Submissions: Share a Bike Photo—and Your Best Bike Story
We received lots of submissions, but we've narrowed it down to the top fifteen. Vote now through September 23 for the story that most inspires you and captures the fun, benefits, and adventure of biking.
The top vote earner will win a year's supply of CLIF Bars and his or her nonprofit of choice will receive a $5,000 grant. Two runner ups will each receive a bike messenger bag full of CLIF Bars and each of their chosen nonprofits will receive a $2,500 grant.
To learn more about how pedal power can make a big difference in helping the planet, be sure to check out the 2 Mile Challenge to help reduce the number of car trips in America. Also read more about how easy it is to transition to a more bike-friendly lifestyle in the GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet.
This Shelter Assembles in Just One Hour—and Could House Disaster Victims for Four Months A Turkish design firm creates a compact home for victims of floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
How New Orleans’ Health Clinic for Musicians Survived the Storm The local healthcare provider weathered Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
A Team of South African Scientists May Have Just Bested Google in the Race for Cost Effective Solar Energy Researchers from Stellenbosch University are about to unveil a revolutionary model for affordable, transportable, concentrated solar power.
Installation Turns 70,000 Upcycled Plastic Bottles Into Illuminated Ocean A new installation in England turns trash into illuminated art—and shones a spotlight on our damaged oceans.
Starting Soon, 4th Graders (and Their Families) Can Get Free Admission to Every U.S. National Park for a Full Year President Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative makes it easier than ever to get up, get out, and enjoy nature.
How American Lives Have Changed Over the Last 100 Years What does it take to win at the game of life known as the American Dream?
This post is in partnership with CLIF Bar
Last month, we invited the GOOD community to participate in our bike story contest. We asked everyone to send a bike photo accompanied by their best bike story. CLIF Bar is helping us not only celebrate bike culture but give something back: They've earmarked $5,000 in grant money for the top contest winner to donate to his or her favorite bike charity. Two runners up will have $2,500 each to donate.
Help us spread the word and get as many votes for our bikers. What better way to show people all the benefits (and fun) of the biking lifestyle than sharing some one-of-a-kind adventures?
Illustration by Corinna Loo
At Least It's No Mount St. Helena
Submitted by: Casey Fagre / Bike Charity: Climate Ride
My fiancé and I committed to realizing our dream of cycling Iceland. The catch: we considered a ten-mile ride an epic feat of endurance and certainly never added the weight of worldly possessions to that scenario. In short, we were freaked out!
Luckily, nothing gets you motivated like a healthy dose of dread. To “practice for Iceland,” we planned a short tour from our home. Despite sore bums, all was going well until we met a hill that made all other hills look like Kansas. Sweat poured off of us as we gasped, wobbled, and inched our way upward for hours. Reaching the top was nothing but sweet relief coupled with the reward of descending the other side in just a few adrenaline-pumped minutes.
When we arrived at the campsite, the receptionist was quite impressed with us. I modestly commented, “Yeah, that big hill was painful.”
She looked a bit confused and responded, “Hill? You call that a hill!? That was Mount St. Helena!”
Now I was surprised and said, “Really? I’ve always wanted to see it.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “Wait a minute…You didn’t know you were going to bike over Mt. St. Helena today?”
I just smiled. After truly testing our limits during what we naively set out to accomplish that day, we felt unstoppable, whether on a bike or off. Since then, whenever we face a daunting challenge on the road or in our lives, we tell ourselves, “Well, at least it’s no Mount St. Helena.”
Biking to See History
Submitted by: Najeema Washington / Bike Charity: The Bike House
The most memorable experience of my bike history is a training ride into D.C. that turned into an impromptu visit to the recently finished Martin Luther King Jr memorial complete with a visit by Martin Luther King III.
On an overcast day in late August, I participated in a training ride with Black Women Bike DC. After putting in serious miles throughout the city, we decided to push ourselves a tad bit further and ride down to the memorial. To ride down the Mall to the sight of such a historic and breathtaking monument was awe inspiring.
King's memorial sits amongst the figures that shaped our country. We were all moved by its design, which invokes such a tremendous respect for the Nobel Prize Winner. To our shock and amazement, we were joined by King's son. He interacted with the surprised crowd and shared in our amazement of the memorial. We'll never forget that day.
From Austin to Alaska
Submitted by: Shiyam Galyon / Bike Charity: Orange Bike Project
For seventy days in the summer of 2011, I rode my bike from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. I went as a part of the Livestrong Texas 4000 for Cancer team and was able to be an advocate in the fight against cancer.
The route went through the Rocky Mountains, with mileage ranging from forty to one hundred miles per day. Early on, I started to see my bike as an extension of myself. Those days spent pedaling gave me immense personal pleasure; traveling by my own energy was empowering.
