RPCVs Bike 300 Miles for the Climate
By Sarah Kana on Monday, June 11th, 2012
Nine Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) participated in the annual Climate Ride NYC-DC 2012, a multi-day cycling fundraiser and ‘green conference on wheels,’ with more than 150 cyclists traveling over 300 miles from Manhattan to the nation’s capital. The ride, which raised awareness of sustainability, renewable energy, climate change issues and bicycle advocacy, took place from May 19 to 23, 2012.
The riders agreed that it was challenging to ride over 300 miles in 5 days but Peace Corps service had prepared Matt Bond (Guatemala 00-02), Kathy Plume (Paraguay 84-86), Andre Mershon (Mali 01-03), Rich Glass (Bulgaria 04-06), Joe Eavey (Niger 02-04), Mike Tidwell (Democratic Republic of the Congo 85-87), Heather Eves (Kenya 86-88), Mark Genszler (Kyrgyzstan 98-99) and Alix Cotumaccio (Ecuador 02-04) to manage such challenges – one day at a time motivated by a bigger vision to work toward at the end.
The nine did not know each other before the ride. “We met during the five days of the ride, although we were not surprised to find so many RPCVs participating in such an event, as we all share a desire to advocate for and do anything else in our power for a better world. It was great to find others with the shared Peace Corps experience,” said Alix Cotumaccio.
“Alix went around calling out ‘RPCV? RPCV?’ as we gathered at the boat house in Washington, D.C. at the very end of the ride — certain that there must be others out there on this event who had done Peace Corps. We had discussed this perhaps the day or two before and it was indeed amazing that she found – in a matter of minutes — nine people out of 200 who were RPCVs. That’s four percent of Climate Riders NYC-DC 2012,” said Heather Eves.
Alix was initially inspired to join the Climate Ride because it seemed to be the perfect venue to meld her love of cycling with her passions to combat climate change and improve bike infrastructure through education and policy. ”The ride exceeded my expectations – it turned out to be one of the most inspirational events, second only to Peace Corps, I have ever been a part of. Riding 50-75 miles a day through the rolling hills of the ‘Garden State,’ Pennsylvania-Dutch land and the horse country of Maryland was a great reminder of why protecting our natural spaces is so important.”
Heather agreed that Climate Ride was much like a mini Peace Corps experience. ”It was incredibly challenging both physically and mentally each and every day and yet there were leaders who inspired us and guided us and supported us, fellow riders that we never met before and became fast friends we relied upon, moments of sheer delight and deep questioning of our capacity to complete the task ahead, and the local people we met in each and every lovely town along the way who encouraged us and cheered us on and inspired us and helped us,” she recalled. “…I hadn’t really thought of it in comparing with Peace Corps service and yet it really was all that.”
The organizations that Climate Ride supports are essential to help build a sustainable future and these RPCV’s not only found a way to raise public awareness of climate change and sustainability issues by doing something they love, cycling, but also to continue to commit themselves to active service in improving the quality of life around the globe. Together they raised well over $20,000 to support the global environment and the people they grew to love and care for around the globe through their service in the Peace Corps.
About Climate Ride
Climate Ride was founded to inspire and empower citizens to work toward a new energy future. Climate Ride events raise money for a collection of rider-nominated, innovative organizations working at both the national and local levels, including Green America, 350.org, Transportation Alternatives, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Green For All, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), Climate Counts, 1% For the Planet, WABA, Grist, and many local bicycle and sustainability organizations. For more information about Climate Ride, or to support a participant, please visit www.climateride.org.