Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Boots Boothroyd, Seawall & Cellphones (Wendy)

Malkolm has a firm bicycling heritage. My dad, now 86, has always loved the freedom of cycling, the wind in his hair. He hates bike helmets. (He believes they increase your chance of a serious neck injury, plus they interfere with the wind in your hair.) Boots rides a 10 speed with a very high seat and skinny tires. We all rode down to the White Spot for dinner. With his bum in the air and head crouched low, he disappeared down the hill like a bat out of hell. I cautiously followed, praying he wouldn't hit gravel. I don't want to see blood spurting out from his head of fine windblown white hair.
We spent 5 days in Vancouver. We rode on the seawall in Stanley Park on a sunny Saturday. The path was full of holidayers and healthy Vancouverites out exercizing. We actually were able to overtake a few of the cyclists, which made me feel like a real athlete.
As we headed out of town, a well dressed cyclist rode slowly ahead of us, up the sidewalk of Lion's Gate Bridge. She was talking on her cellphone. She was not paying attention to the road. As Malkolm passed her she swerved, and knocked him into the guardrail.
There ought to be a law about cycling and cellphones.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A real rest day (ken)

Our hardest cycling day so far was the trip over the pass between Lillooet and Pemberton. We sweated up 13% grades only to lose the elevation we’d gained on a steep downhill. Getting to the summit was like a game of Snakes and Ladders, laboriously fighting upward only to slide quickly back down. When we finally reached the top, we were met by a three-day rainstorm. Fortunately we were heading for a port in the storm – Rachel Shephard’s house in Brackendale (near Squamish).
We’ve known Rachel for decades and we’ve done lots of fun trips together from sea-kayaking in Baja California to climbing in Yosemite to paddling the Nahanni River. We dried out and re-energized at Rachel’s. We went for a walk with some of Rachel’s birding friends: Chris & Bev Dale and Jim Meyer. We found Red-crossbills and Chris also gave us lots of helpful advice about birding destinations on our way to Washington.
We`ve had several unrestful “rest” days so far. Cycling up a creek and hiking for hours up a steep dirt road in search of ptarmigan. Cycling up a dusty logging road in a heat wave looking unsuccessfully for a Black-backed Woodpecker. Today we`re having a real rest day at Wendy`s parent`s place in West Vancouver. Our only exercise was a meagre 26 kilometers to Stanley Park where we saw a Mute Swan and a Wood Duck.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Black Swifts- Malkolm

After identifying some Common Mergansers in a roadside creek, Ken and I mounted our bikes and cycled ahead, to where Wendy was waiting. A group of large, cigar-shaped birds with long pointed wings and fast, jerky flight fluttered above Wendy. It took a moment for me to realize that I was looking at my #1 target species for the Southern B.C. area. “Black Swifts!” I yelled.

We dropped our bikes and stared at them as they wheeled about. Conveniently, a few Vaux’s Swifts were mingled amongst the Black Swifts, giving us an excellent size comparison: the tiny Vaux’s is swallow-sized as opposed to the Black Swift which is almost as big as a nighthawk!

Our bible, The Sibley Guide to Birds said Black Swifts are ”uncommon and very local”, so I had imagined a tough hike to a remote waterfall to a spot where they might nest. I had phoned local birders and Ken had called our friend Rachel Shephard whose home near Squamish we were headed for in a couple of days. I was prepared to do even more research, in the hopes of getting suggestions. The last thing that I’d have expected was to find a bunch right by the highway!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Older cyclists and statistics - Ken

It’s warm and muggy in Clinton, BC and we’re trying to call home to Whitehorse. Our bikes are across the street, propped up against the wall of “Budget” Foods. The italics are mine. An old man scrutinizes our bikes. He squeezes my seat as if it’s an avocado and he’s not sure if it’s ripe. He gazes intently at my “Bob” trailer as if he can’t believe anyone could be stupid enough to drag that much gear. Then he grabs Malkolm’s bike, lifts it up and winces.
“I’m going to see what he wants,” says Wendy and crosses the street.
He has lots to say. He’s 72 and is two months into a cycle tour of his own. The only flat tire he’s had was in Chicken, Alaska. It was raining so he switched to a new tube and repaired the hole later. He didn’t mean to brag, but his average daily distance was about 30% more than ours. He has a sore butt today, so he’s resting. Malkolm’s bike is too heavy, and why does a kid have such a load? How old is Malkolm anyway?
It won’t wash to tell someone nearly a generation older than Wendy and I that Malkolm’s legs are younger than ours and why shouldn’t we load him down? I don’t think fast enough to tell him that this trip is Malkolm’s idea.
For you statistics junkies, Malkolm has identified 140 bird species and we’ve cycled 1724 kilometers. That’s one new species every 12.3 km or 5.18 per day. I don’t think he’ll keep up those amazing averages.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hot hot days - Wendy

