On day 4, I had the distinct “pleasure” of getting the first flat tire of the summer. As soon as my tire popped, my mind felt the complete weight of all the changes and stressors of the last few days on the road; morale was at an all-time low.
My ride group circled back to check on me and began helping, after learning that I knew next to nothing about how to fix a flat. I got out all the tools that I had packed (but never touched before) and handed them over to Sophie, our resident bike mechanic.
Soon after pulling over, the next ride group caught up to us and the SAG arrived to help. As my team rallied around me, I felt an unspoken agreement of acknowledgment and support. My problem became the team’s problem.
Over and over this week, I’ve watched my teammates empathize with one another and learn how to hold space for what is needed in each moment. I am being reminded that, of course, pedaling the Pacific is not something that was made to be done alone.
I would not have survived a second of this first week without the particular gifts of the team — Bunsri’s camping expertise, Sophie’s bike knowledge, Liz’s organization, Carsen’s endurance for SAG phone calls, to name a few. We are doing this together, and each person’s strengths show me how there is space for everyone in the anti-trafficking movement.
There is no one way to be an advocate. We need organizers and creatives, healthcare workers and policymakers, amateur cyclists and college-aged women, and whoever is reading this in this fight. There are so many ways to help people, and the particular backgrounds and experiences of our team remind me of that.
While our team will surely deal with more bike issues as we continue down the coast, I hope that each one reminds me of the opportunity that comes with this unique form of advocacy. What we are doing may be untraditional, but I am already seeing how our bikes spark interest in random strangers and lead to concern about trafficking. These days, while long and tiring and frustrating at times, mean something.
From the first flat tire to our first conversations with people throughout this first week in Washington, I see that this trip and the fight against trafficking needs to happen with and through other people. Everyone is needed in this fight. All sorts of people are interested in the work of prevention and restoration, and that feels immensely hopeful.