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By Shona Quinn, Sustainability Leader

Since May 2011, we have supported Climate Ride by sending five employees over hill and dale, from downtown New York City to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and from San Francisco to Sacramento. Along with our fellow Climate Riders, we share a goal of influencing policy makers at our destinations.

Journal of a Journey: Climate Ride
None of us had ridden a bike 300 miles before. Still, we were drawn in by the idea of tackling our fears, climate issues and a big adventure. While training, we overcame blisters, bruises and falls. We learned how to "clip-in" and ride defensively. Whether we knew it or not, we were stronger both mentally and physically before even going on the Climate Ride. 

Riding from New York City to Washington, D.C., wasn't comfortable, but it was empowering. We were saturated by inspiration from the landscape and the weather as well as our fellow riders, the advocates we were introduced to and politicians we lobbied. And we were inducted into the Climate Ride "bike culture," a group of caring and passionate individuals who believe no one should be left behind. In Lancaster County on a Sunday afternoon, we watched a small group of Amish families playing baseball—girls wearing dresses and bonnets with their fists in mitts and a grandfather ready to bat in his Sunday best with the sleeves rolled up. It was such a beautifully simple scene. We wanted to play, too. 

We rode through forests that made us feel like we'd been dropped into a dream—green, lush, filtering light and with a scent of earth. Our contemporary life has evolved out of such a beautiful place. It's empowering to know that we come from the earth. We hope that thought will linger. 

We had rounds of meetings with congressional representatives and they heard us—they were inspired by us. We thought, "Inspired by us, really?" But yes, they were. We are more confident about staying informed, speaking out and the importance of voting at EVERY election. It really does matter. Make sure your voice is heard, too. 

Each night we learned a little more about climate change. What was our biggest takeaway? We are changing the fundamental operating system of the earth because of way too much carbon dioxide emissions. The ride reinvigorated our will to move the climate agenda forward and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.