2011 Ride

Explore the latest during the 2011 ride

Stop. Tarsands. Oil. Permanently.

Day 60: Got up at daybreak, broke camp and pedaled a couple miles down the road to Beverly’s Country Cafe, where we got one of the best breakfasts of the entire trip. Leaving the restaurant, we were approached by two separate men expressing their support for what we were doing. Have a feeling the honks and waves of support from car drivers today was thanks to all the local TV and newspaper coverage of the ride. And the coverage didn’t stop. Rolling through Rusk, TX, we were flagged down on the side of the road by Robert Gonzalez, General Manager for a local radio station, who arranged a roadside interview with the editor of the Cherokeean Herald.

Today was marked by big hills, including Monster Hill (imagine biking up the equivalent of a 25-story building in a 1/2 mile span) on the outskirts of Nacogdoches. Rolling into town with 55 more miles behind us, we were warmly greeted by our local hosts Vicki & Tim Baggett and a dozen or so more pipeline fighters, including several college students on bikes. After a caffeine recharge and interview with The Daily Sentinel, our “bike posse” rolled out of the coffee shop parking lot and occupied a street lane (there are no bike lanes in this town) for a biking tour of downtown. Afterwards, did interviews with Marilyn Eares, Ryan Maher, Daniel Baugh, Kendal Martel and Brenda Morgan (look for their YouTube videos to be posted soon).

Tim shuttled our bikes to their home outside of town, where we were treated to a wonderful home-cooked meal, drinks and conversation with new friends, and later real beds to sleep in, but not before another planning conference call set up by Chris Wilson with Beaumont and Houston activists. Really appreciate the Baggett’s warm hospitality, and want to thank Tim, Vicki and also their next door neighbor, Anne Tindell, for the generous and creative origami travel cash. Learn more about the inspiring work they’re doing to stop Keystone XL at their Nacogdoches S.T.O.P. (Stop Tarsands Oil Period) website: http://nacstop.org/.

For more local coverage of the ride, check out this story that ran on the local CBS News affiliate in Tyler, TX: http://tinyurl.com/7mlk4y5.

Break Down & Fix Up

Day 59: Got an early start on the day, with plans (always tenuous when trekking by bike) to make Nacogdoches by nightfall, where we were expected for a potluck dinner to meet yet more Texas pipeline opponents. But the first pedal stroke of the day propelled me nowhere. Nor did the second. Turns out a screw on a bolt that had been specially fabricated for the trike (after a breakdown on day one of late year’s ride) had vibrated off, so the derailleur was no longer attached to the back fork. In an ironic twist, Ron had just departed to finally retrieve his bike, which had itself been repaired for a derailleur problem, and now I had my own. But to our amazing good fortune, David Daniel was there to once again help us out of our predicament.

He and Ron scoured the local hardware stores to find what we needed while I waited with the trike by the side of the road next to a small flea market/produce stand. When Jack, the owner of 40 years, rolled up in his truck, I learned the country music he had blaring 24/7 behind the fence was to keep the local skunks at bay. He said there was room enough in the world for both him and skunks, he just didn’t want them repelling his customers. Sounded like a fair enough arrangement to me.

Trike finally repaired, we reconnoitered in Tyler, where Ron, David and I did a lengthy interview with the local NBC news affiliate. Another ten or so miles down the road, local CBS News affiliate reporter/anchor Jennifer Heathcock and her cameraman caught up with us for another roadside interview. By now, we were never going make Nacogdoches, so we called it a day in Jacksonville, where camping could be found. Ended the day with 44 more miles under our belt at a lakeside park, where I’m writing this blog in the cold at a picnic table under what looks to be close to a full moon. Thanks to Patagonia for so generously gearing me up to keep me warm on nights just like tonight! Today was a good day.

For a look at the ride story that ran in today’s Tyler Morning Telegraph, check out:  http://tinyurl.com/buzhz3f.

Protecting a Family’s Homestead

Day 58: This morning, David Daniel took Ron and I on a walking tour of his family’s beautiful wooded property, populated by panthers, bears, wild boar, deer and old growth hardwood forest. Their property is interlaced by three pristine, spring fed creeks that the pipeline would cut right through. David drinks out of his streams now but wouldn’t think of doing it with a tar sands pipeline there. What confidence would you have in a U.S. State Department that says 1.7 million gallons spilling daily from Keystone XL without triggering their leak detection system is considered acceptable (http://tinyurl.com/7t39w8o)?

This statement from David drives home what’s really at stake: “This is our homestead. It’s all we have. We’ve put every penny into this and it’s all we have to leave our daughter and we want to leave her the best… the disrespect for our lives and the life of our daughter… is unacceptable.” Watch for this “walk in the woods” YouTube video to be posted soon.

