You may have seen him snowshoeing to school, or riding his bike in a blizzard — something he says can be quite fun when there’s no traffic. Or, in recent weeks, you may have seen him whizzing around St. John’s or on the Irish Loop, training for a cross-country bike tour in the U.S.
In a few weeks, the St. John’s man will be a part of Green Riders’ coast-to-coast Good Deeds on Bikes trip, led by environmental activist and author Rob Greenfield.
Wade will meet up with the group in Lancaster, PA, a couple of days into the ride; after working hard toward his bachelor degree in environmental earth sciences, he doesn’t want to miss his convocation May 31.
Wade said through his study of climate change, he’s come to realize the impact of his own carbon footprint. He’s been doing all he can to reduce that — including swapping his car for a bike and snowshoes — and he hopes to spread the word on how people can do their part.
The upcoming bike ride is part of that effort. Starting from Central Park in New York City, the group will cycle to Washington, stopping along the way to take part in Earth-friendly initiatives.
“Wherever we will take a break, we’re going to be building gardens in places that ... don’t grow their own food, so they get food shipped in. These places are called food deserts, and Newfoundland is a perfect example of one. I think about 90 per cent of our food is shipped in,” he said.
“We’ll also be building rainwater catchment systems. There’s a lot of places that have drought, and they want to start gardens, but they have a hard time getting the water.”
While helping grow food for humans, the group of 30 to 50 cyclists will also feed local bee populations by spreading wildflower seeds.
“Each state that we’re going to, we’re going to find out the wildflowers that are native to the area.
“We call it seed bombs — basically in each state we pick up the seeds and then we’ll just toss them everywhere, so that way bees can have something to pollinate,” he said, adding the aim is to help the bee population grow. “Right now, they’re in a bit of trouble because of pesticide use and taking over land and stuff like that, so we want to help out the bees a little bit.”
The Green Riders will also shine a light on food waste during the trip in a hands-on way: by digging perfectly good food out of dumpsters and showing people the waste that exists in their communities. Wade said Greenfield will sometimes do that, bring the food to a local area like a park, and contact the media to get people talking about food waste.
“He was on the news a lot in the States. We’re just trying to draw attention to it. In most cases, people come up to him after and say, ‘Can I take this food?’ And he’ll say, ‘Well, yeah, there’s nothing wrong with it.’ And most times there’ll be nothing left — people just take the food,” he said, adding the Green Riders will absolutely partake in some discarded food.
“I’ve never dumpster dived here before, but for me, this trip is a big educational thing. I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable, I guess,” said Wade.
If biking across the United States doesn’t sound challenging enough, Wade is doing so as a person with one lung and a heart problem. He was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition at birth.
“My heart shifted to the right side of my chest, and then my lung is on (the left) side, so my blood vessels and airways are all completely different from the average human. Which is pretty cool, but most people who have my condition aren’t doing so good,” he said.
Wade said it can make things difficult, but his training and diet have markedly improved his health and performance. He said his lung capacity was severely low a couple of years ago, and a recent pulmonary test showed it has increased significantly.
“The heart condition and the lung, some people say it can be an obstacle. I see it as an obstacle, but it’s more of a challenge — can I overcome it?“ he said.
The next lesson
Wade is excited to learn as much as he can on the trip, and may even turn it into a thesis if he pursues a master’s degree in environmental education. Either way, he plans to go back to school; he hopes to do primary elementary education at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook in the fall.
In the meantime, he’ll be spreading awareness throughout the summer by posting updates of the trip to Instagram. Follow @btwade212 to keep up to date with Good Deeds on Bikes.