Dumpster diving, berry picking in the forest and being served a hot meal in a stranger's kitchen are among Adam Fenton's recent adventures.

The 29-year-old Lincoln native mostly sleeps in a tent, sometimes in city parks or cemeteries, or in the backyards of kind strangers.

No, he's not homeless or facing hard times. He's on a mission.

This spring and summer, Fenton has traveled halfway across the country with only his bike and a bag. He aims to make each town he stops in or highway he bikes on a better place through good environmental deeds, such as picking up trash or weeding and planting gardens.

It's part of his work with Green Riders, a volunteer group of 28 bicyclists who promote sustainability.

Environmental activist Rob Greenfield — TV host of "Free Ride" on the Discovery Channel — began making green cross-country bike trips three years ago. This year's trip marks the first time he invited the public to join him. 

Fenton learned about Green Riders by word of mouth, and was immediately hooked on the idea.

After vacationing in Rhode Island with his father and aunt, Fenton biked to New York City and kicked off his adventure with the Green Riders on May 23 in Central Park.

Currently in Wisconsin, the plan is to make it to Seattle by Aug. 19.

It's a 3,700-mile trek, and gear is heavy — Fenton carries a 60-pound pack. The group bikes anywhere from 40 to 70 miles each day, he said.

Bikers break off into smaller groups or pedal alone — either way there's an agreed meeting spot each night. Fenton typically rides in a small group. 

At first, the rides were tiring. Many participants hadn't physically prepared.

Leading up to the trip, Fenton was completing his final semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, volunteering with the local Sierra Club branch and the Matt Talbot Kitchen and managing Sustain, a student environmental club.

He also worked full time in UNL's dining hall, which helped him pay for college without student loans.

Before this trip, Fenton had only spent one day on a long-distance bike ride.

But as the miles fly by, the pedaling gets easier. Sometimes their stops to volunteer in towns along the way last a few days.

During stops, they ask local residents, city officials or police what environmental help or cleaning up their communities might need, then do it. 

One of Fenton's favorite moments of the trip so far was when the group biked into a small town in Pennsylvania. 

The area was conservative, he said, and he wasn't sure environmental activists would be welcomed. They sat down at the local bar and Fenton started talking to the strangers sitting beside him. 

"When they heard what we were doing, their faces lit up," he said.

The bar crowd worked together to find the Green Riders accommodations for the night, gave them donations to help continue the trip and even paid for their meal.

"And none of them were asking for anything in return," Fenton said. "They just wanted to be part of what we were doing."

Before he left for the trip, Fenton sold everything he owned — his car, most of his clothes, his bed, his kitchen supplies — and gave notice at his apartment. 

"Once you've finally gotten rid of everything, it's really freeing," he said. "But the process of getting rid of things is really hard, because it's against the social and cultural norm."

Everything he currently owns (and doesn't carry on his trip) fits in one plastic tote he stores with his parents.

When the trip is over in August, Fenton won't need furnishings for an apartment or car again for a while.

His next adventure starts in February, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Before that, Fenton plans to continue biking along the West Coast, and possibly pedaling his way back to Nebraska.

It's clear he loves the volunteer work he's done on the trip, and he's enjoyed meeting people along the way.

"The best part has been that I now have this deep sense of restored faith in humanity," he said. "I think that I've gotten more out of it than I give back."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or twilliams@journalstar.com.