Off the Grid Bicycle Tour: Day 53
My Off the Grid cycling tour buddy, Rob continues his journey to promote sustainability. Here’s his journal entry from Day 53 that includes wise words and an update on his ride.
“Every day we choose, whether we realize it or not, to be a part of the solution or to be a part of the problem.”
Off the Grid Bicycle Tour: Day 53
by Rob Greenfield
I left Grant’s house at 3:30 as the clouds rolled in partially covering up the sun. It had been a hot day, 85+ degrees, and this cooled it off a bit. A few sprinkles fell from the sky and the humid air was full of vigor and life. Leaving town I was tremendously grateful to have spent time with great friends and rested my drained body. I stopped behind the grocery store on the way out and loaded my bag full of blackberries, apples, nectarines, spinach, and melons. This ten pounds of fruit would last me for about twenty-four hours.
The terrain outside of Boscobel was stunningly beautiful and brought excitement to my mind and body. The road took me along the flooded Wisconsin River that was flowing through the forests creating a river wonderland. The green land enthralled me and was full of magical scents from blooming trees and wildflowers. The air was the ideal temperature to be riding in just my shorts and my hairy body trapped hundreds of little insects all over it. Insects bounced off my forehead and flew into my eyes but I enjoyed this knowing it was a sign of the life that this river had created. I pedaled along the Wisconsin River feeling as inspired as could be by the beauty surrounding me. The beauty was so grand that it brought sadness to me, as nature often does.
This is Wisconsin. This is my homeland. This is where my roots spread into the ground as a youth and soaked up knowledge, experiences, friendships, love, and memories. This is where I was molded into the man I am today. This is Wisconsin. This is my homeland. As far away as I travel and as long as I stay away it will always be the land that made me who I am today.
The lush dense forests and the green pastures full of spotted cows were a source of great inspiration for me. Emotions flooded my mind, opening it up and allowing me to come up with inspiration of methods to create the happier and healthier world I desire to see. I took voice memos of the ideas as to not forget them so that I could capture them in their peak and transcribe them onto paper when I had the time.
On this journey I have created and solidified my mission in life and have dedicated myself to being the change that we need in this world. To being the inspiration that people need in order to take action. To lead by example to demonstrate what can be done and what is attainable for anyone. To teach simple ways to live a happier healthier that will create a happier healthier planet. That is who Rob Greenfield is and that is who Rob Greenfield will be. The path that I took in my younger years in Wisconsin did not always have an obvious arrow pointing in this direction but I am thankful for every moment that I have spent on this earth because it has brought me to where I am today and it has led me into this mission. It has created a desire deep inside me to be the change that this planet needs. I gave thanks to the Wisconsin wilderness for the shivers it sent down my spine as I rode today and for being a source for the greatness inside me.
I passed familiar places in an unfamiliar way, via bicycle. When I lived in Madison just fifty miles from where I was pedaling today it would have been quite the task to pedal out here. Now it was just another 50-75 mile day on the road. It is something I can do now without even thinking twice about it. In Wisconsin I drove everywhere I needed to go and I used a credit card to pump the gas the car needed to go. This credit card detached me from the fact that I was pumping money into my tank everyday. For many years I never thought twice about reducing the amount of fuel I used. I just assumed, hey if I want to go somewhere I’ll just put the gas in the car to get me there. I did not think about the idea of saving myself money and not contributing to global warming. It was simple, if I needed to go somewhere I put gas in my car. Now that I realize what this mindset does to the planet and how much more financially free I am not pouring my money into my car I would cringe to pump gas into a vehicle. This is a perfect example of how life is just a matter of perspective and how we shape the world around us. Everyday we have choices to make, and each one of us as individuals makes the decision to be a part of the problem or to be a part of the solution.
I carried on pedaling through favorable conditions in love with the lush jungle green hills that rose straight out of the flooded waters. This land is so thick and so full of life. The birds sang songs all around me, deer watched me ride by from within the foliage, frogs croaked, muskrats scurried off the roadside, and turtles sat lazy on the river banks enjoying the summer nights they had been waiting for. I had been told that it was a very long winter here in Wisconsin that had just recently ended and it was quite obvious to me that the fisherman on the riversides and the cheery birds above were happy to be out together in Mother Nature. My knees ached and the bursitis in my foot burned hot. Even though the pedaling was quite easy I felt much pain along with a very itchy body from all the biting gnats and mosquitoes. Occasionally it would distract me from my heightened spirits but never for too long as every time I looked around me into the beauty the emotions flooded back. I’m in pure bliss here in the driftless region of Wisconsin.
As the light faded away from the sky it was so pretty that it hurt. I had a tough time deciding whether to end my night in Black Earth still amongst the lush rolling hills or to continue on all the way to Madison. I mulled it over for an hour as I rode and just couldn’t make a decision. I wanted to stay out here amongst the beauty for as long as I could but I knew I had a busy ahead of me tomorrow and it would be helpful to wake up in Madison. Rather than deciding I just keep my wheels turning until I was far enough past Black Earth that I was far enough way to not be able to turn back. The beauty was bittersweet for the rest of the ride as I yearned to soak it in and walk through the forests, visit the farms, and drink fresh milk from the cows. Alas I kept on pedaling at my casual pace of 12 mph and carried on into the dark figuring I’d make it to my friend Lars’s house around 10:30, where I would have a bed to sleep in and a good friend to hug.
I turned off of the dark and busy highway 14 onto a country road where the only lights in sight were those of the lightning bugs in the ravines below and the twinkling stars above. It was eerie but I was happy to be alone in the dark woods. This alone time creates growth for me. It was so quiet I could hear every creek from my bamboo bike and I could have heard a rabbit nibbling on leaves if there was one. The light gray road was lit up just enough by the reflective clouds above that I could pedal along in the dark safely. I heard shrieks from the forest from an animal that I could not identify. At first I thought a Bob Cat, but who knows what it was. The air was cool and comfortable to be pedaling in. I was so close to the familiar city of Madison but pedaling on a road I never had before that felt very unfamiliar. With nightfall I felt loneliness but I was grateful for it because I know that many humans do not get the opportunity to experience solitude in nature. Many humans do not take the opportunity to connect with nature and experience the peace it can create within. I arrived at Lars’s home as planned around 10:30 and was happy to be in a comfortable home where I could rest my body and mind.
For more on Rob’s incredible bike journey, follow him on Facebook.
Photo by Brent Martin.