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Climate Ride Recap

Dennis Desmarais

October 2022

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As reported here in our May newsletter, our Chapter Communications Chair, 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 $12,000 (a goal he had set as this was his 12th Climate Ride).  We are pleased to report that while he barely completed the first goal, his second goal was successful beyond all expectations!  His solo unsupported ride took place at the start of September, beginning with a beautiful stretch of weather, and then finishing during the drought-busting, record rains.  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

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Day 1

Unfortunately, I had amazing weather today.  Usually, I can count on Mother Nature to send bad weather my way, and that in turn helps generate some sympathy donations.  Over the next few days my only chance for a sorry weather story would be if I get a sunburn or damage a cornea looking up at the sunny skies.


Day 2

How can you improve upon a late summer day without a cloud or humidity?  I checked my phone several times today as I was alerted to hundreds of dollars of new donations!  For those of you who have donated in the last two days, you’ll get a proper “thank you “ after my final day of riding, but I wanted to quickly let you know how much I appreciate your support.


Day 3

Day 3 got off to a rough start; an unnecessary 18 mile detour to retrieve something that was in fact packed away on my back, saw a motorcyclist go off the road and crash (bike was a mess but he seemed bruised but ok) and battled some stretches of really low energy. The afternoon was better as the beautiful weather continued and two more people took action on climate change by donating.  I’m only halfway done with my ride, but I’m smashing my fundraising goal!

Day 4

Not a lot to say about today.  It was a long day fighting the thought “why am I doing this “, especially after my 12th stop for convenience store food during the trip.  There were two redeeming parts to the day though.  First, it was yet another great day to work on my tan lines. And secondly, and much more importantly, a few more people took action for a greener future by donating to the Climate Ride.


Day 5

Might have been my worst day ever on the bike.  Temps started at 53 and never warmed much higher.  The rain started 30 minutes in and never relented.  I was near hypothermic but found a poncho at Walgreens to save the day (I was literally shaking while trying to insert the credit card to pay).  With the poncho on, it was no longer dangerous, just miserable (and a fashion disaster).  But then things got worse as my bike stopped shifting (my bike has electronic shifting).  I tried my backup battery in someone’s garage and then later tried to charge my battery at a Dunkin but no luck.  I cut 37 miles off the course and used only one gear the last 48 miles.  I barely made it over two of the steep climbs, and then I froze on the descents because I spun out.  Hopefully a night drying at the hotel will “fix” my bike as I don’t think I can make it home in a single speed tomorrow.


But it is not all bad news.  Several more people took action for a greener future during my ride.  Once the matches are applied the fundraising total will exceed $14k.  Thank you!

Note that the ride is missing 21 miles.  I was so focused on my shifting that I forgot to start my Garmin.


Day 5 (Late Day Update)

A big thank you to Bicycles East!  With some over the phone coaching I now have my bike shifting again!  Now I get to ride tomorrow in weather more suited to Noah and his ark.


Day 6

Climate Ride 2022 is done!  I started the day off in the miserably raw rain and puddles that covered large stretches of the road but was thrilled to have the chance to finish due to the remote tech support from Bicycles East last night. I was thrilled each time I shifted this morning as I thought the suffering of yesterday's single speed riding was in the rear-view mirror.  Unfortunately, however, I scheduled my Climate Ride this year to coincide with the first two truly rainy (and historically rainy) days of the summer, so my joy in shifting lasted just an hour before the electronics failed me again.  I gritted out another three hours without shifting before being rescued by Steve and Sheila Barry.  Despite some encouragement from friends, there was no way I could single speed it up the hills ahead after so many miles in the legs.  Plus, my rear light had also malfunctioned and stopped working because of the rain, so I wasn't feeling all that safe.  After a 3-hour commute by car back home, I then logged the remaining miles with a six-hour session on the trainer in the basement (and my bad luck continued as the ride results wouldn't upload!).


Despite all the mishaps and misery, the ride will go down as a fantastic success!  So many of you donated during the ride (I'll send thank-yous soon!) -- once the matching program kicks in the final tally in support of the Sierra Club and a greener future will exceed $15k!  The Climate Ride is my small way of trying to bring greater awareness to Climate Change but I could not do it without the support of so many people -- thank you all!

Dennis Desmarais is the Communications Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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