Culture

Ride for Racial Justice, Ride for Justice, highlight bike activism

Riders from the racing world and bike industry join everyday riders for anti-racism causes.

On Saturday morning in Denver, Colorado, two friends led a ride of about 150 people — all in masks and generally spaced apart — for the inaugural Ride for Racial Justice. Elsewhere around the United States, many individuals and small groups did their own Ride for Justice, as a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative. And yet elsewhere riders launched or celebrated completing Big Rides for a Big Cause fundraisers. In all cases, people in the cycling community were rallying around anti-racism.

The Ride for Racial Justice was created by Marcus Robinson, a black cyclist who works for the City of Denver, and Neal Henderson, a white cyclist who has coached many of the world’s best cyclists, from Evelyn Stevens to Rohan Dennis.

“We are excited that all of you are here today supporting racial justice,” Robinson told the crowd in Denver. “Our country is at a crossroads. The scab of racism has been ripped off, and we will no longer be silent. From Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery who was running, Breonna Taylor who was at home, Elijah McClain… the list is long and painful. But could you imagine, just for one moment, if someone had a cellphone in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s or ’60s? What would have been recorded at that time, for all the people of color who have been murdered?”

Robinson and Henderson said they plan to grow the Ride for Racial Justice into other cities, and to make the rides as visible as possible.

Ride for Racial Justice founders Marcus Robinson (l) and Neal Henderson (r) in Denver, Colorado.

“We believe that the bicycle represents freedom,” Henderson read from their statement at the start of the ride. “Unfortunately, not everyone has the same freedoms due to the color of their skin. We believe that racial justice is a human right. Join with us to be seen and heard to help end racism. That is why we are riding today.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis — who on Friday signed into law a police accountability bill that bans chokeholds, mandates body cameras, and bans the use of deadly force against those suspected of minor or non-violent offenses — endorsed the Ride for Racial Justice in a video, and commended the two founders.

 

“When I heard the story of how Marcus Robinson and Neal Henderson got together to create this great concept around riding and equality and justice, I was moved,” Gov. Polis said in a shared video. “In these times we need this kind of coming together more than ever before. So I am happy to join you virtually to help kick off the inaugural Ride for Racial Justice.”

USA Cycling’s head of elite athletics Jim Miller and his son Luke were among those in the Ride for Racial Justice, a 10-mile loop that included a stretch of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and went past a statue of the road’s namesake in Denver’s City Park.

In California, cyclist Nehemiah Brown and the San Francisco Cycling Club organized the Ride for Justice, a fundraiser that asked cyclists to go for a huge ride, then donate a dollar per mile ridden to the Equal Justice Initiative. (Saturday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.) Ride for Justice formed a Strava club that, as of Saturday night, had 3,543 members.

Lastly, a few ambitious riders took advantage of the Big Rides for a Big Cause platform for anti-racism fundraisers. The concept and the website platform were created by Santa Cruz racer Tobin Ortenblad and bike industry PR rep Dillon Hollinger as a way to leverage riders’ thirst for big challenges into fundraisers for positive social or environmental causes. The California pair did a hefty ride themselves as a fundraiser for Black Lives Matters and Bike Santa Cruz’s youth advocacy program.

Robinson and Henderson said the plan to expand the Ride for Racial Justice into other U.S. cities. Photo: Ben Delaney