Thank you to hosts and the people we met along the coast

There were so many unexpected surprises that the team experienced on the coast. For me, one thing that still sticks with me is the ways that people were able to give to our team. When talking to friends and family about some of the highlights of this summer, I can’t help but tell stories about how strangers supported and cared for me and my teammates.  

My team stayed in host homes for about 20% of the time, and each time I was blown away by how families would open their homes, cook the most incredible meals, and introduce us to their communities. Grace and Savannah met many of the host homes during their ride in 2017. Slowly over time, the network of host homes has expanded and homes offer to the team far more than warm showers, food, or the chance to pet a dog (or 5 in some cases) for the team. Each time, I left refreshed, ready to keep cycling, but more importantly, reminded of how much people care about the fight against trafficking. Some would say they wish they could continue down the coast with us, but their willingness to host my team was their way of being a part of our journey, a part of Pedal the Pacific.  

Many of our rest days were with hosts. They showed us around their community, showed us what a day in the life looked like, and helped my team feel some sense of home and belonging when we were experiencing constant movement and change over 51 days. Neighbors and friends would show up to host homes, eager to meet the team, and sometimes bringing our team dozens of cupcakes or whole buckets of snacks that my team would later pack in our van. We even had one couple remark that hosting by families in Santa Barbara was so popular, and they were so bummed they couldn’t get a spot to host our team.  

A HUGE thank you to our host homes and their families: Brett and Sheila, MJ and John Huttl, the Silva family, Steve and Loretta, Steve and Linda, Doc and Marci, the 6 host homes in Santa Barbara, the Cusack family and all the others I may have missed but mean so much to my team.  

Hosts for PTP also don’t always look like houses. We spent the night at a church in Lompoc, Trinity Church of the Nazarene, and were able to have dinner with experts supporting survivors in the area and even the mayor who wanted to be a part of any effort to empower women. When the mayor gave our team the key to the city, it was a powerful reminder of how much support this team has. And even if we didn’t have a rest day with a host, hosts would work to really make the most of the time they had with us.  

Other acts of kindness and support included bike shops, starting with the Polka Dot Jersey Bike Shop in Seattle, that donated their time to make sure we were able to cycle safely and knowing our bikes were in their best condition. We had locals from Warmshowers scope out campsites for us beforehand and make sure we had a place to stay. Most people are surprised when I tell them how my team was able to get the majority of our dinners donated; Restaurant owners were so eager to feed the team, and that was their way of being a part of the fight against trafficking. Several newspapers wanted to tell the story of domestic child sex trafficking, and their ability to write about Pedal the Pacific was an important part of advocacy and education about trafficking.  

My idea of generosity has changed since being on the coast. My teammate Emma said it best:  "we all have the ability to give to the fight against trafficking in different ways. Some people are able to give their time. Others are able to give monetarily, and some can give their knowledge or jobs to fight against trafficking." The friends we met along the way remind me of all the different roles we play in advocacy and fighting for justice.  

Pedal the Pacific isn’t just 12 college-aged women. It is the 12 women cycling, the founders of PTP working behind the scenes, bike shops fixing our bikes, host families and churches welcoming us into their communities, strangers and restaurant owners donating meals, and newspapers sharing our story. Thank you to everyone that makes Pedal the Pacific possible. My idea of generosity and care has changed tremendously, and I can’t wait to tell the next teams all about one of my favorite parts of this journey.  

July 31, 2021
by 
Cara Smyrl

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