This is a guest blog by Suzie Roberts from the Green Riders.
I was recently contemplating why being apart of the Green Riders Europe tour was so important to me.
In the summer of 2016 I was on my first cycling tour solo. I met a friend named Marc living in Arcata, California. He invited me to volunteer at Food Not Bombs, an anarchist group who feeds anyone who is hungry for free. At the time Marc was living at a community called The Spoon House. Twice a week they hosted the cooking for Food Not Bombs in their kitchen. We hooked up bike trailers to our bikes and went around to grocery stores to collect the food that otherwise would have gone to the landfill. These grocery stores were expecting the food pick ups as they had this arrangement for a long time. The grocery stores loaded us up with rescued food. We brought the food back to the community and cooked a big meal that fed around 70 people in the Arcata Plaza.
I absolutely loved the experience. We got to feed a lot of people and have a fun time doing so. Marc said that if I enjoyed doing that and I cycle then I should consider attending the Green Riders tour. He showed me a couple of Rob’s YouTube videos. I remember being so inspired when I saw a food mandala made of rescued dumpster food with Rob and Cheryl smiling inside of it.
I am literally crying as I’m writing this because of how much Marc’s invite changed my life. It’s very rare I shed more than a tear, especially in a public place. Right now I’m sitting on a bench in Switzerland that has charging outlets and free WiFi with a view of Rhine Falls.
The thought of cycling across the country, dumpster diving, and learning more about sustainability highly interested me. I attended the Earthship Academy in 2016 and continued to explore more natural building methods such as using bamboo the following year in India. I used Mason jars to buy bulk food and wanted to help the planet as much as I could. The idea of connecting with others who also wanted a sustainable and minimalistic lifestyle intrigued me. I wanted to learn more to be able to help more. My thoughts were that others who also wanted to do this would be pretty interesting people to meet. I didn’t realize that they would become my tribe, my family.
The reason I decided to come back to the Green Riders Europe tour was not for the same reasons as the first. The reason I came back this year is because of the genuine human connection I am fortunate to have with these incredible humans I am honored to share life with. They are my chosen family and I know we will continue to gather, whether we are cycling or not.
One of the longest studies done by Harvard University on human happiness found that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Many of us on this tour and on this planet have had struggle, trauma, discontent, etc. It’s often the human connection that keeps us persevering through life. Coming from an authentic place while connecting with another human, no matter if we are happy or disgruntled, allows us to further bond. Being inclusive, we come from many different backgrounds and have a variety of beliefs and ideals. It’s often having discussion of different beliefs that allows us to broaden our perspective. Pedaling across beautiful landscapes is wonderful, but coming all together at group stops to commune, share, and selflessly give ourselves to those who could use our help is what brings me the greatest joy on the tour.
The more we share and know, the more we care and grow.
By understanding and connecting with our fellow humans we can increase compassion for humans and all life forms. We are capable of detrimental harm to this planet, but we as a species also contain the knowledge to reverse our damage and allow this planet to thrive as well. For example, mycelium took hundreds of millions of years to learn how to break down lignin, a structural polymer that trees consist of. Plastic has existed for less than a hundred years, yet humans have trained mycelium to break down plastic. So mycelium has now stored this ability in their collective consciousness. We have the technology to never need to use fossil fuels again. I believe technological information is withheld and possibilities are denied because of greed. Would the monetarily elite feel the desire to hoard the majority of resources for themselves if they had experienced the camaraderie the Green Riders have created along this journey?
We experience many highs and lows across our journey. We laugh hysterically and occasionally cry during exhausting moments. We’ve always got someone on our team to lend a helping hand when we get a flat tire or listen to our feelings. Having this connection with others literally allows us to pedal thousands of kilometers.
We have deep bonds within our group and we also experience welcoming generosity from our hosts. Strangers along the way that we meet briefly that help with directions, share a smile, or spontaneously open their home upon meeting constantly reminds and restores faith in the human spirit.
I recently camped solo at a truck stop and when I awoke a trucker offered me coffee and I said yes. He also brought over bread, chocolate spread, jam and honey. He said meeting me and hearing my stories was the best day of his month. It’s beautiful that our travels gift others happiness.
I also met a couple just before a rainstorm in the city and they offered to take me into their home. I let them know I would be leaving around 6 AM to start cycling. They woke up before I left and prepared me breakfast. They made me muesli with peanut butter, yoghurt, apples and bananas.
These kind gestures I experience while cycle touring with the Green Riders constantly remind me how exceptionally beautiful humans are. Sometimes humans are scared of other humans. While telling some people I sleep outside or hitchhike I see them become worried and they tell me it is dangerous. However, I am constantly shown kindness and compassion that continues to strengthen my faith in humans. For a while it was restoring my faith, but now it is my constant belief that the majority of people are innately good.
So, the reason I am here this year is to continue deepening my connection with incredible humans who are willing to cycle a great distance together while doing good deeds. All of the group stops along the way are similar to family reunions. My absolute favorite parts of the trip are when we all come together sometimes after days of cycling apart from each other. We arrive to the host in small groups or individually then get to share stories of our travels, which really vary widely from group to group or person to person. Recently we stayed at a lovely farm we found from WarmShowers. We volunteered on their farm where they bake bread from the wheat they grow and have a goal of growing most of their food. They open their community to all cyclists traveling through and have a workshop dedicated to repairing bikes. After communal dinner the children who lived on the farm put on an adorable acrobatic show for us. Their energy was so infectious that several Green Riders started doing acrobatics of their own. We shared so much laughter that night. All of these memories from cycling and volunteering are so meaningful to me and I am extremely pleased and grateful to be a part of this Green Rider Tribe.
*Green Riders call Oooooohooh*
The Green Riders thank everyone who donated to our cause to make Doing Good Deeds possible. Our seeds and select fruit trees are funded by the Live Like Ally Foundation via The Free Seed Project and Community Fruit Trees. We cannot thank them enough and encourage you to read more about these great initiatives.