I’m excited and a bit nervous to be a first-time rider for PA IPL. I’m pretty comfortable on a bike, but I haven’t done a long ride in forever, and I’d probably rather be running than biking. The last time I was on five-day bike trip was my honeymoon, nearly 26 years ago, when Alison and I biked from inn to inn along the coast of Maine. Who knew Maine was so hilly! Suffice it to say that it was a lot harder (and hotter) than we expected, and I owe Alison a second honeymoon.
So why am I’m riding with the PA IPL team? Mostly for two reasons: First, my daughter Maggie asked me to go along with her, and I couldn’t say no. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with her before she heads off to college. (Her profile will follow soon.) And second, I am a strong believer in the religious-ethical basis for environmental stewardship, and I feel that PA IPL sends just the right message. My church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, has had a relationship with PA IPL, and I’m hoping to re-invigorate it a bit. Former rider Ray Najjar might have been the last person from St. Andrew’s to make the ride. Personally, I am looking forward to the physical challenge of the ride, but mostly for the chance to hang out with the interesting, smart, and environmentally committed PA IPL riders. Maybe I’ll pick up some cycling tips, too.
While I’m not known for being an environmental activist, I follow climate change fairly closely because it affects my research and teaching topics, agriculture and food. I try to teach students where our food is coming from, and I can already see farmers trying to adjust to changing climates. In my home life, I’ve tried to adjust a few things to lower my own carbon footprint. I’ve always been a big fan of public transportation, and I usually ride the CATA bus to and from work (except when I carpool with my Alison). I have also changed my diet in an attempt to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions (and improve my health). As many people probably know, animal agriculture is responsible for 30 percent or more of greenhouse gas emissions. So I’ve been trying to follow the advice of one of my favorite food writers, Mark Bittman, who has written about eating like a vegan before 6:00pm, after which one might not worry too much about what one eats. Most days, my only animal product consumed before 6:00pm is a little milk in my coffee. My family and friends know that I’ve become almost obsessed with avocados and hummus, maybe to the point of becoming a bit boring.
After 6:00pm, one of my guilty pleasures is trivia contests, like the kind offered up at Otto’s and Champs, even though my team rarely rises to the top. I’ll leave you with two of my favorite trivia questions: 1. Among all of Shakespeare’s plays, which character has the most lines of dialog? 2. Among all the state capitals that are not the most populous cities in their states, which one has the largest population?
Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801
MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed