This year, I had the pleasure of leading Team Greenbelt Alliance on the California Climate Ride—an epic five-day, 320-mile charitable bike ride from Eureka to San Francisco. The goal: to raise awareness of and funds for bike advocacy, sustainability, and renewable energy to help combat climate change. The team: Adam Garcia, Amie Fleming, David Marsland, Heidi Stowell-Nichols, Jennifer Robb, Nancy Fleming, Robby King, Trafton Bean, and yours truly, Team Captain Anna Gore. This is our story…
Heading to Fortuna
Bright and early on the morning of May 18, hundreds of cyclists, including Team Greenbelt Alliance, gathered in the Presidio of San Francisco and boarded double-decker buses that would transport us to Fortuna, the starting point of Climate Ride 2013! A grand sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm was palpable before we even left—I was definitely excited to get going!
Along the way, we stopped for lunch at the Solar Living Institute and before we knew it, we were in Fortuna. Dinner was at the Eel River Brewing Company, where we were welcomed by Caeli, Blake, and Geraldine of Climate Ride as we carbo-loaded (beer is a carb, right?) in preparation for Day 1.
We got to know many of our fellow riders before heading to sleep in our warm tents on a very cold night.
Day 1: 320 Miles to San Francisco
Fueling up on blueberries, granola, eggs, and toast, we finally hopped on our bikes and hit the road—only 320 miles to San Francisco (yikes)!
The agenda for Day 1: A 61.4-mile ride to Richardson Grove. We rode through the Avenue of the Giants, where we were awed and humbled by the ancient redwoods that towered over us. We rode through logging towns that reminded of our past and affirmed the importance of a sustainable future. We rode through valleys along the Eel River in the hot, dry California sun, taking it all in as we pedaled along.
Our campsite for the night was nestled between redwoods where the air was fresh and the ground soft. Hungry riders dined in a communal area where we shared our adventures from the road. As the day wound down, we were treated to the first of Climate Ride’s evening speaker series: Talks from B the Change, 1% for the planet, Windustry, and Marine Applied Research and Exploration were both enlightening and inspiring.
Day 2: Feelin’ Beach-y
Team Greenbelt Alliance rode together for most of the day, and it was nice to have the support as Climate Riders of days past had warned us of this day. Day 2’s route would introduce us to the notorious Leggett Hill—a long 5.5-mile climb followed by a steep descent followed by another evil 3-mile climb, all within the first half of the ride, made for some tired riders.
All that work paid off with the day’s final descent. Coasting down the hills to our first view of the rocky California coastline in all its Instagram-able glory was an image that I’ll never forget. We took a long lunch at the beach and hugged the Pacific for the rest of the ride, feeling spoiled by the sublime backdrop and cool ocean mist on a perfect day.
Day 3: Century Day
One hundred miles in one day called for an early start: We were up by 4:30, eating breakfast by 5:30, and strapped into our bikes by 6:30 a.m. With five out of our nine team members riding their first century, it was going to be a glorious day!
The sky was clear, the wind was at our backs, and the ride was epic. We rode down Highway 1 for most of the day—through valleys, along the coast, up and down hills dotted with sheep and cows. Long story short, 100 miles later, we rolled into camp, where a cheering section of fellow Climate Riders greeted us with high-fives.
That night, we celebrated our accomplishment with a yummy pasta dinner, salty potatoes (for potassium), and most importantly, New Belgium beer. Spirits were high all evening as we were serenaded by talks from some of our Bay Area buddies, including the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and TransForm.
Day 4: Wind, Lots of Wind
Our ride was scheduled to be an easy one compared to the century day. With a mere 59.7 miles between our campsite at Duncan Mills and our destination, the Olema Campground, Day 4 was supposed to be a leisurely ride that took us by wineries, apple orchards, and cow pastures. Supposed to. The wind had other ideas.
The first half of the day was actually quite lovely. We stopped at Moshin Vineyards for a wine tasting and then had a pleasant picnic for lunch. Then came 22 miles of riding into a headwind so strong we often wondered if our pedaling was actually getting us anywhere. We paused for a photo op with the golden California hills, and a break from the gusts, before descending into Tomales. The remaining 15 miles to camp were probably the most difficult of the day. Good thing we could at least stop for some oysters on the final stretch to our camp.
The evening saw Greenbelt Alliance cameos from Hillary Aiken, Amy Henson, and Executive Director Jeremy Madsen! They joined us for dinner, and afterwards, Jeremy spoke to a captivated audience of Climate Riders about Greenbelt Alliance’s work in protecting the things that make the Bay Area such an amazing place.
Day 5: The Finale
San Francisco, here we come! Our last day of riding was no joke: 41.6 miles plus 2,257 feet of elevation. Let’s do this thing!
Our route hugged the coast through Marin County, cut inland to Sausalito, then climbed to the Golden Gate Bridge. We met up with the rest of the Climate Ride at Sports Basement in the Presidio and set out for the finale at San Francisco City Hall. Filling up an entire lane of traffic for most of the way, we approached City Hall as a chorus of “Climate Ride” rang out from all directions. Hooray, we’d made it! And now, the celebration would begin with the Climate Ride Bike Rally…
Melanie Nutter, of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and Paul Hawken, author of four national bestsellers, spoke to the crowd about the importance of what we’d accomplished. As part of Climate Ride 2013, we brought in huge amounts of money for environmental organizations across the country, raised awareness around climate change issues, and showed the world our overwhelming passion for this important cause—all the while having a great time doing it (and getting a serious five-day workout)!
With nine members, Team Greenbelt Alliance was one of the largest on Climate Ride. Together, we trained hard, raised some serious dough for a great cause (over $26,500 raised!!!), made a lot of new friends, and successfully rocked an epic 320-mile monster of a bike ride. Check out our photos from the ride!
Here’s looking forward to our next challenge: Team Greenbelt Alliance is heading east to participate in the NYC-DC ride this September! Or you can join us on California Climate Ride 2014!
As for me, I’m off to work for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I had an awesome time captaining this year’s team—THANK YOU for all your support along the way. Go Greenbelt!