We Have a Very Good Meeting with Congresswoman Lois Capps and her aide Kelsey Jacobsen

Today has the potential to be the most successful day yet in the short history of Spinning to End Finning. But first, a short synopsis of our last two days…
On Sunday morning, our friends and hosts, Stephanie and Chris Johnson gave us a lift in the car to the beginning of a 20 mile bike path linking the town of Oakton to downtown DC. We yelled thanks and waved goodbye, and began the very last cycling leg of the trip. It was a smooth, mostly downhill glide into DC, shared with lots of other cyclists, joggers and moms pushing strollers. It was a beautiful, green run, and was really the perfect way to end the journey.
Devon’s cousin John lives and works right in the central hub of DC, and we met up with him right away. We dropped our bags at his place, and then pedaled with empty trailers to Capital Hill Bike Shop, where we said a tearful goodbye to our trusty steeds (Capital Hill is boxing and shipping our bikes and trailers home for us..THANKS CAPITAL HILL!).
We spent a great afternoon visiting as many Smithsonian museums as possible, and then joined John for dinner and an evening stroll through town. John is an endless source of cool stories and history of DC!
So today, Monday, we awoke with a few hours to enjoy our nation’s capital, but mostly with high hopes and eagerness to meet with our congresswoman from the central coast, Lois Capps. We had numerous discussions about what we hoped to accomplish at our meeting (which we had arranged way back in April), and at 3:15 pm, found ourselves in the Rayburn Office Building, adjacent the the Capital Building, where her office is located. Our meeting was incredibly successful, but I’m going to hand the IPad over to Devon to give you the details……
We walked into Representative Capps’ lobby and immediately felt close to the central coast. Her walls were decorated with pictures of many of the beautiful areas on the coast, so even though we were thousands of miles away I felt an amazing connection with our home on the central coast.
At 3:30 on the dot we walked into Rep. Capps office where we sat and talked about everything this ride has been striving for. It was amazing that this entire ride was culminating here in this office, and I couldn’t imagine a better place for us to be. Rep. Capps seemed extremely sympathetic for our cause, and was very impressed with what we have already achieved.
We walked in with several goals that we think are essential to saving sharks at the 11th hour. Those three things were as follows:
1) list many more species of sharks under the Endangered Species Act. The listing of these species is essential to getting protection and in reestablishing already depleted populations.
2) pass federal legislation that would follow what the western states (Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Illinois) have already done, namely, to ban the sale or possession of shark fins.
3) and lastly, ensure that federal regulations do not weaken or undermine the already strong laws in the five states listed above.

We laid out these three requests and are extremely encouraged by Rep. Capps’ response. We came up with some great ways to accomplish these goals, and have a long tough road ahead of us in order to make sure to follow through with these ideas. But the backing of a representative is a huge, and extremely important first step.

As the meeting concluded Mark and I walked out the door and couldn’t help but dance up and down the hall (literally). The step we took today was a huge one, and we will continue to work with Representative Capps’ office to achieve our goals.

Few people get the chance to do what we did today, and Mark and I feel extremely privileged to have been able to meet with our representative and to be attempting to make a difference. And while the bike ride may be over, we still have a lot of work to do to save the sharks.
So there you have it. Devon and I stepped into Rep Capps office and described our campaign; the ride, our benefit concert, and our hopes for the preservation of sharks around the world. We explained how an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins. We described the slow reproductive rate of sharks and how many species do not mate until they are 10-15 years old. We shared how the slaughter is indescriminate – how neither age, sex nor species matters, and that there are now roughly only 1/10th as many sharks in the sea as there were 20 years ago. We described the crucial role sharks have played in the sea for the last 350 million years, and that it is hard to imagine how the oceans can function normally with their top predators gone. And we explained that at present rates, most shark species will be extinct – gone forever- in ten years time. That this issue is urgent, and that sharks need an advocate in Congress.

Devon and I feel certain beyond any doubt that we have found that advocate in Lois Capps.

Now that this bike campaign has drawn to a successful close, it is time for all of us (that means everyone who understands and cares about the health of the oceans) to roll up our sleeves, and work in tandem with our Congresswoman, and make the changes necessary to ensure the survival of these creatures.

