Co-operative Biking

Aug 27, 2013

Already thinking about what to do next Summer? How about a cooperative, three-month, cross-country bike tour?

This isn’t just any bike tour, though. Its primary goal is to create social change.

Co-Cycle, based in Amherst, MA, conceived of the bike trip to strengthen the national cooperative movement. Collectively run and organized, the tour stops at cities and towns across the U.S. for events at local coops. The trip has an educational element, too, and conducts local workshops along the way.

The ride is in its second year, and the team has had up to a dozen riders at a time. The 2013 tour started in Seattle in June, and ends in Boston this week. Stops along the way included Portland, Missoula, Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, Cleveland, Greenfield, among others.

Much of the fundraising comes from individual donations, but there are also big-name sponsors, including Cabot Creamery, one of the biggest dairy cooperatives in the Northeast; Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based cooperative of more than 1,800 organic family farms; and Clif Bar, the Calif.-based maker of energy bars that happens to be family- and employee-owned. Even the Co-Cycle’s website was designed by a worker-owned cooperative, Design Action. These guys don’t mess around.

Riders are each expected to raise $3,000, and should be prepared to participate in a grassroots movement. Don’t worry, prior co-op experience is not required. Riders attend a three-day workshop beforehand. Scholarships are also available.

Co-Cycle bikers share their experiences (and stunning photos) with the wider community through the Rider Blog.

One participant was so inspired by her experience that she made a documentary, To the Moon, which was successfully funded through Kickstarter. It’s slated for release in early 2014.

Interested? Applications for the 2014 ride should be available in March.

Credit: All photos are from the Co-Cycle website.

Six Co-Cycle riders on their cross-country tour. The 2013 ride started in June, in Seattle, and ended the last week of August, in Boston.

2013 tour kick-off party, hosted by Equal Exchange, a fair-trade coffee, cocoa and tea producing co-op and one of the ride’s sponsors.

Nothing like biking and camping in the rain, in Mandan, ND.

The 2012 Co-Cycle team entering the Mountain Time Zone.

The Rider's Blog includes breathtaking photos, like this one, taken in Sauk Centre, Minn.

This is part of our summer series, "Let's Co-Vacation: Together we can own the summer again," where we highlight collective summer destinations. We recently profiled the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat, in Oregon's Willamette National Forest.

Sara Horowitz

As the founder of Freelancers Union, Sara has been a voice for freelancers for over two decades.