Climate Ride: Looking Back and Forward

June 5, 2013

We did it! Team Adventure Cycling conquered the California Coast during Climate Ride California, a five-day fully supported, carbon-free "green" conference on wheels. 

After meeting up in Fortuna, California, and enjoying a high-energy pre-ride dinner, the Climate Ride group rose early on the first day of the trip and rode through the redwoods. I had never seen the redwoods before, and in the context of Climate Ride — raising awareness of climate change and supporting organizations dedicated to bicycle advocacy and sustainability — encountering these leviathan trees from the seat of my bike was humbling. 

So yes, I hugged some of them.

On the second day of the trip, after a grueling uphill, we met the coast, and with it, recieved our first taste of the fabled Pacific Coast southbound tailwind which would nudge us forward for the remainder of the ride.

For the next three days, we rode along the ocean, dipping inland through farmlands and vineyards, and back out again to the coast, until we reached the city hall, 320 miles later in San Francisco. 

The California Climate Ride is more scenery-oriented than its New York to DC counterpart, and for this exact reason, I found that Climate Ride's mission really resonated on the trip. The physical challenges, the sensory stimuli, the landscape, and the people on the ride, especially, left me speechless! (And not just because I was exhausted after every day's ride!) 

"Yay Climate Ride after only one cup of coffee ..."

Some of my favorite moments were the following:

  • Receiving a physical boost uphill by the gale-force tailwind whipping off the ocean, which enabled me to continue pedaling when I was unable to clip out and about to fall over.
  • Clenching my handlebars for four miles down the most ridiculous hill ever, after a drivetrain-destroying, eight-mile uphill climb.
  • Completing my first century!
  • Spending five days riding bicycles and chatting with people at the forefront of bicycle advocacy and sustainability, who left their lives for a week to devote themselves entirely to experiencing this ride with 150 strangers. It was so great to spend a week with all these people who shared interests and passions, and introduced me to new ones.
  • Meeting some of Adventure Cycling's most enthusiastic members, who each individually raised $2,400 to support the development of the U.S. Bicycle Route System

Team Adventure Cycling pictured from left to right: 
John Crowe, Caroline Paulsen, me, Jameson Henkle

  • Hearing praise for Adventure Cycling maps, services, and resources, recieving positive feedback on our redesigned magazine and website, and riding with a few people who plan to stop by our headquarters on their cross-country tours this summer!

My not-so-proud moment? Getting grumpy at my team member, Jameson, while I was "hangry." Maybe I should carry these cards around in my panniers to hand out to my unsuspecting pre-lunch victims:

Sorry, Jameson!

While this was technically a work-related trip, my personal takeaways from this experience were huge, and I am so grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to experience a Climate Ride. To say the least, I'm refreshed, renewed, and reinspired about my work at Adventure Cycling. I felt empowered by my week of bicycle travel, and it is incredible that my job, essentially, is to help people feel this way!

Thank you for making Team Adventure Cycling's experience on Climate Ride California a success.

The New York to DC Climate Ride, taking place September 21-25 this year, winds through many major East Coast civic centers and campuses that function as nerve centers for climate change action and sustainable transportation advocacy. As such, the East Coast ride is poised to be the more action-oriented of the two Climate Rides, and generally draws a larger crowd and a very robust speaker series. Adventure Cycling Membership Director Julie Huck will be riding as Adventure Cycling Team Captain on the New York to DC ride this fall. It should be an amazing trip. I'm already jealous of Julie, and I would encourage anyone, of any riding ability, to check out the New York to DC Climate Ride and join Team Adventure Cycling and Julie, for a life-changing, inspiring adventure.

Photos 1, 3, 4, 5, and 10 by Jameson Henkle

Photos 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9 courtesy of Patrick Colleran

SUPPORT ADVENTURE CYCLING is usually written by Alex Campbell, or Amanda Lipsey in the development department of Adventure Cycling Association, but has been hacked this week by Alison Riley.



Alison Riley June 17, 2013, 8:59 AM


Climate Ride does a carbon audit after every ride, calculating how much carbon was emitted during the ride: the riders, food origin, preparation, and consumption, support vehicles, showers, staff flights and transportation to and from the ride, and the production of Climate Ride jerseys, t-shirts, etc. and then they purchase carbon off-sets from ClearSky Climate Solutions to neutralize the ride's impact. Riders also have the option to purchase off-sets for their own transportation to and from the ride, or for the whole year. You can check out ClearSky Climate solutions (also based in Missoula, MT) at their website:

Let me know if I can answer anymore questions for you.



Colin June 17, 2013, 7:36 AM

I really do stand with the mission of climate ride and the individuals, but how can you call it carbon-free if you have support vehicles?

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