Thanks everyone for your support. Your comments mean so much to us! Stay tuned for how you can help.
Mark and Devon
20130710-000449.jpg

The plaque posted at the entrance to Rep. Capps office

20130710-000506.jpg

Rep. Capps listened, asked questions, obviously cared and offered suggestions on how to move forward with protection of sharks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A Few Photos…..

Hello Everyone! Devon and I have arrived in DC where we are staying with Devon’s cousin John. I am going to post a few photos of the Capital, and will add a more detailed blog later tonight.

We have a meeting with Congresswoman Lois Capps later today. Will give you a full update!

20130709-093858.jpg

The Capitol Buikding

20130709-093920.jpg

The mall lawn has been re-sodded and looks terrific.

20130709-094001.jpg

T-Rex at the Natural History Museum!

20130709-094032.jpg

John led us on along walk through some beautiful neighborhoods.

20130709-094059.jpg

Barack’s pad.

20130709-094125.jpg

Emessage as you enter the Oceans exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural Histort Museum

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Long, Tough Slog to Manassas

We awoke at our warm shower hosts farmhouse Saturday morning refreshed and ready for what we thought would be a fairly easy day. Turns out what we had figured to be a 60 mile day became our second longest day of the summer. We covered 85 miles today, most of it on busy roads with little or no shoulder, and in 95 degree heat, with humidity to match.

Seems that when you have 60 in your head, and it increases to 85, it somehow takes a mental toll on you. Kind of like when you think the paper you have due is supposed to be 4 pages, and then last second you come to learn that it must be a minimum of 8. Or when the deadline to get the project done is Wednesday, and then you find out it is actually Monday.

But, we’ve been here before, and we just hopped back on and pedaled away; what else is there to do? So now we are at a motel in Manassas, Virginia. Just a stones throw away from DC, our final ending point. The riding today was long, but it was as green as ever, and the sky was perfect with lots of sun and postcard perfect little puffy white cumulus clouds everywhere. We are at 1,195 total miles for the trip, and will go over the 1,200 mile mark as we head into the town of Oakton on Sunday.

We suffered our first flat today, but got it repaired quickly and were back on it in 15 minutes. We also had a really wonderful conversation with a young mom outside a small store along Hwy 17 this morning. She was very interested in our shark campaign and asked lots of good questions. Eventually we went into the store to buy a drink, and when we came back out, she was gone, but there were several bills tucked into Devon’s helmet. She had left them there as a donation for sharks! On top of that, the store manager, Peter, was also very interested and said he would be telling all his friends back home (he’s from Britain) about the plight of sharks. We feel good because we believe we have started a conservation about shark conservation with many people who would not have otherwise known about it.

We continue to hope that our efforts, joined with the work so many other people are doing, will be enough to tip the tide in favor of these most magnificent creatures.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back in the saddle!

After basically 5 days with almost no pedaling Mark and I woke up in Williamsburg this morning anxious to get on the road. We had an AMAZING host in Williamsburg, Roy Blackwell, who gave us food, our own rooms, and even a car to drive around, which we really couldn’t have done without! After a great breakfast we hit the road and started our journey North! This whole trip we have been following cycling specific maps, but today it was up to me to get us to our destination because we are now off the TransAm.

The ride today was our longest yet, 91 miles of mostly highway riding, but there was a shoulder pretty much the entire way so it was really not bad at all. After not riding for several days 90 miles came pretty easily, our legs felt fresh and it was really nice to be back in the saddle. Along the way we talked to a woman working in a convenient store, Clara, and after we told her about our campaign she donated the powerade we were buying, along with some money of her own. It really was a highlight of our day, talking to people like this, and seeing their reaction to finning really is what this ride is all about.

Tonight we are staying with another warm showers hosts, Peggy and Ted, who live on a 600 acre farm in the small small town of Hustle, VA. Finding the house proved to be quite the challenge since their driveway was over a mile long dirt road but once we found it we settled real nicely. Peggy made us an absolutely great stir fry dinner, and then the real adventure began. We went out on a golf cart with Ted and he showed us around the farm, we went to several different ponds, and even got in a canoe to check out a dam that was built in the 30s. Waking up this morning I would have never guessed that I would be in a canoe in the middle of a huge farm tonight. It was an absolute blast, and reminded me of my days spent in Mississippi on my families farm. The hospitality continues to amaze us here in Virginia, to a point where I’m not sure I want to leave.

