Finn Kiesow is a Brooklyn high schooler who just completed a self-supported ride from New York to Acadia National Park, raising over $3,800 along the way. Finn said, “climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our times, and right now, it is more important than ever to work toward a sustainable future.” His goal is to raise $5 for every mile he has ridden. He rode over 1,000 miles with his friend, camping along the way, so he’s closing in on his fundraising goal. You can still support his efforts here.

Right before Finn headed out, we picked his brain about why he decided to take on this challenge and his thoughts about taking action on climate as a young person.

Climate Ride (CR): Why did you decide to do an Independent Challenge with Climate Ride?

Finn Kiesow Schenck (FKS): Since I was five, really young, I was always about turning all the lights off. The idea of being more sustainable has always been with me. So I’ve been interested in sustainability – agriculture etc – as I’ve gotten older.

And now, I’ve gotten into biking, especially over the pandemic. I have always wanted to go bikepacking since the 6th grade. Then I thought why not combine my interest in sustainability and dream to go bikepacking?

I thought I was being original, calling it a Climate Ride, then I googled it and saw Climate Ride and read the profiles you do and decided to sign up!

CR: Why’d you pick 350.org as your beneficiary?

FKS: Being 17, I don’t have a lot of money to donate. I did some research on the best organizations too. I sent out some emails and had a good correspondence with 350 and they offered to put out any videos I make. Their openness made me want to collaborate with them. They seem on top of their stuff.

CR: How has climate change impacted you and/or the area you live in?

FKS: Two days ago the whole city was covered in smoke from wildfires on the West Coast, the moon was bright red, the sun was crazy. The things everyone notices – carbon levels are rising, each summer since I was five feels hotter and hotter. It is the small stuff that will turn into the big stuff.
But I also think living in NYC and in America more generally, we see it less. The people that are least responsible for it will feel it first.

CR: What’s your favorite subject at school?

FKS: I go to high school, but we have majors. My school’s environmental science major is weak so I’m a physics major. My plan is to go to college for something in the environmental sector, maybe focus on agriculture or climate studies.

CR: Were there any personal challenges you’ve confronted or foresee in preparing for riding nearly 1000 miles up to Acadia and packing all your own gear?

FKS: I think there are two things that might happen. Like whatever I’m afraid of now won’t be an issue, it will be something I didn’t see coming at all. I’m not worried about the ride itself. I can pitch my tent and bike the miles. I can get out there.

I’m actually more worried about the social media side. I don’t post much but when I do it’s something silly.

CR: Has preparing for and participating in this event spurred you to take any action on climate?

FKS: I’ve attended a bunch of protests and climate marches in the city. The political and petition side of the issue, it’s not the part that inspires me. I should do more of that. I try to bring a climate awareness mentality to the other things I do. Like this ride.

CR: Is there anything else you think we should know about?

FKS: Don’t buy new bikes! I never bought a new bike. I mean, I have a pretty new track bike. You get them cheaper if you buy them used. It’s a lot more efficient too. It’s goofy to spend $3,000 when you can find the year older for half price. The bike I’m doing this ride on is a steel frame with average components. Buying used bikes reduces waste!

2 Replies to “Meet Finn, the high schooler who biked from NYC to Acadia National Park”

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