Seems to me that the Climate Ride is going to have a lot in common with ocean rowing. It makes me yearn for a massage, and leaves my butt sore. The big difference is that the scenery is a lot more varied, and the company is a lot more stimulating than during my solitary mid-ocean existence.
This morning the 100-plus riders set out early from the zoo in Central Park – but only a couple of hundred yards to CBS Plaza. After waving and cheering and being suitably “peppy” as instructed at the cameras for the Early Show we pedaled down Fifth Avenue at a leisurely pace, made even more leisurely by frequent stops at traffic lights, and then across town to take the Seastreak ferry to New Jersey. Then it was time to get down to some legwork for some serious pedaling en route to Princeton. A few early hills had me worried, but the pace was relaxed, and chatting with people along the way took my mind off the tiredness in my legs.
For a while we passed through endless suburbs, past some huge McMansions on enormous plots, before the landscape became more rural. I was humbled when I found out that my two immediate companions had both (separately) cycled the length of the Americas, clocking up 14,000 and 16,000 miles respectively. Today’s target of 55 miles suddenly paled into insignificance. But the weather was perfect and my borrowed bicycle, donated by Backroads, cruised along easily.
But even the most comfortable bicycle doesn’t always have the most comfortable saddle, and my saddle soreness was exacerbated by the fact that on the ocean my gluteus maximus had become gluteus minimus after 104 days of not walking. So for the last hour or so of the day I was getting quite keen to get out of the saddle and it was a relief when the road started to meander through the picturesque and historic Princeton campus and I knew the end of the road, for today at least, was drawing nigh.
It was about 4pm when I got to the Princeton YMCA where we are camping tonight. After settling into my tent and having a hot shower the aches and pains of the day were already fading. I am writing this as I sit in my tent, between dinner and the evening’s presentations.
It has been a good day. I’ve been really impressed by the level of organization. The organizers have excelled themselves in setting me up with everything I needed for the ride. Without their help I couldn’t have done it, but they provided me with a bicycle, cycling shorts, jerseys, tent, sleeping bag and camping mat. Each day we are given our DAAG (Day At A Glance) that gives the schedule for departures, mealtimes, presentations etc. Our routes are marked by signs at every junction. If we still manage to get lost, comprehensive handouts giving maps, mileages and directions help us get back on track. Meals and snacks are delicious and plentiful. And everything is utterly green – no disposable cups, plates or silverware. Tonight we were given some cool handouts – thermal mugs with fold-down carabiner handles. A lot of swag is not particularly useful, but this is definitely a keeper. Our Climate Ride cycling jerseys are really cool too.
But the best thing about the day has been the people that I’ve met. Many are involved in environmental work of some sort – environmental advisors and impact assessors, campaigners and advocates, volunteers and nonprofit workers. Amidst many topics of conversation, much has been about climate change and Copenhagen. The overall mood seems to be optimistic – but of course this is a self-selecting sample of people who already care about the environment and in the course of their work will generally come across kindred spirits.
I’d love to know what the bigger picture looks like. ARE people becoming more aware? In the UK? In the US? Elsewhere? What do you think? What is your perception? Do you come across examples of the extremes of attitudes, and/or indifference and apathy? I’d love to know! Post your comments and give me your thoughts.
And meanwhile, check out the ClimateRideLive.org website and take a look at the other blogs, photos and Tweets from the day. See you here next year?! Sign up now.
Today’s stats: 55 miles, 4 hours, 896 calories, countless friends!