At the end of September, I'll be riding bikes along with a bunch of other folks from New York to Washington to give voice to the fact that we want our elected representatives to take care of the planet we depend upon for our health, happiness and security.
We want to let them know that we believe in a switch to renewable energy which will both develop an industry of new jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, make our air and water cleaner, and make our planet safer.
Anyway, I'm hoping you might join me. You can read more about Climate Ride here and sign up to join in here. In case you're wondering what it will be like, here is a post by Evan O'Neil, who completed the climate ride last year.
Ok, I'll admit it. I was going to buy a motorcycle for my 30th birthday last year. I had been in recovery from my suburban auto upbringing for nearly a decade, living without a car in New York City, true to my concept of the ‘climate good life.’ I had made my dull peace with the never-empty trash cans, the motors, engines, and combustion. I had pushed the city limits on a bicycle and now I wanted more freedom.
I hit the birthday bars with some increasingly radical ‘green’ friends who started to shift me from the motorcycle idea. That night, my racing mind went online. There was a note, an invitation to Climate Ride.
5 days, 300 miles, 100 riders. Fund raising. Take the climate message straight to Congress. It sounded big. I didn't even have a bike with gears. But I was inspired, and click! I signed up. I later found out I was the first rider to register.
I had no way of knowing that Geraldine Carter and Caeli Quinn, the founders, were gambling when they launched Climate Ride. They had built it, but would anybody come? It was the first attempt ever to take a peloton of enviros to Washington to lobby for a clean energy future.
Soon enough though, the ride filled and I set about finding a bicycle, training in Central Park, tackling Nyack, the New York City Century, whatever miles I could get. My donations started to flow, even from people I'd never met in person. I was overwhelmed by the generosity. Those were the waning days of a lame duck oil president, but who cared? We were speaking for the eons. We were on a mission.
Ride Day finally arrived for our two-wheeled climate conference. It was a diverse group. There was the pastor from Alaska with tattoos and a goatee, the nuclear industry exec with a guitar on his handlebars. As the ride began, I fell into a pace line with new fast friends.
City turned to suburbs, and the suburbs quickly eased to countryside. Soon there were baby goats scampering and a Mennonite farmer parking his buggy next to my carbon-free steed. Vultures perched on the power lines, spreading their wings to warm in the morning sun.
All was hot, hilly, and awesome until Day Five, when an entanglement of wheels mangled my rear derailleur. So close to the finish, within a day's walk of where I grew up, it looked like my ride was going to fizzle. But the crew soon had me on a spare bike and racing to catch up with everyone for the final ascent up Capitol Hill.
In the end, we came, we saw, we lobbied. But I'll never forget when the route happened past Margaret Mead's house in Doylestown, PA. It was she who said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Journeys like Climate Ride make you remember this truth, and forget all about motorcycles.