Okay, wow. I just finished my last day of sophomore year and I am about to move back home. This semester has been WILD, for several reasons, but mainly because I have been training for this crazy biking trip that starts in about a MONTH---WHAT. Literally what. We are so close. So anyways, I have been training for this 1,700 mile trip and to be completely open, it has been so difficult. New things are scary, doing things alone is scary, road cycling is scary!! Since I am the only Oklahoman, I have been doing long rides and learning about clipless pedals (rip) and bike maintenance and everything else alone. I am not going to sugar coat anything, it has been so so challenging. Figuring out gear, how to stay safe on the roads, and where the heck to ride 50+ miles in Stillwater Oklahoma has been stranger and scarier than I ever could’ve expected. I am so lucky to have the best and most knowledgeable people surrounding me that have made all of this possible for me.
To provide an example, I decided it would be fun to meet some friends at Lake McMurtry which is just on the edge of Stillwater, a mere 13 mile ride which hardly seemed daunting a few months into training. I started off the short trip with navigational errors (lol, what’s new) on my part, which resulted in a few ROUGH hills that I was not expecting (I’m not going to lie, I walked one hill and was HUMBLED by that tall guy). After close calls with guard dogs (PLS put them on leashes or SOMETHING), soccer moms in SUV’s (you should always slow down to pass cyclists, always) and 90 degree heat, I somehow made it to McMurtry only to be greeted by sweet buddies upon my arrival. We spent the afternoon relaxing and I vowed to never ride to McMurtry (alone) again. It was so refreshing to be celebrated and welcomed by my friends who love me so well. I was reminded of the support of my friends and family that has been overwhelming and so inspiring.
After some reflection on a rough ride, I was reminded of why we are doing this. This crazy, scary, wild, absurd, fundraising, training, and living outside for 1.5 months is all for the benefit of the most deserving girls. We received an email from Grace containing an update about The Refuge- specifically about one couch that she was reminded would be used by a young lady in her healing who had been a victim of the worst of humanity, sex trafficking. Thoughts of girls living in and occupying The Refuge and all of its’ resources are what keep me pedaling through trips like the one to the lake. When we are out there this Summer getting roasted by the sun, trying to figure out where were going or just plain exhausted, we will think of WHY we are pushing ourselves. We are playing a small role in these girls finding themselves and being protected in a way that they never have been, thanks to The Refuge.
Like I said, the support of my family and friends has meant the world to me. I truly wouldn’t have made it this far without them. When I finished my trip to Lake McMurtry and saw my friends faces and how supportive they were of me, I couldn’t help but to think and pray that the girls that will live at The Refuge know that all of us are cheering them on and supporting them. Maybe we won’t see them or know them, but I pray that the love that has been poured into me and my team is ingrained within the walls of The Refuge and it is so potent that those girls know how many people love and care about them from afar. I hope the girls are known and loved and found in the same way that I have been and they always have deserved to be.
To each any every person who has taken an interest in our trip by worrying, donating, encouraging, praying, and even just asking questions about the Summer, thank you. Thank you all for empowering me so that these women can feel the same.