Q & A: Rob Roy McGregor

McGregor with Seahorse sculptures at Falkirk Wheel in Scotland. photos courtesy Fiona McGowranThe Go-Green ExpressRob Roy McGregor Rides His Bike to Save the Rain Forests

Perhaps you’ve seen him riding down the side of U.S. Highway 90 wearing a kilt and asked yourself, “Who is that guy and what is he thinking?”

He goes by the name Rob Roy McGregor, and he is riding his bike to help raise environmental awareness and save the world’s rain forests.

McGregor’s journey began in Orlando in January 2009 at the 32nd Annual Scottish Highlands Festival. The cultural anthropologist and father of four set off on a journey throughout Florida to spread his message.

After pedaling nearly 1,000 miles across the state, McGregor ended his ride on Feb. 7 in his hometown of DeFuniak Springs.

“I am biking and creating art to draw attention to our most critical global problem created by our daily decisions,” he says. “The current focus of my bike ride and art exhibition is global climate change.”

McGregor is currently riding across his ancestors’ hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, and working on a new exhibit, “The 13 Acacia Trees of Life Art Project.”

“The tree of life in art has been a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet,” McGregor says. “In Egyptian mythology, it is said that Isis and Osiris emerged from the Acacia Tree of Saosis, the Egyptian tree of life. In the Hebrew/Christian bibles, the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant were both made of acacia wood, and the burning bush was an acacia tree.”

When completed, 13 acacia trees built completely from construction waste will be put on display for the exhibit. The acacia trees, one of the last remaining traces of the fading rain forests, serve as a metaphor for the degradation of an entire ecosystem.

McGregor recently talked with Emerald Coast Magazine writer Daniel Mutter about his passion for the globe.

EC: Where did you study anthropology?

RM: I graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in ’97 with a B.A. in liberal arts from the school of anthropology. I study how our culture lives. I study corporate culture and see how our material culture drives our spiritual culture. Our spiritual culture can be seen in our art.

EC: What kind of bike do you ride on the tour?

RM: Right now I am riding a German mountain bike that I bought from Common Wheels, Glasgow, which saved me on the Rob Roy Challenge more than once. In Florida I rode a Giant 24-speed tour bike.

EC: Do you prefer to ride a mountain, road or hybrid bike?

RM: I prefer a hybrid for Florida flats. When in Scotland, I use a mountain bike with lots of gears. The hills here are intense and Scotland is home to the best bike trails, routes and courses I have ever seen.

EC: What is the most detestable action against nature in your opinion?

RM: I am most disturbed by roads.

EC: What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen on tour in Florida?

RM: The tree I photographed out in front of the Frazier Museum in West Palm Beach. It was beautiful and the roots created rooms like a house. I thought to myself … I could live in this tree.

EC: Do you have any relation to Scotland’s famous Rob Roy McGregor?

RM: Yes, through my mother, who was a Campbell. McGregor was an alias — his real last name was Campbell. My father is a McGregor.

EC: What are your future plans?

RM: I am really thinking about making my next bike tour start in El Salvador and then biking down to Brazil into the rain forest. I am praying about it. I also want to bike in the Middle East, Russia and China eventually.