Last night, Jeffrey saw his last NYC sunset for a while.
Nancy brought home her new haircut.
It’s hard to be away from so much beauty.
This morning, we were seen off by Nancy, Rebecca, Kathy Jones of Human Rights First, and our friend Daler who helped us get past bridge construction when we left for the Great Lakes last year.
To our customary Ride sign, Jeffrey added an x-ray of his broken leg. The Ride is not just about money. It’s about talking. The x-ray was a conversation starter more than once today.
I was put into a pannier. We left after 8 AM.
Daler followed us across Manhattan, over the East River on the Koch Bridge to Queens. After 10 miles of his help and company, Daler gave us some treats his wife Tuul baked, and left us near Corona Park, where the 1964 World’s Fair was held. We continued east alone.
Jeffrey painstakingly lowered our vehicle down steps at the park entrance. A passerby told him, a few moments too late, that there was a ramp nearby. Jeffrey joked that he wished he had met the passerby 5 minutes earlier. Then they got to talking about Human Rights First and the difficulties refugees face in America.
Ruth, whose parents immigrated from Ireland, is a nurse practitioner in a Queens neighborhood famous as the most diverse community in America, possibly in the world. She told Jeffrey how hard it is for some of her patients to adapt to American ways, like telling the truth and respecting women’s rights, because the newcomers had lived under foreign systems in which lying, and giving and accepting oppression, are vital survival strategies. She told of a colleague of South Asian background who confronts families demanding that women be seen by woman professionals, pointing out that in their native countries, they have no such option because women are denied education. Jeffrey knows these issues. But as nurses and as people who work with refugees, Jeffrey and Ruth agree that everyone deserves a chance, and though some parents may be a lost generation, their children can grow up with American values of honesty and respect for autonomy and differences.
We passed through beautiful wooded Queens communities, not at all what people picture when they think of NYC.
We left Queens, and NYC, as we continued east on Long Island.
In Nassau County, we met Veronica (in black) and her sister. Veronica was very excited to see our unusual vehicle. She stopped to talk with us about human rights. She gets it! So do Eunice and Sarah . . . and Kevin, who declined to have his photo taken, although he is every bit as photogenic as his schoolmates. They are raising money for a reputable anti-cancer charity. Sarah’s family is Haitian; she was delighted to learn that Jeffrey’s first asylum client was Haitian.
Mike drove past us in his truck, flagged us down, and evidently having read the sign on the back of our bike, said, “You inspired me.” He handed Jeffrey all the cash in his wallet, and said his business may contribute more. Jeffrey asked to take a photo of a nice guy. Mike is waving, not fending us off.
We reached Stony Brook after 61 hard miles. Last year’s Ride began with two days of more than 80 miles each. Jeffrey is a year older, but the decline in his performance is due not to time, but injury. As his broken leg heals, we hope his strength returns. The crash was 7 months ago today.
Tired though we were, at the Stony Brook train station where we asked directions to our hotel, we met Camilla, a Chilean dentist; Francisco, also from Chile, earning a Ph.D in applied math; and Lisa and Robert, who had come to meet their son at the station. We had a nice chat about immigration, asylum, cycling, bureaucracy, dental care, human rights, and Human Rights First.
We’ll end today’s post with thanks to Jeffrey’s friends Sidney (in the biking shorts) and Madeline. Sidney waited for Jeffrey in Roslyn Heights, NY, and led him 20 miles to Commack over a colorful route that included the highest point on Long Island (pictured below; note the name of the road, and the sign offering bicycling lessons!). Madeline drove out to retrieve Sidney as Jeffrey continued on to Stony Brook. They’re people who think nothing of spending a day helping others. We’re grateful that today, their gift of time helped us.