I’ve been posting stories about adventurers (argonauts or in this case an astronaut) for about 13 years, despite many people saying there is nothing left to explore.
The Austrian daredevil jumped out of his balloon at 39 kilometers (24 miles), and reaching an estimated speed of 1,342 KPH (834 mph), or Mach 1.24, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without a vehicle. Wow!
Felix said: “There was a time I really thought I was in trouble. I had to decide to fight all the way down and I finally got stable. That spin became so violent it was hard to know how to get out of it. I was able to get it under control and break the speed of sound. I could feel myself break the speed of sound. I could feel the air building up and then I hit it.”
Once again I was honored to present at the Growing Power International Urban & Small Farm Conference. Pictured here is Will Allen, one of Milwaukee’s most prominent citizens and the founder of Growing Power, one of the organizations that make Milwaukee one of the top 10 green cities in the nation. My book Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job was inspired several years ago when I met will for the first time and toured Growing Power’s urban farm, which happens to be about a mile from where I lived as a child. I showed the book to Will. He said he “loved it”. He thanked me for the work that I am doing, and I could see that the book tugged his heart strings and helped him see the tangible difference his own passion is making in the world.
Also pictured is Kate Krzysik who helped create the book project and bring Ruby to life at the Waukesha STEM Academy. Stay tuned for our next book “Walter the Water Drop” about water conservation. It will be a really exciting project as Kate’s vision keeps growing, so along with the book, the STEM Academy will be installing an aquaponics system in their school. Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
I had a great time at the 170th year of the Waukesha County Fair, including: all-you-can-drink chocolate milk for a dollar. Here I am feeding a Bengal Tiger a small piece of beef. This is a female which is about the same size as me at 200 lbs. The male tigers weighs 3 times as much and it is all muscle and teeth! Coincidentally I wore my tiger-stripped shirt from Rajasthan, India.
It is estimated that there are only 3500 tigers left in the wild and they will go extinct in 10-30 years. I don’t like zoos or circuses, but they may be the ones responsible for saving the tigers, just as the American beef farmers were responsible for saving the bison. For anyone who has read my book, you know that I am one of the few people alive that has seen a wild tiger. It was the most exciting 5 seconds of my life. Previous to seeing the tiger, it saw me as I scared one away from it’s breakfast. A deer that it had killed just a few hundred meters away from my cabin. Seeing the kill and the fresh footprints put a scare into the locals. Luckily I wasn’t second breakfast :)
I also won a giant stuffed parrot in the BB machine gun game. I had to obliterate the star in the middle of the paper. And then I gave it the prize to a pretty lady. It made me feel like a man. Is there a guy who hasn’t had this dream?
Who knew my homeland could be so fun and adventurous?
Today I received a hand-signed letter from Congressman Sensenbrenner: “I’m proud to have a constituent who dedicated 4 years of his life to cycling the world. You have a wonderful story to share with the world. And I am pleased that you continue to advocate on behalf of an issue you care deeply about.” I am honored that he took the time to do this. And I’m proud that our representatives are taking our concerns seriously.
It won’t surprise anyone that I believe bicycle infrastructure if vitally important to our nation’s commerce, health and environment. I also believe that bicycle tourism is especially important to Wisconsin. We have the number one grossing economy for bicycle industry, and an incredibly beautiful and diverse state full of trails and campgrounds. It is top destination for cross country cyclists because the can travel from Milwaukee to Minneapolis 90% of the way on world class trails, like the Elroy-Sparta and Glacial Drumlin. And it is an under appreciated fact that bicycle tourists spend more money on food than a automobile driver spends on gas. Now that’s good value for everyone!
In my opinion the celebration of the book is the most important step. It helps the students realize their purpose in life, take a step of action with their passion and own their participation. The they are empowered to seed their ideas and passion in their community, and eventually these ideas may become a new reality. Assuming a few bumps in the road turning dreams into reality is my philosophy of falling uphill.
Below is Deputy Ambassador Jefferson Brown distributing books and certificates of recognition to one of many classes in a school in Corrientes, Argentina.
They made this wonderful sign. Notice me riding my bike towards Argentina with the blue and white flag. It reads: "Es necessario hacer de la vida un sueño y del sueño una realidad." Which means: It is necessary to make our lives into a dream and to make our dreams our life.
My husband Mark Schulze is the inventor of the video helmet camera. I was there to photograph him wearing his gargantuan invention when he donned it and adeptly rode his mountain bike up and down beautiful singletrack under its encumbrance, in order to share the experience with viewers of our mountain-bike videos (we produced the world’s first mountain-bike titles (“The Great Mountain Biking Video” came first, released in 1988). People wonder why we didn’t patent the idea back then but we were more interested in riding our bikes, and videotaping the joy of riding bikes. We’re just glad we could see the fruition of video cameras that can now fit in the palm of your hand, or that you can clamp onto your helmet and then ride without even noticing it’s there.
