Our teammates and now hosts, Rob and Melissa (and Robin), fed us a wonderful and hearty breakfast to get us ready for the ride today. We stopped to thank the local firefighters for their good work then Paul D took the wheel of our support vehicle for the first half of the day and now just four bikers took to the road out of Winona. We crossed the river to Wisconsin for the first leg of our journey. It was another beautiful day for biking with spectacular views of the Mississippi river. Our group kept a strong pace together drafting off the rider in front of us – Tom and Jerry taking turns in the lead.
Nearing Alma, WI we came into view of a large coal plant and were able to take some pictures waving goodbye to coal as we envision our nation doing as we move toward renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar. Welcome to Alma, MN “step into living history”. Mindy smiled to herself thinking that in her mind coal plants are soon to be part of that history – not our future.
We crossed the river into Wabasha, Minnesota and stopped for lunch. We then continued on the Minnesota side of the river with continued spectacular views and glimpses of wild life.
I was reminded again today of Jerry’s observation the other day that being on a bicycle gives you a new perspective on road kill – it includes grasshoppers and butterflies and frogs and snakes and other small things you don’t notice in a car. He also told us that he wanted a sign on his bike that says, “Warning – I swerve for grasshoppers.” Bicycling gives many different perspectives from travel in a car.
A boost to our energy in Lake City when we saw this sign:
We had a great turnout at our community gathering in Red Wing at the Izaak Walton League House! Nearly 30 people turned out to share conversation and listen to music by Paul Doffing. By way of introduction, all shared 6 words or a sentence about why they were here. Some words mentioned: grandchildren, my future, children, environment, biking, earth, great-grandchildren. Bike team members presented opportunities available through our sponsoring organizations and heard about what is happening in Red Wing.
Evan from the Red Wing Sustainability Commission shared that the energy conservation efforts at the five Red Wing municipal buildings has resulted in 30% energy cost savings and 50% energy reduction. They are now exploring 1MW community solar installation and ordinances that will make it easier for residents to install solar and wind at their homes. All local residents were invited to get more involved with the Sustainability Commission by applying to become a member or attend a meeting to express their concerns as a citizen.
Alan noted that we were sitting in the shadow of the thermal power plant. This plant currently burns ground up garbage that originates in Ramsey & Washington counties. This produces much more CO2 and other harmful pollutants than coal. Many would like to shut it down and see that energy replaced by solar generation. One thing those from the Twin Cities can do is to advocate for zero-waste approach in Ramsey and Washington counties.
Rick made a commitment that he would host a local event at the same time as the People’s Climate March in New York at his bookstore, Fair Trade Books.
Another amazing evening!