He became a prisoner of his own past
He stabbed the moment in the back with the round thumbtack
That held up the list of things he got to do
It’s really no good
He’s moving on before he understood
He shot the future in the foot with every step he took
From the places that he’s been because he forgot to look
He better staple it together and call it bad weather
-Jack Johnson, “Staple It Together”
The rain spit, plopped and gurgled along the roads beneath our wheels. The ocean roared under whitecaps, crashing against the shore. The birds sang, the fog rolled, the leaves flew and fluttered. The wind blew. And the birds, bees, mosquitos, fish, worms and slugs came out to greet us as I, and 119 of my fellow comrades on bikes, cruised the 320 miles from Eureka to San Francisco this week.
We soaked up the undeniable beauty all along the dramatic coastline, and over mountains covered in redwoods and eucalyptus as we spun, with the intention of raising awareness, funds and mobility for environmental issues and bicycle advocacy — climate change, renewable energies, public transportation among them. There was no space to forget just how important it is to preserve our planets’ natural resources along the journey and surely, as we made way for San Francisco, our energies were renewed, our convictions made stronger through our new deeper connection with two wheels spinning beneath us.
My team, Team Clif, rode each mile. We laughed each minute, and encouraged each other on. We pulled together up the big hills, and changed flat tires in the rain. And, we were proud to be part of this larger group that wouldn’t give up, even when the water seemed to be coming up from beneath us, when the miles were big and cold, and the campsites were puddles of mud. This ride, and the conviction and dedication required to complete it exemplified the matter for which we were riding; the environmental, and community challenges that we face as a nation, and as a planet, is nothing but a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that we must fight tooth and nail to reverse.
The Golden Gate Bridge grew on the horizon of a sunny, chilly, Thursday morning and the reality of this cycle screamed in my ears, becoming almost deafening as the City By The Bay laid itself out infront of me, glimmering majestically beyond the brilliant red spires of that characteristic bridge. As the growling of traffic took over, impatient drivers manuvered their vehicles and trucks sporatically around us, spewing big puffs of exhaust into our faces and occasionally yelling profanities – they were late for no where important. The simple songs and moving meditation that was our paceline moving through the Marin Headlands, dissipated and the focus became survival – and so it goes.
We cannot wonder why or how the toxicity of our overconsuming, always late, out of touch and emotionally malnourished society has spread beyond the cities and started to poison our planet.
Under the roar of traffic, we tackled the bridge. Safe between the guardrails, we enjoyed the wind at our backs as the cold sea toiled below. The bridge grew shorter each second, and the city drew nearer. For hours on end, life had been all about my compatriots and I, our simple machines and the world at large. We had purpose and conviction for something larger than ourselves. We were determined to take a stand and to act — in fact, it seemed out of the question to not act when we realized that we had a camp 100 miles away that we needed to arrive to, even through the driving rain.
Our mission was so simple, and yet so filled with joy — I had the sensation that there was nothing more that I needed in those moments. I loved that any matters beyond those at hand were able to all but slip away. No thoughts of a grocery list, packing list, to do list. There were no deadlines impending, no calls to return – there was, however, only the heightened awareness that we were doing something GOOD for all of the environmental and cultural issues that have come to impact this beautiful environment that we rode through. Though the miles had been long, the hills big and the questions at hand even bigger we were tackling them with a smile. As that bridge drew to an end, it became increasingly apparent that the true challenge begun as our wheels rolled through the streets, over the streetcar tracks, and back to our homes.
These were only 5 days of action, this was just one way of engaging the powers of change that each of us has. The solutions for the vicious American cycle are achieved in the diligence of acting mindfully, in our footsteps as much as they are pedal strokes; our nation has come to be driven by materials, trapped by our desire for convenience, alienated by sprawling communities, and ever running on our treadmills of making ends meet and supporting our literally un-sustainable lifestyles.
Choosing to ride a clean, green little bike is one thing, but each choice we make in our daily lives is literally a footstep on the planet and our community – tread lightly, or with booming impact. The choice is yours but the reprocussions belong to us all.
I chose to dedicate and invest in Climate Ride late last spring to use my bike and my cycling legs for good — to set an example that bikes will be at the core of an optimal solution for both the health of our communities, and for the health of our planet. And I did impact that cause — I finished each of those exemplory 320 miles and our team contributed $12,000 to the $300,000 that Climate Ride raised as a whole raised for environmental organizations and entities here in California and beyond— much more than a few pennies in a bucket. But there are so many causes that contribute to climate change — it’s about more than renewable energies, or riding a bike or driving a hybrid vehicle.
It occured to me, as I whizzed into San Francisco, my good deed done and time dedicated, that is more about each and every single choice we make each day – from the food that we eat, the way that we move, the place where we put our gum wrappers and the examples that we aim to set – can be a conscious choice that really does make a difference. All of those moments add up, and if we add all of ours together, we would have a completely different NOW. I can yell “Climate Ride” at the top of my lungs, echoing out between the skyscrapers of San Francisco. But the booming sound of heavy, mindless footsteps in shoes made of imported materials flown thousands of miles for my buying pleasure, is louder.
For all of you that contributed to Team Clif as we tackled Climate Ride, THANK YOU from the bottom of our little hearts! These 320 miles have spoken volumes – and hopefully not just for me, but for others as well.
I’m going to keep riding my bike everyday, cooking from scratch, buying local, supporting the ideas and businesses in my local community, and holding close the values in our own house. I’m going to keep racing, and training, and finding moving meditation on my bike and in my running shoes – living each day actively because it is my joy, and it is my responsibility. My next charity is an internal one — awakening the mindfulist in me, and see what kinds of crazy ideas she has next. She might even ride with Climate Ride next fall — what a wild, wonderful ride it was. 🙂