In May 2010 FTW teams from the UK, Italy and Japan desecended on Santa Cruz, California. Why?
Well, during the 2009 FTW bike ride in the Middle East, the Californian part of the US FTW team all wore these fantastic cycle jerseys, covered in strawberries and with Strawberry Fields Forever written on them. This provoked a great deal on interest so the team told us more about the ride and invited us all to go to California and take part. Well that opportuntiy was just too good to miss, so we went! In fact there were three from the UK, including Detta Regan the founder of FTW, two from Italy and two from Japan. It was very much a FTW reunion and great to see all our old friends again and wonderful that we had the opportunity to do this in California.
The six Californian FTW women organised a fantastic programme for us which of course included a great deal of cycling. Much of this cycling was with an organisation called "Cyclists for Cultural Exchange" or CCE for short. This is a voluntary organisation that promotes cycling as a means of learning more about other cultures. CCE's objectives and ethos are very much in line with that of FTW, and they raised $600 towards the FTW playgrounds in Gaza.
CCE organise the infamous annual Strawberry Fields Forever ride in which over 1,000 riders take part. Following this they also organise a larger tour for both local US riders to ride with riders from all over the globe. This rides span 8 days and on this occasion went from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara.
A large group of Californians (plus a couple from Virginia), six of which were the FTW Californian team, were to host this ride which left Santa Cruz on Wednesday 19th May. The Follow The Women participants made up much of the International Contingent but we were also joined by Vladimir from Russia. It was a truely amazing experience which had taken a great deal of thought. Cycling through the most spectacular scenery by day, and camping, singing round the campfire and eating wonderful food by night. Throughout all of this making new friendships and strengthening existing ones.