Months ago Seth Pollack—a Rockville resident who is training for a 300-mile charity bike ride from Manhattan to Washington, DC next week—described himself as over 40, overweight and out of shape.
Well, we’ve got an update: As of last week, Pollack has logged more than 1,300 miles, lost 20 pounds and commutes to his job in DC at least twice a week.
“More importantly,” Pollack wrote to Patch in an email, “I've learned that my body seems to be well-suited for long distance riding and I've developed a passion for road cycling.”
Pollack is about to embark on the NY-DC Climate Ride, set for Sept. 21 through Sept. 25. Climate Ride is a nonprofit group that advocates for sustainability, bike advocacy and environmental causes. Funds raised through the organization’s two rides—the NYC-DC race and a California race—will go to the organization’s designated beneficiaries, which include the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, Rails to Trails Conservatory and The Nature Conservatory, according to the organization’s website.
Pollack introduced us to some of the other Montgomery County cyclists who’ll be joining him on this year’s ride.
“There's certain amount of skin in the game of trying to practice what you talk about,” said Rockville resident David Goodrich, who is a board member with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Goodrich, 60, spent 36 years with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dealing with climate change, including three years as director of the Global Climate Observing System in Geneva, Switzerland.
“People tend to think of climate change as something that's going to happen in 20 or 30 years,” Goodrich said. “My take home message is that it's here now.”
In 2011, after Goodrich retired, he embarked on a 4,200-mile solo bike ride from Delaware to Oregon, talking with groups about climate change along the way. That journey is recounted in a web diary he kept at CrazyGuyOnABike.com.
"In riding across the Rockies you can see big swaths of the pine forests in the high altitudes that are gone because mountain pine beetles don't get killed by the cold winters any more," Goodrich said. "That was one of the places where it struck me: it's [climate change is] right here, now."
Abigail “Abi” Rome, 56, of Silver Spring, says she will be participating in the Climate Ride for the first time this year. She’s an avid cyclist and has an academic background and long history advocating for environmental. For the past 20 years or so she’s been involved with ecotourism and founded her own company. She blogs about her travels atAbiTravelBlog.com.
But lately, her biking has amounted to day trips and occasional recreational tours—nothing like the 60- to 70-miles she’ll be logging each day for the Climate Ride.
She said the reward—raising awareness and raising funds for environmental causes—is worth the work. She recalled visiting Switzerland with her wife and seeing Aletsch, what NASA describes as the largest valley glaciers in the Alps.
“Ice was just popping off of the glacier while I was standing there,” Rome said.
According to a recent NASA study, glaciers like Aletsch have lost an average of 571 trillion pounds of ice per year between 2003 and 2009, contributing 30 percent to the global sea level rise over the same period.
This ride, Rome said, melded two things she’s passionate about: the environment and cycling. Riders must raise $2,400 in order to participate, Rome said.
“It feels good to be raising money for a cause I believe in,” said Rome. “I feel good about getting my friends and family on board with this.”
Rodney Lindenmayer, 51, says this will be his second NY-DC Climate Ride. Lindenmayer, who commutes on his bike to the nearest Red Line stop from his home in the Laytonsville area, said he had initially learned about the ride through a newsletter distributed by Potomac Pedalers, a nonprofit group for local bike enthusiasts. He said the problem of tackling and reducing an issue like climate change is so daunting that some people find it’s easier to ignore it.
“And similarly, for most of us, the notion of setting out —by bicycle—from home to a place 300 miles distant is equally imposing,” Lindenmayer said. “But, just like the global issue of climate change, true victory lies in everybody lending a hand (or leg, as it were).”