by: Maureen McCoy
“Oh it’s just like riding a bicycle, one never forgets.” I can’t count how many times I have heard that saying in my life, but I’m wondering how that applies to people who legitimately do not know how to ride a bike. I guess the message is universal, that even if your skills have gotten rusty, it’s easy to jump back in the swing of things. This directly explains my climate summer experience thus far; I by no means am an avid biker and can’t speak for my future self, but I don’t see a Tour de France in my future. What I have learned from Climate Summer is that there’s no telling how far you can actually push yourself. Personally, going into training I was petrified because I thought everyone else would be intense about their biking, and then I learned about pulling the trailers…. It’s safe to say I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of having to carry extra weight (especially up hills), but I have come to appreciate how far our bodies can be pushed. Being a college athlete, I know about pushing myself; however biking is different than the motions I am used to so it intimidated me in the beginning to say the least. Being halfway through the program-time’s flying, it’s safe to say that MassMovement is stunned as to how far/the new paces we can ride when compared with before. Use this for what you will, but personally, commuting to work by bicycle seems like a much better option in the future. Along the way, we’ve met people who commute via bicycle every day, as well as people who are now considering commuting because Climate Summer has inspired them to get involved in any way possible.
The beauty of climate summer is instilling the faith in people that simple, everyday actions can help contribute to a bright outcome for the community. People we talk to have been receptive to our message and frequently ask us how they can facilitate our cause which has been a further inspiration for us to continue biking to the next communities. It can’t all be easy though because as MassMovement has been discovering, and the other teams have been as well, some roads in New England are not in the best shape for bikers. We have battled a rear rack that has been around longer than we’ve been alive (combined), and nails and glass all over the road which is to be expected. What is not expected (at least by me) was the flat tire. Lauren was the one to point out my flat while I was pulling the trailer to a picnic lunch this week, this then led to her and I missing about half the lunch because we were trying to patch the hole. This was successful until we realized there was an extra tube in the trailer so we scrapped the repaired tube, and decided to just use the new tube. Simple enough right? We thought it would be until we realized the tube was too large for my tire, and ended up popping it on both sides when trying to fit it into the tire, but at least we were consistent. So after being defeated by my bike (thoughtfully named Charlie since it kept “biting” me), we walked to the picnic, meeting with Susan Altman, a director of Green Medford (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Medford/125943664094833) and the rest of MassMovement. Conveniently enough, the farmers’ market we were headed to after lunch had free bike tune ups happening! It was quite the sight to see Lauren pushing a bike with a trailer, and my pushing well, a bike with one wheel. Even Susan didn’t let the opportunity pass by in documenting the strange sight-love those iphones. JRA Cycles (http://www.jracycles.com/)was conducting the bike tune ups and thankfully I got all fixed up, and the rest of MassMovement was able to get assessed before our next trip. However this was not the end of my bike struggles for the week…
Fast forward to the next morning, we left for the Power Kids Program (http://www.trustedtutors.net/ourStaffHome.html ) , where we planned on sharing with the kids what our message was and teaching them the cheer Craig taught us during training. This day at the summer camp would involve a trip to Whole Foods to further educate kids about eating local and recycling/composting. Everyone was so excited to finally interact with kids, but a wrench was thrown in the plans when once again I got a flat tire, and yes thank you for asking, it was on the same tire. Apparently the patch didn’t hold, and I had to wheel my bike, once again, to Whole Foods, and then a couple miles to a bike store to get a new tube along with a couple extras. Moral of the story: always have an extra tube handy in the right size for your tire, that way you can avoid having two flats in the span of less than 20 hours. Even though this situation was trying for everyone involved, once again it was a learning experience. Not only is Climate Summer physically demanding, but it also helps you learn about yourself in situations we might not be used to handling, like fixing flat tires, but I guess Dory from Finding Nemo had it right when she sang her song of “just keep swimming,” applying directly to our program. Hopefully I, as well as the other riders this summer, remember that message: after riding up hills which are actually mountains, fixing multiple flat tires in the span of mere hours, and tie this to the movement, that if there is a point where we’re feeling down we remember we are making a difference for a better future.