Bike 2018: Blessing of the Philly Riders

The Philadelphia-originating riders were blessed with this travelers’ prayer, and sent of with the blast of a shofar!

Tefilat Hadereh/Traveler’s Prayer

May it be your will, Sheltering One, our God, God of our ancestors,
that you lead us on the road in peace,
and protect our footsteps,
and enable us to reach our destination,
alive and well, happy and safe.
Protect us from all harm and mishap on the road,
and grant us favor, kindness, and compassion,
in your own eyes and the eyes of all who may behold us.
May you hear our voice of prayer.

A prayer for the journey
We could say it every day
When we first leave the soft warmth of our beds
And don’t know for sure if we’ll return at night
When we get in the trains, planes and automobiles
And put our lives in the hands of many strangers.
Or when we leave our homes for a day, a week, a month or more –
Will return to a peaceful home? Untouched by fire, flood or crime?
How will our travels change us?
What gives us the courage to go through that door?

A prayer for the journey.
For the journey we take in this fragile vessel of flesh.
A finite number of years and we will reach
The unknown, where it all began.
Every life, every day, every hour is a journey.
In the travel is the discovery,
the wisdom, the joy.
Every life, every day, every hour is a journey.
In the travel is the reward,
the peace, the blessing.

Bike 2018: Blessing of the State College riders

PA IPL Ride 2018, May 13, 2018
Blessing of the Riders
by Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel

Divine one,
Source of Sources,
That which goes without name.
Please bless this ride and our rides.
Let no trouble greater than they can handle befall them

May you experience joy and sunshine and laughter as you pedal.
May the miles slide by without care or worry.

Go today, knowing that we are with you and that our love and care accompany you here at the start of this journey. Go also knowing we will be at your side until it ends.

We bless you, and hold you on our hearts today, tomorrow and always.

May the ride be safe.
May no harm come to you as you pedal along the highways, roads and byways that lie ahead.
May the all that is Divine watch over you.

Blessed Be and Amen

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County
780 Waupelani Drive
State College, PA 16801
(814) 237-7605

Note that the UUFCC is lit by windpower –>

Video of the ride-off with trombone choir!  

Bike Blog 2018.7: DC

After settling into the Luther Place hostel in Northwest, Washington DC on Tuesday afternoon both rider groups made the transition to gear up for a day of advocacy in Congress with meetings scheduled for 14 of the 20 Pennsylvania Congressional delegation (2 offices are vacant). Cricket Hunter, PA IPL’s Program Director, took on the yeoman’s task of scheduling meetings with Congressmen or their aides, organizing advocacy teams, and then prepping 4 advocacy teams with a late night training.

As always, groups focused on engaging in real conversation rather than demanding.  This year we had the pleasure of advocating for the U.S. Legislature to draw on bipartisan leadership in Harrisburg to build similar bipartisan support for transition to a 100% renewable clean energy economy by 2050.  We also pointed to clean energy technology prize competitions legislation (which the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus has been leading) , and on the ways that rolling back both legislative and administrative clean car standards (drawn with industry at the table) would hurt vulnerable populations (including economically). Finally, we expressed our support for legislation that would release federal assistance for coal mining communities from an existing fund created for this purpose (RECLAIM legislation, faith op-ed)  [fact sheets and one-pagers]

While responses to some of these specific asks broke down along party lines, a number of veteran cyclists commented that this year’s Hill visits seemed different; in particular many staff were willing to have frank conversations about clean energy, which have been rarer in past years, and 3 Congressmen stopped into our meetings for a few minutes themselves (Congressmen Kelly, Fitzpatrick, and Doyle). Several congressional staffers were familiar with PA IPL from past visits and even thanked the group for bringing faith-rooted moral and ethical perspectives into the conversation.

