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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Polar winds. (Wendy)

We heard the weather forecast for the weekend: “polar winds will produce a potent storm.” We knew a potent storm would slow us down. Nevertheless, we lingered an extra day in Bosque del Apache. The volunteers had invited us to their Thanksgiving feast – too good an offer to miss. We cycled eastward the next day trying to ignore the oncoming cars plastered with snow.
Despite the ominous signs, we delayed some more. Local birding expert Jerry Oldenettel guided us to a cattle-watering tank in the desert. It was a great place to see hard-to-find longspurs. When we left in the mid-afternoon we really needed to get some miles behind us. Then we stopped at a sign commemorating the first ever atomic bomb blast, which occurred a few miles south of our route. Then we stopped for a mountain bluebird that crossed our path. We had been watching for this bird since we left Whitehorse. We had to drag Malkolm and his camera away from incredibly blue bird. Finally we set up camp on a flattish, silty spot in the lee of a small hill. I hoped we would not get pinned down there.
Yukoners will not sympathize with us, having to endure one day of winter.
Next day the storm hit us. I washed our breakfast dishes, and the water turned to ice. When I put them on the ground, the silt turned to mud and froze to the bottoms. I rewashed them. Then I had to warm up my hands in my armpits. We pushed our bikes out from the lee of our little hill, and got blasted. The wind gusted to 30 mph and the temperature was 19 . The wind chill was well below zero (that’s zero Fahrenheit). We wore windproof layers for warmth. Malkolm wrapped long underwear pants around his face. It was 33 miles to Carrizozo, normally an easy day’s ride.
Malkolm said, “I’d like to get past Capitan today, so we can camp in the hills and listen for pygmy owls.”
“Is he serious?” I wondered. “It’s going to take all my energy just to get to Carrizozo.” I’d heard there was a motel there. I was flabbergasted at the suggestion we go 24 miles further than we needed to. We’d never hear an owl anyway; our tent is really noisy inside when the fly flaps in the wind. That polar wind! Sometimes it stopped me, sometimes it almost pushed me off the road. We walked up hills because it was too difficult to ride. I was miserable. My shoulders were hunched up and tight. I thought about hot tubs.
Malkolm said “I can’t feel my toes”. We stopped to give him the better footwear.
“Phewf,” I thought, “at least now he’ll want to stop in Carrizozo”.

1 comment:

Zoë said...


I can sympathize - the cold of the desert is a hard and biting cold. No doubt about that.

That same polar front delivered New Mexico it's first ever Common Redpoll. Perhaps another visitor from the Yukon!

Best of luck on your journey.