A number of weeks ago, Pedal the Pacific’s newest team gathered in Austin from across the country for an incredible weekend retreat. Timid hellos quickly turned into meaningful conversation and multiple rounds of “get to know you” questions carried from our first team meal well into the night. The coming days were full of ideas, information, lots of cycling lessons and only few flat tires.
Saturday morning, bright and early, we headed over to our lovely friends at Cycleast (shoutout to Russell and Hannah) to pick up our stellar All-City Cycles Space Horses. It was quite the scene – 15 eager, bright-eyed women wobbling around a parking lot on road bikes, simultaneously wrapping our minds around the fact that these bikes will be our home for two months! After as much advice as the Cycleast team could pack into a Saturday morning, we packed up our paniers and headed off to Mckinney Falls for our first bike camping trip – making it with one fall, one flat, and one popped tire.
Members of previous PTP teams joined us at the campground to offer us sage advice and stories regarding life on a bike, being on a team, and becoming an effective advocate for others. Our introduction to the cycling community and hilarious attempt to make 15 eggs over a tiny fire were definite highlights of the weekend. However, I am most thankful for how quickly my teammates found purpose and connection in the cause that brought us all to Austin in the first place.
Post-ride, we met with two wonderful humans from the two organizations our funds will be directed to this year: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and The Refuge DMST. Many questions were asked, from the biggest obstacles their organizations face in their preventative and rehabilitative work with survivors, to the holistic care offered to such persons, to how we may best advocate for a heightened awareness against exploitation. Also, we agreed to a team goal of $250,000 raised by San Diego!
While the retreat came to its inevitable close, the training and fundraising has just begun. In months to come, you will be introduced to the members of the 2020 team and follow closely along with their comical training mishaps, fundraising updates, and stories pertinent to the fight against sex trafficking.
On a personal note, I found this weekend deeply motivating. I believe Pedal the Pacific tells a beautiful story of women supporting women, amplifying a call to freedom that matters. As a part of the 2020 team, I am grateful and privileged to have the opportunity to ride a bike down the Pacific Coast in an effort to draw attention and healing to communities and persons, particularly women, affected by the injustice of trafficking and exploitation. Let’s ride!
-Kaite Lower, PTP 2020