Bike49 has always been about exposing not just ourselves to new ideas and places, but sharing what we find with others. During our trip we have been speaking at schools, explaining why we bike. We tell students we bike to experience a diversity of people, places and animals, and have a positive effect on the planet, our communities, and our bodies. But then we leave, and aside from the occasional post card, our outreach ends.
This blog is geared toward a younger crowd, though I hope all the adults that follow our progress will enjoy it as well. I encourage parents to read this to their kids, teachers read this to their students, and young kids read this to themselves to get a snapshot of hard work and big dreams can amount to.
Teachers, students, parents, young at heart: we welcome comments and suggestions. Please let us know if there is a subject you would like us to write more about. If this goes well, we hope to make this a regular addition to our blogs. Thanks and happy riding!
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and bike49 had pedaled for five straight days to be in time for a wonderful, warm thanksgiving meal in Washington DC with our friend from college, Sylvie and her friends and family. We had camped the night before and woke up to cold rain. We didn’t mind getting wet because we knew we would be staying with Sylvie in her house and that meant we would be able to take showers, wash our clothes, and be warm and dry later that day. We arrived in time for dinner with Sylvie, her mom, brother, aunt, uncle, neighbor, and friend.
Thanksgiving is full of traditions, and many of these traditions are the same whether you grow up in California (like Aaron and Tommy), New Jersey (like Matt), Kansas (like me), or Washington DC (like Sylvie and her family). All of us growing up had turkey, yams, stuffing, and cranberries for dinner, and at some point went around the table saying what we were thankful for. But each of us had our own traditions. My family always has green bean casserole and lots of rolls. Aaron and Tommy ate in the afternoon and had mashed potatoes and sweet pickles. Matt always had dinner with his mom, dad and sisters, and they loved to eat acorn squash. Sylvie’s family always tries new foods each thanksgiving. In addition to the typical foods they served mussels and fish this year. The best part of thanksgiving was being able to share all of our traditions and try new ones. Aaron and I are both vegetarians so we brought a meat substitute call Field Roast to dinner, Matt and Tommy tried the mussels, and we all enjoyed the company of new and old friends.
A new friend to me, but an old friend to Sylvie and her family, was Owen. Owen had grown up in a very different place, called Uganda. Uganda is a country in Africa that is surrounded by countries at war, and many of the people there don’t have much money. Owen is a journalist that has covered major issues from war to poverty to animal conservation.
Before dinner started, we all took turns saying what we are grateful for. Some of the things are obvious, like having a great meal with friends. Speaking with Owen made me grateful for things we take for granted, like growing up in a safe neighborhood, with access to medicine, clean water, and food. Owen too was thankful. He was thankful to be in the United States, have a job, and be able to give back to his community in Uganda.
At dinner I didn’t say everything I was thankful for, but I still gave thanks. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity to be on this bike trip. Three months ago I broke my ankle and could not walk or bike. I am thankful that my mom could help me while I recovered, that there were doctors that could fix my ankle, and that my body was healthy so I could recover quickly. Now, on Thanksgiving, I am able to bike once again, and I am thankful that I was able to return to bike49.
I am also thankful for all the people that have been a part of bike49. I am thankful for the people that have invited us to their house during our trip, let us clean up, rest, and visit. This trip would not be the same without their generosity. I am thankful for the teachers that have invited us to their classrooms, so we can share our stories with students. I am thankful for the students that have listened to our presentation, asked good questions, and participated in our trip.
Everyone has something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a great time to remind each other of what we have to be thankful for and really appreciate our friends, our family, and all the opportunities we have. Today, people can save up their money and go on bike trips. We can pedal through undeveloped land, full of interesting animals and scenic views. We can bike through cities, full of history and unique people. We can bike to keep our bodies and planet healthy. We can even bike in the rain to Washington DC, where we can get dry, warm up, and feast on a delicious thanksgiving meal.