As if our walk in the woods wasn’t enough to reflect on for the rest of the day, 92-year old pipeline fighter Furman Boles was eager to see us again, and me him, before we left town, so we met in town for breakfast to learn more from this wise, local elder. Furman, who still gets around everywhere on his own, insisted on getting in the rocket trike, and I believe would have pedaled to Tyler himself if I had let him. Don’t miss the YouTube video of Furman in the trike.

On the way to Tyler, stopped into the Wood County Democrat in Quitman, TX for a newspaper interview. Then rolled on to Mineola, for an on-the-spot interview with The Mineola Monitor. Rolling up to the office of the Monitor, passed the Community Care Center, whose staff stopped me to ask if I would be willing to show the trike to their elderly residents. So I rolled the trike right into their meeting hall, to the seeming delight of everyone there. That’s the thing I love the most about this little yellow trike: it makes people happy.

By then, with only 37 miles on the day, was running late for a scheduled 4:30 interview with the Tyler Morning Telegraph, so David Daniel and Ron, who had driven ahead to retrieve Ron’s bike from the bike shop where it was being repaired, met me on the side of the road and shuttled me the rest of the way into town. Tomorrow, the ride will launch at the same spot to continue the journey south. Here’s another good local story on the ride, this time from Antlers, OK: http://tinyurl.com/cftbqe5. We’re countering TransCanada’s propaganda, one small town at a time.

Keystone XL is “Un-American”

Day 57: Pipeline fighter extraordinaire David Daniel lined up a full slate of landowners and anti-pipeline activists for us to meet with in Winnsboro today. I can’t begin to express the power of the conversations we had here, but hopefully captured their essence on camera. It was an emotional roller coaster to hear the heartfelt stories of my fellow Americans who are fighting so hard just to protect what they love. I get emotional just thinking about what 92-year old Furman Boles shared with me. From his gentle statement, “I love everything that has life in it,” to his poignant characterization of TransCanada’s toxic tar sands pipeline as “un-American.” Look for the powerful interviews from Furman, Susan Scott, Patti Radillo and Eddie Radillo to be posted on the RenewableRider YouTube channel soon.

A special thanks to Jim and Marilyn at Art & Expresso for taking such good care of us and for letting us commandeer their shop for the day. Thanks, too, to David for lining up interviews with The Winnsboro News and Front Porch News (can’t wait to see our group shots with the rocket trike). Ended the day with a great catch up call with my dear friend and fellow earth warrior, Brock Evans, before David and Clara treated Ron and I to a wonderful dinner. Definitely feeling the love in Texas.

One of the highlights of the day was being treated to a private performance of Eddie Radillo’s “Tar Sands Song.” All Texans, and Americans, need to hear it:  http://tinyurl.com/6w68geu. Pass it along!!

Don’t Mess With Texas

Day 56: Good riding weather is back: sunny and 40s. Logged 66 more miles today. Started the day sitting down with a reporter at The Paris News to talk about Keystone XL and the ride. Happy to see “old school” reporters still exist. A little later, was flagged down on the side of the road by Julia Trigg Crawford, a Texas landowner in the appeal process of an eminent domain battle with TransCanada. Very serendipitous. Around lunchtime, rolled into Sulphur Springs for an interview with the News-Telegram. On my way out of town, a shop called Phoenix Rising captured my eye, so I dropped in for a quick sandwich. Was delighted to learn that Amy Fikes, co-owner of this women-run local shop, is adamantly opposed to Keystone XL. Look for her YouTube interview to be posted soon.

From there, Ron and I made the final push to Winnsboro, where we were eager to spend time with David Daniel, a prominent leader of the fight against TransCanada in Texas. David was kind enough to come out and meet us about 5 miles outside of town to trail us with his hazards. Moments later, Ron’s bike broke down again (same derailleur hanger problem as last time). Yet more serendipity. Thanks to David being there, we were able to simply toss the bike and trailer into his pickup bed, while I pedaled the rest of the way into town. There we met Eleanor Fairchild at Art & Expresso in downtown Winnsboro, where we were kindly treated to coffee by owners Jim Hollowell and Marilyn Armand. Eleanor generously treated us all to dinner afterwards, where we learned a lot about local efforts to fight Keystone XL. We then hurried back to the wooded home of David and Clara Daniel for a statewide planning call with Texas landowners and anti-pipeline activists. A big thank you to Chris Wilson for setting this up, and for introducing us to their powerful Texas network! TransCanada has picked the wrong people to mess with.

Here’s a good Kansas story on the ride that ran in the El Dorado Times:  http://tinyurl.com/6rjjhg8.

Rolling Into the Lone Star State

Day 55: Spent the morning getting things ready for our arrival in the Lone Star State. Crossed the Texas border late afternoon, rolling into the town of Paris 28 miles later. Rode in the 30s yet again today. Whatever happened to that warm Texas weather? The state, of course, is governed by Rick “Oops” Perry, a prominent Keystone XL booster. Should make for an interesting final two weeks of the ride.

