A solidarity ride in Italy

Hi Mindy! We are checking in from central Italy during our 5-week bicycle trip there.img_4886-1

Sally and Mario, owners of the house we rented in Umbria, told us about new recycling procedures being rolled out gradually throughout Italy. “To meet EU regulations, we now have bins to recycle plastic, metal, glass, paper and organic waste. They are picked up at the house on a regular basis.”

It is great to see how this recycling effort is being implemented in small towns in rural Italy, and to do our little part to improving how waste is managed.

Ciao from Italy! We are cycling in solidarity with you.

Nancy and Rick


Join the Minneapolis Solidarity Ride on Oct 2

Don’t let Mindy and Ryan have all the fun…..LowCarbon Crossings Minneapolis Solidarity ride next Sunday Oct 2 (Gandhi’s B-day)
12:45pm Meet at Rustica Bakery (3220 West Lake St) on the Greenway near Lake Calhoun and ride the flat and lovely Greenway to the Mississippi River, head south to Minnehaha Falls and the Minnehaha Parkway to Lake Harriet, about 15 miles, then we will meet up at 3:30pm at the Linden Hills Co-op (3815 Sunnyside Ave) for some refreshments and a Climate Conversation and if we are lucky…. a video conference with Ryan and Mindy in North Dakota as they approach the halfway mark of their 79 day journey toward a healthy climate. Spread the word…things work when people are engaged and taking action. Here’s the flyer
and the handout

Teach your children well

Staying with our hosts in Helena, Shiloh and Mary brought to my attention the challenge of raising environmentally responsible children in an era of climate change.  I really admire Shiloh and Mary in their personal commitment to live lighter on this planet and their dedication to teaching their children to do the same.  Ana and Teo are 3 and 5  and like any children their age – energetic, boisterous, quick to show emotion.  Life is simple for children this age.  The world is divided into good guys and bad guys.  Comic books lay it out this way and it’s easy to understand.  The challenges of climate change and it’s solutions are not nearly as neat and simple, but with kids this age one is forced to try to paint it in this light.  Pollution is bad, clean energy is good.  Sending things to the landfill or littering is bad, recycling or reusing is good.  Biking is good.  “Mindy & Ryan are climate heroes biking across the country.”  Oh good, they like heroes.  Mary tells us of one challenge in teaching these lessons in life.  Ana no longer wants to ride in the “polluting car” but has also decided that the bike trailer “is for babies.”  So what is a mother to do to transport her child when Ana’s legs are still too short to ride a tag-along bike? Hmmm.  The other day Ana’s bracelet with the large plastic beads broke while they were out on a walk and fell in a storm drain.  First she sobbed for the loss of her pretty beads, then she sobbed “will the beads go to the ocean and poison the fish?”  They’ve been talking about how plastic in the ocean is bad for the fish.  Hmmm.  “No, I think there is a filter and you don’t need to worry.” Because what good does it do for her to worry about something she didn’t do on purpose and can’t change?

In their household, they recycle all they can, use washable rags and napkins rather than paper, reuse what can’t be recycled when possible, buy in bulk using their own containers over and over, raise bees for their own honey (hives on top the garage roof to keep away from curious children), compost all food scraps (some with worms), and grow some of their own food.  And eat healthy foods.  And read together every night.  And using biking and walking for most of their transportation.  Wow, not easy with small children.

Trying to live lightly on this earth and to teach your children well is a struggle, but a good struggle.  A struggle to do the best we can while forgiving ourselves for not being able to live up to our own highest standards.  We won’t always have the perfect answer or example for the children around us, but we try to do our best.  Some days that’s stellar, some days maybe barely above average.  But it is all worth the effort.  Thank you Shiloh and Mary for being a great example!


Calling on our friends

Push on through or call for a ride? There will be times when we don’t have an option but today we do. We are cold and wet. Can’t feel our toes even with toe warmers. Have cell service. In an easy place to find us. Red and white striped old abandoned house by the freeway exit. We can look for better equipment in Miles City. As we talked about what to do I knew what my mother would tell me to do. We made the call. Disappointed in myself because I had to give up. A little embarrassed, but that never killed anybody. But know it was a good decision. Dave, Pat and Daniel arrived with a big white van to bring us into town. Now we are again warm and dry while our wet clothes are hanging up and in front of heaters. Grateful to Pat for giving us a warm dry place to sleep tonight. Forecast for the next few days is 70 to 80 and sunny. Back to worrying about sunburn instead.



PS We got to see Dave again (right) today when our hosts (Pat on the left) met his family at Wendy’s for lunch.  Thanks again to our rescuers!

Check out this media on our trip

We’ve been sharing many pictures and media hits on our Facebook page, but thought we’d include some of the key ones here for those who don’t do Facebook.  Thanks to all the great volunteers who have reached out to the media to make this happen!

