Dennis Desmarais is taking on a new challenge for 2021. He already raised over $10,000 in 2020 despite the challenges that the pandemic presented to his training and reaching out for donations. Now, his goal for 2021 is to raise $12,000 on his eleventh Climate Ride! He’s also going to ride a 200-mile loop each day from starting and finish at his home over 6 days for 1,200 miles – a challenge that would intimidate world-class riders. But here at Climate Ride, we’ve learned to expect big things from Dennis. For one, he’s already over $10,000 in fundraising!

Throughout all of his rides, Dennis has also climbed into our Lifetime $50,000 Club and has the distinction of being the 6th person to meet that goal. And, if we have learned anything about Dennis, it’s that he doesn’t quit. We even have a saying at Climate Ride that we pulled from Dennis’s first ride with us in Glacier. After doing 109 miles, he asked us for some “bonus miles”. Our jaws dropped and we said, “Of course!” That spirit has inspired many of us here to pedal longer and fundraise more.

Last year brought more challenges than COVID-19 for Dennis. His wife Lisa also had a battle with cancer. Fortunately, it was a fight she won and he has pushed to take on another epic ride to raise funds for Sierra Club Connecticut – his beneficiary for the Climate Ride grant program. In addition to leading people on local outings into the wilderness, the Connecticut chapter of the Sierra Club has been working to rally support for statewide green energy legislation and protecting the state’s fishing economy from offshore drilling.

He has also adjusted his route this year in light of the “new normal” of living in a pandemic. Rather than the cross-country romp he has done in the past, he is biking back and forth between his home and Cape Cod. He’s also matching any donation over $49 because he knows many folks are having a hard time financially right now.

A weary Dennis arrives home after 1,000 miles in 5 days in 2018!

Dennis started riding in group rides with Climate Ride in 2011, with our NYC-DC trip. He has great memories from all six rides he’s done since then, but in 2018 he decided to switch things up by creating his own Independent Challenge. That year, he rode 1,000 miles over five days, averaging 200 miles a day from Detroit to Cape Cod. He faced unexpected road construction and long days in the saddle, but it was worth it when he raised $8,415! He was so busy biking he barely stopped to snap a photo, but here’s one of his brief rest at the Erie Canal! He likes to say he has one superpower – staying on a bike no matter how much it hurts. In 2019, he rode 2,000 km in 8 days and brought in $10,000!

When we asked him why he keeps taking on these incredibly difficult challenges, he pointed out that doing Climate Rides and “supporting the Sierra Club has never been more important. Global temperatures continue to rise; 2020 was the warmest year on record—wrapping up the hottest decade ever recorded. Wildfire seasons have grown longer and more devastating – 2020’s Australian wildfires burned an area over six times the size of Connecticut. And there are many other “new normal” climate dangers like more frequent hurricanes and longer droughts. But just as our “new normal” during the COVID crisis would have been exponentially worse had it not been for our actions to socially distance, the climate “new normal” can be kept in check by supporting organizations like the Sierra Club.”

So he is stepping up again! If you’d like to help Dennis break his $12,000 goal as he works to also break his body with this epic challenge, you can swing by his fundraising page here.