We are NPCA’s 2014 California Team: Shane, Shannon, and Corinne. Together we participated in Climate Ride California 2014 – riding from San Francisco to Sacramento, 250 miles in four days. This event truly was a friend-raiser as much as it was a fund-raiser for NPCA. The opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who are doing innovative and meaningful work for our planet AND who are very much interested in NPCA’s work is invaluable.
Each day was unique and offered opportunities to see new sights, chat with other riders, and share stories of our work. We fielded questions and have a few follow up connections to make. Everyone on the ride seemed so eager to learn about what others are doing, such a wonderful exchange happened during the event. The 2014 Climate Ride California concluded with a festive ride onto the California State Capitol grounds where we were greeted by government officials and fellow advocates who expressed their gratitude for our efforts (see the new 2015 North Coast route). All in all, this ride was a fulfilling experience rich with challenge, purpose, and connection.
Each of us answered questions in hopes to inspire next year’s riders.
What was the most challenging part of the ride?
Shannon – The most challenging part of the ride was packing. Even with the support that I received from NPCA and Climate Ride, I still had uncertainties on the many logistics involved in traveling from WA to CA with all of my camping and riding gear. Of course, it all worked out.
Corinne - For me the biggest challenge was fundraising. I've trained for races and hike a lot for work so I had a good grasp on the physical challenge. I have never tried to reach out and ask people for so much money! Tips from Climate Ride and NPCA helped me reach the goal way faster than I expected and let me focus on training for the month leading up to the ride.
Shane – I would have to say that breaking camp at an early hour each day was probably the most challenging part of the ride for me. I tend to move more slowly than others, so getting up early (with some soreness) and packing up my tent and all of my things and being ready to roll at 6:30-7:30 was difficult most days. But, amazingly, I somehow avoided frantically pedaling down the road each morning and calling out, “Wait for me!”
What was the most enjoyable?
Shannon – I appreciated the connections that I made with the other riders. I was recharged and inspired by the riders' willingness to connect and learn more about the work being done by fellow riders.
Corinne – I enjoyed learning about the causes that everyone was so passionately riding for, and the positive energy that continued to grow all week as we took part in such a purposeful mental and physical challenge.
Shane – I agree with both Shannon and Corinne. The energy from all of the riders who are working to make our planet a better place was palpable. It was so nice connecting with others and learning about their work. Not only this, we were doing it amidst the most scenic landscapes in California—the sights, the smells, the wine—all of it made for a magical experience.
What was the detail that was most difficult to plan for?
Shannon – I was extremely nervous about soreness on day 3 and 4. I woke up on day 3 not knowing what to expect and had a pleasant surprise to find myself feeling great. The same was true for day 4 and the day after the ride!
Corinne – Not knowing what the actual route would be like, I worried about how well I had prepared for busy streets, big hills, and mechanical problems. It ended up being very empowering to feel more comfortable physically and mentally as the ride went on!
Shane – The most difficult thing — hands down — for me to plan was all of the gear and clothes needed before and during the ride. I had never done a multi-day, long distance ride like this before. I wasn’t quite sure what all I would need, and if I forgot something, I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get it during the ride. I also tend to over-pack and I had fears of packing way too much due to my first-time anxiety. I didn’t want to have a bag too heavy to carry around.
Shannon – NPCA is engaged in work that challenges activities that cause climate change and pedaling for the parks was a way to bring awareness to some of that work. Getting on my bike regularly during the training period with the intention of riding for the parks gave me extra incentive because it is something that I believe in – both cycling and park protection benefits for our planet.
Corinne – I moved out West from New England about four years ago, and the beauty and diversity found in our National Park system has captivated me. Conservation of wildlife and wilderness is something I have always felt passionately about. What better way to challenge myself and raise awareness about environmental issues than to take part in this ride!
Shane – Climate change is here and our national parks are seeing and feeling the impacts already. While I take actions in my personal life to make a difference, I saw Climate Ride as a way for me to take a professional action to help raise awareness (and funds) for the work that NPCA is doing to protect the integrity of our national parks in the face of a changing climate.
How will this experience affect you as you return to life after the ride?
Corinne – I've learned that I can get people excited about the environment and reach a broad audience by sharing my efforts and knowledge. One of the speakers encouraged us to become more active in public/political activism, since we had all shown that we have the passion and skills to take action for the causes we care about. I'm very excited to find more causes like Climate Ride (or maybe do another ride!) that I can take part in and feel like I'm making an impact in larger ways that I knew I could.
Shane – I am a lot more comfortable and confident on my bike now. I feel like I can ride most anywhere and be just fine. I am also more aware of bikers on the road while I am driving. When driving, I think about each person I pass and wonder why they are riding — what is the story behind them being on a bike. I know I feel like I have more purpose to pedal now knowing that I am helping make a difference for parks and the planet!
Shannon – I am in the best shape of my life and I plan to keep it going! I will carry the inspiration that I gained during my ride in my heart.