The past year has seen a marked shift in the energy around the work I do. A community has started to rally behind my work, and Mountain2Mountain as a whole. This trip to Afghanistan was another example of the little ways that community rallies and supports and warms my heart – giving me the strength and inspiration to keep pushing forward despite the obstacles that often seem insurmountable. Its often the little things. But its the little things that bring a smile to my face, and remind me I’m not alone in this.
The most obvious show of community rallying came with the gear drive. Individuals, bike shops, and bike companies stepping up to rally gear and turning my home into an episode of Hoarders. Boxes arrived at my door step daily until eventually I couldn’t see the floor…and so my giant Bear, my daughter, and I had to adjust to living in amid maze of waist high piles of boxes and clothing, as bikes were propped up against every available wall space.
Adam and his crew not only opened up their store as a gear drive drop location, they let us invade with a NBC new crew to film, and donated a box of brand new gear from the store for the women’s team. When I was one bike box short the day before we left for Afghanistan they emptied one out and handed it to me saying “you need it more than we do – be safe.”
What can I say? Allen Lim, Aaron Foster, and the entire Skratch Labs crew step up in big ways that make me feel like I have someone in my corner. They donated 40 pounds of skratch hydration mix for the women’s cycling team, they keep me hydrated, they bought me a Giro helmet and ‘skratchified it’, they even paid for one of our plane tickets, always trying to creatively support my work. This week, as I’m flying to Kabul, they are putting $1 bills in red envelopes along with a postcard about my work in 1000 copies of pre-ordered editions of Allen and Biju’s newest cookbook. Paying 1000 customer’s $1 in exchange for a request of time to check out my work as Mountain2Mountain. I’m truly speechless for the incredible support they have, and continue to, show me.
Sometimes support comes when you least expect it. A general intro from a cyclist to a friend at a bike company creates a 24 hour turnaround of support that is mindblowing in today’s world. Jackie Baker at Liv/giant talked with me on Thursday for the first time. By Friday, she had a fleet of bikes for the women’s cycling team PLUS additional pledged support through 2016. By Saturday had 5 road bikes in the air to get to Denver in time to join us by Tuesday. By Monday had a national press release out which led to donation support to help with shipping costs and additional press hits with Bicycling and Shape. 5 days ahead of Afghanistan and we have a strong, long term partner with soul.
Getting 5 brand new road bikes donated, comes with another hitch. I am a singlespeed mountain biker. These are road bikes with gears, derailleurs that need adjusting, carbon seat posts that needed sawing, brake cables to adjust, and bike fits to be figured out. As a girl that just learned to ride on the ‘hoods’, and whose time is already double and triple booked in Afghanistan, the thought of two days of figuring out bike assembly and bike fits was overwhelming. Insert Ky Hunter. Former combat helicopter pilot, current Phd student researching gender and conflict resolution, who happens to be a top level cyclist and owner of a bike shop in Golden, CO. With 4 days lead time, she secured a visa, plane tickets, and permission from professors to leave the country to play bike mechanic with us in Kabul. Rock on sistah.
Morning lattes the day before flying to Afghanistan at my favorite coffeehouse in Boulder – fist bumping and hi fiving with Sarah Menzies and Whitney Connor Clapper while planning final logistics. The Laughing Goat’s owner, Johnny, overhears us talking coffee and immediately shouts over, “I got you covered on that, what do you want to take over?” So, thank you Johnny for the coffee to keep our team happy and fully caffeinated in Afghanistan. Add in one purchased stainless steel french press thanks to a last minute run to REI by the film crew, Sarah Menzies and Whitney Connor Clapper as our crew will be much more lively!
Logisticizing means convoys… getting 350+ pounds of cycling gear, 7 bikes, 6 pieces of luggage, and 5 kickass women to the airport takes some ground support. Doing it in the wee hours of the morning in an icestorm deserves some love and appreciation. Matt, Peter, and Ky – thank you for ensuring that all that gear and crew arrived in one piece and on time, with borrowed trucks and lots of caffeine. Not to mention some added muscle! Heart happy.
A snowball effect seems to be building, thanks to the exposure with NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, and the New York Times – which printed the day we flew out. Spreading awareness and rallying support in innumerable ways.
Meanwhile – our happy crew of 5 joins up in Dubai with newly engaged, crew number 6, with our ‘bike mechanic’ joining us two days later in Kabul to make us a crew of 7. Lucky number 7. A first for me, but a crew of kickass ladies ready to take on the challenges ahead reminding me that sometimes it does take a village, or a just a crew of badassery, that can amplify the stories, the work, and the projects I’m so invested in more than I, as one woman, ever could alone. Thank you to everyone that helped make this trip a success and that continue to outreach and share our donation page in hopes of getting us the additional funding we need!