by Sophia Mittman, 2021 missionary (rider on Northern Route)
It’s amazing how Biking for Babies sneaks its way into people’s lives. For me, my sister first told me about it in January. After briefly getting excited about the idea of Biking for Babies and its goal to help women in need, I quickly put the thought on the back burner after I read what being a rider actually entailed. I was athletic for sure, but not that athletic. Not for 600 miles in 6 days. At least, that’s what I told myself.
A month later, Biking for Babies came back into my life. Something kept drawing my attention to it, even though a large part of me was scared at the thought of doing it. I remember standing in my kitchen doing the dishes and thinking: I’m only 21…I’m no cyclist…Others are way more cut out to cycle than I am…I have no biking equipment…I’m still in college…I’m on a budget…I’m working full time and taking part time classes…I’m living on my own for the first in a city far from home…there’s no way I can do this for 6 months.
And then it hit me. Those were the exact thoughts that a young woman might think to herself if she found herself in an unplanned pregnancy. My worries about doing Biking for Babies must have been a mere drop compared to what unexpectedly-pregnant women must experience. It was then and there that I knew that I had to do Biking for Babies. For the women who are scared. For the women who need help. For the women who think they have no one. I wanted to be a part of being that someone for her.
And that’s exactly what Biking for Babies does. In addition to raising money for them, part of the mission is to commiserate–in small ways–with women facing difficult pregnancies. As one example, on the night before the first big day of 147 miles of the National Ride, many of us missionaries, because of nervousness, new people, new places, and yet the excitement of it all, were only able to manage less than two hours of sleep. What better way to get a taste of the sacrifices that mothers make to raise a child than by doing a good, long, hard day’s work on few hours of rest?
Those first 147 miles were certainly hard and long. But even so, with everyone cheering each other on and helping one another draft, it was full of laughter and joy. At the end of the day, we’d walk into our host family’s home and encounter their endless love, generosity, and hospitality. We experienced that day after day for seven days. It proved just how beautiful—and essential—community, support, and family truly is to accomplish such a mission. That is what the world needs, and is why it’s worth doing hard things—like Biking for Babies—to fight for it.
I used to be afraid to do this mission. At the beginning, it was scary to enter into a community for the first time, not knowing anyone. During training, it was scary to give up so much free time nearly every day to train and fundraise. On the National Ride, it was certainly scary to turn a corner and see the steepest hill I’ve ever had to bike up in my life. But, after doing the National Ride with people who weren’t doing it for themselves, but rather for others, and experiencing the fruits of it all, I finally and fully resonate, deep in my heart, with Joan of Arc’s sentiment: “I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”