Climate Ride: California Central Coast

Colleen Proppé
Jun 20 · 9 min read

Fundraising for San Francisco Bike Coalition

June 16, Climate Ride 2019: Central Coast Final Day in Arroyo Valley

It is the Wednesday after Climate Ride has ended, and I feel like I’m supposed to be on my bike, pedaling an average of 60 miles a day, but I am sitting in the Presidio Transit Café with my green tea and laptop, reflecting on what transpired over the last week. My first thought this morning was that the 40 mile scenic ride around San Francisco is SHORT and I must do it immediately. Maybe this will become my next job; San Francisco bike tour guide and my teenage sons can be a part of the business? Then doubt sets in and I think about updating my resume for my next tech job and completing my next Superbadge in Salesforce Trailhead.

“Wait, stop!” I think. Why are you here and what did you just learn last week. You must process this huge amount of information and use it to move forward. This was a life changing event, so what are you going to do different now? There must be a climate positive company here in San Francisco that needs my skills and adaptability and will love me and all the things I love too. Where are you, next job? Where is my sustainable, organic food loving, tech loving, live music loving, cycle loving, dog and nature loving company? Am I being too hopeful? No, this is important. We won’t move forward with environmental goals if we don’t commit to the work we believe in. I won’t be happy with just any job. This is why I did Climate Ride in the first place.

Caeli ready to ride on Day 1: Happy Valley, Santa Cruz, CA

Climate Ride is not just any ordinary charity bike ride. It is a powerful network of people who care about the environment, climate change reality and solutions, cycling and transportation advocacy.
Co-founded by Caeli Quinn (a strong female leader with a huge smile, who worked for Backroads and travel companies for many years), Climate Ride supported teams of bike coalitions from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Bike Santa Cruz County, TransForm, East Bay Bike Coalition, Grid and solar solutions and other riders from Seattle, Denver Trips for Kids, Boston and Vermont. The staff of Climate Ride have all been on rides themselves before committing to work these seriously long day events. Each day, we are up at 6am, pack up our individual tents, don our bike gear, stuff our shirts with Clif Bars and Hammer Gel, eat by 7am and are on the road by 8. We rode all — day — long, pretty much. We stopped to take a few photos, but really, we were there to ride, climb, descend and arrive at our destination because once at our next destination, there was work to do. Each night there were presentations by various local advocates and groups to share what they have learned about cycling advocacy, trails advocacy, sea level rise, green building and more. Every day was an education because the places we stopped at each had their own environmental work to share with us, from Elkhorn Slough Nature Center to Ocean Pines Nature Center in Cambria.

120 riders arrived in Santa Cruz the first night at the Happy Valley Conference Center where we had the choice of a cabin with a bunk or to pitch our tent and sleep in the field. Surprisingly, the field was full of tents by the time I went to sleep. These Climate Riders love tent camping. I had a super easy, origami-like tent that folded out and popped up, so I didn’t have to put together any poles. It made my life a lot easier as I had to put it up and down a total of 10 times. Sports Basement San Francisco sponsored my ride with a Bike Donation when my bike was stolen and damaged. Though it was returned, it was not in any shape for a 300 mile ride so I am super grateful to Sports Basement and their friendly staff for the help with my bike. I also rented a self-inflating camping pad from Sports Basement, and it was the best camping pad ever. The camping part was fun and easy, and it also gave me a quiet space to collect my thoughts after the intense physical day of riding. I was able to organize my things and put out my clothes for the morning. I even brought my guitar (which the Climate Ride team were kind enough to keep in their truck cab so I was able to practice a bit each night).

At Happy Valley, they have an ampitheater in a redwood grove so when you look up to the sky, you see a circle of tree tops with the sky as your ceiling. They have a swing in the redwoods that everyone had to try. My favorite speaker on this first night was Tiffany Wise-West, (Best name EVA for an Environmental Engineer from Santa Cruz!) who has worked on the railtrails bike paths from Santa Cruz to Davenport. They are taking old train tracks and trestle bridges and converting them to cycling paths in Santa Cruz. They celebrated the completion of one of these bridges on May 17. It is a lovely wooden bridge just before you arrive near the boardwalk and takes you towards downtown Santa Cruz. Other speakers this evening spoke of sustainable fishing and seafood, which is an integral part of the coastal restaurant business on the Central Coast.

