Tuesday, 27 Jun 2000

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.

Caribou in the Alaskan wilderness. Coffee, anyone?

Photo: Dean Biggens, USFWS.

This morning I woke up at 4:00 to get an early start on my long drive to Minneapolis, where Alex, Eric, and I are presenting to the staff at Caribou Coffee headquarters. John Puckett, the CEO and founder of Caribou Coffee, started his business after being inspired by the mass caribou herds in Alaskan wilderness. Our bicycle tour is officially over, but our mission to educate continues.

Another flashback to two weeks ago, when we were in D.C. preparing for the grand finale to our bicycle journey:

The morning after particularly long or strenuous rides can be rough. This morning is no exception. I’m weary and irritable from yesterday’s 85-miler and the lack of a full night of rest. “Sleeping in” is a rare luxury on this tour, so it’ll have to wait. No time to rest this morning. Our grand finale arrival on Capitol Hill is tomorrow and we have some last-minute duties to fulfill.

We slept last night in a house in Takoma Park, Md., one of the more liberal communities on the East Coast, located on the edge of the District of Columbia. Two days ago in Culpeper we met some friendly folks who own a house here, and they offered to put us up.

This morning we leave the bikes at our homebase, pile into the Prius, and drive downtown. Here’s the rundown of our first day in D.C:

  • 9:00 a.m.: Visit M&R Strategic Strategies, the PR firm handling our media outreach in D.C.

  • 10:00 a.m.: Return to car and find our first parking citation, a $50 fine and a request to be towed. Lesson learned: Use caution when parking during rush
    hour in D.C.

  • 10:30 a.m.: Drive to Toyota Dealership in Alexandria, Vir., for a press conference. We’ve been stopping at dealerships across the U.S. to hype the upcoming release of the Prius and to provide a chance for the media to cover our story. This has been very successful for us, generating most of our media coverage.
  • 12:00 p.m.: Lunch on the Hill.
  • 1:00 p.m.: Visit our friend Athan Manual, director of the Arctic Refuge campaign for the Public Interest Research Group. PIRG’s Arctic Campaign targets oil companies to pressure them into canceling their Refuge drilling plans.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Conference call with the organizers of our grand finale.
  • 5:00 p.m.: Visit the “Alaska House,” home of the Alaska Wilderness League office. AWL works to protect the Arctic Refuge where the decisions are being made, on Capitol Hill.

Alex and I like to dream big. For tomorrow’s rally we envision a massive 1,000-bike parade through the streets of the Capitol ending with a press conference on Capitol Hill. We’ve enlisted the help of The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, and the office of Rep. Bruce Vento (D-Minn.) to organize our rally and “ride for the Refuge.”

Today was the last conference call, and it sounds like all the pieces are in place. Our D.C. support team has obtained permits from the Metro Police, reserved our gathering spot at the Capitol Building, sent out press releases to all the local and national media, and invited hundreds of cyclists and activists to join us on the last four-mile ride from Lincoln Square Park to the Capitol. Most importantly, members of Congress have been invited to join the procession and speak at the press conference.

The work has been done. Now we wait and see who shows up tomorrow morning. We’re hoping for a big turnout.

Tired and hungry after a long day, we return to our homebase in Takoma Park and stay up until 1:00 a.m. organizing our letters to Congress. We have only a few hours to get ready for our first day on Capitol Hill. Rain starts falling as we fall asleep.

Tomorrow: Making a scene in D.C.