Excitement continued to build all day as cyclists closed in on their final destination: Washington D.C.
Day Five began with a gorgeous sunrise lighting up 200 bicycles racked on the lawns at Pearlstone. Breakfast was buzzing with nervous excitement – today was what the Climate Riders had worked so hard for. After months of engaging with friends, coworkers, and family asking them for their generous support and raising at least $2,400 each for deserving beneficiary organizations, riders would finally be pedaling into our nation’s capital to make their voices heard for the climate and bike infrastructure. Only 70 miles stood between 200 cyclists and the U.S. Capitol Building.
Riders arrived in Silver Spring, MD mid-day for lunch. A favorite option was to grab take out from one of many local restaurants and lunch on the colorfully painted steps along Ellsworth Dr.
From there, Climate Riders made their way into Georgetown along the scenic Capital Crescent Trail, an 11 mile rail-trail that is one of the most highly utilized in the country and gathered at the Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown to meet up with family and friends who planned to ride the last 3 miles to the Capitol with them. And just before embarking, the amazing Climate Ride Leader Staff showed up on their Capital Bikeshare rentals to join in on the fun!
Climate Riders were escorted by police through the streets of our nation’s capital. Motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists stopped to gawk as hundreds of Climate Riders and friends pedaled up Capitol Hill onto the West Front Lawn. Many loved ones greeted the green peloton with congratulatory signs and cheers.
After several victory laps with riders chanting “Climate Ride,” bikes were dismounted and hugs and high fives given. Everyone then made their way to the lawn for the welcoming remarks by Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists and Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Climate Riders then had the honor of listening to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island talk about the importance of being active in the political process to effect change for our planet and transportation infrastructure. Senator Whitehouse acknowledged that it is an uphill battle in Congress, but that just like the Climate Riders who had overcome obstacles to pedal 300 miles from NYC to Washington, D.C., he believes we will make progress on these important issues.
Alix Cotumaccio, a Bronx resident had this to say at the finale: “Pedaling through DC to the U.S. Capitol surrounded by 200 like-minded cyclists fighting for a sustainable future with green energies and transportation alternatives was one of the most exhilarating experiences I've ever had. I am inspired and motivated to continue advocating and educating those on the Hill and off!"
Alix’s sentiments were shared by many riders, who were proud of their accomplishments, but were also sad that their five day journey with new friends had come to a close.
One Climate Rider summed it up perfectly: “The experience of biking up Capitol Hill together was so awesome that it made me forget about all the really hard hills yesterday. I’m signing up again for next year now!”
Climate Ride NYC-DC 2013: Lobby Day