Tomorrow is our last full day of pedaling on the ride, we are heading up to Prince Williams Forest Park, about 65 miles away where we will camp for the last time. After that we will just be a stones throw from the end of our ride. This ride has been nothing but inspiring from the day we began. Mark and I had a conversation today about the power that we have as a country. We fully believe that if we come together as one on any issues we may be facing that we will overcome them. The biggest step, is being able to recognize and agree on the problems. We are an amazing species, and have overcome so many issues in the past, it’s time that we start uniting and solving these problems, because we have the capacity to overcome anything.

Make it a great day, or not, the choice is yours.

Devon

20130706-082146.jpg

Roy, our amazing host in Williamsburg.

20130706-082203.jpg

What a lot of our ride looked like today.

20130706-082228.jpg

A pier on the pond that we got to paddle on

20130706-082209.jpg

Peggy and Ted, our great hosts in Hustle

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

We Pedal the Yorktown Parade!

Some days ago our good friend and media expert Jay Thompson (from Morro Bay) sends an email along suggesting we try to get in a local 4th of July parade. I have to admit that it seemed a bit far-fetched that we could pull that off on such late notice, but by the end of June Jay had us set to go in the Yorktown parade, and it was just up to us to be there on time and ready to go

. So we hit the local Dollar General store and bought some decor for the bikes, and headed back to our warm shower host Roy’s house to get the bikes ready. We bought pinwheels and flags and tinsel, and I bought a shark fin helmet ornament (Devon made himself a shark fin out of foam core and zip-tied it to his camelbak).

We awoke early and pedaled the 15 miles back from Williamsburg to Yorktown, and found our spot in the parade lineup. The cast of entries in the parade was pretty short; old cars, several dozen smartly dressed marching Marine cadets, a local gymnastics club, the Young Republicans and several others, so we didn’t feel too out of place.

The route itself was only a half mile long, so it seemed like it was over as quickly as it began, but we had a wonderful time! We pedaled very slowly and had a chance to pass out several dozen of our info cards and bracelets. I would ride up to a group on the curb and tell them we had ridden from Oregon to share what is happening to sharks, and boy, that really seemed to get their attention.

All in all, we connected with a ton of people in a very short time, and had a blast doing it. We spent the rest of our fourth pedaling the 15 back to Williamsburg, and then attending their festivities for the afternoon and evening. It has been a really fine Fourth of July for us. Hoping all of you had a great holiday as well!

Tomorrow we begin the last portion of this trip, the final 180 miles up to Washington DC where we are scheduled to meet with Lois Capps, our local congresswoman.

20130704-232335.jpg

Working on our bike decor at Roy’s house.

20130704-232349.jpg

We made four of these, two per bike.

20130704-232405.jpg

Set to go at the beginning of the parade.

20130704-232425.jpg

I’d say there were close to 1000 people along the route!

20130704-232521.jpg

Me at the conclusion. You can’t really see the rubber shark fin glued to my helmet in this photo…..

20130704-232446.jpg

Note the white, flak fin on Devon’s back.

20130704-232539.jpg

A team of riders of a different sort brought up the rear of the parade.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A day in Yorktown

Howdy all,

Yesterday we spent a great day being tourists in the place where the revolutionary war ended. We walked around old battlefields, toured some beautiful colonial homes, and explored around the town. It’s really amazing to be here during this week, because as I’m sure you can imagine the Fourth of July is a really big deal here. The historical significance of this part of the country is extremely apparent, and it’s awesome to be in the place where our country was won.

It was also really amazing being off the bikes for a day. We hadn’t had a day off in two weeks, so to wake up and not have to put on our cycling clothing, or get on the bike, was a really different feeling. It’s weird to be at the “end” of our ride yet still have 3 days of riding before making it to DC, for me it gives me a nice thing to look forward to, and makes the end not so abrupt.

Today we are pedaling the 13 miles back to Williamsburg to hang out there for a couple of days before heading north to DC.

