Thursday, May 29, 2014

Climate Ride 2014 - What a Ride!

By Andy Hanshaw, Bike Coalition Executive Director

Having heard about the Climate Ride the last couple of years but unable to participate, I was excited to have the opportunity this year. What’s better, as one of the designated beneficiaries of the ride this year, my ride was also supporting the SDCBC! I have many friends and donors to thank for supporting me and helping me surpass my $2800 fund raising goal (yay!) but I also wanted to share a few thoughts and reflect back on what was an incredible week of riding, networking, thinking and advocating (not to mention a little wine tasting too).

My journey started before Climate Ride even began on what was supposed to be our annual Bike to Work Day here in San Diego County. As irony would have it, due to local wildfires burning in and around the county, the decision was made the day before Bike to Work Day to postpone the festivities in order to allow maximum attention and resources to go to the greater need of controlling  the fires and saving area homes. A well-made decision from SANDAG in my opinion, one that we at the SDCBC supported 100%.  So as I flew to San Francisco later that afternoon for the start of the ride, I couldn’t help but think about how the issue of climate change truly effects all of us and this was a rather unfortunate reminder that was literally too close to home.  Extra motivation and much to think about for the ride I was facing over the next four days.
I arrived in San Francisco, bike in box, on Friday evening and made my way via cab to the staging are at the Presidio, an historic military base turned into a national park site with housing and mixed use development right near the Golden Gate Bridge. I was reminded of Liberty Station here at home in San Diego.  After checking in, unpacking, assembling my bike (with some great help from the ride support team) and dinner with new friends in the city, I was set to take off for my Climate Ride adventure.

Over the next four days, I would ride with 140 others who were supporting so many worthwhile environmental and bicycle advocacy organizations. The beautiful 250-mile trip through the Napa wine country would take us to evening stops in Petaluma,  Calistoga and Napa where camp was set up each night and an evening program was held covering a range of topics from powerful and insightful speakers.  The first evening include brief presentations from participants in the ride who were also beneficiaries of Climate Ride, Including the SDCBC. I enjoyed sharing all of the great work we have been doing with many of my professional colleagues and others of like-minded, mission-oriented organizations.

The actual rides were at times challenging with their rolling terrain but the amazing scenery and near perfect weather all throughout the trip made the miles go by rather easily. Well, that and destinations that also included a couple of wineries and a local brewery (Lagunitas!).  Great people to ride with all along the way too. I’ve often felt that some of my best work-related thinking has come on my bike saddle and I’ll now add some great networking to that too. With bountiful rest stops and lunch stops each day, I’m not sure that after 250 miles, that I didn’t actually gain weight on the trip…very tasty!

On the final day of the ride, the group set out on the longest leg of the trip; a 75-mile pedal from Napa to the finish in Sacramento. As we approached the city, we all gathered at a nearby park to finish and celebrate the ride together at the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento.  We were greeted by a cheering crowd and we heard from a few of our state elected leaders who are supporting and sponsoring important legislation to fight the effects of climate change. After several group photos and final goodbyes, our trip was complete. An exhausting, exhilarating and unforgettable ride! 

My time in Sacramento was not over yet however as I was able to participate on the next day in the statewide Bicycle Advocacy Day organized by our friends at the California Bicycle Coalition, .  Two others joined my on the Climate Ride supporting the SDCBC and they were also on hand to meet with our state legislators as we advocated for protected bikeways, road safety measures and increased funding for bicycle infrastructure. Thanks to my fellow Climate Riders Nicole Burgess (yes, she rode the entire trip in her flip flops!) and Judi Tentor for joining the ride and supporting the SDCBC.  

And thanks to all of you for supporting the SDCBC. Keep pedaling!


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