On June 14, BSF Nordic skier Lily Morse will set off on a 2,745-mile mountain bike ride from Banff, Canada, to the New Mexico/Mexican border. Her mission? It’s not just to follow the Continental Divide along a route of gravel roads called the Tour Divide. She’s also raising money for the climate justice movement.
Lily has always loved being outside. “I originally got into climate activism to do my part to protect that,” she says. “Once I got into it, I found a lot of significant reasons in addition to that.” As she began to understand the role of oppression and the intersectionality of marginalized groups with the effects of climate, she became passionate about social justice.
This bike trip, she says, “is to raise money for climate justice, build power and awareness for the youth climate justice movement, push for more women, non-binary, and queer people in cycling and the outdoors and to go on an amazing adventure along the way!” The money she raises will go to support intersectional and youth-focused organizations, such as the Green Schools Campaign.
Sixteen years old, Lily already has a long resume. She is executive director of the Green Schools Campaign, which helps transition schools to 100% green energy. She works with Sunrise Bozeman, and she recently became one of the first female Eagle Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America Program. Before she takes off on her trip, she’ll be one of the speakers at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps conference in Las Vegas.
Nordic skiing is one of Lily’s newest pursuits, and she picked it up only two years ago when her family moved to Bozeman. Having been on a rowing team in California, she was looking for a new sport in Montana. “I’m not the best at Nordic skiing, but I show up, and I’m learning, and I love it,” says Lily. “The coaches, the team and the community are so amazing. Just the support I’ve had from the coaches encouraging me with this ride is amazing.”
This a big adventure and one that, if Lily had her way, she would be doing solo. “My parents said, ‘No,’” she laughs. Instead, her father, Greg, signed up to ride alongside her, and together they’ll tackle the challenge, cycling up to 100 miles per day and climbing over 220,000 vertical ft along the way. It was actually her father who first introduced her to the Tour Divide, showing her videos of Lael Wilcox, who holds the women’s record on the Tour Divide.
The Tour Divide is a self-supported trip, and Lily and Greg will carry all their gear on their bikes. Last year, Lily was eager to ride part of the route, but closures due to fires foiled her plans. This year, with fires burning in New Mexico, they may need to adjust the route depending on the situation. “We’re going to figure it out as we go,” says Lily.
Lily began training for the ride in earnest in February. “Since it was winter, I was doing BSF to train, and splitting that also with riding our indoor bike.” When the weather enabled outside riding, Lily and her father started building up their miles. Currently, they’ve gotten up to 80 miles on their training rides.
Lily explains that while she’s confident of their general fitness, the real work is making sure their necks, backs, and butts are ready for all those hours in the bike saddle.
If you’d like to learn more about Lily’s trip or donate to her Go Fund Me campaign, go HERE.