Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

Thoughts from Nicky

September 17th, 2007 by David
Dawn ride out of Bend - the sisters behind us, moon

Nicky Phear, a faculty member at the University of Montana, volunteered and coordinated our events along the west coast. She also joined us for this stretch of the trip and helped make the final weeks of Ride for Climate USA a success. She shares some of her thoughts on this trip here:

I was excited when David and Bill invited me join the Ride for Climate and set up events from Portland to San Francisco. I cast a wide net and was amazed by how inviting total strangers were to our message. Teachers brought their entire schools together for assemblies and designed curriculum around our talk; a pastor wrote a column to his congregation in advance of our visit to stress the importance of learning from climate scientists and caring for creation; the mayor of Eugene gathered her full transportation and sustainability leadership group to meet with us in Eugene.

A presentation at Zoe Barnum School in Eureka
South Fork High School in Miranda

In the three weeks that I was with Ride for Climate, we appeared on television three times, had three radio interviews, and a handful of articles in local papers. More importantly, we talked directly with over 1000 people from a wide range of demographics (through school visits, community events, churches, businesses, interviews at Safeways). After each talk we’d discuss what we felt was effective, and how the message might be best framed for this or that particular audience. It is hard to measure the success of these talks, but each time David showed pictures and spoke about the disproportionate impacts poor people in the south will suffer due to our excessive emissions, I felt the crowd grow quiet and still. When Bill spoke about solutions, people piped up with suggestions and shared ideas about initiatives in their particular communities.

Nicky, Oregon Coast

Most of us reading these blogs know things we can do to make a difference. And for those of us making a difference, it has taken hearing the message many times and from many different messengers to begin to change our ways. (It wasn’t until this last summer that I finally got an energy audit and changed my own light bulbs!) I’d like to see the Ride for Climate continue because they both motivate the choir (like me) and reach beyond the choir. It was touching to see students and church members swarm David after his talks, thank him for coming, and offer ways they were going to make a difference.

Thanks to David and Bill for their tremendous efforts and care. Thanks to everyone that hosted, fed, and funded us. I enjoyed meeting you all! And let’s try to support the return trip and make it happen!

The Oregon Coast and Wave Power

September 5th, 2007 by David

Nicky and I arrived at the Oregon Coast at the city of Reedsport, where we learned that 2 miles off shore they are developing a project to make electricity from wave power.

While they are developing only 2 megawatts of power, about enough for 20 homes, the energy will be clean and be far more predictable than wind power. There are currently plans to install about 30 megawatts of wave power capacity throughout Oregon – producing clean electricity for about 300 homes, and helping Oregon towards its goal of producing 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Oregon Coast
David, Oregon Coast

Following the coast south, we enjoyed the rocky coastline which as been shaped by waves beating against the shore. We are now further south along the California coast – look for our next entry on visiting schools and communities along California’s north coast.

To the Oregon Coast via Eugene

September 3rd, 2007 by David
Dawn ride out of Bend - the sisters behind us, moon
The road is closed and they aren't letting bikes through.  This makes us sad.

We left Bend, Oregon before dawn in order to bike the 120 miles to Eugene in one day and arrive for our presentation that afternoon. Crossing the cascades, though, we met our match. The road was closed to construction, and they would not let bicycles through – we would have to backtrack and take a longer route.

Due to road closure, we had to hitchhike to make it to Eugene in time for our presentation.

In order to make it to Eugene that night, we hitchhiked. Nicky and I caught two rides. The first ride was from a contractor who is working to make his developments more environmental. The contractor coincidentally had a booklet about energy independence in Oregon, which we had learned about the day before by talking to the director of 3EStrategies. It was great to see that the information was getting out. The second was from a pair of hairdressers, who were excited to share that they had just started recycling. They also shared their entire life story.

In Eugene, we gave a talk at the library, appeared on television, and met with the mayor, Kitty Piercy. It was good to hear about the efforts Eugene is making to fight global warming – pushing energy efficient buildings, buying wind power for the town, and encouraging biking as a form of transportation. Kitty has signed on to the mayor’s climate protection agreement, and you can see what the town is doing at her website,

Interview for Eugene CBS news
David meeting with the mayor of Eugene, Kitty Piercy.  Kitty is spearheading a number of sustainability projects in Eugene.
Nicky and the mayor of Eugene Kitty Piercy show off their muscle
A morning organized ride to escort us out of Eugene
Randy and Scott, two loggers out bow hunting, talked to us about logging issues in the coastal forests.

