“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” – John F. Kennedy
A defining moment in my childhood happened when I finally took off my training wheels and actually learned how to ride a bike.
There's something liberating about it all, the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair, the sound it makes as you switch gears, the rush you have cruising down a big hill. Cue up Higher Ground by Odesza and let me ride. I can't think of a happier place to be.
Did I ever think my two-wheel travels would take me to the heart of Sin City? Not a chance. But this week’s Holland Holiday pins us in the middle of an empty Las Vegas Strip.
It was at least 100 degrees at sunset on this Tuesday night and the city that never sleeps looked like it hasn't been inhabited in months.
It was eerily quiet. I would even say borderline uncomfortably quiet, like a room that was just silenced after a violent argument had broken out. Famous fountains had been dried up. Barricades were everywhere. And chains locked doors up and down the Strip telling you to politely move along.
But somewhere in this quiet chaos and neon light, I felt hope again. Call it an endorphin high from the ride, but it made me realize that we’re all in this together.
I started this article off quoting JFK, and I did that intentionally because I wanted to circle back to something he said in a 1963 speech.
“I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents," he said. "This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
Decades removed from that address on civil rights, I couldn’t think of a more relevant time to remember that speech as cities across the country gather in protest over the murder of George Floyd and the terrible reminder we all aren’t actually created and treated equally.
We’ve been living in unprecedented times. The last three months have been the most socially distant of my life, and I still can't help but scratch my head on how African Americans are being treated in our country. It makes me sick to my stomach.
Move aside COVID-19, racism has been a deadly plague that extends far before our nation was founded. But here I remain as I sit on a bicycle and ride with no fear of persecution or execution in a city that profits mostly on cheap tricks and bad decisions.
As I sit back and think about everything happening in the world and that night, I realize I took everything for granted.
As the moon rose higher, we found ourselves alone on arguably the busiest street in America. Honestly, at the time I thought how lucky am I to get to experience this? Who else can say they heard silence in the city that never sleeps?
'Listen to silence. It has so much to say' – Rumi
The world has been isolated and social distancing from one another for over three months now. People have lost their businesses and more than 36 million Americans have applied for unemployment. And on top of it all, racism in our country continues to rage. Innocent black people are being murdered on the streets by people that are supposed to be protecting us.
I am a white privileged woman. I never had fear walking down the street. I never felt like my life was threatened when I encountered police officers. I never felt scared riding my bike down the Strip passing multiple security guards late at night.
I've been fortunate to live my life without prejudice.
I am angry, outraged and heartbroken about the injustice in our country that has been going on for centuries. I understand I will never understand it, however I will stand. While silence is what put everything into perspective while bike riding through the Strip, I plan on being everything but silent in the protest for black human rights.
I'm not black, but I see you.
I'm not black, but I hear you.
I'm not black, but I mourn with you.
I'm not black, but I will fight for you.
Stay safe, kind and remember Black Lives Matter.
Nevada Sports Net creative sports producer Jenna Holland is a former college softball player and avid traveler. She will publish her Holland Holidays feature every Monday on NSN. You can contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @JennaHolland4.