Looking back on the last year its fair to say its been a shit show for many of us. The weeks leading into my Team Humane fundraiser were no exception, stress at work, starting to realize how worn down I had become between over-training and the beginnings of a seasonal “blegh” akin to the flu. All that stopped when I got moving Tuesday the 15th.
The Humane League‘s message of “working relentlessly to reduce animal suffering through grassroots education to change eating habits and corporate campaigns to reform farm animal treatment” resonated with me as soon as I first heard it. Recalling my practiced disassociation from the suffering of sentient beings and the awful practices used in animal agriculture, I got involved with fundraising for them through Team Humane. I quickly fell in with everyone I met, all of us from different walks of life with different goals (athletically and personally). I was excited and nervous to fund-raise and to push myself to ride a track bike (fixed gear) to Macon while continuing a healthy lifestyle revolving around animal friendly nutrition, radical sobriety and meditation.
Long story short, with a good training plan and support from some longer-standing cyclists I was able to make it to Macon in one piece. Jokingly the week before at Atlanta Veg Fest, I told some friends and vendors that I would ride to Asheville next. When it was time to chose my goal for this year I decided that was exactly what I was going to do, assuming a more insane feat would garner more attention to the cause.
Fast forward a bit through a turbulent year of track racing, work stress, personal duress, and growth – to the recent forest fires. The smoke descended; all the smoke was so thick that you could see it hovering well above the trees. It felt like a scene from the beginning of an end-of-the-world dystopian novel, the drought leaving the usually lush terrain brown and brittle. Tons more animals than normal forced out of the forests had found their unfortunate resting place under the tires of vehicles in the middle of the road.
As I got closer to Athens the smoke seemed to sort itself out. It stayed a constant concern in the back of my mind throughout the entire trip, luckily it was the last I personally would have to deal with it. But it certainly helped put things into perspective in regards to how fragile nature is at the mercy of drought and human influence. My first several hours on the road were a mixture of stress and excitement, relatively flat and fun terrain that I had covered a few times before made for a great ease into my week on the road. I took my time and enjoyed the ride, not letting myself get to carried away by pride while pacing myself.
Stopped at a few scenic spots to hydrate, rest and eat. I got into town quite a bit later than preferred, then went to see a few friends and spend the evening with one of my best friends Amanda and my favorite dog Ruby.
Texting with Madeline (another vegan cyclist friend and Up In Arms associate), I was told that The 300 pound vegan was giving a talk at the UGA. She picked me up at the house for an inspiring and real talk from an amazing vegan athlete. Even though I was a bit burnt out and a bit more socially awkward than usual after a day on the bike, I was blown away at the turnout from the local vegan/veg-curious community. My friend drove me back to Amanda’s house, loaded me up with Cliff Blox (enough that I couldn’t fit all of em’ in my bag) and left so I could eat more noodles and nutritional yeast and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix before another late start the next morning.
Donations are still being accepted with all donations going to fight animal cruelty.
To be continued with Day 2.