The sound of bicycle wheels on the hard ground followed Hannah Scott Field, Alex Benjamin, Katie Ledermann and Ariana Amini as they trekked across different terrains throughout the U.S. Day one started at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the temperature was mild and the ocean breeze could be felt on their cheeks. The determination in their eyes could inspire millions, as their goal of making it to Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Florida ran through their minds. Their passion for the protection of wild lands echoed in every pedal of their bikes. “Women on Wheels for Wild Lands is first and foremost a group of women that decided to bike across the country, not only to have an amazing adventure, but also to raise awareness for public lands, which is something we all deeply care about,” Amini says.
Trekking across uneven terrain isn’t new for Field, Benjamin and Ledermann, who spent their high school days sliding through Minnesota’s own fluffy snow on the Mahtomedi High School Nordic ski team. “We’ve always enjoyed being outside and going on camping trips and hiking trips together,” Field explains. Amini met Field at Macalester College in St. Paul and had already been thinking about doing a bike tour before she teamed up with the other girls. “It was a really good decision. It was definitely easier to do it with people,” Amini says.
Their love of the outdoors has been ingrained into their hearts and souls from the time they were small. They spent a large chunk of their childhoods hiking through Minnesota’s woods, casting fishing lines, setting up tents and breathing in the fresh air. “We were fortunate to be raised in families who were very intentional about getting us outside and making sure we had experiences being outdoors and learning to care about the environment,” Field says.
When the girls sat down in January 2017 and began planning their adventure, something wasn’t right; they needed to have a purpose. “We were looking for something to do outside and to make a difference,” Ledermann says. “So biking across the country was a given in order to get people’s attention and reach a big goal.”
Accomplishing their mission needed planning; so that’s what they spent their summer doing. They dealt with obstacles like figuring out a route, how they were going to pay for everything and what they would eat along the way. The girls put together a website and created a social media presence, and it perked the ears of many people who cared about them and the cause. “Many friends, family and even strangers showed us tremendous generosity,” Benjamin says. They were also able to reach out to different companies who were kind enough to donate supplies like maps and tools.
The girls spent their time on the bike tour talking passionately with people, organizations and legislators about wild lands, and Field said she was pleasantly surprised to find out people cared just as much as they did. “It was amazing and surprising how many people out there are working on a daily basis to protect public lands and public spaces,” Field says.
Their passion and the kindness of others fueled them through the annoyance of flat tires, harsh weather, the anxiety of finding a place to stay some nights and their worn-out legs. Strangers took them in when they had no place to stay, bought their meals for them and helped them if they had any problems with their bikes. “A majority of the people in this country are so generous and kind. I think that’s just something that gets lost in the news,” Field says. “We don’t hear as much about all the good things.”
How You Can Help
You can make a difference and here’s how:
- Donate to a cause: Find a cause you believe in and help out.
- Use social media: Spread the word and inform people on what’s happening.
- Talk to your legislators: Reach out and make your voice heard.
- Have a personal relationship with the environment: Find a way to participate in nature, so you can form a connection.