Pugh bike trip

Lisa Pugh prepares for her long bike trip from Winona to Ely. (Photo submitted)

Aiming to raise awareness about the great outdoors, three bikers are pushing their pedals from Winona to Ely.

Lisa Pugh, Erin McCleary and Iggy Perillo are biking from Winona to Ely to raise awareness for the “Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.” They will be stopping in Northfield on Thursday and Friday, April 9 and 10, to present at St. Olaf and Carleton colleges.

Pugh, McCleary and Perillo are all instructors from Voyageur Outward Bound School and are familiar with the outdoors. In order to raise awareness for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, the three women will be traveling 725 miles by bike while trailing a canoe behind them.

The adventure of doing something big and bold to steward the land was a big inspiration for Perillo, beyond her desire to spread awareness and help protect the Boundary Waters from mining companies and the pollution that can follow.

Twin Metals, a mining company, is looking to set up a mine three miles off the shores of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The company would undertake sulfide copper ore mining, which according to Pugh is recognized by the EPA as the most polluting industry in America.

By biking from Winona to Ely, the three instructors hope to raise awareness and inform others about the cause.

“Biking allows us to reach a wider audience than we may have otherwise. Plus, we’re a spectacle. No one has seen a bike towing a canoe around, let alone one full of signatures. It draws in the cyclists, the paddlers, the outdoors-people and the just plain curious so we can start a conversation about the Boundary Waters and sulfide-ore mining,” Pugh said.

When asked why they decided to do this trip, all three had similar answers. They all wished to raise awareness for the risk that is being posed at the Boundary Waters by mining companies.

“The Boundary Waters and the risks associated with sulfide copper ore mining are the reason I am here. In the summer, I live on Birch Lake and the South Kawishiwi River and the proposed mines would greatly impact the surrounding waterways. I fish and paddle, swim and play in these waters and it would be a travesty to see them contaminated,” McCleary said.

The trio, who started biking from Winona on April 2, plans to make many stops along the way, Northfield included. On Thursday and Friday, April 9 and 10, they will be stopping at St. Olaf and Carleton to give presentations on their cause. Pugh, McCleary and Perillo will also loop back down to Northfield for an Earth Day celebration on April 18.

Brittney Neset is the editorial assistant for the Faribault Daily News. You can contact her at 507-333-3130 or @BrittneyNeset at Twitter.

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