Former New Hampshire Occupier and New Hampshire Rebellion activist Beth Grunewald as personally stepped up — or should we say — pedaled up her activist game by deciding to bike from Calais, Maine to Keywest Florida! By a lucky chance, she connected with me on Facebook last week and when she told me she was going to be leaving to Maine to start her journey I asked if I could catch her for a quick interview. We met in West Lebanon at Gusano’s Restaurant last Saturday afternoon and chatted for about a couple hours. Dressed in bright colored biking tights with cut-off jeans and a tank top and standing at 6′ plus, the only thing that outdid Beth’s bright and strong physical appearance was her huge welcoming and enthusiastic smile. We sat down and proceeded to get to business getting caught up and then discussing her new adventure.
Beth says that she came up with the idea after approaching her thirtieth birthday this year. After working in as a counselor at the Outdoor Wilderness School of Connecticut, Beth had an epiphany that many of us have when we reach thirty, “I’m going to be thirty in November and decided on the cusp of that to do this. Thinking about what it means to be thirty and be a woman; so many people said to me, ‘Well now your life is over.’ I was amazed and began thinking, “Is my life over? Why are people even saying that to me?” Beth spanned her arms wide and exclaimed, “I have seventy years to live! I’m not even beginning to think about dying now!”
She also hopes that by studying the issues related to women while talking to people on her ride that she could be considered for a position as delegate to the 5th World Conference on Women.”The purpose – actually dual purpose is to advocate for the 5th World Conference and to interview folks about concepts of gender and how those archetypes affect women.” She also talked about how she wants to expand on thoughts about human relationships and community.
“I got out of work and came home to Merrimack, I went to the anniversary of a friend who had passed away the year before and I started thinking about connection in my community. I’ve had so such a go-go life lately and it got me thinking about how we get so caught in all these timeline engagements we forget about the people around us. I began to think about how human connections are so important but our society, the things are now, doesn’t allow people to make enough time for that.”
Then we got into details about the trip, “Its roughly about 3,000 miles and I’m looking to do about fifty miles a day. After doing research with maps and on the East Coast Greenway website. Beth spans out her hands on the table pulling an imaginary string, “I used the map online and then transferred that to a paper map and with string I made an estimate of my miles. Its somewhere around 3,000.” I asked Beth how long it would take, “My planning is still a work in progress and since I’m planning to meet people on the way, who knows? I’m still working on where I’m staying when I’m in urban areas, that might be problematic but I’m still working on it. I’m also going to use 2-1-1 to see how well that works and I plan to report back on that.”
Beth has done many long distance trips, touring from southern New Hampshire in the summer of 2012 and ending up as far as Bangor, Maine. In November of 2012 she also toured parts of the Midwest from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Fort Wayne, Indiana and her last smaller tour was in the fall of 2013 when she rode from Concord, New Hampshire to Portland, Maine. She uses a standard hybrid bicycle with 700c wheels, narrow hybrid tires and the uncommon “mustache” handlebars which she says offer her many relaxing positions as she plows through the miles.
We will hopefully be able to follow up with Beth’s trip as she goes along and please don’t forget to visit her Go Fund Me site to help her out with expenses!
Since we originally did this article on August 31, we have been in touch with Beth since we hadn’t heard confirmation that she’d left. She has indeed left and has gone as far as Connecticut. We talked to her on the phone briefly, she was talking as she was riding, we asked her how her trip is going,
“I’ve had some difficulty with getting online and adjusting to life on the road an dlearning to g slow, developing a routine of checking with my body and myself.” She then laughs, “I almost forgot to eat for like six hours once!” she also says, “Taking time out was one of the reasons I wanted to do this — reflecting on our rushed lifestyle, so here I am having to remember that.”
When I asked her if she’s had any logistical difficulties on the road she answered, “Getting used to the differences with the two maps I’m suing — the road maps and the online maps and some route difficulties and of course staying in contact.” She says she stayed at a campground in Machias, Maine that was a little creepy, “I saw someone just come out of the woods from nowhere that night.” She also relates that she stayed on the property of a church and called their number to let them know. “I’m hoping to haev my trail worked out so I can focus at night on my ideas on policy.” [for the 5th World Conference she hopes to be a delegate for].
We’ll keep in touch with Beth and post updates here, she said she hopes to have her own blog up and running soon which we will link here.