First of all, I apologize for taking so long to update this blog. There's been a lot going on with planning the cross country ride and with my birthday weekend which just passed by. But with our departure for San Diego coming up soon, I decided that I need to start blogging on a more frequent basis. So going forward the posts will probably be shorter but more frequent, and will become almost daily once we actually leave San Diego.
Shortly after Vladimir Putin was recently reelected for his third term as President of Russia, there was a series of protests in which the people of Moscow staged their own Occupy movement to voice their discontent with what they see as blatant corruption in the Russian government. As the protests were winding down a little boy happened to be riding his bicycle on a bridge facing a scrum of riot police. Julia Ioffe, the Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker and Foreign Policy magazine, happened to be standing right behind him and she took the opportunity to take the picture which went viral. To her the image of him facing the line of riot police became the Tiananmen Square image for this protest. Indeed, as he faced the police protesters in the crowd behind him were heard to shout, "Here's the guy that will storm the Kremlin. Be ready boys! Here he comes!"
After seeing this image it brought to my own mind the idea of how much power the bicycle can have for us as individuals. It can free us to do things we might not do left to our own two feet or if we were confined to our omnipresent four-wheeled conveyances. Think back to when you were younger and your bicycle was the only way you could get around. Children instinctively use their bicycles to fly across distances and experience the freedom that it can bring them. Once they master that first feeling of being able to ride themselves without training wheels or someone else holding them up, they are off and rolling!
Of course, part of the problem that we all have with keeping it up and rolling is that engineers still don't know for certain what keeps a bike upright - all we can do is jump on and keep pedaling.
But the Power of the Bike is that it can turn any of us into the superheros we imagine from our younger days. All it takes is the ability to turn the pedals or for some the handcranks. As you can tell from the video, those are all members of various branches of the military who were wounded while serving our country - now THAT'S what I call a superhero!
But for us mere mortals the bicycle gives us a freedom and a sense that we can do anything, that we can change the world, that we can go anywhere. At least it did when we were kids and we would just hop on our bikes and ride from dawn to dusk exploring the world around us and not worrying about grams and pounds and miles per gallon and what we need to earn to pay the mortgage.
But as with all things we grow up and we add more responsibilities to our already overloaded "plate". Yet as Ride Your Bike to Work Month winds down this week, its good to remember that we all can make a difference on our bikes. There is a program that is being run on Endomondo called the National Bike Challenge (you can check out my page here) and their stated goal is to get 50,00 people to ride 10 million miles between May 1 and August 31. An admirable goal and the end result is that many more cars will be off the roads and less pollution (particularly Carbon Monoxide) will be put into the atmosphere!
I hope to contribute to that goal by adding 3700 miles to the total as I Ride Across America with the goal of trying to make the lives of children fighting cancer just a little bit better. It's been a slow start to the fundraising thus far and we're hoping that it can pick up a bit as we go across country and some news agencies (hopefully) pick up our story. But regardless of whether or not we reach our total fundraising goal, my children and I (yes, Sarah is planning to ride about 400 miles and the twins between 50 and 100) are going to do what we can to help others. Are we superheroes? No, just people trying to use the power of the bike to make the world a little better for others who can't do it for themselves - and isn't that the best super power to have?
And now, to remind us all that we have it within us whether we think so or not, a little musical interlude courtesy of Five for Fighting.
Stay well my friends and neighbors and if you see me on the road, give me a wave - I'll be the one without the cape.