As a life-long fisherman, hunter and backpacker I’ve spent more than my fair share of time outdoors. We’ve always been an “outdoor family.” In fact, our garage looks like a sporting goods store with skis, backpacks, fishing and hunting gear, scuba gear, kayaking equipment, and our bikes. We’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to backpack all over this great country of ours, hiking into places that were so remote it’s like humans had never been there. Later in life, when my wife was unable to carry a pack for long distances, my two boys and I backpacked a 100-mile section of the Appalachian Trail and an 80-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail. There is nothing like carrying your home on your back for 10 days to focus your attention.
I have been an avid runner since 1973, when I first started running to relive the stress of grad school and having a one-year old son to care for. For the next 20 years, I ran 40 miles a week and a couple of marathons. I keep thinking I can train for one more marathon, but these 69 year old legs are telling me there is no way, so biking has become my new aerobic workout.
Although I consider myself to be firmly in the heathen category, IPL has welcomed me because they know it will take all of us working together if we are to get meaningful action on climate change. I have worked closely with IPL on a number of events and they are an important part of our Climate Action Campaign, so I definitely want to see them continue working with all the other organizations. But being a heathen only means I am not attached to a church. I consider myself a moral person in that I believe in taking care of the planet. Luckily, my career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed me to do that as I spent 30-years protecting streams and wetlands from unsound development.
And now, working with the National Wildlife Federation on their climate change campaign, I get to continue that work, except this work is even more important as climate change threatens to undo all the conservation work all of us have ever done.
When I first started with NWF, there was rampant skepticism about climate change. Although there are still plenty of deniers, I detect that the tide is turning. These extreme weather events are convincing our fellow Americans that something is up.
I confess I am apprehensive about my ability to ride back-to-back 50-mile days on this trip. I don’t know if I have any more big jaunts left in me, and I consider the ride to DC to be a big jaunt. My legs now are complaining about having to ride for 2 – 3 hours, and then do a shorter ride the next day, so I’ll have to see how this goes.
I will have to remember that the bike ride to Washington is like our fight to protect the planet: It’s a 15-round fight, a marathon not a sprint. We can only prevail if we keep at it.
Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2014 to PA IPL 2100-C East College Ave., State College, PA 16801)