Cycling With & For Monarch Butterflies

Sara Dykman biked from the monarchs’ overwintering grounds in Mexico to Canada and back, covering a total distance of 10,201 miles in 264 days. (Timber Press)

We have featured the plight of monarch butterflies plenty of times on this platform. And bicycle travelogues feature, together with bicycle activism, even more frequently. Today, at the intersection of butterflies and bicycles, we thank Sara Dykman for writing and Smithsonian for publishing this travel-with-a-cause story:


I set off to be the first person to cycle alongside the butterflies to raise awareness of their alarming decline

Dykman works in amphibian research and as an outdoor educator. (Tom Weistar)

The idea to bike from Mexico to Canada and back with the migrating monarch butterflies arose from a simple wish to visit them. In 2013, crossing Mexico by bike for the first time, a friend and I entertained the idea of visiting the monarchs at their overwintering sites. Because it was April and the monarchs had already begun migrating north, we decided to forego the side trip.

I spent the next few years idly daydreaming about returning. Over time, my plan morphed and grew—until I no longer wanted to just visit the migrants, but to accompany them by bicycle on their great migration. In 2016, I stopped daydreaming and picked a start date for my journey: spring of 2017. My idea was now a plan, and I had a year to work out all the details.

As with every adventure, planning was part of the fun. For a year I immersed myself in emails, web design, press releases, and business cards. I talked with scientists, clicked through websites, pored over maps, questioned my plan, and traced the vague outline of a route.

Eventually, there was nothing left to do but start. In January 2017, I braved a 52-hour bus ride from my hometown outside Kansas City, Kansas, followed by a two-day bike ride, to arrive at the parking lot of the El Rosario monarch sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico…

Read the whole story here.

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