If you are looking for the VLOG posts, click here. Background info is below the update.
Hello dear Climate Crisis Heroes,
They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, so I can save a lot of time with this one.
A nice follow-up piece was done by the local news station as well (2 mins):
Overall the adventure was a superb one with plenty of first-world hardship thrown in for spice. It would be trite to even try to sum up the experiences that I have had over the three week ride. However, a few things stuck out in my mind as I churned away the 1,200 miles of the American Midwest into the West and I thought I would share those with you as I put a bow on this chapter of Tour for Becky.
The first is that we have an unbelievably diverse and interesting country around us and our national parks are some of our greatest treasures. If you have not poked around this region, it is really something to behold. (Badlands and Yellowstone Vlog episodes show the most dramatic examples.) It is worth getting to know your country- both its landscapes and its people. Every day I rode the landscape would change as I turned the pedals. The people I met along the way were so diverse, interesting and helpful. It was great to meet folks from so many places, each with their unique story to tell.
Of course, once again, I was reminded of what a perfect vehicle the bicycle is to travel with. In a car you are experiencing the world through a muffled screen, literally, while on the bike you are part of the experience, taking in all of the sights, smells, sounds and sensations of the landscape directly and viceraly. Just like a picture will never do justice to some monumental landscape in person, like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, experiencing travel in a car is fundamentally different. On top of that my caloric consumption for the entire ride was the equivalent of just over a gallon of gas.
Also, on this journey I thought quite a bit about how badly we have treated our native peoples. It really is a national disgrace from its historical roots right through today. We do very little to honor, celebrate, or help the people who lived here before the Europeans. I am glad to have skipped seeing Mt. Rushmore, where highly sacred lands were defaced with the images of some of the very men who had the most to do with our First Peoples troubles.
Finally and sadly, I experienced the climate catastrophe unfolding up-close and personally. During one week of my ride the average highs were over 100F/38C. This was eastern Montana, not Phoenix, AZ. There were the extreme and exceptional drought areas that defined my route. The rivers that I crossed were mostly dried up. In all of my time on the road I only got a sprinkle of rain one day. Hoards of grasshoppers competing with livestock for the desiccated grass jumped wildly around me on my rest breaks. Finally, there was the blue-grey pall of wildfire smoke that turned the sun blood-red in Yellowstone. This is it! We are not talking about some imagined future where things hit a specific tipping point. Our climate is becoming more extreme and unpredictable. It is a disturbing panorama, especially if we add the news reports of giant floods in German, China, and England; the fact that the next two years are likely to be the biggest in terms of CO2 production in history. One article that I read recently pointed out that pretty much the only thing that the US and Russian administrations agree on is the reality of massive climate change.
As harrowing as the facts are, through our combined efforts we can all say that we did something to help avert the worst of this change by being part of Tour for Becky. This was my goal for the ride: to change concern and fear into tangible ACTION. Therefore, I want to thank each and everyone of you for helping me reach the goal of sequestering 1,000 US tons of CO2 through our partnership with Trees for the Future. Miraculously we JUSTmade it! The fundraising platform will remain open for a few more weeks in case you wanted to but hadn’t gotten around to donate. According to this recent report, we actually saved several lives as well. Every donation truly counted in this effort. I will be sending out the checks and an accounting statement in the next month. Through our efforts about 9 acres of carbon sequestering, sustainable agroforestry `Forrest Gardens” will be planted and maintained, incentivizing farmers to plant trees rather than cut them down. It also creates economic systems and empowers women in the process (More info in first vlog here, an interview with the team at Trees for the Future). The photo below depicts the kind of change the program brings.
In addition we are able to make a $1500 donation to our other partner, the Rays of Hope organization, which was special and helpful to Becky in her fight against cancer.
We made a real difference together and I encourage you to continue finding more ways to reduce your individual impact on the climate. Every small change has an effect, especially when amplified over many people. Consider: driving and flying less, eating less (or no) meat, reducing purchases or finding used, joining a CSA, etc. Before I sign off for now, I wanted to announce the winners of the raffle for Greta Bell’s two oil paintings. Thank you Greta!!
Bev and Bob S.
Although there are no firm plans yet for the final leg, I did leave my bike and most of my gear in Bozeman. (Thanks Jake and Stacey!) The final section to the pacific is only about 800 miles, but it is straight through the Northern Rockies. Stay tuned!
PS. Here is my limited collector’s edition final VLOG that covers my time in Bozeman and Yellowstone. If you are interested in the other VLOG posts, they all live here and document the journey in 3-8 minute videos.
About the ride (Original background info)
Becky and Eli
First off, thanks for taking the time to read this update message. I sincerely hope that you have come through this ‘historic’ year well, or at least as well as can be expected given the great challenges. It is now almost two years on from the original Tour for Becky, a 1600 mile solo ride from Westborough, MA to St. Cloud, MN that raised over $8,000 for a couple of great organizations in honor of the memory of my mother-in-law, Becky Lekberg, who passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. Last spring I was all set to hit publish on the announcement of Tour for Becky II when the pandemic started closing down the country and putting a lot of our collective plans on hold. Now that there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, I am preparing a slightly scaled down 1,000 mile solo ride from Minnesota to Montana (yes that means there will be a third ride in the future to make it to the Pacific.) With a recent vaccination and a restless spirit I do believe it is time to get out on that road again.
