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.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rain is a pain

A semi-trailer packed with cattle thundered by, enveloping me in a brownish mist reeking of cow feces. Being passed by a livestock truck is bad enough when its dry- when it’s raining it’s an experience. There are plenty of other unpleasant realities of cycling through day after day of rain; panniers full of wet and musty nylon clothes, leather cycling gloves that are slimy when soaked, sleeping in a damp and clammy sleeping bag… the list goes on monotonously like a prairie highway.
It rained during eight of the ten days it took me to cycle from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Avon, Montana. Rain isn’t all bad though- the chronically cloudy weather helped me save money on sunscreen and reduced my susceptibility to skin cancer.
A few mornings ago I even found myself actually appreciating the rain. I’d miscalculated my water supply as I cycled south from Glacier National Park, ending up on a desolate stretch of highway with only half of a nalgene of water. Once it got dark I pulled off to a clearing next to the road and set up my tent. I poured two thirds of the valuable liquids into my pot to cook linguini, then wasted little time in knocking the pot off my stove and spilling the contents into the dirt. I salvaged most of the noodles but the water was gone. I couldn’t afford to use any more water to cook the pasta so I ate the noodles half raw, chewing carefully and spitting out the gravel that had stuck to the spilled pasta.
I was out of water by the morning- but thankfully it had rained overnight. For breakfast I ate handfuls of dry raisin bran, sipping water droplets off tree leaves to help the cereal go down. I cycled for thirty kilometers before finally reaching Seeley Lake, Montana: population 1,580. I searched for a grocery store where I could fill my water bottles and stomach, but I was out of luck. If however I wanted to go to church, I’d have four to choose from.
At the far end of town I found a gas station with a convenience store. I refilled my water bottles from the sink in their dingy bathroom, then searched the shelves of food for something edible. Chips? No. Cheesies? No. Little Debbie’s doughnuts? Not quite that desperate. “There’s more food over there,” said the woman behind the counter, pointing towards cases of hot dogs, hamburgers and beef burritos. I wasted a minute inspecting the cases for a meat-free option, but I should have known better. Finding vegetarian food in small-town Montana is as hard as to find as a mosque in Manhattan. In the corner I spied a tray of what appeared to be doughnuts, though it was hard to tell under all the icing. They looked disgusting. I bought three and sat at a picnic table outside to eat.
The flavour of the goodies gave no clues to their identities, so I dissected one. It was a cinnamon bun. I looked up at the stars and stripes flying against a backdrop of gray skies, then back at my cinnamon bun. Was today an unpleasant ordeal or part of the American experience?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Alaska Highway

I'm in Fort Nelson, BC. I've made great progress down the Alaska Highway, covering 1060 kilometers during my first week. I've attributed my good progress to four factors, which will either result in me reaching Montana ahead of schedule, or will land me in a psychiatric ward.

i. I'm the sort of person who will return from a run and drink an entire litre an a half nalgene of water, or, upon finishing a bike trip, will eat three foot-long subs. Once I no longer feel sick I am filled with an ever lasting feeling of success. On day two of this trip I cycled for nearly fifteen hours, covering 257.73 kilometers. I was left with a short feeling of accomplishment and a sore knee that continues to persist.

ii) Before I left I made several adjustments so improve cycling efficiency at the expense of comfort. I installed aero-bars on my bike, which give me a more aerodynamic riding position and a sore neck and shoulders. I attached a yoghurt pot to my handlebars which I can put my lunch inside, so I can eat while cycling, thereby ensuring that I do not waste valuable minutes on a lunch break. I also swapped my mountain bike pedals for racing pedals, My new pedals are lighter and more aerodynamic, but are practically impossible to walk in, making me look like even more of a nerd whenever I clip-clop into a store.

iii) You know you're hungry when you enjoy power gels. They are the consistency of algae and taste like chocolate mixed with the chemical dispersants used to treat the Gulf Oil Spill. I consumed three gel packs yesterday, and managed not to throw up!

