Friday, August 20, 2010

Cynthia McKinney: Bike4Peace: Over Monarch Pass in Colorado

Bike4Peace: Over Monarch Pass in Colorado

By Cynthia McKinney
Days Eighteen thru Twenty-Four: Common Ground Along an Uncommon Route
Photo by Scott/Bike4Peace

Along this trip, I’ve been testing a line: “We’re biking for peace. We started at the House of Common Sense in Oakland, California and we’ll end up at the White House that needs some common sense!” Everyone in every state has enthusiastically agreed!

Now, you won’t believe this! I have broken bread with militia members who voted for Obama! Now, I know that doesn’t sound possible, but I overheard the conversation of some Utah men discussing what the heck they were going to do to put this country -right and bingo—an admission that they had voted for Obama! They lamented that they certainly weren’t going to do that again, but they couldn’t vote Republican, because Bush had ruined the country, and so they just didn’t know what they were going to do. That’s when my feet began to glide uncontrollably in their direction. The idea of these men having voted for Obama just overtook me and I begged their indulgence and interjected myself into their conversation. In just a few short moments it was clear that we had similar concerns about the direction of our country. I never let on to them who I was. I just reminded them that they did have options, even in Utah, where the Green Party was on the ballot. That they didn’t have to give their most precious political asset—their vote—to a political party that didn’t deserve it. Interestingly, I left them saying to myself that I always knew that with dialogue we could find areas of commonality, just as I had done that in the first Congressional District that sent me to Washington, D.C,. and that if we worked hard enough at dialogue, that we could bring this country together. So, Bike4Peace 2010 took me into a conversation that most likely I would never have witnessed were I not here. It only reinforces my belief that we really can build bridges to each other, if only the hate-mongering, fear-proselytizing politicians would get out of the way

One last thing: Now, I think I’m beginning to understand how bikers feel when they’re on a bike. Just before leaving Gunnison, Colorado, I decided to bike into town all by myself!!!!! To buy some jewelry to go with the outfit I bought in Telluride. Even with the bike helmet on, I imagined Mel Gibson yelling, FREEDOM! I think that explains why we’ve met so many bikers, all alone on the road, from all parts of the world, criss-crossing our country. Once one gets over the “rumpus hurticus,” a term coined by our fellow traveler Paul Stutzman, biking can become quite addictive, and if not addictive, certainly fun and challenging!

Day Eighteen -- We left Hite, Utah and Glen Canyon and headed into Blanding, our last Utah stop.

Day Nineteen -- Can you believe that the core riders have ridden across California, Nevada, and Utah and are about to do the same in Colorado. We arrive in Dolores and begin the process of unloading the car and setting up the cabin to receive company!!! We are in a cabin along the Dolores River and by chance, Yaney discovers an e-mail from Marion saying that he’d like to meet us while we’re in Dolores. Marion bought dinner for us and brought along his friends to enjoy. Marion s a courageous young, Black man who sued the county for discrimination! He also has a copy of the documentary, American Blackout, for me to autograph. I knew he’d want to take a photo so I dressed up in the tie-dye dress that I bought from Marianne! All evening, he wanted to know about Obama. I was able to cut through much of the propaganda and the prejudice and give him the truth and the facts about our President. In addition, I reminded him of the reason we participate in politics and what our responsibilities are if our expectations are not met. We had a very potent political discussion.

Day Twenty – Everyone anticipated arriving in Telluride. Well, as it turns out, it was in Telluride that I posed the question for the first time—what the heck am I doing here??? But before I deal with that, let me say that the shopping was very satisfying. Between Dolores and Telluride, I made my first commitment to leave the group. My intention was not to leave the group during the entire ride. But I received an offer I could not turn down: September 11 with Luke Rudkowski (WeAreChange-NYC), Daniel Sunjata, my sister Cindy Sheehan, and former UK MP George Galloway!!!!! And since I didn’t pack anything but bicycle clothes, I needed something to wear. Telluride provided the perfect answer. Only thing, the young lady who helped me was sooo ready to talk. She was disappointed with politics. She had been excited and had even majored in political science. She wanted to explain her disappointment and how because of it, she found her way to the architecture department. She is now working to go back to school to get her masters. I commented to her that it was a shame that a bunch of bankers had to get in-between her and her education. After shopping, YeYo took me for a bike ride and we went on the gondolas, too. After that, back to City Park where we pitched tents and that’s when I had my “why am I here” moment. That next morning, Day Twenty-One, I was sooooooo cold. I now know why we have Thermarest—it does protect you from the cold ground.

Day Twenty-One – What a wonderful shop in Ridgeway, Colorado!!! Bought some street clothes since I’ve figured that walking around in the bike shorts isn’t good for me at all!!! Overnight in Montrose, Colorado. The view of the mountains is awesome. However, Utah for me is still the most beautiful!!!

Day Twenty-Two – Gunnison, Colorado.

Day Twenty-Three – Rest Day. Our hotel is outside of town so I ride the bike back into town in my first solo ride of the trip!!!

Day Twenty-Four – Monarch Pass!!! 11,300 feet today and the core bikers rode all the way up and down. Tonight we sleep in Poncha Springs with a great sense of accomplishment. We’re on the other side now of the Great Divide! Scott says we’ve done about half of the elevation and about one-third of the mileage!!! Amazing!!!

I think Nora Jones’s “Above Ground” is the great song for this week. That’s what I played on my father’s iPhone as Yaney and I crossed Monarch Pass and started our journey on the Atlantic side of the Continental Divide.

Oh beautiful for spacious skies . . . The scale of this country and all its bounty. On this day, University of Georgia scientists expose the lie that all of the oil is gone from the Gulf while the world counts the hours until Israel strikes Iran with weapons supplied by the U.S. My son awaits a storm in Georgia, that originated in the Gulf of Mexico, to see if it will rain oil in Georgia the way it has already in Louisiana. We all know what this could mean. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. On both counts.

Oh, why can’t our country be a better partner for Mother Earth and the global community? Who will step up and make it so?

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