My niece, along with three girlfriends, recently completed a cross-country bicycle trip from San Francisco to St. Augustine, FL. In addition to logging over 5,000 miles in three months on two wheels, they accumulated a wealth of wonderful stories of hope and faith to share.
First of all, they biked under a banner of hope. They called themselves Women on Wheels For Wild Lands, and adopted as their mission “to educate and raise awareness of the importance of preserving public lands.” Along the way they spoke to anyone who cared to hear about their mission, including members of the media and the staff at national parks, monuments, forests, and preserves. WOWFWL’s message was timely, considering that many of these lands are under threat from political leaders in Washington. The women reminded everyone to keep up their hard work, hope, and faith.
But their best stories of hope and faith pertain to people. The women were overwhelmed by the benevolence of strangers they met in small towns, on the prairies, at night in campgrounds, and in other remote areas where it was least expected. When they needed help the most—a meal, a warm place to stay, an important bike repair—it was there. People opened up their homes for them. WOWFWL’s stories of finding generosity in unlikely places is a lesson for us about keeping our hope and faith in humanity.
But, lastly, WOWFWL kept hope and faith in themselves. Near the end of their trip, as they sensed the closeness of a beach in Florida, their bikes began to wear, parts showed signs of failing, and repairs to tubes, chains, spokes, and de-railers became more frequent. The women sought help from bike shop owners who advised them to avoid the risk of breakdowns, and to stop and fix their problems, at added cost to WOWFWL’s budget. But, so close to the beach, and preferring to save what little money remained in their operating fund, the women kept going on hope and faith. Those strengths had brought them a great distance—along with strong legs—and the strengths would see them to the finish line that was so close. They completed their ride on December 5th.
My niece’s trip has really inspired me to think about the future. I feel hopeful knowing that passionate young people care about the world. As the wider community embraced my niece and her team, I hope that they, along with other young people, continue to find their voice.