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 )

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