By Truman Chamberlin, V Form
Bikes, Water, and Soul 2018
As we transition into the cold and gloomy winters of New England, we cannot help but think about the warmth of summer. Naturally, for teenagers, the hallmark of summer is summer vacation. When I go through the “God-I-wish-it-were-summer” time, my mind immediately wanders back to the 750-mile bike trip I went on in July. Eleven riders ranging from ages fourteen to seventeen, three adult leaders, and two support van drivers all took a step away from their mundane lives and embarked on a week-long journey through North Carolina. This unforgettable trip was a transcendent experience in my life.
The idea behind the program Spoke’n Revolutions is to bring biking and history together by urging participants to ride through historical areas on trips similar to mine. The program has hosted over ten tours (rides) since its establishment. Each year, more and more new riders participate, while returners continue to improve the program with their expertise. This past tour, Bikes, Water, & Soul, was centered upon black history in North Carolina as well as land and water conservancy in the state. However, this was not just a mind-numbing lecture of random dates and names, but a transformative experience. During our trip, we stopped at a slave plantation and learned about the living conditions of slaves at the time, discussed the history of the area, and corrected tour guides who conveniently left out the most egregiously racist information. Throughout the entirety of the tour, we met with land conservation experts, visited historical sites, and spent most of our time appreciating where we were; campsites included the middle of a field surrounded by wildlife and a dune opposite the beach. These conditions, however, played a very small part in the overall attitude of the group. The resiliency and resolve consistently of each participant showed, and morale was never low.
The most crucial aspect of this bike tour was the incredible group of people involved. The premise of the program at its
core was to bring people together, preceding all the social education (though that is vitally important). The friends I made through the experiences we had as a collective are truly unforgettable. Whether it was hacking through the woods carrying our bikes, getting separated along the beach, enjoying ferry rides, or sharing meals, everything we did together brought us closer. Watching each other break through both mental and physical barriers was empowering and compelled me to try and do the same. We had mutual respect for the difficulty of what we were doing. Those who took breaks during the day to ride in the support van were not treated as lesser or weaker riders than others. Additionally, I truly have not laughed harder in my life than during times spent with my group in between rides, at campsites, and at rest stops along the way. Conversations ranged from discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict to voicing over strangers’ conversations with our own while inside the van. The riders, leaders, and drivers on tour made the trip what it was: an experience that transformed each individual’s life for the better.
Click on this link to view the video.
Truman Chamberlin is a V Form boarding student from Chapel Hill, NC. His interests include sports, music, and equity.