One of the reasons I’m choosing to document this journey is because I hope to encourage others to take chances and do the things they want to but that may feel distant and unattainable for numerous reasons. Had you asked me even a year ago if I would be riding my bike across the country, not only would the answer have been a resounding ‘no’ but I would not have even cared to. I would have not only doubted my physical ability, but it just wouldn’t be on my radar to do something like this. From my perspective, outdoor or ‘extreme’ activities were reserved for the abundantly resourced. To put it plainly, bungee jumping in New Zealand or hiking Mt. Everest or bike touring across a country were activities reserved for White people that could afford it and/or had less obligations.
I’ve been reflecting on this decision a lot lately and have recognized not only how fortunate I am but how, to some extent, I am refuting the stereotype that Black people and Black women especially don’t participate in such activities. Outdoor Foundation reports that 73% of people participating in outdoor activities, including visiting National Parks, are white. If these activities were more normalized in low-income communities, I think ethnic minorities would be more encouraged or inclined to visit the outdoors. But, it’s a mistake to believe that minorities don’t also fish, hike, camp, run, climb or bike because we do, and we recognize the physical and mental health benefits of visiting the outdoors.
I hope the few people that read this blog are encouraged to do the things that money, time or stigma have deterred them from doing. I just finished grad school and valiantly quit my job while the rest of my cohort is intent in the job search process. Not that I want to encourage unemployment, but I’ve learned that every achievement requires a sacrifice.
I’m doing this tour for many reasons, one being to encourage the normalizing of outdoor activities among communities of color. Ironically, Austin introduced me to two communities, Black Girls Run and Black Girls Do Bike that have chapters in various cities. Their purpose is to encourage participation among Black women in the respective activities. Austin has encouraged me several times to start the Denver chapter of BGDB and I hope to make it my next project once this journey is over. Colorado offers a myriad of outdoor opportunities and I hope to meet and encourage women of color to take advantage of the incredible recreation the state offers.
Most of my family is still trying to understand why I’m doing this. Why bike across the country when you could, you know, not? But I say, why not do it if I CAN. I am fortunate to be physically capable and in optimum health, and I want to milk that until my body no longer allows me to. If a regular girl from Miami, from a modest socioeconomic background can do it (assuming I do), so can you, no matter which journey you choose.
I am thankful for where I am and those that have encouraged me, especially my skeptical but still supportive family. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do and you’re finally going for it, let us know in the comments. Peace! [You do not need a WordPress account to comment.]