Also their Facebook Page.
An inspirational story from a fellow argonaut, John Warnick.
Months ago I ‘Discovered’ that I had a gift which would “Transform Lives with the Gift of Mobility.” That gift was cycling! After completing a 1000 mile bike trek for the Faith Based, non-profit freewheelchairmission.org which gifts lightweight wheelchairs to those impoverished,disabled people crawling on the ground in the 84 countries we serve, My life has been transformed as a spokesperson,and representative for those without hope. We have gifted 680,000 wheelchairs, and my part began on a bicycle and has continued in various mobility efforts and speaking to the masses in church’s and groups.Riding my bike has been a blessing God has used to change lives by “REACHING DOWN AND LIFTING OTHERS UP” Which is the best exercise for the human heart.
The Cupcake Boy is the story about a boy who makes the most beautiful and tasty cupcakes in the world; however, the villagers take the boy for granted. So disheartened, he leaves his home wondering: “Why should I bake cupcakes for a world that doesn’t love me?” In many ways it is a sequel to “Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life” because it is the story about coming home again.
Also seen in this month’s edition of Natural Awakenings available online or at your favorite Milwaukee-area health food store. I know what you are thinking—cupcakes can be healthy too, especially if they are made with love.
Coincidentally, this issues features Milwaukee’s prominent citizen Will Allen and his organization Growing Power and Milwaukee’s only urban farm, which advocates the “good food revolution”. I’ll be speaking at Growing Power’s Fall Conference about my school book project and how students can illustrate the next book about eco-friendly subjects like local food, water conservation and more.
One mother was kind enough to send me this photo: “My kids thought your book needed a little color”. I think this is a great surprise. I initially designed the books in the simplest way possible for children to illustrate. Unlike fine art, illustration needs to tell a story. So I felt black marker drawings would give the kids the best control, and I know from years of being a graphic designer that colors often turn to mud by the time they reach the final printing. So, I’m pleased to see that black & white books turned out even better than I imagined, because, to use modern vernacular, they are more interactive.
Article in the Waukesha Freeman by Sarah Pryor about bike to work week. It is going to be cheesy, but I’d like to quote myself, because I do believe it is important for every community, and a bit funny that she included the last sentence. “Waukesha is a growing hub of biking opportunities, and it is important for local businesses to realize the opportunities available for bike tourism,” said Bike Alliance member Scott Stoll. “People who bike spend more money on food than drivers do on gas, so why not eat food rather than burn gas? It even tastes better.”
Thanks to the Waukesha Bike Alliance members for their support of the bicycle community. I had no idea that somethings, like installing a bicycle rack, was so difficult! It’s important to remember that their are a lot of dedicated people making life better for all of us.
We celebrated the new book, The Cupcake Boy, at Amy Belle Elementary at their Spring Fling. It was a big success! It makes me feel fulfilled to see all the proud young student illustrators. Below is a young artist displaying her picture of the cupcake boy realizing he is like a greedy little piggy. Pictures like this help inspire new pages in the book and round out the story. And a special thanks to the custodian, Rochelle, who turns out to be Amy Belle’s own Cupcake Lady. She spent a week baking monster cupcakes, Despicable Me Minion cupcakes, Cinderella cupcakes and much more. And many more parents donated hundreds of cupcakes to the school bake sale. And thanks to Arma for helping to organize everything in her cupcake pajamas.
Photo with courtesy and permission from the family.
I think this is a beautiful picture even though it didn’t turn out as I imagined. The photo was taken on St. Patrick’s Day when all the kids were wearing green. I asked everyone with a red coat to be part of the cherry. I also didn’t account for perspective, which makes the muffin top look too small. Below you can see my preparatory drawing using a satellite image of the playground and a cupcake illustration, which I then transferred to the school playground using chalk and a grid pattern.
Watch my segment with Outdoor Wisconsin on Milwaukee Public Television. It begins at minute 9:00, and the crew did a great job filming, interviewing and editing. Thanks!
It was almost a year ago, the crew filmed me riding around Kohler-Andrae State Park for 3 hours. I was getting tired as I was still wearing my winter coat, and was running low on blood sugar. (A “winter coat” is what us Wisconsinites call those 10-20 extra pounds we gain over the holidays.) The interview only lasted about 15 minutes.
Since this filmed I have also ridden a bicycle across Wisconsin, from coast to coast, the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan.
Here’s a very strange coincidence. I’m working with Amy Belle Elementary as the author-in-residence to create a new book “The Cupcake Boy”. Before I arrived in one class the teacher had just finished reading them Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job, which is a book I worked on with the STEM Academy. And, just as we were finishing the illustrations in the classroom, a mother brought the class a treat. Guess what!? “Dirt cupcakes” with grass and a gummi worm on top. Bizarre!
I’m hoping she contributes some of her culinary creations to the end-of-year Spring Fling when we will be celebrating the book. And all the student illustrators will be autographing their page in the book.