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Why I Ride #17: To Save the Climate (and Intrigue the Cats)

(Geraldine Carter is the Co-Founder and Director of Climate Ride – the largest charity bicycle event that supports green organizations and bicycle advocacy.)

Geraldine Carter

Simply put, I ride because riding a bicycle is, hands down, the best way to get around. Especially where I live in Missoula  – a wonderful Montana town tucked away in the sky-high Rocky Mountains.

I think perhaps it’s all too easy to list all of the reasons why I ride; I can think of a million of them. Because it’s free. Because I always get a parking spot right out front, and never get a parking ticket. Because I zip past traffic. Because a full bike tune up is 1/5th the price of tuning up my car. But really, all that stuff aside, I ride because it makes me feel free, and it transforms my everyday life into a new adventure.

I have learned so much seeing the world from behind my handlebars. The Blue Ridge Parkway taught me how to climb hills. Long, hard hills. I learned that just because butterflies sped past me does not mean I’m slow and weak. I can climb at my own speed, and get there all the same. The pace at which I take my life is my own to choose, and my own to determine.

Cycling in Burma taught me what it’s like to be fearless. Riding in France brought me back to my heritage. Each tour has taught me I was far more capable and stronger than I imagined myself to be.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to bike in many places all over the world as a tour leader for Backroads Bicycling, and now as the Co-Founder and Director of Climate Ride… but there’s nothing like commuting and riding where I live now.

On my commute to work, I smile when I spot different varieties of tulips. I know which yards have the brightest blooms, and route myself accordingly. I know where all the big furry cats sit in windows, dying for something new to happen outside, and whoosh, I fly by and their eyes grow wide, curious and intrigued. I know them; I wonder if they recognize me.

In the fall, I ride under quaint neighborhood streets lined with shedding maple trees. From my bicycle seat, I look up through the bright yellow leaves to a crisp blue fall sky. I ride to the bridge that crosses the Clark Fork River and marvel at the kayakers flipping in the river’s whitewater. There’s so much of the world that you completely miss from a car.

I’ve been so inspired on bicycles, and that’s why I founded Climate Ride — a 300-mile, 5-day charity ride designed to raise money for more than 45 green organizations working to avert the climate crisis and get more people on bicycles.

When I organized the first Climate Ride from New York City to Washington, D.C., I really wanted to affect serious change and now, five years in, Climate Ride is doing just that. My vision was for people to experience for themselves that their abilities far exceed their limitations, to push themselves past the boundary of what they think they can do.

It’s exactly what I think the planet needs most right now – to discover that we all have the power within us to change the world – one person at a time, one bicycle at a time. And that’s really why I ride.

Well, that…and to give the window cats something to wonder about.

(Follow the 2012 NYC-DC Climate Ride starting this Saturday at

May is National Bike Month and this year’s theme is One Ride, Many Reasons. To highlight and celebrate the many benefits of bicycling, throughout May we’ll bring you the personal reflections and inspirations of a diverse collection of bicyclists from coast to coast with our daily 31 Days, 31 Reasons blog feature.


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