Climbing for Conservation

“Good morale in cycling comes from good legs”
Sean Yates from cycling quotes at UC Santa Cruz SCIPP

I dove in and registered for the Mt. Evans hill climb this Saturday.  How hard can it be…it’s only 24 miles?  It is pretty hard since those 24 miles take you from around 7,000′ to over 14,000′ on the highest paved road in north America.  Mountain goats are typically milling around at the top.

Mt. Evans logo

In addition to the race, the promoters offer a casual ride open to all.  Registration is open through Friday at noon 7/22.  Cyclists who love climbing mountains must make this pilgrimage at least once in our life.  Each time I ride Mt. Evans I am awed by the open spaces and swayed by the Rocky Mountain high above Denver.  About half the ride is above tree line.  The last trees you pedal past are silent and ancient Bristlecone pines.  The vistas opening as you climb upward make you feel like you’re part of the sky.

One climb I have not done is the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire.  It ascends nearly a vertical mile over 7.6 road miles.  Steep pitch!  The Mt. Washington climb benefits a conservation nonprofit called the Tin Mountain Conservation Center, whose mission is to “to promote appreciation of the natural environment…through hands on programs…”.   Pedaling up Mt. Washington is definitely hands on, a holistic way to be engaged!  If the Mt. Washington hillclimb is too extreme Tin Mountain also promotes a century ride July 30 through the beautiful New England countryside.  That might be a better option if you actually want to be able to talk while you ride.  Riding everyday helps me pay more attention to where I’m at and what’s going on.  A special event like a hill climb, grand fondo, or century ride elevates the experience.  To couple a ride with a social benefit bringing together diverse people and great places makes it especially good.

Bike Safety Table at Family Health Fair

magenta Sandia

I staffed Albuquerque’s bike safety table at a family health fair today.  Talking bikes and healthy hearts to motivated people was a good way to start Saturday morning.  The fair was hosted by the New Mexico Heart Institute on Johnson Field at the University of New Mexico.

bike safety event

bike safety table at UNM

I gave away hundreds of the new 2016 ABQ bike map and learned a lot from talking with citizens who love to ride.  I was right across the way from the New Mexico Philharmonic’s table.  NMPhil is doing great work, especially with education, outreach and engagement for kids.   “Every fall and spring over 17,000 4th and 5th grade students attend live symphony concerts presented by the musicians of the NMPhil in Popejoy Hall”.   Albuquerque’s bicycle safety education program has a similar strategy, delivering bicycle education for youth at schools, community centers, public bicycle rodeos, and summer camps.  Through the bike safety program this week I helped get over 200 kids on bicycles, instructing them on traffic safety skills to help keep their cycling safe and fun.

bike safety looking at Sandias

Bicycles and music are pathways for building healthier hearts and joyful lives, and are both universal languages that connect people across cultures.  I also met a ride leader from the CyclingPeeps, an all women’s cycling group with almost 400 members!  Fairs are fun ways to learn, build partnerships, and strengthen networks essential for sustainable living.  Safer cycling increases opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible.

bike tableI

Cycling in the National Parks

The Tour of Utah starts in Zion National Park this August to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, and to promote cycling as a healthy way of recreating outdoors.  This race draws top cyclists from around the world.  In 700 plus miles over seven stages, the race highlights  Utah’s unique heritage, challenging terrain, beautiful cultures and stunning landscapes.

In this one minute spotlight of Stage One you may have noticed the peloton (the group of cyclists) is crossing the road centerline.  This is because the road is closed to public traffic for the racers’ safety.  This is the case with most professional races.  In amateur races roads usually remain open to the public and cyclists use the right lane.   Protection is provided with a rolling enclosure (escort vehicles in front and behind), and intersections are controlled by traffic police while the racers pass through.

Cycling is a great way for Americans to appreciate our national heritage while preserving the integrity of the landscape.   Cycling is a solution for “NPS’s dual mission–to prevent ecological injury to parks while simultaneously promoting tourism” (Brinkley, Rightful Heritage).  It is exciting to see a cycling event highlighting features that make America unique, and showcasing our cultural identity as a healthy people inspired by our lands.  Cycling is becoming as iconic to the American identity as Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and the colorful canyons of Zion.

Resources–
https://www.tourofutah.com/
David Brinkley, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America
http://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/celebrating-100-years-service