Clearing after the rainstorm
Each year MassBike hosts an annual summer ride. This year, our staff arrived at the start on a hot, early morning in August with thunderstorms looming on the radar. 2 MassBike staffers, 2 board members, and 1 lone volunteer wait under the tent at the starting location in scenic Western Massachusetts as the dark clouds begin to roll in. We’re gearing up and getting ready to roll out on a 65 mile ride through hilly, quiet roads. It’s a nice route with just the right amount of climbing. But the mood isn’t what you might expect. The weather forecast appears especially ominous for exactly when we are scheduled to depart.
Apparently our participants checked the weather, too. The only ones to brave the potential thunderstorms for our ride? Two women, Emma and Luisa, neither of whom hadn’t biked more than 25 miles in one go this year. And neither of whom appeared familiar with what our organization is or does, they simply wanted to go for a bike ride.
Not a problem, we tell them. Come along with us. It’ll be fine, we assure them.
9:00am hits and off we go. Our troop of dedicated riders gets just a few miles in and BOOM! It downpours for a solid 30 minutes but by the time we’ve crested our first climb the rain stops. It’s humid and puddly. Everyone pulls off rain jackets and settles in for the day, soaking wet from head to toe. But things are looking up.
As we ride along, our two riders get an education. From all 5 of us. They hear tips on how to ride their bikes steadily, the easiest way to keep their balance and reach for a water bottle while rolling along, and how to shift properly when going up a steep hill. They’re appreciative of the tips and tricks and by the end of the morning and the more miles we ride, they move into bigger questions.
They ask about the work we do. What is MassBike, anyways? The who, the why, and the what. Lots of questions. We answer.
At this point, you see our staff light up with joy. The excitement is back. It’s the rainbow after the dark storm. One rider asks what she can do to volunteer. They too, are excited and want to get involved.
The end of the ride culminates with a few drinks and snacks at a local pub with good conversation amongst new allies and friends. Bonds forged over a soggy pedal on quiet roads.
It’s not always through some sort of grand impact, large statement, or statewide change that we can make a difference. It’s through one person at a time, one ride, one moment, one rainbow after a storm that we work to make change. It doesn’t always look like an easy task. Sometimes it’s soggy and daunting. Sometimes it is convincing that one person at a townhall meeting that bikes belong. Or having a conversation with a business owner who thinks that a new bike lane will take away parking and hurt his business. The most rewarding change that we can impart is one person at a time. It’s watching someone see something a different way. It’s what keeps us going. Sometimes it’s as easy as it was on this day, a simple bike ride to make an impact, that merely had to traverse a bit of bad weather.
We hope to see you on the next ride.