Climate Ride: CCAN director bikes from Baltimore to DC

One hundred and forty brave climate activists left New York City’s Central Park on Saturday September 26th with the idea of wheeling down to Congress with a message: Fix the climate now! By the time I caught up with the group on Tuesday night just north of Baltimore, the cyclists had already ridden through rain, hail, headwinds and punishing crosswinds. “I was literally riding at a severe angle, my bike tilted toward the ground,” said one participant from Northern Virginia, describing his trek across Pennsylvania.

Welcome to the 2nd annual Brita Climate Ride, 300 miles of leg-testing, spirit-challenging work (and fun) to beat global warming. Hearing the stories of bad weather, I realized this was the perfect metaphor for the climate movement as a whole. It has NOT been a smooth and sunny ride trying to get strong climate legislation passed by the U.S. Congress this year. We have experienced lots of rain and hail and crosswinds in the House of Representatives. And now more storms are likely in the Senate as we push toward the international Copenhagen conference in December.

But we have to keep on riding until we reach our destination: Clean energy now. No new coal plants. Green jobs for a green economy!

Which is why I was so happy to give these climate cyclists a pep talk Tuesday night as they prepared wearily for bed at the Pearlstone Retreat Center outside of Baltimore. “You’re an inspiration to this entire nation,” I said to the audience, which included special guest John Cardin, an environmental leader in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The next morning I joined the group for the 51-mile trek to the D.C. border (I’m 2nd from the right in the group picture above of riders from MD/VA/DC). It was a real treat to cycle through the rolling countryside of Howard County, Md while talking to activists like Jenny from DC who rode with a miniature wind turbine and polar bear on her helmet. The group continued on to a final rally outside the U.S. Capital Building where Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and Betsy Taylor of 1Sky spoke. Lobby visits, involving cyclists from 35 states, were scheduled for Thursday in Senate offices.

The Climate Ride was the brainchild two years ago of former mountain trekking guides Caeli Quinn and Geraldine Carter. For years, these two women had seen with their own eyes the rapid shrinking of glaciers in places like Patagonia and the Alps. “I decided I just couldn’t stand by and keep watching the impacts of global warming first-hand without taking first-hand action to do something about it,” said Carter.

The ride raises thousands of dollars for climate action and raises tons of awareness. In New York City, riders were featured on the CBS Early Show. Local newspapers have covered the spectacle along the way.

For me, it was an honor to cycle the 50-mile leg from Baltimore to DC. Next year I plan to do the entire ride. Unless, of course, this year’s great action