Saturday, May 31, 2008

On the way to Mobile

Hear all about the ride to Mobile, AL directly from Becky!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #4 - On the way to mobile

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moving through Alabama

Yesterday the riders finished 43 miles and had their first meeting at the University of Southern Alabama, Mobile. Over the past two days they have been riding right along the Gulf of Mexico, and the water has been in sight almost the whole time!

In southern Alabama the riders were able to stop at a University and see the Katrina damage that is still so visible. In particular, everyone noticed a large white building that stood next to an old tree. The gutted building that faces the water is still closed and waiting for renovation, despite the passage of time. The tree nearby is really old, and is called the friendship tree by locals. The riders were able to stop in front of the tree and have a quiet moment of reflection.

Becky says about the first meeting that "Three women from a new NOW chapter attended the meeting. They spoke a lot about how feminism is a dirty word in Alabama and how isolated they felt. One of the NOW members is a professor at the local college, and yet they still feel it is difficult to talk about women's health-care and rights. Even in the most progressive churches abortion is a dirty word and you just don't talk about it. They seemed really happy to see this group of people, and to get a chance to visit with all of these other women. One woman said at the end that she was so happy just to see these things out loud, because usually she's just saying these things in her head. They liked the idea of being connected to people from across the country. They also fed us!"

Today, Becky is the van driver and is responsible for keeping all of the riders on track (helping with directions), scouting ahead etc. and going to the store and putting together lunch.
There have already been several flat tires, and the bikers had to contend with a really dangerous tunnel situation today. Some of the riders are dealing with ongoing tire issues because of a construction zone they traveled through on Tuesday. They spent most of the day riding through the zone, and riders picked up glass, nails and other things along the way. Luckily, everyone seems to be doing well despite these less than stellar conditions and the ride is progressing nicely!

Tonight the riders will be stopping at a fishing camp in Alabama, and are planning a 50 mile ride for tomorrow. They will take Saturday off, and then have a really long day on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Yesterday the Wanderlust riders finished 48 miles.

Total:133 miles

Today, Becky and the others are riding through Alabama. Becky says "The weather is beautiful today! We are in Alabama headed to Mobile for our first meeting. Everyone's muscles are sore, but we're riding well. Tonight, we are staying in a Unitarian Universalist Church."

We will post more information about the meeting in Alabama as soon as possible, so definitely stop in and meet the riders if you live in the area! We'll also hopefully have some pictures of the first gathering, and get a sense of what other gatherings might look like across the country!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New York Times Article

The New York Times Student Journalism Institute ran an article about the Wanderlust tour, and includes a lot of information about Becky! It even has a link to the biking page!

Here is the link for the article, or you can read the text version below:

Activists Biking Across 12 States for Reproductive Rights

By Amber R. Perry

Last year, Nora Dye took a solo bike journey from New York City to San Francisco.

“I wanted to meet other people who were advocating for reproductive health care and get a scope of what they were doing,” said Dye, the senior program coordinator of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project in New York City, which educates women on reproductive health issues. “There’s a lot of isolation within the reproductive justice movement and I wanted to create a network for us to talk about what is working, what isn’t and ways to better our efforts. We don’t share ideas as often as we should.”

Dye called the bike tour Wanderlust, an homage to the urge to travel. “The name implies the lust and passion one has. We’re passionate about reproductive health care,” she said.

This year, Dye and 19 other riders are traveling from New Orleans to New York City in an effort to create an open dialogue about women’s contraceptive freedom.

Dye interviewed applicants for the bike trip and created an itinerary.

“There’s a lot of media attention around New Orleans,” Dye said about why the tour started in the city. She said the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery effort doesn’t focus on women’s health. “We want to help raise awareness about women’s health.”

Kathleen Adams, a New Yorker and intern for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project, considers her major in architecture as an asset to the women’s rights movement.

“Housing for women is a right, especially in New Orleans,” she said.

The bike tour will not be easy. The women will face heat indexes in the high 80s to lower 90s, rain, fatigue and flat tires, among the other problems of traveling cross-country.

Riders will rotate duties, either following behind or driving ahead in vans to scout out the roads. They set up tents, provide food and water, administer first aid and allow other riders to rest. The vans carry extra bike parts, clothes, sunscreen and other supplies that riders might need.

For most of the stops, the riders will spend the night in the homes of friends and supporters. In New Orleans, the Wanderlust tour met at the home of Dye’s friend, Amy Marlow.

Marlow, a native of New York City, moved to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding effort.

Nora and I met last year on a Web site called,” Marlow said. “ is a Web site that connects travelers with couches. We also found out we had a mutual friend…it was fate.” Marlow said she hopes to join Wanderlust next year.