My first experience riding through the Rocky Mountains was in Colorado Springs. Those uphills were an investment for the glorious downhills that followed—I would swoop down using my big ring and overtake even the strongest of riders. Wyoming persisted with its headwinds, and at many times my best effort yielded only a 4mph pace.
Montana, on the other hand, was the land of helpful tailwinds that carried me past horses and hills. Canada had oceans of golden canola flowers, piercing blue lakes, snowcapped summits laden with glaciers, and expansive scenery of carpeted mountains.
Four thousand miles later, I rounded a curve to see the Alaska border sign and couldn’t stop smiling. After a year and a half of preparations, part of the dream was accomplished! I am incredibly proud of the bike that had gotten me all the way to Alaska and that would eventually take me to Anchorage.
A Boar-ing Trip
Submitted by: Helen Simmons / Bike Charity: The Newcastle Cycling Campaign
My husband John and I took our tandem for a cycling holiday to the Picos de Europa region of Spain. We were really strugging up one particular hill, puffing and panting away. My teeth were clenched and my eyes were closed (this is fine on the back of the tandem!). When I opened them, I spotted a huge wild boar in the bushes by the side of the road. It was the size of a large motorbike.
In fright, I shouted "Boar!" to my husband on the front of the bike, who jumped out of his skin and shouted "Arrgh!"
This scared the boar and it jumped out of its skin and started chasing us up the hill. Amazing how much faster we managed to get to the top with the threat of a wild boar mauling. Thankfully the boar gave up before we did!
Submitted by: Michael Riccobono / Bike Charity: The Boston Cyclists Union
Pedaling to work one morning, I noticed a rock dodging cars. I pulled on my brakes and jumped to the rescue of a bewildered snapping turtle. We were just outside Boston, surrounded by concrete and tires – not exactly turtle paradise.
My lost friend was getting restless. Was he headed to the Shell Station down the block? If I was a turtle, I reasoned, I would want to be in the Cambridge Reservoir. I had to act fast.
Attaching my helmet to the bike’s rack and putting the turtle inside seemed too risky. I decided to place him in the outer mesh netting of my backpack and pedal onward. A quarter mile later, something scraped at the back of my neck. I turned my head and came face-to-face with a real-life ninja turtle. Terrified, I reached for the turtle and swerved off the road. My front tire hit a ditch hard. In one swift and unrepeatable motion, I caught the turtle and barrel-rolled onto the grass.
He was hiding in his shell, but I could swear that I saw a grin on his face. I introduced him to some blueprints in my pack’s deepest pocket and zipped it closed. Who knew turtles could climb? I finally made it the reservoir and opened my backpack. Out of a shell came a head, and out of a nylon sack came a turtle. With hare-beating speeds, he dashed into the water and swam away.
One Last Mile
Submitted by: Bejan Abtahi / Bike Charity: BikeAthens
As I rode the last mile, my senses were alive. The end had surprised me. After toiling so long I had become insensitive to the idea of an end. I rolled up to the Vallejo, California ferry station and clipped out—I had finished my sixteen day, 1700 mile ride from Pueblo, Colorado and all that was left was a ferry ride to San Francisco.
I went inside to buy my ticket but when I returned my bike was nowhere to be seen. My Allez was half of all that I owned in the world, a tool by which I had just learned to live and survive by— it was a part of me! I had only been gone about a minute so it was near. I was just about to take off in a full sprint down the street when a man in a black Honda pulled up and yelled frantically through the window, “Bike!?”
Before even replying, I was through Gary’s front passenger window Dukes of Hazzard-style. He explained how he had confronted the “big, fat, white pasty thief” as he was hauling for safety and how the thief jumped off my bike in shock. As Gary told the story, my bike came into view with wheels still spinning in the air.
Submitted by: Elizabeth Christenson / Bike Charity: reCYCLEry
The bike: My mom's Motobecane Nomade Spirit bicycle bought new in 1979, and subsequently, her birthday present to me when I turned 23.
The story: The Virginia Creeper Trail is thirty-four miles of blissful trails through the Appalachian mountains and the setting in which our adventure begins. There were eight of us college-bound youngsters gallivanting through the countryside. Think cows, yellow flowers, hills, and many a pine tree.
Destination: Picnic by the river. After eight miles of biking, we stopped, splashed, and had a time generally considered good by all. As we approached the packing up and biking back time, one of our crew caught sight of a heron flying downstream. Immediately, he jumped on his bike and began racing the heron on the trail parallel to the stream. Who wouldn’t? His enthusiasm was not shared by the bike chain which broke almost immediately!
