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Father-Son Team Take on a Week Long Independent Ride

Brian Bramson and his 16-year-old son, John Bramson, are teaming up on a self-supported week-long group ride through North Carolina this March. This father-son team is fundraising for The Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC). TLC strives to create a healthier and more vibrant Triangle region by safeguarding clean water, protecting natural habitats, supporting local farms and food, and connecting people with nature through land protection and stewardship, catalyzing community action and collaboration. We had the opportunity to chat with both John and Brian about their independent challenge and what riding for TLC means to them. Brian, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases, also shared some interesting insight into how climate change is affecting the spread of infectious diseases.

We began by chatting with 16-year-old John.

Climate Ride (CR): What inspired you all to take on this biking challenge to raise funds for the Triangle Land Conservancy?

John Bramson (JB): I was inspired to take action on the climate during my AP Environmental Science class. The class, which I took this past fall semester, dives into the causes, effects, and future of climate change. The class also required me to complete environmental volunteering for course credit. The combination of learning about the issues and taking action, albeit in small ways locally, gave me the motivation to pursue a Climate Ride. Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) was an organization that I had engaged with in the past and being aware of the vast benefits that land conservation has on the environment made it feel like the perfect organization to support.

CR: That’s very cool! How did you first become interested in the Triangle Land Conservancy and their mission?

JB: I was first introduced to Triangle Land Conservancy through my stepmother who currently serves as the chairperson of the board. She often talks about her love and belief in the organization and when it came time to pick an organization to support, I started to look into its mission and impact. What they stand for and the work they are doing in my community was something I knew I wanted to support.

CR: Why is preserving natural spaces in North Carolina important to you?

JB: North Carolina is a beautiful state with many crucial natural resources available to us. Locally, we have many ecologically valuable ecosystems that must be conserved. With the rapid development occurring in the triangle it is of utmost importance to protect the existing natural spaces by creating preserves. I love everything to do with the outdoors and I feel strongly about protecting these natural spaces in my hometown both for my community and the generations to come.

CR: Your passion for conservation is inspiring! Is it safe to say cycling is included in your love for all things outdoors? How long have you all been avid bicyclists, including your dad?

JB: My family has been doing all sorts of activities on bikes for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are riding with my dad on one of those trailer bikes for kids. Most Sundays growing up we would bike into town for early morning breakfast. My father and I have connected over bikes more as I get older and our trips have gotten more elaborate. It has always been something I love and to do it with my dad makes it all the better.

CR: Can you talk about your experience planning and preparing for this week-long biking trip?

JB: I am a high school junior and my schedule is often too busy to allow for much planning/training time. I appreciate my dad for stepping up and taking care of the heavy lifting for planning the ride. I have tried to train as often as I am able for this ride, and I expect to be in prime riding shape in order to handle the high mileage days. The real challenge in preparation is fundraising, I have been hard-pressed to convince my peers this is a cause worth donating to. Despite these challenges, I am sure I will find a way to raise funds for this all-important cause.

CR: What are some of the most challenging aspects of biking for a week with your family?

JB: Honestly, my dad and I often travel well together and I doubt we have a difficult time biking and living together all week. That being said, I am not particularly excited about the two-man backpacking tent we will share. I expect the long hours in a saddle day after day will be the most challenging aspect of this ride. These challenges are minor though, and I am sure we will have an adventure and by the end of the ride, we will have achieved something to be truly proud of.

CR: Haha just a couple of fun aspects of living on a bike for a week! How do you hope to inspire others with your biking journey?

JB: I hope to prove that at any age you are able to take positive action on the climate. I also am looking to raise awareness about the possibilities of biking. The transportation industry is one of the root sources of climate change and I hope that onlookers may see how realistic it is to use a bike as a method of transport. After all, if my dad and I can bike to Virginia I am certain others are able to bike to work a few days a week.

CR: Thank you for showing all ages that positive action for the climate is possible! Are there any specific landmarks or natural sites that you all are looking forward to seeing on your trip?

JB: Honestly, there are not any that jump out at me. I’m sure the North Carolina coast will be as beautiful as ever and everything else along the way will be pleasant. In my opinion, anytime you’re riding a bike the scenery as you pass by seems much more striking. I’m just looking forward to the adventure and the views will be one of many plusses.

CR: Have you and your dad taken on any other fundraising or awareness-raising challenges in the past?

JB: This will be my first independent, self-organized, fundraiser. My father has participated in many other fundraisers including two of his own Climate Rides. I have participated in school walk-a-thons and various St. Jude’s fundraisers, but not to the extent of this one. This event will also be my first fundraiser benefiting the environment. I hope to do more in the future, perhaps even Climate Ride again. I just pray this first one is successful before I start planning more!

CR: How do you see the benefits of outdoor activities, such as biking, impacting mental and physical health?

JB: I find that outdoor activities, especially the more physical ones, are the single most important thing to both my mental and physical health. The value of a break from the stresses of the world spent in nature cannot be overstated. I use outdoor activities as a way to disengage from all my commitments. I love almost anything that requires you to be outside: I love hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, sports, wakeboarding, surfing, camping, and countless more. These activities simultaneously help me stay physically fit and keep my mind healthy.

CR: Very true! What advice would you give to other families who want to take on a similar challenge?

JB: Commit. I think the hardest part of anything is starting. Send that email, sign up for that activity, ask your partner about it, do whatever is the first step and I promise the rest will follow. The time it took to actually sign up for this Climate Ride is far outweighed by the time my dad and I spent deliberating signing up. Once you sign up the rest is easy. After a family has committed, I think the best thing to do is to start training, it’s going to be more fun if you’re prepared. Regardless of the process, take the first action and everything else will fall into place somehow. Good luck!

Next, Climate Ride asked Brian Bramson, John’s dad, a few questions about infectious disease and climate change.

CR: How does your profession as a doctor specializing in infectious diseases tie into your support for the planet?

Brian Bramson (BB): As you implied, climate change impacts our ecosystem in many ways that have an effect on infectious human disease. Many infectious diseases thrive in settings of social disruption. As climate change affects the movement of human populations, I suspect we will see more and more diseases being spread.

Known diseases such as cholera take advantage of settings like refugee crises to spread quickly. As humans encroach more into areas like rainforests, I suspect we will see more “emerging“ infections, like HIV and SARS as they make a jump from other species to humans.

CR: Wow, that is so eye-opening to how far the effects of climate change reach. Can you discuss any specific examples of how climate change is affecting the spread of infectious diseases?

BB: One everyday example that we’re seeing already is the range of certain endemic infections is changing with climate change. We are seeing the range for Lyme disease, for instance, spread further south within the United States, while the region of dengue fever is moving north into the warmer parts of North America.

It was awesome to have the opportunity to talk with both John and Brian! If you wish to support this family team and the Triangle Land Conservancy, please follow the link for John here and for Brian here.