Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brita Climate Ride - Day 5 - Reisterstown, MD to the US Capitol

A six AM alarm not only signalled the start of the fifth and final day of Climate Ride - an exciting climax that would take us into DC and to the steps of the US Capitol - but also the final day of my 4 month journey across the US. I'll write more about the exciting/sad/weird emotions that accompany this reality, but for now it's on to the nation's capital....

The past four days have been incredible - full of inspiring stories, interesting people and beautiful landscapes. I've taken it easy on the bike and enjoyed the camaraderie and conversation of many of my fellow riders. Today, I just wanted to ride. To push the bike, and my legs, a bit harder than I have in a while. A test, of sorts, to see what my legs had left in them before I send them into a well deserved hibernation.

A group of us, accompanied by the Danish Ambassador to the US, rode off the front, pushed it up the hills and flew down the descents. It was one of those rides that just make you smile.

As we made it to DC a few hours before the appointed meet up time for the ride up Constitution Avenue, the Ambassador took us by the Embassy for a little tour of his digs. We then joined back up with the group on the Georgetown waterfront, hid from one final downpour (a mini theme of the past five days) and pedalled down a normally auto-congested street along the famous "Mall" and all of its recognizable stone monuments.

The energy of riding in a pack is something hard to explain, but in this group of riders that had come so far (much further than many of them had ever ridden) the excitement was palpable. Coming together for a cause, any cause, is a wonderful feeling. Doing it over the span of months and in particular the past five days is especially exhilarating. The wide smiles, high-fives and bikes being raised overhead all signalled a great feeling of accomplishment.

Alas, there was great resignation as well. Resignation that there is much work to be done. Resignation that the road to a more sustainable future is longer and steeper than the hills of Pennsylvania and Maryland that they had just conquered.

For me, the roundabout in the shadows of the Capitol was an intersection of many emotions. Moved by the strength of the 82 year old grandmother and the 14 year old daughter who had just pedaled from New York City. Excited by the commitment, of fellow citizens, to a cause they believe so strongly in. Thrilled and saddened that my 4 month ride was over. Overwhelmed by the increasingly weighty question of "what now?"

All of those feelings can start to be processed tomorrow. Right now it's time for a cold beer. Or two.

Congrats and thank you to the amazing Climate Ride staff & volunteers, all of my fellow Climate Riders and especially those that supported me and this wonderful ride.

(for an excellent visual wrap-up of the 5 days, check out official photographer Kip Pierson's 2 minute slide show here )

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brita Climate Ride - Day 4 - that place we were last night to Reisterstown, MD

Pilar y Matteo

Today was a day filled with more hills and more wind. Fortunately, it was also filled with sunshine. It could have been miserable out there had we received more of the rain we've been experiencing, but instead it was another day of stunning scenery and fantastic cycling. Ending up at an extremely comfortable retreat just outside of Baltimore helped cap a wonderful day and left everyone excited for tomorrow's ride into DC.

Me (photo again courtesy of Kip Pierson)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brita Climate Ride - Day 3 - Phoenixville, PA to wherever it is that we are right now

Amish Traffic

Wow! What a morning. Autumnish weather and beautiful scenery (okay, and an awesome doughnut) got day three off to a spectacular start. Smiles flashed brighter than in a toothpaste commercial and people didn't seem to mind the rolling terrain one bit.

Curiosity (for both groups) piqued as we pedalled into the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country where two wheeled bicycles met four wheeled buggies and spandex clad cyclists met nattily dressed Amish. At one point, there was a bit of a traffic jam as horse and buggies seemed to pour from all directions (apparently everyone was headed for a funeral). My favorite scene, though, was of the young Amish girls - dressed beautifully in their long dresses - all sporting mitts and playing the outfield in school baseball game - priceless.

At the same time we started running into our fellow motor-less commuters, the winds started to pick up to more than noticeable levels. Eventually the rains joined in and soaked Climate Riders for a second straight day but, like the day before, the rains stopped in time to allow for a beautiful few miles before pulling into camp for the night.
Mutual Curiosity (photo courtesy of Kip Pierson)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brita Climate Ride - Day 2 - Princteon, NJ to Phoenixville, PA

I was totally taking this guy...

After a perfect spell of weather for day one of Climate Ride, night one saw the skies open up. And they didn't close until late the next afternoon. Despite the sogginess (i helped one girl EMPTY her tent of water - not shake off, but empty), all remained incredibly upbeat. I think the rain even added to the adventure of it all. Fortunately by the time the group I was riding with rolled to the top of a hill overlooking Valley Forge, the late day sun was shining and the view breathtaking. You could almost imagine brigades of Washington's men camped out in the field below.
More great stories out there include the mother/daughter duo participating in Climate Ride on a tandem bike as well as the three generation family of five - both showing that riding a bicycle from NYC to DC is an amazing event for all riders -young and old.
A cast of great speakers including a guy who biked 21,000 miles and a gal who hucks herself down mountains along with a night without rain in the forecast have everyone psyched for another great day tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brita Climate Ride - Day One - New York City to Princeton, NJ

Wow, after four months of talking about an amazing ride from New York City to Washington, DC, that ride is finally here. And what a way to start. Check the luggage (I'm not carrying all my stuff for the first time in 16 weeks!), grab a Clif bar and head over to CBS to make our appearance on The Early Show before riding, 150 strong, down 5th Avenue -a good looking group if I do say so myself.

Everyone is so excited, so motivated, so happy that all the work (training, fundraising, planing, organizing - everybody has been doing something) they have put in is about to pay off. What a positive energy! It's going to be an incredible week.

After some wonderful food and a cold beer, we headed onto Princeton's amazing campus (looks even cooler at night if that's possible) to hear a couple excellent lectures - a scientist's view of climate change and an overview of what is happening up on Capitol Hill right now.

Unfortunately, the photos i enjoy taking so, won't be coming to this blog anytime soon. My little Canon point and shoot has finally given in - it made it all the way to NYC and then called it quits - kind of like Phiedipides (pardon the possible misspell) falling in Greece after making it to the end of his famous run. Fortunately there are lots of folks posting at - check them out. (Thanks to Kip Pierson for this pic)