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Indy Challenge Update: Cross-China Ride has Begun

Departing July 7th, Forrest Watkins is one month into a multi-year, multi-continent cycling journey. Over four years he will cycle one circumfrence of the Earth while searching for, and documenting, the impacts of climate change in the communities he visits. The following excerpts are taken from Forrest’s May 19th blog post in which he focuses on his inspiration for this journey and gives us a glimpse at his message. 

“I’m currently about 2 months from the end of a year of teaching in Hunan Province in China—and two months away from the wide open road. This summer, I’ll bike more than 2,500 km across China in the first phase of the project that this website represents. Over the next four years, I’ll continue down the same path, traveling one circumference of the earth by bike (40,075 km/24,902 miles). As I travel, I’ll tell you about the everyday people that are together building a sustainable future, and I’ll attempt to fundraise $10,000 for

This letter is the first of many that I’ll be writing to you. Within you’ll find stories of success, failure, adventure, and the possibility of We. I hope my messages will engage you in the growing climate movement, through action, lifestyle changes, donations (if you’re able), and learning. Today’s story? It’s the first one I know, the story of me and why I am drawn to this work. Really, it’s the sketchy outline of the story I’ll be telling for the next 4 years, and a nudge toward action.

Forrest and his sister (Photo from

I grew up skiing at a small double-peak in Central Oregon called Willamette Pass. Its low elevation has always made for slushy snow and early springs, and a lot of people end up driving on by in search of better snow. That never mattered much to me, though. When I was young, lift tickets were an expense that was hard to justify for my parents. They spent their honeymoon cross-country skiing in the Sierra Nevada. They enjoy the hard work of skiing, the solitude, the time to think. They may never realize how close downhill skis can come to the gift of human flight. On a more practical level, downhill skiing is easily twice as expensive as cross-country, and as a young family, we were lucky to be able to afford even a few weekends away. So the quality of the snow (or lack thereof) didn’t matter so much to me. Every day up there was a novelty that would leave me floating.

“Powder Day, 2009” (Photo from

…The mountains where I grew up are called the Cascades. In their very name is a dream of frigid glacier melt crashing over obsidian cliffs, of mist-fed moss, of forests as old as the last ice age. But in Oregon, like California, climate disruption is pushing ecosystems to their limits. Droughts run the rivers dry, turning ancient trees and saplings into kindling for wildfires and disrupting the healthy cycle of burning and regrowth. Pine beetles decimate whole forests, their habitat expanded by the unusual weather patterns. Climate change threatens industry and ecosystem, livelihood and home.

That’s where I come from. Just like everyone my home will be forever altered by climate change.

If this picture puts a well of despair in your stomach, look again. There is still ample cause for hope. We have workable solutions just waiting to be put to work. Drastic climate action won’t just promote justice, it’s the first step away from a path of destruction and decline, and the next step toward a world of more genuine equality.

And the truly exciting thing is, we’re already tending toward the better path.”

Read the entire story on the 360byBike webpage, where you can also find out more about Forrest’s journey and purpose