SnR UGRR Tour 2011 ~ July 14 Ride Day 29
Culmination of a Summer of Change
Its the 29th day of this extraordinary trek for the Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cyclist Team! They have made it to Buffalo, NY. Next stop Niagara Falls, NY to bring the whole tour to a close. This was a journey of them “coming of age” as the next step for these fine young adults will be considered adulthood. Houston and Mahlique turned 17 during this trip. Chris, Kyvon and Itza are already 17, Marshall will be 17. Ife, who turned 18 just before the trip, and Ibn, who is 19, are already considered adults in the eyes of the state. But we all know there is so much more to being an adult than the number of your age. Our desire is that they take the lessons learned and the accomplishments made on this tour and continue to develop into the exemplary adults that their current trajectory is bound to take them.
There was a hidden cost that was paid to be on this trip. It wasn’t hidden in the fine print, not posted high and above to dissuade you but just a “back in the mind” understanding that it wouldn’t be easy. The Youth Cyclists have endured cramped van rides, 100* temperatures, cramped legs, muscle fatigue, mental fatigue, themselves, each other, irritability, dog chases, rain, broken bicycles, broken skin, blood, 80 mile rides, racist individuals, birds, bugs, and HILLS.
What they purchased is priceless. They have come out of their comfort zones and burst the bubble of their small town. They have met female leaders who take care of their individual communities, they have met female mayors who run whole towns and cities; they have met doctors, lawyers, professors, actors and actresses and knowledgeable, enthusiastic historians; mayors of towns who welcomed them with police escorts INTO town, bands playing songs for THEM.
They have met people who were once strangers who now call them friend. They have been welcomed into the homes of people whom they’ve never met and treated as family. They have met and slept in the homes and on the lands of Quakers who showed them how to live simply, but modern with a low carbon footprint. They’ve heard history direct from the history makers, themselves. People who marched during the Civil Rights era who were younger than they when they did so.
They have learned to work and live together and to protect one another. Some have become a little less self-centered and some a little more patient. They learned tolerance of others and they learned to be leaders. They pushed their limits and exceeded them beyond their own expectations and came out as champions.
They finished this days ride a little worse for wear. What was supposed to be a small jaunt of 25 miles became 40 by the end of it. The happy smiles that were expected for this culminating event were suppressed by fatigue and dehydration. The normal 15 mile break was not there and that happened almost three times over. The last 10 miles were difficult and against the headwinds coming off the lake. Topping it all were the potholes. With attention devoted to avoiding potholes a cadence couldn’t be achieved which made things all the more difficult.
The Buffalo News was available to witness their ride in. http://www.buffalonews.com/city/communities/niagara-falls/article489626.ece
At the church, a building block of Buffalo’s fledgling African- American Heritage Corridor, the group listened to a presentation on the church’s history by Kevin Cottrell, an expert on local Underground Railroad sites.
The riders also had the opportunity to see the tiny room in the church basement where it is believed slaves were hidden while awaiting the chance to make their break for the river. The group later visited Broderick Park near the foot of West Ferry Street, said to have been a jumping-off point for fugitive slaves headed to Canada.
Afterward, the Youth Cyclists cycled down to the marina for additional lessons in history.
At the end of the day, in a show of gratitude for her sacrifice in coordinating and driving the complete route, they all agreed to allow Suepinda to choose where to eat for the night. She, in typical Suepinda fashion, choose a place that served the food the Youth Cyclists would enjoy most – Pizza.
Our Safe House for the evening was with Quakers David and Molly Coffee. A truly wonderful and youthful couple with a fantastically marvelous home in Buffalo, NY. Its the home that your grandma had when you were just a little kid and it felt just as comfortable to be there. As usual, we were made to feel at home and welcomed graciously. To our surprise, they were the youngest Quaker family (they have a baby on the way!) we have met, so far.
Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling UGRR Tour 2011 ~ Visit the nation’s National Parks.
Let’s Move Outside!