF colleagues traveled to DC to celebrate her finish at the SVA headquarters.

She tweeted the photo (@Biking_USA) below to share in her triumph  after cycling some 3,800 miles.

Kiersten Downs celebrating the end of her two-month ride across the USA to raise awareness for student veterans. Photo credit: Biking USA

Kiersten Downs celebrating the end of her two-month ride across the USA to raise awareness for student veterans. Photo credit: Biking USA

The SVA will mark Kiersten’s achievement with a celebration at the National Veterans Center, 2013 H. ST NW, Washington DC, tonight from 6 to 8.

Guests include Kiersten, Vice Admiral (ret.) Mel Williams, Jr., Senior Associate Dean of Military and Veteran Initiatives at George Washington University; Lieutenant General (ret.) Martin R. Steele, Associate Vice President for Veterans Research, Executive Director Military Partnerships, USF Research & Innovation, University of South Florida; Michael Dakduk, Executive Director, Student Veterans of America; Dan Parker, Director of Programs, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A photo from the start of her journey and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kiersten Downs crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the first leg of her journey across America.

Kiersten Downs crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the first leg of her journey across America.

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Student Veteran Biking USA Arrives in Knoxville

Kiersten Downs at the base of the flag pole. A momentary stop as she cycled through middle Tennessee. Photo credit: Biking USA

Kiersten Downs at the base of the flag pole. A momentary stop as she cycled through middle Tennessee. Photo credit: Biking USA

University of South Florida student veteran Kiersten Downs is nearing the end of her “Bike America” journey.

It started June 2 in San Francisco and is set to end August 5 in Washington D.C.

Along the way, her hope of raising awareness of student veterans is getting some notice. She’s in Knoxville, Tennessee tonight, July 24, 2013, and has a story in the Knoxville Daily Sun.

Downs is scheduled to appear on WBIR-TV, channel 10, Thursday morning to talk about the student veteran organization and earlier this week she was interviewed on the Nashville station WSMV-TV.

Her other goal during the two-month ride is to raise $50,000 for the national organization Student Veterans of America and its chapters.She’s close according to her most recent Tweet from @Biking_USA:

@mtvU@NickCannon I need to fundraise $1500 more to hit 50k goal for @studentvets by aug 5. Lets get this done so I can take a nap!

Downs is planning to rest up in Knoxville and is inviting fellow cyclists to meet up and ride along Friday and/or Saturday for Bike America: Student Veterans Ride for Education. Contact Kiersten Downs directly for specifics at http://www.bikingusa.net as she heads to Bristol, VA.

Message me if you are interested in linking up!!

Also, on August 4, Downs is planning a meet up in Charlottesville, VA; and on Aug 5 she is meeting cyclists for the last leg of the trip from Fredericksburg, VA to Washingon DC.

There is a Bike America: Student Veterans Ride for Education reception at the National Vets Center in DC at the George Washington University campus on Aug 5 at 6pm. It’s an open invitation but you must RSVP.

Below one of the videos Kiersten has produced during her journey … it’s on the virtue of “getting lost” and learning to embrace it.

 

Student Veteran Dedicates Ride Day to Sean Coleman

Sean Coleman, Military Cycling Team captain. Credit: Twitter

Sean Coleman, Military Cycling Team captain. Credit: Twitter

We’ve been following University of South Florida student veteran Kiersten Downs as she cycles across the country to raise awareness for student veterans. She’s linked up with other cycling veterans during the journey and visited several VFWs along the way.

On Thursday, Kiersten dedicated her ride to a fellow cyclist back in Florida who died from a heart attack during a training ride last week.

Sean Coleman was a reigning age-group state champ with several appearances at the World Military Cycling Championships to his credit reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Coleman, 46, of Land O’Lakes, who died of a heart attack on a training ride last Wednesday, was a Coast Guard senior chief petty officer stationed in Clearwater.

A 27-year veteran with a crucial job — supervising the mechanics who maintain the station’s rescue helicopters — he took on a volunteer duty that was almost as demanding.

As a director and co-founder of the U.S. Military Cycling team, he courted sponsors, recruited riders, traveled to training camps and races, and spent long hours at home doing administrative grunt work, said his wife, Sharon, who helped with the team.

Formal services were held for Coleman on Monday and Saturday there was a memorial ride that attracted some 300 riders according to the Times.

Kiersten is continuing her progress toward Washington D.C. despite four flat tires. She’s currently in Tennessee and has cycled 2,500 milies with 800 more to go.

kiersten_blowntire

Kiersten Downs holding on to her fourth “blown” tire – waiting for assistance from her road crew shortly after noon – Thursday (18 July 2013) – outside Waverly, TN.

 

 

Student Veteran Biking USA Heads into the Desert

Kiersten Downs during a stop in Nevada.

Kiersten Downs during a stop in Nevada.

After a ride across California’s northern region and a dip in Lake Tahoe, Kiersten Downs has crossed into Nevada on her two-month journey across the USA to raise awareness and money for the Student Veterans of America.

She anticipated the first few weeks of the ride would be her toughest. Her only chance to train for mountain riding in “flat” terrain Florida was on the indoor cycles programed for steep climbs. And that’s what she did. For the past year as many as six days a week, you could find the doctoral student spinning her wheels at the University of South Florida recreation center.

But it was not the “real thing.” So,  she expected biking into the mountains would be her biggest challenge.

And that goes for the desert dryness too. There’s no way to eliminate Florida’s humidity to give a facsimile of riding in a desert. Yet, there is no telltale sign that Kiersten is struggling other than a photo of her thigh wrapped with an ace bandage.

And she is smiling in every photo. Could it be the satisfaction of setting a goal and the fulfillment one feels while working toward that goal. As many philosophers have pointed out – life is about the journey not the final destination.

kiersten_desert

The Nevada desert as Kiersten Downs cycles toward Falon.

 

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