The 1,800-mile, 12-state tour is expected to last five weeks, and is being broken into 50-mile rides each day. Some days, the rides will end with town hall meetings at various churches, homes or schools.

The Rev. Becky Turner, executive director of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, sees the tour not only as an opportunity to exchange ideas, but to test her physical and mental skills.

“Religion is about justice of any kind,” Turner said. “I want women to be the recipient of justice, full control over their own bodies and the course of their lives. As a Christian, I look to Jesus in the ways he treated women.”

Like Turner, most of the riders prepared for the journey by jogging at least 30 miles, cycling and doing other exercises. Turner said she plans to keep an account of her journey through her blog,

Paris Hatcher, who works with SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, a pro-choice organization in Atlanta, said that while she is not a serious rider, she wanted to represent women of color on the tour.

Wanderlust’s first major stop will be in Mobile, Ala., where the riders will host an event.

“We’re going to hear from them — advocates, educators, human rights groups — their opinions, politics, access to reproductive health. And make friends,” Turner said.

On Monday, at the start of the ride, after applying more sunscreen, passing out walkie-talkies, filling bottles with water and stretching, the Wanderlust riders stood in a circle.

“Plant your feet firmly on the ground and take a deep breath,” Dye said. “No matter what happens, you are always grounded with the earth, and she will be here to protect you.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

And they're off..

The Wanderlust riders officially started their ride yesterday morning, May 26th. Over the weekend they toured more of New Orleans, including the desolated Lower 9th ward and clocked over 25 miles.

During the bike tour of the city they went into the neighborhood where Becky lived while in seminary and gave birth to 2 of her 3 children. She said the neighborhoods was very hit or miss, some houses were fine, other were totally destroyed. Much of NOLA was like that.. huge areas where there are no longer any houses, and you can see old foundations but little else.

She said that the Lower 9th ward is just desolate. They were covered in 18 feet of water, and it is now just a valley of sand, and old foundations. The gov’t came in and declared the houses uninhabitable and has begun to tear down what is left of the houses,now allowing anyone to rebuild. There is a really wonderful grassroots organization called Common Ground and they are making sure that whole blocks are not being decimated. They want to make sure that homes are being saved and that people who want to return to the area have a place to live and re-build.

As of Monday evening, Becky reports that:

We are in Bay St Louis, Mississippi staying at the Bay Episcopal Mission. We biked 60 miles today and I'm feeling great so far. The mission has provided us with a warm meal, Quanset huts with air conditioning (!), and bunk beds. It's nice to not have to camp out after our first day of biking!

On the ride today one person had a flat tire, and we are all a little sunburned despite our best efforts. Overall though, everyone is doing well and the ride went really smoothly. We started out in New Orleans and were able to see some of the Katrina devastation both in the lower 9th ward and along the route to Bay St. Louis. We also rode through a swampy area that had beautiful wildlife!

Along the way some firefighters provided us with ice and water, which was greatly appreciated considering the heat and humidity. Tomorrow we will be biking 50 miles, and I am excited to spend another day on the road with the phenomenal women on this trip!


Hear Becky talk about the trip so far & the firefighters!Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #2 - outside of new orleans, some great firefighters!

Almost ready to leave NOLA!

This weekend Becky and the other Wanderlust participants have been busy getting to know one another and undergoing a bike ride orientation. Becky was in charge of a leadership seminar, and we know that she used a model that uses animal examples to explain strengths and weaknesses. Over the weekend they rode 25 miles and toured various parts of New Orleans.

Here is Becky and some of the Wanderlust riders on their tour of the city!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #0

Friday, May 23, 2008

Train Facts

Becky is on the train to New Orleans! She sent this information our way about the train...and a picture from the window!

Subject: City of New Orleans Song

Steve Goodman wrote this in 1970. He wrote the lyrics on a sketch pad after his wife fell asleep on the Illinois Central train, where they were going to visit his wife's grandmother. Goodman wrote about what he saw looking out the windows of the train and playing cards in the club car. Everything in the song actually happened on the ride. After he returned home he heard the train was scheduled to be decommissioned do to lack of passengers. He was encouraged to use this song to save the train. He retouched the lyrics and released it on his first album in 1971.

