Kaid Benfield Archive


Two wheels good for the planet: Climate Ride

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 24, 2011 at 1:30PM

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  NRDC jersey, front (FK Benfield)  NRDC jersey, rear (FK Benfield)

On a crisp and sunny fall day yesterday, I proudly wore my new NRDC cycling jersey for the first time.  I rode one of my favorite courses, from my house out Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park, climbing mighty Tilden Street back home at the end.  I’m mostly a pretender these days, but I was once a fairly strong rider, and I gave it all I had.  I hope I represented well.

The idea of creating an NRDC jersey has been kicking around the office among a number of my cycling aficionado colleagues, especially Geoff, Bobby and myself, for some time.  But it was our west coast colleague (and, not incidentally, former Category 1 Northern California champion) Amanda Eaken who made it happen.  Amanda is deputy director of our sustainable communities work and someone who is good at getting things done.

She had an ulterior motive: raising money for something called Climate Ride California, a 320-mile, 5-day ride from Eureka to San Francisco.  Amanda thought it would be swell if NRDC assembled a team to raise a couple of thousand bucks or more each to support the work of a number of environmental sponsors of the trek, including NRDC.  She says it was not an easy course, there was lots of rain, and she had a blast.  A number of other west coast colleagues rode as well.

I was recruited to join them, but the logistics were tough from the east coast, not to mention my fear of humiliation while trying to hold Amanda’s wheel for five days.  But, now that I read her account of the adventure, I’m convinced that for me the really hard part would be getting up at 6.30 in the morning.  (I work at night a lot, in part because I don’t do much at all until late morning and thereafter.  Yesterday I rode from three to five in the afternoon, much more my cup of tea.  But I digress.)

  riders celebrate at the finish (courtesy of Amanda Eaken)

Here’s a bit from Amanda’s report:

“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 . . . No one hesitated.”

Read all of it here.

Amanda is already talking about next year’s ride, and there’s one on the east coast, too, which will deal a blow to my logistical excuse.  Maybe I’ll do it.  I already have the team colors.

By the way, today’s title is a riff on Prefab Sprout’s great album from the 1980s, Two Wheels Good (titled Steve McQueen in Europe).  I used the phrase once before on this blog, but that’s been a long while, and I think it’s strong enough to support another post.  Here’s a more recent Prefab Sprout song, with a title appropriate to today’s post.  It takes a while for the vocals to come in, but it’s worth it.  Enjoy:


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