Posted by: amelia | August 26, 2010

omgBOSTON!

by Amy

WE’RE IN BOSTON!!

It’s official: we made it to the East coast by bike. The final three days were soaked with a cold, steady drizzle that made us prove just how much we wanted to complete our full 3500+ miles of biking. We were fortunate enough to find some warm places to stay on relatively short notice, including the Leicester Unitarian Church and the Village Congregational Church in Cummington, MA.

Boston greeted us with some of the tightest roads and most aggressive driving we’ve had the whole trip. Luckily, we are expert cyclists at this point and can dodge traffic like it’s nobody’s business.

Our first host in Boston was Sean, who works for Bikes Not Bombs and lives in a housing co-op. Thanks to a consensus decision by his fabulous roommates, we were treated to showers, a warm supper, and a few couches and lots of floor space. We spent the evening drinking and reflecting on the trip. Our plans to go out were tempered by the rain that was still pouring down and our group’s general feeling of never, ever wanting to be wet again.

The next day was full of tours and group events, starting with a driving tour of the second largest food distribution center in the U.S. The center is in the city of Chelsea, just outside of Boston, and we were escorted by Katherine who serves on Chelsea’s Board of Health and has been working with the produce companies to retrofit “reefers” (refrigerated trucks) with electric engines that pollute less than the diesel they currently use. Chelsea has a high population of immigrants and refugees, and a high concentration of pollution and industry. It’s a classic case of environmental injustice and community members like Katherine are trying to work with the companies and government to turn this around.

Last night we were treated to a dinner of soup, salad, and bread at the home of a few local activists and spent the night in a house lent to us by a couple who is the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-family-member. It’s ridiculous that we’re still being given so much post-ride, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have a beautiful home on the outskirts of Boston to relax and organize before splitting up and going our separate ways.

I won’t attempt to speak for everyone, but I will name a few themes that stand out in my mind as I reflect on our cross-country adventure.

Each day, we rely on a diverse and complicated food system made possible by people with all manner of beliefs, lifestyles, techniques, and values. Any discussion of food issues- whether it cover local, organic, industrial, hobby, food sovereignty, etc.- must incorporate the voices and perspectives of each and every one of our food producers. It’s no good for a movement or revolution to be concentrated or accessible only to a small number of like-minded people. This is obviously not an original thought, but one that perhaps needs to be more strongly incorporated in order for more substantial change toward healthier, more local food.

Another theme is the incredible generosity that we’ve been lucky enough to find in every state, every town, and every home that has hosted us. All across this country we have shared meals with folks who take time out of their busy day to prepare and serve a meal for a dozen extra people (no small feat). Many of these hosts also welcomed us into their homes to sleep, shower, and relax. I can’t describe or quantify just how much support we’ve received over the past eight weeks, but suffice it to say that I am astounded at the open and loving character of so many people and that it was an absolute pleasure to meet and visit with each of our hosts.

I’ll wrap this up with one final observation- since this is getting long and I’m sure others will be posting their final thoughts on this blog eventually, too. Biking across the country is a challenge, but doing it with eleven other people is a lesson in communal living, cooperative work, and self-sacrifice. It is difficult to live in such close quarters with so many other people- most of whom did not know each other at the beginning of this trip. We certainly had our share of spats, misunderstandings, failed communication, and conflicting priorities. But in the end- we made it to Boston in good health and on friendly terms. I think this is an understated success of the trip and one that we might soon forget- the challenge of living and working toward a common goal that just happens to be as physically and mentally intense as biking across a country.

A beautiful country, at that.

So, so long, folks- thanks so much to all of our supporters and to those of you who have commented and followed our ride.

Here’s to biking! And good food 🙂


Responses

  1. OMG, YOU DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you. I can’t believe it’s over! You continually amaze me. I can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts about your journey. In the meantime, happy recuperation!

  2. How exciting! My cousin lives right by that Bike Not Bombs co-op and he told me about it. I’d love to hear more about it from you. It seemed like they were up to cool things.

    I also rode the streets of Boston with him and have never been so terrified in my life 🙂 So I was laughing reading that comment of yours!

    Thanks for sharing the lessons you learned along the way. Looking foward to catching up with you soon!

  3. Outstanding achievement !

  4. Congratulations to all on a great ride and a great cause and a great blog!!! Hope to see you all again sometime if you pass through Minnesota.
    Dorothy (Sam’s mom)

  5. Congratulations!!!! We received this email from our partners in Bolivian Andes.

    They wanted to thank their cycling friends and express their sincere gratitude “for the work you are doing in support of the indigenous farmers: the men, women, and children of the Andes.

    A NUESTROS AMIGOS CICLISTAS

    FUERZA Y PERSEVERANCIA EN EL DESAFIO QUE SE HAN PROPUESTO; Y DESDE LOS ANDES BOLIVIANOS, NUESTROS SINCEROS AGRADECIMIENTOS POR LA LABOR QUE ESTAN REALIZANDO EN BENEFICIO DE LOS CRIADORES DE LA BIODIVERSIDAD Y POR UNA SONRISA DE MUCHOS NIÑ@S Y MUJERES INDIGENAS DE BOLIVIA.

    FAMILIAS INDIGENAS QUE RECIBEN APOYO DE USC

    German Jarro Tumiri
    DIRECTOR EJECUTIVO
    PRODII

  6. We have been following your journey from the inception. What an amazing undertaking you had all committed to. Thanks for letting us in on your thoughts and lessons learned. It has been fun living vicariously and seeing the country through your eyes and various perspectives. While you will all move on to many more adventures in your lives, there may never again be anything like this. So glad everyone made it whole and healthy and in friendship. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.

    May all your dreams come true,

    Helen and Michael
    (Amelia and Tessa’s aunt and uncle)

  7. Sorry, I am a bit late in responding. I just think what you kids did was great and want you to know the cause you biked for touched me in several ways.

    After following what you learned from the farms you visited, reading The No Impact Man, watching Food, Inc. and experiencing the recent egg scare, I have decided to buy more locally and watch more carefully what food we eat. Thank you for helping me take this big step!

    Here are a couple of resources for you:

    http://www.goodearthfarms.com/ This is the website of a family in our church that grows grazed beef and poultry, mostly organic.

    lewandowski.11@osu.edu – This is the e-mail of Rory Lewandowski, ag extension in Athens, OH. Someone from your group is from there. Rory worked in Bolivia for 7 years in animal traction and sustainable agriculture. One of the nicest people you will ever meet. And so knowledgeable.

    lsell@att.net – Larry Geersell lives in Lake Villa, IL. He works with Tierra Nueva in Honduras doing sustainable agriculture. He also has worked in the Dominican Republic. Loads of experience, and again a great guy.

    Best wishes to all of you on your continued journey.

    Cindy Kane – Adam’s cousin

  8. Hey Amy,
    Remember my “angels on your body” comment that I always made when I left you a note on here? Well, it worked! You all made it safely and you can thank the angels who were with you.
    From now on, when I look at a map of the United States I will think of you and this trip. What an adventure. Sure had fun following you and meeting your fellow riders in Wisconsin. Best wishes to all riders on your future plans.
    MOM


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