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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Peeing and Alligators (Ken)

So far we have been too genteel to talk about things like peeing in our blogs. But here goes.

People ask us many things when we meet them out front of the local Albertson’s, Piggly-Wiggly or Publix grocery stores. “Where do you sleep?” “What do you eat?” “How far do you ride every day?” But they’ve never asked about our peeing adventures.

The other day I decided to count the number of alligators beside the road as we cycled eastwards across “Alligator Alley” – Florida Route 41. If you look at the map, they call I-75 by that name, but we’d been assured that we were cycling across the true, the original, the one-and-only Alligator Alley.

“Fourteen,” I yelled as I saw a 5-foot-long gator lounging across the creek. “There’s number fifteen – she’s a big one. Sixteen! I only saw the nose and the eyes, but I’m counting it as a whole alligator.”

I was riding in my usual position at the back of the Bird Year peleton. My job? To keep an eye on my rear-view-mirror and watch for dangerous traffic situations. Generally I’m pretty conscientious, but today I was too busy watching for alligators. Suddenly a transport truck materialized beside us, blaring its horn. We swerved onto the bumpy shoulder. “Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t see that one coming.”

“Seventeen! Wow, that one is huge!” As the alligator sank, I noticed that it was oddly pale. I yelled at Malkolm and Wendy to stop and we swerved across the road. A trail of bubbles rose from the murky depths of the pond, and suddenly we saw the nostrils of a manatee rise above the surface. It inhaled and sank back out of sight.

If there is one thing I’ve learned during Bird Year, it is to pee when a favorable opportunity arises. I waited until a red pick-up zoomed past, quickly pulled down my shorts and relieved myself. After we watched the manatee surface once more, we got back on our bikes and started pedalling.

“Another Manatee.” yelled Wendy. “And look at that! Those people got a nature show in more ways than one.”

I saw what she was looking at: a “swamp buggy” across the pond. Swamp buggies are long jeep-like vehicles with an elevated platform for passengers. A dozen pairs of binoculars were trained on the manatees. A couple of minutes before they were no doubt focussed on me peeing.

By the end of the two-day cycle across Alligator Alley, we’d counted 207 gators, three Snail Kites plus numerous Anhingas, cormorants, herons, egrets and hawks. We only saw the one swamp buggy, however.


Matthew said...

Ha! What a great story. I totally agree that what people don't understand about long trips -- be it by bike or by foot -- is that the conversation always boils down to bodily functions after a few weeks. Thanks for getting in a funny blog about just that subject. Keep up the great efforts too. Nice job on the spot-breasted oriole, bananaquit, and most of all, the BITTERN!

Bird Year said...

Thanks for the comments Matt! It's the little things that add up in the end. Not that Bitterns are little! K