It’s 8:30 in the morning, and the scorching July sun is beating down on me. Sweat is already trickling down my shirt as I anxiously look for the hitch that will allow me to
attach one of my team’s two trailers to my teammate’s bike. My groggy group members make their way outside and into the parking lot of the Common Street Church in Natick, Massachusetts, lugging the bins in which we put our medical supplies, food, and gear.
We finally find the missing piece that I have been looking for, and we finalize our preparations to head to a rally in Boston later that morning, where we will meet our fellow Climate Summer riders. Tired, hot, and hungry, I swing my right leg over my bike frame, ready to depart for the day. Looking behind her, my teammate, Hallie, says cheerily and with a smile on her face, “Are we ready to rumble?!”
My experience in Climate Summer has been phenomenal. I feel as though I have grown an incredible amount and have learned so much about myself. I have learned how to work more effectively as a team member, to accommodate other people’s needs and wishes to the best of my ability, and to successfully advocate for myself and my team. Nevertheless, I have faced challenges, which, in my opinion, are necessary to confront in order to grow as a human being. What have helped me through these challenges are my teammates.
In their own way, each of my teammates has provided me with the crucial support to step out of my comfort zone and to feel as though I am not alone. Using a bike as my sole means of transportation for an entire summer can be very physically exhausting at times, and not being able to enjoy the creature comforts to which I am accustomed to having – such as showers, beds, and, in my case, meat – has made my experience demanding at
times. In addition, taking on new professional roles that I am not used to performing can be similarly exacting – in a good way. Living and working in manners to which I am not habituated has caused me to grow as an individual and to challenge my own beliefs. But in order for growth and reflection to occur, it is imperative to have a strong support network in place.
My team has demonstrated incredible amounts of support and selflessness over the past several weeks. When Alissa and Hallie struggled up several severely steep hills on our way to Rhode Island earlier this summer, pulling the 80 pound trailers behind them, Myra would hop off our bike as soon as she reached the apex of the hills, dashing back to push the trailers behind them and give them the extra boost that they needed to reach the top. When Alissa fell ill at the end of July, my teammates took care of her and made sure that she had all that she needed to feel comfortable so that she could recover as quickly as possible. When Alissa and Hallie traveled to Dracut, Massachusetts, to speak at a rally, Kay and Myra woke up at 5:30 in the morning to make the two of them pancakes before their sunrise departure. Numerous other instances of generosity have occurred over the course of this summer.
My Climate Summer team has become something of a family to each other. When you look past the laughs, the sisterly and brotherly teasing, and yes, even the occasional bickering, we’re here for each other – no matter what. Knowing this has allowed me to feel comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone, to challenge myself in ways that I didn’t even think possible. This support from my team has allowed me to get up every morning, no matter how sore my legs are from the previous day’s ride. This support has allowed me to rumble.