The big project of my year came to an end on Monday. From this past Wednesday through Monday, I rode 410 miles — give or take — from Bar Harbor ME into Boston Common, along with 50+ Climate Riders. (I was a little tardy, having suffered a very untimely flat tire just on Soldier’s Field Road, about 5 miles away from the finish.)
Similar to the Pan-Mass Challenge and the like, Climate Ride is a series of fundraisers for environmental and biking organizations. You can decide on up to five beneficiary organizations, choosing from a long list that includes the big green groups and a ton of worthy smaller ones. I chose 350.org, the local Better Future Project (which includes 350Mass), the Boston Cyclists Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists. I set a goal of $3500 and smashed through that, having now raised over $4,000. (Still gratefully accepting donations!)
Our embedding on this site doesn’t work so great, but I uploaded a few pictures to Instagram if you care to get a feel of what the ride was like. Maine, of course, is gorgeous, and the route planning and all the ride support and organization was really terrific. I couldn’t make it work with my schedule this year, but for sheer visibility and advocacy purposes, one might prefer the NYC-to-DC ride starting 9/17, since it obviously travels a much more heavily populated area — and ends up in the seat of power.
There were some 52 riders, who raised about $175,000. Many of the riders actually worked for the beneficiary organizations; some in related industries; some were technically on the clock! Some worked in corporate responsibility; some in solar power for low-income communities; and so on. In learning about these organizations, there’s a seriousness and reality about their work that I find comforting. It’s not really political in nature; it’s simply about recognizing risk and formulating strategies to fight it. And a new industry is indeed rising up to take on the legacy fossil fuel industry. We are well beyond spitballing at fossil fuels; this is work.
And the fact is, you can’t ride 400 miles without a significant degree of commitment. The hills don’t lie. Muscles and money are more tangible than Facebook shares. (Although I did raise the lion’s share of my total on Facebook — thanks Mr. Zuckerberg.)
One doesn’t often pronounce “climate” and “joy” in the same sentence, but this experience really did provide much joy, both in the ride itself and the fellowship of other folks wanting to make a difference and take a public stand on climate change. If you’re able-bodied and thinking about doing something like this, I highly recommend it.
And to put it bluntly, we need more bodies. More fundraising; more enthusiasm; more of a show of political dedication and power to fight climate change in a variety of ways. The Pan-Mass Challenge — an extremely worthy cause — gets 5,000+ riders. This? Well, it’s only the whole planet.
If you have any questions about the ride, ping me at charley at blue mass group dot com.