Bike study on St. Thomas Minneapolis campus

I had the great privilege of getting to know these St. Thomas undergraduate students during spring semester as they were working on their Marketing 340 research project. They were assigned the task of conducting an analysis of the bike culture on the Minneapolis campus, where I work; there seems to be a disconnect between the fact that we’re located in one of the top ranked biking cities in the U.S., and our campus culture, which is not very supportive of bicyclists. Hannah, Lexi, Megan and Mikayla conducted focus groups and a survey of faculty, staff and students, and researched how other universities and corporate campuses have attained Bicycle Friendly statuses, then made a series of short term and long term recommendations for improvement. Making some facility changes (having a safe place to store bikes, as well as a place to change) and building awareness of the bike community and resources available seem to be pretty reasonable and manageable ideas for improvement.

They invited me to sit in on their presentation to the university’s Office of Sustainability today (and that’s my bike featured on the screen, in my office “parking spot”), and I was so proud of their professionalism in the presentation and their thorough, excellent work. Mostly, it was fun for me to get to support them in this class project that will have real impact….plus they are just lovely people!!!

One week out

One week from departure, just back from a quick 40 mile ride which felt very easy, I do want to describe my feelings. I can’t wait to just get started, for one thing.  We’ve been planning this trip for over a year now, maybe closer to two.  We’ve studied maps, selected equipment, trained our bodies, made arrangements at work and at home.  I’ve also, in the course of planning, in the interest of “being prepared,” tried to think of everything that could go wrong  – so, you know, we could be prepared for those things.  Well, a lot can go wrong.  One night when we were visiting with friends after dinner, I started listing the things that could go wrong:  rain, tornadoes, getting lost, getting attacked by farm dogs, bugs, fire ants, snakes, heat and dehydration, bike breakdowns… and someone said “wait, isn’t this supposed to be fun?”

Her question reminded me that this is not only supposed to be fun, but that it WILL be fun, partly because it is full of unknowns.  That is what adventure is all about.  We recently encountered a quote from Wendell Berry that is apropos:  “Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.” (Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge)

Will those bad things I imagined happen?  I don’t know…maybe some of them will.  And so will sunny days, downhills, great campsites, a hot shower when we need it, new friends and sights we’ve never seen.  Let’s get going.

lisa bike