Five years ago, when I signed up for my first Climate Ride in 2008, I didn't even have a set of wheels that could reliably get me from New York to Washington, DC. After finding my first road bike, training, raising money, and completing that ride, I was hooked. Since then, I have participated in four more Climate Rides, and at the finish of each of them, I had the same feeling: an intense, growing desire to do more and to go even farther.
When I learned about the opportunity to be a part of Climate Ride's Climate Challenge, my reaction was almost automatic. I wanted to do something truly inspiring and fulfill a lifelong dream in the process. I knew immediately that my Climate Challenge was to ride my bike across the United States of America.
I worked directly with the Climate Ride staff to set up my fundraising page, put together a press release, and talk through the logistics of tackling a 4,000-mile self-supported solo bike ride. I've come to learn that doing incredible things is only half the battle; we need to be experts at telling our story to truly have an impact. There were a thousand tiny behind-the-scenes details that I worked on during my planning process, but I needed to focus on my message and my motivation. Built into every conversation about my journey would be an opportunity to explain why I've chosen to support Climate Ride, my beneficiary.
it to my planned destination today? Slowly, I began to silence those voices in my head, deciding only to answer them if the hypotheticals became reality. I realized quite quickly that my ride was as much a psychological challenge as it was a mental one. If it was easy, lots more people would be doing it. Ironically, the difficulty of the journey would make it that much more rewarding and worthwhile.
Over the next 73 days, I pedaled my way through all kinds of weather, over hills and plains, atop gravel and asphalt. I rode at the foot of the Grand Tetons, crossed the mighty Mississippi River, and watched the Front Range appear at the horizon as I neared Pueblo, Colorado. I crossed the Continental Divide eleven times, reaching my highest point while summiting Independence Pass at 12,095 feet. More rewarding, however, were the people I met along the way. From fellow touring cyclists offering spare parts to families willing to provide a meal and a couch to sleep on for the night, I was blown away by the kindness and generosity I experienced. The support from friends and strangers alike not only made the trip possible but made the trip unforgettable.
The exciting thing about Climate Challenge is that it can take the form of whatever adventure or goal you set for yourself. During my ten-week journey across the country on a bicycle, I raised more than $3,000 for Climate Ride, made dozens of new friends, shared my passion for sustainability with countless people, and hopefully, inspired many others to pursue a lofty goal, whatever it may be. I've already begun planning my next Climate Challenge. What's yours going to be?
NYC-DC 2013 Rider Photo Scavenger Hunt