The Skywriter

Guest blog: The freedom of biking on the Brita Climate Ride

30
Jun

Guest blog: The freedom of biking on the Brita Climate Ride

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By Climate Rider Carolynn Shaut. The Brita Climate Ride-California will take place on September 21-25, 2010. Register today! -- Luis

I first read about the Brita Climate Ride from a recent 1Sky email. Like many people, I rely on my keyboard for political expression and the Internet for most of the news. This bit of news about Climate Ride pulled on me, like a subtle string.

By signing up, I could participate in a 320-mile supported bicycle ride in Northern California, raise money for 1Sky, Green America, and Rails to Trails Conservatory, help the planet, make a statement for alternative transportation, and get into shape (nothing to lose but a few extra pounds!). The Ride resonated perfectly with my deepest concerns for the future of the Earth, and my desire to support the transition to a healthier lifestyle, both personally and globally. I registered for the ride and began soliciting donations right away.

The support has been inspiring. Old friends, colleagues, family, and clients have all contributed -- even my dentist made a donation. I was surprised to learn that a few of my friends didn’t believe that global warming was a man-made problem. They subscribed to the idea that the climate changes naturally and would eventually warm up, regardless of human intervention. When I explained the work of the three nonprofits that benefit from Climate Ride, and why I was riding, they gave donations in spite of themselves!

Signing up for Climate Ride has also rekindled my love of cycling. Thirty years ago, my bicycle was my only transportation. I caught the cycling bug while exploring and commuting on my brother’s old Schwinn during my first year of college. The following summer, I bought a better bike and rode almost every day. People from my small hometown thought I was nuts as I rode alone through the countryside and ranchlands. It was freedom itself, with no gasoline, engines, industrial noise, pollution or distractions. At the end of that summer, I took my first real bicycle trip with two friends. We rode 300 miles down the California coast, camping and staying with family. We didn’t care about traffic, bad weather or predators. In our 21-year-old minds, we weren’t vulnerable. We were free.

At the time, I didn’t know that feeling of personal freedom could also extend into the political and economic freedom from foreign fuels and “Big Oil.” Now, as I celebrate another birthday and pedal into my middle age, I think our youthful selves were on to something bigger and greater than we knew. We are just ordinary people, answering a call to action; riding and walking instead of driving, composting kitchen waste, voting and signing petitions, recycling, raising money, writing to our representatives, and encouraging our friends to do the same.

So I encourage you to join us on this year’s Brita Climate Ride and experience the freedom I tasted in my youth and now savor today. Hopefully soon, we’ll also share in the political and economic freedom that comes with the new energy economy.

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