iv) It can be very lonely and dull cycling alone through the BORE-eal forest. I've passed many hours pretending I'm talking to Stephen Harper or Jim Prentice. I say things to the Prime Misister like, "you have ashma so you care about air quality, but you also have children so I can't understand why yuou don't care about climate change," or "can you look me in the eye and tell me that your government is doing enough to prevent my generation from inheritng a world devastated by climate change?" In my imaginary meeting with Jim Prentice I ask our Environment Minister if he sees a link between climate change and the Russian Wildfires or Pakistan Flood, and I give him a copy of Climate Wars to see if he is interested in learning about how climate change is a human rights and global security issue.

That sums up my first week on my bike, now its time for me to start cycling again!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We are writing the Bird Year book

Snow is swirling outside our windows. Inside, we are writing a book about Bird Year. We hope to have it finished by the end of next summer. We will keep you posted here!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Some people try the "100 Mile Diet", where they eat only locally grown food. I'm on a 120 kilometer diet, after cycling a long distance I can eat anything and everything I want. When you are constantly hungry everything is delicious. This is fortunate because under normal conditions, our menu would get repeditive very quickly. Our breakfasts and lunches are the same every day, oatmeal then wraps. Our suppers vary slightly more, we rotate between curry, pasta and burritos. These dishes should each have their own unique flavour, however due to our limited supply of ingredients and cooking supplies, they taste pretty much the same.
A few days ago I made something really different, borscht. Or the closest thing to borscht considering the circumstances. In case an upper class restaraunt would like to serve this borscht variation, I'll share my recipe:
* Two week old beets. We'd purchased them before Winnepeg. They'd been kept in the same scuzzy bag ever since, along with the disgusting end of an old cucumber.
* Two week old onion, same life story as beets.
* Celery
* Oriental snack mix with pumpkin seeds. I'd been carrying this since the Alaska Highway. They had been pulverized, then soaked during our week of rain. The snack mix had found a dark, mildewey spot at the bottom of a saddlebag, only to be discovered when I was on the hunt for ingredients.
* Thai seasonings, left over from a noodle package.
* Curry powder
* Coconut milk
* Olive oil, purchased before Edmonton.
I got hungry before I could wait for it to cook properly. Strangely, some may not have enjoyed it. Admittedly, it does resemble a compolation of ingredients that could be fished from a dumpster. But I loved it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

"Summer" isn't the right word to describe this season. Winter and spring have come and gone in Ontario, yet summer is missing in action. It has rained on us for eight miserable days strait. If scientists can prove weather like this is linked to climate change, then a mass of Ontarians will probably join pedal for the planet.
But everything the rain brings isn't bad. Really, the rain has been a positive phenomenon. Due to the cold and the wet, the bugs aren't terrible. They're only really bad. None of us have to worry about getting skin cancer, or bad cycling tan lines. Nadia doesn't have to worry about keeping her phone dry anymore. It could be put under a waterfall without the risk of any further damage.
You see, cycling is a great way to spend a "summer"!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Showdown in Regina: Tar Sands vs Mother Earth

