Green Riders Doing Good Deeds Across Europe- Week 3

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.

Me, Yoshi, and Jonathan radiating love!

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. 

Helping Green Rider Jay with their flat tire

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. 

Breakfast I was gifted at the truck stop

Green Riders sharing an amazing dinner with our generous and inspirational hosts Morena and Dorothea

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. 

Green Riders Doing Good Deeds Across Europe- Week 1

This is a guest blog by Gray Harrison from the Green Riders.

Hello dear readers! 

Lexi here, writing to you from Champvert, France. I thought I would give an introduction to what we plan to do with these blog posts. We are going to aim to have one Green Rider write a new blog post every week. These posts will give an overall summary of what our week has looked like while also evoking the personal experience of the rider who is writing the blog. They will touch on where we have biked through, where we have volunteered, and what the overall feel of the trip and group has been. Additionally we will share separate posts that will be short biographies of all of our Green Riders as well as highlights of some of our hosts and projects. 

Our first blog post is written by a first-generation Green Rider, Gray Harrison. A retired teacher, Gray hails from Fort Collins, Colorado where he volunteers his time to working on bicycles for their homeless population. He takes his bicycle skills and knowledge to the Green Riders tour where he always finds the time to help our riders with all of their bike ailments even after riding all day and doing other good deeds like picking up litter. Here is what he has to say:

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Green Riders Visit and Volunteer at the Community of Troglobal

This is a guest blog by Maya Madjar from the Green Riders.

On June 3, 2019, the Green Riders arrived to our very first project location near Grezille, France. After being received and treated so well by our first two hosts, we were all in good spirits for our third day of riding. I was in the group of the first Green Riders to arrive thanks to a sneaky shortcut we scoped out after lunch. Manoocha, a woman of boundless energy, welcomed us warmly and gave us a tour of the community that would soon catch everyone by surprise; the entire commune consisted of caves. Each varied in its color, shape, and size, yet they all carried the central theme of a dreamy and eclectic multi-cave house. Included in the layout was a library, communal kitchen, shower, and several hostel-like sleeping rooms alongside a private room with a greenhouse at the top. This may seem like a first-draft introduction to a fantasy book about a family living in caves with stained glass windows surrounded by fields of poppies. However, I am not here to fool you, and this is an actual place called “Troglobal.”

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How and Where to Sleep for Free

When traveling without money I hear a few basic questions every day and one of them is, “where do you sleep?” Traveling without money is certainly not for everyone but this blog is simply a guide on how you can travel your country or the world without spending a penny on lodging. Or if not to that extreme than at least drastically reducing the amount of money you spend on lodging. All of my suggestions in this blog come from a fair amount of experience. I’ve embarked on four long distance adventures without a penny and traveled on a shoestring budget over the last decade through six continents and 35 countries. Some of these suggestions may be for you, others may not, so my advice is to take what you’d like from this guide and turn it into action, whether it be in your own city or in a far off land.

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Announcing Free Ride on Discovery International!

Amazing news!

I’m absolutely elated to announce that I’m embarking on an epic new journey with Discovery International! In a new show called Free Ride, filmmaker James Levelle and I are trekking across South America with no money relying on our ingenuity and the kindness of strangers. Here’s the words from Discovery International:

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Rob Greenfield 27th Year

In My 27th Year I…

This is a story of my 27th year on earth. Everything here took place between August 28th, 2013 and August 27th, 2014 and are in chronological order. I must say I’m a little blown away by what I managed to accomplish in just one year. The cool thing is that I’m no more special than anybody else. I’m no more capable than anyone else. Not that long ago I was a binge drinking college student spending many of my nights around the keg and my days at the library flirting with the girls. So if I can follow my truest of dreams and desires so can you. For me it was simply a matter of choice and then getting off my butt and doing it.

Here’s the happenings of my 27th year… (You can click on each photo to see more of that part of the story).

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Goodfluence Tour – Month 1 in Review

I am happy, healthy, and free.

This is how I often feel when I’m riding my bike, especially on cross country trips like this. The Goodfluence Tour is an adventure in simple living, serving others, and in general just being a good influence on the world around me.

I’ve been planting wild flowers across the nation and I’m helping people to start their own gardens and grow food. Check out the freestyle gardening page to learn more and get involved. I’m also inspiring people of all ages to live happier and healthier by teaching them how to live more sustainably and wrote this lead-by-example guide to help you too. 

This blog is a recap of all my Facebook posts from the first month of the journey. Some of it is journals of the adventure itself while other entries reflect my perspectives and thoughts inspired by life on the bike. From my home in San Diego to Far East Texas. I’ve loved every minute of it and I hope you’ll gain something from this experience as well. 

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Year without Showering

Lessons Learned from a Year without Showering

*Update 04/20/2015- Today is my 2 year no-shower anniversary! Enjoy the story I wrote a year ago today:

As of today it has been one year since my last shower. Yes, I know that sounds crazy and a year ago I would have agreed with you. I was a regular showering guy for the first 26 years of my life. Well, maybe not every single day, but just about.

So how does a regular showering guy end up going 365 days and counting without taking a shower? It started with a long bike ride across the United States to promote sustainability and eco-friendly living. I set a bunch of rules for myself to follow to lead by example. The rule for water was that I could only harvest it from natural sources such as lakes, rivers, and rain or from wasted sources such as leaky faucets. And I kept track of exactly how much I used too, with an aim of showing just how little we need to get by.

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Rob Greenfield on the Streets

Days 1-3 on the Streets

Here is a long detailed journal of my last few days on the streets. Sending love!

12/25 Day 1

I left the house at around 4:00 with just a few hours left in the day. I had meant to leave much earlier to give myself time to adjust before night fell but I was late as usual. I wandered through my neighborhood on my way out and passed multiple friends along the way. It was nice to be with friends and I found myself wondering why I was heading outside my comfort zone when I could be having a joyous time amongst my friends who love me. I continued on anyway and, as the sun set on the ocean horizon, I turned my back to the west and strolled east along the San Diego river. With the sun went the heat and the night grew cold quickly. I walked for a few miles along the river checking out a few possible sleeping spots along the way. I met a man named Jay who was just setting up his sleeping bag under a bridge. He told me he stays there because it is close to the Home Depot where he goes every morning to look for work. He said he’s known around here because he sells cigarettes. He used to have a bike but he lost it when he went to jail.

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