Campaign for Good News Part 2
This summer, Chris Greig embarked on a “Campaign for Good News” as a way to remind people of all the good things going on in the world by riding his bike from Alaska to Florida, stopping daily to film video lagniappes about cool people, places, and things along the route. Yet more often than not, he was the one surprised by the goodwill that he encountered at every turn. Cycling solo, he was at the whims of the weather, road conditions, and the availability of food, drink, and supplies along the way, so invariably there were challenges—from the wind working against him for long stretches to flat tires at the worst possible moments. But even when it looked like he was in the middle of nowhere, someone always appeared to offer cold water, a ride to the nearest bike repair shop, or a free place to spend the night.
Back at home now in Ontario, Canada after concluding the trip July 26, Chris reflects on the countless times he was buoyed by the kindness of strangers, whether they lent a helping hand or just provided some much-needed human interaction on days the ride seemed unbearably lonely.
There was the couple near Jonesboro, Ark. who saw him trying to fix a flat in the dead of night and offered him a ride, pausing along the way to call their son and tell him the story. “They thought it was so funny they’d picked up a Canadian,” said Chris, whose easy affability no doubt helped to put the strangers he met at ease. “They were on the phone telling their son, ‘We have a Canadian in our backseat. He’s riding his bike from Alaska to Florida!’”
There was the fellow cyclist he encountered in Sioux City, Iowa who let him draft off him for a while, and when he heard how far Chris planned to go—4,350 miles in all—didn’t hesitate to express his confidence in his new friend’s ability to pull it off. “His first reaction was, ‘You’re going to do it!,’” Chris remembers. “I love people like this.”
Above: Elevation profile of Chris Greig’s solo bicycle ride from Fairbanks, Alaska to Miami, Florida.
There was even a construction crew in Miami who offered water and then showed him where they said a 13-foot gator lived under an irrigation pipe on the highway. They then tried to coax the creature out so Chris could see it. The gator remained elusive, but it was a welcome diversion for the final stretch of Chris’ ride in the hot July sun. Chris is quick to acknowledge that he had his share of challenges along the way, too, but they were outweighed by the pleasant surprises. “For every time there was the occasional stubborn driver who seemed like he was going to run me off the road,” he says, “there were so many more instances of people going out of their way to help me out. And that’s what the whole campaign was really about—choosing to see that the vast majority of people all across the country, from all different walks of life, are nice, decent people who are supportive and want to lend a hand.”
Since returning to Ontario at the end of summer, he’s been studying to become an actuary, a longtime professional goal of his. But while he says his body needs time to recuperate, he hasn’t hung up his helmet for long.
“It’s funny, because while I was doing the ride, there were times it got tough, because it was so hot or the wind or road was so bad or whatever, and I would think, ‘Why am I doing this, again?’ But as soon as I finished, all I could think was, ‘That was neat!’ I keep watching the videos on the website and remembering how much fun it all was. So now I’m already thinking about my next bike ride.”
So far, mum’s the word on a specific theme for a future ride. But no matter what, it’s likely to pick up where the Campaign for Good News left off—by showing that with a little imagination, determination, and willingness to see the best in people, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.
“I’m not a professional athlete or journalist or anything like that,” Chris notes. “I’m just a skinny kid from Canada with a crazy idea. So I hope that when people look at me and see what I did, they’ll be inspired to give their own dreams a shot, too.”
To read the story on Chris Greig before he set out on his Campaign for Good News, cycling from Alaska to Florida, link to: http://www.seethegood.com/articles/stories/article/1/Campaign-for-Good-News.