Most of the time in life we take for granted that something vast and mysterious is playing out all around us. Some call it nature. For the great naturalist, John Muir, it was God. Whatever you call it, it is easy to see why we stand in awe of the natural world and its ability to give birth, to grow and to prosper everywhere.
On a small scale, we have the seed. The end of a plant's reproductive cycle leads to the spreading of many seeds to the earth. On the ground they take root and with the help of the sun and the rain, they start to grow. Born with several attributes that ensure survival in the chosen environment, the plant thrives and provides just as much sustenance as it takes. Living in complete symbiosis within its biosphere.
My first time cycling on the STIHL Tour des Trees, a weeklong cycling event that raises money for the TREE Fund, a seed was planted in my mind and heart. Over the years, it has flourished. So it is with this motivation that I offer you five reasons to ride in this year's STIHL Tour des Trees.
First, we have the seed. A small piece of matter that found its piece of earth to flourish. A seed carries everything it needs to start the growing process and it wants more than anything to burst into its plant form. But it can't do it alone; it needs the help of nutrients from the soil, rays from the sun, water and air. I guarantee that if you join us on this year's STIHL Tour des Trees a seed will be planted. One of camaraderie, one of everlasting memories and one that you will carry home to plant in your soil.
The second reason is nutrients. Just as the seed needs nutrients to grow, so too do we humans need nutrients to grow. On the STIHL Tour des Trees we are fed in many ways. Our stewardship raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the TREE Fund, provides awareness on topics like urban forestry and tree research, and gives the illustrious Professor Pricklethorn a stage to share his passion for arboriculture with our youth. We are fed by the friendships we develop. We all look forward to seeing our friends on the Tour that we only see this time of year and cherish this week of riding with them. And after the end of a 100-mile day we are nourished by great food all around. You will not go hungry on the STIHL Tour des Trees. I will bet you gain weight! You've just burned 8,000 calories and you can't stop eating!
The third and fourth reasons to ride in this year's tour are obvious ones: the sun and sand of the beautiful Sunshine State. This year's tour traverses some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and across our nation's largest subtropical wilderness, the Everglades. I am looking forward to hopping alligators and riding as fast as I can while being chased by panthers! (OK maybe not, but I would love to see both.)
And lastly we have air. We all need to breathe. We all need to take time out of our hectic lives to just sit and enjoy the fruits of our hard work. And what better way that to sit on a moving seat for over 500 miles while immersed in nature and hanging out with some of the greatest people you will ever meet.
For me, on my first STIHL Tour des Trees in Oregon, a seed was planted and it has spread deep roots in my soul. I come back each year to get the nutrients I need to keep it growing.
If you love riding bikes, join us. If you love great, positive, can-do and prolific people, join us. If you like to spread the good word about the need for these efforts, join us. If you just want to take a week and breathe, join us. No matter the reason, I'm sure a seed will be planted and you will be given the nutrients, sun, water and air you need to grow.