If you haven’t already seen this powerful video documenting the dirty truth about tar sands oil extraction, please do: http://tinyurl.com/79zzgpj. Outraged yet?


Countering TransCanada’s Propaganda, One Town at a Time

Day 54: Falling snow delayed our morning departure for a few hours, but still got in 66 miles. Another cold ride day, in the 30s, with numerous hills and strong cross winds, making it particularly tough for Ron with his anything-but-aerodynamic bike trailer. Rolled up to the Atoka County Times for a quick photo, then stopped in for an interview with The Antlers American a little further down the road. Reaching countless hearts and minds with our message, one small town at a time.

Check out this exciting news from Bloomberg New Energy Finance showing that for the first time ever, renewables have surpassed fossil fuels in new power-plant investments:  http://tinyurl.com/c7g5bef.

Cold Century Ride

Day 53: Hit the road at sunrise, and made the 100 miles (plus three) we set out to pedal today. 30s, overcast, and rolling hills all day, but otherwise a great day for riding with a wide shoulder and very little Sunday traffic. Ron’s day was made more challenging by a bent rim and slowly degrading wheel on his bike trailer, but he toughed it out.

Checking into the motel in Coalgate, OK (named after coal mining activity and the site of a mining camp), started talking with a guy in line in front of me, who told me folks around here support oil pipelines, until I told him we were riding to block a tar sands pipeline. That shifted the conversation rather dramatically. It ended with him asking why we weren’t in the electric car age already and wishing us luck with our mission.

Walked across the street to grab some dinner at a local diner in Coalgate (pop: 2,000). As dessert was arriving, a woman with a camera and notepad approached our booth (word travels fast in small towns). Wanda Utterback with the Coalgate Record-Register proceeded to conduct the most thorough interview of the journey to date. She was also a real joy to meet. Hoping the piece she writes opens a lot of eyes to the Keystone XL nightmare. Looking forward to hopefully meeting some OK landowners along the proposed pipeline route before leaving the state tomorrow.

On the more bad news front, 2010 global carbon emissions show the biggest jump ever recorded: http://tinyurl.com/c2vbxss.

Riding Out the Storm

Day 52: Woke up this morning to a driving rain which lasted most of the day. First rainout of the ride. Happy with decision to hunker down rather than chance it with cars and trucks in low visibility conditions. Will need a 100-mile ride day tomorrow to beat the coming snowstorm, so will be hitting the road at first light.

One of Big Oil’s worst nightmares – that Alberta’s tar sands will become landlocked – just came one step closer to reality. In a very promising development, Reuters reports that 60 aboriginal groups in Canada have formed a united front to ban all exports of tar sands crude oil through their territories, which cover the entire coastline of British Columbia: http://tinyurl.com/7zcxmky. Americans need to know that fighting Keystone XL here will not be not enough. We must also support our brothers and sisters north of the border. Only by coming together as one human family can we end this inhumane practice.


Pedaling Through Oil Country

Day 51: After treating us to breakfast, my friend Wayne Walker shuttled us back to District Bicycles in downtown Stillwater, where Bobby met us early to repair Ron’s bike (and replace a tube on my trike) at next to no charge. While waiting, got dialed in at the Aspen Coffee Company for a free mocha (thanks, guys), then dialed up the News Press, which came down to the store for an interview. Here’s part one of their two part piece: http://tinyurl.com/7my8nlu. If you find yourself in Stillwater, OK, drop into District Bicycles. Bobby & Crystal are building real community, one bike at a time.

The 30 mile ride to Cushing, OK was cold and overcast. We were greeted on the edge of town by a large, roadside pipeline display declaring Cushing as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.” In town, dialed the editor of the local paper to pitch the ride, only to be told, “You do realize our paper is pro-Keystone pipeline,” to which I responded, “You do report both sides of the story, right?” That gave him pause, but not enough to want to do an interview. So we went in search of the Keystone XL Cushing Delivery Center (where TransCanada wants to hook up their existing pipeline to their hoped for Cushing to Houston link).

This took us miles down country roads into a massive labyrinth of oil tank farms stretching as far as the eye could see. With the stench of gas permeating the air, we pedaled through one of the world’s largest oil storage facilities, reported to hold up to 5 to 10 percent of total U.S. crude inventory. We may or may not have found the precise hook-in point for Keystone XL (there were no signs to indicate either way), but the locale fit the description we had been given, there were what looked like 36″ sections of pipe stacked up, and a surveyor was doing work on newly graded ground. Upon finding our way out of the take farm maze, we rolled further down the road, encountering more aggressive drivers in one afternoon than I’ve encountered in my entire life (really hoping that’s an anomaly). 61 miles later, rolled into the little town of Stroud just before dark, in a cold, drizzling mist.