Day 5 – the triumphant return to civilization! On another perfect day of sunshine and gorgeous coastal ecology, Climate Riders pedaled the final 41 miles to San Francisco high on endorphins and the collective sense of having completed an epic journey.
After a short jog inland up the Russian River on Day 4, the route re-emerged along the Pacific coast for the final 30 miles into the city. Climbing the final set of hills into Sausalito, a crystal clear view of San Francisco Bay and the city skyline unfolded before us. And just like that, 130 cyclists were pedaling across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the streets of San Francisco, chants of “Climate! Ride!” echoing up and down Polk Street.
The final day of Climate Ride is always bittersweet, as riders say a fond farewell to new friends and old. Yet it is also a day of returning – to friends and family, to our many communities across the country, to the very spot where this ride began and the source of many of our greatest challenges and most inspiring solutions. Having completed a significant personal challenge by cycling over 300 miles, riders return bearing stories of hope, accomplishment and inspiration.
Standing in front of a gleaming City Hall, Satch Slavin of Team Ninety 9 Monkeys said, “Today was excellent. Crushing that crazy, crazy hill and then coming into the city all together en mass with all the noise…It’s a very powerful experience, to have put in 5 days and then to come in all together – awesome!”
Reflecting on his first Climate Ride experience, Terrell Richard said, “What I have found from the group here on Climate Ride is they’re just real good people. They gave me a different insight on all the fundamentals of trying to take care of the climate. I’m a general manager at Costco, and I wouldn’t necessarily think of all of them all of the time. It’s a lot of good information which I can now share with my group of people.”
Riders return home with new tools and new connections to continue their work for positive change. And ultimately, it is the deep sense of community and the many strong relationships that developed over the course of these 5 days and 300+ miles that remain with riders for years to come.
Environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author Paul Hawken also joined the bike party, cycling the last celebratory miles to City Hall. Alongside SF District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner and SF Environment Director Melanie Nutter, Paul addressed a jubilant crowd of Climate Riders, family, friends, and supporters in front of a large Climate Ride banner. Paul’s keynote speech captured the essence of Climate Ride and its role in the burgeoning movement for sustainability: “This will be the most important movement of the 21st century…it’s not about stopping, its about transforming society. This is about re-imagining what it means to be a human being.”
Perhaps the only more fitting words to sum up the Climate Ride experience were uttered by rider Victoria Garriett-Lampkin after a particularly long day of cycling: “Climate Ride – saving the planet while destroying asses!”
Whether at their back or in their face, the wind has played a large role in the story of this year's Climate Ride California. Embrace the power of the wind!
Every good story requires a challenge. By Day 4 of Climate Ride California, the stories and challenges of this group have started to become clear. With four straight days of gorgeous sunshine and warmth, the wind cheerfully volunteered as this year’s adversary for riders. Though the wind was a staunch ally for many on Day 3, she playfully reminded us of her might on Day 4 as riders pedaled through Russian River wine country on their way back out to the coast.
Having identified the wind – and sore muscles from Day 3 – as their biggest obstacles, several riders dubbed this year’s team as the “Wind Riders” in reference to the legendary “Storm Riders” of Climate Ride California 2011. In embracing the wind as both foe and ally (we are raising money for causes such as community wind energy after all), many riders were able to overcome the physical challenge through the support of their fellow riders and teammates. It was in coming together as a group that many felt able to continue riding and perhaps go further than they expected.
As Rachael Loper of the D Street Riders said, “Today was windy and kind of scary for someone like me who has only done one previous multi-day ride, but my friend Libby got in front of me and dragged me up the hill, and it was great!”
Perhaps a similar story is unfolding within the larger sustainability movement – our power lies in people coming together to share in both the challenge and the creation of sustainable solutions. It is not always easy working to create positive ways forward in the face of a deeply entrenched fossil-fuel economy and continuously rising CO2 levels. Yet, as many riders have found over the course of these four days, there are so many of us who share the same struggle and the same vision for a healthier future. And when we ride together, we go farther than we thought we could.
Both of Day 4’s evening speakers, Jeremy Madsen of the Greenbelt Alliance and AshEL Eldridge of the Alliance for Climate Education, told stories of people coming together to face challenges – such as urban sprawl and climate change – and emerging with a sense of shared values and community resilience. And like Climate Ride, they found success by having fun and connecting with the natural world around them!
On one of the world's most epic century rides, day 3 of Climate Ride California was as much a testament to the power of the sun and the wind as any renewable energy project!
Your first century ride – its a milestone in every cyclist’s life, a story to be told for years to come. And on Day 3 of Climate Ride California, over 50 riders notched their first 100-mile day on a truly dramatic and spectacular day of sun, wind, sea, and sky! Not all century rides are created equal either – today’s route along the northern California coast from Caspar Beach to Duncans Mills is one of the most epic century rides in the world according to Climate Ride co-founder Geraldine Carter..
Many riders are cycling to support solar and wind energy and day 3 was as much a testament to the power of the sun and the wind as any wind farm. Apparently the wind supported Climate Riders right back, providing a strong tailwind nearly the entire length of the 102 mile route. Climbing up 500 feet directly above the crashing waves of the Pacific, the final (optional) 30 miles offered some of the most stunning views and downhill rides of the trip. Sea merged into sky on the distant horizon, and the sheer beauty of the day provided all the extra stamina needed to complete a challenging day of cycling for many riders.
If completing a first century ride (or another stunning 53 or 64 mile ride for those who stopped to enjoy the view) wasn’t its own reward, Climate Ride sponsor New Belgium Brewing showed up to refresh and reward us further. Bikes and beer work pretty well in tandem.
To further prove how multi-talented many of our riders are, several of them presented at the nightly Speaker Series AFTER completing the century! It was an evening of enthusing bicycle advocacy, with Renee Rivera of East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Corinne Winter of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and Stuart Cohen of TransForm all sharing their innovative work to make bicycling and sustainable transportation more accessible to all people.
There is little doubt that the world would be a better place if everyone could experience what riders did today, but the majority of humanity now lives in cities. All three of these Climate Ride beneficiaries are creating more sustainable, healthy and just cities through the power of the bicycle! And what better way to raise money for these great organizations than riding a bike? Cycling events have long proved to be a compelling way to raise money while having fun, yet Climate Ride is the first multi-day event to raise money for bicycle advocacy by actually bicycling!