Just before leaving Minnesota we had this great interview with Minnesota Public Radio

There was this article in the Missoulian

Great Falls put us on the evening news on KFBB

And let’s not forget the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Blog

Livingston news

Front page in Hardin, MT

Big Timber Pioneer (coming soon)

Bismarck, ND had multiple stories about us:

Bismarck Tribune announcing our event and photos of our ride out of town

KFYR TV – I think this aired both on the nightly news and the next morning

KX News

High Plains Reader


Pella, IA Pella Chronicle

Central College Sustainability Blog

Bowling Green, OH BG Independent News

Then there is the hometown news:

Edina Hometown Hero

Edina Sun Current

Hometown Life

Mama said there would be days like this

We have had many beautiful days and very little bad weather so far on our trip. Until today. We left our campsite 6 miles East of Lincoln, MT happy that the head wind wasn’t as bad as yesterday evening. A little chilly and cloudy. 12 miles from there to the top of Rogers Pass. It starts snowing lightly and I admire how beautiful it is and remember how I love winter biking in Minnesota. I tell Ryan what a snow geek I am and how happy I am to see it again. Weather continues a little rain, a little more snow. Soon it’s sleeting so we pull over and take shelter in some beautiful pines. Soon the sun is shining and we continue on. Nearing the summit it is snowing big fluffy flakes and our hands and feet are getting wet and the novelty is wearing off. “Let’s get down from this mountain.”  Damp roads means slow going even downhill. We stop at one point to change glove and I make some makeshift mittens with my neoprene socks. We also try plastic bags on our feet to stay a little warmer and dryer. Weather continues to change from clear to rain to sleet to snow. Eventually not precipitating just cloudy. We think we should be on the downhill side to the end of our day, but no. Instead we have rolling hills with plenty of climbing some so steep I have to walk for lack of a low enough gear on my old bike. We are tired and getting cranky. Phones are dead so no more pictures (no service anyway). No place to go but continue on. We arrive in Simms to look for the expected campground. It doesn’t exist. We head into town and find ourselves by the high school where there is a football game. Asking if there is a place to stay we are introduced to Dave the superintendent thinking we could stay in the school. Instead Dave invites us to his house to stay for the night. So this challenging day has ended with the kindness of strangers. Warm and dry and a heater to dry out our socks. Thank you, Dave!

Such beauty we must preserve

​After 13 days on our bicycles, we have reached Missoula, Montana. We traveled 688 miles to finally enjoy a day off the saddle before beginning week 3 of our journey. We passed through beautiful country in Washington along the Colombia River, and in Idaho along the Clearwater and Lochsa River. It will feel great to spend a day off the bicycle, and into the community in Missoula. We are looking forward to events at the Imagine Nation Brewery and Free Cycles. This will begin our more than two week Montana journey. 

Near Lolo, MT a year after a wildfire

Climate change has greatly affected Montana from the pine beetle surviving winters and eating acres of forest, to the increasingly more powerful wildfires, to the decade or two that Glacier National Park will have while it still have it’s glaciers. Montana will also face an increase in extreme precipitation events, a warmer, longer winter, and a decrease in snowfall resulting in less snowpack. In order to lessen these effects of climate change, we must mobilize to find solutions and create community wherever we are, in order to tackle these issues together. 

We also learned a lot from our travels earlier in our journey. Washington and Oregon rely heavily on their logging and timber industries, and with disease, insects, and wildfires becoming more prevalent, climate change is threatening how well these economies function. The same goes for food production. Agriculture is a huge industry throughout the Pacific Northwest, and is susceptible to the power of severe climate change. If these states change to a different climate zone, this means having to change what plants to grow, how to care for an ecosystem with completely different weather patterns. This will take education, experts, farmers, researchers, consumers, etc. It will take a storm of people to help cope with these huge changes that mean so much for these industries.


As we crossed Lolo PASS at 5,235 feet, we had a spectacular view of the National Forest and Wilderness all around us. Boundless forest with a chilly mist, it was a beautiful place among the mountains and valleys of Idaho. The vastness of these wild places is astounding, and is quite a sight to see as we poetically move along rivers on steel frames and wheels. It’s in moments like these, that I am inspired to be a steward of that beauty, for the sake of Mother Earth, and for all things living and non who have graced this planet. 


Walla Walla and beyond

Even short notice is still worth trying. Three days earlier I was introduced to Bart. And he managed to pull together this group for a potluck while we were in Walla Walla, Washington. Small and simple we shared a wonderful meal and had a great conversation.  A key part of which was about who owns the energy system and how can we make it and keep it accessible to small energy producers, not just the big energy companies. 

Bart also found our wonderful hosts Ormand and Christy (with dogs Ellie and Max) who generously opened their home and fed us a delicious breakfast. Ormand also biked us out of town to get us the best route that avoided the highway for the first half of the day. 

