William Flagg signed up to do an epic cross country ride with Climate Ride in 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He wisely postponed that trip, but in the meantime he jumped into Climate Rise, raising funds for all three Rise events. In August 2021, he headed out on his long-awaited Independent Challenge which will bring him from Boston to L.A. via pedal power. We thought we’d take this chance to check-in and find out what’s inspired him to do this epic ride.

Climate Ride (CR): How’d you find out about Climate Ride?

William Flagg (WF): I heard about Climate Ride through an internet search. I was looking for organizations to partner with during my ride–not even thinking about fundraising at first–and came across Climate Ride. Then I started reading about some folks who were partnering with Climate Ride on various adventures and saw Tim Oey’s ride across America fundraising page. I reached out to Tim and went back and forth on a couple of emails and then ended up meeting him and others out in Lexington, MA to join him on his last stretch of his cross-country tour in May, 2019. Tim had great things to say about the support he received from Climate Ride during his tour and I decided I wanted to fundraise as well for my tour!

CR: We love Tim! It’s always great to hear about Climate Riders spreading the movement. Tim reached so many folks as he crossed the country in 2019 and stopped into libraries, museums, and aquariums to talk about going zero waste and reducing our impacts on the planet. How did you dream up your ride?
WF: The idea to do an event like this actually started a few years back but it was only in the last year or so that it took the shape of a bike tour. I knew I wanted to transition from my current career into a new field after I finished my Master’s degree and travel for a few months in between, but I also wanted to incorporate some sort of environmental advocacy work into my travels.

At some point, I read about Alistair Humphreys’ four-year, 46,000 mile, bike tour and it gave me the inspiration to travel by bike. I had already been biking on an almost daily basis in Boston for 5 years and had fallen in love with getting around by bike so it made sense to plan an adventure around bike touring. Another reason that I want to do an event like this is because I am passionate about sustainable transportation policy. My Capstone project for my Master’s was in part on poor transportation policy in the US, EU, and China, which has led to increasingly dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in this one particular sector. I also volunteer on a board of a non-profit organization (Green Streets Initiative) that works in sustainable transportation policy in the greater Boston area, as well as lead a volunteer team at work that works on various projects related to sustainable transportation.

I have done quite a bit of biking, hiking, and camping over the years, but have never done a bike tour across the country before! Good luck to me, haha.

CR: You mentioned that part of why you decided to do a Climate Ride was to raise funds. What organizations are you raising funds for on this ride?

WF: I chose to support the organizations that I did for various reasons. Bikes not Bombs is a local organization (based right down the road from my apartment in Jamaica Plain!) that has a great mission and I have done some volunteer work for them before and would love to support them some more.

I’d like to support Climate Ride because your organization and mission rocks! Such a great idea to combine adventure with advocacy.

I also wanted to support the Sunrise Movement because they are doing such great work now, and the Green New Deal movement is currently picking up tons of steam. I also plan on doing some volunteer work with the Sunrise Movement and hopefully partnering with them in some capacity during my trip.

CR: Right now, there’s a heatwave sitting on the western part of the country. Did the increasing climate change caused weather extremes factor into planning your ride in any way?

WF: I guess my ride will be a way to track that change. And also, that’s part of why we are doing these rides and why we are doing this work. Especially this year with the heatwave. But it hasn’t factored into my planning yet. I haven’t really made an alternative plan if weather affects my route, I’ll just reroute if I need to.

CR: This is probably the most important question of all. What’s your favorite after-ride snack?

WF: Based on my ride to Florida, I’m going to go with the most satisfying meal I’ve had. I was biking through West Virginia in the mountains and I hadn’t seen anyone in two or three days. The only place that had people was a gas station. They had one of those premade pizzas and a whole pizza oven. I ate that whole pepperoni pizza in like ten minutes. I didn’t even wait for it to cool down and burnt my tongue.

CR: You originally planned to do this ride in 2020, but were pushed back because of COVID. Are you feeling better about riding now?

WF: I’m reignited and ready after thinking about the ride for so long. I biked from Boston to Key West last fall and thought about changing my challenge to that ride, but instead I decided to still do the cross country ride as well. Biking to Key West gave me a taste for touring and now I’m pumped to ride across the country.

If you’d like to find out more and support him in hitting his $10,000 goal, check out his fundraising page here: https://support.climateride.org/participant/7180.

4 Replies to “William Flagg Biking Across the US in 2021”

  • William, I just returned from a 4200 mile ride from Boston to Seaside Oregon (I meandered a bit). I too raised money for Bikes not Bombs, where I volunteer. And, I used the trip to raise awareness about climate change and the role bicycling can play in changing our transportation system and reducing CO2 emissions. My ride was adversely affected by the heat and fires in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. In fact, I skipped 200 miles of Idaho because of the smoke and poor air quality. I posted daily on Twitter @AlanBikeClimate. Contact me when you return from your trip.

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