Accompanied by the Greater Eugene Riders, we left Eugene and crossed the coastal mountains, where we met Randy and Scott, two loggers who were out bow hunting. While they told us they didn’t believe in global warming (they gave us the standard ‘natural cycle’ argument), they were open and friendly to conversation with us, and it was great to see the environmental perspective of people working in the forests. It gives me hope that we will be able to work together for some solution. They also let me cock their bow.

We are now on the Oregon coast, following one of the more famous bike routes south towards California.

David, one-lane road through forest to Oregon coast
Oregon Coast Bike Route

Portland to Bend

August 29th, 2007 by David
Thanks to John and Kathy!  David stayed at their house three nights.
David's Bike, riding the MAX, Portland's excellent new public transit

I enjoyed Portland – it has extensive bike lanes and even the ability to put your bike on their new light rail. I lived in Portland for a summer once in college, and it was good to revisit the family I had once lived with.

Portland has a great story to tell around global warming. In 1993, it became the first city to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions. It aggressively pushed green building initiatives, and now runs a comprehensive system of light rail, buses, and bike lanes to keep cars off the road. While the CO2 emissions of the rest of the country have grown, Portland’s per capita emissions have decreased by 12.5%. It is good to hear that local actions make a difference – and that if a town gets serious, it can make a difference.

Oregon in general is making great strides – the state just set a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050, and they have pledged to produce 25% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025.

We had five flats this day - thorns!

After two talks, I left Portland. Bill stayed behind and Nicky Phear, one of our volunteers, is joining me for this final section. Nicky has a faculty position at the University of Montana where she teaches an environmental studies program, and where she recently led her own bicycle-based course across Montana for students to learn more about energy issues in Montana. She has been working to set up events along the west coast and, as she is taking a leave of absence this year, is joining me for the final few weeks into San Francisco. (You can see a photo of her changing one of our 5 flats on this stretch of road).

Nicky and I left Portland, and biked three days out to Bend, crossing the Cascades, leaving the wet coastal region and heading to the dry high desert. In Bend, I visited two friends from college, Becca Katz and Eric Wanless, who set up our events. Eric works on energy efficient buildings, and along with Nicky and I, appeared in the TV news. You can see the three of us here.

Nicky, biking up the west side of the cascades
David, Mt. Hood
Nicky, descending down the eastern side of the cascades

We also talked to Cylvia Hayes, the director of 3E Strategies, an environmental group promoting solutions to global warming. Cylvia pointed out that central Oregon has a tremendous economic opportunity to invest in wind, solar, and biomass, and become energy independent. Currently, most of Oregon’s energy is imported (just about all fossil fuels are).

From Bend, Nicky and I will head to Eugene, and then follow the Oregon and California coasts south towards San Francisco. Bill will rejoin us outside San Francisco and complete the journey.

Ride for Climate turns 20,000

August 25th, 2007 by David
Biking through Washington would not be complete without rain and an espresso stop

Biking from Seattle to Portland, Bill and I encountered unexpected summer rain, reminding us that we were indeed in the Pacific Northwest.

On the stretch of road to Portland, we crossed two major milestones. We reached 4,000 miles for the U.S. journey. If you combine this with my previous journey through Latin America, I have also now biked 20,000 miles through Ride for Climate – from California to the tip of South America, and from Boston to the west coast. (With only a three-week break in between trips!)

We are now in Portland, and we will finish this leg of Ride for Climate by biking from here to San Francisco. My first bike tour ever was this same route – from Portland to San Francisco in 1999 (a friend and I ‘biked to school.’) I remember at the time not thinking that it was even possible to travel such a great distance by bicycle – my friend convinced me otherwise, and we gave it a shot.

Descending into Ushuaia
I am the fastest vehicle on the road.

What has struck me about biking 20,000 miles over the past 22 months is not how hard it has been, but how easy it has been. All you have to do is get up each day, bike for a while (including rest days, this trip averages less than 30 miles a day), and, after enough time, you have biked halfway around the world.

We sometimes make this analogy in our talks. When people look at what we need to do to address global warming – reduce carbon dioxide emissions at least 80% by 2050, some think it is impossible. Almost everything we do uses fossil fuels – turning on a light switch or driving to the supermarket – how could we stop? The key is to start taking action now – invest in renewable energy, support energy efficiency, conserve energy. With these steps, however small some of them seem, we begin on a path to solve the problem. And, like biking halfway around the world, if we can solve this problem, I am sure that the result will be immensely satisfying. We just have to start now.