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Independent Challenge Spotlight: Trans-America tour for GRID Alternatives

At this moment, Michael Johnson-Chase bravely pedals his way across the Utah desert and will continue east over the Rocky Mountains to meet and volunteer with Denver’s GRID Alternatives office. Michael is in the middle of a trans-America unsupported bicycle tour that he created with the help of Climate Ride’s Independent Challenge program. Propelled by only his pedal power, his goal is to visit all 11 of the GRID Alternatives offices across the country, while raising $10,000 for the organization and volunteering with solar installations along the way.

Above: Michael, in the high visibility jacket, with GRID San Diego staff and volunteers at an installation in Mesa Grande.

As part of the Independent Challenge program, Michael selected to support GRID Alternatives (also known as GRID) as his beneficiary organization. GRID works hard to improve the bottom line for homeowners, decrease carbon emissions, and offer workforce training in the solar field for homes, businesses, community solar and affordable housing. GRID’s teams of volunteers come together to install solar systems for low-income homeowners at no cost to the homeowners. Their hands-on training has evolved to be one of the best solar training programs in the country.

Above: Michael with Laura Galavis, a Solar Installation Supervisor at GRID San Diego, on the first day of his Trans-Am tour.

Michael began his Independent Challenge the first week of April in San Diego, California. He has now biked over 1,600 miles north through California, has visited all of California’s GRID offices and has volunteered in multiple solar installations. His next stop in Denver will be the 9th GRID office and his 7th solar installation.

“He’s doing a trans-American tour of all 11 GRID offices – he’s already hit 8 in California and is on his way to Colorado right now. He is exceptionally passionate about climate change, and has had a pretty interesting path to where he’s at today (theatre professor to full time climate activist!)” exclaims Katelyn McClintock from Oakland’s GRID office who reached out to Climate Ride after meeting Michael, inspired by his story.

GRID’s Bay Area Headquarters staff surprised Michael with a welcome lunch. “The people at GRID are tireless, enthusiastic and passionate,” he explains.

Above: This is a view of Michael’s approach over the Sierra Mountains. He will climb many more mountains ahead as he makes his way through the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast, but we know he can do it!

After the solar installation in Denver, Michael will begin the long journey across the vast Midwest and then through the rolling Appalachians to his home state of New York. However, once home, the challenge still continues. In New York City, Michael will join one hundred other Climate Riders for Climate Ride’s signature event Climate Ride New York City to Washington D.C., September 17-21.

Above: A group of riders heads towards the Capitol on Climate Ride New York to D.C. in 2011.

This group of riders will bike over 300 miles from the heart of New York City to our nation’s capitol in Washington D.C. Once in the Capitol, riders will have the opportunity to bring their message directly to their congressperson as part of Climate Ride’s advocacy day. Like Michael, each rider is also riding for a cause they care about and fundraising for a variety of beneficiary organizations like GRID that are working for clean energy, conservation and sustainable infrastructure.

“3,000 miles, [three months], and $8400 to go — all on a bicycle,” writes Michael Johnson Chase.

Although, Michael still has a long way to go on his Independent Challenge, you can help! Read more about his story on his blog at, donate to his fundraising page, or join him for Climate Ride New York City to D.C. If you’re interested in riding on behalf of GRID Alternatives or another beneficiary organization, please contact us at for more information.

GO MICHAEL! All of us at Climate Ride are so proud of your passion and determination.