Me on the first rail trail in the country in Wisconsin (Yes, the date is incorrect as I got pushed back by the pandemic, just like the Olympics)
A new fundraising focus
This time around I am focusing the bulk of my fundraising efforts on a different cause, one that I know was also a serious concern for Becky and the future of her grandchildren. Though it is hard to believe, it is something that will radically change the very fabric of our world to an extent much larger than that of the COVID pandemic in the long run: the climate crisis. We are truly at a do or die moment for this monumental challenge for humanity. Thus far we have collectively fallen short. Not taking a bag at the store or paying a little more attention to MPG when we buy our next car, eating less meat etc: these are very important steps but we are going to need to do much more to start putting our money where our mouth is to avoid the worst case scenarios.
My goal is to transform that anxiety that many of us feel into concrete and useful collective action. It is vitally important to not allow the enormity of the challenge to shut us down as is so often the case when a feeling of hopelessness looms.
Greening the stimulus
Most people in this country have recently gotten a large stimulus check from the government. For many who have been severely financially impacted by the pandemic this will be an essential lifeline that will help meet rent, food, or other essentials. For others of us who have fortunately been spared the worst of the economic effects (like my family), it will be a nice cushion or a happy windfall. However, if we all go out and spend that money on doodads and gewgaws, we will actually be accelerating greenhouse gas release. My proposal to you is to join my family in using the first 10% of the stimulus funds to buy high-quality carbon offsets. For a $140 dollar donation you get the carbon offset for one person (about 16+/- tons of carbon per US resident) for a year. The money goes towards a select group of closely audited projects that demonstrably reduce greenhouse gas release through a variety of mechanisms, such as land restoration/preservation, cleaner burning stoves, etc. Please note that 100% of your donation is going towards the mission of the ride. I am paying personally for all logistical costs associated (flights, bike shipping, food, etc)
Click here to learn more about the non-profit we are partnering with to sequester CO2 and SO much more. They are also featured in my first Vlog post.
A BIG goal- 1,000 Tons of CO2 Mitigated
Last time around we started out with a $3,000 goal and raised $8,000 thanks to the generous support of many. This time I am setting the goal at $10,000. I hope that you will join me in making a donation that will benefit everyone on the planet. This is not THE silver bullet solution, but it is one thing that we can do that will be a step in the right direction and have a direct impact. Also, because we will be buying in bulk it means that we can continue to support the Rays of Hope Foundation with 20% of the funds. This is the cancer support group that Becky was involved with which received half of our donations from the last ride. (PDF from an article they published in their newsletter and FB page below) Achieving this milestone would mean that for every mile that I biked, we would be mitigating 1 ton of CO2 from the atmosphere. That sounds like a nice round number to me. Watch the VLOG below as I speak with representatives from our CO2 sequestration partner. Their programs are really impressive.
It’s more than a number
While $140 will purchase carbon credits for one person for a year, I realize that will be a heavy lift for many. Please know that ANY AMOUNT is much appreciated and not just at the monetary level. As I churned into a brisk headwind with temperatures above 90 riding into Flynt, MI, in 2019, I remember counting up the number of people who had supported the project in my head. It literally got me through that difficult day of pedaling and I am sure I will find myself in a similar scenario on the high plains this year again. At the end of the campaign you will get a report that shows exactly how all of the funds were disbursed and receive an accounting of our collective impact.
I offer one more option to extend our impact. Dealing with the climate crisis will entail a series of commitments both small and large that we will have to make collectively. Making a commitment publicly can be a powerful way of keeping us on track and amplifying the effect. For that reason I want to provide a totally optional space where people can give voice to any other commitments they are making in their lives. Just click on the “Climate Commitment” tab at the top of the blog whether you contribute financially or not.
A final way to help
If you would be so kind as to put this information into any networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) you have that might be receptive. Social media is just not one of the things I do, so any additional exposure will be really helpful to the cause.
A chance to win beautiful artwork
If having a concrete answer to what you are doing to soften the blow of the climate crisis for our children and grandchildren is not enough of a motivation, I offer you one final enticement to log onto tourforbecky.org and join me right now. Anyone who donates any amount will be put into a raffle to win one of two beautiful oil paintings done by artist Greta Bell. (Gretabell.com). They are small format oil on wood. Right now you have about a 1/30 chance. Good luck to all and thanks to Greta for helping me in this way.
Stay up to date
As I did last time, I will be keeping a daily blog of my adventures on the road. If you would like to sign up to receive these updates automatically, you can do that on the lower right hand corner of the blog, http://www.tourforbecky.org, where it says “follow”. Also, click on over to the blog tab for “tons” of updates including a new VLOG feature. Wishing you all health and tailwinds,