That’s eight people, seven bikes. Friendly group that we were, the boys offered their shirts and we tied them together to make a tow-rope. As I sat steering the crippled bike, I held onto the rope, tied to the waist of a friend pedaling in front. Laughing the entire way home as the storm built and began to thunder in the eight miles uphill (of course), we arrived home spattered with mud and reinvigorated with camaraderie.
Submitted by: Dan Strss / Bike Charity: Epi-Cycles Bike Share Program
My bike was the fastest, slickest bike on the block—so I claimed. It was in fact one of the few bikes around and was a Frankenstein of destroyed bikes, scrapped and put together to create one functional bike. You can see the wheels are different sizes.
It was the spring after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans; we were busy gutting houses in the 9th Ward with minimal functional resources around and the scene seemed post-apocalyptic. On the days I was too tired to gut houses, I volunteered in a bike shop where we turned ten broken bikes into one working bike. Helping fellow Americans with their homes was just as important as providing these Americans with transportation they could use and afford.
My bike lock was the piece of caution tape you can see tied around my seat post (I would tie one end to the bike and the other end to a bike rack). We were able to assist anyone who wanted a bike and for the moment theft wasn’t a problem, you just needed to signify it was claimed.
Then to my dismay, my bike disappeared. Upset at first, I was excited to see the brown and gold wonder roll into the bike shop, in the hands of a fellow American. He needed a bike to ride to Jazz Fest. I was eager to help him tune the bike and send him on his way to the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina.
Across the U.S. in 80 Days
Submitted by: Hillary Lazarus / Bike Charity: San Francisco Bike Coalition
Three weeks into our cross-country bike trip, we rode through Kentucky Amish country and passed a horse-drawn buggy. The two bearded men inside gave us a friendly wave and chuckled a little as we rode by.
Four days later, as we searched for a shady lunch spot, a man flagged us down as he weed-whacked his front yard. “Want a cold drink?” he asked. Yes, yes we did. He led us to his man-cave (a bar and wood shop in his garage) where he offered us cold drinks and cooked up some fried catfish. He took us on a tour of the house he built for his family and showed us his various side-projects, including a coffin converted into a grandfather clock and a secret room behind a bookcase.
Before we left, he offered us some moonshine and told us about the many motorcycle riders that use his place as a pit stop. We turned down his offer to camp on his property as we had several more miles to ride that day, but it was the first of many unbelievably friendly and hospitable people we met this summer. On the long and sometimes lonely days we were grateful for everything from a subtle wave to a gregarious invitation.
Stolen Bike, Answers to Maddie
Submitted by: Ashley Donald / Bike Charity: Bike Inter-Community Art and Salvage
In 2009, I was living out of my car and sleeping on friends’ couches. In May, I had an epileptic seizure while driving, totaling my car and leaving me unable to drive. With the money I received from my destroyed car I was able to buy Maddie: my beautiful, obnoxiously bright yellow Schwinn Madison. She gave me a sense of optimism—and freedom—despite my stream of bad luck.
In August, I accompanied a friend while she house-sat for a week. One afternoon, I heard the side gate slam open, but simply thought the wind had caught it. Upon investigation, I witnessed Maddie coming out of the garage in the hands of a stranger. My heart sank and I reacted as any frantic mother would: I ran after her. It was too late. Maddie was gone.
With over 600 annual stolen bike reports, the police were of little help, and I turned to my local biking community for assistance. I posted the theft on Craigslist, figuring Maddie would likely be resold.
After a few weeks, she appeared online! My quick attempt to buy her back was futile, as she was sold within hours. Losing hope after a second Maddie miss, I posted again hoping to find the buyer. Weeks later, I was contacted by a man who realized he had purchased Maddie and wanted to return her to me. I am forever grateful for the generosity of this kind man for reuniting me with my transportation, my freedom, my Maddie.
Cycling Adventures in My New South African Home
Submitted by: Michelle Sun / Bike Charity: Big Red Bikes
I ecstatically cycled across the finish line six hours and 109 kilometers after I had embarked on the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, winding around the Cape peninsula in South Africa, riding past stretches of magnificent coast, nature reserves, and poverty-stricken townships, and dodging baboons.
My knees were covered in bloody bandages and the cuts on my face were stinging with sweat, but I barely remembered the pain. Just twenty kilometers into the race, a cyclist had knocked me off my bike. But I refused to give up, stopping at every medical station for fresh bandages along the way. I would only be in South Africa for the cycle tour once, I thought.
When I arrived in Cape Town seven months prior to the Argus Cycle Tour for a job, I found the prospect of the tour adventurous but a bit daunting. I was a hiker and runner, but certainly no cyclist. Nevertheless, I chanced upon a free bicycle and found avid cyclist friends.
When I fell, I was uncertain if I would make it to the end. But fans along the road helped hold my bike as I rewrapped my bandages and cyclists passing by asked how I was doing. As I descended the last major hill that day, I was filled with adrenaline, hope, and love for South Africa and the people I had met along the way that had made this day possible. There’s no better way to see a new city than on the seat of a bicycle!
