One of the most daunting questions during my application process for Pedal the Pacific was, “why a bike”? If I’m being completely honest, I could not explain to you why a bike was an adequate tool to fight against sex trafficking when I first started this journey and at time, I felt too focused on the bike rather than our cause. It wasn’t until our team arrived in Seattle that I realized the significance of our bikes and saw the power that they have in this fight.
As we hauled our panniers and bags through the hilly streets of Seattle this past week, we were asked by dozens of bikers, pedestrians, and drivers where we were going, what we were doing, why we were biking even though most college students stray away from road biking. The questions brought me all the way back to one of my first experiences in Pedal the Pacific, where Grace and Savannah asked me the dreaded question. My answer went something like: “I think it would make people ask questions. Why not a bike?”
The months that followed that dreaded question turned my answer into a reality. When asked why I was going to a bike store or why I had strange grease marks on the back of my legs, I was able to lead the conversation from the bike to the beneficiaries. The bike, which originally seemed somewhat irrelevant to me, was now the way that I was starting conversations about sex trafficking and telling the people around me about the resources that The Refuge and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are using to fight injustice. In my comfort zone, there is no bike, painful hills, or sore legs at the end of each day. Yet, if we stay in our comfort zones, there are no questions asked or conversations to be had. Out of my comfort zone, I am given the chance to have those conversations and start the changes necessary to fight injustice. While I didn’t understand the impact at first, I am now confident in the strength that the bike has in the fight against sex trafficking.