The following is a reflection from a participant in SEA-TRI-KAN, a cross-state bike tour that is raising support for newly arrived families as they look for employment and begin a new life.
Day 2, June 18, 2015
Cabin by the White River to Yakima: 84 miles & 3,000 feet elevation gain
by Liz Nelson
Today we completed day 2 of this epic STK adventure. It was a gorgeous ride up and over Chinook Pass, along rivers and sweet smelling pine trees, and through hot little towns and dusty orchards. The terrain seemed to change every few miles, and it felt like I was getting to know my home state even more intimately. The changing pattern of the landscape also made me think of some of the tumultuous journeys refugees make through displacement, arriving in a new home, and then along the long road to resettlement. Biking all day gives you a lot of time to think.
The day started with a steep climb up the pass. No chance to coast or slow down – just the constant pedaling up and up, muscles protesting the whole way. All I could think about was my breathing and pace. It wasn’t a time for planning ahead or introspection. I just hoped I wouldn’t blow a tire, or a knee. Then came the heady rush of reaching the top, and sailing down the other side of the pass at 35mph. It felt like flying, alpine wind in my face, muscle aches almost forgotten. It was like a shadow of the pain of leaving a home and the joy of finally arriving to a new home. But once the pass turned to valley, we began the miles of hot dusty road that will stretch into even hotter, dustier roads tomorrow, the next day, and the next. Resettlement is a long road too.
Along the way, we’ve been welcomed and cared for by friends and strangers (thank you to the person in Yakima who I do not know who made us lasagna!), and the team makes great riding company. It makes even the hard miles seem doable. This morning before we started the ride, Luke shared some thoughts about welcoming strangers – remembering others who are facing hard times, just as if we were the ones suffering. Today’s crazy ride was a very tangible metaphor of what it can be like for refugees to go through resettlement, and I’m so glad there are people along the way to welcome, encourage, and meet practical needs along the way.
Here’s to the journey to come!