Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a week since Climate Ride ended. First, I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you who supported our ACE Team. In the end we raised $11,492 for ACE’s work and we had a blast raising awareness about climate change. Thank you for your donations, your moral support, and your commitment to helping us build a better world with climate solutions.
I feel like it was just yesterday that I was waking up with the sun to roll out of my tent or bunk, pull on my bike shorts, pants, wicking shirt, and wind jacket, snap on my bike shoes and helmet and get ready for another day of biking over 60 miles.
My plates of food are no longer piled quite as high and my back pockets aren’t full of energy bars. I no longer meet lunch with a new ache in a muscle I didn’t know I had, and I can now keep my eyes open past 9 PM.
Climate Ride is over and the 320 miles of rolling hills that we biked are behind us, but the memories are nowhere near gone. Beyond the awesome rides, physical challenge, and great camaraderie, Climate Ride gave us a unique look at America.
And everywhere we looked, we saw the puzzle pieces of climate solutions emerging. Americans are changing the way they get energy and use energy and it’s happening in places you might least expect.
Let me give you a visual recount of our journey:
We arrived in Brooklyn on a Friday night. We parked our van (four of us and four bikes carpooled from Boston) and unloaded our stuff. Right next to our van were CitiBikes, new bike-share bikes like those that are starting to dot cities across the country. (Great bike parking for us too!)
The next day, we rode from Brooklyn to Pier 1 in Manhattan. While to many this city is the Big Apple or the City the Never Sleeps, to us it was the City of Bike Lanes. We rode from Brooklyn to Pier 1 without ever leaving a bike lane! We learned that during his tenure, Mayor Bloomberg has added over 300 miles of bike lanes to the city.
In New Jersey, the view changed. We went from the densely packed streets and buildings of NYC to suburbia, complete with Mc Mansions I thought only existed on television. And yet even here, among the houses of people living REALLY large, we saw glimmers of climate solutions. We saw solar panels mounted on telephone polls, feeding their clean power directly into the grid.
We stayed the first night in Princeton, NJ, where my spirits were lifted higher by the people. One 82-year old resident on his moped rode up to me when I checked in for the evening. He was astonished to hear there were 200 of us riders camping on the YWCA soccer field. I told him we were riding for the climate and commented on his low carbon vehicle. He said to me, “Just imagine what it would be like if everyone in Princeton rode one of these instead of in a car. Think how much better things would be. If I’m 82 and I can do it – anyone can!” I certainly believe him!
In Pennsylvania, we saw a totally different way of life. We rode through Amish country, where people are known for living simply. I was inspired by the longest clotheslines I’d ever seen in my life, stretching from the houses to telephone poles and saving energy with every wind gust.
As we rode into our nation’s capitol, I couldn’t help but feel joyous, inspired, and hopeful. I was surrounded by 200 riders who had dedicated 5 days of biking and countless hours of fundraising to raise awareness and promote action around climate change. I had seen the evidence of new energy solutions, new transportation, and new attitudes throughout the ride. I knew we all of the riders represented thousands of people around the country working to fight climate change and the solutions I had seen were just the tip of the iceberg.
I now return to Boston, more dedicated than ever to working to accelerate climate solutions and empower more young people to join the movement that’s already begun. Thank you to all of you who helped me on my journey. Let’s keep working together!