Climate Ride California 2012

The EHDD team (David Vogel, Michel St. Pierre, Andy Sohn, Brad Jacobson, Leah Marthinsen and Amy Leedham), participated in the recent 2012 Climate Ride California, a 5-day, 300 mile trek from Eureka to San Francisco. We raised $20,000 for non-profit organizations that work in green energy, sustainability, climate-change policy and bike advocacy. It was an amazing experience and a reminder of EHDD’s commitment to sustainability. I had never biked more than 30 miles before embarking on this trip, but I am glad to have shared the experience and was incredibly inspired by the beautiful scenery and people I met.

The group of 150 cyclists convened on Saturday September 8th near Crissy Field in San Francisco. After registration, we headed to Fortuna, CA where we would start the ride on Sunday.

Day 1 Fortuna to Richardson Grove: 65 Miles
The first day of riding was one of my favorites because we rode through the awe-inspiring Avenue of the Giants. These Redwoods are hundreds of years old and are a wonderful testament to the power and beauty of the earth and serve as a reminder of what we are trying to protect. Along the way, our team was joined by The Natural Resources Defense Council (one of our beneficiaries) and the speedy Jeff Maddox from The Fire Consultants.

Day 2 Richardson Grove to Casper Beach: 68 Miles
Day two started much the same as Day 1 ended on a beautiful flat course through redwoods. As we made our way to the coast, the terrain quickly became more challenging. We tackled some serious hills and a couple of our riders (myself included) had no idea how our bodies would react to over 60 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain. To keep our spirits high, our captain serenaded us with his rendition of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance followed by some Barry Manilow interpretations from other team members.

That night, we camped at Casper Beach and listened to a few presentations including one from our very own Brad Jacobson on the sustainability accomplishments of the Packard Foundation. We were lulled to sleep by the crashing waves and the barking seals.

Day 3 Casper Beach to Duncans Mills: 102 Miles
Our third day started very early in order to give the ambitious riders enough time to complete the “century” ride, a 100-mile stretch. We had to pace ourselves and consume just enough energy to keep moving. As we bicycled through rolling coastal hills, we took breaks every 12 miles or so to take in fluids and food. The absolutely pristine shoreline reminded us of the importance of protecting our valuable natural resources.

Day 4 Duncans Mills to Olema: 58 Miles
On day 4, the majority of our team rode together at an easy pace stopping frequently for coffee, wine tasting and oysters; taking in the beauty around us.

Day 5 Olema to San Francisco: 41 miles
While the last day was the shortest, it was by no means the easiest. Exhausted after 5 nights of camping, we had to get over the big hills that stood between us and City Hall in San Francisco. After some much needed caffeine, we took off for the epic climb into the fog. I had no idea what to expect from these hills, but am so proud that I did not walk once! We made it over a foggy Golden Gate Bridge to regroup with the Climate Ride Staff and other riders. We rode together to City Hall where Leah Shahum of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition welcomed us back and updated us on the progress achieved for SF cyclists since last year’s Climate Ride.

Overall this was a life changing experience for me. I had never ridden my bike that much, nor seen the natural wonders of Northern California before. It was fun to be around people who are, like me, passionate about the need to combat climate-change. It was refreshing to see the different ways people approach the key issues. As designers and architects it is easy to only spend time with each other and get tunnel vision, but meeting all these amazing people and discussing their work further reinforced my belief in a multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems of all scales, including perhaps the ultimate one, designing a better future.

Thanks to everyone who donated to our team, especially Arc-Norcal, McCutcheon Construction and Abet, Inc. Until next year!

Amy Leedham, LEED® AP