A throng of Greenpeace protesters lined the fence that kept the public away from Government House. Some lay like corpses on the sidewalk; their hands painted red, paper tombstones over their heads inscribed with "Dying for Climate Leadership" The Canadian premiers were behind the fence for the Council of the Federation meetings.
Numerous organizations had united to plan rallies and protests during the week of the meetings. Our goal was to make a huge racket and force climate change on to the agenda. We hoped that at least one premier would speak out against the tar sands and take the first step down the "green brick road".
For most of the week I would be a protester, but this time I had left behind my placard and my Kyoto Plus t-shirt. Instead Martina and I were disguised as reporters, hoping to get up close to the premiers. I was hoping to ask one of them a tough question, Martina was hoping to get a photo of one of them looking awkward.
We were soon being grilled by security guards. Our identities were scrutinized, phone calls were made and our bags were searched. We were supposedly with a university radio station, yet I had no recording software. I didn't even know where I was supposed to go. I was hoping that mycluelessness would be overlooked, or that we'd pass as dumb, harmless students. They finally gave us our acredditation passes and we were free to go.
A forest of reporters and photographers surrounded Manitoba premier Gary Doer. He answered a few questions then vanished through a door. Quebec's premier stepped up to speak. Soon Saskatchewan premier, Brad "climate criminal" Wall approached the mic.
I heard the protesters shouting from outside the compound. "When I say fight for you say justice. Fight for! Justice! Fight for! Justice!"
"When I say climate you say justice. Climate! Justice! Climate! Justice!"
"When I say Wall you say criminal. Wall! Criminal! Wall! Criminal!"
"Mr Wall, as you can hear, the protesters are demanding stronger action on climate change." called out one journalist. "What would you say to them?"
Premier Wall launched into a lengthy answer. I couldn't believe the nonsense he spouted. He assured us that Saskatchewan's leadership on combatting climate change is as good if not better than any other jurisdiction in the world.
How could he get away with such blatant hogwash? Saskatchewan's target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction for 2020 is 12% higher than than its 1990 levels. The scientists are telling us that we need to cut our emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels. Brad Wall's head is stuck in the tar sands. He would love for the destructive industry to expand from Alberta into Saskatchewan. The tar sands already releases dozens and dozens of megatonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and leaks deadly toxins into water systems.
It is easy to get depressed by the tar sands, by Brad Wall and other short-sighted polititions, yet my week in Regina gave me great cause to hope. I met hundreds of activists and citizens who are part of a grassroots uprising. Our voices are being heard in across Canada; our political leaders will no longer be able to ignore us.
I remember a first nations activist, Clayton George Thomas Muller speaking at our rally. He told that during during the civil rights and womens' rights movements, and in every struggle in the history of humantiy there have been tough times. There have been times when bringing about change has been impossible, when the opponent has seemed overwhelmingly powerful. But Clayton reminded us that every time the hard work of grass roots foot soldiers has prevailed, and that change will come.
The fight against climate change will be no different.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rocking Prentice's Constituency Office

Jim Prentice’s photo smiled at us from above the entrance to his office. The environment minister wouldn’t have been smiling so broadly now, if he knew what pedal for the planet was up to. 20 banner waving activists cheered and chanted anti-Prentice messages.
The Canadian Government is consistently ranked at the bottom when it comes to climate action. Canada’s GHG emissions reduction target is only a 3 % reduction from 1990 levels, when many countries have promised to cut there emissions in the range of 25 – 40%. Last year Canada “won” the Colossal Fossil Award for embarrassing lack of action, and Canada is it’s best to defend the title.
Our press releases and pitch calls had succeeded in luring the media. The handful of reporters and camera people starred at the more eccentrically dressed of us with bemused expressions. Steve had become Windy the Unemployed Wind Turbine. Nadia and Martina were Climate Action Super Cyclists, with green tights and superman capes. Someone wore a Grim Reaper outfit; I wasn’t sure which politician he was impersonating.
“OK, now we’re going to rock the Constituency Office!” called Jeh. For Jeh, simple verbs such as enter or visit are too boring. When you’re with Jeh, you don’t go grocery shopping. You rock the grocery isles.
Our delegation rocked its’ way into Prentice’s office. Jeh rocked over to Prentice’s desk and placed a wad of papers on his desk. “OK, now we’re going to give you guys a chant!” announced Jeh, turning to one of Prentice’s aids.
“Sorry, but there are people taking calls from constituents. I’ll have to ask you to be quiet.”
“We understand, but we really want to give you this chant so…”
“Oooh, it’s hot in here, there’s too much carbon in the atmosphere!... When I say Jim you say where are you?... Jim!… Where are you?... Jim!... Where are you?...When I say Climate, you say action… Climate!…Action!... Climate!...Action!...
I guess that Jeh was right when he said we’d be rocking the constituency office.