Divide rider stops in Steamboat on 3K-mile journey for domestic violence awareness | SteamboatToday.com

Divide rider stops in Steamboat on 3K-mile journey for domestic violence awareness

John Silva, a former law enforcement office from California, stopped by Advocates of Routt County along his 3,000-mile journey on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. He's riding to bring awareness to domestic violence and raising money for Operation Care, an advocacy center based out of Amador County in California. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

As John Silva met with staff at Advocates of Routt County on Thursday morning, a UPS delivery man delivered a package. The man noticed Silva’s densely-packed mountain bike in the entrance and wanted to say, “Hello.” The man told Silva he appreciated what he was doing and offered words of encouragement.

“This is why it’s worth it,” Silva said.

Silva is just over halfway through a 3,000-mile journey along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Despite never having embarked on a bikepacking journey before, the 62-year-old Californian is biking the Continental Divide to raise awareness for domestic violence. He’s calling his efforts Give Back Adventures.

Along the way, he’s stopping at advocacy centers, like Advocates of Routt County, meeting those who work with the people he’s trying to support, as well as law enforcement offices.

In addition to raising awareness, Silva is raising money for Operation Care, which is based out of Amador County, California, where he’s from.

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“I thought it was a good thing to do as an ambassador for raising domestic violence awareness,” he said. “I share what I’m doing, learn about their organization. They can learn about the organization I’m representing. The reception has been fantastic.”

Being male and a former police officer gives Silva a unique position to push for change, according to Graham Hackett, social change program manager at Advocates.

“The model you’re setting up … is very powerful,” Hackett said to Silva. “It’s a remarkable symbolic gesture that has practical value in raising awareness.”

Domestic violence is an issue close to Silva. He personally knows victims of domestic violence and has been able to help some as a member of law enforcement.

Silva seems to have mastered overlapping biking and talking about his cause. He said it’s difficult because people following his journey on social media want to see the scenery, the animals and trails, but he also wants to incorporate the tough subject of domestic violence and raise funds and awareness.

Silva couldn’t start his ride in the typical location in Canada due to border restrictions. To satisfy the 3,000-mile number, he started in Washington.

On one of the first few days, he pedaled through a 2-mile-long old rail tunnel called Snoqualmie Tunnel. At times, it was pitch black, and the light at the end of the tunnel couldn’t be seen. He started to record a video, wondering out loud if what’s he was experiencing was similar to those in domestic violence situations. He used it as a mechanism to bring up Operation Care, what they do and why people should consider helping him raise money for the organization.

Silva has been astonished by how much he’s gotten back through his journey so far. People share their stories with him, and he feels like his ride might actually be making a difference in some way.

“I know it sounds kind of corny, but it’s no less true,” Silva said. “If it helps one person, that’s all that matters.”

Silva’s ride will end in about 1,200 miles at Antelope Wells, New Mexico, bringing an end to his riding but not his cause in bringing awareness to domestic violence.

“We do have a long way to go,” Hackett said. “More than 3,000 miles.”

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