Sam Laity is a two-time Climate Rider who is also a badass professional women’s soccer coach. His career has connected him to many other professional athletes, which has created some unique opportunities for those who want to support his Climate Ride fundraising! We’re excited to have the opportunity to pick his brain and share his thoughts on climate change and why he chose to join us for Climate Ride Death Valley — not to mention how he came across a Giro d’Italia 2020 winner’s jersey, plus multiple jerseys from professional soccer player, Megan Rapione, as incentives for those who donate to his Climate Ride fundraising!

Climate Ride (CR): First of all, thank you for being a part of the Climate Ride family over the past few years! What motivates you to keep coming back?

Sam Laity (SL): The planet. Leaving the planet better for future generations and improving the quality of life for those of us that are living on it today. Unquestionably, our lives have been significantly impacted by climate change.

(CR): We appreciate you stepping up and taking action for our planet. It’s awesome that you’ve taken time out of your busy career to do this. And that you’re calling on these incredible athletes to help! Can you tell us a bit more about your career and your background in women’s soccer?

(SL): I work for OL Reign, formerly Seattle Reign, a women’s professional soccer team in Seattle, WA. I’m the head assistant coach and just completed my 10th season with the organization.

(CR): Congratulations on rounding out your 10th season, that’s amazing! We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Death Valley Climate Ride here soon. Can you tell us about the stylin’ jerseys that you have as incentives for your fundraiser?

(SL): I was given the opportunity to offer a Giro d’Italia 2020 winner’s jersey as an incentive for those who donate. I connected with Tao Geoghegan Hart, who currently rides for UCI WorldTeam Ineos Grenadiers and who won the Giro d’Italia in 2020. He is a huge fan of soccer. Tao’s girlfriend plays for the Arsenal Women’s team in England and she is teammates with a former OL Reign player, Kim Little. So, Kim connected the dots with Tao and he was very happy to help out. Tao is a great guy and is very keen to use his position to help causes that are close to his values.

Megan Rapinoe, who plays as a winger and captains OL Reign, has donated three signed jerseys to the cause, as well. Those jerseys went very, very quickly as a donation incentive. Megan has been very generous in providing items for fundraising events.

(CR): What a cool opportunity! Thank you for putting in that extra effort to encourage folks to donate to your ride. Are there any personal challenges you’ve confronted or anticipate in preparing for Death Valley? If so, how have you been working to overcome them?

(SL): I’m still recovering from a herniated disc that prevented me from riding for five or six months earlier in the year, so  I’m planning on a slow and steady approach for the ride itself. Training has been okay; I’ve managed three to four rides a week in the past month. Luckily, or unluckily, whichever way you look at it, I live on Bainbridge Island, which is very hilly, so this has certainly assisted with the training.

Motivation can wane a little at times – I ride on my own a lot, and sometimes the competitive spirit can fade. The main thing for me in training has been just to get on the bike on a regular basis and get pedaling!

“Routine is the enemy of progress” – not sure where that quote comes from, but that’s been my training mantra for a while now. I never follow the same route twice and mix up the routes and elevations as much as possible. If I do a short ride on the island (25-30 miles) I’ll make sure it’s a hilly route – which isn’t a problem where I live!

(CR): That’s a great approach when it comes to tackling training, especially for those of us who find ourselves training alone most of the time. Training can be an uphill battle, literally and figuratively! Speaking of your hilly home region, can you tell us about some of the challenges that the PNW faces from the impacts of climate change?

(SL): A few things stand out for me in the PNW:

1) The high temperatures that we’re seeing are increasing in frequency and intensity. Not so long ago, you would very seldom see air conditioners in residential and commercial businesses. Now they are essential.

2) A lack of rainfall – of course, in the PNW, the first question that most people would ask is, “Does it really rain as much as people say?” The answer was always, “Not as much as you would think these days.” Now it’s normal for us to go 90 – 110 days of the year now without any measurable rain.

3) Forest fires are increasing in frequency. We had a fire pass our property in Mazama in 2021. We were very fortunate that our community survived, having come within 200 feet of the path of the fire. There’s no smoke without fire, and impacts on air quality have been significant and increasing in regularity. The past five years seem to have been especially bad with air quality in Seattle and Portland being the worst in the world at
times.

(CR): Have these events spurred you to take any action on climate change outside of Climate Ride?

(SL): We try our very best when it comes to household habits. We’re far from perfect, but we’re trying to be as conscious as possible about our choices. We’ve been using a service called Ridwell for about 18 months now, which picks up hard-to-recycle items from your home. Each week, they offer to pick up different items (along with the standard items), including items such as batteries, lightbulbs, and cords. This ensures that these are recycled and kept out of the landfill.

I think that’s a good reminder for us in attempting to live a greener life. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and in many cases, it can’t be. Not everybody can change the world, but everyone should try. A little is more than nothing. Every conscious choice helps.

(CR): Absolutely, Sam! Everyone is on a different path to building a better future for our planet. The important part is that we come together and keep trying to head in that direction, always looking out for ways we can help. Thank you for sharing your story and journey with us — we can’t wait to see you in Death Valley!

Special thanks to Megan and Tao for their support of this ride, their generosity has been very well received!

If you would like to support Sam’s fundraising for the Death Valley Ride — and for an opportunity to win Tao Geoghegan Hart’s Giro d’Italia 2020 winner’s jersey — please head to his fundraising page linked here! All donations will be matched thanks to the Algorand Foundation!

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