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! *
I wake up, wondering if that could be a bird noise. It’s dark.Malkolm calls from his tent, “Is that a nighthawk?” I listen to the nighthawk’s melodious, metallic call, and enjoy the breeze coming through the tent netting.
Next thing I know, Ken is poking me and the sun is peeping over the hill. Our tent is separated from Williams Lake by a strip of trees, and it is a birdy place. I listen to the songs and wonder who’s singing. A squirrel chatters. Oops! The squirrel just flew. I guess it’s was a kingfisher.
We rise early, and drink cold coffee & cocoa that we made last night. Breakfast is a Granny Smith Apple Pie, split 3 ways. We are on the road by 7:00. In the cool of the morning, I feel positive at the bottom of an uphill. Not so, a few hours later. The sun beats on us fiercely and the blacktop radiates up extra heat from below. Hot sweat stings my eyes. Red-faced, we stagger into a rest area. There’s a lake! We walk straight in.
Aaaaahhhhhhhh! What a change.
Is it worth overheating , just for the joy of cooling back down?
We have had a few hot days. Well, we thing they are hot, but we’re northerners. I wonder how we will manage in Florida next June?
*Malkolm and Ken want me to report that they object to my version of nighthawks voice.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Heatwave -Malkolm

We found our 120th species this morning, as we flew down a hill, Ken screamed "Whoa! Stop! What’s the bird chasing that Kestrel?"
I jammed on my brakes, too late to see the Kestrel, but its pursuer was still around- a gorgeous Western Kingbird. The bird alighted on a wire, giving us a good look at its bright yellow underparts and its shades of slate gray back. Ken's eyes have been as sharp as a Hawk today, spotting many exciting birds, including our year’s first Western Meadowlark.
We’re in the midst of a heat wave, with only the promise of a cool lake the only thing keeping us going during the ninety + kilometer days. Fortunately some thin cloud kept it cool for the first half of our cycle, but around noon the sun escaped, turning every hill into a gruelling experience. After an especially long climb we were shocked to see a “No Vacancy” sign outside the campground, but after some begging the management allowed us to pitch our tents on some open grass. After a swim and a cool drink we felt much better. We relaxed, watching Pacific-slope Flycatchers feed their nestlings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Traffic - Ken

We’re gradually getting used to the traffic. I think. We were spoiled on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. It was our own personal bike trail, with the occasional intruding vehicle. Not so on the Yellowhead Highway between Smithers and Prince George. When the shoulder disappears we get nervous, especially when a logging truck is barrelling down on you and a transport is coming up from behind.
We’ve made it safely to Prince George now. Many road-killed creatures haven’t been so lucky. The bird carnage is sad – Northern Flickers, MacGillivray’s Warblers, Crows, Common Nighthawks – not to mention the bears and deer.
There are other reasons than the impacts of climate change to leave our vehicles at home when we can.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pine Bark Beetles and Coal Trains - Wendy

We are in Vanderhoof, the geographical center of BC, and have cycled over 1100 km. We could have driven this distance in two days, but not once have I had that yucky feeling I get with long distance driving. Malkolm's bird count is at 115 species.
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway had so little traffic that I felt as though we were on our own private bike path. Highway 16 is not like that. I am on high alert as transport trucks, campers and pickups towing huge pleasure boats whiz by.
We camped in a gravel pit the other night.On the forested hillside across the valley most of trees were reddish brown. They were lodgepole pines, killed by pine bark beetle. Many factors caused this epidemic, one of which is climate change. The winters are not cold enough to kill the larvae. Right below our camp was a railway line. A locomotive roared past, pulling 100 cars filled with coal. The BC government says they are concerned about climate change, and yet coal mining goes on.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Our "rest" day - Malkolm

Please Check out our website:!

We cycled into Hazleton in northern British Columbia, glad to be rid of the swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes that had infuriated us along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. The bugs made hanging out at camp intolerable, so we had put in long days on that stretch, dragging our heavy loads more than 70 kilometers per day for six straight days. The birds enjoyed the bugs however: we found our 100th species on day 14 in Hazelton. We needed a rest day.
We camped out in Hazelton at the home of very kind birders Ray Sturney and Maureen Sargent. I was keen to find a few alpine birds that we hadn’t seen yet, like ptarmigan and grouse. Ray suggested climbing to Nine Mile Mountain, a place rich in avifauna. They drove to the start of the hike while Wendy, Ken and I cycled along a rough track that lead to the mountain. As we rounded a bend in the road we wondered if we had taken a wrong turn – the track turned into a creek (a beaver had dammed the creek, diverting it onto the road). After a more few kilometres we left our bikes and set off on a steep, two-hour hike to the alpine plateau.
When we came out onto the plateau, we were serenaded by Golden-crowned Sparrows singing from spindly evergreens. Horned Larks hopped amongst the boulders and American Pipits flitted over the tundra. A grizzly bear strolling across a nearby hillside startled us. We finally found one of our target birds, a Willow Ptarmigan, not completely changed out of its white winter plumage. The Ptarmigan clucked “go-back, go-back, go-back” then scurried away. “The slog up here was worth it,” said Wendy. She might have reconsidered when her knee started hurting on the long hike down.
Our “rest day” turned out to be anything but.