An Equity Ride

A few weeks ago, my friend and cycling instructor Max and I drove up to the Stowe Recreation Path in Stowe, Vermont to scout it out and plan for the Equity Ride I would be doing in a few days.

What is an Equity Ride, exactly? I don’t know if there is a precedent for this type of ride, but we discovered it was definitely what we needed in the time of racism, rabid politics, and COVID.

Rachel Fussell, director of the Stowe Trails Partnership, connected with me in July to inquire about me hosting a ride of some sort that would be focused on equity in the outdoors. Living in Montpelier, Vermont, I had already been witness to several rides around town that were celebratory and diverse. This past summer, I saw an LGBTQIA+ ride with loud whoops, cheers, and colors, and a naked ride—also with whoops, and cheers, and um, colors.

I’m still pretty new to riding more than a box store ride (and I’m gaining so much respect for both my Journeyman 650B and my Beargrease), but I’m not new to teaching and leading workshops in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space (it’s my professional background, in fact). So we decided to combine the two worlds and create an equity ride that would engage people physically, cognitively, and emotionally.

Earlier this summer, I developed a new four-hour long course called Introduction to Identity, Social Justice, and Antiracism. The purpose of the course was to introduce people who had not previously done this kind of work to a way of framing what is happening in the United States with information, experiential education, reflection, and strategizing. On bikes, it looked very different from my traditional boardroom presentation or Zoom call. I’d say it looked even better.

Mirna leads a group of twenty riders down a paved bike path on a bright, bluebird day.

We met at the trailhead on a sunny, chilly morning in October. The colors of the leaves were still radiant and our group of 25 was in good spirits, even if loaded down with all the gifts from the event’s partners! I went around and made sure that folks were on the right ride—in other words, “I hope no one is planning for a training ride—well, this is a different type of training…”

We did deep introductions as a way of leaning into the various aspects of cultural identity. We rode, worked in pairs, and told our own stories. We practiced vocabulary around social justice. We rode again and when there were bridges to cross, we contemplated how each one of us could be a bridge to the outdoors for someone who has barriers to access.

We tackled racism in many of its iterations—overt, covert, microaggression, collusion, institutional, systemic, interpersonal, structural, cultural. We reckoned with the fact that while most of us have really good intentions, and are good people, it’s easy to fall back into racist stereotypes and attitudes in nearly everything we do. So, this is where the work of antiracism begins, when we realize that a more concerted effort is needed to undo all that we have internalized and perpetuated.

We rode to our last stop. At this point we had begun to lose light—yay fall— and the chill had come back in a big way. We stood in a big clump initially and then slowly moved ourselves onto different places/stages on the Anti-Racist Identity Development Spectrum. We strategized around how to continue this work in our personal and professional lives. And before we parted ways or wheels, we repeated this beautiful and apt quote from Maya Angelou:

When we know better, we do better.

Yeah. We will do better.

Many thanks to Salsa for sponsoring this event!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mirna Valerio

Mirna Valerio

I'm a cross-country coach, author, public speaker, mother, antiracism educator, and ultramarathoner. I found my way back to cycling while recovering from a running injury and I am hooked! I love inspiring others to push themselves and I want to spread the message that anyone can be an athlete.

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