Bhutan Ride for Climate
Submitted by: Nicky Phear / Bike Charity: Bhutan Ride for Climate
This summer, I cycled 300 kilometers across Bhutan with a group of Bhutanese and American students. It was a cross-cultural, two-week bicycle-based journey to see firsthand how climate change is affecting the Himalayan country and its people. We crossed three passes over 10,000 feet with youth who were new to cycling, seeing much of their country for the first time, and falling in love with the bike.
Tandin, a 16-year old, said, "I have driven countless times back and forth from Paro to Thimphu but I never thought I would bike that same journey. Today I experienced biking and it was amazing. I felt the warmth and smell of the road when it rains, which I’ve never experienced before while travelling."
And from 18-year old Singe: "I was excited about this trip because even though I live in Bhutan it was my first time visiting Paro. It was more beautiful than I ever expected. On the way, I looked up at the sky rather than looking towards the road. I saw an aeroplane fly above in the sky which I had never witnessed before."
The learning came full circle for me. I was struck by the gentleness and kindness of our students, by their commitment to doing no harm, and by their sense for the collective good. The trip helped me connect in the most personal of ways to how climate change is a global issue, to our shared responsibility, and to how biking is one of our most inspiring solutions.
Will Bike for Food
Submitted by: Tanya Halliday / Bike Charity: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
One afternoon, a good friend and I decided we wanted to go to dinner at the Olive Garden. At the time we were attending college in a small Wyoming town and the closest one was over 40 miles away. Stereotypical “poor college students” but also Division I athletes, we decided the best way to do this that would be cheap and fun would be to bike there. Off we went.
Upon arrival, we dismounted and walked up the stairs to the entrance. A stranger waiting outside chastised us, saying “Come on, you have to ride up that grass hill. Don’t quit.”
We responded with, “Well, we just biked in from Laramie, so I think that we rode enough.” When prompted as to why in the world we would do such a thing, we half-jokingly informed the man that gas prices were too expensive!
After waiting more than an hour to get a table—and only having a package of sport beans to share between us—we were quite hungry. When our food did arrive, we eagerly dug in. Then, the stranger from outside reappeared beside us with his family in tow. The man placed a gift card down on our table and told us that he would like to cover our meal since we came so far and were being role models for a healthy lifestyle.
Biking + an unexpected free meal = A good bike story in my book, how about yours?
Semper Fi by Bicycle
Submitted by: Jeffrey Pedelty / Bike Charity: Community Cycles
My best bicycle trip was to see my daughter become a United States Marine at Parris Island, South Carolina. It convinced me I could live the rest of my life without a car. Since then I've commuted, shopped, vacationed, taken business trips, and even twice moved my household via bicycle.
I flew to Savannah, Georgia with my folded "Bike Friday" as checked luggage. I drew WTF stares from the TSA as I unfolded my Pocket Crusoe at the airport, turned its suitcase into a trailer, and then set off on the fifty-ish mile ride to Beaufort, South Carolina. I'd never cycled the area before, but with route advice via the internet, I passed alligators, paper mills, trailer parks, and strip malls on my hot and muggy adventure to Beaufort.
In turn, I was passed by countless lumber trucks on none-too-wide state roads, but I never was honked at or given anything but a wide berth, nor did I tire of waving my appreciation. Still, Eleanor Roosevelt counseled doing something everyday that scares us and this trip covered me for a week. I cheered the first "Share the Road" sign in Beaufort!
The next morning I parked my lone bicycle amongst the many cars gathered for the graduation. The Marine flag was proudly flying from my bike trailer as I hugged my daughter. I voluntarily relinquished my driver's license just a year ago, in my 53rd year, and I'm only looking forward to an active life of cycling, walking, and busing.
33 People, 3500 Miles, and $156,000
Submitted by: Jake Kennedy / Bike Charity: Bike and Build
This summer, thirty-three college students rode our bikes from Nags Head, North Carolina to San Diego, California. Along the way we stopped to help build habitat houses across the United States while raising more than $150,000 for affordable housing across the country.
The part that I remember the most from our bike adventure was the ride leading up to this picture in the Grand Canyon. We rode all day climbing over 3,000 feet. The entire time we were sweating it out, it occurred to me, Why are we climbing to see a hole in the ground? Once we made it there, the canyon opened up and you could see for miles. I have never felt so at peace and accomplished to have rode my bike not just up to the canyon but from the Atlantic coast—a feeling I will never forget.
Prior to this trip I didn’t even own a bike and since the program I have sold my truck at the University of Florida and use my bicycle to get around everywhere now. Such a liberating sport!