Trapped in San Francisco: Days 1 & 2

Day 1:Rob Greenfield Stuck in San Francisco

Today was riddled with challenges but it was fun and rewarding and I’m happy. The morning was spent finding a natural source for water. We found one and due to major bike problems it took 2.5 hours to accomplish the mission of filling up my 3 gallon jug. It was really cool to use the water filter to create my own pure water from a little lake in Oakland. Meghan stocked us up with locally produced olive oil, honey, rice, beans, and produce from the Berkeley market. And much the of the day was spent going through gear getting rid of things that were not needed and prepping for the trip. By 4:00, way behind schedule, we finally headed into San Francisco to our official launch point, in Civic Center Park. The director of the festival invited me up on stage to speak for a minute and consequently for the next two hours I had all sorts of people coming up to ask about the adventure. I met a lot of great people. At 6:00 we began the journey and within one block of biking Brent, the cameraman, broke down to me about the challenges of working with me. On top of that as I pedaled up these ridiculously steep hills on a bike I just picked up 2 days prior, it fully sank in that this trailer will not do the job I need it to. It’s way to heavy and throws the tire off kilter making it rub on the frame. Their is just no way I can get across the country with this set up. Plus I need to change the gear cassette so the bike can go into lower gear so I can actually bike over the Sierra Nevada’s and the Rocky Mountains. We spent about 2 hours biking up and down the steep hills of San Francisco and made it about 4 miles. It was obvious we weren’t making it out of the city tonight so Brent called a buddy and we are staying at his house. I’ve got my solar light set up as I lay here in bed charging my laptop with stored energy from today’s sun and have been successful at remaining off the grid. A few hours ago, around 9:00, I had a huge pit in my stomach and was questioning just how I am going to make this happen. We came up with some solutions and it looks like tomorrow will be spent in the city setting up a new rig that I feel very confident with. I also have to make some decisions of what gear to leave behind. Brent and I discussed the issues and should be good on most of them.

It is safe to say that many of the things that could go wrong are going wrong. Both benefits I threw in San Diego were rained on (it never rains in San Diego), my ride from San Diego to San Francisco canceled on me, then the ride I did get broke down a few times on the way up. I’m also extremely out of shape since I’ve spent a good portion of the last month on the computer, rather than the bicycle, to prepare for this trip. I put this all together so quickly and had so much to do that I just never really tested out the rig. It’s not a question of if I will make this work though, only a matter of how. I’ve had some moments of doubt and some moments of worry but right now I feel joyful and confident. Together we will make the world a cleaner and healthier place. Thanks for believing in me everyone! You can count on me.



Day 2:
New Trailer for Off the Grid Across America
We got the new trailer! We found it on craigslist for $160 just 3 miles away! Just have to mount the solar panel, minimize gear, make a few modifications and we’ll be back on the road in the morning. A few things I remembered today that I am excited about:

-I am allowed to eat from the garbage so if I can’t find local organic unpackaged foods I have that to fall back on.

-I can find water bottles in garbages, in the gutter, etc. and purify. So if a natural body of water is not nearby I can scour for water in that way. Plus puddles, buckets under gutters, etc.

A few slight modifications:

-Eating local. Local is now defined as produced within the state we’re in or within 250 miles.

-“Trash” can be upcycled or composted and if neither can be done it must be carried across the country. It’s not trash unless you make it trash.

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Thanks so much Mark Ruiz and Nathan Daniel and to everyone who helped You all rock!
Rob Greenfield at Earth Day

Speaking at Earth Day San Francisco

Everything is coming along well with the new rig. I’ve just about finished it up and I’ll be on my way early in the morning. I’m definitely behind schedule but with this lighter load we will jam over to Tahoe, where I need to be by Friday to speak at the Environmental Magnet school in town. I’ll post a photo of the new setup tomorrow from the Golden Gate bridge.
Together we will make the world a cleaner healthier place!
This adventure is now a book! Dude Making a Difference is the exciting and inspirational story of my bike ride across the USA on a bamboo bike. Go to to get a copy or learn more about it. 100% of my proceeds are donated to environmental grassroots nonprofits!