Guthrie's cover in 1972 popularized the song and brought attention to rail lines that were vanishing across middle America. Many people who lived in rural areas relied on them to travel.
Goodman died September 20, 1984 at the age of 36 after a long battle with leukemia. Shortly after his death this won a Grammy in the category of best Country song, which Nelson had recorded and made a #1 Country smash the previous year. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA, for above 3)

Guthrie and Goodman's versions have slightly different lyrics:

Goodman: "Passing towns that have no name."
Guthrie: "Passing trains..."
Goodman: "Sons of Pullman porters and the sons of engineers ride their father's magic carpet made of steam."
Guthrie: "... made of steel."
Goodman: "...the rhythm of the rails is all they dream"
Guthrie: "...all they feel"

Here's more info on the City
of New Orleans train <> .

Note about the blog

While Becky is riding from New Orleans to New York, she will be sending back text, pictures, and audio from the road. The MORCRC staff will be compiling all of the data and publishing the blog for you to read! Don't be confused if the text is in first person, but the introduction is not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The time has arrived

I leave for New Orleans tomorrow. I have packed tents, sleeping bag and pad, lantern, bike shorts and jerseys, 3 dozen boxes of gluten-free foods, cooking utensils, extra tubes and tires...the list has seemed endless. It all fit into 2 large duffels.

How do I feel? Tired already. There were so many last-minute details at the office, which I now leave in the capable hands of Adele, Saskia, Sarah, Autumn, and Kelli. I'm excited about the riding, but that doesn't begin for several days yet. Everyone has to get to New Orleans from the east, the west, the midwest. Then we'll have a couple of days of orientation to get acquainted.

Today a friend said "This isn't just a ride, it's an epic journey-an Odessy-a Beowulf..." Okay, Greg, enough with the metaphors. But, yes, it is. I expect to be changed somehow. But I have no idea how. Sure I expect to lose a few pounds and come back lean and tanned. But what will be different on the inside after five weeks away from home and work? After five weeks seeking 12 states of this amazing country? After talking to so many activists? After facing exhaustion day after day? These changes can't be planned.

One of the more ironic parts of planning for an extended time outdoors is how to get use out of technology. My cell phone is going with me. Luckily, it includes a camera, an MP3 for music, GPS if we get lost, all of my emails, and of course the phone number of every person I know. I'll be able to call in to record a blog or send you a photo. I bought a solar charger so that my phone can continue to bring me all of these wonderful services even when I'm sleeping outdoors. How did Lewis and Clark do it without a Blackberry?

I am so grateful to every person who has wished me well and to those who have given a gift to MORCRC to be a part of this great journey. I am so grateful for a board that allows me the chance to get away and renew myself in this way. I am so grateful to my wonderful staff for the competent way they handle all matters in my absence. I am touched by all those who have asked how they can help while I'm gone. When I'm exhausted, I'll think of each of you and smile for all of my luck at knowing such incredible people.

The next time I check in, I'll be in New Orleans and ready to ride.

The road is calling...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preparing to get to New Orleans

St. Louis has seen constant rainstorms for several weeks on end. And not just rain, but hail, extremely strong winds, and even tornadoes. There seems to be only one day out of every week that is suitable for riding. But even if I can't be on the bike, there is plenty to do to get ready before I can begin the trip in New Orleans.

I decided to take Amtrak to the Big Easy. It's very friendly to bicycles. Putting my bike into baggage at the airport just didn't sound like a good idea. I want to actually be able to ride it once it gets there!

I put new, top-of-the-line tires on my bike. Just a little bit of tread to get me over the gravel roads. I've been assured these tires are very resistant to flats. I hope so, because I think my bike is attracted to broken glass. I had a rear tire blow-out just last week, only about four blocks from my office. The guys at REI love my bike. They even refer to it as "she". They take loving care with it (I guess I should name it-any ideas, anyone??), and I appreciate all their suggestions and well-wishes.

I've been gathering my camping gear. I need a good-weather day to take it all outside to check it out. I'm taking extra gear for some of the participants who don't have tents and bags, so I need to find a way to carry it all to the train station.

Once in N'Awlins, we'll have a couple of days to get to know each other and participate in an orientation. We all get to take turns leading different parts. It looks like I'll be doing the section on bike safety and health, so I spent some time on different biking sites looking for things I want to be sure to cover.

The core of this whole adventure is the scheduling of meetings in cities along the way to talk to local activists and health providers. I'm helping to locate some clergy in each of the cities so that we can build religious support for reproductive justice.

I haven't really told the others how much I'm looking forward to being in New Orleans. It's been a lot of years since I was there. I went to seminary there and my first two children were born there, so the city holds a very special place in my heart. That's been a long time ago, so I don't have friends there anymore. But I sure was horrified when I first saw the photos of Katrina damage. As I understand it, the neighborhood where we lived (not far south of the lake) is still devastated. I hope I'll get some free time to go looking.