Team NRDC and Climate Riders Overcome Adversity to Promote Sustainable Transportation, Solutions to Climate Change

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Over the last week, I had the remarkable opportunity to participate in Climate Ride – a 5-day, 320-mile charitable bike ride from Eureka to San Francisco. Team NRDC sent 11 riders to the event, which will raise more than $300,000 for environmental groups to fight climate change.


On behalf of NRDC and all of the other beneficiary organizations, I want to thank all of the Climate Ride staff and riders for their dedication to the cause, their ambitious fundraising, and their inspiring resolve in the face of adversity. The California Climate Ride is not an easy course in good weather. The century ride comes after two 60 mile days and is followed by 60 and 40, all on hilly terrain. This year, it rained all but one day, making conditions even more challenging. But the riders were undeterred.

As I lay in my tent Monday morning listening to what was probably the eighth hour of hard rain pouring down (and all too familiar with the weather forecast predicting 100% chance of rain all day), part of me was hoping, even expecting, that ride leader would cancel the day’s ride, and we’d get to stay in our warm sleeping bags, to be leisurely and safely shuttled 66 miles down the road to our next campsite.

But right at 6:30 am, I was astonished to watch the machinery of Climate Ride kick into gear. While I cringed at the prospect of riding 66 miles in the pouring rain, nowhere else did I perceive this sentiment. It was 6:30 am, time to start making breakfast if we were going to get on the road and accomplish our goal for the day. No one hesitated. There seemed to be a deep seated sense of resolve that we had set out a goal for ourselves and come hell or high water, we were going to get there.

The staff and Climate Riders are so dedicated to making this event a success, so thoroughly committed to raising awareness about the need for solutions to climate change, that in spite of horrible weather, there was a deep sense of conviction. And I believe it is this same intensity, this absolute resolve in the face of adversity, that is exactly what we need--and what we indeed are creating through events like this--in the movement for a sustainable future.

I need to also mention that I am deeply proud of my NRDC colleagues – some of whom bought their first bikes for this ride, some of whom rode on borrowed bikes, many of whom are new to cycling. It comes as no surprise that my NRDC colleagues took on this challenge with tenacity and resolve, and I never once heard a complaint.

I return from this ride humbled and inspired, if a bit water-logged, and as I told all Climate Riders during my speech Wednesday night, I assure you that NRDC staff, including all of our Climate Riders, will continue to mirror the dedication we’ve seen from all of our new friends on this ride, every day, in the fight for a clean energy future. 

I now realize that it is no coincidence that the Climate Ride California is quite a challenging course. The whole event is of course a bit of a metaphor: can a team come together to tackle a fierce challenge and emerge stronger and more resolute at its completion?  I’d say without a doubt. If you are reading this and find yourself with even the slightest inclination to challenge yourself to do this ride, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m already looking forward to next year.