And I can’t forget, a huge thank you is due to our wonderful host here in Yorktown, John and Twyla. We were invited into their home, given a place to sleep, and even invited for dinner. It was a great place to end the TransAm, and another great showing of hospitality.

Check in tonight for more updates, and don’t stop spreading the word about sharks!

Stay well,
Devon

20130703-091006.jpg

The home of Thomas Nelson, a signer of the declaration

20130703-091014.jpg

20130703-091035.jpg

Standing in front of the Victory Monument

20130703-091053.jpg

Mark with his feet in the Atlantic!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The TransAm is Complete!

Hello everyone, Mark here. After 77 days and 4,725 miles, this cross-country bicycle odyssey is complete. Devon and I still have another 200 miles to get up to DC, but the journey across the continent, from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia is in the books! It is a strange and wonderful and yet somehow anticlimactic feeling.

Our day began in Williamsburg at the home of our fantastic warm shower hosts Jim and Martha. We waved goodbye, and began the 35 mile ride to Yorktown. The forecast was for scattered showers, and within 1/2 mile it was sprinkling. Then, within one minute the rain came down in huge sheets. We just kept pedaling on through it, but were both soaked to the core in less than 5 minutes. It was actually kind of nice because the temp was so warm; it reminded me of swimming in a heated pool. It rained on and off for the next 3 hours as we pedaled the Colonial Parkway linking Williamsburg to Yorktown. Once in Yorktown, we registered with the Park Service for having completed the ride, and then headed into town to find our place for the next two nights. It is a wonderfully beautiful apartment situated above the garage of John and Twyla. It is very comfortable and we are most grateful to be here.

I have some initial thoughts on the completion of this journey, and I’ll share a few tonight, but really need time to reflect on this trip and on the impact it has had on me. Here are a few thoughts in “bullet” form:

– Cycling day after day for this long is physically challenging. That is no surprise, but it has been more challenging than I anticipated. It’s not a soreness thing, more an accumulation of one tough day after the next that, after a few days leaves you exhausted. Devon, who is 20, agrees.

– Our nation is beautiful and varied and historic and filled with the most friendly, hospitable and gracious people you could ever hope to meet. We have so many stories of countless acts of kindness and generosity shown to us as we pedaled these miles. We all have our differences, but in the end we are all of us surrounded by a family of Americans who, I can say I am very proud to live among.

– Our nation has its environmental challenges to be sure. But there exists in our country an immense amount of open space that is so very worth protecting and preserving. The Cascades, Tetons, Rockies, Ozarks and Appalachians, along with the Great Plains and stunning green valleys of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia are still largely intact and ecologically functional. There is much natural heritage in North America worth saving. It falls to our generation to ensure that it is protected.

– I am utterly convinced that to bring an end to the brutality being perpetrated on the world’s sharks, we need to bring the issue to the forefront of people’s consciousness. Essentially everyone we spoke with was appalled and very much against this terrible practice. We need everyone who knows about finning to speak out and demand an end to it. Engage people and tell them how you feel, and ask them to tell their friends and post a link to endfinning.com on their Facebook page.

Did we celebrate finishing this ride? Heck yeah! We took a three hour nap, had a great lunch and dinner, and visited the local Ben and Jerry’s TWICE in a span of four hours! Tomorrow we have a day off the bikes to explore historic Yorktown, and then on the 4th of July are scheduled to ride our bikes (complete with trailers!) in the local Independence Day Parade! Ha! Will post photos of that for sure! Well use the opportunity to pass out our shark info cards and rubber bracelets.

Time for me to snooze now, but I’ll share more thoughts and reflections on my next blog. Love to everyone.

20130701-225117.jpg

A nice, albeit short bike path we used to help move closer to Yorktown.

20130701-225148.jpg

A tourist snapped this photo of us at the monument marking the end of the Revolutionary War. This is the official endpoint of the TransAm.

20130701-225208.jpg

A mixture of relief, joy and semi-shocked disbelief that this childhood dream has become a reality.

20130701-225228.jpg

Devon orders a Shirley Temple to celebrate, and after three refills, the waitress brings him his own private pitcher! I told Devon he should marry this waitress; he is considering proposing tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments