Bike Aid 2004: Going the distance from S.F. to D.C.
On the afternoon of June 18, 16 tired but determined bicyclists pedaled through Truckee on their way to the Tahoe State Recreation Area campground in Tahoe City, completing day five of their cross-country journey that began June 13 in San Francisco and will conclude August 16 when they reach the steps of the Capital Building in Washington, D.C.
The riders are part of the Bike Aid 2004 national tour sponsored by Global Exchange, an international human rights group based in San Francisco that is dedicated to political activism and cultural education. This year’s ride is designed to promote the themes of food safety and environmental justice while fostering people-to-people ties along the way.
The group of cyclists making their way across the country is made up of riders from all over the U.S. and the world who share Global Exchange’s mission of community building and who wanted the chance to see the country at a bicycle’s pace.
“The trip’s themes are all about America’s true values,” said rider Leslie Vuell of Seattle. “True democracy is about treating people equally, and right now, not everyone in the United States has access to healthy food and living conditions.”
Bunny Soriano, a rider who came all the way from the Philippine city of Manila, hopes to be able to share many of the experiences he has on the ride with people back home.
“I think it’s a good learning experience; learning about the local issues that people face here, and seeing the correlation of the issues here and the issues back at home,” he said.
Soriano and a number of the other riders expressed considerable interest in the organic farms and sustainable communities that they had spent time on before their Tahoe arrival, and they looked forward to seeing other attempts to build strong, healthy local communities as they see more of the country.
Dan Masi of Medford, Ore., explained that the group of cyclists are also attempting to build a sustainable community amongst themselves during the ride.
“I think right now we’re getting used to riding every day, and waking up and getting the routine down,” Masi said. “We’re a community on wheels, which entails all of us working together. It’s all about consensus building. No decisions are made without a group agreement. It’s a whole process of getting everybody to work together.”
Vuell said that so far, “The whole consensus process is amazing; it’s really great. We have our challenges and we work through them, and then we end up even better and stronger. And I’m excited for where that takes us in the end after nine weeks.”
Only five days into their two-month journey, rider Kevin Mitchell was excited about the amount of outside support the group has received along the way.
“People have come out of the woodwork to help us out,” he said. “I think in every town we’ve had to ask for help and people have come out huge. And that really fits in with our mission: Just to be out there and build community.”
When the group reaches Washington, D.C. the riders plan to lobby their congressional representatives about food safety and environmental justice, using their experiences along the way in support of their arguments.
And while the group still has a long way to go to reach the capital, many of them agreed that the day’s ride up to Tahoe was their favorite so far.
“Today was the ride of rides,” said Kevin Mitchell. “It was long, it was beautiful, we went up a lot of altitude but the grade was something we could handle. It was a blast.”
For more information about Global Exchange and Bike Aid, visit http://www.globalexchange.org/getInvolved/bikeaid/.
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