End Times

Jeffrey here.

As every year, Joey lets me have the last word.

This year’s route. 23 days. 1579 miles. Eden to Minneapolis. To the last five states of the Lower 48.

The 13th annual Ride was the most taxing yet. Vast distances. Powerful winds. Steep mountains. Rough pavements. Thin air. Fingers so numb from cold that I couldn’t have changed a tire. (Fortunately, no flats!)

Aberdeen, South Dakota: Sending a video message to the toddler grandkids.

I lost 5 lbs (2 kg) per week and ran up a big sleep deficit.

Upside: resting pulse dropped 10 points.

It was a significant effort for an old guy recently hospitalized for Covid-induced pulmonary emboli.

It was worth it.

NYC is home. But this rural kid relishes a country break.

No crowds.
Don’t fence me in.

Why run or swim or bike in circles to “exercise” when the same effort can do useful work, propelling me cross-country?

So what if that work comes with pain and danger. That’s real life.

Bring it on.

How, then, are the Rides not entirely self-indulgent?

In the past 40 years, I won refuge in the USA for hundreds of people with a well-founded fear of persecution. I taught lawyers and law students who won relief for (perhaps) thousands more. I had a few articles published.


Big deal.

Asylum grants mean a lot to the asylees. To society in general, not so much.

Decades of articles published by my betters haven’t moved the justice needle.

Many lawyers and teachers and writers outdo me.

But so far as I know, only Joey and I leave the office, the courtroom, the ivory tower, the echo chamber, to roam with the American flag alongside the words “Human Rights”. To put a regular-guy down-to-earth face on a human rights organization. To talk about refugees with ordinary Americans like you and me.

Maybe no one else is crazy enough.

Joey and I have pedaled over 15,000 miles (24,000 km) for a cumulative eight months on the road.

Ride routes, 2011-23.

I’ve met persuasive speakers out there. Among them: Wally in North Dakota, who in Federal service abroad saw horrors I’ve experienced only through my clients’ testimony. Rev. Harold Middlebrook in Alabama, who was Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1965 Selma coordinator. They have an authenticity and eloquence that I can’t match.

Ditto the advocacy and academic stars of the immigration bar. In their presence, I am humble and quiet.

But they don’t go on the road to talk to regular people. To voters.

That leaves me my small role to play.

Now that we’ve reached the Lower 48 and DC, is it time to stop?

Not yet.

When in Minneapolis a giant tumbleweed rolled across a street like a strutting Brooklyn rat, I thought, “A desert weed in Minneapolis!? In the Land of 10,000 Lakes!? Maybe this is the End Times!”

The Minneapolis weed looked like this eastern Colorado tumbler.

Then: “Keep going while we can. Next spring, Minneapolis to NYC.”

I hope you’ll join that adventure.

And if you haven’t already, please click here to show your support for Human Rights First. Every donor gets a souvenir Beatles postcard from the Joel Glazier collection, autographed by Joey and me.

(If you donated but not through this Ride link, please let HRF know at santosn@humanrightsfirst.org so they will credit the Ride. They get your support all the same, but I like to know that the Ride inspired you.)

I’m grateful to donors to HRF. To those who posted comments or quietly followed the Ride. To everyone who offered help en route (prominent among them Richard, Masi, Warren, Jasmine), offered me discounts, stopped to talk (most encounters were not reported here), gave a friendly toot or wave. My HRF contact, Nathan, kept me in the loop. My busy kids and their spouses had my back.

I was welcomed everywhere with friendship, respect, curiosity, and sometimes a little awe. Always there were kind, generous, openminded people, happy to engage with a stranger from far away.

Now I’ll put Joey in the closet, and focus on Nancy.

More painful than sand in the eyes, a frigid blast or a tumbleweed whack, is leaving Nancy for weeks at a time.

Nancy is for 44 years my dear, my love, my biggest fan and my very best friend.

Home is wherever Nancy is.

I’m happy happy happy to be home.