I'm going to dive right into this one friends and family. Parents, I’m sorry i hope not to worry you with this, maybe don’t read this if you scare easy! But today was the first day I have felt genuinely scared and anxious about our safety as cyclists.
The day started out great, we felt like we were flying as we speedily knocked out the first 20 miles of our ride. We stopped for lunch at the visitors center in Coos Bay and met some kind people who donated and chatted about our ride, love it as always. During lunch we made the decision to avoid a route that veered off 101 called Seven Devil’s. We made that choice because it is loaded with hills and adds mileage. The SAG had driven ahead down 101 to see that the shoulder was wide enough for us so we were happy to take that route. I was leading our group, with Lizzie following and Kelly in the rear.
Maybe about two miles into the ride post lunch, I heard a loud thump in the bushes behind me on the right of the shoulder and then a car quickly zoomed past us. I looked back to ask what the sound was and Lizzie told me that the car had thrown a Gatorade bottle at us, just missing her head. I cannot express the rage that came over me in that moment and a particular finger of mine may have immediately flown up in the air. We were all okay but were shocked. We kept riding but I couldn’t get what just happened out of my mind. Was that funny to them? Was it a game with their friends to see who could hit a cyclist? Were they angry? None of the options made sense to me. I tried to stop thinking about it but even then I just found myself tense and anxious. But like many of us have done when we feel on edge while riding, I began to think about fear as whole and the girls that we are riding for.
Although the fear that we are experiencing versus the fear that victims of sex trafficking experience are incomparable, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel. Fear is often instilled from feeling helpless and out of control of your surroundings. Being at risk by someone else’s decisions and actions.
We later got to a rest stop with the SAG after a big hill and we told them what happened. They then told us that another rider in a group after us had a glass bottle thrown at her, hitting her hip. She was also okay thank god, but again I was fearful and FURIOUS. But we had to put the fear aside and finish the day. The rest of the ride was enjoyable and we ended with showers and Ramen noodles, honestly so good. Sitting here writing this, I’m still feeling all kinds of things but with the anger gone I’m grateful for my team’s safety. Fear is hard, and I can’t imagine being forced to live a life surrounded by fear. But even those in sex trafficking chose to fight the fear and push on.
We can’t let fear win. “We can’t let the assholes win” as Lizzie so well put it. That’s why we ride. We ride to fight fear; our fear, others fears, and fear on behalf of those who can’t fight it. We ride to bring light to darkness.
So i want to end this blog post on a good note, highlighting all the generous and kind-hearted people that have proven that the world is full of beautiful people, because despite the assholes, goodness and good people always win. So first, I want to thank my teammates who are resilient and encouraging. I want to thank Grace, Savannah and the Lovelaces, Sarah, Steven, the Genesis Project, West Elm, Elma RV Park, Kalani, Amy, Malia Ana, Kim and Steve Sharp, Darin, Heather, Doc, Marcie, Gina, Vivian, Missy + friends who fed us in Astoria at The Armory, Steve and his mom, Kitty, Mrs. Mayne, Mrs. France, and all the PTP moms, Safeway, restaurants that have donated food, the countless number of people who stop and ask what we are doing and give us money, and all of you who have donated and who encourage and support us endlessly. Thank you, you’re kindness is invaluable. Keep up the kindness, be kind to cyclists, and let’s keep fighting and never let the assholes win!