We had biked a short 25 miles into Walla Walla using part of our rest day to make up time. We were early enough to enjoy a one weeek completed celebratory breakfast and stop at the local bike shop. Thanks to Matt and Michael at Allegro Cyclery for getting us set with new computers (mine stopped working the first day) so we can more accurately measure mileage and time and other statistics. So we know we went 70 miles today with an average speed of 11.6 mph and bike travel time of five hours and 57 minutes. 

Today we met to cyclists from Spokane at the roadside fruit and veggie stand (picked up yummy local produce for dinner) who gave us some route tips and suggested a stop at the goat cheese factory. We met Mama Joan who gave us the most love filled hugs and encouragement reminding us we just need more love and kindness in the world.  We’re all working to spread more of it. Pass on the hugs people!


Our hope for the future

​Week 1 Ryan Reflections:

There is no shortage of time to think when cycling all day and all week. Even the ride itself provides for a mental jog.

 “Where are all these trucks going? What are they all carrying? Is this really the best for bicycle infrastructure that we can do? Look at all those wind turbines, holy moly! Did I just get a flat? Oh $%@&!”

More than just the road and what we are experiencing comes to mind. I think about the natural disasters and extreme weather conditions taking place all over the world. I think about us finding a nearby habitable planet. I think about what lies next for myself, and for
us all in the near future.

The last place I called home, Decorah, Iowa, was hit by a severe rainfall of 7-8 inches and was severely flooded just 3 days after I had left for my trip. I was struck with guilt, with concern for my neighbors and friends throughout the area. My very own basement of the house I was renting had accumulated 2 to 3 inches of water in the basement the evening my roommate left our temporary home for good. A large part of serving with AmeriCorps is being ready to respond to a disaster in time of need, and this was that time. I saw the Northeast Iowa flood from Facebook photos while on a train car headed as far West as possible from Decorah. Had I been there 3 days prior, I’d be responding to the disaster in a service capacity, something I’ve anticipated since I began AmeriCorps 3 years ago. This opportunity never came. I saw friends posting for help with their belongings, with their flooded basements.

Oh how the guilt came over me. I told my good friend I made in Decorah, “I wish I was there to help! I’m so sorry!” To which she replied that I am doing something to help, I am cycling for climate action so this doesn’t become as severe in the future. A much needed comfort came over me, as I fumbled with my packed bags that would be carried by my steel machine on two wheels. It was these words that brought comfort, and brought a larger purpose to my ride.

We are increasingly becoming a people that are affected, or know someone that is affected by the changes in how our planet functions. Whether or not one believes in climate change means very little when disaster response is needed more frequently. We know someone that is affected. We may be those people that are affected. In reaction to these disasters and events around the world, we can respond with inaction and indifference to the suffering of others, or we can respond with compassion, and all the action that we can muster, whatever that is.

As much as I believe in the little things, like taking shorter showers, biking to and from work, it is the BIG things that need the most change. In order to do this, we must organize and use our collective power to improve our friend’s conditions, all across the globe. This is why I believe so passionately in finding an organization that speaks to you, and has more power than an individual voice. It could be a medical organization concerned about air pollution. It could be a group of farmers concerned about their crop and the future of the land. It can be young people and old concerned about the world they adopt, or the world they leave future generations. Creating a better world for us now, and for the future, is something we must come together for. Disregard the lines that divide us. We can find more ways that we are intertwined than we are different. The potential for our collective action is astounding. We can, together, ensure that we have a safe, secure, and healthy future for ALL people. What a beautiful and hopeful thing we have. Let’s hold on to that hope. Let’s carry that hope with us wherever we go.

We can all change the world for the better, so let’s get going!


Days 4 & 5

Not every day stands out on its own. Days 4 and 5 were fairly similar. We traveled Along Highway 14 in Washington state following the Columbia River. We are gifted with many beautiful views of the river gorge.
Yesterday we passed the Bridge of the Gods – the ending point of the Pacific Rim Trail hike in the movie Wild. We also passed the Amtrak on its way into Portland and we both waved madly hoping Deborah (our favorite car attendant) would see us. Oh, and there were the tunnels – 7 in total that were each pretty short, but still had a button to push so that th bike warning sign would flash while we were in the tunnel.

Today continued much the same although we entered the wine region of Washington. Many vinyards along our route. We had a beautiful tail wind to help move us along. Despite the first flat tire (Ryan had to fix 3 holes in the tube), we made good time and got to camp by 6 pm even though this was our longest day yet. Unfortunately my odometer stopped working, so we are relying on an app called Strava that is not always reliable. for today it says 73 miles which seems correct. We also passed the area that we had been watching out the train window on our way to Portland – thinking we’d be back here in a week. here it is a week later and we are back to the road we were looking at with much anticipation. 

I’ve been plenty tired at the end of wach day so sleeping well in my timy tent. Earplugs help block out the trains that pass in the night – we’re following the river and so do they.