On the morning of Day 1, it was sunny and we were surrounded by deep green pine trees and blue skies. All of the riders wore their team jerseys, though our loosely knit group of SF Bike Volunteers and Members did not have shirts. I felt a bit like the “Cutters” in the film “Breaking Away”. We never matched. We were young, old, short, tall, gay, straight, married, single… We didn’t ride together the entire time, but we were still there with the spirit of diversity that is San Francisco. It was fun to sit together at a few meals, catch up to each other some days and share a snack or group photo and know we were all there supporting the city and bike infrastructure we love. Together, we have come pretty close to meeting the $25,000 goal for the San Francisco Bike Coalition. I am still fundraising! I have a couple new donations that have not registered yet, and have just reached $1,000. of my $3,000. goal. Please click here to donate. All donations go to SF Bike via Climate Ride and Donor Drive.

One of the riders from Climate One, David Howes, a retired firefighter and a top fundraiser, pulled a bike trailer with a gigantic, blow up blue earth beach ball behind him the entire ride. David has been the top fundraiser on the ride for many years. There was also a man who biked the entire ride on a unicycle! A young woman, Nicole, who lost her leg to bone cancer at age 10, biked the entire ride with a prosthetic leg provided to her through the non-profit she founded, “Forrest Stump”. This group raises the money needed for others like Nicole to afford the technology they need to thrive in their physical lives after amputation. Learn more about Nicole and at forreststump.com Finally, my personal favorite Climate Ride leader was Sarah Cohen, who trains Avalance Dogs. Her Border Collie, Piper, is featured in a children’s book “Avalanche Heroes”.

I had no idea that we would have catered meals each day. The food at Happy Valley Conference Center was amazing, organic and they use vegetables from their own gardens. Once on the road, the catering team that traveled with us was called “Sweet Basil Catering” from Humboldt County. This newly married couple did an amazing job. Not your ordinary pasta and salad camp dinners, the fare ranged from grilled vegetables and quinoa to curried tofu, chicken tacos and unique desserts. A couple evenings after the environmental talks, Blake Holiday and his team from Climate Ride had vegan s’mores for us around a campfire… and there were regular old school s’mores too. We even were serenaded with live guitar music from one of the ride leaders.

Frederick, Cory, Nancy, and Mimi in Big Sur, Day 3

On the 3rd night, after we biked 70 miles up the coast through epic long climbs and breathtaking, fun fast descents of Big Sur, each team leader had exactly 3 minutes to present a talk and slideshow. This wasn’t that easy. They had to present their talk in the dark, in the redwood grove amphitheater at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campgrounds, with a buzzer that would go off every minute until they reached 3 minutes. Kristen did a great job for SF Bike Coalition. The slideshow was straight forward with photos of protected bike paths, educational programs to teach kids to ride, Bike to Work Days and volunteer appreciation events across the city.

Some of the more memorable slideshows used the element of humor to get points across, which was truly welcome after we were ready for deep hibernation in our sleeping bags. My favorite was the video from The Center for Climate Protection. They used the metaphor of a happy animated piece of bread turning to unhappy burnt toast on too much C02 if we don’t stop Climate Change.

Another humorous talk was by Rich and David of CASBA (California Straw Bale Builders Association). They create housing that uses natural materials and is more efficient than your average, non-ecofriendly options. Check out their builders, designers and contractors at strawbuilding.org

During the CASBA presentation, it looked like a significant other was instant messaging on top of the slideshow, saying things like “Are you at the camp yet? How is your butt feeling after the ride?” Later on, Trump started tweeting over the presentation, saying, “Climate Change is a HOAX!” Again, the element of surprise and humor in their presentation were very welcome as we all huddled together in the cold night after our long endurance ride up the foggy coast of Big Sur.

Bike Commuters at Fort Mason, San Francisco. Oil on Canvas.

I could go on, and on… It was an incredible trip. It was not easy at all. I have been riding my bike daily in San Francisco for the past 3 years and have mountain biked in Marin County, pulling twins up Mt. Tam and to school for many more. If they had mt. biking as a sport when I was young, I probably would have joined a team. I also have painted landscape paintings with bikes in them, and hope to continue to do so in the future. I feel very fortunate to be able to be a part of cycling advocacy in San Francisco, where I have volunteered for Bike to Work Day, bag stuffing parties, sold sweatshirts at member events and more. The people at SF Bike are great fun to be with and all very caring and dedicated. We are working together to implement better protected bike lanes in San Francisco and teach more people to ride bikes and use the variety of e-bikes, scooters and other methods of public transportation around the city. I hope you will click here and make a donation to my fundraiser today. Thank you for your support! Climate Ride Rocks!!!!

Colleen Proppé

Written by

Life-long artist and designer. I love creative writing, live music, acoustic guitar, golden doodles, border collies, natural wonders, cycling and organic food.

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