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Climate Ride 2024 Recap

Dennis Desmarais

June 2024

As reported here in our March newsletter, a long-time member of the chapter communications team, Dennis Desmarais, planned a 1,000-mile bike ride to raise money for our Chapter. His two goals had been to finish the ride in just six days and to fundraise at least $20,000. We are pleased to report that while he (once again) barely completed the first goal, his second goal was successful beyond all expectations!  His solo unsupported ride took place at the start of May, and each day presented him with a series of challenges and misadventures.  At the end of each day of riding he shared a short summary of each day along with a few pictures. Take a read through his adventure below, and if you’re inspired to take action, you can still make a donation. 


Day 1

I am so glad to be out of South Carolina. It seemed like every road had a speed limit of 55 (and who knows how fast people were driving), rumble strips instead of a shoulder to ride on, and 18 wheelers hauling lumber. So stressful! The good news is that I’m in North Carolina now. The better news is that several more people donated today. I’m now about 880 miles from home, and $880 away from this year’s $20k goal!

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Day 2

I’ve ridden in hotter weather, but because I’ve not acclimated to the heat, I suffered today.  I was convinced I was going to quit at one point. I had run out of water and had to ask someone to use their outdoor spicket; hit a roadblock and added five miles with the detour; then got sick and found a Porta potty just in time.  At that point my Garmin registered over 100°F.  The good news is that several people must have sensed I needed a boost and generously supported me and put my fundraising goal within reach!


Temps are forecasted to be a few degrees warmer tomorrow, so wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

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Day 3

First, for those of you who have donated over the past couple of days, my personalized thank yous will come, but not until after the ride (no time!). But I want to thank you collectively right now for putting me within $150 of this year’s fundraising goal! And I am grateful I am so close to my goal, because I won’t get any sympathy donations after today’s ride.  It was still too warm, but as I went north clouds kept it cooler. The first 150 miles were heavily trafficked roads, but my legs bounced back and I was cruising! Then I dropped my heavy backpack off at the hotel and finished with two hours of fantastic farm roads. I’m half way home!

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Day 4

I watched the forecast multiple times before departing Connecticut to make sure I packed properly.  Not once did I see rain and 40s in the forecast.  I barely survived the morning today after finding a Trek shop and purchasing enough gear to pay for another night’s hotel. All of those layers weren’t enough as I passed through four hours of stop and go DC traffic. I just couldn’t generate body heat before breaking at the next stop light.  It all came to a miserable end later in the day as I changed my first flat tire. I got back on the bike but couldn’t stop shivering. Ubered the final 43 miles.


Supposed to be the same weather tomorrow. Not sure what to do…. 

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Day 5

“F##K!!!!” Not many people have heard me say that word. But after a morning of steady rain and temps in the mid-forties, I lost it when I wiped out making a turn into a Wawa. I was bruised and my bike was fine, but I was on the verge of tears and ready to quit. In fact, I had pulled into an enterprise rental car earlier with the intent to quit and drive home, but they had closed just before I had arrived.  


The funny thing is that the crash led to a change of attitude. While I was checking my phone to see how much an Uber to the hotel would be, a guy came up and asked me a whole bunch of questions. As he left, he said “that’s a great story. When I get back I’m going to write a rap song about you.” How could I quit if Demarkus invented a new music genre, sad cycling rap?


I don’t know how my bruises will feel in the morning tomorrow but I’m hoping to make it back under my own power if possible!

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Day 6

As I lay in bed this morning, massaging the bruises from yesterday’s crash, I wondered where this year’s ride ranked among my all-time Climate Ride misadventures. I figured it definitely made the top three. Well...after getting hit by a car 20 miles into today’s ride, 2024 now officially sits at the top of the rankings. A guy passed too close to me and whacked my elbow with his mirror. I wobbled and had to stabilize myself with his rear door, and fortunately remained upright. The guy pulled over and apologized profusely, so in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t too bad of an incident. But I was already stressed out from all of the prior days, so I had to pull over and take some deep breaths before I could ride again.


Once I got rolling, I stopped. And stopped again. And stopped literally hundreds of times. From New Brunswick, NJ to New Haven, CT, I never went more than 5 minutes without hitting a stop light or sign (often having to stop multiple times each mile). What a long slog of a day…


But quitting never entered my mind (at least not today!). Too much support had come in for me to throw in the towel. I can’t tell you how much the supportive messages meant to my spirits (Scott, Steve, and Andrea had some of the most motivational). And most importantly, I repeatedly thought of all of the people who had donated (so many this year during the ride!).  Tackling climate change is the biggest challenge I can think of, so quitting my ride after all of you had donated for a cleaner and greener future was not an option!


Thank you!!!!

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Dennis Desmarais is on the Communications Committee of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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