I just completed my first Climate Ride, journeying 300 miles by bicycle over five days with 200 other climate activists. Climate Ride began five years ago, and the riders raise money for organizations that work on sustainability and climate change. They’re also a way to spread the word about the growing and increasingly determined climate movement. For those of us who take part – by now, thousands of us have – the rides have a deep and lasting impact.
These are my reflections from the last day of the ride; you can read reflections on the first four days of the Climate Ride here.
I'm in Washington, D.C., at the house where I stay when I'm down here working. I bicycled up to this house from the U.S. Capitol area where we had a closing rally for the Climate Ride. A highlight of the rally was the speech of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who was very strong and clear about the eventual victory that we will win on this critical climate issue.
On the last day, there was a great, final 10-15 mile ride downhill that ended in Georgetown by the Potomac River. It felt great to be moving along at 25 or more miles an hour to conclude this long ride. There along the Potomac we high-fived and hugged one another as we celebrated the end of our 300-mile journey. A definite peak experience!
Then we got on our bikes for a "victory lap," riding a couple of miles down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol for the closing rally. One guy, who had ridden his unicycle the entire way, rolled in as we gathered together for a group shot. He arrived to loud cheers and applause for his amazing accomplishment.
There are so many emotions as I wrap us this final blog about the Climate Ride.
I feel hope, first of all, that we really do have a chance of ultimately overcoming the power of the oil and gas and coal industries, their up-to-now stranglehold over the federal government. That is what is holding us back from the dramatic and urgently needed shift to wind, solar, geothermal, and other clean and jobs-creating energy sources. But with the power of the people, organized and united, a power that I saw in action over the five days of the ride, we really can move (and ride over) mountains.
I feel such gratitude, such thankfulness, that at the age of 64 I was able to not just do the eide again but to do it better and stronger.
I feel some sadness that, for at least a year and maybe forever, I probably won't be seeing many of the people who I met, interacted with, or just rode behind or next to. We were such a loving and respectful family over five days, and that's not an easy thing to leave behind.
I look forward to getting on my bike early in the morning and, as I ride through Essex County, N.J., letting my mind return to these challenging, magnificent, unforgettable five days.
Ted Glick is a veteran social justice activist and has been a national leader in the grassroots climate change movement for almost a decade. He is the National Policy Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Image: Cyclist at sunset, maradonna 8888 / Shutterstock.com