“There is nothing like pushing your physical limits to help you remember you're alive and capable of pushing,” my coworker and teammate Elizabeth Jordan reflected.
We made it! Hugs, cheers, smiles from ear to ear–that is what you saw as my teammates and fellow Climate Riders arrived at Washington, DC’s Georgetown waterfront. We just had spent five days biking from New York to raise money for the fight against climate change. Now, we were waiting for the rest of our fellow riders and some of our friends to join us so we could all pedal the final few miles together—the last of our three-hundred-mile journey.
I’m an avid bicyclist, but on that day I felt like I had pushed past my limits, too.
Elizabeth and I were part of an eight-member team representing NPCA. Each morning, we joined more than 200 other riders to learn about the day’s itinerary, including elevation changes, tricky intersections, fun rest stops, and interesting sightseeing opportunities. Each day’s challenges ranged from long distances of 75 miles to steep grades and unfamiliar routes. There were also stunning rewards, including seeing and riding through eight national park units: Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, Gateway, Valley Forge, Hopewell Furnace, the C&O Canal, and the National Mall. The energy and passion shared by all the Climate Riders kept me focused and determined to get through each day and conquer the long road ahead.
Riding for six to eight hours each day opened my eyes, gave me time to think, and reminded me of the reason why I was riding. Because five days of my time is not much compared to the more than 300 years it will take to clean our national parks’ air.
That’s right, more than 300 years. Our team was riding to support NPCA’s #CleanAir4Parks Campaign which released extensive data this past summer on just how long it will take to clean pollutants from our park skies. What should have taken three generations will take ten if nothing is done to tighten environmental regulations governing our air quality.
Our national parks are places we retreat to, where we go to explore, and where we expect pristine natural conditions. Clean air is something we shouldn’t need to ask for–Congress already passed laws decades ago to protect the air we breathe. Allowing our parks, park visitors, and local communities to suffer for hundreds of years under polluted skies is simply unacceptable.
We rode more than 300 miles to help raise awareness around this issue. You can help by signing this petition today asking President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to hold polluters accountable by closing loopholes that allow industries to continue polluting park air. We shouldn’t have to wait ten generations to get #cleanair4parks!
About the author
Megan Cantrell Former Social Media Manager
Megan Cantrell has worked at National Parks Conservation Association since 2007, much of that time shepherding NPCA’s social media program.