While the process of moving our Congress to support a just clean energy path for the country is a long term one, having the opportunity to engage together in advocacy was powerful. Several offices were impressed by our determination to pedal hundreds of miles to come to their doorstep and they listened. And the effort energized our group to continue the work into the future. It was clear that without Cricket Hunter and Alison Cornish’s incredible efforts the trip would not have been successful. And, in a bittersweet post-lobbying celebration dinner, the group had the opportunity to thank Jon Brockopp for his amazing 7 years of ride organizing as he passes the mantle of leadership.

In closing, we offer a Marge Piercy poem entitled “The task never completed” (found in this volume) as a final reflection of our work:

The task never completed

No task is ever completed,
only abandoned or pressed into use.
Tinkering can be a form of prayer.

Twenty-six botched worlds preceded
Genesis we are told in ancient commentary,
and ha-Shem said not only,

of this particular attempt,
It is good, but muttered,
if only it will hold.

Incomplete, becoming, the world
was given us to fix, to complete
and we’ve almost worn it out.

My house was hastily built,
on the cheap. Leaks, rotting
sills, the floor a relief map of Idaho.

Whenever I get some money, I stove
up, repair, add on, replace.
This improvisation permits me to squat

here on the land that owns me.
We evolve through mistakes, wrong
genes, imitation gone wild.

Each night sleep unravels me into wool,
then into sheep and wolf. Walls and fire
pass through me. I birth stones.

Every dawn I stumble from the roaring
vat of dreams and make myself up
remembering and forgetting by halves.

Every day I choose to take a knife
to the world’s flank or a sewing kit,
rough improvisation, but a start

Follow us: #paiplonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)  and a huge THANKS to all who helped us reach our goal! 

 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

Bike Blog 2018.6: We did it!

Your intrepid cyclists made it! The Philly and State College teams met this afternoon in front of the Lincoln Memorial, joining PA IPL Executive Director Rev. Alison Cornish for a sweet reunion. It was a hot, but gorgeous afternoon, and after our group picture, we thoroughly enjoyed soaking in the moment. For the State College riders, it was the culmination of a 5-day ordeal, but for the Philly riders, it was something much more – creating a new ride out of whole cloth.

Our day ended together, with a grand meal at a local Thai restaurant, but it began very differently. The State College cyclists awoke in the bucolic setting of Am Kolel Retreat Center. We had a leisurely morning – some slept in, some made eggs, and some took a walk in the woods. About 10 a.m., we gathered the troops to head out, leaving with a beautiful blessing from Rabbi David Shneyer.

Part of the group stopped to see the Poolesville Solar Panels (and a Tesla Model X), while the other got a head start on our 32 miles for the day. We met up just before the entrance to Congregation Adat Shalom in Bethesda – this is a beautiful Reconstructionist Synagogue that is a big supporter of Interfaith Power & Light (Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb serves on the national IPL board). Rabbi Rachel Hersh greeted our group and Executive Director Marla Cohen gave us a tour of the facility, even opening up a Torah scroll for u

The final ride to DC was mostly downhill, including a wonderful stretch along the Capitol Crescent Trail. Riders were excited to finally make it, and these last several miles really seemed to fly by.

The Philly riders had a bit longer to go, and it was a hot, hilly day with significant mileage ridden on busy roads that created challenging riding, but the team support for each other, the goal of getting to D.C., and wonderful hospitality and encouragement from folks along the way got us to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial around 3:30 pm.

A highlight from the day was pulling into our lunch host Rich Reis driveway to a “welcome riders” sign and a radio powered by solar playing music to serenade us.  Rich and friends told us about their Earth Ethics Team and their work to encourage people to waste less and contribute to improving our environment.  Another wonderful moment was riding our final miles in the Rock Creek Parkway under welcome tree shade on secluded roads.  We came out of the greenway to join a bike path along the Potomac and shortly thereafter were cycling onto the Mall in between national monuments.

