Three RAGBRAI riders will be facing two additional challenges on their ride: performing as a band at stops and hauling all of their equipment with them. "Chasing Shade," will be riding with more than 300 pounds of equipment behind their bikes and using solar panels to fuel their sustainable bike tour across Iowa.
Griffen Harris, Elliott Beenk and Tim Cigrand comprise the Iowa City-based band. They will be using solar panels as their only source of power for their instruments along the way. They got the idea for the bike tour from the band "Blind Pilot," who gained their fame riding along the west coast and later opened for Dave Matthews. The support of the band's family and friends also encouraged them to participate in RAGBRAI.
Beenk, who works at the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, which is sponsoring their tour, said living sustainability is more important than awareness.
— Submitted photo
Chasing Shade will perform during RAGBRAI using solar power to fuel instruments. From left, Elliott Beenk, Griffen Harris and Tim Cigrand, performing in Chicago in June 2011.
"We kind of think about sustainability as a way of being rather than just doing RAGBRAI to promote it," Beenk said. "We want to live sustainably rather than just promoting the bare idea of sustainability."
Harris said that many people do not live in a sustainable manner and the best way to promote it is by example.
"There's going to have to be a change, and the way we're going to incorporate it is not by promoting sustainability, but by incorporating it into our everyday lives," Harris said.
"Chasing Shade" has taken part in other environmental efforts, including a composting and recycling program at the "Camp Euforia" music festival the past two years. Last year, more than 800 pounds of waste was composted.
This will be the first RAGBRAI for the band. Beenk jokingly compared their current situation to the film "Apollo 13" where the astronauts are running out of oxygen, handed duct tape and told to 'figure it out.' They have been training and fixing up their trailers, but ultimately said they will have to buck up and go for it.
They will be taking along a drum kit, a public address system, two guitars, a solar panel and batteries. Most of their shows will be impromptu during stops. However, they have shows planned in downtown Marshalltown. They will also be meeting with former San Diego Charger Tim Dwight, who co-owns a solar development company called Integrated Power Corporation and using his solar power setup to play in Cedar Rapids.
When they reach Webster City, the band will be playing sometime in the afternoon near downtown. Musicians such as Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket and Jack Johnson, among others, influence their indie-rock sound. Samples of the band's music can be found on their Facebook page.