This one was a full circle moment for me. My first Climate Ride started in Bar Harbor, and now 7 years later I just completed my 5th Climate Ride finishing in Bar Harbor. Grit, gravel, and granny gears really helped on this ride!
To learn more about the Climate Ride and my journey to my 5th ride this year, please check out my recap from my ride in Maine in 2021.
My Rider Evolution
In 2016, I attended my first Climate Ride. My homecoming ride to Bar Harbor, where I hadn’t visited in almost 20 years. I was so excited to go back and visit that I didn’t think about what that would entail. I didn’t anticipate the size of the mountains in the middle of Maine a.k.a. the Appalachian Mountains. I was just looking for my next big adventure after completing a 200K day (125 miles) and wanting to visit one of my favorite locations. I thought if I could complete one long day, than shorter harder days would be easier. I was wrong.
My first 3 days in Maine included me needing to ride in the van. Now, I want to be very clear that there is absolutely zero shame in riding in the van. Every person is at a different level and ability, but this is merely to demonstrate where I started and where I will head in the future. This was followed by van assists in Shenandoah National Park. It wasn’t until my 4th Climate Ride that I really felt confident in my ability to finish the riding days.
My 2023 ride from Burlington, VT to Bar Harbor, ME was not only my full-circle moment, but also a marker of my progress as a rider. I looked at the elevation profile for the ride and was terrified for a full year. This time though, I didn’t want to underestimate anything. I spent the summer going on more hill intensive rides, using my bike trainer to practice grinding uphill, and really pushing my flat speed.
I went into my ride thinking I would take it one day and one mile at a time. I was especially skeptical of the century day. I have done centuries on many occasions, and it is not my favorite length. I like a good 70-miler that gets me into camp mid-afternoon. However, as day 5 approached and I was feeling so accomplished finishing all of the mileage and elevation thus far, I stuck with it. Wouldn’t it feel cool to ride from Burlington to Bar Harbor with just my two feet (and a bike)? What I discovered was that by the end of the week I was referred to as one of the strong riders! This was a large point of pride for me and proof that sticking with cycling and continuing to train is bringing about real improvements.
My next goal is moving up in the pack of those finishing the day. But I never felt late, behind, or slow during the ride! A truly different feeling for me. I guess training really does work? Go figure!
I love Climate Ride. I love the people I meet, or see again! I always feel inspired by the stories of what other riders are doing. You are always taken care of with amazing food and locations. And the routes are always to die for (and sometimes to feel like you are dying during). I think my next great adventure needs to be leaving the comfort of New England and riding my bike in more places. I’ve rented bikes on all different types of vacations and I’ve flown my bike to Virginia and Kentucky, but it’s time to venture off the coasts and see more of the country.
At my stage in life, the fundraising is the biggest barrier. Raising thousands of dollars on top of flights, rentals, or hotel rooms has made it difficult to venture out on a further away Climate Ride, but I could not be more grateful for the money that was raised to directly support my own non-profit CommonWheels.
Give me a couple of months and I’ll be signing up for another one again I’m sure.
Official Ride Breakdown
70.68 miles / 4,695 ft: Hello Green Mountains (Burlington, VT to Craftsbury, VT – Highland Lodge)
69.24 miles / 4,908 ft: Green Mountains to White Mountains (Craftsbury, VT to Carroll, NH – Highland Center)
58.69 miles / 2,241 ft: “Recovery Day” From White Mountains to Summer Camp (Carroll, NH to Waterford, ME – Camp Waziyatah)
74.06 miles / 3,579 ft: Summer Camp Traverse (Waterford to Jefferson, ME – Camp Wavus)
94.64 miles / 5,223 ft: The Big One – Getting my Butt to Bar Harbor (Jefferson to Bar Harbor, ME)