Now, at this point, memories differ. The Philly riders believe they arrived first on the National Mall, and this may be true, but the State College riders were certainly first to the Lincoln Memorial (which was, after all, the meeting point!). Whichever reality you prefer, it was with great joy that we introduced ourselves and congratulated each other on successful rides.

We rode together down the Mall a bit, arriving at the Steinbruck Center at Luther Place Memorial Church. We were joined at dinner by Pastor Karen Brau, and shortly thereafter Cricket arrived as well, bringing our formal clothes along with her. Luther Place member Jeff Serfass also came (in his new hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai), and we had lots of time to chat and catch up.

We are filled with gratitude. We are, of course, so very grateful that everyone arrived safe and sound. But we also thankful to all those who have supported us along the way, whether through donations, prayer, or hospitality. So very many people have worked hard to make this a success.

This evening, riders are all busy preparing for their Hill visits, anticipating the chance to speak with staff from both PA Senators and most of the Representatives. We will be in four teams, led by Cricket, Rev. Alison, Rabbi Nathan Martin, and Pastor John Stoltzfus. Wish us luck as we tell them our stories and urge them to move forward on key pieces of legislation. If you have an chance to call your representative to tell them that you support us, that would be greatly appreciated  — it really increases the impact of the visits.  Find your Congressman (and his DC phone number) here.

Jon Brockopp, Mike Ford, and the rest of the riders

Follow us: #paiplonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles


Bike Blog 2018.5: Everyone is in Maryland

The converging trips each faced challenges today, but they fixed flats, crossed bridges and ate very well. Both groups are now in Maryland!  

Your State College-start cyclists had a great day! Finally, we had a few flat tires – as I explained to Noah, a few minor delays helped to balanced out the gorgeous weather and spectacular scenery that was our companion all day long.

Our day started with breakfast, provided by Bill and Sandy Shank, long-time members of Christ’s Reformed UCC. The food was blessed by Interim Minister Rev. Dr. Hodge, who was very supportive of our work, and we enjoyed visiting and learning more about their inner-city ministry. Alex Yaney, our support driver for the day, stopped by at 9, and we were off… except Alex deCarle discovered a flat tire.

No matter, with tools and expertise, the tire was fixed… but then went flat again. Finally, a new tire was located, changed again, and we were really off. The city of Hagerstown quickly gave way to rolling hills, and as we neared the Antietam Battlefield we found ourselves in another time as well. The weight of history in those blood-soaked hills was palpable.

Eventually, we made it onto the C&O canal, riding along the beautiful Potomac river. Originally built in 1831, the canal was in use until after World War I, primarily to haul coal from Pennsylvania to the eastern seaboard – it seems like a fitting path to bring cyclists to DC to lobby for a new energy transformation.

Lunch was at the amazing Potomac St. Grill in Brunswick, Maryland (run by a lovely Syrian family, so the Middle Eastern food is authentic!), and then three of us raced ahead to Am Kolel Sanctuary and Retreat Center to arrive before the office manager left at 5. We were greeted by Rabbi David Shneyer, who welcomed us and helped set up our bike washing station. The rest of the cyclists arrived shortly after 5:30, a good thing, because sirens went off for a tornado warning at 6:00.

The storm hit about 6:30, but by then we were settled in for Chinese take-out, arranged by Joyce Breiner and her organization, Poolesville Green. We had a fascinating presentation by a local businessman (Gary Skulnik of Neighborhood Sun) and a local member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who told us about the many alternative energy initiatives happening in Montgomery County. It was inspiring, and we came away with many ideas of how to build a positive vision of the future.              —Jon (and the other State College cyclists)

For the Philly-originators, waking up the to smell of waffles and frittata was a wonderful way to start our longest day on the bikes. After another engaging conversation around the table with our hosts and a sendoff of song and shofar, the Philly cyclists set off under cool gray skies.

Crossing bridges became a theme of our day. Our most daunting bridge to cross was the Hatem Memorial Bridge, crossing the Susquehanna. Our crossing was made much easier thanks to the Maryland Transportation Authority who provided a police escort. A much more leisurely bridge crossing greeted us on the beautiful Ma and Pa Trail.

