It’s safe to say that at first glance, a bike is simple. Which is what I was thinking when I signed up to be the “bike girl” or mechanic on our 2021 Pedal the Pacific team.
Two wheels, two pedals, some breaks. All that, and children are taught to ride them. There are different types of bike for each riding style: road, mountain, hybrid, gravel. On all of these bikes they could have manual or hydraulic breaks. Bikes have a derailleur, a chain that needs to be cleaned and lubed, and so many moving parts that love to get out of wack on the side of the highway.
It wasn’t until I was changing a tire on the side of the road that biking for the fight against trafficking was more symbolic than I thought.
Before Pedal, I also assumed domestic sex trafficking was simple. Bad people doing bad things to people who are in bad situations. While this is true, what I have learned about trafficking mimics the bike- vulnerabilities like race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other continuing injustices uphold the cycle of trafficking. It felt discouraging to figure this out. With a complex problem there is a complex solution- one I don’t have all the answers to.
It’s safe to say I don’t know everything about bikes, I don’t know how to fix them perfectly, and I surely don’t even want to try to touch the bike breaks!
It’s also safe to say I don’t know everything about trafficking, I am not a perfect advocate, and I don’t have a one sentence solution.
All of the to be said, I do what I can. I know how to change a tire, I know how to adjust the derailleur, and know how to sometimes help with the limit screws.
I know how to debunk the myths of trafficking that my community thinks, I know what makes someone vulnerable and who we are fighting for, and I know how valuable my voice is in this fight. So I will continue to do that- I will continue to learn about bikes and trafficking becoming a better bike mechanic and a better advocate along the way.