“I get it now”
Throughout all my training for pedal, I thought I understood the importance of biking. Of course the #1 question I got when I told people about pedal was, “why are you biking 1700 miles.” I told them it was to raise awareness about sex trafficking, but I didn’t truly understand the impact of a bike ride until I started the ride, and I saw the impact from the very start - launch day. I have never been a biker, and the first time I went one a bike ride more than 10 miles was during training. So to say that people were surprised when I told my friend and family I’m biking 1700 miles this summer is truly an understatement.
While in training I was getting my body prepared for the grueling coastal hills, I was also practicing how to become an advocate. Although unnerving, right from the get go in Seattle, I was so excited to talk to people about Pedal. Something about having the entire team together in our matching jerseys was so special. During training, I looked like a normal person so I didn’t understand how to be an advocate, but when I’m together with my team and we’re all matching standing next to a giant van advertising cycling to fight sex trafficking, we truly invite people to ask us questions.
Right from the very first day, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to some really incredible people. On the ferry, a group of cyclists came up to us and asked us all about pedal. It’s so encouraging seeing people so genuinely curious about what we’re doing. And every time people talk to us, they all say that it’s a cause worth advocating for. Later on in the day, while I was at a quick rest stop, a car pulled over to say that they saw me and my teammates on the news that morning and really admired us. Lastly, at the camp site that night, we got stopped in the bathroom by a mom who was teary eyed thanking us for raising awareness about sex trafficking. This was all just the first day. All the hills and bad days are so worth it when you look back upon the many people that encourage you.
Throughout the ride, I’ve truly seen the impact of a what a bike ride had about raising awareness. That was just day 1, and I could share many more stories about random strangers who approached us solely because I was wearing a fun colored jersey and was standing by a bike. Even just my team being together in mundane clothing on our rest day drew the attention of a sweet woman named Sue who immediately walked us all down to the newspaper, so the town could interview us.
I get it now. I truly understand the impact of a bike ride. While sex trafficking is such a large and complex issue, every time I’m out on the coast, people are invited to at least look at the van or read our jerseys. Although this entire journey is difficult, I believe the bike is so worth it. Every hill, every sore bone, every mile - I feel it’s so worth it because we get to impact more and more people. And that’s why biking 1700 miles is so worth it even from a girl who didn’t ride a bike 6 months ago.