Our lunch hosts at Churchville Presbyterian Church in Churchville, Maryland greeted us with a lavish display of food. As we ate homemade soup, cookies and much more we learned how this congregation recently took steps to become an Earth Care Congregation with PCUSA. This involves completing activities and projects in the field of worship, education, facilities and outreach.

For the rest of the afternoon we rolled through the hills of Bel Air and into the outskirts of Baltimore. When we finally rolled into our destination place at House of Peace in Reservoir Hill we carried great memories of another day on the road.

If we are to adequately address the challenges of climate change we will have to cross many more bridges in the days and years to come–bridges of understanding seeking to build common ground around shared values of caring for this planet that we all share. To cross these bridges we will need courage, perseverance, moral clarity, and the help of many to reach our goal of bringing healing to our land with justice for all.

John Stoltzfus (and the Philadelphia Ride Crew)

Follow us: #paiplonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles


Bike Blog 2018.4: fellowship beats flats and rain.

Today the converging blogs begin: our Philly group launched and crossed into Delaware today (reflections by Rabbi Nathan), and the State College group crossed into Maryland (reflections by Jon Brockopp).  Despite flat tires (Delaware) and heavy rain (Orbisonia to Cowen’s Gap), the teams seem in good spirits.

Even though the rains were coming down at our mid-day start, our spirits were high. Our intrepid group of five clergy riders began our send-off (from the beautiful John Heinz Wildlife Refuge near the Philadelphia Airport) with an uplifting ritual that included an invocation, blessings, singing, a Jewish prayer for the journey and shofar blowing.

Our route itself reminded us in part why we are doing this ride. During the first half of the afternoon we alternated between stretches of greenway and petrochemical refinery complexes—representations of the renewable/new and the old-model fossil-fuel economy. It reminded us how important it is to continue to work for a greener country.

This being our first day in a completely new ride and route we did pretty well, thanks in part to timely support from Alison Cornish, PA IPL’s executive director and support vehicle driver, as well as several experienced bikers who handled the three flat tires that plagued one of our riders.

At the end of a full afternoon of riding we were warmly welcomed in Newark, Delaware, by Dave and Cynthia (connected to Delaware IPL) and their family and friends and neighbors, fed well, and spent time enjoying fellowship. We look forward to more adventures tomorrow!

The State College riders had a good night on the floor of the Church of God of Prophecy community room, but we were up early to make breakfast for about 20 members of the congregation. I was so proud of our group for taking on this task with such joy: Dorothy handled the eggs, Maggie and Carla were expert pancake flippers, Dave dealt with the sausages and Noah was the clean-up guru. Everyone pitched in, and the result was wonderful fellowship time with this generous congregation.

One group was out the door by 9:30, trying to beat the rain. Those of us who stayed behind to clean up got seriously wet. It just poured, and at one point we had to take shelter in a carport. But in all, we made good time and after our traditional photo at Cowen’s Gap we were delighted to find our Alison (Jaenicke) there with lunch for us and little towels to dry off. Noah (my crazy child) went swimming, while the rest of us tried to warm up a bit.

But the weather cleared up and the rest of our ride was mostly dry. Of course, with five mothers on the ride (and two with their children!), we had to celebrate Mother’s Day – the deCarles celebrated crossing the state line!

We arrived in Hagerstown to see our host, Steve Wise, waiting outside for us. Steve works at the REACH homeless shelter, and our group was ecstatic to have hot showers, washers and dryers. Cleaned and scrubbed, Bill Pike and a team from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown made us a wonderful dinner of homemade soup and salad, while Bill told us something of the mission of this shelter in the middle of a rustbelt town. Another full and wonderful day!         

—Jon, Nathan (and the other cyclists from both groups!)

Follow us: #paiplonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles