Water bottle. Check. Snacks. Check. Rain gear. Check. Sleeping bag. Check. Follow the crew from the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Transylvania University as they make the 200-mile trek to Nashville for AASHE 2013 by bike! We'll be posting updates here from Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives at the University of Louisville:
Day Three: Bowling Green, KY to Nashville, TN (75 miles)
We made it! The Universe must've wanted us to show that it can be done...because not only did we make it here completely under our own power, but we had fantastic weather, never got rained on, no one got hurt, and the only serious mechanical trouble was one easily fixed flat tire today! Unbelievable! All eight of us feel really fantastic. Not only mentally - for having made it! - but physically, too! It is really good for your body to build muscle and push yourself like this. Lots of endorphins, new found strength, and plenty of vitamin D! We are also all experiencing hunger like we've never had before. Yes, hunger for food (which has never tasted so good!)...but also hunger for a more sustainable future. One where we all slow down a bit, get back in touch with the land (and what it feels like to traverse it!), and start figuring out a more sustainable transportation system. For three straight days we got to step out of the daily grind and enjoy just being. Simple tasks, day by day...that's how we will change the world! We look forward to sharing our stories with you in person at AASHE!
Day Two: Elizabethtown to Bowling Green, KY (80 miles)
As our skin darkens around our shorts' lines, and our muscles start to get into the punishing rhythm of long days in the saddle, we're building bonds with each other and with the road. It's starting to get into our blood - the need to keep moving and cranking along even if the skies threaten rain, the traffic gets heavy, or the road rises up before us in a long dark ribbon to the sky. No matter what may come, our job is to ride on. More and more signs to Nashville greet us as we ride ever closer to our friends at AASHE. This afternoon we rolled up to the Office of Sustainability at Western Kentucky University, where WKU's Sustainability Coordinator, Christian Ryan-Downing is kindly allowing us to crash for the evening. It is a very impressive place. WKU recently moved their Office of Sustainability into an entire house that Christian is gradually transforming into a model of sustainable renovation. A rain barrel welcomed us on the front porch and the basement is filled with a complete bike shop and plenty of bikes to be checked out on campus. As the Sustainability Coordinators for the University of Louisville and Transylvania University, respectively, I and my riding partner, Angela Poe, are extremely jealous of what Christian has made happen here at WKU and we are inspired to pick it up a notch when we return to our home universities. Can't wait to discover what else inspires me down the road at AASHE 2013!
Day One: Louisville to Elizabethtown, KY (45 miles)
And, they're off! Eight hearty Bluegrass souls have rounded the first bend on their "race" to Nashville! The first 10 miles getting out of Louisville's industrial south was the roughest part. Nothing like sucking on truck tailpipes for an hour to convince you that there MUST be a better way to get from point A to B. And we're out to prove that it CAN be done! That those who truly give a damn about sustainability can get themselves to AASHE 2013 without burning fossil fuels...and that we can have one hell of a good time doing it! 200 miles seems like a ridiculously long way to ride a bike...but when you break it down into segments and take it one mile at a time, you learn that anything is possible! I think that's a lesson that we need to learn in the struggle for sustainability. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, there will be some rough road, nasty drivers, and long hills to climb along the way...but when you get to the top, there's always a sweet decent to reward you for your work. And, at the end of the day, even if you haven't reached your final destination, you have the satisfaction of knowing you've made significant progress. What's true for a bike trip is true for the struggle to make our campuses more sustainable. We must keep crankin' and logging miles, even if we know that tomorrow we're going to have to get up and do it all over again!